Category Archives: Day in History

13th July 1954 – the Recording Session that changed British Music History

“Without Lead Belly, no Lonnie Donegan, without Lonnie Donegan, no Beatles.” – George Harrison.

July 13th 1954 – one of the most important recording sessions in British rock and pop history – by a Jazz Band!

The Chris Barber Jazz Band record an album for Decca at their studios in West Hampstead. The album is called New Orleans Joys.

Part way through the recording, the band realise they don’t have enough songs to make a full album, so they retire to the Railway Hotel pub next door to discuss what to do. They decide to record some songs they do live as a ‘Breakdown Group’ – this was a part of their concerts when they would allow the brass section a break and play some paired down music, bringing the guitar player to the front (it was seen as a percussion instrument before this) and have double bass (or improvised tea chest bass) and washboard, which would be played using thimbles.

Chris Barber decided he would play bass, and Lonnie Donegan would play guitar. Washboard player Beryl Bryden was called up and summoned to come to the studio from her home in nearby Maida Vale.

One of the songs they recorded was ‘Rock Island Line’ which had been popularised by Huddy Leadbetter, better known as ‘Lead Belly’. It was sang by Lonnie Donegan

The album went on to sell a few thousand copies, not bad for a jazz album, and ‘Rock Island Line’ just seen as an album track. Things changed though, nearly 2 years later. Bill Haley had a UK number one hit with Rock Around the Clock and record companies tried to find a similar record which would have the same impact. Decca then remembered about ‘Rock Island Line’ and released it as a single, credited to The Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group. It became a huge hit record in the UK, and also ironically, in the US. More importantly, ‘Rock Island Line’ and other ‘skiffle’ songs, inspired thousands of British teenagers to start their own skiffle bands. The bands only need one cheap guitar, and the rest of the instruments could be adapted from household implements. Each song only had 3 or 4 chords to learn, so it was easy to play too. Guitar sales went up from about 2000 a year to 200,000 a year.

Amongst those who played in skiffle bands included: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Dave Davies etc etc etc.

Skiffle itself died out. Lonnie Donegan went on record novelty songs, but others went onto other things :>)

“Without Lead Belly, no Lonnie Donegan, without Lonnie Donegan, no Beatles.” – George Harrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7col8uqIQQ

Lon, Paul, George and Ringo?  3 Beatles with  Lonnie Donegan – at Eric and Pattie Clapton’s wedding reception, 1979.

P.S. Elvis Presley’s version of ‘That’s Alright’ was recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis on July 5th 1954 – just 8 days before this session :>)

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles tour guide in London. For more on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

June 3rd 1964 – Ringo Collapses Before World Tour, Jimmie Nicol Takes over on Drums

3rd June 1964. Just before flying off on a world tour, the Beatles pose for photos at Prospect Studios in Barnes, for the Saturday Evening Post. They are dress as city gents, wearing suits and bowler hats. During the session, Ringo complained of feeling ill, and collapsed. He was rushed to University College Hospital where he was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Ringo was in no fit state to go on the tour, and it was too late to cancel, so replacement drummer Jimmy Nicol was bought in.
Ringo recovered in time to join the tour in Australia.

Ringo looking rather ill on the photoshoot
John, Paul, George and Jimmie Nicol

 

May 25th 1967 – It’s All Too Much!

Or too long!

On May 25th 1967, the Beatles came to De Lane Lea Studios in Kingsway, London,  to record George Harrison’s song It’s All Too Much for their forthcoming film, Yellow Submarine. As the studio wasn’t owned by EMI, none of the usual personnel like George Martin or Geoff Emerick from EMI Studios could accompany them, and it seems the Beatles produced the session themselves – which probably explains the rather chaotic recording! The final version of the song lasted for over 8 minutes. If it had been released in that form, it would have been the longest Beatles song ever. However, it was edited down for the film and for the album.

To hear the full 8 minute version click here.

May 22nd 1968 The Press Launch for the Beatles’ ‘Apple Tailoring’ in the Kings Road Chelsea

On May 22nd 1968, John Lennon and George Harrison attended a party at the Club Dell’Aretusa in the Kings Road, Chelsea,  to launch ‘Apple Tailoring’ which was opening just down the road at 161 Kings Road. Club dell’Aretusa, a large members-only bar/restaurant/disco. “Are you one of the beautiful people?” demanded Angus McGill’s double-page feature in the Evening Standard. “Simple test: Can you get in to the Dell’Aretusa?”

George was with his wife Pattie, but John was with his new girlfriend, Yoko Ono. They had got together just a few days earlier, and this was their first public appearance as a couple, much to the interest of the gathered media, who kept on asking John ‘Where’s your wife?’ Ironically, George Harrison wore a jacket which he bought from rival clothes shop, Granny Takes a Trip !

George and Pattie Harrison walking to Apple Tailoring

 

John and Yoko walking down the Kings Road

Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical)  which opened to the public on May 23rd 1968,  was the latest addition to the Beatles growing Apple group of companies – they already had a boutique on Baker Street.

The Beatles had known the shop for a while. Before their involvement, it was called Dandie Fashions. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was the brainchild of  John Crittle. He arrived from Australia around 1964, and  it didn’t take John long to get himself established amongst London’s young and hip in-crowd. A fortunate turn of events landed John his first real employment was at  ‘Hung On You’at 22 Cale Street, Chelsea, just off the Kings Road. It later became Jane Asher’s Cake Shop. It later relocating to 420 King’s Road.  John was  a designer and a fabric locator Owner Michael Rainey  was an already recognised aristocrat amongst the ‘Chelsea set’. This was expanded upon when he got together with, and married, London socialite, Jane Ormsby-Gore. It didn’t take that long before the intimidating ‘Hung On You’ became the shop of the stars. Rainey himself recalls: “When The Beatles and The Who started to visit my boutique, I knew we’d made it.”

John Crittle decided to set up his own boutique, and started ‘Dandie Fashion’ at 161 Kings Road in October 1966.  He also managed to secure the ‘Foster and Tara’ clothing designers for the business. Tara Browne was a well-known socialite amongst the in-crowd – being the heir to the Guinness fortune. Tara was interested in making his own way in the world, and when he moved from Ireland to London he also fell in with the young and hip from the arts and entertainment worlds. His interest in men’s clothing led him to starting up his own tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. Tara had many friends in rock and pop, including Brian Jones, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It is said that Paul McCartney took his first LSD trip with Tara.

Tara Browne was killed in a car crash while on his way to meet the team of Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder, and David Vaughan, to discuss the design for the shop front. Browne crashed his Lotus Elan into a van parked in Redcliffe Gardens, he swerved so that he took the impact rather than his girlfriend, Suki Potier. This incident will forever be immortalised in The Beatles’ song, ‘A Day In The Life’. Tara’s untimely death also inspired The Pretty Things’ song, ‘Death Of A Socialite’.

Tara Browne and wife Nicky, as photographed by Michael Cooper

After the death of Tara Browne, John Crittle kept Dandie Fashions going, and attracted the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Roger Daltrey and Brian Jones, who all often bought clothes there.

John Crittle was also friendly with the Beatles, and in May 1968, The Beatles went into partnership with Critte to form ‘Apple Tailoring’. The purpose of this shop was to offer the discerning male customer a bespoke service, rather than the ‘off-the-peg’ service that was available at the Baker Street location. As well as this bespoke service, the basement of 161 King’s Road became a hairdressing salon, which was run by Leslie Cavendish. Apple Tailoring lasted longer than the Baker Street boutique but it too closed its doors in 1968. Apple Corps decided to withdraw from High Street commerce and handed the business and all the stock over to John Crittle. Crittle’s daughter is Darcey Bussell, former prima ballerina with the Royal Ballet, and now judge on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

John Lennon outside Apple Tailoring
Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles tour guide in London, and author of ‘Guide to the Beatles London’. Full details of his tours are at http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

May 17 1980 Paul and Linda on Saturday Night Live – in their Nightclothes!

May 17 1980 – Paul and Linda McCartney were interviewed by “Father Guido Sarducci” (Don Novello) on Saturday Night Live. They were interviewed live in Soho Square, outside MPL.
The interview was arranged at 11:30pm (US time) but Father Guido forgot about the time difference, and it was 4:30 in the morning that he turned up at MPL to interview Paul and Linda. After throwing stones at the windows of MPL Paul finally comes out in his night clothes, followed by Linda. It was only a few months after Paul’s drug bust in Japan, the the Father wanted to talk about that, rather than Paul’s new single ‘Coming Up’.
 
You can see the video here https://www.facebook.com/fabfourfaq2/videos/1526724482845/?fref=mentions – Paul’s bit comes in at 4 mins 30 secs.
 
We go to Soho Square on my London Beatles Walks http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

John Lennon at Kenwood – May 1968

Here are a series of photos, taken by my good friend Marilyn Demmen, of John Lennon, and his home Kenwood, in May 1968. Marilyn was a regular visitor, and sometimes even got invited into the house. Marilyn thinks the great photo of her and John was taken the same weekend Yoko came was invited over and they made the ‘Two Virgins’ album

John Lennon outside ‘Kenwood’
John with Marilyn

9th May 1965 – A Busy ‘Day in the Life’ for the Beatles!

 

Firstly, they all go to New Bond Street to be filmed going into the famous jeweler, Asprey. When filming, John saw lots of fans running towards him. He ran into Asprey to avoid them, and out the other side. He was only in the shop for about 30 seconds, but managed to spend about £600 on jewellery on display. In today’s money that’s more like £10,000.

They then film outside the Dolphin restaurant in Marylebone, renamed the Rajahama for the film. They try to find out about the significance of the Ringo on Ringo’s finger from 2 ‘Easterners’ outside the restaurant. But as Ringo say’s ‘They’re from the West!’ to which one replies ‘No, I’m from the East – Stepney!’ BTW the ‘Easterners’ are played by Alfie Bass and Warren Mitchell, 2 of London’s best known comedy actors.

They’re from the West! Ringo outside the ‘Rajahama’ restaurant

They then go to St Margaret’s, Twickenham, to film 2 attempts of the dreaded Kahili to retrieve the ring. Firstly, Ringo and John are seen walking down South Western Road, where Ringo goes to post a letter in a letter box, outside 1 South Western Road, only to find one of the villains in the box. He then uses a weighing machine outside 42 Winchester Road, only to find there is a guillotine attached! This scene was filmed only a few metres from the Turks Head Pub, where Ringo upset the pub games in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

John and Ringo in South Western Road, Twickenham

If that wasn’t enough, in the evening the Beatles all go to see Bob Dylan in concert at the Royal Albert Hall!

Read all about these places in my book ‘Guide to the Beatles London’ and see then on my Beatles tours. For more info see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

May 1st 1966 – The Beatles Last Ever UK Scheduled Concert Performance

May 1st 1966 – the Beatles give their last ever scheduled UK Live performance at the NME Pollwinners Show at the Empire Pool, Wembley (now Wembley Arena).
Also on the same bill were The Spencer Davis Group, The Fortunes, Herman’s Hermits, Roy Orbison, The Overlanders, The Alan Price Set, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Rolling Stones, The Seekers, The Small Faces, Sounds Incorporated, Dusty Springfield, Crispian St Peters, The Walker Brothers, The Who, The Yardbirds and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Must have been some show!!
Most of the show was broadcast by ABC TV, but the managers of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones hadn’t agreed terms for their artists to be shown, so the cameras were turned off during their performances. However the Beatles were filmed receiving their awards.

The amazing Line-up for the show
The Beatles onstage at the Empire Pool, Wembley
The Beatles receiving their awards at the 1966 NME Poll Winners Show

26th April 1982 – Paul McCartney Releases ‘Tug of War’

It was 36 years ago today – the release of Paul McCartney’s ‘Tug of War’ Album. I bought it on the day at Virgin in Oxford Street. On coming out I saw a blue Mercedes car passing me – and realised it was Paul’s car! He was on the way to nearby AIR Studios. Luckily there was a lot of traffic that day and I ran like hell and managed to get to AIR before Paul. On seeing me he said ‘Training for the Olympics are we!’ We had a short chat and he signed my album.
Great memories.

My copy of Tug of War – signed by Paul McCartney on its day of release
Blogger Richard Porter with Paul McCartney, during the making of Tug of War
Paul, Linda – and me, outside AIR Studios