Helter Skelter – the new name for the Beatles Coffee Shop, will be opening in a few days. I’m glad to say they have retained the Beatles heads by the door :>) I will be acting as a consultant on all things Beatles for the new owners. The shop will be at St John’s Wood Underground Station, the nearest to Abbey Road Studios and the Abbey Road Crossing. We will be visiting the new shop on my London Beatles Walks http://www.beatlesinlondon.com
Things are really hotting up for the 50th anniversary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It has just been announced that the village of Portmeirion in Wales is to organise a special Beatles day at this amazing seaside location. George Harrison loved the village, and was interviewed here for the Beatles Anthology. He also held his 50th birthday party here. Brian Epstein also loved it, and holidayed here many times.
Portmeirion was also the location for the great TV series ‘The Prisoner’.
On Friday, March 24, locations manager Mr Jones will take members of the public on an exclusive tour around Gate House – a cottage previously used by Brian Epstein.
The tour will also take visitors outside the Watch House, up to the Bristol Colonnade and around the Hotel’s Mirror Room, which all have connections with George Harrison.
And as a finale to the event Fab Four tribute band The Mersey Beatles will perform a number of hits.
The Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK are reporting that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is to be re-released on June 1st – the 50th anniversary of its original release. They also say that Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane are to be included on the album for the first time. These songs were originally recorded for the album, but EMI wanted a single release, and Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields were selected. Although one of the most incredible singles of all time, it became the first Beatles single in four years not to get to number one in the charts. It was held off the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck and ‘Release Me’
A word of warning. This story had not been reported elsewhere, and the Mirror are notoriously unreliable. Also, there was no information as to whether this was a deluxe release, or any other bonus material.
A unique collection of memorabilia from The Beatles’ “Youngest Fan Club Member” has gone on display at The Beatles Story .
Russell Jamieson is known as the youngest Beatles Fan Club member when at just four years old back in 1963, he was made an honorary member of the Club.
The youngster loved the band so much that he ran away from his home in Kirby to join the Fab Four in 1963, and when the story made the local papers, John, Paul, George and Ringo requested that club secretary Anne Collingham award him with an honorary membership. He even became known as “Russell Beatle”.
The highlights of the collection include a set of autographs dedicated to Russell, an original Beatles leather jacket and a Beatles collarless jacket.
Images of Russell with the Fab Four will also be on display as well as letters from the band and a newspaper article signed by Sonny Boy Williamson, the famous American Blues harmonica player.
The letter from The Beatles Fan Club reads: “At the special request of John, George, Paul and Ringo, I have very much pleasure in inviting you to become an honorary member of THE OFFICIAL BEATLES’ FAN CLUB.
“I am enclosing your membership card and a couple of special photographs which I am sure you’ll want to add to your collection.
“I want to take this opportunity of welcoming you to the Club and of hoping that you will continue to admire our favourite group, THE BEATLES. Who knows – one day you may form a recording group of your own and I shall be able to form a Fan Club for you too!
“Lots of luck, with love from, Anne Collingham. Secretary of THE OFFICIAL BEATLES FAN CLUB”.
Charlotte Kelly, Operations Manager at The Beatles Story said, “We are delighted to add this unique collection of artefacts to our exhibition, which now holds over 1,400 items. Fans of the band and musical history will enjoy this unique exhibit and the remarkable story it tells about young ‘Russell Beatle’ – who is the youngest and the only honorary member of the Fan Club as far as we are aware”.
March 5th 1963 was a very busy day for the Beatles. They first did a photo session with John Dove at EMI House in Manchester Square, and at Montague Place, near the British Museum.
They then went to EMI Studios at Abbey Road to record their third single, ‘From Me To You’ and ‘Thank You Girl’, plus ‘The One After 909’ – which wasn’t released in 1963, but re-recorded for the ‘Let it Be’ album. The version recorded in 1963 wasn’t released until ‘Anthology One’ in 1995.
On March 2nd 1964, the Beatles begin filming their first film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ at Paddington Station. They get on a specially hired train that travels between Paddington and Minehead in Somerset. While most directors would film train scenes in a film studio, Richard Lester was determined to use real locations, so a special train was hire. It was on the first day of filming that George Harrison met model Pattie Boyd, who plays a schoolgirl in the film. They started a relationship, that led to their marriage two years later.
Over the year as a Beatles fan, I have collected lots of Beatles memorabilia. This is probably my favourite item.
My friend Marilyn Demmen used to go around to the Beatles homes on many weekends in the late 60s. She got to know them quite well, and got their autographs many times. One day she was outside John and Cynthia’s house, Kenwood, at St George’s Hill, Weybridge, when John came out and invited the fans into his kitchen! This might seem amazing now, but was quite a common thing for John to do. When inside, Marilyn saw that John had a bookshelf full of his own books, as he did in ‘Help!’. She laughed about it – so John got one off the shelf, signed it, and gave it to her. That’s the one I’ve got now :>)
As Paul wrote the foreword, I got him to sign it outside Abbey Road Studios in the mid 90s.