Apple Scruffs at Abbey Road

So there I was on my London Beatles Walk, outside Abbey Road Studios, telling the story of how Beatles fans Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease sang backing vocals on ‘Across The Universe’ – and who should be listening to my speech? Gayleen Pease!!

Gayleen, and Lizzie, were outside Abbey Road in February 1968, with some other fans, when Paul came out to see if anyone could sing. Gayleen and Lizzie said yes, and were invited into the studio to sing backing vocals on ‘Across the Universe’.

Gayleen was there today with many of the original ‘Apple Scruffs’ – who were having there annual reunion. The fans got the name because they were always outside 3 Savile Row, the Beatles Apple HQ, and were apparently scruffy in appearance, as they were pretty much camped on the doorstep. George Harrison wrote the song ‘Apple Scruffs’ about them.

While I was chatting to the Apple Scruffs, Ronan Keating went into Abbey Road Studios. Much work was being done too for what looked like a big event at the Studios, maybe for the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper tomorrow?

You never know who you might see on a London Beatles Walk http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

 

Sgt Pepper to be a UK Number One?

The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was last Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart some 49 years ago, but it could return to the top spot this week.

The classic album, which spent 27 weeks at Number 1 in 1967 and 1968, was last Number 1 in March 1968; 49 years on, the album’s 50th anniversary edition, which features remastered and remixed material in addition to unreleased session tapes, could return to the chart’s summit.

The LP, which is the best-selling studio album in UK chart history, has shifted a further 24,000 combined chart sales as of today’s midweek sales flash, and has a considerable lead over Ed Sheeran’s ÷, which looks to slip from the top spot it held last week.

http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/the-beatles-sgt-peppers-set-to-return-to-number-1-for-first-time-in-49-years__19287/

Kenny Everett on Sgt Pepper

In an exclusive interview for the London Beatles Fanclub magazine, Kenny Everett told me about the first time he heard ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

“I first heard Sergeant Pepper in George’s house. He had a low slung white goes-on- forever house in Esher. And a bunch of us including Tony Hall from Deram records was invited to George’s place to hear this new album. He had an acetate of it. He put it on the gramophone, and we all sat around and this thing started and blew us away, we were completely gone and on another planet, it was a quantum leap, and we thought, ‘music can stop right here, nobody is ever going to produce anything better than this, so all musicians can go back to bed now’, it was the best thing we’d ever heard ! And George said ‘It’s quite good isn’t it ?’ The night before they’d all had a party, and they’d decided to get spray cans of coloured paint and spray ‘God is Love’ and other things all over the walls of the house, this wonderful million dollar house,and they sprayed flowers, and words all over it in a stoned orgy the night before. He’d woken up the next morning to get the milk in and had horror written all over his face at what they’d done.”

Happy 50th birthday, Sgt Pepper!

Happy Sgt Pepper Day!

The reissue of Sgt Pepper is out today! The Sgt Pepper pop up shop in Liverpool opened at midnight, selling the new set, and it is already on Spotify, Apple Music etc.

…and here is Ringo in a photo from his twitter account:

Ringo Starr as Sgt Pepper

 

Sgt Pepper – I’d Love to Turn You On.

In an article originally written for the London Beatles Fanclub Magazine, Esther Shafer writes about the Beatles Classic album, which was released 50 years ago….

Sgt Pepper – An Appreciation of a Classic Album

Believe it or not, I got into a conversation with three Beatle fans who told me they don’t think Sgt. Pepper is a very good album. Now, this is as incomprehensible to me as someone saying they don’t like ice cream, chocolate, or blue skies. Totally blown away by this revelation, I was unable to come up with much more than ‘Why not’. got two basic reasons:

1) The songs on Sgt.Pepper aren’t as good as those on Revolver.

2) Being second generation fans, they were born too late to appreciate the mood of the times, and Sgt. Pepper is to them very much tied to the 60′ s.

I went away to collect my thoughts. Okay, so maybe there is such a thing as a generation gap. My mind drifted back to my youth, the summer of 67 when I was sixteen and Sgt. Pepper became permanently imprinted on my consciousness. If they don’t get the meaning of Sgt. Pepper, then I will try to help them.

So, for all of you poor lost souls, I am prescribing three exercises.

Exercise one Make believe it’s your first time.

Make absolutely sure you will be totally uninterrupted for 39 minutes and 52 seconds. Unplug the telephone, lock yourself in a room if you have to. Arrange your body in your best listening to albums position. It might be lying on your bed, on your couch, on the floor. Just make sure you have no limits to how loud you can play the music. If you have nervous parents, roommates, or neighbors, headphones are recommended. A CD would prevent you from having to turn the record over, but purists will want to listen to the album (a slightly scratched model from the 60’s is best with pops and clicks from well listened to tracks). Anyway, you will need an actual album for exercise three.

Choose a time of day when you are at your best. If it’s a nice day, open the windows, lie in a patch of sunlight, burn some incense, or surround yourself with flowers. Clear your mind of all thoughts, close your eyes, and just listen. Pay special attention to the way the instruments, sound effects and background vocals blend together. Relax and breathe deeply.

When you are finished listening to the entire album, stand up, stretch, and go outside. You should be in a somewhat sobered mood, after listening to A Day in the Life. Experience your surroundings, whatever they may be. You’re taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday. Really look at a flower or a tree. Look at the clouds in the sky. Watch a bird, or a squirrel. Even if your front door leads out to a busy street, that’s okay too. Listen to the traffic sounds, other peoples’ voices. Watch the people walking here and there. Imagine all the human dramas that are being played out around you. Watch an old couple, two young people flirting. Stay out as long as the mood maintains. You are finished. Good work.

Exercise Two Awakening the Unconscious

For the next few days, play the album as background music. Pretend it’s 1967. Anywhere you went, you could hear the sounds wafting out of windows, on car radios. Your friends are playing it on their stereo. They turn the record over and over, all day long. Your mind will tune out the parts you don’t really care for. Then all of a sudden, while doing something totally irrelevant, you will find yourself humming a tune, or remembering a guitar riff. Then you know you have accomplished your goal. Bonus points for remembering how one song blends into another. You’ve really made it when you can imagine the order of the songs without thinking too long about it.

Exercise Three – Traveling Through Space and Time.

It’s 1967. For months you have heard about the revolutionary design of the Beatles’ new album cover. Start with the front. Your eyes glance from one figure to another. You won’t be able to identify them all. Notice the lower half of the cover. You keep noticing more and more detail. Some of it looks very strange to you. Now open the cover. The Beatles look very different to you now. Their eyes look rounder, and you can see far, far into them. With their moustaches, they don’t look quite the same.

Now your eyes rest on their costumes. The shiny material, the decorations. Look how much they have changed since 1963. Thrown off the old dark suits, the same uniform. Now they are all wearing different colors. Let your mind wander back to your childhood. What did you want to be when you grew up? A policeman with shiny brass buttons? A fireman in a big red hat? A meter maid? An Indian princess? Superman? How would you really like to present yourself to the world? Express the real you. Braid flowers in your hair. Grow your hair as long as you want. Embroider flowers and sew patches on your jeans. Wear slogans on your shirts. Throw away those uniforms of conformity and be yourself. The Beatles say it’s ok.

Now look at the back cover. Let your eyes wander over the lyrics. Think of the range of human emotion that is played out on this album. Things are getting better all the time – hard times are over. The heady excitement of flirtation Lovely Rita, Meter Maid. The kind of love our gradparents have – no passion, just contentment – When I’m 64. A bit lacking in self–confidence? – I Get by with Little Help From my Friends. The heartbreak of broken relationships – She’s Leaving Home. The mania that comes from living in a rat race – Good Morning, Good Morning – and then it all comes crashing down on your head with the realization that it’s all futile because it’ll all end anyway – A Day in the Life.

I could get really heavy now, and tell you how the album is a microcosm of life – or remind you that this was the first “theme” album, and therefore it can’t possibly be compared to Revolver. The songs on Revolver are precious and rare jewels – each stands alone and shines in it’s own perfection. But Sgt. Pepper is rather like a novel – you can’t just pick up the book, open it randomly, and read one chapter, expecting to grasp the story in it’s entirety. But by this time, you should be making profound statements and having mind-blowing revelations of your own. And if not – well, I’d love to turn you on . . .

Esther Shafer

A certain well know  album cover

Pattie Boyd Unveils a Blue Plaque to George Harrison at Kinfauns

A blue plaque commemorating  George Harrison’s time living in Esher has been unveiled by his first wife Pattie Boyd.

The plaque, organised by the Esher Residents Association (ERA), marks the couple’s former Kinfauns home in Claremont Drive.

The house has almost completely been replaced since George and Pattie lived there.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/beatles-guitarist-george-harrison-blue-13085560

Pattie and the Kinfauns plaque

Sgt Pepper Documentary on BBC Radio 2 Tonight.

Martin Freeman presents Sgt. Pepper Forever, which will reveal the revolutionary studio techniques used during the remarkable sessions dating from November 1966 to April 1967 and also examine the album’s huge impact on the history of music. They will feature ‘work-in-progress’ versions of Sgt. Pepper tracks – and the songs on the double A-side single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, which were also recorded during the sessions – to illustrate the pioneering techniques used by The Beatles and George Martin.

This two-part documentary special features interviews with Paul, George, Ringo and George Martin, and in a new interview composer Howard Goodall talks about, and illustrates on piano, the musical innovations of the album’s songs.

Having worked with the original four-track tapes to create a new stereo mix of Sgt. Pepper for its 50th anniversary, producer Giles Martin (son of Sir George Martin) describes the innovative recording techniques used at the time and how he approached making his new version.

There will also be interview material with the album cover’s co-designer Peter Blake, Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, Tony King (George Martin’s assistant in 1967), Mike Leander (the arranger of She’s Leaving Home), poet Adrian Mitchell, DJ John Peel and some of the producers and musicians who were influenced by the achievements of the album, including T Bone Burnett, Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Jimmy Webb and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.

Martin Freeman says: “Sgt. Pepper is the most celebrated album by my favourite band. These documentaries will shed light on how The Beatles, with George Martin, created a piece of work that marked a watershed for what a long playing record could be. It’s my absolute pleasure to help tell you about it.”.

Sgt Pepper Forever – BBC Radio 2 – 10:00 pm Wednesday 24th May – and online afterwards. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08qqgm0