Category Archives: London Beatles Walks News

With Gene Simmons in Abbey Road Studios!

I’ve been doing Beatles tours for about 25 years and during that time have taken around 150,000 people on tours. Perhaps the best experience I had was when I was asked to appear on the show ‘Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels.

Gene is lead singer of Glam Rock group Kiss. In the band, known for it’s extravagant make up and clothes. Gene has been ‘happily unmarried’ to Shannon Tweed for more than 20 years. Shannon is a former Playboy ‘Playmate of the Year’ and former girlfriend of Hugh Heffner.  They have two kids, Nick and Sophie.

For the show they are ‘on holiday’ in the UK and I gave them a tour of Studio Two at Abbey Road – where The Beatles recorded nearly all their songs. Normally it is impossible to get into the Studios – but Gene’s crew hired Studio Two for the morning. Even though I’d been in Studio Two many times I still get a thrill being inside the place where The Beatles recorded so many songs. I’d also never done a tour inside the Studio, so I knew it was going to be an unforgettable experience.

I was expecting the family to be rather weird and the whole experience very daunting. In Kiss, Gene was known as ‘Demon’ and supposedly spitting blood on stage, however, in real life he is a real gentleman. He is also an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable Beatles fan – something that surprised me as Kiss are know for their heavy rock.

The day of the tour saw London’s first snow of the winter and was freezing cold. I was glad most of the morning was going to be spent inside.

I left for the studios early as I was worried transport would be affected but luckily the buses weren’t too bad and I arrived in good time. When Gene and his family arrived I was asked by their TV crew to meet them on the famous steps of the Studios and lead them inside. They greeted me very courteously and any nerves I had about the occasion disappeared.

We first entered the control room in Studio Two where I told them a bit about The Beatles recording history in the Studios. I was surprised that Gene knew the name of Andy White, the session drummer that played on Love Me Do. Gene told the story of how he met Ringo at a party at literally picked him up. He then demonstrated on me!

We then went down into the Studio itself and I pointed out the various instruments in there which the Beatles used on their sessions, including the piano used on Lady Madonna. Nick played some very nice tunes on the piano. We were amazed to see that the piano had cigarette burns all over it – including on the piano keys! Gene expressed surprise that smoking was allowed in the studios – it seems the whole family are against smoking (another surprise!)

They were also just as nice when the cameras were switched off.  At one point, I told Gene I had written a book about the Beatles In London. He asked me for a copy – and asked me to sign it for him! A nice touch.

The two hours went by much too quickly. Gene and his family were some of the nicest people I’ve had on a tour. The experience obviously meant more to Gene than the rest of the family, but they all treated me with great respect and listened with interest. A very pleasant morning.

To see the show click http://www.aetv.com/shows/gene-simmons-family-jewels/videos/25-british-invasion

My bit is at about 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

Me with Gene Simmons and family in the Control Room of Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios

 

Celebrate Ringo’s Birthday with ‘Peace and Love’ at Abbey Road Studios

Plans are being made to celebrate Ringo Starr’s 77th Birthday with a gathering of fans at Abbey Road Studios on 7th July. At 12 noon, we will be wishing Ringo and the world ‘Peace and Love’ for his birthday. This will also be taking place at 12 noon in many gatherings around the world. We will also do a mass walk across the famous Abbey Road Crossing.

More details will be announced soon, so please join us on 7th July!

 

 

 

My 15 Minutes of Fame – the Abbey Road 40th Anniversary Walk.

My 15 minutes of fame :>) August 8th 2009. 40 years since the Beatles crossed Abbey Road, I thought it would be a good idea to organise a tour that would cross Abbey Road exactly 40 years to the minute since the Beatles. I got the great group Sgt Pepper’s Only Dartboard Band to lead us across, dressed as the Beatles were 40 years before. They arrived in a replica of John Lennon Psychedelic Rolls Royce. I thought we might get a few press people interested… Well, when we arrived at Abbey Road on the tour, there were about 15 TV crews, scores of photographers, and hundreds of Beatles fans! The police closed Abbey Road for an hour, and my had an impromptu party in the middle of the road. A day to remember!

Here is a great video of me and my group trying to cross Abbey Road, with seemingly hundreds of cameras recording the proceedings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8kSwqkGuSY

We cross Abbey Road 5 days a week on my London Beatles Walks. For more info see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

Blogger Richard Porter with Sgt Pepper’s Only Dartboard Band on Abbey Road
The band arriving in a replica of John Lennon’s Rolls Royce
Me and My group trying to cross Abbey Road 40 Years to the minute since the Beatles

 

 

 

 

The Beatles documentary: Inside Apple Corps with the staff who worked there

The story of the early years of the band’s business venture Apple Corps is told in Ben Lewis’s entertaining and revealing new film ‘The Beatles, Hippies And Hell’s Angels’

The film will be broadcast on 17 June, 9pm, Sky Arts and catch-up.

Fore more on Apple in the 1960s, see http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-beatles-apple-corps-fab-four-the-beatles-hippies-and-hell-s-angels-ben-lewis-a7787951.html

The Beatles Skiffle Roots Concert with Rod Davis

The Beatles Skiffle Roots” concert is on Sunday 2 July at The Oaks Theatre, Knole Academy, Sevenoaks, TN13 3LE at 3pm. The theatre is next to Knole Park – where the Beatles shot the videos of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’

 Quarryman Rod Davis be talking about the origins of Skiffle and the Quarrymen, with musical illustrations with guitar, washboard and tea-chest bass, plus digital slides, followed by a full-on set from The Lonnigans.

This is all in aid of The Ridge View Special Needs School in Tonbridge. The event forms part of the Sevenoaks Summer Festival.
Tickets – Adults £16, under 16s £6 – are available from the Festival Box Office, 01732 450175 orhttp://www.stagsevenoaks.co.uk/whats-on/02-Jul-2017/

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

 

It Was 50 Years Ago Today! – Special Sgt Pepper Beatles London Walk 1st June

“It was 50 Years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play”.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, come on a special Beatles Walking tour of London. We will be telling the story of how the album was made, and visiting major locations associated with it, and the many Beatles locations in London – including of course Abbey Road Studios and the famous crossing.

The tour is on June 1st and starts at 11:00 am outside exit one of Tottenham Court Road Underground Station. There is no need to book, just turn up and pay on they day.

…and don’t worry if you can’t make that tour, we do Beatles walks all year around! For more info, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

The wall of Abbey Road Studios today

The Beatles In Chelsea

During the 1960s, the Chelsea area of London was the most fashionable, and proved to be a magnet for the rich and famous to live, shop and party. The Beatles were no exceptions. Here are some of the many places the Beatles frequented:

We go down the Kings Road on our Swinging 60s bus tour. For more info see http://www.60sbus.london

 Royal Court Hotel ( Now Sloane Square Hotel)

This four star hotel, right on fashionable Sloane Square, was the hotel of choice for the Beatles on their many trips to London from June 1962 to the summer of 1963.

They first came here on June 5th 1962, in preparation for their first recording session with George Martin at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, the following day.

Chelsea and the Kings Road was already a very fashionable area and the Beatles had time to explore the boutiques, restaurants and bars that attracted the rich and famous.

The Beatles returned to the Royal Court Hotel in early September 1962, when they recorded their first single, ‘Love Me Do’ at EMI.

By early 1963, the Beatles had become nationally famous, especially after ‘Please Please Me’ reached number one in the UK charts, and their trips to London had to become much more frequent. Another notable occasion was when they came down to record the Please Please Me LP. They arrived on February 10th, ready to record the album the next day. But, rather than rest up in preparation for the recording session, they did an extensive photo session with Cyrus Andrews, in the hotel and around Sloane Square.  You can see photos from the session at http://www.multiplusbooks.com/630210.html

Ringo with a fan outside the Royal Court Hotel, early 1963

The Royal Court Hotel remained the Beatles London base until the summer of 1963, when they transferred to the President Hotel in Guilford Street, Bloomsbury.

102 Edith Grove

This was a student flat, rented by Mick Jagger, and also occupied by Keith Richards and Brian Jones. The Beatles saw the Rolling Stones play at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond on April 14th 1963, and the Stones invited the Beatles back to their digs for a party afterwards. The flat was a typical student pad, and hadn’t been cleaned for months. However, the Beatles probably didn’t mind, because compared to their former digs, behind a filthy cinema in Hamburg, Edith Grove seemed like luxury! Despite the rivalry between their fans, the Beatles and the Stones remained friends throughout their careers.

Penny Lane in the Kings Road!

John Lennon came to the Kings Road in February 1967 – to shoot a scene for the Beatles ‘Penny Lane’ video! He was filmed walking past Markham Square, near Mary Quant’s ‘Bazaar’ boutique.

Chelsea Manor Studios 1-11 Flood Street

Chelsea Manor Studios opened in 1902, and has been used by artists, photographers and writers. It’s most famous photo session took place here on March 30th 1967, when the Beatles came here to have their picture taken for the cover of their new album ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

The Beatles arrived in the late afternoon for the album cover shoot, which was devised by an amalgamation of talent. Art-directed by Robert Fraser, designed by Peter Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth, and photographed by Michael Cooper. The look of the album, the colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models depicting more than 70 famous people on the front of the album cover and lyrics printed on the back cover, was the first time this had been done on an English pop LP.

For more on the album cover shoot, see http://www.thebeatles.com/photo-album/making-cover-sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band

Chelsea Manor Studios now holds luxury apartments.

A certain well known album cover

Granny Takes a Trip – 488 Kings Road

‘Granny’ was opened by Nigel Waymouth, his girlfriend Sheila Cohen and John Pearse, after looking for an outlet for Sheila’s collection of antique clothes. The premises had been acquired in 1965 and opened in December after Pearse, who was a Savile Row-trained tailor, agreed to join them. Waymouth came up with the curious name  and the boutique was featured in the famous ‘London – the Swinging City’ issue of ‘Time’ Magazine. Around the same time, Nigel Waymouth began to design posters and record covers under the name Hapshash and the Coloured Coat with fellow artist, Michael English. Their posters were used exclusively to pubicise concerts at the Savile Theatre, which was owned by  Brian Epstein.

All of the The Beatles are known to have shopped here, along with their wives and girlfriends.

It was, however, more famous for its external appearance(s), including the 1966 mural of a native American chief and the 1967 ‘Jean Harlow’ mural. Most famous of all is probably the 1948 Dodge saloon car which appeared to have crashed through the wall and onto the forecourt. The car was also subjected to colour makeovers – canary yellow and, most memorably, in black and gold with glittering stars. The Dodge feature was kept after the sale of the shop in 1969 until complaints from the local authorities forced its removal in 1971. The clothes, though of very high quality, were very high-priced and tended to attract an ‘elite’ clientele, which just added to its legendary status. . Pearse was unhappy with the increasingly ‘hippie’ image of the shop and eventually they ended up selling the business in 1969. The London premises at 488 closed in 1974, the name being sold to Byron Hector who opened a shop under the same name elsewhere on Kings Road, eventually closing in 1979.

Granny Takes a Trip 2

Club Dell’ Aretusa 107 Kings Rd

Opened by famed restauranteur Alvaro Maccioni, who teamed up with Apicella and Mino Parlanti (owner of the equally celebrated Borgo San Frediano) to open Club dell’Aretusa, a large members-only bar/restaurant/disco on the King’s Road. “Are you one of the beautiful people?” demanded Angus McGill’s double-page feature in the Evening Standard. “Simple test: Can you get in to the Dell’Aretusa?”

On May 22nd 1968, John Lennon and George Harrison attended a party here to launch ‘Apple Tailoring’ which was opening just down the road at 161 Kings Road. George was with his wife Pattie, but John was with his new girlfriend, Yoko Ono. They had got together just a few days earlier, and this was their first public appearance together, much to the interest of the gathered media, who kept on asking John ‘Where’s your wife?’ Ironically, George Harrison wore a jacket which he bought from rival clothes shop, Granny Takes a Trip (see above!)

George and Pattie Harrison walking to Apple Tailoring

 

John and Yoko walking down the Kings Road

Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical) 161 Kings Road

Apple Tailoring, which opened on May 23rd 1968,  was the latest addition to the Beatles growing Apple group of companies – they already had a boutique on Baker Street.

The Beatles had known the shop for a while. Before their involvement, it was called Dandie Fashions. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was the brainchild of  John Crittle. He arrived from Australia around 1964, and  it didn’t take John long to get himself established amongst London’s young and hip in-crowd. A fortunate turn of events landed John his first real employment was at  ‘Hung On You’at 22 Cale Street, Chelsea, just off the Kings Road. It later became Jane Asher’s Cake Shop. It later relocating to 420 King’s Road.  John was  a designer and a fabric locator Owner Michael Rainey  was an already recognised aristocrat amongst the ‘Chelsea set’. This was expanded upon when he got together with, and married, London socialite, Jane Ormsby-Gore. It didn’t take that long before the intimidating ‘Hung On You’ became the shop of the stars. Rainey himself recalls: “When The Beatles and The Who started to visit my boutique, I knew we’d made it.”

John Crittle decided to set up his own boutique, and started ‘Dandie Fashion’ at 161 Kings Road in October 1966.  He also managed to secure the ‘Foster and Tara’ clothing designers for the business. Tara Browne was a well-known socialite amongst the in-crowd – being the heir to the Guinness fortune. Tara was interested in making his own way in the world, and when he moved from Ireland to London he also fell in with the young and hip from the arts and entertainment worlds. His interest in men’s clothing led him to starting up his own tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. Tara had many friends in rock and pop, including Brian Jones, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It is said that Paul McCartney took his first LSD trip with Tara.

Tara Browne was killed in a car crash while on his way to meet the team of Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder, and David Vaughan, to discuss the design for the shop front. Browne crashed his Lotus Elan into a van parked in Redcliffe Gardens, he swerved so that he took the impact rather than his girlfriend, Suki Potier. This incident will forever be immortalised in The Beatles’ song, ‘A Day In The Life’. Tara’s untimely death also inspired The Pretty Things’ song, ‘Death Of A Socialite’.

Tara Browne and wife Nicky, as photographed by Michael Cooper

After the death of Tara Browne, John Crittle kept Dandie Fashions going, and attracted the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Roger Daltrey and Brian Jones, who all often bought clothes there.

John Crittle was also friendly with the Beatles, and in May 1968, The Beatles went into partnership with Critte to form ‘Apple Tailoring’. The purpose of this shop was to offer the discerning male customer a bespoke service, rather than the ‘off-the-peg’ service that was available at the Baker Street location. As well as this bespoke service, the basement of 161 King’s Road became a hairdressing salon, which was run by Leslie Cavendish. Apple Tailoring lasted longer than the Baker Street boutique but it too closed its doors in 1968. Apple Corps decided to withdraw from High Street commerce and handed the business and all the stock over to John Crittle. Crittle’s daughter is Darcey Bussell, former prima ballerina with the Royal Ballet, and now judge on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

John Lennon outside Apple Tailoring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Sgt Pepper on a London Beatles Walk!

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by coming on a Beatles walking tour of London. We have scheduled walks 5 days a week. See the former homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, where the Beatles played their last ever live performance, film sites for ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Help!’ – and of course Abbey Road Studios and the world famous Abbey Road crossing.

For full details, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

‘A Splendid time is guaranteed for all’ (Toronto Globe and Mail)

‘One person who has been something of a flag waver for the Beatles London has been Richard Porter: whose passion and knowledge of the group are apparent from the moment you meet him. Richard opens up each building’s Beatles connection and history with vivid detail and anecdotal information. Without doubt, he is the authority concerning the group’s movements within the capital during the 1960s.’ – Beatles Monthly magazine.