I think I have identified the rarest and most valuable record ever made. Although I don't know where it is.
Hey Jude is considered the first record on the Beatles' Apple label. It was thought that it had no catalogue number because The Beatles decided to have no Apple 1. Then Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkins became Apple 2.
In his unmissably good Beatles book Magical Mystery Tours (a new edition of which is out shortly), Beatles friend Tony Bramwell tells a different story.
Apple's Ron Kass was excited that Maureen Starkey, Ringo's wife, was having her 22nd birthday in August 1968.
So excited that he called up his friend Sammy Cahn in Hollywood and had him rewrite the lyrics to The Lady Is a Tramp so that it related to Maureen and Ringo.
Not only did Cahn do it, but Frank Sinatra then agreed to sing it. It was recorded in the Capitol Studios in Hollywood and then air-couriered to London.
Meanwhile the first Apple label was run-off reading The Lady is a Tramp by Frank Sinatra. And it was pressed at the EMI factory as Apple 1.
There was a big party and the record was played. As Bramwell records:
It was quite something. Then Ron ordered the master stampers crushed. The tape was cut up and destroyed.
Ringo gave the one and only copy in the world to Maureen, and she's dead now.
Surely this record, wherever it now is, is the rarest and most valuable disc in existence. It must be, mustn't it?
But you can hear it here: Maureen Is A Champ (Frank Sinatra)
Perhaps no band in pop history has inspired as much romanticism as The Beatles. Growing up in the staid malaise of post-World War II England, The Beatles grasped onto the escapism of American rock and roll, flourished it with prodigious musical innovation (and later recording experimentation) to create an invigorating sound utterly unlike any that had come before. More than any of their contemporaries, The Beatles provided a ubiquitous soundtrack to the galvanizing societal shifts that were upending traditional mores for a new sense of liberation. To many fans, The Beatles were more than musicians, but representatives of an expanded global perspective that pushed beyond the boundaries set by previous generations. Having been ascribed such lofty significance, it’s no wonder that so many consider the band’s most memorable moments as pivotal points in our cultural timeline.
The recent announcement that the popular Rock Band video game series will introduce a Beatles edition on September 9th, 2009 promises a fantasy outlet for anyone who has ever longed to be the walrus (kookookachoo). But for rock and roll historians, the game signals a chance to travel back through time and recreate soon of the landmark performances of the band’s legendary career.
With that in mind, below is my personal top 6 wish list of essential Beatles performances:
Indra Club – Hamburg, Germany – August 17th through October 3rd, 1960
Fresh off renaming themselves The Beatles (as opposed to The Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, and the Silver Beetles) the not quite Fab Five (Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, along with original bassist Stu Sutcliffe and original drummer Pete Best) took residence in the seedy environs of Hamburg’s red-light district determined to make a name for themselves on the club circuit. Wearing black leather and slicked back hair, the band ripped through American rock and roll, fueled with aspirations (and copious amount of Preludin and booze). These were the Beatles at their most unpolished, playing marathon sets for hours on end, hardening their determination while sharpening their skills (except for Sutcliffe and Best, neither of whom would remain within the group much longer).
Cavern Club – Liverpool, England – February 9th, 1961 through August 3rd, 1963
No other venue looms as large in Beatles lore as The Cavern Club. Located in their home town of Liverpool, the Beatles played the Cavern far more than any other venue, logging a total of 292 shows between 1961 and 1963. They were Cavern regulars all the way through the release of their first album, Please, Please Me. It was here that The Beatles would meet their manager Brian Epstein, here that they would debut their newly refined style (suits having replaced the leather) and here that they – to the shock of devoted fans – would introduce Ringo Starr as Pete Best’s replacement. Though some fans protested the change, the newly unified sound placated all but the most obstinate. Beatlemania was officially born.
“Royal Variety Show” at Prince of Wales Theatre, London, England – November 4th, 1963
A little more than three years after suffering the myriad indignities of being an unknown bar band in Hamburg, The Beatles were a national sensation, playing for the Queen Mother and assorted glitterati at the annual Royal Variety Show. The Beatles played through their set with a swaggering confidence that revealed little of their nervousness at being in the spotlight of sophisticated society. But before an exuberant performance of Twist and Shout, Lennon couldn’t resist a light jab at the establishment, instructing “those of you in the cheap seat I'd like you to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry." England had been conjured.
Ed Sullivan Show – New York City, NY – February 9th, 1964
The band had charmed much of Europe, but the USA remained an elusive prize. Many popular English bands had failed to make an impression on North American shores, so it was an unprecedented sign of success when crowds flocked to see the band arrive at JFK International Airport. An even more definitive indication of their untouchable popularity came when an estimated 3 million viewers, the largest audience in television history, tuned in to the Ed Sullivan show to get their first glimpse of these four musicians from Liverpool. Overnight the names John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were known in households across America.
Shea Stadium Concert – New York City, NY – August 15th, 1965
The first ever rock and roll stadium show, the sound was atrocious, but the spectacle was undeniable. Over 56,000 fans converged upon Shea Stadium, letting out a collective scream so deafening that even the band couldn’t hear the music. Despite the unrelenting noise, Ringo valiantly endeavored to keep the beat while the band fought a sometimes losing battle to stay in synch. But with the exception of a couple of gaffs and crack-ups, The Beatles managed to keep their sanity over the standard 12 song, 30 minute set. The Beatles were at the height of their powers as a touring band, still relatively untarnished darlings of the press and public, a “four-headed hydra” of musicians who had the world at their command.
Apple Records Rooftop – London, England – January 30th, 1969
Having ceased touring in 1966, The Beatles had first contented themselves with elaborate studio productions, but with the overly meticulous nature of such recordings growing tiresome and personal riffs growing larger, the band faced an uncertain future. Since the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967, McCartney had increasingly sought to provide direction to the band, often to the resentment of the others. One suggestion floated by McCartney was a return to live performance, perhaps as a climax to the documentary being made in conjunction with their latest album, tentatively titled Get Back. The rest of the band, however, proved ambiguous to the idea. In desperation, The Beatles latched upon an idea first suggested by engineer Glyn Johns to perform unannounced on the rooftop of Apple studios. On a seemingly ordinary London day, passerby suddenly heard the most influential band in pop history performing an impromptu concert. Downtown London came to a standstill as the rapidly gathering crowd craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the band. After nearly 40 minutes the police would stop the performance, but it was long enough to provide a timeless coda worthy of the band’s extraordinary legacy. As Lennon quipped, “Thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
Have other suggestions? Feel free to drop them into the comment box below.
Copyright © 2009 Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com
Unlike GH: Aerosmith and Metallica, which were largely based on GH3 and World Tour, respectively, The Beatles: Rock Band is built from the ground up and has nothing to do with any of the past Rock Band games. Much like other band specific games, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were the prime sources of input for the game, in addition to Yoko Ono Lennon, Olivia Harrison, and Giles Martin. Martin is also the producer of the game, meanwhile Dhani Harrison, son of George and Olivia, is contributing in the form of modeling for the game's animation.
The game's progression is said to cover the band's early days starting out in Liverpool, then pass through the psychedelic phase of Srg. Pepper, into the self-titled 'White Album', Abbey Road, everything in between, and even things we've never heard before that the band never released, which on its own mkes this game worth the price of admission already to people like me. In addition to the audio also comes never before seen video.
As you should all know by now, The Beatles: Rock Band will give four players the chance to team up and reenact a rumored 45 tracks using their Beatles themed Rock Band instruments. These themed instruments will be based on the instruments most frequently used by the band, such as Paul McCartney's Hofner bass, and a Ludwig branded drumset with design inspired by Ringo's actual setup. Despite the themed instruments, your original Rock Band controllers will work with The Beatles: Rock Band, so feel free to purchase the stand alone copy...but I think many would rather opt for the bundle, it's just that cool.
Unfortunately, due to licensing limitations, these Beatles tracks will not be made available as content for Rock Band 2 or future Rock Band games, largely for the same reason they're still not available on services such as iTunes. Back to the gameplay, word has it that the game will support duets, allowing players to use two microphones with the game. Most importantly, the game will not only boast the 40% collection of Beatles tunes owned by McCartney and Ono, but will also include the catalogue owned by Michael Jackson's Sony/ATV creation, so fear not.
Information for The Beatles: Rock Band is still somewhat scarce as we don't know how the game's career mode will play out, but we're sure it'll be chronological. Look for it September 9th.
by Arnold Katayev 4/29/2009
Scheduled release date: September 9th, 2009
Publisher: EA/MTV Games
Number Of Players: 1-4 (8 Online)
During the period 1964 - 1985 the answer is 75 million (74,786,835 million to be exact). During the period 1991 - 2008 the answer is 57 million (source: SoundScan results quoted in Randy Lewis, “Beatles’ catalog will be reissued Sept. 9 in remastered versions,” Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2009). My informed estimate is that during the period 1986 - 1990 they sold approximately 1.5 million albums per year, for a total of approximately 7.5 million. Thus the answer to the question is approximately 139.5 million albums since 1964.
Here’s how I arrived at early sales data. In 1985 I was Vice President of Capitol Records and one of my jobs was overseeing the marketing of Beatles records in the U.S. This required more finesse than one might think because the Beatles constantly were suing Capitol (not to mention each other) over one thing or another. The nuances of the Beatles’ contracts and exactly what they were suing about is an interesting topic in its own right. But for right now I’d like to concentrate on sales. The table summarizes net U.S. sales of Beatles albums during the period 1964 - 1985 and the figure visually depicts the same information. Beatles sales comprised some 25% - 30% of Capitol’s total sales during this period.
It’s possible to derive some tentative conclusions from this data.
First, sales generally declined after 1975, only to be resuscitated in 1980 and 1981 by the unfortunate death of John Lennon. Sales reached an all-time low in 1983, improving only slightly in 1984 and 1985.
Second, the sales and returns behavior of the band’s last album of new material resembled most conventional pop product in that it had a short product life cycle. It was shipped heavy on initial release only to confront subsequent returns and much lower sales. “Rarities,” released in March 1980, had gross U.S. sales of 380 thousand units in the first 15 weeks following its release - approximately 80% of its total gross sales at the end of 52 weeks. Returns at the end of 52 weeks were approximately 13% of gross sales. After that net sales scarcely were sufficient to justify the album’s continued inclusion in the active catalog. This high degree of sales velocity indicates the album appealed to a relatively small cadre of followers who either acquired it quickly or not at all.
Third, the sales performance of the then-most-recent compilation albums was poor. “Reel Music” (released in March 1982) achieved net sales of only 225 thousand units. In 1983 and 1984 returns exceeded gross sales. While “20 Greatest Hits” (released in October 1982) did somewhat better, it still was the lowest-selling compilation album after “Reel Music.” Was there a genuine fall-off in demand for Beatles records? Or was Capitol simply unable to devise, implement and maintain the requisite sales and marketing strategies to bolster sales? The simple fact of the matter is that the advent of the CD circa 1985 saved both Capitol’s and the Beatles’ respective butts. The rest is history with re-issues, remastered versions, new compilations and the like.
OK here are the small-print caveats. This information was compiled right at the advent of CDs (in fact the reason why it was pulled together to begin with was in connection with whether Capitol even had the right to issue Beatles CDs). It doesn’t include anything after 1985. It’s albums only and not the kajillions of singles they also sold. It includes all configurations of albums that were then-existing, including LPs, 8-track cartridges, cassettes and picture discs. It includes records that were manufactured in the U.S. but then exported elsewhere. It does not include records that were manufactured in Canada or anywhere else outside of the U.S. It does not include bootlegs, solo records, or records derived from masters not recorded for EMI (such as the Vee-Jay brouhaha and records released by United Artists that were the soundtracks of the Beatles’ movies, until Capitol acquired United Artists). Nor does it include records that were handed out the back door, given away as free goods or record club freebies, if some of the Beatles’ lawsuit allegations are to be believed. All of this information is public record in various court files so I’m not disclosing anything that’s secret.
Now if I only could get my hands on some Rolling Stones sales info ….
by David Kronemyer
Story References: » Deconstructing Pop Culture: How Many Records Did the Beatles Actually Sell?, by David Kronemyer, Beatles SoundScan results, remastered, Vice President of Capitol Records, Wed, 29 Apr 2009, © Music Industry Newswire™