Category Archives: News

More on ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today’

The screening took place in a very nice screening room at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden. Those present included the director, Alan G Parker, and the co- producer Reynold D’Silva ( who also owned Ringo’s old flat in Montagu Square) and archivist Keith Badman. The film is produced by  Alexa Morris.

Alan gave brief speech before the film, telling us how the idea first came to him when he met Keith Badman at the Liverpool Beatles Convention in 1982.

The film begins with a recollections from the Beatles 1966 tours, focusing on the controversy surrounding John’s ‘bigger than Jesus’ comments, and they they decided they wouldn’t tour any more. During this section. there was a fascinating interview with Brian Epstein, filmed in late 1966, talking about the Beatles future plans, and really dodging the question about future tours.

The film then goes into the making of Sgt Pepper itself, and how the songs came about. There was a nice section on Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, showing childhood photos of Julian Lennon together with Lucy O’Donnell, who was the inspiration behind Julian’s painting, that inspired John to write the song.

After talking about Sgt Pepper, the film covers the story of the Beatles meeting the Maharishi, and the death of Brian Epstein. I thought the section on Brian was done very well, and a very nice tribute.

Hunter Davies told a great story of how he went to Bangor with the Beatles to see the Maharishi. On the first night he took them to a Chinese restaurant, but realised he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. The Beatles didn’t carry money with them, and the waiters in the restaurant didn’t recognise the Beatles, and were getting aggressive, thinking they wouldn’t be paid. George Harrison saved the day by asking for a knife, and slit open his shoe. From the shoe, he pulled out a £20 note, which he kept there ‘In case of emergency’

Views on the Maharishi are very mixed among the interviewees. Some really like him, but author and journalist Ray Connelly called him a con man.

Although most of the people in the film were known to me, one highlight was the interview with Barbara O’Donnell, who was a secretary at NEMS and Apple, and worked with Ringo until 1982.

The film ends with the release of the ‘White Album’.

The film was highly enjoyable, with enough new material and stories to keep the interest of even the die-hard Beatles fan that has seen nearly everything (yes, including me!) New fans would find it fascinating too!

At present, there are plans for premieres in Liverpool and London, around June 1st. I will give full details here when known.

The film poster for ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today’.

 

 

 

It was 50 Years Ago Today! – a Review

Just back from a screening of the new film ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today – The Beatles, Sgt Pepper & Beyond. 

The film very much starts where ‘Eight Day’s a Week’ ends – but for me was much more enjoyable. Where I found Eight Day’s a Week slightly disappointing, ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today’ was far better than my expectations.

The film is expertly written and directed by Alan G Parker, who shows much love and dedication to his subject throughout the film. A brilliant cast of interviewees included Hunter Davies, who was present during most of the recording of Sgt Pepper; Philip Norman, who has written great books on the Fabs, and John and Paul; and Jennie Boyd (Pattie’s Sister). Also giving their insights were Tony Bramwell, Freda Kelly, and surprisingly, Pete Best, who talked about his families role in the making of Sgt Pepper. Although, because the film wasn’t sanctioned by Apple, there is no Beatles music, there is plenty of footage of the Fabs, much I hadn’t seen before, as collected by Keith Badman, Beatles archivist extraordinaire.

Altogether, the film is a great tribute to a great album. Highly recommended :>)

(More recollections tomorrow, after I get some sleep – it’s been a Hard Day’s Night!

It was 50 Years Ago Today.

George and Ringo’s old Flat up for Rent

The flat that George and Ringo shared during the ‘Beatlemania’ years is up for rent.

The flat, in Whaddon House, Williams Mews, is very close to Harrods, the most famous department store in London.

Brian Epstein lived in the same block – and it was his dream for all the Beatles to live together. However, Paul moved in with the family of his girlfriend Jane Asher, and John, Cynthia and Julian Lennon lived in Emperor’s Gate, Kensington.

For more on the flat see http://m.zoopla.co.uk/discover/property-news/former-beatles-home-up-for-rent/#YU5iuUQI6CoXSBxy.97 or from blogger Richard Porter’s book ‘Guide to the Beatles London’ which is available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guide-Beatles-London-Richard-Porter-ebook/dp/B00DVQ4P6U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489435318&sr=8-3&keywords=guide+to+the+beatles+London

 

Whaddon House as it looks today.

Paul McCartney to Release Cassette on Record Store Day!

Paul McCartney has announced a Record Store Day April 22 offering that won’t be in the usual vinyl format. In a press release March 13, he said he will put out a limited-edition cassette of three demos from his “Flowers in the Dirt” recording sessions done with Elvis Costello. The cassette will be available at participating Record Store Day outlets.

The songs – “I Don’t Want to Confess,” “Shallow Grave” and “Mistress and Maid” – are the same versions being released digitally as part of the deluxe version of the “Flowers in the Dirt” CD-DVD reissue on March 24, but here they’ll be returning to their original format on cassette.

For more on this story, see https://www.axs.com/paul-mccartney-bucks-tradition-offers-cassette-of-flowers-in-the-dirt–115979 and https://youtu.be/4jFfgo2fUrg

 

The track listing of the cassette

Portmeirion to celebrate 50 Years of Sgt Pepper

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.

Tickets cost £30 and can be booked by visiting http://www.portmeirion-village.com, calling 01766 772390 or email ymholiad@portmeirion-village.com.

George Martin and Brian Epstein in Portmeirion

Sgt Pepper to be re-released, including Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane?

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.

More news when we get it!

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/two-iconic-beatles-songs-finally-9970665

 

Beatles Fan Club: a unique collection now on display at the Beatles Story in Liverpool

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”.

The new display at the Beatles Story
Russell with the Beatles

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

 

Here are some photos I took of George over the years …

George and Olivia arriving at the Premiere of How to Get Ahead in Advertising. London 1988.
George and Olivia Harrison at the Premiere of How to Get Ahead in Advertising.
George at a Ravi Shankar concert at the Barbican Centre, London