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

#PeaceAndLove to Ringo Starr in Studio One at Abbey Road Studios Today!

Just back from wishing Ringo ‘Peace and Love’ on his birthday in Studio One at Abbey Road.

We were allowed in at around 11.45am – around the studio were many keyboard instruments used by the Beatles on their records in the studios. Behind the stage were placards with ‘All You Need is Love’ on – similar to those used on the ‘All You Need is Love’ ‘Our World’ TV broadcast -that was broadcast from this very room 50 years ago last month.

Giles Martin (an unexpected bonus!) introduced the event, and told how important Abbey Road was to him, not the least because his mother and father first met there! We were then given a nice speech by Mirek Styles of Abbey Road, of the history of Studio One.

Jonathan Clyde of Apple then introduced a recording of Ringo giving a countdown to 12 noon, when everyone said ‘Peace and Love’ and did the peace sign. Jonathan then played the video of the Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ broadcast. It was very emotional seeing and hearing this in the very room it was filmed in.

Thanks to Irina PorterBarbara Simpson and Paul Endacott for sharing the event with me – and to Cathy Hawkes from Apple for inviting me along.

Here is Giles Martin’s welcoming speech https://www.facebook.com/richard.porter.5815/videos/10212031128066875/

Mirek Styles of Abbey Road Studios, telling the story of Studio One https://www.facebook.com/richard.porter.5815/videos/10212031456235079/

Jonathan Clyde of Apple, introducing Ringo’s ‘Peace and Love’ to the world at 12 Noon

Jonathan Clyde from Apple introducing Ringo's 'Peace and Love' to the world at 12 noon #PeaceAndLove

Posted by Richard Porter on Friday, 7 July 2017

 

 

Mirek Styles of Abbey Road Studios, telling the history of the Studio in Studio One at the Ringo Peace and Love event today. #PeaceAndLove

Posted by Richard Porter on Friday, 7 July 2017

Giles Martin Introducing the Peace and Love event to Ringo Starr in Studio One, Abbey Road Studios
Blogger Richard Porter and wife Irina, on the steps of Abbey Road Studios Today
The cakes to celebrate Ringo’s 77th birthday in Studio One at Abbey Road today
Inside Studio One for the Peace and Love for Ringo on his birthday event today

When John met Paul – It Was 60 Years Ago Today!

So, on July 6th 1957 Ivan Vaughan had the foresight to take his friend Paul McCartney along to St Peter’s Church Fete to see his friend, John Lennon, play with his band the Quarrymen. ‘Ivy’ introduced Paul to John in St Peter’s Church Hall, where Paul McCartney showed off his musical talent, and was later asked to join the band. They start writing songs together, and got pretty good at it.

Paul bought his friend, George Harrison into the band, and they changed their name to the Beatles. Then Ringo came into the band and the Beatles music spread worldwide.

Two people touched by the music, was Richard Porter (me :>) who was moved to start a Beatles Fan Club in London. Around the same time Irina Dyomkina was equally moved in Moscow, USSR, to start a Beatles Fan club there. Irina and Richard met in 1990 and married in 2004. Their daughter, Lilia, was born in 2007.

So today we raise a glass to Ivan Vaughan, without whom…..

The Quarrymen, July 6th 1957
Ivan Vaughan
Richard, Irina and Lilia Porter

28th June 1990 Paul McCartney ‘Let it Be Liverpool’

27 years ago today, Paul McCartney played a very special concert in his home town. The highlight was a medley of songs associated with John Lennon – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ ‘Help!’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

When Paul finished ‘Give Peace a Chance’ the audience continued to sing it – and Paul and the band did an encore. A very emotional moment for all concerned, especially Paul, and me, who was in the audience. A very memorable night!

14th June 1965 – Paul McCartney’s Day!

On 14th June 1965, the Beatles recorded 3 songs in a day dominated by Paul McCartney.

Between 2:30 and 5:30 they recorded Paul’s country influenced song, ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’, followed by the out and out rocker ‘I’m Down’, which was inspired by Little Richard.

Then, in the evening session, Paul recorded his vocals on ‘Yesterday’

Three amazingly different songs recorded on the same day.

6th June 1962 – the Beatles First Recording Session at Abbey Road Studios

June 6th 1962 – the Beatles record ‘Love Me Do’ at their first session at EMI Studios, Abbey Road. They also recorded versions of ‘Besame Mucho’, ‘PS I Love You’ and ‘Ask Me Why’

Earlier in the day, they had rehearsed many songs, and decided to record four of them later.

Things didn’t go smoothly:

“The Beatles didn’t make a very good impression, apart from visually. I mean, we heard nothing of John and Paul’s songwriting ability. They had tiny little Vox amplifiers and speakers, which didn’t create much of a sound at source. Of course, every sound engineer wants some kind of sound at source that he can then embellish and improve, but I got nothing out of The Beatles’ equipment except for a load of noise, hum and goodness-knows-what. Paul’s was about the worst — in those days we had echo chambers to add onto the reverberation, and I had to raid the Studio Two echo chamber in order to fix him up with a sound so that we could get something down on tape.” – Norman Smith

Most documentation for the session has long been destroyed, but we know it was produced by George Martin with assistant Ron Richards, and was The Beatles’ only EMI session to feature Pete Best on drums; when the band returned to Abbey Road on 4 September, Ringo Starr was the group’s new drummer.

Ron Richards was initially in charge of the session – George Martin was only brought in when balance engineer Norman Smith was struck by the quality of Love Me Do. Smith instructed tape operator Chris Neal to fetch Martin, who took over the rest of the session. It was unusual for a producer to be present for an artist test. However, on this day Martin stayed for most of the session.

“The control room door opened and in walked George Martin himself. And I thought to myself, ‘This must be some kind of special artist test for him to show up.’ Because producers didn’t normally attend artists test. It was always their assistants. And, of course, up to that time, George was not involved at all with any guitar groups. He did a lot of comedy records, like Peter Sellers and stuff like that.”
Norman Smith

Afterwards George Martin invited the Beatles to the control room to talk and listen to the playback.

We gave them a long lecture about their equipment and what would have to be done about it if they were to become recording artists. They didn’t say a word hack, not a word, they didn’t even nod their heads in agreement. When he finished, George said ‘Look, I’ve laid into you for quite a time, you haven’t responded. Is there anything you don’t like?’ I remember they all looked at each other for a long while, shuffling their feet, then George Harrison took a long look at George and said ‘Yeah, I don’t like your tie!’ That cracked the ice for us and for the next 15-20 minutes they were pure entertainment. When they left to go home George and I just sat there saying ‘Phew! What do you think of that lot then?’ I had tears running down my face.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1mgIZrlLSE

We go to Abbey Road on my London Beatles Walks http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

22nd May 1968 – the Beatles Launch Apple Tailoring

May 22nd 1968 – John,Yoko, George and Pattie attend press launch of Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical), 161 Kings Road, Chelsea. Before going to the new shop, they attend a party at Club Dell’Aretusa, at 107 Kings Road. John and Yoko had only been together a few days, and it was the first time they’d been seen in public together. Many of the press shouted out to John ‘Where’s your wife?’

Apple Tailoring was run by John Crittle, who is the father of former prima ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing Judge, Darcey Bussell.

Ironically, the jacket that George wore to the event came from Granny Takes a Trip, another fashionable Kings Road clothes shop!

Before becoming Apple Tailoring, the shop was called Dandie Fashions, and was co-owned by Guiness Heir Tara Browne. Tara tragically died in a car accident, which was written about in song by his friend John Lennon ‘He Blew his mind out in a car’

The building is now occupied by ‘Proud Chelsea’ photo gallery. We will be going past Apple Tailoring on our special Beatles tour on a 60s Routemaster Bus on June 4th. Full details at https://04june_bustour_beatles4ever.eventbrite.co.uk

John Lennon outside Apple Tailoring
George and Pattie Harrison at the party to launch Apple Tailoring
John at Apple Tailoring, with Yoko very much in the background

19th May 1967 – the Launch Party of Sgt Pepper at Brian Epstein’s House

On May 19th 1967, the Beatles gathered at Brian Epstein’s house in Chapel Street, Belgravia, for the launch party of their new album, ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Among the invited guests were all the top music journalists and DJs – including Kenny Everett, who told me about the party in my exclusive interview with him:

  • I believe you met Brian Epstein a few times?

Oh yes, I knew Brian before he was famous. He used to own a couple of shops in Liverpool, one called NEMS and one called Epstein’s. I used to work in an advertising agency and i used to take copy to him to approve. Then he suddenly discovered these four wandering geniuses and said ‘Hey, let’s get famous!’ and the next thing I know is this person I’d been taking advertising copy to was riding around in a 10 mile long car. It was so funny how it came together because after knowing him in the advertising world there I was 15 years later, standing in his house in Chapel Street with the Beatles all dressed in bows and beads at the Sergeant Pepper launch. It was a fabulous party, every single person in the universe was there. I remember them standing up against the fireplace, bonkers, they couldn’t string two words together.

  • Yes, I’d heard John was a little bit…

…A little bit ! He was on Mars! Those were the days, if you took a little something it was fun. then a lot of people went too far and started throwing themselves off buildings so all the fun has been taken out of it.

Also among the guests was American photographer, Linda Eastman. She was already a well known figure on the New York rock scene, and was in the UK to shoot rock stars for a book she was working on. She had met Paul McCartney a few nights earlier at the Bag O Nails nightclub, and met again here. They married 2 years later…..

Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman at the Launch of Sgt Pepper
The Beatles holding the Sgt Pepper cover at its launch
The Beatles at the door of 24 Chapel Street

Paul and Linda McCartney at MPL

As it is the 50th anniversary today of Paul McCartney first meeting  Linda Eastman at the Bag O Nails club in London, I thought I would share this photo I took of Paul and Linda outside MPL in June 1983. They were a great couple, and Linda was very much the love of Paul’s life.

Paul and Linda McCartney, MPL, 1983