Author Topic: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s  (Read 106081 times)

famethrowa

  • mere rhetorical frippery
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1710 on: May 11, 2020, 12:10:31 AM »
Just wondering how they actually got hold of the song from Dylan? All I can read is that Bob's manager "sent out the song" in England, I guess they'd just send out the basement version to various producers and agents and see if anyone bites?

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1711 on: May 11, 2020, 07:52:18 AM »
I fucking hate this record. It's no big secret that Quinn is my surname and it's a song much loved by bullies and games teachers (although there is an obvious crossover there.) My sister hates it too and her surname hasn't even been Quinn since 1976. Even these days (it happened last week) people will regularly refer to me as 'The Mighty Quinn' and expect me to laugh. Ha sodding ha.

I blame Dylan totally for it though. I'm not having that 'genius' bit. He's a talentless twat. Manfred Mann's lot were just poor innocent dupes. I feel sorry for them,

« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 08:02:39 AM by Jockice »

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1712 on: May 11, 2020, 04:34:24 PM »
Ah, I'd forgotten about that song. Kept hearing the theme from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? throughout the whole thing.

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1713 on: May 15, 2020, 02:00:00 PM »
Yodeling inside a giant pumpkin, it's . . .

245.  Esther and Abi Ofarim - Cinderella Rockefella



From : 25 February – 16 March 1968
Weeks : 3
Flip side : Lonesome Road
Bonus 1 : Promo film
Bonus 2 : French TV Performance

The Story So Far : 
Quote
Avraham Reichstadt was born in Safed, Galilee, in the British mandate of Palestine [later Israel] on 5 October 1937. While his mother developed depression, his brother went to sea and his sister learned hairdressing, he took ballet classes in evening classes, received a scholarship at the age of thirteen, and made his stage debut in Haifa in 1952.

By the age of 17, he was arranging his own choreography, and by 18 had his own dance studio. He was then recruited to serve in the Israeli army during the Suez crisis and the Sinai war. He worked in father's workshop for electrical car accessories, and later in a factory.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Esther Zaied was born to a Syrian Jewish family on 13 June 1941, also in Safed. She began performing as a child, singing Hebrew and international folk songs.

Esther : "I started singing in nursery school, I've always sung. I was a soloist in school; I sang at all the ceremonies. That's how it started. Very simple and primitive."

Esther's career began with a kiss from Elisabeth Bergner, the grand old lady of the German stage. Bergner performed in Israel at a charity event for soldiers with recitations. Thirteen-year-old Esther was chosen to thank the artist with a children's song.

Esther : "She was so wonderful. Even today I know in detail how Ms. Bergner looked, how she moved, how she approached me, how she hugged and kissed me. I have always had respect for acting, but now my love for the stage began."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In 1958, Esther met Reichstadt, who was by now calling himself Abraham Ofarim, when as a newly graduated arts-student, she signed a contract with the National Theatre of Israel. They married in December 1958, and the two of them formed the singing duo - 'Esther and Abraham'.

Abi plucked the guitar and Esther sang - at home in Mother's little room. He had been looking for a ruse to get him out of the factory for a long time. First, the Theater Club gave the young couple the chance to spend an hour in front of three hundred spectators with a show of dance, sketch and songs for several weeks in the evening. The local theater club hired both for leading roles in a biblical play about the Queen of Sheba. Abi had to drop out after two weeks.

Abi : "The biblical language was too difficult for me. It's like Shakespeare in India."

 

Abi brought her into contact with film producer Otto Preminger and who was looking for a "charming, young chip-of-a-girl" to play an important role in his new film "Exodus" released in 1960. She was cast in a minor role as 'Mrs. Hirschberg'.

In 1961, as Esther & Abi Ofarim, they released their first album, an eight song 10 inch, "Ha Ofarim" in Israel on the Israphon label. This was followed by their second album, "Foibles and Fables" in 1962. Songs included "Sus Etz" [Wooden Horse] and "One More Dance"

Massive sellers in Israel, the pair failed to reap any royalties - as they had been paid a flat fee for the recordings.

 

In 1961 Esther won the Song Festival in Tel Aviv, where she sang "Saëni Imchá Bemachol" and "Naamah". Esther recorded her first two solo albums, "Children's songs" and "Hayu Leilot". Both albums were arranged and directed by Shimon Cohen. With her success, Esther was invited to join Frank Sinatra as a support act for his concerts in Israel.

Abi : "Sinatra was very friendly and very nice. But his eyes are cold. Esther was allowed to use his microphone, which he would never allow otherwise. When we were together in the evening, the only thing that was discussed was show business. A real conversation never came about because some people came every ten minutes who interrupted him with questions or had messages for him."

 

In 1962, the Kol Israel radio decided to send Esther to the festival in Sopot, Poland, with the song "Stav"  by Moshe Wilensky and Shimshon Halfi. At the festival she came in second place with 10 points, and the song was the most popular song in Israel that year.

The couple settled in Geneva, Switzerland, where they recorded many songs in French, Italian, Hebrew and English for the local radio station "Radio Suisse Romande". In 1963 Esther participated for Switzerland in the festival "Chansons sur mesure" in Canada, where she performed "Saint amour".

Esther went to London to represent Switzerland in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "T'en va pas". In a very close and controversial competition with the Danish duo Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann, her song placed second. Initially it appeared Switzerland had won the contest with 42 points to Denmark's 40, but after an apparent change to the Norwegian scores, Ofarim ended up with 40 points, as opposed to 42 points for "Dansevise", a reversal of the initial result.

Despite missing out on the Eurovision win, "T'en va pas" was translated into German and Italian and the respective versions became best sellers.

     

Thanks to the publicity, she swiftly bagged a record contract with Phillips, and "T'en Vas Pas" was released as a single, and included on the 'Grand Prix Eurovision 1963' EP, along with : "Quand Il N'y Aura"  /  "Automne"  /  and "La Cité De Mon Coeur".

 

In 1963 they released the 'Esther And Abraham' EP, featuring : "Viva La Feria"  /  "Entends Tu Le Vent"  /  "Adama Adamati"  /  and "Freight Train". The songs on the EP had been recorded in America on their way back home to Switzerland after their appearance in the "Chansons de Mesure" contest in Canada.

In August 1963, Esther released the solo single "Komm, Leg Deinen Arm Um Mich" (b/w "Du Bist So Weit Von Mir", and in March 1964, "Morgen Ist Alles Vorüber" (b/w "Bonjour, L'Amour")

In May 1964, Abi released his own solo single : "Shake-Shake (Wenn Ich Dich Nicht Hätte)" (b/w "Midnight Party Im Prairie Saloon"). In July 1964, Esther the mermaid-based concept single - "Split Personality", backed by "If You Were The Only Girl" with Rudi Carrell

 

Together, in 1964 they released the Esther und Abi Ofarim und ihre schönsten Songs EP, featuring : "Wenn ich bei Dir sein kann"  /  "Lai-La"  /  "Cha-Cha Ballahoo"  /  and "My Fisherman My Laddie-o".

That year's singles included "Schönes Mädchen" (b/w "Mein Weg Nach Haus") in May, and "Noch einen Tanz" [One More Dance] (b/w "Cotton Fields") in September 1964.

 

In 1965, Esther released the solo singles : "Away From You" (b/w "Healing River") in January  /  "Du Machst Dir Sorgen" (b/w "Von Dir Hat Man Gar Nichts") in June  /  and  "Les Trois Cloches" (b/w "Drunten Im Taleand") in September 1965.

Also in 1965, the duo released the singles : "Ich Frag' Mich, Was Wird Aus Mir" (b/w "Bye, Biddy - Bye Bye, Jack") in July  and "That's My Song" (b/w "Tell It On The Mountain") in September 1965.

 

In 1966, In the Netherlands, they released : "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (b/w "900 Miles From My Home") in January, and "Donna Donna" (b/w "Rakefet") in May 1966.

In Germany, they released :  "Die Wahrheit (Die Fahrt ins Heu)" [The Warhead (That Fart Stinks!)] "(b/w "Lonesome Traveller") and "Sing Hallelujah" (b/w "I'm Going Home") in November 1966.

 

In 1967 the couple moved from Munich to London. There they met Ady Semel, an Israeli, who became their artistic director. In the same year she recorded a solo album of children's songs from all over the world called "Esther im Kinderland"

Their greatest success in Germany was in 1967 with "Morning Of My Life" (b/w "Garden Of My Home"), which was written by the Bee Gees.

   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In 1968 "Cinderella Rockefella" hit the top of the charts in a number of countries including the UK.

 

Though, not everyone was a fan . . .



Esther : "I think we have brought something new, we are young, cheeky and strong lyrically. We have something to say when we are on stage, and the audience understands the words even if it is in a foreign language."

   

Abi : "In four years people have heard so much bum-bum. It's not just that we bring something else. We don't just sing, we explain, we act, but we are still not satisfied with our form ..."

 

Abi : "I have an uneven nose. When I tell everything that I see in myself, that's just too much. But I have sex. And also too much interest. In music, for example. Then film production, then guitar, then ballet , then direction, then lighting. "



Abi : "It's hard with Esther. Her free time is in bed. She sleeps a hundred years. She likes antique things. She always wants to buy antiques. But where to go with it? She likes birds. She is afraid of dogs small ones are still alive. I love dogs. But we can't have a dog. It's not always the way people think, pink and beautiful, expensive hotels, a bit crazy artists. Esther and I hate people who have a name and always show it. Maybe there were demigods in Hollywood twenty years ago, in my opinion today's stars are no more than today's people."

 

Their second and final UK chart entry was "One More Dance" (b/w "Gone Home") which reached #13 in June 1968.




In July 1968 there were rumours that the duo were about to split, started by Tony Blackburn - the shit-stirring tosser!

   

Abi : "We often have arguments about the artistic points. Only in terms of taste are we almost always in agreement. If Esther is tired and doesn't want to go out, I can go dancing alone. We live freely and we like it when two people are very different. If Esther had so much temperament and was as crazy as I was, then I would not have been able to live with her."

"Never Grow Old" (b/w "Purple Eye") was released as a single in Germany in November 1968.

 

As well as a series for ITV, Esther was offered roles in the stage version of Funny Face in London's glittering West End, and in a mooted film version of 'The Legend of Xanadu'.

 

They played live concerts in New York and London, and in 1969 they toured around the world.

 

The couple separated that year and their divorce was finalized in Germany in 1970, much to the delight of Tony Blackburn : "Told you so!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Esther kicked off her solo career in 1969 with the album 'Esther Ofarim', featuring arrangements by Wally Scott, Klaus Doldinger, and Boris Jojic, on songs such as : "Sometimes In Winter"  /  "Bird On A Wire"  /  and "You Know Who I Am".

She had a small role as a singer 'Miriam' in the three-part Herbert Reinecker television thriller "11 Uhr 20". In the same year she sang the title theme of John Huston's rogue comedy "Sinful Davey", composed by Ken Thorne, and released the single "She's Leaving Home" in September 1969.

In Germany she released the Live single "Moon Of Alabama" (b/w "Drei Zigeuner"), and in the Netherlands, "Partisan" (b/w "Saturday Night At The World") in November 1969, and "Mad About The Boy" in 1970. 

 

On 25 February 1970, Ofarim co-starred in her own BBC Television Special The Young Generation Meet Esther Ofarim broadcast on BBC1.

Sharing the same manager, Ady Semel, she sang 'Long About Now' on Scott Walker's 1970 album 'Till The Band Comes In', and also performed it on The Rolf Harris Show.

Esther : "I didn't feel like a star. Going to fancy restaurants and meeting famous people seemed natural. And I was never entirely pleased with myself. I had a friend at the time, Ady Semel, who kept telling me, 'You don't know how to enjoy yourself, you don't know how to have a good time.' My sense of responsibility was so heavy that it preempted any enjoyment."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the mid-1960s, Israeli radio stations stopped playing songs by the Ofarim duo after they took up residence in Germany. Rumors spread that the couple had performed on Yom Kippur eve. When the couple arrived on their occasional visits to Israel, they were met by hostile glances and nasty whispers; they would escape to their hotel.

The boycott of their work ended when Haim Topol met with Yitzhak Livni, head of Army Radio at the time, and explained that the duo made a point of performing at least one Israeli song during each concert, and stressed their Israeli identity.

Esther : "It doesn't really matter to me anymore. In the 1970s, I sang the 'Song of the French Partisan.' In Israel, they thought I was a traitor, as though I were performing the Fatah anthem; that was untrue. This is a song of French partisans who fought Nazis. The inanity continues all the time."

In 1972  she returned with two albums : "Esther" arranged and produced by Erich Ferstl, who also played guitar on the album, featured traditional folk ballads, including : "La Vezina Catina"  /  "Kinderspiele"  /  and "Una Matica De Ruda".

 

The second, "Esther Ofarim", included some contemporary covers, including two Leonard Cohen songs, "Suzanne"  and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye"  /  Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken"  /  and "El Condor Pasa".

Her last UK single, "I'm Your Woman" (b/w "Waking Up"), was released in March 1973.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In 1973 Abi teamed up with Tom Winter for the LP Ofarim And Winter, and released three flop singles : "Speak To Me" (b/w "O Come You")  in January /  "Slow Motion Man" (b/w "Don't You Worry") in March /  and "Take Me Up To Heaven"  (b/w "Do You Believe In Magic") in September 1973.

 

He also released a few solo singles in Germany including : "Zeit ist Geld" (b/w "Solange ich noch an mich glaub'") in 1971  /  "Heartaches" (b/w "Woman")  in 1981 /  and "Mama, O Mama" (b/w "Komm, Flieg Mit Mir") in 1982.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Esther returned in 1982, releasing the Avant-garde electronic Jazz album 'Complicated Ladies', Produced and with music by Eberhard Schoener, songs included : "Call The Circus".

In 1984, she played in Joshua Sobol's play Ghetto, produced by Peter Zadek in Berlin. There she sang songs including "Frühling" and "Unter deinen weissen Sternen".

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

After his divorce from Esther, Abi developed a cocaine and alcohol addiction. In 1979, he was arrested for possession of narcotics and tax evasion. He spent a month in prison and a year on probation.

Beginning in April 2014, he ran a "Jugendzentrum für Senioren" in Munich - a social project against poverty and solitude of the elderly.

In 2017, Abi Ofarim developed pneumonia. He made a recovery but died, aged 80, on 4 May 2018 at his home in Munich, Germany.

The Single :
Quote
"Cinderella Rockefella" was written by Mason Williams and Nancy Ames, best known in the version by the Israeli duo Esther and Abi Ofarim in 1968. An April 1967 performance on the CBS television variety program The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, introduced a U.S. audience to the song. Co-Composer Williams was a writer for the series.



The single peaked at No. 1 in the British charts in February 1968, where it remained for three weeks. It is the only act from Israel to become a UK number 1.

     

The song was the last to be played on Radio Caroline South on the night of 2–3 March 1968, before its radio ship was towed into harbour over unpaid debts.

   

Other Versions include :   Mason Williams (1968)  /  Rogério Duprat - Clélia Simone e Kier (1968)  /  The Ravers (1968)  /  Anne & Johnny Hawker (1968)  /  Los Quandos (1968)  /  Big Ben Hawaiian Band (1968)  /  Horst Jankowski-Quartet (1968)  /  Quartetto Cetra (1968)  /  Los Mismos (1968)  /  Tom Jones & Cher (1969)  /  Carpenters (1972)  /  Danny McEvoy & Jasmine Thorpe (2011)

On This Day  :
Quote
25 February : Zap Comix published its first issue drawn and written by 24-year old San Francisco cartoonist Robert Crumb.
27 February : CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite delivers a scathing editorial on America's chances of winning the Vietnam War : "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate... it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night."
27 February : Frankie Lymon, American rhythm and blues singer, dies at 25 of a heroin overdose
1 March : Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" first performed as a 15-minute pop cantata at Colet Court School in London
1 March : Singer-songwriter June Carter marries Johnny Cash in Franklin, Kentucky
2 March : Daniel Craig, actor (James Bond), born Daniel Wroughton Craig in Chester
2 March : USSR space probe Zond 4 fails to leave Earth orbit.
3 March : "Here's Where I Belong" opens and closes at Billy Rose Theater NYC after a single performance - The play was picketed by the newly formed Oriental Actors of America, a group of Asian American stage actors, as a protest against the practice of casting white actors in yellowface makeup.
4 March : Patsy Kensit, actress & singer (Eighth Wonder), born Patricia Jude Francis Kensit in London
5 March : A "musical chess match" between painter Marcel Duchamp and musical composer John Cage took place at an engineering festival at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto. With the title "Reunion", they played chess on a board hooked up with sixty-four photoresistors. Duchamp quickly defeated Cage as an amused audience watched.
7 March : The BBC broadcasts the news for the first time in colour on television.
13 March : Beatles release the single "Lady Madonna" in the UK
15 March : Sabrina, big & bouncy singer, born Sabrina Debora Salerno in Genoa, Italy.
15 March : British Foreign Secretary George Brown resigns after having a drunken row with Prime Minister Harold Wilson
16 March : Robert F. Kennedy announces presidential campaign
16 March : My Lai Massacre - American soldiers kill 400 unarmed Vietnamese civilians - the rotters!

Extra! Extra!
Quote
           

Read all about it! :
Quote
                   
« Last Edit: May 15, 2020, 04:20:06 PM by daf »

famethrowa

  • mere rhetorical frippery
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1714 on: May 15, 2020, 02:21:29 PM »
Oh god that was awful. Never heard of it, but I'm sure I've heard an instrumental version as TV show backing at some point?

It's the same melodic line as Sunshine Superman (which came a year before)

Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1715 on: May 15, 2020, 04:01:04 PM »
Awful song. Bordering on vomit-inducing.

kalowski

  • the Zone of Zero Funkativity
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1716 on: May 15, 2020, 04:16:08 PM »
I hate Cinderella Rockerfella, but I'm glad you mentioned Long About Now, the song she did on Til The Band Comes In.

Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1717 on: May 15, 2020, 04:49:52 PM »
One of my earliest memories is of the performers doing a version of this during a panto at Leeds City Varieties in the early 70's.

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1718 on: May 15, 2020, 05:39:40 PM »
This is the worst so far.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1719 on: May 15, 2020, 06:03:17 PM »
This is literally the first song I can ever remember hearing. I was two when it was out, so it may have been a little later but I have vivid memories of it being on TV at my nana and granda's place and the former singing the chorus. I think she was taking the piss out of it.

I thought it was Sonny And Cher though until a few years ago when I started a 'first song you can remember' thread on here and looked it up. I was horrified to discover that Esther looks exactly like one of my failed crushes during my long period of singleness. The one from the shoe shop, who I actually asked out. I wonder where Sam is nowadays. That branch of Scuh is long gone. I can guarantee she won't be thinking about me at this moment though.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2020, 06:13:52 PM by Jockice »

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1720 on: May 15, 2020, 07:29:03 PM »
This is the worst so far.

Can someone send up the machotrouts Bat-signal - be a shame if he missed a song of this (ahem) "quality".

famethrowa

  • mere rhetorical frippery
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1721 on: May 16, 2020, 06:59:41 AM »
. I can guarantee she won't be thinking about me at this moment though.

Oh pfff you don't know that for sure

kalowski

  • the Zone of Zero Funkativity
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1722 on: May 16, 2020, 09:03:36 AM »
Oh pfff you don't know that for sure
He murdered her.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1723 on: May 16, 2020, 09:30:05 AM »
Oh pfff you don't know that for sure

Yeah, maybe. "That strange chap who took my being vaguely friendly while serving him two decades ago as a sign that I'd be remotely interested in going for a drink with him.  He's never far from my mind. I wonder if I could trace him somehow. Mind you, I bet he has a girlfriend nowadays. But doesn't go on about it at all."

(Interesting sidebar: For me to ask someone out is a real rarity. But I'd actually been asked out myself a few days before. By a bloke. He was barking up the wrong tree (although he did say: "I could fill a bucket for you.'' Whatever that means) but it made me think: "If he's got the guts to ask me out why shouldn't I have the guts to ask her out?" I actually did it twice. The first time she gave a non-committal (obviously not wanting to hurt me) reply, but when I asked her again a week or so later, she rolled her eyes, I mumbled: "Sorry, I just think you're really nice,'' she said 'thanks' and that was that. The end.)
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 11:44:25 AM by Jockice »

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1724 on: May 16, 2020, 09:31:11 AM »
He murdered her.

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that. It's too much of a regular event in my life.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1725 on: May 16, 2020, 10:46:47 AM »
This is the worst so far.

It knocked the far worse Mighty Quinn off the top. Which as far as I'm concerned justifies everything.

Cardenio I

  • Hasta la muerte, todo es vida
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1726 on: May 18, 2020, 01:23:41 PM »
I know we're all given to hyperbole online and that, but that might genuinely be the worst song I've ever heard.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1727 on: May 18, 2020, 05:45:02 PM »
I know we're all given to hyperbole online and that, but that might genuinely be the worst song I've ever heard.

Not on a planet where Shiny Happy People exists, it's not.

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1728 on: May 22, 2020, 02:00:14 PM »
Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble . . .

246.  Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich - Legend Of Xanadu



From : 17 – 23 March 1968
Weeks : 1
Flip side : Please
Bonus 1 : Top of the Pops
Bonus 2 : Beat Club

The Story So Far : 
Quote
Dave Dee was born David John Harman, at the age of 0 and in the nude, on 17 December 1941 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He attended Adcroft School of Building, Trowbridge.

Upon leaving school he became a police cadet with the Wiltshire Constabulary and as such was one of the first on the scene of the April 1960 car crash that resulted in the death of Eddie Cochran and serious injury to Gene Vincent.

Dave Dee : "I wasn't at it, we went to it after the crash had happened. I was a police cadet then not a pc. It's been well documented that Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were in the car. We sussed they were musicians soon after we got there because there guitars and gig things all over the road and in the car. We had to take everything back to the station and then realised that it was Cochran's guitar. I was a huge fan of both him and Gene Vincent."

     

He later recounted that he started learning to play the guitar using Cochran's impounded Gretsch over several nights at the station, the ghoul!

Dave Dee : "I was always in bands before I left the police force and within two weeks of resigning I had joined a local band which was going to be the nucleus of Dave Dee, Mick, Beaky, Dozy and Titch. Titch and Dozy had a different drummer and singer and I joined as a rhythm guitarist. One day the singer didn't show up for a gig and I did most of the singing. He never got back in the band, simple as that."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1n 1961, Harman, now calling himself Dave Dee formed a group with five of his friends - Trevor Leonard Ward-Davies (Dozy), John Dymond (Beaky), Michael Wilson (Mick) and Ian Frederick Stephen Amey (Tich). Ward-Davies had acquired his nickname when he unwrapped a chocolate bar before absent-mindedly discarding the bar and attempting to eat the wrapper - the dozy twat!!

They soon gave up their jobs to make their living from music. In 1962, they toured the UK and Germany as 'Dave Dee and the Bostons'.

Dave Dee : "There were so many bands not getting work and they went to Hamburg because you could work at the German Top Ten Club or Star Club for two months at a time. OK, so the money was lousy but it was a great source of inspiration for the bands because you used to have to play fifty minutes on and ten minutes off. Some days you'd play for fourteen or fifteen hours. I remember when John F Kennedy came into Hamburg harbour in 1963 and the first Beatles album had come out. Out of boredom from playing the same thing every night we got hold of a Beatles album and played everything off it to break the monotony. All the American sailors were coming in and that was their first taste of the Beatles. They used to come up to us and say, "Gee, what's that music you're playing?" We used to tell them it was the Beatles and they'd ask, "Who are The Beatles?""

 

Though successful as a live act, they found it hard to get a record deal.

Dave Dee : "We did Hamburg along with the Searchers, Gerry And The Pacemakers and Billy J Kramer; but when the Beatles took off in 1962 we got left at the starting point. We were known as Dave Dee And The Bostons then and working five or six days a week but we just couldn't get arrested when it came to record companies. We went to most record companies, because in those days you didn't send anything in, you had to go in and do a record test. You used to pile up outside the studio where there would be about ten other bands waiting to be auditioned. They'd give you fifteen minutes to set your gear up, strut your stuff and get out. We had comments like, "Don't call us, we'll call you", "Gentlemen, we suggest you cut your instruments up because you'll never have a hit record." We didn't let it put us of though as we knew one day we would make it. In those days you had dance halls and we would be the support to the top of the bill. When we were on, no one would dance because there was so much going on on stage, humour, action, all sorts of stuff."

Known for their variety act, which included comedy routines and risque comments interspersed amongst the song, they came to the attention of songwriters and managers Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley while touring as support act to 'Have I the Right' Hit-makers The Honeycombs.

Dave Dee : "That was 1964 when we were doing a summer season at Butlins in Clacton. We used to get Thursday night off and the only way we could make money was to moonlight. We had a gig offered to us in Swindon supporting the Honeycombs. They'd just gone to No.1 with 'Have I The Right'. We went on and did the first hour and Dennis Dell who was the singer of the Honeycombs then went backstage and said to their managers, 'Look, you've got to go and watch this band'. We got a tug into the dressing room afterwards and they said 'We can get you a recording deal'. They gave us their card and told us to come and see them in London. Two weeks later we were doing a gig in Friern Barnet so we thought we'd go and see them. They wrote us a song and put us in with Joe Meek who was the producer for the Honeycombs."

As well as writing a song for the band, Howard and Blaikley gave them a new name in keeping with the band's unusual style -

Ken Howard : "We changed their name to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, because they were their actual nicknames and because we wanted to stress their very distinct personalities in a climate which regarded bands as collectives."



The band was set up in the studio to make recordings with odd-ball genius producer Joe Meek, but the sessions didn't run smoothly -

Dave Dee : "Meek had very strange recording techniques. He wanted us to play the song at half speed and then he would speed it up and put all these little tricks on it. We said we couldn't do it that way. He exploded, threw coffee all over the studio and stormed up to his room. His assistant [Patrick Pink] came in and said, 'Mr Meek will not be doing any more recording today'. That was it. We lugged all our gear out and went back home."

 

Following this false start, the group were then signed to Fontana Records. Their first single, "No Time" (b/w "Is It Love?"), was released in January 1965.

Dave Dee : "We went on Ready Steady Go with 'No Time'. They didn't normally do this way but we actually did a live audition in the foyer of the television studios. They saw it and told us that they'd put us on. So, that's how we got on Ready Steady Go with a song that wasn't a hit."

 

Their second single, "All I Want" (b/w "It Seems A Pity"), flopped in June 1965, but with their third single, "You Make It Move" (b/w "I Can't Stop"), they finally saw chart action - climbing to #26 in December 1965.

Dave Dee : "It was what we always believed we would have. We never doubted that we wouldn't make it. About a month before 'You Make It Move' went into the charts we were ready to pack it in. We went to do a gig in Manchester and we had two shillings, old money, between the five of us and we were sitting in a cafe, drinking two cups of coffee between the five of us. We looked at each other and said, "We can't go on like this. We have to pack it in". But as luck would have it, 'You Make It Move' went into the charts at No.17."




Their next single, "Hold Tight!" (b/w "You Know What I Want"), saw them smash into the Top 4 in March 1966.

   

Dave Dee : "When I was a kid I loved jukeboxes and I always wanted to walk into a coffee bar and for someone to put one of our records on. I walked into a transport cafe on the A3 and someone had put on 'Hold Tight'. That was a moment."

   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the Spring of 1966, they went on a package tour with Gene Pitney and Len Barry - impressing the crowds with their madcap stage antics.

 


They released their eponymous debut album in June 1966, which featured the Pirate DJ Kenny Everett on the intro track DDD-BMT.

 

They were shaken, but not stirred, when the estate of sex-pest secret spy, James Bond, objected to having his '007' cover blown in the title of one of their songs. With a laser beam aimed at their twitching fun-bundles, the track was swiftly renamed "Double Agent".

   

The accompanying single, "Hideaway" (b/w "Here's A Heart"), reached #10 in June 1966.

   

Having found themselves in the middle of 'Swinging London', the lads became dedicated followers of fashion -



Dave Dee : "We started to make and design all our own clothes. We used to go out and buy the material, do the drawings and send them up to a lady in Cheshire who used to make them for us. She was a friend of one of the band members' girlfriends. Every time we did Top Of The Pops, Carnaby Street used to send their spies down to see what we were wearing and within a couple of days you would see our stuff in the windows."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Their next hit "Bend It!" (b/w "She's So Good") peaked at #2 in September 1966, and was was also big hit in Europe - reaching Number 1 in Germany.

 

The song was inspired by Mikis Theodorakis music from the sound track of the 1964 film Zorba The Greek. To obtain a 'bouzouki' sound on the recording, an electrified mandolin was used.

 

The combined UK and European sales were over one million. However, in October 1966, the British music magazine NME commented that dozens of US radio stations had banned the record, because the lyrics were considered "too suggestive". The group responded by recording a new version with a different set of words, which was rush-released in the US. This 'clean version' was later covered by 'I Dream of Jeannie' sauce-pot Barbara Eden.

   

The single was featured on their second album, labouring under the rib-tickling title of : "If Music Be the Food of Love ... Then Prepare for Indigestion", which was released in December 1966.

Dave Dee : "We used to collaborate with Howard and Blakely, our managers and songwriters. They would give us a part of a tune and a lyric and we would take it away and tweak it in the studio. All our stuff was done in three hour sessions, A side and B side and then we'd go in the next morning and mix it."

     

Touring Germany, the band's crazy capers whipped the Teuton hordes into a wild frenzy . . .

   

Tich found himself in hospital to remove a growth in his throat, luckily the lads were able to sneak in a packet of delicious fags to keep his knackered old lungs happy. Nice one!

 

They closed out the year with another smash hit - "Save Me" (b/w "Shame") - which peaked at #3 in December 1966.

 

Dave Dee : "We never realised what kind of influence we were having. People like Hendrix were all starting to wear that colourful, glam stuff. I don't think there was a band before us who had done anything like that. We were also doing Latin stuff before everyone else. If you listen to 'Save Me' we've got all the latin percussion on it but we didn't really know what we were doing except that it was different from everyone else. Then in 2000 the latin influence comes in with Ricky Martin but we had already done it thirty years before."

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In February 1967, flushed with success, they released the Loos Of England EP, featuring : "Loos Of England"  /  "Over And Over Again"  /  "Nose For Trouble"  /  and "All I Want To Do"

 

Their next single, "Touch Me, Touch Me" (b/w "Marina"), reached #13 in March 1967.




Following a tour of Australia they released "Okay!" (b/w "He's A Raver") - which reached #4 in May 1967.




In July 1967, Dave launched a blistering attack on Hippies, in response to Beatles press officer Derek Taylor's regular reports on the latest scene in America.




Their next single, Zabadak!" (b/w "The Sun Goes Down") climbed to #3 in October 1967. Despite pockets of radio exposure, the band never gained mass airplay in America; "Zabadak" was the band's only single to chart in the national Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 52. This is at least partially a result of both the band's US labels, Fontana and Imperial Records, failing to secure them a US tour or TV appearances.

 

In their shameless pursuit of commercial pop, the band found themselves the target of unfettered knockers -

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In January 1968 the band found themselves in hot water with the Musicians Union due to their plans to tour in Rhodesia - which, like South Africa, operated the policy of racial discrimination.

       

Their plans for a tour with the Bee Gees also seemed in doubt when Colin from the group slagged off their new single -

   

"The Legend Of Xanadu" bagged them their first number 1 in March 1968 - The sound of a bullwhip featured prominently on the disc, and also on a Top of the Pops TV performance - where Dozy was slightly injured in a rehearsal for the show.

Dave Dee : "I took a big chunk out of his chin. It was just before we did our first Top Of The Pops and he went on with a great big cut on his face. He's forgiven me now though."

 

There were plans for a Film based on the song, starring Esther Ofarim and Peter Frampton from The Herd, with the band giving a running musical commentary.

 


In New Zealand, the group had three number one hits, and 7 other songs reached the top 10. In Australia, they reached the top 10 with "Hold Tight!", "Bend It!", "Zabadak!" and "The Legend of Xanadu". In Canada, the band scored two top 10 hits with "Zabadak!", which reached #1, and "The Legend of Xanadu", and hit the top 30 with "Break Out"—a song that didn't chart in any other country.

 

Their third album 'If No One Sang' was released at the end of May 1968.




The next single, "Last Night In Soho" (b/w "Mrs. Thursday") reached #8 in July 1968.




"The Wreck Of The 'Antoinette'" (b/w "Still Life") reached #14 in October 1968.




"Don Juan" (b/w "Margareta Lidman") reached the mystical number #23 in March 1969, swiftly followed by another #23 with "Snake In The Grass" (b/w "Bora Bora") in May 1969 - spooky!

 

In August 1969, NME reported that Dave Dee was to play a motorbike gang leader in the forthcoming Marty Feldman film Every Home Should Have One.

In September 1969, following their final album, 'Together', Dave Dee left the group for the inevitable doomed solo career.

Dave Dee : "I'd been with the boys for ten years and if you live in someone's pocket for that long it takes its toll on you and them. I started looking for other challenges. I wanted to act, I wanted to do cabaret and the easiest thing was to leave the band. Music had started to move on too. Bands like Led Zeppelin and Free had started to come in and I thought for our sort of music the writing was on the wall. In retrospect, I think we could have gone on and done some other things. Some of our B sides were nothing like the pop singles that we made. I think we may have been able to take them onto another level."

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In January 1970, Dave Dee released his first single as a solo artist. "My Woman's Man" (b/w "Gotta Make You Part Of Me") reached #42 in the UK and #58 in Australia. This would be his final chart entry.

 

Further flop singles included : "Annabella" (b/w "Kelly") released in June  1970 /  "Everything About Her" (b/w "If I Believed In Tomorrow") in November 1970  /  "Wedding Bells" (b/w "Sweden") in June 1971 /  "Hold On" (b/w "Mary Morning, Mary Evening") in September 1971  /  and "Swingy" (b/w "Don't You Ever Change Your Mind") in December 1971.

 

Dave Dee : "[the band were] disappointed. Worried about what they were going to do. We managed to stay friends with each other. We all came from the same town, our parents knew each other. It was something I had to do. Whether, in retrospect it was the right thing to do, we'll never know."

The rest of the band, now billed as 'D, B, M and T', continued releasing records - starting with "Tonight Today" (b/w "Bad News") in November 1969, followed by "Mr. President" (b/w "Frisco Annie"). This was their final single released by Fontana.

 

They signed with Phillips, and, probably after hearing a whole lotta Led Zeppelin, released "Festival" (b/w "Leader Of A Rock 'N' Roll Band") in November 1970. This was followed by "I Want To Be There" (b/w "For The Use Of Your Son") in May 1971. With a slight name-shuffle to 'Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Tich', they released the single "They Won't Sing My Song" (b/w "Soukie") in February 1972.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dave Dee retired from performing and became an A&R Manager for Atlantic, Magnet and WEA Records, during which period he was at least partly responsible for their signing AC/DC, Boney M, and Gary Numan. He also played himself (billed as 'Record Executive') in the 1980 Sex Pistols film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Dave Dee : "I did a couple of films and a couple of things with Frankie Howard and Ned Sherrin. I did a lot of cabaret and television presenting in Germany. I presented The Beat Club which was a big show over there. I could never really handle theatre auditions and I basically blew them, apart from one when I had just decided to take another job as a label manager for a record company. I had gone along to an audition in Covent Garden for a musical and because I had accepted this other job I went in not giving a damn. That was the first time I'd gone to an audition and they'd loved it. It was for Grease. Bill Kenwright's never forgiven me for turning it down. They offered me the part of the second lead and Richard Gear got the main part."

He reunited with Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich - singing on the 1974 single "She's My Lady" (b/w "Babeigh"), and then later produced the single, "You've Got Me On The Run" (b/w "Rock 'n' Roll") - released in Germany and the Netherlands in November 1979.

   

In the 1980s, the group reformed, again without Dave Dee, releasing "In The Coven" (b/w "I Can't Stop Wanting You") on the Earlobe Records label in March 1981. Dave Dee joined them for one final single, "Staying with It" (b/w "Sure Thing"), in November 1983.

 

As well as a businessman, Dee also became a founder committee member for disadvantaged children through the music therapy centre charity Nordoff-Robbins, which he worked with for over 30 years.

He also became a Justice of the Peace - upholding the law for a string of rosy-cheeked Bobbies who got their helmets knocked off by stale bread rolls on Boat Race night - usually resulting in a £5 fine, or fourteen days without the option, coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench.

In his later years he lived in Mobberley, Cheshire and fathered twin sons and a daughter. He suffered from prostate cancer from early 2001, but continued to perform with his band almost up until his death from that disease in Kingston Hospital, South West London, on 9 January 2009. He was 67.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In 2013, John Dymond (the original Beaky) returned to the band. In 2014, Tich retired after 50 years. With Ray Frost as the new "Tich", the band, still including two original members, pledged to continue. However Trevor Ward-Davies (Dozy) died on 13 January 2015, aged 70, after a short illness.

Still featuring the original Beaky, the current members include :
    Dozy II (Nigel Dixon) – bass guitar (2015-present)
    Beaky (John Dymond) – rhythm guitar (1964–1989; 2013–present)
    Mick III (John Hatchman) – drums (1982–present)
    Tich III (Jolyon Dixon) – lead guitar (2014–present)

The Single :
Quote
"The Legend of Xanadu" was written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, and recorded by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.



It reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1968, and was the group's biggest hit.




Like many of the group's recordings, it features novelty elements — in this case a trumpet section and the distinctive sound of a whip cracking in the chorus. The musical accompaniment was directed by John Gregory.

 


Other Versions include :   The Lovers (1968)  /   "La Leyenda de Xanadú" by Los Mustang (1968)  /  The Jaguars (1968)  /  The Fall (1992)  /  Cloud Nine (1995)  /  Dave Dee (1996)  /  The Ploughmen (2009)  /  Danny McEvoy (2011)  /  Dozy, Beaky, Mick III & Tich II (2014)  /  Box Office Poison (2019)  /  Jogo (2019)

On This Day  :
Quote
17 March : 91 people injured, and 200 demonstrators arrested in a demonstration in London's Grosvenor Square, against American involvement in the Vietnam War.
18 March : The United States departed from the gold standard
18 March : The Producers, Mel Brooks's classic satirical film, premiered in the United States.
20 March : Charles Chaplin Jr., actor and son of actors Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey, dies aged 42.
21 March : Israeli forces cross Jordan River to attack PLO bases
22 March : Student riot in Nanterre near Paris
23 March : Damon Albarn, musician (Blur), born in Whitechapel, London
23 March : First Grand Slam victory for France in the Five Nations Rugby Championship, beating Wales 14-9 in Cardiff.

Extra! Extra!
Quote
   

Read all about it! :
Quote
                                                       
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 05:58:54 PM by daf »

Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1729 on: May 23, 2020, 10:04:04 AM »
.

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1730 on: May 23, 2020, 11:58:13 AM »
1968 isn't really off to the most auspicious start, is it?

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1731 on: May 30, 2020, 02:00:00 PM »
Saturday night arrives with a suitcase full of baked beans, it's . . .

247.  The Beatles - Lady Madonna



From : 24 March – 6 April 1968
Weeks : 2
B-side : The Inner Light
Bonus 1 : Promo Film
Bonus 2 : Lady Madonna Backwards
Bonus 3 : The Inner Light Backwards
Bonus 4 : The Inner Light 800% Slower

The Story So Far : Nothing’s gonna change my world
Quote
On 29 September 1967, Harrison and John Lennon had appeared on The Frost Programme to talk about Transcendental Meditation. The programme was a success and they were invited back on 4 October to take part in a further discussion. Among the other guests was Juan Mascaró, a Sanskrit scholar at Cambridge University, who later sent Harrison a copy of his anthology Lamps Of Fire. Mascaró highlighted a passage within it from chapter 47 of the Tao Te Ching, which he suggested could be set to music. The original words were:

Without taking a step outdoors
You know the whole world
Without taking a peep out the window
You know the colour of the sky.
The more you experience,
The less you know.
The sage wanders without knowing,
Sees without looking,
Accomplishes without acting


In 1967 George Harrison was invited by director Joe Massot to write a score for his film Wonderwall, starring Jane Birkin and Jack MacGowran. The soundtrack took three months to record, during which time Harrison recorded a number of instrumental pieces at EMI’s studio in Bombay, India.

On Sunday, 7 January 1968, using the pseudonym Mr Brown, George Harrison flew to India, accompanied by Neil Aspinall. The sessions for the Wonderwall Music album, which featured local musicians, lasted for five days. By Friday, 12 January, the work was mostly complete. Keen to maximise the use of his studio time, Harrison recorded a number of additional ragas, which he thought might be suitable for future Beatles recordings. One of these, recorded on this day, became ‘The Inner Light’.

The musicians were : Sharad Ghosh & Hanuman Jadev (shehnai)  /  SR Kenkare (flute)  /  Ashish Khan (sarod)  /  Mahapurush Misra (tabla, pakavaj)  /  Rij Ram Desad (harmonium)

   

On 6 February 1968, back in EMI Studios, Abbey Road, Harrison recorded his lead vocals. He needed some encouragement from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to do this, as the song was above his usual range.

[tape operator] Jerry Boys : "George had this big thing about not wanting to sing it because he didn’t feel confident that he could do the song justice. I remember Paul saying, ‘You must have a go, don’t worry about it, it’s good’."

On 8 February 1968, ‘The Inner Light’ was completed with the addition of backing vocals from Lennon and McCartney, recorded quickly in the early afternoon. The Beatles all regarded ‘The Inner Light’ highly, and it was released as the b-side of ‘Lady Madonna’ in March 1968 – the first time a song by George Harrison had appeared on a Beatles single.

   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Saturday, 3 February 1968, The Beatles began recording their first single of 1968, ‘Lady Madonna’. The group was keen to prepare music to be issued during their imminent two-month stay in India, where they were to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Three takes of the rhythm track were recorded in the afternoon session, with Paul McCartney on piano and Ringo Starr playing drums with brushes. In the evening a range of overdubs were added, including Rickenbacker bass guitar, fuzz guitars harmony backing by Lennon and Harrison. At the beginning of the overdub Harrison and Starr were captured munching on a bag of crisps.

On Tuesday, 6 February, The Beatles returned to the song. McCartney added his second vocal part and another piano track, and all Beatles contributed handclaps. McCartney, Lennon and Harrison also recorded their “See how they run” vocals, and imitated brass instruments by cupping their hands around their mouths, while someone else in the studio simultaneously shook a tambourine. McCartney then decided that a real sax section should be brought in.

That evening four sax players were contacted to complete the song. They were called in at the last minute, without any prepared music, and their lines were largely improvised. Ronnie Scott & Bill Povey played the tenor saxophones, while Harry Klein & Bill Jackman the baritone saxophones.

Harry Klein : "They were in a real flap to find four musicians and called on Laurie [Gold, a session organiser for EMI] to conjure some up for them. I was in the bath at about 6.30 in the evening when Laurie called and said ‘Are you working tonight?’ ‘No, I’m in the bath!’ ‘Well get over to EMI as quick as you can, and how can I find a tenor player?’ I suggested he call Ronnie Scott, the chap who runs the London jazz club, and sure enough when I got to Abbey Road Ronnie was there, along with Bill Jackman and Bill Povey. Paul didn’t recognise Ronnie Scott until we told him who he was."

Bill Jackman : "Paul went through the song on the piano and we were each given a scrap of manuscript paper and a pencil to write out some notes. Had there been music we would have been in and out in about 10 minutes. As it was, it took most of the evening, recording it in A major pitch with the rhythm track playing in our headphones."

Harry Klein : "There was no written music but we played around with a few riffs until Paul liked what he heard. And then we recorded it – 101 times! I remember there was a big pile of meditation books in the corner of the studio, like the back room of a publisher’s office, and I also recall that they asked if we wanted a bite to eat. We were expecting a terrific meal but a few minutes later someone returned with pie and chips!"

The saxophone solo was played by Ronnie Scott, although much of it was removed or buried in the mix. A new edit was included on Anthology 2, restoring Scott's extended sax break, and extra solo flourish at the close of the song.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Although best known as a track on 1970’s Let It Be album, ‘Across The Universe’ was recorded in early 1968. It was John Lennon’s first composition to be recorded by The Beatles since ‘I Am The Walrus’ five months earlier. The words were written before the music, and came to Lennon in the early hours one morning at his home in Kenwood.

John : "I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I’d kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song; rather than a ‘Why are you always mouthing off at me?’ or whatever, right? …

"But the words stand, luckily, by themselves. They were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don’t own it, you know; it came through like that. I don’t know where it came from, what meter it’s in, and I’ve sat down and looked at it and said, ‘Can I write another one with this meter?’ It’s so interesting: ‘Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe.’ Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It’s not a matter of craftsmanship; it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn’t want to write it, I was just slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn’t get to sleep until I put it on paper, and then I went to sleep. It’s like being possessed; like a psychic or a medium. The thing has to go down. It won’t let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you’re allowed to sleep. That’s always in the middle of the bloody night, when you’re half awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off."

Part of the song’s chorus – ‘Jai guru deva, om’ – is a Sanskrit phrase which roughly translates as ‘Victory to God divine’. It was likely inspired by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whom The Beatles had first met in August 1967. Maharishi’s spiritual master was called Guru Dev. ‘Jai’ is a Hindi word meaning ‘long live’ or ‘victory’, and ‘om’ is a sacred syllable in the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions.

John : "It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them."

The Beatles recorded ‘Across The Universe’ over three days in early 1968. They began on 3 February 1968, recording two takes of the song and a further four on the following day. There was much experimentation with the arrangement as they went along.

Take 2 was temporarily considered the best. Along with the basic rhythm track of acoustic guitar, percussion and tambura, it featured an overdubbed sitar introduction by George Harrison and lead vocals from John Lennon.

Following Take 6, Lennon taped a new lead vocal. He and Paul McCartney then decided that it needed female harmony vocals to sing ‘Nothing’s gonna change my world’ in the chorus, and so McCartney held an impromptu audition among the fans gathered outside EMI Studios.

The girls were Lizzie Bravo, 16, and Gayleen Pease, 17. They were the only Beatles fans ever invited to contribute to a recording session.

 

[engineer]
Martin Benge : "There was a whole crowd of girls outside and Paul went out to find a couple of suitable ones. They were so excited. They couldn’t believe they’d actually been invited by Paul not just inside the building but into the studio itself, to sing with The Beatles."

After the girls had completed their parts The Beatles taped backwards bass and drums, though these were later wiped. The group also taped three sound effects: 15 seconds of humming, and guitar and a harp-like sound, both to be played backwards. None of these were used.

On Thursday, 8 February, George Martin added an organ part, and Lennon played piano, though these were both wiped. They were replaced by a wah-wah guitar part played by Lennon, maracas by Harrison and piano by McCartney. Harmony vocals from the three were also recorded.

Lennon initially wanted ‘Across The Universe’ to be released as a single while The Beatles were in India with Maharishi, but the group opted for ‘Lady Madonna’ instead.

John : "It was a lousy track of a great song and I was so disappointed by it. It never went out as The Beatles; I gave it to the Wildlife Fund of Great Britain, and then when Phil Spector was brought in to produce Let It Be, he dug it out of the Beatles files and overdubbed it. The guitars are out of tune and I’m singing out of tune ’cause I’m psychologically destroyed and nobody’s supporting me or helping me with it and the song was never done properly."

Spike Milligan was attending the 8 February session at the invitation of George Martin, and asked The Beatles if the song could be included on 'No One’s Gonna Change Our World' - the World Wildlife Fund charity album he was working on. For that reason, wildlife sound effects were added to the song during a mixing session on Thursday 2 October 1969.

The effects came from the Abbey Road collection. The sound of birds twittering and flying and children playing were added to the beginning and end to the song. The song was also sped up a semitone during the mix, from D to E flat.

Lennon played the song during the 'Get Back' sessions in January 1969, footage of which appeared in the 'Let It Be' film. It was therefore selected for inclusion on the resulting soundtrack album.

John : "I tried to do it again when we were making Let It Be, but anybody who saw the film saw what reaction I got with it when I tried to do it. Finally Phil Spector took the tape, and did a damn good job with it and made a fairly reasonable sound out of it, and then we released it again."

Spector embellished many of the songs with his trademark echo and excessive instrumentation. In the case of ‘Across The Universe’, this involved slowing the song down to D flat and adding an orchestra and choir. The 50 piece orchestra, which included 14 singers, were booked to perform two parts, but Spector had other ideas.

[engineer] Peter Bown : "Out of the blue he distributed these extra parts, without intimating that there would be any extra payment. I warned Phil that he’d never get away with it, and of course the orchestra got up and walked out. I worked with these musicians often and knew them well, so I went into the control room, put a wedge under the door and tried to keep out of it. I got home very very late, well after midnight, and took the phone off the hook because I knew Spector would try and call. The moment I put it back Spector was on the line, asking me to return to the studio and continue, which I did. The musicians got their extra payment. This session was on the first of April 1970 – but it was one April Fool’s joke which did not come off."

Spector’s treatment of ‘Across The Universe’ was later cited by Lennon as one of the highlights of the album. He claimed that the maverick producer “worked wonders” on the song, and that Paul McCartney had originally attempted to sabotage the recording.

John : "The Beatles didn’t make a good record of it. I think subconsciously sometimes we – I say ‘we,’ though I think Paul did it more than the rest of us; Paul would… sort of subconsciously try and destroy a great song. He subconsciously tried to destroy songs, meaning that we’d play experimental games with my great pieces, like ‘Strawberry Fields’ – which I always felt was badly recorded. That song got away with it and it worked. But usually we’d spend hours doing little detailed cleaning-ups of Paul’s songs; when it came to mine, especially if it was a great song like ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘Across The Universe’, somehow this atmosphere of looseness and casualness and experimentation would creep in. Subconscious sabotage. He’ll deny it, ’cause he’s got a bland face and he’ll say the sabotage doesn’t exist. But this is the kind of thing I’m talking about, where I was always seeing what was going on… I began to think, Well maybe I’m paranoid. But it’s not paranoid; it’s absolute truth."

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Sunday 11 February 1968, just days before they were due to fly to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the group were gathered in EMI Studio Three at Abbey Road at 4pm to film a promo for 'Lady Madonna' by NEMS employee Tony Bramwell. While there, The Beatles decided to put their time to good use, and recorded the new song.

The song started life as ‘Hey Bullfrog’, based on a few ideas sketched out by John Lennon. The line ‘Some kind of solitude is measured out in you’ was originally ‘measured out in news’, but Paul McCartney "claimed" to have misread Lennon’s handwriting [more sabotage!!]

John : "Paul said we should do a real song in the studio, to save wasting time. Could I whip one off? I had a few words at home so I brought them in."

Paul : "I remember ‘Hey Bulldog’ as being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I; we went into a crazy little thing at the end."

The title came about after McCartney made a barking sound during the session, as he and Lennon ad-libbed during the finale. The Beatles decided to keep the barking in, and changed the title to ‘Hey Bulldog’ to fit.

John : "That’s me, ’cause of the Yellow Submarine people, who were gross animals apart from the guy who drew the paintings for the movie. They lifted all the ideas for the movie out of our heads and didn’t give us any credit. We had nothing to do with that movie, and we sort of resented them. It was the third movie that we owed United Artists. Brian had set it up and we had nothing to do with it. But I liked the movie, the artwork. They wanted another song, so I knocked off ‘Hey Bulldog’. It’s a good-sounding record that means nothing."

"Hey Bulldog" was recorded in 10 takes, with Lennon on piano, McCartney shaking a tambourine, Harrison on rhythm guitar and Starr on drums. McCartney then overdubbed a bass guitar part onto track two of take 10, accompanied by Harrison playing the main riff on a distorted guitar and additional off-beat snare drum from Starr. Lennon and McCartney then shared a single microphone to record the vocals, reading from Lennon’s handwritten lyrics. This included banter and howling during the song’s ending.

 

Tony Bramwell : "They recorded Hey Bulldog at Abbey Road, while I filmed the entire process. We didn’t need any promo material for Bulldog, but Paul had also recorded Lady Madonna, the song he had written in memory of his mother, which did need some promotional film. I cut the Bulldog shoot, using the bits of the lads playing and sitting about in the studio, and we used that. Then it vanished, completely disappeared. We thought it had been stolen, as things often were if not nailed down."

The most common Lady Madonna clip begins with an overhead shot of Ringo Starr on drums, and ends with footage of McCartney from the Step Inside Love session, picking up his coat and guitar and leaving the studio. A lesser-seen variation begins with Starr in a coat and tie and features George Harrison eating a plate of beans. The footage was later re-cut to create a promo film for Hey Bulldog.

George : "When we were in the studio recording ‘Bulldog’, apparently it was at a time when they needed some footage for something else, some other record, and a film crew came along and filmed us. Then they cut up the footage and used some of the shots for something else. But it was Neil Aspinall who found out that when you watched and listened to what the original thing was, we were recording ‘Bulldog’. This was apparently the only time we were actually filmed recording something, so what Neil did was, he put it all back together again and put the ‘Bulldog’ soundtrack onto it, and there it was."

After Bramwell had finished filming, final overdubs were added. These included the lead guitar solo, performed on George Harrison’s Gibson SG Standard, although the identity of the player is uncertain.

Once recording was complete, two mono mixes of Hey Bulldog were made. The second of these was then given to King Features, who made an animated sequence for the Yellow Submarine film to accompany the song. The mixes were made with the tape machine running slightly faster – 51 cycles per second rather than the usual 50 – which raised the pitch and tempo of the song slightly.

‘Hey Bulldog’ was later cited by The Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick as one of their final true group efforts, with equal contributions from all members.

Geoff Emerick : "That was a really fun song. We were all into sound texture in those days and during the mixing we put ADT on one of the ‘What did he say? Woof woof’ bits near the end of the song. It came out really well."

   

In March 1969, following the release of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, the four new songs included in the film, along with ‘Across The Universe’ were considered for inclusion on an, ultimately unreleased, five track EP.

 

The Story So Far : On the Road to Rishikesh
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On Wednesday 14 February 1968, The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans gathered together luggage belonging to George and Pattie Harrison, her sister Jenny, plus John and Cynthia Lennon, to take it to India ahead of their trip to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram in Rishikesh. Evans took Qantas flight 754 to Delhi, flying from London Airport. There was a charge of £195.19.6d for the excess baggage.

On Thursday, 15 February, John Lennon and George Harrison, plus their wives Cynthia and Pattie, and Pattie’s sister Jenny Boyd, flew from London Airport to Delhi, India.

 

The trip had been due to take place in the summer of 1967, but was postponed following the death of Brian Epstein. The Beatles had chosen instead to press on with the making of Magical Mystery Tour.

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On Friday, 16 February, John and Cynthia Lennon, and George and Pattie Harrison arrived in Delhi at 8.15am, having flown overnight from London Airport. They were met by The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans, who had arrived there on 14 February, and Mia Farrow. Evans had organised three taxis to take the group from Delhi to Rishikesh - a journey of some 150 miles.

Cynthia Lennon : "Our arrival at Delhi went very much unheralded. We were bundled unmolested and travel-weary into three battered, ancient Indian taxis without all the usual fuss and frantic rush. It was wonderfully refreshing and stress free. After alighting from the taxis, we were shown to our living quarters. They consisted of a number of stone-built bungalows, set in groups along a rough road. Flowers and shrubs surrounded them and were carefully tended by an Indian gardener whose work speed was dead slow, and stop."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Monday, 19 February, Paul McCartney, his partner Jane Asher, plus Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen, flew from London Airport to India.



Ringo : "On the flight over, we, Paul and I, decided to go the whole way, and become vegetarians. I shall still eat eggs, but that’s it. That’s about all in that line. I suppose it would be better to call us ‘fruit-atarians’ than anything else. We all think it is a lot healthier than eating meat, anyway."

The 20-hour flight lasted through the night, and they touched down in Delhi early on Tuesday 20 February 1968.

Ringo : "Usually, I tell people I want to get somewhere quietly, and it turns out that everyone knows. A hundred people are in on the secret. I know what it is; the airline likes to get you photographed with the name. This time, we just drove into Delhi, got a ticket, and that was it. We stopped off in Tehran and this bloke from the airline came up and said, ‘Excuse me, are you one of The Beatles?’ So I said, ‘No,’ and he just walked away and that was that. I guess we’re not too big in Tehran."

The arrival of McCartney and Starr in Delhi was quite different from the journey taken by Lennon and Harrison a few days earlier. The world’s press was now aware of The Beatles’ presence in India, and cameramen and reporters were on hand as they disembarked.

 

They were met in Delhi by their assistant Mal Evans, and Raghvendra from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh. Garlands of red and yellow flowers were placed around the visitors’ necks. Starr was suffering pain in his arm following inoculation injections, and the party set off for a hospital. Their driver, however, lost his way and drove down a dead end in a field, along with the press convoy. One local reporter eventually led them to the hospital.

Paul : "There was an Indian driver and Raghvendra from the camp in front and me and Jane Asher in the back and it was long and it was dusty and it was not a very good car and it was one of those journeys, but great and exciting. I remember these Indian guys talking in what was obviously an Indian language and I was starting to doze off in the car in the back because once you were two hours into the journey the tourism had worn off a little."

Afterwards they began the 150-mile journey to Rishikesh. The Academy of Transcendental Meditation was situated 150 feet above the Ganges, and was surrounded by mountainous jungles.

Paul : "It was fascinating seeing naked holy men and the kind of thing you just don’t see unless it’s late-night Soho, and the ones you tend to see in Soho tend to be covered in shit and very drunk. I slipped into sleep, a fitful back-of-the-car sort of sleep. It was quite bumpy, and the guys were chattering away, but in my twilight zone of sleeping it sounded like they were talking Liverpool. If you listened closely, it so nearly slid into it. There was like a little segue into very fast colloquial Liverpool. And I was thinking, Uh, where the fuck am I? What? Oh, it’s Bengali, and I would just drop off again. ‘Yabba yabba, are yer comin’ oot then, lad?’ It was a strange little twilight experience. It was a long journey."



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On Sunday, 25 February 1968, George Harrison celebrated his 25th birthday in Rishikesh, India. A birthday party was held in his honour, and was attended by the various guests at Maharishi’s ashram, including The Beatles and their wives.

 

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On Friday, 1 March 1968, less than two weeks after their arrival, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen left Rishikesh to return to England. The couple were unhappy at having to spend time away from their children. Additionally, Ringo found the spicy food disagreed with him – an intolerance caused by a childhood bout of peritonitis.

Ringo : "It’s all a bit hard to remember now. I was only there for two weeks, then I left. I wasn’t getting what I thought I would out of it. The food was impossible for me because I’m allergic to so many different things."

He had brought a suitcase full of baked beans with him, and feasted on especially-prepared eggs while in Rishikesh, but found it not enough to entice him to stay.

Ringo : "I took two suitcases with me, one of clothes and the other full of Heinz beans. Then one morning the guys who were dealing with the food said, ‘Would you like some eggs?’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah, sure,’ and the next morning they said it again. I thought, ‘Oh yeah, great – things are looking up.’ Then I saw them burying the shells. That was the first of several incidents that made me think that it was not what I thought it would be. You weren’t supposed to have eggs inside this religious and spiritual ashram. I thought: ‘What do you mean, you’re burying the shells? Can’t God see that too?’"

Additionally, Maureen had a phobia of flies, which were all but unavoidable in Rishikesh.

Paul : "Ringo came home early; he couldn’t stand the food and his wife couldn’t stand the flies. It was understandable; he was a very British lad. There were curries and spicy food – and he has a stomach that gets upset easily (probably due to the peritonitis when he was a kid). Maureen didn’t like the flies – if there was one fly in the room, she would know exactly where it was at any given time. I remember her once being trapped in a room because there was a fly over the door. So obviously conditions in Rishikesh were not ideal for them."

   

Ringo : "We came home because we missed the children. I wouldn’t want anyone to think we didn’t like it there. I said it was like Butlins holiday camp, we had learnt by then that you could say anything and they’d print it. It was a good experience – it just didn’t last as long for me as it did for them."

On Sunday, 3 March, following the long drive from Rishikesh to Delhi, and the 20-hour flight from there to London Airport, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen arrived back in London.

Ringo : "A lot of people are going to say that I left because I was disillusioned by it all but that just isn’t so. The Academy is a great place and I enjoyed it a lot. I still meditate every day for half an hour in the morning and half an hour every evening and I think I’m a better person for it. I’m far more relaxed than I have ever been. You know, if you’re working very hard and things are a bit chaotic, you get all tensed up and screwed up inside. You feel as if you have to break something or hit someone. But if you spend a short while in the mornings and evenings meditating, it completely relaxes you, and it’s easier to see your way through problems. If everyone in the world started meditating, then the world would be a much happier place."

One of Ringo’s first actions after getting home was to let out a huge eggy fart, and pack a number of 16mm cine film rolls, which he then sent out to the other Beatles in India.

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On Sunday, 17 March 1968, Pattie Harrison celebrated her 24th birthday in Rishikesh, India.

 

On Tuesday, 26 March, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher and Neil Aspinall left Rishikesh for England, having spent more than a month studying meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Paul : "I came back after four or five weeks knowing that was like my allotted period, thinking, No, well, no, I won’t go out and become a monk but it was really very interesting and I will continue to meditate and certainly feel it was a very rewarding experience."

 

They touched down back in the UK the following morning, arriving at London Airport. Paul and Jane spoke briefly to reporters at the airport.

Press : Well you look very happy. Do you feel better after five weeks of meditation?

Paul : "Yes, yes, I feel a lot better, except for the flight, you know. That’s quite long. I’m a bit shattered, but the meditation is great! You sit down, you relax, and then you repeat a sound to yourself. It sounds daft, but it’s just a system of relaxation, and that’s all it is. There’s nothing more to it. We meditated for about five hours a day in all. Two hours in the morning and maybe three hours in the evening, and then, for the rest of the time, we slept, ate, sunbathed and had fun."

Press : One Indian MP accused the camp where you stayed as being an espionage centre, and you, in fact, as being a spy for the West.

Paul : "Yes, it’s true. Yes, we are spies. The four of us are spies. Actually, I’m a reporter and I joined The Beatles for that very reason. The story is out next week in a paper which shall be nameless."

Press : Jane, what effect did meditation have on you? This, I presume, is your first big meditation experience?

Jane Asher : "Yes. I think it calms you down. It’s hard to tell because it was so different, you know, the life out there. It’d be easy to tell now that I’m back, or when we’re doing ordinary things, to see just what it does."

Press : We’ve heard about the extreme poverty that exists in India. Presumably you saw some of that?

Paul : "Yes, oh yes. I don’t equate it, you know, because it’s nothing to do with it, you know. The idea is to stop poverty at its root. You see, if we just give handouts to people, it’ll just stop the problems for a day, or a week, you know. But, in India, there’s so many people, you really need all of America’s money to pour into India to solve it, you know. So, you’ve got to get to the cause of it and persuade all the Indians to start working and, you know, start doing things. Their religions, it’s very fatalistic, and they just sit down and think, ‘God said, this is it, so it’s too bad to do anything about it.’ The Maharishi’s trying to persuade them that they can do something about it."

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On Friday, 12 April 1968, after nearly two months in Rishikesh, India, studying Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, John Lennon and George Harrison left the camp. Also with them were Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Harrison and their friend ’Magic’ Alex Mardas.

They had decided to leave after Mardas convinced the others that Maharishi had attempted to gain sexual favours from female meditators at the camp.

Cynthia Lennon : "A couple of weeks before we were due to leave, Magic Alex accused the Maharishi of behaving improperly with a young American girl, who was a fellow student. Without allowing the Maharishi an opportunity to defend himself, John and George chose to believe Alex and decided we must all leave. I was upset. I had seen Alex with the girl, who was young and impressionable, and I wondered whether he – whom I had never once seen meditating – was being rather mischievous. I was surprised that John and George had both chosen to believe him. It was only when John and I talked later that he told me he had begun to feel disenchanted with the Maharishi’s behavior. He felt that, for a spiritual man, the Maharishi had too much interest in public recognition, celebrities and money."

Mardas arranged taxis to take them to Delhi. They planned to stay the night there, but managed to catch an overnight flight back to London.

John : "There was a big hullabaloo about [Maharishi] trying to rape Mia Farrow or trying to get off with Mia Farrow and a few other women, things like that. And we went down to him and we’d stayed up all night discussing, was it true or not true. And when George started thinking it might be true, I thought, ‘Well it must be true, ’cause if George is doubting it, there must be something in it.’ So we went to see Maharishi, the whole gang of us the next day charged down to his hut, his very rich-looking bungalow in the mountains. And I was the spokesman – as usual, when the dirty work came, I actually had to be leader, whatever the scene was, when it came to the nitty gritty I had to do the speaking. And I said, ‘We’re leaving.’

‘Why?’ Hee-hee, all that shit.

And I said, ‘Well if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why. He was always intimating, and there were all his right hand men intimating that he did miracles. He said, ‘I don’t know why, you must tell me.’ And I just kept saying, ‘You know why’ – and he gave me a look like, ‘I’ll kill you, bastard.’ He gave me such a look, and I knew then when he looked at me, because I’d called his bluff. And I was a bit rough to him."


Paul : "It was a big scandal. Maharishi had tried to get off with one of the chicks. I said, ‘Tell me what happened?’ John said, ‘Remember that blonde American girl with the short hair? Like a Mia Farrow lookalike. She was called Pat or something.’ I said, ‘Yeah’. He said, ‘Well, Maharishi made a pass at her.’ So I said, ‘Yes? What’s wrong with that?’ ‘He said, ‘Well, you know, he’s just a bloody old letch just like everybody else. What the fuck, we can’t go following that!’ They were scandalised. And I was quite shocked at them; I said, ‘But he never said he was a god. In fact very much the opposite. He said, “Don’t treat me like a god, I’m just a meditation teacher.” There was no deal about you mustn’t touch women, was there? There was no vow of chastity involved.’ So I didn’t think it was enough cause to leave the whole meditation centre."

Regardless of its highly dubious veracity, the rumour gave Lennon an excuse to leave India. As he waited to leave, he began writing the song that would become ‘Sexy Sadie’.

     

John : "That was written just as we were leaving, waiting for our bags to be packed in the taxi that never seemed to come. We thought: ‘They’re deliberately keeping the taxi back so as we can’t escape from this madman’s camp.’ And we had the mad Greek with us who was paranoid as hell. He kept saying, ‘It’s black magic, black magic. They’re gonna keep you here forever.’ I must have got away because I’m here."

Lennon began singing the song as he and George Harrison drove to Delhi.

George : "John had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and John changed ‘Maharishi’ to ‘Sexy Sadie’. John flew back to Yoko in England and I went to Madras and the south of India and spent another few weeks there."

George and Pattie Harrison, plus her sister Jenny, visited Ravi Shankar in Madras, where they stayed until 21 April 1968.

Pattie : "George didn’t want to go straight from two months of meditation into the chaos that was waiting for him in England – the new business, finding a new manager, the fans and the press. Instead we went to see Ravi Shankar and lost ourselves in his music."

The Single :
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‘Lady Madonna’, The Beatles’ first release of 1968, was a bluesy number written by Paul McCartney, and recorded just prior to the group’s trip to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was also their final release on Parlophone / Capitol. The Beatles released all their subsequent singles and albums on their own Apple Records label.



Paul : "The original concept was the Virgin Mary but it quickly became symbolic of every woman; the Madonna image but as applied to ordinary working class woman. It’s really a tribute to the mother figure, it’s a tribute to women. ‘Your Mother Should Know’ is another. I think women are very strong, they put up with a lot of shit, they put up with the pain of having a child, of raising it, cooking for it, they are basically skivvies a lot of their lives, so I always want to pay a tribute to them."

Although the gritty subject matter was a departure from the LSD-based fantasies that dominated much of The Beatles’ 1967 output, the lyrics in the middle eight of ‘Lady Madonna’ contain the words “See how they run,” an echo of Lennon’s ‘I Am The Walrus’.

Paul : "I was writing the words out to learn it for an American TV show and I realised I missed out Saturday; I did every other day of the week, but I missed out Saturday. So I figured it must have been a real night out."

‘Lady Madonna’ was partly inspired by a photograph taken by photographer Howard Sochurek of a Malayo-Polynesian woman surrounded by three small children. Appearing in an article titled 'American Special Forces in Action in Viet Nam', in National Geographic’s January 1965 issue, it was captioned 'Mountain Madonna'.

   

Paul : "One particular issue I saw in the Sixties had a woman, and she looked very proud and she had a baby. And I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child, and I just… You know, sometimes you see pictures of mothers and you go, ‘She’s a good mother.’ You could just tell there’s a bond and it just affected me, that photo. And so I was inspired to write ‘Lady Madonna’, my song, from that photo."

The music of ‘Lady Madonna’ was notably a throwback from the mind-expanding psychedelia of Sgt Pepper. The intro bears a resemblance to that of Humphrey Lyttelton’s 1956 hit ‘Bad Penny Blues’ - produced by oddball genius Joe Meek.

Humphrey Lyttelton : "You can't copyright a rhythm, and rhythm was all they'd borrowed. I was very complimented. Although none of the Beatles cared for traditional jazz, they all knew and liked Bad Penny Blues because it was a bluesy, skiffley thing rather than a trad excercise."

 

McCartney’s left handed, bass-led piano playing was inspired by blues pianist Fats Domino.

Paul : "‘Lady Madonna’ was me sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing. I got my left hand doing an arpeggio thing with the chord, an ascending boogie-woogie left hand, then a descending right hand. I always liked that, the juxtaposition of a line going down meeting a line going up. That was basically what it was. It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression. It took my voice to a very odd place."

 

John : "Good piano lick, but the song never really went anywhere. Maybe I helped him on some of the lyrics, but I’m not proud of them either way."

Lady Madonna’ was released in the UK on Friday, 15 March 1968, with Harrison’s ‘The Inner Light’ as the b-side. It entered the charts at number five on 20 March, and a week later climbed to the top. It remained there for a second week, and spent eight weeks altogether in the chart. In America, In the US it was released on 18 March 1968. It fared less well, peaking at number four on 23 March.

However, on the national chart compiled by Melody Maker it peaked at number 2 - the first single by the Beatles not to make number 1 on Melody Maker's chart since the band's 1962 debut, "Love Me Do".

         

The Beatles filmed two promotional sequences for ‘Lady Madonna’ on 11 February 1968, both for worldwide syndication to television companies. The single was to be released while the group was in Rishikesh, India, so they would be unable to make any personal appearances to promote it.

The Beatles made little attempt to perform ‘Lady Madonna’ during the filming; instead, they used the studio time to record another song -

[head of Apple’s film division] Denis O’Dell : "I spent a few days coming up with ideas for ‘Lady Madonna’, but when The Beatles wanted to get on with recording ‘Hey Bulldog’, all that went out the window!"

 

Among contemporary reviews of the single, Cash Box's reviewer wrote: "Take one step back, the Beatles ease their progressive pace with this knocking rhythm side that features Ringo Starr in a rare vocal showing with hard-rock and kazoo orking and lyrics that view working class hardship with a pinch of salt."

Chris Welch of Melody Maker expressed doubts about the song, saying: "Best bit is the piano intro, then you can have fun wondering why Paul sounds like Ringo … then go out and buy another record. I can't really see this being a hit, not when there's competition from the likes of Four Jacks and a Jill and Kay Starr."

Cheeky bitch!

Other Versions include :   Larry Butler (1968)  /  Fats Domino (1968)  /  Richie Havens (1968)  /  The Ravers (1968)  /  Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (1968)  /  Os Mutantes (1968)  /  Chet Atkins (1968)  /  Ramsey Lewis (1968)  /  Les Baronets (1968)  /  Los Mustang (1968)  /  José Feliciano (1969)  /  Booker T. & The M.G.'s (1969)  /  Helen Merrill (1970)  /  Junior Parker (1970)  /  Elvis Presley (1970)  /  The Crystalites (1970)  /  Swamp Dogg (1972)  /  Buck Owens (1976)  /  Wings (1976)  /  Kingmaker (1992)  /  Betty Boo (1992)  /  The Swingle Singers (1996)  /  Tom Jones (1997)  /  Ringo Ska (2004)  /  Chris de Burgh (2011)  /  Amy Slattery (2016)  /  alexsteb 8-bit (2007)  /  Danny McEvoy (2019)  /  Hiroshi Masuda (2020)  /  Paul McCartney (2020)

On This Day  :
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25 March : 58th and final original episode of The Monkees aired on NBC television
26 March : Kenny Chesney, country singer, born Kenneth Arnold Chesney in Knoxville, Tennessee.
26 March : James Iha, (Smashing Pumpkins), born James Yoshinobu Iha in Chicago, Illinois.
27 March : Yuri Gagarin, Russian cosmonaut and 1st man into space, dies in a Mig-15 plane crash, aged 34.
28 March : Tim Lovejoy, TV presenter, born Timothy Paul Lovejoy in Northwood, London
28 March : Nasser Hussain, English cricketer, born in Madras, India.
28 March : Jon Lee, drummer (Feeder), born Jonathan Henry Lee in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales.
29 March : Lucy Lawless, actress, born Lucille Frances Lawless in Auckland, New Zealand.
30 March : Celine Dion, singer, born Céline Marie Claudette Dion in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada.
30 March : General Ludvik Svoboda elected president of Czechoslovakia
30 March : 122nd Grand National: 100/7 chance Red Alligator wins ridden by 20-year old Brian Fletcher
31 March : US President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that he will not seek re-election.
2 April : "2001 A Space Odyssey" directed by Stanley Kubrick premieres in Washington, D.C.
3 April : Martin Luther King Jr deliveres his final speech, later known as "I've Been to the Mountaintop", in the Masonic Temple in Memphis.
3 April :  Jamie Hewlett, Illustrator (Gorillaz), born Jamie Christopher Hewlett in Horsham, Sussex
3 April : "Planet of the Apes" premieres in the US
3 April : Charlotte Coleman, actress (Marmalade Atkins), born Charlotte Ninon Coleman in Islington, London.
4 April : "Education of Hyman Kaplan" opens at Alvin Theater NYC
4 April : Unmanned Apollo 6 launched atop Saturn V rocket
4 April : US civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
5 April : Stewart Lee, stand-up comedian, born Stewart Graham Lee in Wellington, Shropshire
5 April : Paula Cole, singer, born in Rockport, Massachusetts
6 April : Bobby Hutton, Black Panther leader and treasurer, shot to death by Oakland police aged 17
6 April : 13th Eurovision Song Contest: Massiel for Spain wins singing "La, la, la" in London

Extra! Extra!
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Read all about it! :
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« Last Edit: May 30, 2020, 04:15:32 PM by daf »

kalowski

  • the Zone of Zero Funkativity
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1732 on: May 30, 2020, 04:00:26 PM »
Ooh, thanks for the link to the Hey Bulldog demo, daf.
As for Lady Madonna, I've always loved it.

purlieu

  • Gertrude Stein said that's enough.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1733 on: May 30, 2020, 07:56:21 PM »
I was listening to the deluxe Abbey Road boxset this afternoon, so it's nice to continue the Beatles mood with this. It's a really fun song, a nice bridge between the whimsical psych of '67 and the more back-to-basics rock of '68.

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1734 on: May 30, 2020, 09:10:17 PM »
More to come over the next couple of days - stay tuned!

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1735 on: May 31, 2020, 10:00:08 AM »
Lady Madonna is possibly my favourite Beatles single, if not track. That's Back In The USSR. You don't know how lucky you are.

Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1736 on: May 31, 2020, 10:23:52 AM »
LM is not one of my favourites.
It's another example of Macca going "look at me, I can do ALL music!" and "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Fats Waller."

Back in the USSR b/w Dear Prudence should have been the single.

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1737 on: May 31, 2020, 01:59:59 PM »
The Story So Far : Mad Days Out
Quote
Keen to expand their new business empire, The Beatles signed a one-year lease for office space for Apple at 95 Wigmore Street, London. On Monday, 22 January 1968, they opened offices on the fourth floor of the building, and spent a great deal of time in the building during the first part of 1968.

Unfortunately for The Beatles, Apple’s staff were unable to play records during office hours in case they disturbed the other tenants in the building. This was one of the reasons why they relocated to 3 Savile Row on 15 July, although some parts of Apple remained based at Wigmore Street until their lease expired.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Thursday, 25 January 1968, all four Beatles were at Twickenham Film Studios to record an on-screen appearance for the Yellow Submarine film. Filming took place following a series of test-runs and camera rehearsals. The sequence was carefully scripted, although The Beatles’ natural charm recalled the witticisms of their early press conferences, group interviews and fan club recordings.

The sequence was shown towards end of the film, to introduce ‘All Together Now’ and the closing credits.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Tuesday, 6 February 1968, Ringo made an appearance on Cilla Black’s television show 'Cilla', a variety show with a number of guests each week. On this occasion they were comedian Spike Milligan and ventriloquist Peter Brough.

Starr appeared during the opening credits and in a number of skits. In the first, he assisted Black in sorting through her fan mail and introduced one of her singing performances, 'I’m Playing Second Fiddle To A Football Team'. A second sketch saw him interact with Peter Brough and performing with his own ‘dummy’, introduced as Ariadne but actually Black in a school uniform. Starr and Black duetted unaccompanied on the 1905 song 'Nellie Dean' while he drank from a pint of beer, and finally they sang and danced to a 1917 song entitled 'Do You Like Me?'

In late 1967 Paul McCartney was approached to write the theme tune by Black and her series producer Michael Hurll. He recorded the original demo version at his London home, accompanying himself on guitar, which consisted of just one verse and the chorus.

On 5 March 1968, "Step Inside Love" was premiered on her show; the single was released three days later and reached number eight on the British charts in April 1968.

   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Friday 19 April 1968, Apple Music, the company set up by The Beatles to handle the musical side of their business interests, released an advertisement requesting tapes from aspiring musicians. The advertisements were carried in the national music press, including the New Musical Express and Melody Maker.

A picture of Alistair Taylor, Apple’s general manager, was positioned underneath the words This man has talent…” The concept was designed by Paul McCartney. The costume was hired from a Soho company, and Taylor sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling during the photo shoot.

 

Richard DiLello : "Two weeks after the first poster hit the streets over 400 tapes had accumulated in the small office at 94 Baker Street. All with notes saying, Listen to me first."

Although the response was overwhelming, not a single contract was signed as a result of The Beatles’ talent trawl.

   

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Sunday, 5 May 1968, the singer Mary Hopkin appeared on television talent show Opportunity Knocks. The programme showcased performances from new acts which were judged by public vote.

Mary Hopkin : "I was a 17-year-old schoolgirl working at weekends with a group of local boys in a folk/rock band, and after about six months the group split up, so I carried on solo. Then my agent, to my absolute horror, put my name down for an audition for Opportunity Knocks, a good show for hopefuls in the music business but not really the sort of thing I wanted to do. But he persuaded me to go along for experience, so I went and sang a couple of songs; and the next thing I heard was that I’d been chosen for one of the programmes. Rather reluctantly I made my appearance which, amazingly enough, Twiggy watched. "

The model Twiggy saw Hopkin’s performance, and suggested to Paul McCartney that the singer might be a good act for Apple to sign.

Mary Hopkin : "She met with Paul McCartney that following weekend and when Paul was chatting to her about the new record label they were forming, Twiggy mentioned me. About two days later I got a telegram saying, ‘Ring Peter Brown at Apple Records’. It sat on the shelf for three days until my mother insisted I ring him. I was a great Beatles fan so I’d heard all about the Apple boutique, but I didn’t make any connection between the Beatles and this Peter Brown telegram. So I rang up and was put through to this guy with a Liverpool accent, who invited me to come up to London and sign a contract. Being a cautious young Welsh girl, I thought, “That’s a bit sudden!”, and became a bit evasive, so this guy said, ‘Well, go and ask your mum then!’ I dragged my mother to the telephone and she proceeded to practically drop the thing because he said, ‘Oh, this is Paul McCartney, by the way’! I remember racing down the road to tell all my friends who I’d been talking to. The next day they sent a car for us and off I went with my mum to the big city."

 

Mary Hopkin : "We went to the Dick James Music studio. Paul was in the control room and I did a couple of demos for him – Joan Baez and Donovan songs – broke a guitar string and muttered some swear words into the mike. We had lunch – he took us to the Angus Steak House which we were really impressed by – and I sailed through the day in a haze, painfully shy and totally in awe of Paul. I went back home and about two days later somebody rang and said, ‘Yes, we’d like to sign you’. So I made another trip to London and Paul said, ‘I’ve got a song that might suit you. I found it years ago and gave it to Donovan and it didn’t work out, I gave it to the Moody Blues, they loved it but it didn’t happen, and I’ve been looking for the right sound for it.’ Then he strummed this song called Those Were The Days. I loved it immediately, but I must say that I’d probably have liked anything he would have played me at the time! A lot of people think Paul wrote the song, but he didn’t. Anyway, we recorded it a couple of weeks later, and five weeks after the release, in September 1968, I was number one."

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On Saturday, 11 May 1968, in order to launch and promote Apple Corps - ['apple core' - geddit?!] -in the United States, Lennon and McCartney flew to New York for a four-day trip. It was the first time they had both visited the country together since their final concert in August 1966. They were joined by Magic Alex, Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans and Derek Taylor, and while in the US met a number of friends business associates.

     

Lennon and McCartney stayed with their lawyer, Nat Weiss, at his apartment at 181 East 73rd Street. During the trip they did numerous interviews, mainly at hotels, and attended an business meeting aboard a Chinese junk, sailing around the Statue of Liberty - the crazy bastards!

On Tuesday, 14 May 1968, John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference at what was then the Americana Hotel at 155 West 47th Street, New York City, to promote Apple Corps in the United States. Derek Taylor fielded the questions, and in the audience was Linda Eastman. After the conference she once again spoke to McCartney, and wrote her telephone number on an unused cheque and gave it to him.

On this day McCartney was, by his own admission, suffering from a “personal paranoia”, possibly caused by drugs he had taken, so Lennon did most of the talking. At times confrontational and edgy, the conference showed how Lennon and McCartney had become unused to dealing with the press since The Beatles stopped touring.

Paul : "In May, John and I went to New York to announce that Apple was starting: ‘Send us your huddled talent.’ We wanted a grand launch, but I had a strange feeling and I was very nervous. I had a real personal paranoia. I don’t know if it was what I was smoking at the time, but it was very strange for me. I remember sitting up there and being interviewed. John was wearing a bus driver’s or a prefect’s badge, and he was doing well. Linda was there taking photos, and afterwards I said, ‘Couldn’t you tell I was nervous?’ but she said it was fine. For some reason I just felt very uneasy about the whole thing; maybe it was because we were out of our depth. We were talking to media like Fortune magazine, and they were interviewing us as a serious economic force – which we weren’t. We hadn’t done the business planning; we were just goofing off and having a lot of fun."

They returned to England on 16 May 1968.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Sunday 19 May 1968 John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded a series of avant-garde sound experiments at Kenwood, Lennon’s house in Weybridge, Surrey.

Lennon was nervous about inviting Ono, so made sure his childhood friend Pete Shotton was also present as she arrived. At the time, by an AMAZING coincidence, Lennon’s wife Cynthia was on a two-week holiday in Greece with ’Magic’ Alex, Jenny Boyd, Donovan and his friend Gypsy Dave.

John : "When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn was away, and I thought, ‘Well, now’s the time if I’m going to get to know her any more.’ She came to the house and I didn’t know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I’d made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, ‘Well, let’s make one ourselves,’ so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful."

The lengthy recordings were made in the attic of the house, which Lennon used as a music room. The sounds included birdsong, vocal improvisations, sound effects, feedback and distorted musical instruments, and contained nursery rhymes, music hall songs and novelty piano tunes amid the less orthodox moments.

The recordings were released as 'Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins' on 11 November in the United States, and on 29 November 1968 in the United Kingdom.

More controversial than the musical content was the cover artwork, which featured a nude photograph of Lennon and Ono. The rear sleeve, fittingly, sported a similarly naked picture of the couple from the rear with their bums out.

 

John : "Even before we made this record, I envisioned producing an album of hers and I could see this album cover of her being naked because her work was so pure. I couldn’t think of any other way of presenting her. It wasn’t a sensational idea or anything."

The photograph was taken later in the year, at Ringo Starr’s basement apartment at Montagu Square, London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living.

John : "After Yoko and I met, I didn’t realise I was in love with her. I was still thinking it was an artistic collaboration, as it were – producer and artist, right? We’d known each other for a couple of years. My ex-wife was away in Italy, and Yoko came to visit me and we took some acid. I was always shy with her, and she was shy, so instead of making love, we went upstairs and made tapes. I had this room full of different tapes where I would write and make strange loops and things like that for the Beatles’ stuff. So we make a tape all night. She was doing her funny voices and I was pushing all different buttons on my tape recorder and getting sound effects. And then as the sun rose we made love and that was Two Virgins. That was the first time."

Lennon gave the camera film from his unorthodox photoshoot to Jeremy Banks, a staff member at Apple Corps. Banks had it developed, and gave the prints to Derek Taylor, the company’s press officer.

John : "We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.
What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren’t that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human."


Although 'Two Virgins' was to become one of the most controversial episodes of Lennon’s life, his union with Yoko Ono caused a monumentally significant personal shift. It marked the beginning of the end of his time as a Beatle, and, influenced by Ono, saw him increasingly challenge public expectations with a series of confrontational artistic statements, political campaigns and experimental musical releases.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Towards the end of May 1968 The Beatles met at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher, Surrey. There they recorded demo versions of a number of songs written in India, 19 of which later appeared on the White Album.

The 27 songs believed to have been taped at Kinfauns were recorded on Harrison’s Ampex four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. They were mostly grouped together by the composer of each song, although John Lennon’s songs were more scattered across the day. They were most likely taped in this order:

Cry Baby Cry
Child Of Nature
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill’ 
I’m So Tired
Yer Blues’   
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
What’s The New Mary Jane
Revolution’ 
While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
Circles
Sour Milk Sea’ 
Not Guilty’ 
Piggies’   
Julia
Blackbird
Rocky Raccoon'
Back In The USSR
Honey Pie’   
Mother Nature’s Son’ 
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Junk’ 
Dear Prudence
Sexy Sadie
Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ 
Mean Mr Mustard’   
Polythene Pam’   
Glass Onion

Paul : "We are going in with clear heads and hoping for the best. We had hoped this time to do a lot of rehearsing before we reached the studios rather than rehearse actually on the instruments but, as it happens, all we got was one day."

George Martin : "They came in with a whole welter of songs – I think there were over thirty, actually – and I was a bit overwhelmed by them, and yet underwhelmed at the same time because some of them weren’t great."

All four members were increasingly exploring their own interests, from George Harrison’s passion for Indian culture to Paul McCartney’s exploration of the London cultural scene. Their burgeoning individuality had two effects on the group: it resulted in one of their most creatively fertile periods, and caused relations among the members to become strained.

George Martin : "I thought we should probably have made a very, very good single album rather than a double. But they insisted. I think it could have been made fantastically good if it had been compressed a bit and condensed. A lot of people I know think it’s still the best album they made. I later learnt that by recording all those songs they were getting rid of their contract with EMI more quickly."

Quote
On Thursday, 6 June 1968, John Lennon gave an interview to the BBC about the stage adaptation of his book In His Own Write.

Conducted by Peter Lewis, the interview was recorded in EMI Studios, Abbey Road, and was for the BBC 2 arts show Release. Also present was Victor Spinetti, the play’s director and co-writer.

Peter Lewis : A Beatle at the National theatre, an excerpt from In His Own Write, John Lennon – the writer, and Victor Spinetti – who adapted and directed it. It opened last Tuesday, the critics in general thought it worth trying, even if it didn’t altogether work. Among the expectant audience, Lennon readers were delighted, non-readers probably sat there ‘astoundaghast’. Sir Lawrence Olivier, director of the National theatre, took a gamble on the play for their triple bill.

Lennon : "When I saw the rehearsal of it, I got quite emotional, as if I’d written it [the adaptation]. I mean, I knew, in my heart of hearts, who was who and what the book was saying, but not enough, I was too involved with it when it was written, and any criticism it had – was either just ‘Rubbish’ or still only writing about what was on the paper. So it took something like this to happen to make me see what I was about then."

Peter Lewis : There’s another thing about this boy and that is: he won’t talk plain English. He invents his own language. Which is what you did when your books started coming out.

Lennon : "Well yeah, that was just a hangover from school. I used to make the lads laugh, with that scene, talking like that, and writing poetry. I used to write them and just give them to friends to laugh at, and that was the end of it. So when they all go down in a book, when it turns into a book or a play etc etc. It’s just my style of humour. Some of them ’cause I was never any good at spelling, all me life, I never quite got the idea of spelling. English and writing, fine, but actually spelling the words. And also, I typed a lot of the book, and I can only do it very slowly with a finger, so the stories would be very short ’cause I couldn’t be bothered going on. And also I’d spell it as you say it like Latin really, or just try and do it the simplest way to get it over with, ’cause all I’m trying to do is tell a story, and what the words is spelt like is irrelevant really. But if they make you laugh because the word used to be spelt like that, that’s great. But the thing is – the story and the sound of the word."

Peter Lewis : A lot of people wrote about your book and said “Oh James Joyce, Edward Lear” and so on, what did you think when they said that?

Lennon : "Well, when they said James Joyce I hadn’t, I must have come across him at school but we hadn’t done him like I remember doing Shakespeare and I remember doing so and so. I remember doing Chaucer a bit, or somebody like him doing funny words, but I don’t remember Joyce. The first thing they say “Oh he’s read James Joyce,” so I hadn’t, so the first thing I do is buy Finnegans Wake and read a chapter and it’s great and I dug it and I felt like – here’s an old friend, but I couldn’t make right through the book, and so I read a chapter of Finnegans Wake and that was the end of it, so now I know what they’re talking about. But he just went, he just didn’t stop, yeah."

Peter Lewis : What actually though, had you read – that you know was important to you when you were young?

Lennon : "Only kids books, Alice In Wonderland. The poems are all from Jabberwocky, started me into that kick. And drawing I started trying to draw like Ronald Searle when I was about Eight. So there was Jabberwocky and Ronald Searle I was turning into by the time I was Thirteen. I was determined to be Lewis Carol with a hint of Ronald Searle.

Peter Lewis : Were you a Sherlock Holmes reader?

Lennon : "No. I had a holiday after we first made it big as Beatles in Tahiti, and there was nothing on the boat but books. And Tahiti and all those Islands, great, but I still got into reading, so I was writing Spaniard In The Works and I knew, I never got past a story longer than a page, so I read a whole stack, sort of ‘The Madman’s Sherlock Holmes’ where you get all the stories in one and I realised that every story was the same story, so I just wrote one Shamrock Womlbs after Three weeks of Sherlock Holmes in Tahiti. And that was the end of it.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Thursday, 6 June 1968, during the session for ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, The Beatles were interviewed in the studio by the presenter of BBC radio’s weekly The Kenny Everett Show.

The recording begins with just Everett and Lennon, explaining that two incomplete songs had so far been recorded for The Beatles’ next album, one of which, Starr’s first composition, had been written “in a fit of lethargy”. Asked to pick a record to be played, Lennon chooses Harry Nilsson’s version of 'River Deep, Mountain High', which leads into a parody of Leadbelly’s 'Cottonfields'.

Everett, clearly concerned that the interview so far is yet to yield much usable material, asks whether the success of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had set the bar too high for future recordings. “It only got high ’cause everybody said how high it was,” Lennon replies. “It’s no higher than it was when we made it.”

Paul McCartney then joins the interview, and they improvise a jingle for Everett’s show, after which George Harrison and Ringo Starr also enter the studio. Starr records another jingle, followed by McCartney’s lounge singer versions of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Christmas Time (Is Here Again)’.

The interview was broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 9 June between 10am and midday. It was later pressed as a 7″ vinyl disc by Apple for promotional use in Italy, as 'Una Sensazionale Intervista Dei Beatles'.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Saturday 8 June 1968, Paul McCartney was the best man at his brother’s wedding.

Mike McCartney married Angela Fishwick, a hair stylist, at St Bridget’s Parish Church in the small village of Carrog in Merionethshire, North Wales. It was the same church where the McCartneys’ father Jim had married his second wife in 1966.

 

The other Beatles sent congratulatory telegrams. George Harrison and Ringo Starr were both in California, while John Lennon remained in London. The wedding reception was held at Jim McCartney’s home in Gayton, Cheshire. Paul led a singalong around the family piano

Quote
On Tuesday, 11 June 1968, at EMI Studios, Paul McCartney was filmed with Apple Records’ new signing Mary Hopkin listening to a playback of her recent recordings, as part of a promotional film for the label. The footage was used in a film simply titled 'Apple', which was directed by Tony Bramwell and shot in colour on 16mm. It was intended to give EMI and Capitol executives an idea of The Beatles’ intentions for their new business venture.

Tony Bramwell : "The film we came up with was a little bit arty and airy-fairy. There was a sequence of James Taylor and Mary Hopkin and Paul doing ‘Blackbird’, which I had filmed in early June; unshown footage that the BBC had banned of The Beatles doing ‘A Day In The Life’ from Sgt Pepper; a bit about the new Apple shop; some footage on the wildly experimental Indica Art Gallery and finally, The Beatles having a business meeting with ‘Uncle’ Dick James in the new Apple offices in Wigmore Street. John Lennon insisted on including footage of Magic Alex in his habitual white coat, fiddling with a pile of junk. Overall, it was a pretty little film when it was finished and everyone said how well they thought it would go down. Ron Kass said it would be a very useful tool to show the record executives at the Capitol convention in LA what Apple was all about."

McCartney took the completed film to Los Angeles on 20 June. It was shown just three times: firstly to Capitol executives on the following day, then later that day at a sales convention at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles. The final time was back in England on 26 August, when Derek Taylor showed it at an EMI sales conference.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Saturday, 22 June 1968, The Beatles bought a five-storey property at 3 Savile Row, London, for a price of £500,000. The property had once been the home of Lord Nelson’s Lady Hamilton, and later the 1930s Dance Band leader Jack Hylton. It became The Beatles’ base for Apple when they officially moved in on 15 July 1968.

   

As well as installing a recording studio in the basement, each of the group’s members had an office in the Georgian townhouse, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono ran their early peace campaigns from the building, under the umbrella of Bag Productions.

Also on this day, Paul McCartney addressed a sales conference, attended by executives from Capitol Records, where he announced that all future Beatles records would be released through the group’s Apple Records label. McCartney gave a brief address before playing a promotional film which had been made on 11 June.

Tony Bramwell : "Paul delivered a short speech to announce that EMI/Capitol would distribute Apple Records and, from now on, The Beatles were on the Apple label. That was a cue for me to show the film. Paul spent time doing the old meet-and-greet and being photographed with top Capitol executives, Alan Livingston, Stanley Gortikov and Ken Fritz. It was a PR masterpiece."



Following the event, McCartney and his companions – Apple’s Ron Kass and Tony Bramwell, plus childhood friend Ivan Vaughan – returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they were staying for the duration of their US trip.

Tony Bramwell : "Relieved at how well it had gone we were ready to return to the hotel and leap into the swimming pool again. When we went into the bungalow to change, followed by the trail of girls, we were rather surprised to find Linda sitting there radiantly, totally spaced out, waiting for Paul. She had a joint in one hand and a beatific smile on her face. Paul immediately detached himself from the circus surrounding him and took Linda aside. As I looked across the room, I suddenly saw something happen. Right before my eyes, they fell in love. It was like the thunderbolt that Sicilians speak of, the coup-de-foudre that the French speak of in hushed tones, that once-in-a-lifetime feeling. Paul was struck almost dumb as he and Linda gazed at each other."

In the evening the party – now including Linda Eastman – went to LA’s Whiskey-A-Go-Go, where they watched BB King and the Chicago Transit Authority perform.

Tony Bramwell : "The club was hot, dark and crowded. Paul and Linda sat in a corner both while we acted as a kind of hedge. By a strange coincidence, both Eric Burdon and Georgie Fame were in the booth next to us, a fact not missed by Linda or Paul in their state of heightened awareness. Eric and Georgie had been at the Bag O’Nails on the night they had met some thirteen months ago. Now here they were on the night they had fallen in love. It was a sign."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Sunday, 23 June 1968, Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman spent much of the day together at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Tony Bramwell : "The next day, evening more fans turned up and mobbed the hotel. Crowds of fans were milling in and around the main entrance, lobby and grounds, while Paul and Linda were still in bed making love. Finally, to thank them all for coming, Paul got up and sat on the steps of the bungalow, playing his guitar and singing to them – I think it was ‘Blackbird’ – while Linda kept quietly in the background, not wanting to be seen."

At lunchtime the Apple party visited Capitol Records president Alan Livingston at his home in Beverly Hills, before spending the afternoon at the home of Capitol executive Ken Fritz.

Tony Bramwell : "On returning to the bungalow, Linda passed around a Victorian cloth drawstring bag stuffed full of grass. In London this bag became her trademark, the legendary ‘spice-bag’ that Plonk Lane of the Faces wrote about in a song. All kinds of music people started to drop by, like Roger McGuinn from the Byrds. Boyce and Hart, the songwriters for the Monkees, telephoned to invite us to one of their notorious toga parties, a Hollywood version of a Roman orgy. Paul asked me to turn down all invitations so he could spend time alone with Linda. I did, but a leggy young starlet named Peggy Lipton, who had met Paul during their last America tour and still had designs on him, kept calling all through the night."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Monday, 24 June 1968 was a day off, and the Apple party were invited to sail on a yacht belonging to Warner Bros executive John Calley.

Tony Bramwell : "Paul knew that if Linda went with him on the boat, the news would get out very quickly. He was torn between going, or keeping her a secret for a little longer by hiding her back in the bungalow. In the end he decided they would both go, and Linda could always say she was just taking pictures. As we left the hotel to get into the limo, Peggy Lipton suddenly appeared, bikini and towel packed in her beach bag, ready to spend the day with us. Somebody must have told her we were going sailing. ‘Oh my God,’ said Paul when he spotted her. ‘She can’t come.’"

 

Tony Bramwell : "I had to tell her in the nicest possible way that it was a private party, while Linda stood quietly to one side pretending she wasn’t with us. Peggy was very upset and got very argumentative. I realised that she needed the publicity for her career and had been told to make sure she got it, but Paul was tired of girls who used him. We drove off fast, leaving Peggy standing on the hotel steps in tears. It was one of those perfect days, though not for Peggy, of course. We sailed to Catalina, feeling like Bogart and Bacall for whom the island was a favourite destination, along with the Flynns and the Fairbanks. We dived off the sides of the sailboat into the clear blue sea where dolphins swam, sunbathed on the decks, ate bacon sandwiches and drank champagne. It was a wonderful day, an antidote to the months of madness in London."

This was the final day of the Apple promotional trip. In the evening the party flew from Los Angeles to New York, where they caught a connecting flight to London.

Quote
On Monday, 8 July 1968, nine days prior to its world première, three of The Beatles attended a press screening of Yellow Submarine at the 102-seat Bowater House Cinema in Knightsbridge, London.

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all attended the screening. John Lennon’s absence was compensated for by a cardboard version of his cartoon incarnation, which the rest of the group posed alongside for photographers. It was the first time any of the group had seen the finished film. Afterwards they gave interviews and were photographed, with footage being broadcast by BBC and ITV news.

 

Harrison told reporters that, following the critical drubbing that Magical Mystery Tour received, they would henceforth only appear in animations. He also dodged a question about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but McCartney stepped in, calling the episode “a phase,” and saying “we don’t go out with him anymore”.

 

On Wednesday, 17 July 1968, The Beatles attended the world première of The Beatles’ animated feature film, 'Yellow Submarine' at the London Pavilion on Piccadilly Circus.

 

Although the group had largely retreated from the public eye in recent months, with their trip to India and the recording of the 'White Album', their popularity remained undiminished. As with their previous film openings, large crowds turned out, blocking streets and bringing traffic to a standstill.

 

The only Beatle to arrive alone was Paul McCartney, whose fiancée Jane Asher was absent. Three days later she announced the end of their relationship on BBC television. Among the other guests were The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richard, plus members of The Who, The Status Quo and The Grapefruit.

 

After the première, The Beatles went to a celebratory party at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, where the in-house discothèque was renamed 'Yellow Submarine' for the occasion, and retained the name for several years after.


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In the early summer of 1968, Paul McCartney telephoned esteemed war photographer Don McCullin to ask him to spend a day photographing The Beatles. The group was in need of new publicity images, and wanted to get away from the recording studio temporarily.

The chosen day was Sunday, 28 July 1968. The Beatles and McCullin were joined by five others with cameras – Ronald Fitzgibbon, Stephen Goldblatt, Tom Murray, Tony Bramwell and Mal Evans – plus Yoko Ono, McCartney’s new American girlfriend Francie Schwartz, and Gary Evans - Mal’s six-year-old son.

 

There were seven key locations around London in what became known as The Mad Day Out.

The first location was a photographic studio in Thomson House, the centre of the newspaper empire owned by Lord Thomson, where The Times and The Sunday Times were based.

For the first shots, The Beatles stood against a blue backdrop and a fan was pointed at them to blow their hair away. While in the studio the group also used props including: four coloured sheets which were used as capes; a Liverpool Football Club rosette worn by McCartney; crash helmets and diving googles; a boot, positioned on the head of Ringo Starr; and a bugle, played by George Harrison. A crumpled aluminium foil background was also used in some photographs.

Don McCullin : "It was quiet and they came to the Sunday Times building on Gray’s Inn Road. At the top of the building was a photo studio that had been created by Tony Snowdon. There was no agenda except they wanted to give Life magazine a cover picture, which I photographed in colour. I used Ektachrome, and Ringo’s chrome yellow shirt jumped out of the blue of his suit. I turned on the wind machine… The wind machine was throwing their hair around and their famous faces looked like the figures on Mount Rushmore. To my amazement it worked and we got a beautiful cover. Thinking back on it, Life used to pay five hundred quid for a cover so maybe I actually lost out on it, but I was thrilled."

   

The second location took place at the Mercury Theatre at 2 Ladbroke Road in Notting Hill, London. The building was originally a church hall dating from 1848. The Beatles’ car was parked near the Horbury Chapel, now Kensington Temple, and they waited in the theatre until a parrot handler arrived. The group posed with the parrot in a number of shots near a theatre exit. They took to the stage for several pictures, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney alternating as the main figure. The Beatles then began a jam session around a piano, with McCartney playing the instrument with the parrot perched on his left shoulder.

Don McCullin : "We found ourselves in a strange community hall somewhere in the East End. Somebody produced a parrot. The light was terrible and I was struggling with reloading my cameras. There was an old upright piano and they started fooling around with it."

The photography session continued at Highgate Cemetery in north London. The Beatles wanted to be photographed by Karl Marx’s tomb in the eastern part of the cemetery, but got no further than Swain’s Lane outside. They posed on a bench outside 79 Swain’s Lane, and then in front of 59 Swain’s Lane where McCartney wore a Liverpool Football Club rosette and shook hands with Lennon.

 

The fourth location was in Old Street, a busy thoroughfare in the north of the city.

They arrived shortly after 6pm, and went to the island in the middle of the busy roundabout. Using a plank of wood, they climbed to the top of a concrete block in the middle of the island. There they adopted a variety of poses while more than 100 photographs were taken. The Beatles were snapped while waving, saluting, pretending to fight and fall off, dancing and other poses, before returning to their cars and heading for location five, St Pancras Old Church and Gardens.

Don McCullin : "We reached Old Street roundabout and I just asked them to get up on it. Once they were on the roundabout they obviously thought they might as well do something and performed completely spontaneously for me. You can’t direct people like that. The choreography was theirs. The taxi drivers couldn’t believe it as they came round and caught this free show."

 

The Beatles then travelled to St Pancras Old Church and Gardens near Regent’s Park, where some of the best-known photographs of the Mad Day Out were taken.

Firstly, photographer Don McCullin snapped the group as they stood on a small grass knoll to the left of the entrance steps and gates. A nearby flower bed was arranged in a circular array saying “1869 to 1968 NDFS”.

The second location was a bench to the north of the knoll, just south of the central monument marked on the map below. Mal Evans’ son Gary sat on the bench next to Lennon and Starr, while McCartney and Harrison stood behind. A little further along the path, south east of the monument, was a drinking fountain. The Beatles were photographed here spitting water at the camera lenses.

The fourth location was next to the mausoleum of architect Sir John Soane (1753–1837), which was situated at the eastern part of the gardens. They sat on the grass by the tomb, next to a sign stating: “Please keep off the grass”.

 

North of Sir John’s grave was St Pancras Coroner’s Court, where they accompanied an elderly man reading a newspaper on a bench. Harrison and Starr sat next to him, and Lennon and McCartney stood behind, but the man appeared oblivious to The Beatles and the photographers capturing the moment.

Location six in the gardens was in a flowerbed north of the monument, situated against the perimeter railings. The Beatles stood with St Pancras Hospital in the background, and were largely camouflaged by the towering hollyhocks. They then walked to a bench immediately to the north of the monument, directly opposite the bench in location two.

The eighth location was in the church’s imposing arched doorway, where formal portrait shots were taken. While this took place, a crowd of people stood and stared from behind the railings which separated the church from the gardens. Photographer Don McCullin directed The Beatles to mingle with the crowd.

 

The Beatles travelled to east London to Wapping, for the sixth location of the photoshoot. They arrived in the evening, and parked their cars in Wapping High Street. The first photographs were taken near the corner of Sampson Street, before moving on to the concrete bed – now a park – between the two Wapping Pier Head buildings.

To get to the second location The Beatles climbed the fence surrounding the eastern Pier Head building and sat on the grass. John Lennon changed into a black waistcoat and Paul McCartney went bare chested. Lennon swung a pickaxe at concrete, then lay down on the concrete slope. McCartney draped some heavy chains around his torso for some solo shots. The chains were situated at the bottom of the slope, and had previously been used to cordon off the area.

In one of the day’s more macabre occurrences, Lennon pretended to be dead while Ringo Starr felt his forehead and George Harrison wore his glasses. The Beatles then posed for photographs while standing on the edge of the quay by the east Pier Head building.

Don McCullin : "We went down to the river at Limehouse, near those beautiful Georgian sea captains’ houses. Lennon started stripping off, so did Paul McCartney. I suppose that meant they were relaxed. Then I took this bizarre photograph where Lennon appeared to pose as if he were dead. Maybe he was pretending to sleep, to look as if he was inebriated, but I’m convinced he was staging his own death. Again, this was 1968 and the height of the Vietnam War, from which I’d just returned. I was using my Nikon F’s, which I’d brought back from the battlefield. I think everything Lennon did was a protest. Every statement he made seemed to come out of anger. There were many contradictions to him. He was a talented man who could write about peace and love, but deep down he was forceful and aggressive."

 

A short walk took The Beatles to the Butler and Colonial Wharves buildings, at 24-28 Wapping High Street. They were photographed with Tower Bridge in the background, before finally returning to the west Pier Head building. Lennon was pictured lying on the ground wearing a camouflage jacket, while the other Beatles stood behind him.

The final location was 7 Cavendish Avenue, Paul McCartney’s house in St John’s Wood, north London. The shoot took place inside the geodesic dome that McCartney had constructed in his back garden. As the sun went down, McCartney was photographed inside with his dog Martha, before being joined by the other Beatles and Mal Evans’ son Gary.

Don McCullin : "We went back to Paul McCartney’s house in St John’s Wood, and after having tea we went out into his garden where there was this dome, like something out of James Bond or Doctor Who. We all lay around with a huge floppy dog in this strange science-fiction-like space."

The final shots of this long day were of The Beatles standing outside the dome, photographed from below on the inside.

 

Paul : "I used to sit round at my house with Robert Fraser, the gallery owner, listening to music. I’d started talking to him about having a folly. I loved the idea of follies and he put me in touch with an English architect who came up with my geodesic dome. It was my meditation platform. The dome is still there with a little Japanese garden leading up to it. So that’s where we all ended up, in the dome."

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On Wednesday, 31 July 1968, The Beatles decided to close the Apple Boutique in Baker Street, announcing that they would give away the stock. Members of the public queued throughout the night for a chance of getting a free item - the greedy bastards!

John : "It was a big event and all the kids came and just took everything that was in the shop. That was the best thing about the whole shop, when we gave it all away. But the night before, we all went in and took what we wanted. It wasn’t much, T-shirts… it was great, it was like robbing. We took everything we wanted home.
And the next day we were watching, and there were thousands of kids all going in and getting their freebies. It was great. Of course, Derek and the others hated it but it so happened that I was running the office at that time, so we were in control. Paul had called me up one day and said, ‘I’m going away. You take over.’ It was as stupid as that."


 

The shop was stripped bare by eager souvenir hunters, with fittings and carpets being taken away. The Beatles themselves stayed away, working on their next single at Trident Studios in Soho.

Ringo : "We went in the night before and took everything we wanted. We had loads of shirts and jackets – we cleaned a lot of the stuff out. It wasn’t a sale, we just gave it all away, and that was the best idea. In the end, of course, people were coming with wheelbarrows. It was silly, but we had wanted to open a shop and dress everyone like us."

The Apple Boutique had opened on 7 December 1967, but fell foul of council objections over the psychedelic mural painted on the outside.

George : "If they’d protected it and the painted wall was there now, they would be saying, ‘Wow, look at this. We’ve got to stop it chipping off.’ But that’s just typical of the narrow minds we were trying to fight against. That’s what the whole Sixties Flower-Power thing was about: ‘Go away, you bunch of boring people.’ The whole government, the police, the public – everybody was so boring, and then suddenly people realised they could have fun. Once we were told we had to get rid of the painting, the whole thing started to lose its appeal. The whole tone of the events around the Apple shop was going sour, and – as it was not working out – we decided to sell it. We ended up giving the contents away. We put an ad in the paper and we filmed people coming in and grabbing everything."

Paul McCartney wrote a press release, explaining The Beatles’ motives for closing the stores.

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We decided to close down our Baker Street shop yesterday and instead of putting up a sign saying, ‘Business will be resumed as soon as possible’, and then auction off the goods, we decided to give them away. The shops were doing fine and making a nice profit on turnover. So far, the biggest loss is in giving the things away, but we did that deliberately. We’re giving them away – rather than selling them to barrow boys – because we wanted to give rather than sell.

We came into shops by the tradesman’s entrance but we’re leaving by the front door. Originally, the shops were intended to be something else, but they just became like all the boutiques in London. They just weren’t our thingy. The staff will get three weeks’ pay but if they wish they’ll be absorbed into the rest of Apple. Everyone will be cared for. The Kings Road shop, which is known as Apple Tailoring, isn’t going to be part of Apple anymore but it isn’t closing down and we are leaving our investment there because we have a moral and personal obligation to our partner John Crittle, who is now in sole control. All that’s happened is that we’ve closed our shop in which we feel we shouldn’t, in the first place, have been involved.

Our main business is entertainment – communication. Apple is mainly concerned with fun, not with frocks. We want to devote all our energies to records, films and our electronics adventures. We had to re-focus. We had to zoom in on what we really enjoy, and we enjoy being alive, and we enjoy being Beatles.

Read all about it! :
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« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 03:04:11 PM by daf »

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1738 on: June 01, 2020, 02:00:00 PM »
The Story So Far :  The Beatles Album Number Nine . . . Number Nine . . . Number Nine - Part 1
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On Thursday, 30 May 1968, The Beatles began recording their next album - the follow-up to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Simply titled 'The Beatles', the double-album would soon become known as "The White Album' due to it's stark white cover. The session lasted a little over 12 hours, beginning at 2.30pm and ending at 2.40am the following morning.

The first song to be recorded, ‘Revolution 1’, was written by John Lennon in India in early 1968.

1968 saw a profound shift from 1967's 'peace and love' era, towards political turmoil, protest and struggle. The student uprising in Paris, the Vietnam war and the assassination of Martin Luther King heralded a political awakening for Lennon, and he decided to put his feelings into song, aware of the risk of alienating The Beatles’ fans.

John : "I wanted to put out what I felt about revolution. I thought it was time we fucking spoke about it, the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese war when we were on tour with Brian Epstein and had to tell him, ‘We’re going to talk about the war this time, and we’re not going to just waffle.’ I wanted to say what I thought about revolution. I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India. I still had this ‘God will save us’ feeling about it, that it’s going to be all right. That’s why I did it: I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolution. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say ‘What do you say? This is what I say.’"

The song started life simply as ‘Revolution’. The Beatles didn’t anticipate recording it more than once, and it was only when the other members vetoed it as a single release that Lennon considered the faster reworking as a candidate for their next single.

John : "When George and Paul and all of them were on holiday, I made ‘Revolution 1’, which is on the LP and ‘Revolution 9’. I wanted to put it out as a single, I had it all prepared, but they came by, and said it wasn’t good enough. And we put out what? ‘Hello, Goodbye’ or some shit like that? No, we put out ‘Hey Jude’, which was worth it – I’m sorry – but we could have had both."

Sixteen takes were recorded on this first day. They were numbered 1-18, although there were no takes 11 and 12. The recording had piano, drums and acoustic guitar all on a single track of the tape, and John Lennon’s vocals on another.

The final attempt, Take 18, was substantially longer than other attempts. It lasted 10:17, and formed the basis of the album version. It included an extended jam at the end, which lasted well beyond Lennon’s call to the studio control room at 7:31: “OK, I’ve had enough”. The final six minutes featured feedback, screaming and moaning, including vocal contributions from Lennon’s new girlfriend Yoko Ono. This later formed the basis of ‘Revolution 9’, with the addition of a number of tape loops and sound effects.

On Tuesday, 4 June 1968, Lennon decided to re-record his lead vocals while lying on his back in an attempt to alter the sound of his voice - the daft sod!

 

[technical engineer] Brian Gibson : "John decided he would feel more comfortable on the floor so I had to rig up a microphone which would be suspended on a boom above his mouth. It struck me as somewhat odd, a little eccentric, but they were always looking for a different sound; something new."

McCartney, his new girlfriend Francie Schwartz, and Harrison recorded more backing vocals, including the words “Mama, Dada” over and over towards the end of the song, although the song was eventually faded out before these latter parts appeared. Starr added another drum track, Lennon played a guitar part using a tone pedal, and McCartney recorded an organ overdub. Two tape loops were also made: one of all four Beatles singing a high-pitched “Aaah”, and another of a high-pitched guitar note.

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Don’t Pass Me By’, the second song to be recorded, was Ringo Starr’s first published composition. The song was mentioned by the group way back in June 1964 - during a radio interview in New Zealand, Starr playfully urged the rest of the group to “sing the song I’ve written, just for a plug”.

On 14 July 1964, during an introduction to ‘And I Love Her’ for the first edition of the BBC radio music series Top Gear. Starr was asked if he had plans to write songs, and replied that he had written one. McCartney then interjected by singing “Don’t pass me by, don’t make me cry, don’t make me blue”.

Ringo : "I wrote ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ when I was sitting round at home. I only play three chords on the guitar and three on the piano. I was fiddling with the piano – I just bang away – and then if a melody comes and some words, I just have to keep going. That’s how it happened: I was just sitting at home alone and ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ arrived. We played it with a country attitude. It was great to get my first song down, one that I had written. It was a very exciting time for me and everyone was really helpful, and recording that crazy violinist was a thrilling moment."

Begun on Wednesday, 5 June 1968, as ‘Ringo’s Tune (Untitled)’, three takes of the rhythm track were taped, with Paul on piano and Ringo on drums. At the end of the third attempt McCartney exclaimed “I think that’s got it!”, followed by Starr’s call to the control room, “I think we’ve got something there, George!” The following day, recording continued, under the new working title ‘This Is Some Friendly’.

On Wednesday, 12 July, session musician Jack Fallon taped his violin part, after which more bass was recorded by McCartney and Starr added another piano track.

Jack Fallon : "George Martin had jotted down a 12-bar blues for me. A lot of country fiddle playing is double-stop but Paul and George Martin – they were doing the arranging – suggested I play it single note. So it wasn’t really the country sound they originally wanted. But they seemed pleased. Ringo was around too, keeping an eye on his song."

When the double album was released in 1968, there were a number of variations between the mono and stereo versions. The mono mix of ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ was significantly faster than the stereo version, and contained more improvised fiddle playing at the end.

Jack Fallon : "I thought that they had had enough so I just busked around a bit. When I heard it played back at the end of the session I was hoping they’d scrub that bit out, but they didn’t, so there I am on record, scraping away! I was very surprised they kept it in, it was pretty dreadful."

On Monday, 22 July, the orchestral introduction for the song, known as ‘A Beginning’, was recorded.

George Martin : "It was for John that I did an off-the-wall introduction, because we hadn’t a clue what to do with Ringo’s song. In the event, the intro was too bizarre for us to use, and the score was scrapped."

However, another overdub from the session did make its way into the final mix - the tinkling piano introduction which was later edited from 45 seconds down to just eight.

     

On Friday, 7 June 1968, George Harrison, accompanied by his wife Pattie, plus Ringo Starr, Maureen Starkey and Mal Evans, travelled to California to film of scenes for Ravi Shankar’s feature film Raga. While George and Ringo were away, Lennon and McCartney continued to work on the album.

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"Blackbird" was composed shortly after The Beatles’ stay in Rishikesh, India, on McCartney’s farm in Scotland. On the first night his future wife Linda Eastman stayed at his house in London, McCartney performed the song to the fans waiting outside the gates.

Margo Stevens : "A few of us were there. We had the feeling something was going to happen. Paul didn’t take the Mini inside the way he usually did – he parked it on the road and he and Linda walked right past us. They went inside and we stood there, watching different lights in the house go on and off. In the end, the light went on in the Mad Room, at the top of the house, where he kept all his music stuff and his toys. Paul opened the window and called out to us, ‘Are you still down there?’ ‘Yes,’ we said. He must have been really happy that night. He sat on the window sill with his acoustic guitar and sang ‘Blackbird’ to us as we stood down there in the dark."

McCartney has claimed that the music was inspired by J.S. Bach’s Bouree in E minor, which he and George Harrison had learned to play on the guitar at a young age.

Paul : "Part of its structure is a particular harmonic thing between the melody and the bass line which intrigued me. Bach was always one of our favourite composers; we felt we had a lot in common with him… I developed the melody on guitar based on the Bach piece and took it somewhere else, took it to another level, then I just fitted the words to it."

The lyrics were inspired by the civil rights movement in America; the ‘blackbird’ of the title was said to represent a typical woman facing oppression in the era.

Paul : "I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.’ As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place so, rather than say ‘Black woman living in Little Rock’ and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem."

On Tuesday, 11 June, a film crew from Apple, directed by Tony Bramwell, was present during the session, ostensibly to make a 10-minute promotional short for the company. Recorded onto 16mm film, the footage captured McCartney working on Blackbird’ and ‘Helter Skelter on an acoustic guitar. The sound recordist also made a 41-minute tape of McCartney rehearsing Blackbird, from which we can see the song take shape :

The tape begins with a performance which producer George Martin is timing. Afterwards he tells McCartney that the song is just shy of two minutes and suggests he makes more of the break before the coda. McCartney then plays a half-speed version of the song, which morphs into Cliff Richard’s 'Congratulations'. With Martin in the control room of Studio Two, McCartney attempts a complete run-through. Lennon suggests that the studio lights be dimmed to improve the atmosphere, and Martin suggests that a rough demo would help them decide an arrangement. Lennon, however, says that vocals and guitar are sufficient.

Lennon and Martin begin discussion ‘Revolution 1’’s lengthy ending, and various recordings made for the stage play of In His Own Write. In the background McCartney plays a version of 'Helter Skelter' in a falsetto voice. There then follows a brief version of Blackbird featuring both Lennon and McCartney on acoustic guitars, before McCartney continues playing alone, singing in an Elvis style and ad-libbing a talking blues. With Lennon in the control room, they discuss the arrangement again. Lennon suggest a brass band, and McCartney plays a version of ‘Mother Nature’s Son’. A number of versions of Blackbird follow, most of which end with a false start.

McCartney recorded 32 takes of ‘Blackbird’, only 11 of which were complete. The final attempt was the best, and onto it McCartney double tracked his vocals in places, along with a second guitar part.

The song was remixed on 13 October 1968, after McCartney realised that Blackbird would sound better with the sound of actual birds on it - the sound effects from EMI’s library were added to the four-track recording, towards the end of the session.

[engineer] Stuart Eltham : "I taped that on one of the first portable EMI tape recorders, in my back garden in Ickenham, about 1965. There are two recordings, one of the bird singing, the other making an alarm sound when I startled it."



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Work on ‘Revolution 9', as a separate entity, began on Thursday, 6 June 1968, using the final six minute coda of Take 18 of 'Revolution 1', originally recorded on 30 May, as the starting point for further experimentation.

John : "The slow version of ‘Revolution’ on the album went on and on and on and I took the fade-out part, which is what they sometimes do with disco records now, and just layered all this stuff over it. It was the basic rhythm of the original ‘Revolution’ going on with some 20 loops we put on, things from the archives of EMI."

Lennon prepared  tape loops to add to the recording. Some of these were of his own making; others were taken from the Abbey Road archives. Five were marked ‘Various’; the others were titled ‘Vicars Poems’  /   ‘Queen’s Mess’  /   ‘Come Dancing Combo’  /   ‘Organ Last Will Test’  /   ‘Neville Club’  /   ‘Theatre Outing’   /  and ‘Applause/TV Jingle

On Monday, 10 June, Lennon spent three hours assembling a further three tapes of sound effects. The following day, while Paul McCartney was in Studio Two recording ‘Blackbird’, Lennon was in Studio Three compiling more effects.

Although he made no direct contribution, being in New York at the time, Paul McCartney had led work on a similar sound collage, the unreleased 14-minute ‘Carnival Of Light’, 18 months previously.

Paul : "‘Revolution 9’ was quite similar to some stuff I’d been doing myself for fun. I didn’t think that mine was suitable for release, but John always encouraged me."

The most significant day’s recording for ‘Revolution 9’ was Thursday, 20 June. In a session beginning at 7pm and ending on the following morning at 3.30am, Lennon, Ono and Harrison recorded a series of seemingly random statements. These included Ono’s You become naked  /  Lennon’s Industrial output, financial imbalance, the Watusi, the Twist  /  Harrison’s 'Eldorado'  / and Lennon’s Take this brother, may it serve you well.

Using Studios One, Two and Three, Lennon oversaw the live mix of his sound collage, with numerous tape loops being played across a number of Abbey Road’s tape machines.

Much of the track consists of tape loops that are faded in and out, several of which are sampled from performances of classical music. Works that have been specifically identified include the Vaughan Williams motet O Clap Your Hands /  the final chord from Sibelius' Symphony No. 7  /  and the reversed finale of Schumann's Symphonic Studies

John : "We were cutting up classical music and making different-size loops, and then I got a tape on which some test engineer was saying, ‘Number nine, number nine, number nine’. All those different bits of sound and noises are all compiled. There were about ten machines with people holding pencils on the loops – some only inches long and some a yard long. I fed them all in and mixed them live."

Also included were brief portions of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy  /  violins from "A Day in the Life"  /  part of the Arabic song "Awal Hamsa" by Farid al-Atrash  /  George Martin saying "Geoff, put the red light on"  / a Mellotron performed by Lennon played backwards  /  High pitched humming by Yoko Ono  /   Lennon and Harrison whispering six times the phrase There ain’t no rule for the company freaks.

The recurring ‘Number nine . . Number nine . . Number nine’ announcement was culled from examination tapes made for the Royal Academy of Music. Sound effects included laughter, crowd noise, breaking glass, car horns and gunfire. Some of the sounds were taken from an Elektra Records album of stock sound effects. The piece ends with a recording of American football chants : "Hold that line! Block that kick!"

The track used Abbey Road’s STEED – (single tape echo and echo delay) – reverb system. During the live mix the delay ran out, and at 5’11” the sound of the tape being rewound can be heard.

John : "I did a few mixes until I got one I liked. Yoko was there for the whole thing and she made decisions about which loops to use. It was somewhat under her influence, I suppose. Once I heard her stuff – not just the screeching and the howling but her sort of word pieces and talking and breathing and all this strange stuff, I thought, My God, I got intrigued, so I wanted to do one. I spent more time on ‘Revolution 9’ than I did on half the songs I ever wrote. It was a montage."

   

John : "I don’t know what influence ‘Revolution 9’ had on the teenybopper fans, but most of them didn’t dig it. So what am I supposed to do?"

Charles Manson found a wealth of symbolism in the track’s loops and effects, and thought that Lennon’s shouts of ‘Right!’ were, in fact, a call to ‘rise’ up in revolt. Manson drew a parallel between ‘Revolution 9’ and the Bible’s book of Revelation. He thought The Beatles were variously four angels sent to kill a third of mankind, or four locusts mentioned in Revelation 9, which he equated with beetles.

John : "‘Revolution 9’ was an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens; just like a drawing of a revolution. All the thing was made with loops. I had about 30 loops going, fed them onto one basic track. I was getting classical tapes, going upstairs and chopping them up, making it backwards and things like that, to get the sound effects. One thing was an engineer’s testing voice saying, ‘This is EMI test series number nine’. I just cut up whatever he said and I’d number nine it. Nine turned out to be my birthday and my lucky number and everything. I didn’t realise it: it was just so funny the voice saying, ‘number nine’; it was like a joke, bringing number nine into it all the time, that’s all it was."

‘Revolution 9’ also featured in the Paul is dead myth, after it was discovered that the ‘number nine’ motif, when played backwards, sounded like ‘Turn me on, dead man’. A number of other elements of the recording featured in the myth, including the sound of a car crashing followed by an explosion.

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On Monday, 24 June 1968, George Harrison produced a session for fellow Liverpudlian musician Jackie Lomax, recording Harrison’s song ‘Sour Milk Sea’.

Lomax’s group, Lomax Alliance, was managed by NEMS prior to Apple’s formation, and his previous band, The Undertakers, had played in the same Hamburg clubs as The Beatles in the early 1960s. He had signed to Apple as a solo artist in early 1968.

Harrison produced the song over three days, and played acoustic guitar, with McCartney on bass, Starr on drums, Eric Clapton on guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano. For the first two of the days, McCartney was out of the country, but added his bass part on 26 June.

The b-side, 'The Eagle Laughs At You', was also produced by Harrison and featured Harrison and Clapton playing rhythm and lead guitar alongside Lomax, but no other Beatles.

   

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On Wednesday, 26 June 1968, the Beatles began studio work on ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey’, which was written by John Lennon about his relationship with Yoko Ono.

John : "That was just a sort of nice line that I made into a song. It was about me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you’re in love. Everybody was sort of tense around us: you know, ‘What is she doing here at the session? Why is she with him?’ All this sort of madness is going on around us because we just happened to want to be together all the time."

Although Lennon denied it, the monkey of the title was widely taken to be a reference to heroin. ‘A monkey on the back’ was a jazz term for heroin addiction thought to have originated in the 1940s. Lennon and Ono had begun taking heroin in 1968; they claimed they used it to escape the press interest in their relationship.

Paul : "He was getting into harder drugs than we’d been into and so his songs were taking on more references to heroin. Until that point we had made rather mild, oblique references to pot or LSD. Now John started talking about fixes and monkeys and it was a harder terminology which the rest of us weren’t into. We were disappointed that he was getting into heroin because we didn’t really see how we could help him. We just hoped it wouldn’t go too far. In actual fact, he did end up clean but this was the period when he was on it. It was a tough period for John, but often that adversity and that craziness can lead to good art, as I think it did in this case."

'Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey' was rehearsed in a session running from 7pm to 3.30am. The song had the working title 'Unititled', and numerous takes were recorded. None of them were usable, however, and The Beatles started afresh on the following day.

On Thursday, 27 June, they recorded six takes of the song. Onto the last of these they overdubbed a number of instruments, including two lead guitars, handbell and shaker. A reduction mix to free up spare tracks also resulted in the song being sped up from 3’07” to 2’29”; it would end up faster still following a later mix.

On Monday, 1 July, McCartney added a bass guitar part and Lennon added new lead vocals, but they were replaced on Tuesday, 23 July, when the backing vocals – including the frantic ‘come on, come on’ ending – handclaps and another bass guitar part were also recorded.

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On Friday 28 June 1968, The Beatles began work on ‘Good Night', which was written by John Lennon as a lullaby for his son Julian, and sung by Ringo Starr. No members of The Beatles other than Starr appear on the recording. Instead, a lavish orchestral arrangement was scored by George Martin, transporting listeners back to the golden age of Hollywood.

John : "‘Good Night’ was written for Julian the way Beautiful Boy was written for Sean, but given to Ringo and possibly overlush."

Ringo : "Everybody thinks Paul wrote ‘Good Night’ for me to sing, but it was John who wrote it for me. He’s got a lot of soul, John has."

Paul : "I think John felt it might not be good for his image for him to sing it but it was fabulous to hear him do it, he sang it great. We heard him sing it in order to teach it to Ringo and he sang it very tenderly. John rarely showed his tender side, but my key memories of John are when he was tender, that’s what has remained with me; those moments where he showed himself to be a very generous, loving person. I always cite that song as an example of the John beneath the surface that we only saw occasionally… I don’t think John’s version was ever recorded."

The session began at 7pm and finished at 4.30am the following morning. It began with a number of rehearsals which were committed to tape. Five takes were recorded, with Ringo Starr on vocals and John Lennon playing guitar. Each of these early takes opened with a spontaneous spoken preamble from Starr, such as : ‘Come on children! It’s time to toddle off to bed. We’ve had a lovely day at the park and now it’s time for sleep.’  /  ‘Put all those toys away. Yes, Daddy will sing a song for you!’   /  ‘Cover yourself up, Charlie. Pull those covers up and off you go to dreamland!’

Starr re-recorded his vocals on 2 July, and harmony backing vocals were also added. Following this Martin made a copy of the tape and began work on the score.

All previous recordings for ‘Good Night’ were discarded on 22 July, and recording began afresh. First to be taped was the orchestra, which took 12 takes to perfect. Following this, the choir – four men [Ross Gilmour, Mike Redway, Ken Barrie, Fred Lucas] and four women [Ingrid Thomas, Pat Whitmore, Val Stockwell, Irene King] from the Mike Sammes Singers– added their parts. George Martin also featured on the finished song, playing the celeste.

   

The last element to be taped was Starr’s lead vocals, which were recorded between 11.50pm and 1.40am.

Ringo : "I sang John’s song ‘Good Night’. I’ve just heard it for the first time in years and it’s not bad at all, although I think I sound very nervous. It was something for me to do."

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On Wednesday, 3 July 1968, sessions began for ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, written by Paul McCartney in India as an attempt at a ska-influenced recording.

Paul : "We went to a cinema show in a village where a guy put up a mobile screen and all the villagers came along and loved it. I remember walking down a little jungle path with my guitar to get to the village from the camp. I was playing ‘Desmond has a barrow in the market place…’"

Ob la di, ob la da’ was a phrase McCartney had heard from his friend, Jimmy Anonmuogharan Scott Emuakpor, whom he met in the Bag O’Nails club in Soho, London. The title was said to be Urhobo for ‘Life goes on’, but was actually just a family phrase.

Paul : "I had a friend called Jimmy Scott who was a Nigerian conga player, who I used to meet in the clubs in London. He had a few expressions, one of which was, ‘Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra’. I used to love this expression… He sounded like a philosopher to me. He was a great guy anyway and I said to him, ‘I really like that expression and I’m thinking of using it,’ and I sent him a cheque in recognition of that fact later because even though I had written the whole song and he didn’t help me, it was his expression. It’s a very me song, in as much as it’s a fantasy about a couple of people who don’t really exist, Desmond and Molly. I’m keen on names too. Desmond is a very Caribbean name."

On the first day, the rhythm track was recorded, with Paul on acoustic guitar and Ringo on drums. McCartney overdubbed vocals and more guitar onto take seven, before deciding take four was better and adding guitar to that too. The next day he added lead vocals onto take four, together with backing vocals from Lennon and Harrison. McCartney then recorded an additional lead vocal part.

More overdubs followed on Friday, 5 July. Three saxophones - played by James Gray, Rex Morris and Cyril Reuben - and some bongos were added to the song played by Jimmy Scott – whose pet phrase Paul McCartney had used for the song’s title.

John Lennon, by this point infatuated by Yoko Ono, and off his box on heroin, hated working on ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, which he described as “Paul’s granny shit”.

John : "I might have given him a couple of lyrics, but it’s his song, his lyric."

A piccolo flute was also recorded, although this was wiped during the session and replaced by another guitar part by McCartney – deliberately recorded at a high level so it distorted and sounded like a bass. This version of the song was later included on 'Anthology 3'.

On Monday, 8 July, The Beatles scrapped the recordings to date, and began a remake. A dozen takes were recorded, with the group playing live. By this point Lennon had grown tired of recording the song. He reportedly came into the studio under the influence of drugs, sat down at the piano and banged out the introduction on the keys.

[engineer] Richard Lush : "John Lennon came to the session really stoned, totally out of it on something or other, and he said, ‘All right, we’re gonna do ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’. He went straight to the piano and smashed the keys with an almighty amount of volume, twice the speed of how they’d done it before, and said, ‘This is it! Come on!’ He was really aggravated. That was the version they ended up using."

   

On Thursday, 11 July, three saxophones were recorded along with a bass part. Four days later McCartney re-recorded his lead vocals, and ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ was finally complete.

McCartney’s insistence in re-recording the song a number of times with different arrangements contributed to the fraught atmosphere that dominated many of the album sessions; engineer Geoff Emerick quit the sessions the day after the song was completed.

Geoff Emerick : "I lost interest in the White Album because they were really arguing amongst themselves and swearing at each other. The expletives were really flying. There was one instance just before I left when they were doing ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ for the umpteenth time. Paul was re-recording the vocal again and George Martin made some remark about how he should be lilting onto the half-beat or whatever and Paul, in no refined way, said something to the effect of ‘Well you come down and sing it’. I said to George ‘Look, I’ve had enough. I want to leave. I don’t want to know any more.’ George said ‘Well, leave at the end of the week’ – I think it was a Monday or Tuesday – but I said ‘No, I want to leave now, this very minute’. And that was it. I went down to the studio to explain it to the group and John said ‘Look, we’re not moaning and getting uptight about you, we’re complaining about EMI. Look at this place, Studio Two, all we’ve seen is bricks for the past year. Why can’t they decorate it?’ Admittedly the studio did need smartening up a little bit but I knew this was just an outlet for a bigger problem. They were falling apart."

If the recording process was fractious, The final version sounds unusually high-spirited. The line “Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face” was sung accidentally by McCartney and left in. The backing vocals also included Lennon and George Harrison singing “Arm!” and “Leg!” after the line “Desmond lets the children lend a hand”. Harrison can also be heard saying the word “Foot” in the final verse, after McCartney sings “Molly lets the children lend a hand” - the crazy cat!

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On Monday, 15 July 1968, The Beatles began work on John Lennon's ‘Cry Baby Cry’, filling four 30-minute tapes with unnumbered rehearsal takes, which were wiped during the following two sessions.

According to Hunter Davies’ authorised 1968 book on The Beatles, the song was partly inspired by a television commercial.

John : "I’ve got another one here, a few words, I think I got them from an advert – ‘Cry baby cry, make your mother buy’. I’ve been playing it over on the piano. I’ve let it go now. It’ll come back if I really want it. I do get up from the piano as if I have been in a trance. Sometimes I know I’ve let a few things slip away, which I could have caught if I’d been wanting something."

The song’s most obvious debt was to the nursery rhyme ‘Sing A Song Of Sixpence’.

   

On Tuesday, 16 July, the group recorded 10 takes. The rehearsals evidently paid off: although it lacked overdubs, take 1 wasn’t significantly different from the final version. The tenth take was the one selected for further work.

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Following Geoff Emerick’s departure, Ken Scott took his place as the main engineer, and after the completion of work on ‘Cry Baby Cry’, The Beatles recorded three takes of one of Paul's new songs.

Helter Skelter’ was an attempt to create a rock ‘n’ roll song as loud and dirty as possible. The sound, which has been described as a prototype for 1970s heavy metal sounds, was an attempt to outdo The Who.

Paul : "I was in Scotland and I read in Melody Maker that Pete Townshend had said: ‘We’ve just made the raunchiest, loudest, most ridiculous rock ‘n’ roll record you’ve ever heard.’ I never actually found out what track it was that The Who had made, but that got me going; just hearing him talk about it. So I said to the guys, ‘I think we should do a song like that; something really wild.’ And I wrote ‘Helter Skelter’. You can hear the voices cracking, and we played it so long and so often that by the end of it you can hear Ringo saying,’I’ve got blisters on my fingers’. We just tried to get it louder: ‘Can’t we make the drums sound louder?’ That was really all I wanted to do – to make a very loud, raunchy rock ‘n’ roll record with The Beatles. And I think it’s a pretty good one."

‘Helter Skelter’ referred to a fairground ride mainly popular in Britain, in which people could climb the inside of a wooden tower and slide down a spiral ride on the outside.



Paul : "I was using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom – the rise and fall of the Roman Empire – and this was the fall, the demise, the going down. You could have thought of it as a rather cute title but it’s since taken on all sorts of ominous overtones because Manson picked it up as an anthem, and since then quite a few punk bands have done it because it is a raunchy rocker."

In the US the term ‘helter skelter’ was far less well known. Charles Manson, the pea-brained psychopath, who in 1969 led his ‘Family’ to carry out a series of murders, thought ‘Helter Skelter’ was a coded prophecy for an apocalyptic race war.

Paul : "Charles Manson interpreted that ‘Helter Skelter’ was something to to with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I still don’t know what all that stuff is; it’s from the Bible, Revelation – I haven’t read it so I wouldn’t know. But he interpreted the whole thing – that we were the four horsemen, ‘Helter Skelter’ was the song – and arrived at having to go out and kill everyone."

During his murder trial in November 1970, Manson explained his interpretation of ‘Helter Skelter’ to the court.

Charles Manson : "‘Helter Skelter’ means confusion. Literally. It doesn’t mean any war with anyone. It doesn’t mean that those people are going to kill other people. It only means what it means. ‘Helter Skelter’ is confusion. Confusion is coming down fast. If you don’t see the confusion coming down fast, you can call it what you wish. It’s not my conspiracy. It is not my music. I hear what it relates. It says, ‘Rise!’ It says ‘Kill!’ Why blame it on me? I didn’t write the music. I am not the person who projected it into your social consciousness."

By 1968, The Beatles had become amused by the often-fanciful interpretations applied to their songs. John Lennon playfully encouraged such thinking on ‘Glass Onion’, and several other songs referenced previous works by the group. However, they were appalled by the effect that ‘Helter Skelter’ had upon Manson and his followers -

John : "We used to have a laugh about this, that or the other, in a light-hearted way, and some intellectual would read us, some symbolic youth generation wants to see something in it. We also took seriously some parts of the role, but I don’t know what ‘Helter Skelter’ has to do with knifing someone. I’ve never listened to it properly, it was just a noise."

On Thursday, 18 July 1968, The Beatles’ recorded three takes. Take Two lasted 12’35” and Take Three 27’11” - which was the longest recording in the group’s career. More of a slow jam than serious recording, the early takes were blues-based and lacked the volume and power of the final version. They also featured Paul McCartney occasionally singing ‘Hell for leather’ instead of the title.

[technical engineer] Brian Gibson : "They recorded the long versions of Helter Skelter with live tape echo. Echo would normally be added at remix stage otherwise it can’t be altered, but this time they wanted it live. One of the versions developed into a jam which went into and then back out of a somewhat bizarre version of Blue Moon. The problem was, although we were recording them at 15 inches per second – which meant that we’d get roughly half an hour of time on the tape – the machine we were running for the tape echo was going at 30 ips, in other words 15 minutes… The Beatles were jamming away, completely oblivious to the world and we didn’t know what to do because they all had foldback in their headphones so that they could hear the echo. We knew that if we stopped it they would notice. In the end we decided that the best thing to do was stop the tape echo machine and rewind it. So at one point the echo suddenly stopped and you could hear ‘bllllrrrrippppp’ as it was spooled back. This prompted Paul to put in some kind of clever vocal improvisation based around the chattering sound!"

 

A remake was begun on Monday, 9 September, and completed with some additional overdubs on the following day. The Beatles taped 18 takes, all considerably shorter than the earlier versions.

Brian Gibson : "The version on the album was out of control. They were completely out of their heads that night. But, as usual, a blind eye was turned to what The Beatles did in the studio. Everyone knew what substances they were taking but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio. As long as they didn’t do anything too outrageous things were tolerated."

At the beginning of the session The Beatles warmed up with a version of Leiber and Stoller’s ‘(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care’. The song had been made famous by Elvis Presley in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock. Producer Chris Thomas later recalled George Harrison setting fire to an ashtray and running around the studio with it above his head, in an impression of singer Arthur Brown, while McCartney was recording his vocals.

Paul : "We got the engineers and George Martin to hike up the drum sound and really get it as loud and horrible as it could and we played it and said, ‘No, still sounds too safe, it’s got to get louder and dirtier.’ We tried everything we could to dirty it up and in the end you can hear Ringo say, ‘I’ve got blisters on my fingers!’ That wasn’t a joke put-on: his hands were actually bleeding at the end of the take, he’d been drumming so ferociously. We did work very hard on that track."

The best attempt was the final one, take 21. It featured John Lennon on bass guitar and saxophone, The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans on trumpet, two lead guitars, drums, piano, more bass guitar, backing vocals and McCartney’s suitably raucous lead vocals.

Ringo : "‘Helter Skelter’ was a track we did in total madness and hysterics in the studio. Sometimes you just had to shake out the jams, and with that song – Paul’s bass line and my drums – Paul started screaming and shouting and made it up on the spot."

The mono and stereo mixes made in 1968 differed significantly. The mono mix, done on 17 September, lasted 3’36”; the stereo, mixed on 12 October, features a full fade out, then the song returns with Starr’s 'blisters' shout at the end.

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'Sexy Sadie’, John Lennon’s barbed "tribute" to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was written during Lennon’s final hours in India.

John : "That’s about the Maharishi, yes. I copped out and I wouldn’t write ‘Maharishi, what have you done? You made a fool of everyone.’ But now it can be told, Fab Listeners."

Alexis Mardas, known as 'Magic Alex', had previously been seen as Lennon’s ‘guru’, and was reportedly alarmed at finding his influence upon Lennon waning. He is said to have started a rumour that Maharishi had made a sexual advance towards one of the women on the meditation course - a claim strongly disputed by Cynthia Lennon.

Cynthia Lennon : "Alexis and a fellow female meditator began to sow the seeds of doubt into very open minds… Alexis’s statements about how the Maharishi had been indiscreet with a certain lady, and what a blackguard he had turned out to be gathered momentum. All, may I say, without a single shred of evidence or justification. It was obvious to me that Alexis wanted out and more than anything he wanted The Beatles out as well."

Although it was originally titled 'Maharishi', it was never recorded as that. However, on Friday, 19 July 1968, during the first session for ‘Sexy Sadie’, Lennon demonstrated to McCartney how it was originally conceived : "you little twat  /  Who the fuck do you think you are?  /  Who the fuck do you think you are?  /  Oh, you cunt." After singing them he jokingly asked McCartney if that was how it should sound, and McCartney responds: “With a little more sympathy.”

The opening lines may have been inspired by Smokey Robinson’s song ‘I’ve Been Good To You’, which begins with the lines: “Look what you’ve done / You made a fool of everyone”.

The Beatles spent much of the session jamming and rehearsing, but eventually taped 21 takes of the song. Take 6 from this day – featuring just vocals, electric guitar, drums and organ – was slower than the final version, missing the distinctive piano part, and the extended winding finale.

The group began a remake on 24 July, recording 23 takes. None of these were used, however, and on 13 August 1968 they began a third attempt. They recorded eight takes, numbered 100-107, the last of which was the basis for future overdubs.

‘Sexy Sadie’ was completed on 21 August. John Lennon recorded another lead vocal, and organ, bass, tambourine and two sets of backing vocals were also added.

     

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, written by George Harrison, was inspired by the I Ching, and featured his friend Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Harrison began writing the music for the song in India, although the lyrics were mostly completed upon his return to England.

George : "I wrote ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence – every little item that’s going down has a purpose. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book – as it would be a relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song."

A solo version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was recorded at Abbey Road on Thursday, 25 July 1968, featuring just Harrison on acoustic guitar, with a subtle organ part appearing towards the end. These early versions deploy the fingerpicking guitar style taught to The Beatles by Donovan in Rishikesh.

The Beatles returned to ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on Friday 16 August. They recorded 14 takes with George Harrison on guitar, John Lennon on organ, Paul McCartney on bass guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums.

The song was left alone until Tuesday, 3 September, when a series of overdubs were added – the first on Abbey Road’s new eight-track recording equipment. Harrison worked alone, spending the entire eight-hour session trying to record a backwards guitar solo. On Thursday, 5 September, Harrison recorded two lead vocal parts, and maracas, drums and lead guitar were also added. However, upon hearing a playback of the recording so far, he decided to scrap it and begin afresh.

George : "We tried to record it, but John and Paul were so used to just cranking out their tunes that it was very difficult at times to get serious and record one of mine. It wasn’t happening. They weren’t taking it seriously and I don’t think they were even all playing on it, and so I went home that night thinking, ‘Well, that’s a shame,’ because I knew the song was pretty good. The next day I was driving into London with Eric Clapton, and I said, ‘What are you doing today? Why don’t you come to the studio and play on this song for me?’ He said, ‘Oh, no – I can’t do that. Nobody’s ever played on a Beatles record and the others wouldn’t like it.’ I said, ‘Look, it’s my song and I’d like you to play on it.’ So he came in. I said, ‘Eric’s going to play on this one,’ and it was good because that then made everyone act better. Paul got on the piano and played a nice intro and they all took it more seriously."

The Beatles recorded 28 takes; the basic track had Harrison on acoustic guitar and guide vocals, Lennon on guitar, McCartney playing piano and organ, Starr on drums, and Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Clapton played on each of the takes in this session, playing live with The Beatles in the studio.

‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was completed on the following day, with the addition of a distorted bass part, played by McCartney, some organ by Harrison, and percussion by Starr. Finally, Harrison taped his lead vocals, with backing harmonies from McCartney.

 
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 04:47:13 PM by daf »

daf

  • some weirdo taking the piss
Re: Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 2 - The 1960s
« Reply #1739 on: June 01, 2020, 08:57:53 PM »
Having the evening off - cracking open some of my foul homemade redcurrant plonk, and treating myself to the 'Yellow Submarine' blu ray for the first time!

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