Category Archives: Day in History

February 10th 1967 – A Day in the Life

February 10th 1967. The Beatles are in Studio One at EMI Studios at Abbey Road, recording the orchestral build-up for A Day in the Life. The orchestra are asked to start at their lowest note possible on their instruments, and go up to their highest.
The Beatles turn the session into a big party, with many friends in attendance, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Donovan, and Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. Even though the orchestra were asked to wear evening dress for the occasion, one of them also wore a red clown nose, and the leader of the violins wore a gorilla paw on his bowing arm!

After the orchestra had left, the Beatles,and friends who stayed behind, got around a microphone and did a big hummmmmm. This was going to be the coda for the song, and the album. However, a few days later, this was replaced by the long piano chord.
The session is almost exactly 4 years to the day since the Beatles recorded the entire Please Please Me Album (February 11th 1963) – a quantum leap in 4 years!

This unique recording session was filmed for posterity. Tony Bramwell of NEMS was in charge of the shooting, gave out cameras to many of the participants to help. The resulting film was supposed to be part of a TV special about making the ‘Sgt Pepper’ album, but it was never completed, and the film made that day wasn’t broadcast for several years, as the song was banned due to supposed drug references.

Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles Tour Guide in London. For more details of his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

February 9th – from the Cavern to Ed Sullivan in Three Years!

February 9th was very much ‘A Day in the Life’ of the Beatles! On February 9th 1961, the Beatles first appeared at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Quarrymen had played at the Cavern a few times in the late 1950s, when still mainly a skiffle group. However, they also did a few rock and roll songs, and club owner Alan Sytner, a jazz lover, told them to “Cut out the bloody rock!”

Finally, now called ‘The Beatles’ they got back into the Cavern through their great supporter, Bob Wooler. He managed to get them a fee of £5 for the gig. However there was a doubt whether Paul McCartney would be able to get to the gig. He had a full time job at Massey and Coggins, and although the gig was at lunchtime, there was no way Paul could get to the gig and back during his lunch hour. However, Paul just bunked over the wall and played the gig.

The Beatles went onto play at the Cavern nearly 300 times in the next 2.5 years…

John Lennon at the Cavern Club - February 9th 1961.
John Lennon at the Cavern Club – February 9th 1961.

Exactly three years later, the Beatles made there first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, in front of a TV audience of 73 million people. Quite a leap in three years!!

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 9th February 1964
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 9th February 1964

 

 

January 30th 1969 Up on the Roof – The Beatles Last Live Performance

The Beatles last ever live performance took place on the roof of 3 Savile Row, the Beatles’ ‘Apple’ HQ, on January 30th 1969. However, things could have been very different, and almost didn’t take place at all!

The Beatles were in the middle of a project initially called ‘Get Back’. Paul McCartney wanted the Beatles to do a huge live performance of their new album, which would be heard for the first time at the gig. The Beatles were to film the rehearsal for the concert, the took place at Twickenham Film Studios. That location was chosen as the head of Apple Films, Dennis O’Dell, was about the start work there on the film ‘Magic Christian with Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.

However, things went badly from the start when the Beatles convened at Twickenham on January 2nd 1969. Twickenham was a large, very cold film studio, and not great for playing music. The main problem, however, was the tension in the Beatles, which got worse as time went on. There was no agreement on where to do the big concert. One suggestion was a Roman Ampitheatre in the middle of the desert in Tunisia. So many bizarre suggestions were made, that John Lennon was heard to mutter, ‘I think we should do it in a lunatic asylum’,

Finally the tension got too much for George Harrison. Over lunch on January 10th, he walked out of the session and said to the others ‘See you ’round the clubs!’

Finally, after days of negotiations, George agreed to return to the Beatles, but only if the sessions ended at Twickenham, and instead continued at their own Apple Studio at Savile Row.

The recording sessions certainly went better than at Twickenham, even though the film crew still followed their every move. However, the film didn’t have a climax, and Paul McCartney was determined to play live somewhere. It was decided to play a few songs on the roof of their own building – this took place on 30th January 1969.

An hour before the session technicians were testing the mikes and having real problems, as the strong wind was making a horrendous noise. Therefore Alan Parsons was sent around to a local branch of Marks and Spencers to buy some stockings to put over the mikes to stop the wind getting in. As Alan remembers, “It was very strange walking into the lingerie department and the assistant asking ‘what size?’ – and me answering ‘doesn’t matter’, ‘what colour?’ ‘doesn’t matter’ – they thought I was really odd.”

Even though they couldn’t be seen from the street, the Beatles could be heard for miles around and lots of people started gathering in the street below. Of course, the Beatles knew this was going to happen, so they had cameras placed all around and many passers-by were interviewed about their reactions. Beatles fans loved it – the group hadn’t played live in the UK for nearly 3 years. However, the local tailors were not amused by their business being disrupted by the concert. They called the police to get the Beatles to stop.

The Beatles on the roof of 3 Savile Row, January 30th 1969
The Beatles on the roof of 3 Savile Row, January 30th 1969

The nearest police station, West End Central, is only 150 yards from 3 Savile Row, at the other end of the street. However, the first policemen that arrived actually came from a police box in Piccadilly Circus, about three times the distance to 3 Savile Row than the police station! Ken Wharfe, then a young police officer, got a call on his radio saying that the Beatles were making too much noise and to tell them to turn it down. Ken and his colleague were huge Beatles fans and couldn’t believe their luck when they arrived on the roof and saw the Beatles playing live. They had no intention of stopping them.

This was a disappointment to the Beatles as they actually wanted to be arrested as it would have been a great climax for the film. They were allowed to finish the last song they were playing – which was ironically Get Back. The ‘rooftop session’ ended when John came to the microphone and said, “I’d like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition.” It was to be the Beatles’ last ever live performance.

The Beatles on the roof of 3 Savile Row - looking down from above
The Beatles on the roof of 3 Savile Row – looking down from above

 

On the 40th anniversary of the rooftop concert, I managed to get my Beatles tour group up on the roof for the first and only time. The event was covered by CNN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfvy1gQnkuM

Blogger Richard Porter on the roof of 3 Savile Row - 30th January 2009
Blogger Richard Porter on the roof of 3 Savile Row – 30th January 2009

 

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

19th January 1967 – A Day in the Life….

On January 19th 1967, the Beatles began work on a new song for their forthcoming new album. The working title was ‘In the Life of…’, but a day later became ‘A Day in the Life’

On this day, The Beatles began work on John Lennon’s segment. John was an avid reader of newspapers since childhood, and used three separate stories for this song. The first part was about his friend, Tara Browne, who had been killed in a car crash. The second was about the film he’d been in ‘How I Won the War’ and the third was a small piece about potholes in the road in Blackburn. At this point, it seemed that nothing had been planned for the middle eight, so Mal Evans counted to 24 to fill in the gaps, to record over at a future session. On other days. Paul’s contribution would be added, and of course the amazing orchestral build-up.

This day, just bongos, maracas, piano and guitar were recorded, plus John’s vocals. As usual with John, where most singers would just put down a ‘guide vocal’, without really trying to get it perfect, John recorded every vocal as it was going to be the one on the record.

The song went through many recording stages in the next month or so, but A Day in the Life was magnificent right from the start…

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

 

 

January 12th 1964 The Beatles at the London Palladium – Take 2

On January 12th, 1964, the Beatles made their second appearance on the top TV show ‘Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

They had first appeared on the show on October 13th 1963. The scenes inside and outside the theatre that day has been seen as the start of ‘Beatlemania’ – though it had actually just taken the media a long time to catch on to the scenes that had been surrounding the Beatles for many months.

If anything, the crowds outside the Palladium for their second appearance were greater than the first. As usual the show was compered by Bruce Forsyth. The Beatles sang ‘I Want to Hold You Hand’, ‘This Boy’, ‘All My Loving’ ‘Money (That’s What I want) and Twist and Shout’  As with the fist Palladium show, there is no video in existence of the Beatles performance, but there is audio. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwDYy3bwyCo

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles London tour guide. For more details of his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

The Beatles singing 'This Boy' at the London Palladium 1964
The Beatles singing ‘This Boy’ at the London Palladium 1964

 

Fans crowd Argyll Street waiting to see the Beatles
Fans crowd Argyll Street waiting to see the Beatles

10th January 1969 ‘See You around the Clubs!’ George Walks Out on the Beatles

January 10th 1969. The Beatles were rehearsing at Twickenham Film Studios for their ‘Get Back’ project. At lunchtime a row broke out and George got up, said ‘See you around the clubs’ and left!

John suggested The Beatles bring in Eric Clapton to take Georges place. That afternoon The Beatles carried on rehearsing, sometimes backing Yoko doing her screaching.

Sessions were then abandoned at Twickenham, and a few days later, a meeting was held with George at Savile Row. He agreed to come back only if the proposed big concert was dropped and session continued in their own Apple Studio, rather than Twickenham. The others agreed, and the project, eventually retitled ‘Let it Be’ was completed.

5th January 1967 Carnival of Light – a Legendary unreleased Beatles Track

On January 5th 1967 the Beatles recorded one of their strangest pieces of music, and to this day, it hasn’t been released. It was called Carnival of Light.

It was ‘written’ by Paul McCartney, for a an event at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London called  “The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave” Paul was asked to contribute a piece by David Vaughan, part of designer trio, Binder, Edwards & Vaughan. Carnival of Light was premiered at the event, and has never been heard in public again since! Playing live at the event were Unit Delta Plus, featuring Delia Derbyshire from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who previously had recorded the theme tune to ‘Dr Who’.

One of the few people to hear Carnival of Light is Mark Lewisohn, who was given access to it during the preparation for his book ‘The Complete Beatles Recording Session’. He describes it as  including “distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, John Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘Barcelona!’

Paul McCartney has talked about the track many times since, but it still hasn’t been released. It was considered for the Beatles Anthology, but was vetoed by George Harrison. The ‘versions’ on youtube are sadly fake.

A poster the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave - where Carnival of Light was premiered
A poster the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave – where Carnival of Light was premiered

3rd January 1970 I Me Mine – the last Beatles Recording Session at Abbey Road

On January 3rd 1970, the Beatles returned to Abbey Road Studios for the first time since August 1969 to record ‘I Me Mine’ for the ‘Let it Be’ album. It was to become the last Beatles song to be recorded (well, at least until ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ for the ‘Beatles Anthology’)

Only Paul, George and Ringo were present. The official reason that John wasn’t there was that he was on holiday in Denmark, but actually he had left the Beatles some months earlier, but it hadn’t been officially announced. During the recording session, George said ‘You will all have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us, but Mickey and Titch and I would just like to carry on the good work that’s always gone down in number two’.

I Me Mine actually dated back to the ‘Get Back’ sessions in January 1969, almost exactly a year earlier. It had been rehearsed during the first part of the sessions at Twickenham Film Studios, with great footage of John and Yoko waltzing to it. That clip was chosen to be in the film, but the song wasn’t recorded during the subsequent sessions at the Beatles’ Apple Studio. Therefore a recording had to be made to go on the album.

The original version of I Me Mine was only just over 1.5 minutes long. It was the last song they recorded.

But not the last recording session. The next day, Paul, George and Ringo returned to Abbey Road to record overdubs onto the January 1969 recording of ‘Let it Be’  So much for ‘Get Back’ – or ‘Let it Be’ as it became, being recorded ‘as nature intended’ – without overdubs!

However, that still not the end of the story! In March 1970, Phil Spector was brought in by John, George and Ringo to ‘reproduce’ the ‘Get Back’ tapes to make a new album, which had it’s title changed to ‘Let it Be’.Phil Spector ‘reproduced’ it to a  longer 2 minutes 25 seconds.

I Me Mine was finally released on the ‘Let it Be’ album on 8th May 1970.

Here is an outtake from the January 3rd 1970 recording session. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNYuaEluUgQ

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London. For details of Richard’s tours, please see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

 

26th December 1966 Follow Your Nose! John Lennon on Not Only But Also

On 26th December 1966, the Christmas Special of ‘Not Only….. But Also….’ starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was broadcast. The show was a send up of an American TV reporter, played by Peter Cook, sent to the UK to find ‘Swinging London’

Peter Cook encounters the hippest toilets in London, the ‘Ad Lav’ and the commissionaire ‘Dan’ played by John Lennon.

Lennon is seen saluting to ‘visitors’ to the toilets, above him is a sign saying ‘Members Only’ – very bad English toilet humour! John greets Peter Cook and tells him there is a £5 ‘waiting list’ for entering the toilets. He then tells Peter Cook to ‘follow your nose’ when entering!

The sketch was filmed on 27th November 1966, in Broadwick Street in Soho, London. John is seen wearing his famous small round glasses for the first time. He was given them to wear in the film ‘How I Won the War’, which he had just completed. John liked the glasses so much he was rarely without them until he died. Before they were known as ‘granny glasses’ and were normally worn by old ladies. After John started wearing them they became the height of fashion.

The toilets in Broadwick Street are still there! We go past there (but not inside!) on my ‘Beatles Magical Mystery Tour’ London walking tour. For more info see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

lennonbroadwick

December 14th 1963 – The Beatles at Wimbledon Palais

This was one of the most bizarre Beatles concerts. On 14th December 1963 the Beatles came to the Wimbledon Palais in Merton for an event billed as the ‘Southern Area Fan Club Convention’ of the Beatles Fan club. The Beatles Fan club now had over 80,000 paid up members and Beatles PR man Tony Barrow was worried that the Club wasn’t offering value for money. He therefore decided it would be good to turn this already booked one off gig into something special.

A week before the concert the Wimbledon News announced that all police leave at Tootingand Mitcham had been cancelled and that some policemen would have to work 12-hour shifts.

St Helier Hospital informed other local hospitals of the Beatles’ visit and warned that they wouldn’t be able to recruit extra staff. The Palais itself was making its own security arrangements and taking on extra people. St John’s ambulance brigade were also on standby.

For the first part of the day the Beatles sat behind the bar of the Palais as all the 3000 fans present filed past to shake their hand and get autographs. Most of the fans were well behaved, but some started screaming when meeting their heroes became too much.

After everyone had filed passed, the Beatles were to play a concert, but were amazed and angry when they saw they had to play in a huge steel cage – similar to those used to protect audiences from wild animals! Apparently the management were worried that the crowd might storm the stage and harm the Beatles – the very same fans that had been only inches from the group an hour earlier. They were also worried about the possible damage to their famous sprung dance floor.

At one point the fans were jammed up so hard against the steel cage that John Lennon quipped ‘If they push any harder they’ll come through as chips!’

In fact, the cage did begin to buckle under the strain. Police managed to push the crowd back as one brave man with a spanner and bodyguards did his best to tighten up the structure.

The Beatles themselves were outraged at the thought of playing in a cage – especially in front of their most loyal fans, some who had travelled over 100 miles for the event. In the end though the Beatles agreed to go on after apologising to the audience and the show finished without incident.

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London. For more info on his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

The Beatles at the Wimbledon Palais 1963
The Beatles at the Wimbledon Palais 1963

Raw footage of the Beatles at Wimbledon Palais https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmdHaMl9Irs