Monthly Archives: February 2018

Ernest Hecht – early Beatles Book Publisher, Dies

I’ve just heard of the sad news of the passing of Ernest Hecht, the founder of book publishers Souvenir Press. He published one of the first books on the Beatles, ‘Meet the Beatles’ and also Brian Epstein’s autobiography ‘A Cellarful of Noise’.

Ernest was a lovely man, who always seemed to be smiling, especially when his beloved Arsenal football team won (well, nobody’s perfect!) I met him a few times at his rather chaotic offices opposite the British Museum, which looked just like a book publishers office should look, with piles of books and manuscripts everywhere.

Ernest was 88 years old. The world will be a sadder place without him.

Here is a nice obituary from the Times

Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios This Week

Paul McCartney has been at Abbey Road Studios this week – putting the finishing touches to his new album. Giles Martin has been in the studios too –  but it is not clear whether Giles has been working with Paul McCartney, or on the 50th anniversary release of the ‘White Album’ – which he has been working on for several months.

Will bring you more news when I hear it :>)


Lamborghini once owned by Sir Paul McCartney on sale for £500,000

AN ultra-rare Lamborghini formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney has emerged for sale for a staggering £500,000. The 400GT 2+2 left the factory on Italy in 1967 and was one of only four to be imported into Britain.

It was purchased by the Beatles’ bassist in February 1968 during the height of the band’s fame and joined his considerable collection of sports cars.

The red two-door was converted to right-hand drive especially for the singer and he continued to own it for over a decade, before finally parting with the powerful V12 in 1979.

Since then the Italian classic has had a number of owners and has now emerged for sale once again with Bonhams Auctions in London.

The auctioneers are predicting the coupe, which is one of just 250 to be built, will attract offers of between £400,000 and £500,000. For more click here


The award-winning ‘The Beatles Story’ in Liverpool is celebrating 50 years since The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India with the launch of a new special exhibition. 

Opening on Thursday 15th February, ‘Beatles in India’ will look at this key and relatively secretive part of the Beatles’ story with never-before-seen memorabilia, imagery and personal accounts from the people who were there with the band in 1968.

A sitar used by Ravi Shankar will go onto display within the new immersive area, loaned to The Beatles Story by the Ravi Shankar Foundation. As George Harrison’s mentor, Ravi’s influence on the Beatle ultimately helped to popularise the use of Indian instruments in 1960s pop music.

For more click here

Kenneth Haigh – Who Appeared in A Hard Day’s Night, Passes Away.

Kenneth Haigh, who played  TV man Simon, alongside George in A Hard Day’s Night, has passed away, aged 87. Haigh was already a very well known, and celebrated, actor when he appeared in the Beatles first film. His most famous role was as Jimmy Porter, in John Osborne’s play ‘Look Back in Anger’ at the Royal Court Theatre. In a rather different role, he played alongside Joan Collins in ‘The Bitch’

Here is his scene in  ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

For a full obituary, click here

Paul McCartney to be Awarded Top Israeli Prize

The Israeli Wolf Prize will be awarded at the end of May to nine laureates in the fields of music and science, including legendary British rocker Paul McCartney.

The Wolf Foundation announced on Monday that it selected McCartney – who will share the prize with conductor Adam Fischer – for being “one of the greatest songwriters of all time.” McCartney’s songs, the prize jury noted, “Will be sung and savored as long as there are human beings to lift up their voices.”

The nine laureates – in the fields of music, agriculture, physics, chemistry and mathematics – are invited to a special ceremony at the Knesset hosted by President Reuven Rivlin at the end of May.

Until now, McCartney’s only appearance in Israel was in 2008, when he performed for a near-capacity crowd of 50,000 at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. During his stay, the former Beatles member, also visited the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Beit Sahur east of Bethlehem and met with representatives of the NGO OneVoice. At the meeting, McCartney said: “I’m not a politician – I just want to bring a message of peace.”

For more click here

[Bloggers note – it seems Paul will be receiving the prize in person. Will he do a concert at the same time?]

11th February 1963 ‘Please Please Me’ in One Day

On February 11th 1963, the Beatles recorded their debut album Please Please Me in one day! (Their second album took even longer :>)

In an amazing recording session that lasted just shy of 10 hours, the Beatles recorded 10 tracks. The Beatles weren’t in tip top condition either – the winter of 1962/63 was one of the coldest on record, and John Lennon was suffering from a particularly bad cold, that was affecting his voice. He got through the session sucking on Zubes throat sweets. Paradoxically, right by the jar of Zubes was a huge jar of cigarettes, that the Beatles smoked constantly through the day.

Only 2 songs were recorded in the morning session, ‘There’s a Place’ and ‘Seventeen’ (the working title of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’) At lunchtime, the engineers went to the the local pub, the Heroes of Alma, but the Beatles stayed in the studio to rehearse.

After lunch, they recorded ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’ and ‘Misery’. Then at the 7:30pm evening session, things really started to pick up pace. They first recorded their own song ‘Hold Me Tight’ – but it didn’t really work, and the song was re-recorded for the Beatles second album ‘With the Beatles’.

The Beatles then recorded four cover versions, ‘Anna (go to him)’ ‘Chains’ ‘Boys’ and ‘Baby It’s You’. By the time the Beatles recorded ‘Baby It’s You’, John Lennon’s voice was really rasping, and he and the other Beatles were glad that they thought the day was over, and retired to the canteen. But it wasn’t, because ‘Hold me Tight’ hadn’t worked out, another song was needed. After a short debate, it was decided that it should be ‘Twist and Shout’ – a real fan favourite at their gigs. John’s voice had nearly gone by then, so, according to some accounts, he took his shirt off and ripped into ‘Twist and Shout’ in his most raucous voice possible on the first take. A second take was attempted, but wasn’t needed, as John had nailed it with the first take, and also totally ruined his voice in doing it! What an end to an amazing day.

Even though Please Please Me only took one day to record, it stayed at number one in the UK album chart for 30 weeks, only to replaces by the Beatles second album ‘With the Beatles’!

February 10th 1967 – The Beatles Record ‘A Day in the Life”

February 10th 1967. The Beatles gather in Studio One, EMI Studios, Abbey Road, to record the orchestral overdub of ‘A Day in the Life. 40 musicians were asked to start playing the lowest note on their instruments and gradually go up to the highest note.
Some of the musicians had played on Beatles sessions before, Alan Civil played French Horn on For No One, and David Mason had played trumpet on Penny Lane.

The Beatles wanted to create a party atmosphere in the studio and invited along many friends. They included Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Donovan, and Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. The musicians were asked to come in evening dress, but were also give party hats, false red noses and other weird things to wear. One of the violinist played with a huge Gorilla paw!

Tony Bramwell was asked to film the session for a proposed TV special about the making of Sgt Pepper. He bought along many cameras, and gave them to the guests to film anything that happened. The resulting film became the ‘A Day in the Life’ video.

BTW, the day after the recording session, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, and George and Patti Harrison went down to Redlands, Keith Richards home in Sussex, for a party. On February 12th the police raided the party and Mick and Keith were arrested on drugs charges, and subsequently jailed, before finally being released on appeal. George and Patti had left the party before the raid took place. Allegedly, because they weren’t on the police ‘hit list’ at the time, the police waited until after they’d left to carry out the raid.

February 9th – From the Cavern to Ed Sullivan to Wings

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 9th February 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!!


Oh – and on 9th February 1972, Wings gave their first ever concert, at Nottingham University, 11 years to the day since the Beatles first played the Cavern!