Monthly Archives: December 2019

Neil Innes – Chief Rutle passes away :>(

I’m absolute ‘Shocked and stunned’ to hear of the passing of Neil Innes – one of the best writers and performers of comedic songs ever – and a truly wonderful human being.
I was first aware of Neil as a member of the ‘Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’ on the children’s TV show ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’ which was a favourite of mine when I was about 6 years old. Their songs were very silly – and made my laugh a lot. Also on the show were Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – and Eric has acknowledged the huge debt that Monty Python owe to the Bonzos.
Many rock stars loved the Bonzos too – not least The Beatles – who asked them to be on their film ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Paul McCartney produced their single ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’ which was a big hit for them.
Neil later became a member of GRIMMS – which was basically a combination of members of the Bonzos and Scaffold – including Mike McGear – Paul McCartney’s brother.
It was through the Rutles though that Neil will be best remembered – the brilliant, affectionate spoof of the Beatles, that Neil wrote all the songs for. ‘I Must Be I Love’ is still one of my favourite songs of all time – and it supposed to be a spoof!
I will be watching The Rutles tonight :>)
I was fortunate to meet Neil on many occasions. When I was running the London Beatles Fanclub magazine I spent a wonderful hour or so interviewing Neil, John Halsey,, and Rikky Faatar on the release of the Rutles ‘Archeology’ album. Neil was on great form that day – and told me some lovely stories of how heavily involved his great friend George Harrison was involved in the Rutles TV show.
My best memory of Neil is from 2001 – when I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest to the New York area ‘Fest for Beatles Fans’. Neil was one of the star guests, and I spent a long time in his company. My wife, Esther, had died a few weeks before, and Neil was gracious enough to give me time to tell him stories about her – she was a great fan too. In return, Neil told me stories to make me laugh – something I really needed at the time! I’ll always remember his incredible kindness and generosity he show me over that weekend.
Since then, our paths have crossed on many occasions, and I loved seeing his Rutles shows with ‘Barry Wom’ – but also his solo shows. His non Rutles songs have been strangely overlooked by most – but not by Noel Gallagher – or Whatever (in joke!)
I last saw Neil just a few weeks ago, when he compared the Bootleg Beatles show at the Royal Albert Hall – and was at his usual funny best. It was such a shock to hear of his passing.
It is very noticeable that people are treating his passing like that of a close relative – but Neil was a part of all our families.
So farewell brave Sir Neil – you will be much missed.

Linda McCartney’s Retrospective will showcase more than 200 photographs at Walker Art Gallery

The Walker Art Gallery will display photographs taken by Linda McCartney (1941-1998) in an exhibition curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.

The Linda McCartney Retrospective will showcase more than 200 photographs, including images of the McCartney family taken in Liverpool which have never been displayed before.

The exhibition features images of some of the most iconic artists and moments from the 1960s music scene, alongside intimate and arresting family portraits. The photographs capture the world as Linda experienced it, representing the people, places and landscape around her in her inimitable spontaneous and experimental style.

A wealth of ephemera and archive materials will also be displayed, including some of Linda’s journals from the 1960s and a number of her cameras. Contact sheets, Polaroids and sun prints all feature, demonstrating Linda’s creativity and interest in early and experimental photographic processes.

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The Beatles opening pop-up store in New York

The Beatles are getting on board the pop-up shop express.  

The Thread Shop, Sony Music Entertainment’s merchandising division, announced the opening of a Beatles holiday pop-up in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The store, open from Dec. 11 through Dec. 22, will feature exclusive Beatles-themed gifts, including licensed clothing, accessories, toys and other branded products such as turntables. A Beatles pinball machine is also in the lineup.

The Beatles shop is about 1,200 sq. ft. and is filled with Instagrammable moments, with a façade wrapped in Beatles imagery, reported Women’s Wear Daily. The interior decor includes an Abbey Road floor decal leading shoppers from the entrance into the space. Three vignettes are themed from Beatles albums’ “Yellow Submarine,” “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The White Album.” The shop also features a Sixties lounge, a gift wrap station (called Help! with Beatles gift wrap), a drum set reflecting The Beatles’ first TV appearance, and an authentic U.K. phone booth, the report said.

The pop-up will offer the first assortment of products available under a partnership between Sony’s Thread Shop and Apple Corps. Ltd. Thread Shop said it will work closely with Apple Corps to expand The Beatles’ brand presence in the U.S. by creating unique apparel, products and collaborations that celebrate the band.

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Paul McCartney’s Children’s Novel Is Being Adapted Into An Animated Film

Paul McCartney’s Children’s Novel Is Being Adapted Into An Animated Film

By Katrina Nattress

December 10, 2019

In 2005, Paul McCartney wrote a children’s adventure novel called High in the Clouds. Now, that story is getting adapted into an animated feature film by Netflix and produced by Gaumont. As Billboard describes it, “the story follows an imaginative teenage squirrel named Wirral who falls in with a group of teen rebels who live in the sky and are led by the tyrannical Gretsch the owl, a terrific singer who steals the voice of anyone who upstages her.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Netflix. They complement what is already an amazing team with Gaumont and we can think of no-one better to be working with to bring our film to a global audience,” McCartney said in a statement. “I’ve always loved animated films and this is a hugely important passion project for me. I can’t wait for the world to see it.”

The movie will be directed by Timothy Reckart (Head Over Heels), with a screenplay written by Jon Croker (Paddington). The Beatles star is set to contribute original songs and music.

McCartney wrote the book with Philip Ardagh, with illustrations by Geoff Dunbar. There are no details yet on when we can expect High in the Clouds to premiere, but we hope it’s sooner rather than later.

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December 9th 1961 – the Beatles Play in Front of 18 People!

December 9th 1961 – The Beatles Play in Front of 18 People.
The Beatles ‘came South’ on December 9th 1961 – to play a gig at the Aldershot Palais!
Agent Sam Leach had booked the Beatles in many venues in the Liverpool area, and was looking to be their full – time manager. However, he had to move quick, as word had got around that someone else was keen to manage them too. He sent his assistant, Terry McCann to London in search of a suitable venue for the Beatles to make their debut in the Capital. Sam would invite the top agents and record companies to the gig, which make a big impression on the Beatles, and secure his role as their manager. However, when Terry returned to Liverpool, he told Sam that he couldn’t find anywhere in London, but instead found a ballroom in Aldershot, some 40 miles outside of London. Sam travelled down to London to tout the Beatles around the major agents, but no-one was interested in even coming to Aldershot to see them.
Sam sent an advert for the gig to the Aldershot News newspaper – but they refused to print the ad before the gig, as it has been paid for by cheque, and hadn’t cleared yet.
Sam Leach had billed the event as a “Battle of the Bands”: London v Liverpool.
However, the London band Ivor Jay and the Jay Walkers, failed to turn up at all, and no other groups had been booked to play.
The Beatles weren’t happy, so Sam Leach went over to the pub opposite and bought two crates of beer. The Beatles cheered up after drinking that!
The Beatles played for about 3 hours, in front of 18 people! and after their performance, had a party with some girls they befriended. About one o’clock in the morning, there was a loud knock on the Palais’ door. When he opened it, Leach was confronted by the local police, who told him everyone had 15 minutes to get out of Aldershot – or else!
It was already well past midnight when the Beatles left Aldershot, and they didn’t fancy the long drive back to Liverpool in the middle of the night, so they decided to go to London instead.
The details of what happened next have been lost in the mist of time, and the alcoholic haze that those involved were undoubtedly in by then. According to Sam Leach, they remembered that an old friend of theirs, Brian Cassar, of Cass and the Cassanovas, had moved from Liverpool to London and was involved in a club called the Blue Gardenia. The club was in Wardour Mews, a very grubby back street, alongside many other illegal, unregistered establishments. The owner of the club was Harry Bidney. Bidney was a leader of an anti-fascist group and was gay. The club, and the street, was a meeting place for gay people, the local prostitutes and gangsters. It was the sort of club Brian Epstein used to frequent on his many trips to London. On February 11th 1961, a big hole was blown in the door of the club by a cocoa-tin bomb, thrown by a customer who was refused entry. The club must have seen just like Hamburg to the Beatles!
It was also a musician’s hangout. Guitar hero Albert Lee was in the house band of the 2 Is coffee bar, and remembers that when the 2 Is closed for the night, he and the band’s drummer, Jimmie Nicol would go to The Blue Gardenia, which was a “late, late, club and play until the early hours”. Jimmie Nicol would tour with the Beatles in 1964, replacing Ringo Starr who was too ill to go on the road
Luckily, the Blue Gardenia stayed open all night, and so the Beatles headed straight there. Memories are very vague to what happened at the Blue Gardenia, though it is believe that at least some of the Beatles got onstage with the house band and sang a few songs. However, Sam’s account of John Lennon singing ‘Twist and Shout’ that night, are rather wide of the mark, as the Isley Brothers version of the song the Beatles based theirs on hadn’t been released yet!
The exact address of the Blue Gardenia is still elusive, In the early 60s, there were many clubs that didn’t have licenses to serve alcohol in the Soho area and didn’t register with the local authorities, and are therefore hard to trace. Many of these were gay clubs, in the days when homosexuality was still illegal, and it’s possible that the Blue Gardenia was one of these, in a later incarnation.
Hear more of the Beatles In London on my London Beatles Walks
The Beatles with 1/9th of the audience at the Aldershot Palais

Memories of December 1980

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!

John Lennon outside ‘Kenwood’

Students will ‘hear the roar’ of John Lennon’s limo as historic Rolls-Royce rides again

VICTORIA — John Lennon’s historic Rolls Royce limousine has hit the road in Victoria.

The psychedelic 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Touring limo, typically housed at the Royal BC Museum, is undergoing maintenance and diagnostic testing Thursday at Camosun College in Saanich.

Students in the school’s automotive shop will help technicians from Coachwerks Restoration tune up and “exercise” the 55-year-old vehicle.

“Those in attendance will be able to hear the roar of the engine and watch its rear wheels spin on a rolling road dynamometer with a large screen feeding speed and other data in real-time,” the college said in a news release Thursday.

Students will also get a bit of a history lesson on the vehicle’s cultural significance from Camosun instructor Patrick Jones and Royal BC Museum collections manager Paul Ferguson.

“I’ll be operating the equipment while the technicians from Coachwerks operate the car,” said Jones. “To be up close and personal with a vehicle of this stature is a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

The late Beatles star originally bought the car in June 1965 and covered its black exterior with a vibrant yellow custom paint job.

The car was eventually bought by billionaire Jim Pattison and donated to the museum.

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New Beatles Merch Is Headed to Sony Music’s Thread Shop

In connection to the deal, The Thread Shop is bringing on Joe Marziotto as vice president, licensing & marketing.

It’s a “Happy Xmas” for The Beatles fans. Just in time for gifting season, Sony Music Entertainment’s merchandise agency, The Thread Shop, has signed a new deal to produce merch for the iconic rock band in North America.

The Thread Shop’s partnership with the band’s Apple Corps, Ltd. — created in 1968 to oversee their business and creative interests — includes new merchandise, licensing, retail and ecommerce opportunities in North America. The first wave of merch, which includes clothing, toys, turntables and a pinball machine, will be available at a Beatles holiday pop-up store in New York City from Dec. 11 through 22.

“More than a half-century after Beatlemania first broke out in the U.S., The Beatles remain an unmatched cultural force in our society,” said Sony Music Entertainment president, commercial music group, Richard Story. “Their revolutionary achievements continue to inspire artists and thinkers across borders, cultures, and generations. We are tremendously honored that they have entrusted The Thread Shop with their iconic brand, and we look forward to sharing their extraordinary vision with fans.”

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World-first Sgt Pepper event will feel as if The Beatles are performing live in Liverpool

Apple has chosen the band’s birthplace for the unique immersive sound experience, which is a worldwide first.

Beatles fans are being invited to listen to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as it has never been heard before in a series of free events taking place in Liverpool.

In a worldwide first, the immersive experience will present a remixed version of the band’s pioneering 1967 album that feels as if the band is performing live in the space.

It will be played in Dolby Atmos, which places speakers all around the listeners – even above their heads – to transport them to Abbey Road Studios, where Sgt Pepper was recorded.

Tickets for the event at the Albert Dock’s Dr Martin Luther King Jr Buildingare expected to be snapped up by Beatles fans across the globe – so fans here in Liverpool should book online HERE from 10am today to ensure a free place.

The mix was created from the original tapes by Giles Martin, son of the legendary Beatles producer George Martin and a Grammy Award-winning producer in his own right.

He told the ECHO: “Without Liverpool there would be no Sgt Pepper. Liverpool is where it should be.

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