I’ve just heard of the passing of Allan Williams, the Beatles first manager. He was a very important part of the Beatles story, and a great Liverpool character. The world is a sadder place without him.
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
Merry Happy Crimble and Gear New Year to all my readers :>)
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.
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
Raw footage of the Beatles at Wimbledon Palais https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmdHaMl9Irs
The history books will tell you that John Lennon was murdered on December 8th 1980 – but in the the UK it was early in the morning on the 9th.
I woke up late that morning, and didn’t put the radio on before going to school. I cycled to school as usual, not knowing anything had happened, only to be met by my best friend, and fellow Beatles fan, Dalton, who looked really angry, and was muttering about what some bastard had done to John Lennon. The then told me that John had been murdered. My first reaction was that it was another ‘Paul is dead’ type rumour, and that really he was OK.
However, that morning, the school assembly was taken by students, and they played ‘In My Life’ as a tribute to John. It’s there that the horrible fact really sank in. I also noticed that a lot of fellow students, and also staff, were moved by the announcement too.
After school, I went home and bought the evening newspapers, which had John on the front cover, and played Beatles/John songs for the rest of the day – only to stop to watch the many tributes to John on TV.
At the time, I had never been that affected by anyone’s death before.
Fast forward to 2007. My daughter Lilia, was born at approx 6am on December 9th. John Lennon was shot around 4am London time on December 9th 1980, and died about 2 hours later.
Take a sad song and make it better :>)
PS It certainly, wasn’t planned that Lilia was born at that time!
I wrote this piece for the British Beatles Fanclub a few years ago. It still holds true today…
Like Beatles fans everywhere, we look back on the events of 8th December 1980 with much sadness. John Lennon, a brilliant musician, songwriter and man of peace, was needlessly gunned down in front of his wife, outside his own home. We all know where we were when we heard the terrible news.
However, we would rather remember and celebrate the remarkable life of John Lennon, than dwell on his senseless death. We condemn those media outlets that are featuring interviews with John’s killer, who carried out the act to become famous himself. Giving him publicity now gives him exactly what he wanted. It says something about our society, that a man who was a nobody for most of his life, should become famous for killing someone who gave pleasure to millions of people throughout the world.
John Lennon said in an interview shortly before he died, “It’s hard to be Gandhi or Martin Luther King or to follow them. I don’t admire politicians particularly, I think they’re showbiz people, but people who put their thing on the line, like Gandhi, and threw the British out by not shooting anybody… those are the political people I admire. But I don’t want to be shot for it like Gandhi, and I don’t want to be shot for it like Martin Luther King. I don’t want to be a martyr, I don’t believe in martyrs, but I admire their stance.”
John Lennon was not a saint, he was a flawed human being like all of us. However, he lived his life to the full, and used his fame to send a message of peace and love. On 8th December we will be commemorating a great life, not a senseless death.
Blogger Richard Porter is a full time Beatles tour guide in London. For more details on his tours, see http://wwww.beatlesinlondon.com
In an article originally written for the London Beatles Fanclub Magazine, Esther Shafer writes about the Beatles Classic album, which they began recording 50 years ago….
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 wentaway 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 . . .
December 5th 1967 – John Lennon and George Harrison, along with their wives, attended the party to celebrate the opening of the Beatles ‘Apple’ store on Baker Street. Paul was apparently ‘on holiday’ in Scotland, and Ringo was filming ‘Candy’.
As the store didn’t have an alcohol license, party goers were given Apple juice to drink :>)
Not surprisingly, the party was covered extensively in the media, including Pathe News, and in colour, though silent, by AP. Much of the media interest centred on the shop’s psychedelic mural, which was designed by ‘The Fool’ – who also designed the clothes sold inside.
The shop opened to the public 2 days later.