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Casbah Club Opened 60 Years ago today

Aug 29th 1959 – the Quarrymen play at the opening night of the Casbah Club, Liverpool. Initially, the club as supposed to be opened by the Les Stewart Quartet, featuring George Harrison and Ken Brown. However, an in group fight just before the gig meant only George and Ken were available. George therefore called up his old friends, Paul McCartney and John Lennon to see if they were interested in playing. Their group, the Quarrymen, had all but broken up, and George had joined another group. However the Quarrymen reformed to play the Casbah with John, Paul, George and Ken.
If it wasn’t for the Casbah, the Quarrymen, and therefore the Beatles, would have ceased to exist.

 

BBC Radio 2 Beatles’ digital radio pop-up station to celebrate Abbey Road’s 50th Anniversary

BBC Radio 2 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album with RADIO 2 BEATLES, a four-day pop-up DAB radio station. It will feature programmes fronted by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Martin Freeman, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews, Paul Merton and many more hosting shows along with Radio 2 presenters including Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Jo Whiley, and other huge fans of the Fab Four!

Broadcasting from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 September from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, the station will honour John, Paul, George and Ringo as a group, as individual artists, and as songwriters. All the live shows on Radio 2 Beatles will come direct from Abbey Road – with some also simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds – and broadcast alongside pre-recorded specials and classic Beatles content from the unique BBC archive.

All programmes featured on Radio 2 Beatles will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 says: “The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture. They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world’s most loved music. As their seminal album Abbey Road is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four-day pop-up DAB radio station.”

Programme highlights include We Write The Songs, where Gary Barlow interviews Paul McCartney about the music, where Paul discusses how The Beatles only began writing because other bands were stealing their act, and describing how he’s stayed at the top of the music business for six decades.

In the series My Beatles, Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talk about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them; across the daily series I Was There, the likes of Tony Blackburn and radio critic Gillian Reynolds talk about what it was really like being part of the swinging Sixties, whilst Martin Freeman presents the story of The White Album across two shows.

6 Music Breakfast and Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne presents Desert Island Beatles, featuring the many guests who’ve selected one of their group or solo records, as a must-have track, plus Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt. Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake, while Jimmy Tarbuck hosts an hour of novelty versions of hit Beatles songs.

Gary Barlow says: “It was an absolute honour that Paul McCartney, one of my true heroes and a legendary songwriting genius, agreed to talk in depth about his work for my Radio 2 series We Write The Songs. This particular episode really is a masterclass from the master! I am thrilled to launch my first series on the network as part of Radio 2 Beatles, which sounds like it is going to be four days of unmissable radio.”

Simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and broadcasting live from Abbey Road studios on Thursday morning, Radio 2 Beatles will be launched by Ken Bruce whose show will feature a special Beatles themed Tracks Of My Years and PopMaster quiz (9.30am-12pm). Later that day, Jo Whiley will present her Radio 2 evening show live from Abbey Road with live performances and very special guests (7pm-9pm). On the Friday, the day kicks off with The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, with a special Friends Round Friday (6.30am-9.30am) including music from Rick Astley.

Later that day, Sara Cox is joined by the listeners for a Beatles All Request Friday (5pm-7pm), and that evening Friday Night Is Music Night presents The Beatles Orchestrated. Guy Garvey will be hosting, with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a guest list of artists, including Cerys Matthews, Katie Melua, Level 42’s Mark King, alongside Guy himself, all performing songs from across the Beatles catalogue (8pm-10pm). On the Saturday morning Dermot O’Leary presents his show live from Abbey Road (8am-10am), followed by an extra hour exclusive to the Pop-Up, where Dermot speaks to writer Richard Curtis about his recent film Yesterday (10am-11am).

Other shows exclusive to Radio 2 Beatles include Grace Dent presenting Hip to the Trip focussing on free love, fashion and The Fab Four, while Nicky Campbell discusses the crucial role played by the band’s producer Sir George Martin, with his son Giles. Actor Himesh Patel, the star of the movie Yesterday, tells the incredible story behind Abbey Road – the band’s last recorded album – in a new two-part special and songwriter Guy Chambers looks at the genius of their lyrics and melody.

Craig Charles uncovers some of the BBC’s incredible archive audio, and Paul Merton takes to the imaginary stage to introduce The Beatles Fantasy Concert, featuring the ultimate collection of live performances recorded by The Beatles as a band and as solo artists. Scott Mills takes us on an alphabetical trip through the Beatles back catalogue, Paul Gambaccini tells the musical story from the other side of the Atlantic, and Tris Penna presents a four-part series charting each of the Fab Four’s individual music careers and most memorable albums.

Radio 2 Beatles has also commissioned a special chart from the Official Charts Company – The Beatles Downloaded: Official UK Top 60, will be revealed across the Saturday and Sunday afternoons (5-7pm) with Janice Long and Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James counting down the most downloaded and streamed Beatles songs in the UK. Plus Steve Wright presents a special Beatles Love Songs, Trevor Nelson playing classic soul Beatles’ covers in Rubber Soul, Radio 1’s Alice Levine explores the Fab Four’s various musical pairings, and Country Covers with Ben Earle, from country band The Shires, features Fab Four tracks covered by country artists.

From the BBC archive Radio 2 Beatles will be broadcasting When John Met Paul with Bob Harris, Radio 4’s Mastertapes with Paul McCartney, and Sgt. Pepper Recreated, recorded in 2007 and featuring performances from Oasis, Bryan Adams, and Kaiser Chiefs.

Radio 2 Beatles follows other successful pop up DAB’s from the station, including Radio 2 Eurovision (2014 and 2015) and Radio 2 Country (2015, 2016 and 2017)

BBC Radio 2 is the UK’s most listened-to radio station, with a weekly audience of 14.59 million (RAJAR Q2, 2019), delivering the broadest range of music presented by some of the UK’s best loved entertainers. The network’s presenters include Zoe Ball, Michael Ball, Tony Blackburn, Don Black, OJ Borg, Ken Bruce, Craig Charles, Rylan Clark-Neal, Sara Cox, Jamie Cullum, Gary Davies, Vanessa Feltz, Paul Gambaccini, Bob Harris, Ana Matronic, Cerys Matthews, Huey Morgan, Trevor Nelson, Graham Norton, Paul O’Grady, Dermot O’Leary, Mark Radcliffe, Anneka Rice, Angela Scanlon, Liza Tarbuck, Clare Teal, Jeremy Vine, Johnnie Walker, Jo Whiley, Claudia Winkleman and Steve Wright.

The Beatles’ first contract with Brian Epstein sells for £275k

The Beatles’ first contract with manager Brian Epstein has sold for £275,000 at auction.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best, signed the document on 24 January 1962, before achieving fame.

It gave Epstein responsibility for finding the band work, and managing their schedule and publicity.

The document was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Beatles.

Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at Sotheby’s auction house, which was in charge of the auction, said: “Epstein was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage.”

“The Beatles had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them,” Mr Heaton added.

“Epstein stopped them eating on stage, made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set.”

For more click here

The Bootleg Beatles Announce UK Spring Tour

They will be playing:

18/03 – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
19/03 – Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
20/03 – Malvern, New Theatre
21/03 – Llandudno, Venue Cymru
22/03 – Stoke, Victoria Hall
24/03 – Chatham, Central Theatre
25/03 – Bournemouth, Pavilion
27/03 – Worthing, Worthing Theatre
28/03 – Reading, The Hexagon
29/03 – Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
30/03 – Guildford, G-Live
01/04 – York, Barbican
02/04 – Halifax, Victoria Theatre
03/04 – Middlesbrough, Town Hall
04/04 – Buxton, Opera House
05/04 – Ipswich, Regent Theatre
07/04 – St Albans, Alban Arena
08/04 – London, Royal Albert Hall

Tickets go on sale at 10 am on 31st May and will be available from www.bootlegbeatles.com

Blue Plaque Erected to Commemorate the Beatles ‘Rooftop Concert’ at 3 Savile Row

Today, a commemorative Blue Plaque was erected at 3 Savile Row to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Rooftop concert.

Richard Porter, one of the committee to erect the plaque said ‘I have been guiding Beatles tours in London for over 25 years, and visit Savile Row at least 3 days a week. On nearly every tour I am asked why there is no commemoration to the Beatles on the building. I was therefore delighted when I was approached by David Rosen of Pilcher Hershman, a fellow Beatles fan who works in Savile Row, with the idea of forming a committee to put up a Blue Plaque. We got together with fellow Beatles fans,  Mark Baxter of Mono Media Films, and David Stark of Songlink, to make it happen. As 3 Savile Row is a listed building, it took a long time for the plaque to be approved, but finally we were delighted to get the green light from Westminster Council.’

The plaque was erected quietly at 8am on April 5th. Amongst those present was actor Bill Nighy and author Dylan Jones. A big celebration will be held in Savile Row later this month.

Richard Porter said “I am very honoured to be part of the team that has finally commemorated such a famous event in musical and cultural history”

For a video of today’s events, go to https://vimeo.com/328598915?fbclid=IwAR3D1RKWac-KOaGUCkPHo0oa9okoeBrYMnJ0G9sLJA2JgjXXO3H84FLOIPI

Richard Porter’s London Beatles Walks go to Savile Row 3 days a week. For more on Richard’s tours, go to https://beatlesinlondon.com/

The Blue Plaque to the Beatles being erected at 3 Savile Row
The Blue Plaque to the Beatles’ Rooftop concert
3 Savile Row, showing the Blue Plaque in place.

Beatles London Concert Venue to be Revived

£17m restoration of Granada Cinema planned after council buys iconic venue, writes James Cracknell

As Waltham Forest celebrates its year as the first-ever London Borough of Culture, some people have pointed to the irony of this accolade going to the only borough in the capital without a permanent theatre venue. Yet, it does – it’s just not open.

On Hoe Street in Walthamstow stands a building with an impressive history of having been not just a theatre and cinema but a music venue that once hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Granada Cinema, also known as the EMD after its most recent use before closure in 2003, is now 90 years old and is Grade 2* listed by Historic England for its “fine Art Deco and Moorish style interiors”.

But the Granada is also in a state of decay and disrepair after being left to rot during its decade of ownership by a church group that was never able to obtain planning permission to convert it into a place of worship – after being blocked from doing so by both Waltham Forest Council and the government.

Signs of hope for Granada’s restoration appeared in 2014 when Antic London acquired the site, and later reopened the foyer as a gastro pub called Mirth, Marvel and Maud. Live music, comedy and pantomime has even been hosted there in recent years, but the main auditorium itself remains closed off and in need of a multi-million-pound refurbishment.

It was the prohibitive cost of the venue’s repair that prevented Antic from doing anything with the main auditorium for the past five years, despite attempts to find a partner organisation that would want to run it as a theatre. Enter stage right, Waltham Forest Council. Last month it was confirmed the local authority had bought the Granada for £2.8million from Antic – and will also fund its £17m restoration.

For more click here

A Very Beatley May Day Holiday Weekend in London

May Day! May Day! A very Beatley holiday weekend for the Mayday Holiday weekend:

Friday 3rd May Beatles ‘Come Together’ Show at the Exchange Theatre, Twickenham
https://exchangetwickenham.co.uk/…/cavern-beatles-present-…/

Saturday 5th May – The Analogues play the ‘White Album’ at the London Palladium

Sunday 6th May – Beatles 1 Day, Turks Head, Twickenham.
https://www.facebook.com/events/349636015600517/

Of course I’ll be doing my London Beatles Walks all weekend too! Full details at http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

It’s turning into London Beatleweek!

Beatles at war: The truth of the explosive rivalries that tore the band apart

  • Lord Of The Rings director Sir Peter Jackson is re-editing old footage for new film
  • Let It Be was supposed to show the geniuses at work but laid bare their rivalries 
  • Ray Connolly, the journalist by The Beatles’ side at the time, tells the real story 

When Paul McCartney announced in April 1970 that he had no plans for working with The Beatles, the world fell in on him. ‘PAUL QUITS BEATLES,’ ran newspaper headlines around the world.

And, overnight, the most popular of the four was demonised as the killer of the most-loved entertainment attraction ever.

Although within a few days he would be maintaining to me that he had been misinterpreted, it was too late. The secret of The Beatles’ rows and in-fighting was out. There would be no going back.

Paul’s mistake had been to let the cat out of the bag about the rancorous atmosphere that, by 1970, was suffocating the group as they awaited the release of their movie Let It Be — dozens of hours of which are now being re-edited by Lord Of The Rings director Sir Peter Jackson for a new film of the group at work in the studio.

As Paul remembered it this week, the filming of Let It Be wasn’t as argumentative as the rumours have since told — but maybe only because a lot of tongues were being bitten when the cameras were rolling.

Because, for sure, by the time the film was scheduled for release, Lennon and McCartney, the most successful song-writing duo in history, weren’t even talking to each other — let alone writing or playing together.

For more click here

50 Years Ago Today – The Beatles ‘Get Back’ to ‘Let it Be’

The idea of what became known as ‘Let it Be’ started during the making of the Hey Jude and Revolution videos at Twickenham Studios. The Beatles really liked playing in front of an audience – for the first time in over 2 years. They didn’t want to tour again, but instead would do a live performance which would be shown around the world. The Head of Apple Film, Denis O’Dell was approached by Paul McCartney about making a film of the Beatles playing a concert in front of an invited audience, which would be also released as a live album.

In their December 1968 edition ‘The Beatles Book’ official monthly magazine announced the TV show, and a competition from 100 lucky fans to attend. Initial plans were made to hold the concert at the Roundhouse, and old railway shed, which had been converted into one of the hippest music venues in London. A date was set for December 15th. However, Beatles Monthly also reported that the original idea of holding the concert at the Roundhouse had been dropped and that instead there would be three different live shows at venues to be announced. The concerts would be held in early 1969. Eventually, the lucky winners were sent copies of the Abbey Road album, and not concert tickets, as the show never happened.

It was around this time that Yoko Ono suffered a miscarriage of her and John’s first child. Of course, both were distraught, and John and Yoko started taking heroin, a habit they wouldn’t break for some months.

Later, January 18th was put forward as a possible date for the shows, but later dropped. Amongst the suggestions of where to hold the concerts was a disused flour mill by the river Thames.

However, things went quiet, as no one could agree on where to do the show. Denis O’Dell started work on the new film ‘The Magic Christian’ which was to star Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.

Then, out of the blue, Paul called Denis and told him the project was back on. Denis O’Dell managed to put back the filming of The Magic Christian a few weeks so the Beatles could use Twickenham Film Studios, for their rehearsals.

The Beatles gathered at Twickenham Film Studios on January 2nd 1969. The film was director was Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who had previously directed The Beatles videos of Paperback Writer and Rain, and just a few weeks earlier, Hey Jude and Revolution. He had just finished directing the Rolling Stones show ‘Rock and Roll Circus. The producer of the film was Denis O’Dell, but much later in the project Neil Aspinall asked if he could be credited as the producer instead, and Denis agreed.

Even though they were back in familiar surroundings, the rehearsals didn’t go well from the start. John Lennon especially didn’t like rehearsing in the middle of a huge film soundstage, rather than in a more intimate recording studio. John later said :

“In a nutshell, Paul wanted to make – it was time for another Beatle movie or something, and Paul wanted us to go on the road or do something. As usual, George and I were going, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do it, fuck,’ and all that. He set it up and there was all discussions about where to go and all that. I would just tag along and I had Yoko by then. I didn’t even give a shit about anything. I was stoned all the time, too, on H etc. And I just didn’t give a shit. And nobody did, you know…

Paul had this idea that we were going to rehearse or… see it all was more like Simon and Garfunkel, like looking for perfection all the time. And so he has these ideas that we’ll rehearse and then make the album. And of course we’re lazy fuckers and we’ve been playing for twenty years, for fuck’s sake, we’re grown men, we’re not going to sit around rehearsing. I’m not, anyway. And we couldn’t get into it. And we put down a few tracks and nobody was in it at all. It was a dreadful, dreadful feeling in Twickenham Studio, and being filmed all the time. I just wanted them to go away, and we’d be there, eight in the morning. You couldn’t make music at eight in the morning or ten or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you and coloured lights.”

John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

It also didn’t help that John and Yoko were still heavily taking heroin, and John was barely communicating with the other Beatles.

Despite the less than ideal surroundings, the Beatles rehearsed many songs on that first day, but concentrated on Don’t Let Me Down and I’ve Got A Feeling, both of which would feature on the famous ‘rooftop concert’ and the end of the month.

Discussions among the Beatles that day centred on where to do the big live show. Michael Lindsay Hogg and Glyn Johns wanted it to be in a Roman Amphitheatre in Tunisia. However, Ringo refused to go overseas to do it.

Paul, being the instigator of the whole project, came over as being very bossy, especially to George. George had spent the few weeks since the end of the recording of the White Album hanging out with Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Now he was back with the Beatles, and being treated as the younger brother, rather than the musical equal when he was with Eric and Bob. He especially disliked Paul telling him how to play his guitar. George would eventually walk out of the sessions on January 10th, saying to the others ‘See you ‘round the clubs’!

A week or so later, George was persuaded back, and session resumed in the Apple Studio at 3 Savile Row, to climax with the Beatles playing their ‘rooftop concert’.

More on this story soon!

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London, and author of the book, Guide to the Beatles London. For more on his tours, and book, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com

2019 International Beatleweek Announced!

Welcome to International Beatleweek 2019 and the biggest Beatles celebration ever. If you have never been before you are in for a treat, and if you have, we can’t wait to welcome you home!

For 7 days and 7 nights, the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo will ring out from every nook and cranny of the city. 70 of the finest Beatle tribute bands from over 20 countries and fans from all over the world will be here, in Liverpool, with one mission – The Beatles!

Now in its 33rd year, International Beatleweek is a must for all fans! This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Abbey Road Album, The Rooftop concert, Leave Peace in Toronto and we also celebrate 60 years since the Casbah first opened its doors.

If this is your first time you will be blown away. You will make life long memories and friends forever. If you are lucky, you might even get some sleep!
 For more info – and to book tickets, Click here