A copy of the letter of resignation ...
I sincerely hope all is well with you and yours.
Indeed, this is an unexpected mass-mailer. Please forgive the unsolicited rambles that follow.
To start, there are many of you who have outstanding orders with me at this time. Some of you have been waiting for a while, and I wish to apologize for that. Please don't worry. Each and every one of these outstanding orders will be tended to this week. You have my word.
I appreciate your patience and understanding.
Second, there has been considerable buzz surrounding the new Beatles remasters, due for release in September. There should be. We have all been waiting for this day, and it is about to arrive - finally! Thanks to a long-time supporter and friend to this project, I have had the opportunity to hear genuine samples of the new remasters due out in two months.
They are good.
Those of you who will be buying them - and those of you who have already preordered - will not be disappointed.
In fact, I will venture to guess than many of you will be more than pleasantly surprised at how good they sound.
And with what promises to be outstanding packaging all around, it will be a collector's nirvana.
From the outset of the Dr. Ebbetts Sound Systems project, I swore that once EMI did the right thing and released remasters to be proud of, I would not continue doing what I was doing. After all, the only reason I did this was because Apple/EM /Capitol would not - and because I so very much love the Beatles.
While my love for the band has not changed, everything else has.
EMI/Capitol began their release of the American LPs on compact disc a few years ago, and now EMI has tackled the British catalogue in fullest detail.
It's what we all wanted. As Beatles fans, it's what we've prayed for.
To that end - and with the heaviest of hearts - effective immediately, Dr. Ebbetts Sound Systems will cease operations.
Many of you will recall that the entire purpose of the Dr. Ebbetts project was to make available to the public the best sounding versions of the Beatles' original LP releases - with emphasis on the American and British catalogues. Believe me, it wasn't a hard thing to do considering the substandard quality of the original CD catalogue from 1987 onward.
The fact of the matter is, the Dr. Ebbetts material does not - and will not - sound better than what is coming commercially in September. People I trust agree with me. The remasters sound remarkably well balanced, with solid, punchy bass, smooth mids and not-to-harsh, yet crisp highs. In comparison, many of the Ebbetts masters fall short - weaker bass, dimished mids, and often too-bright highs.
It's a given that the remasters will not please everyone, but they will be good enough to make the Ebbetts catalogue solidly inferior.
The artwork and packaging of the EMI material will prove to make current Dr. Ebbetts releases look like Xerox machine fodder.
It pains me, seeing as I have invested so much time in this thing, but I humbly and officially put this nearly-fourteen year project to bed.
I have outlived my usefulness in this hobby.
I know there are many who will ask why I just don't continue releasing titles that are NOT being put out by Apple/EMI - foreign releases, rare pressings, etc..
My reasons are complicated, but they are what they are. In short, if the Dr. Ebbetts BLUE BOX set is not the definitive sounding version of the original UK stereo LPs, then why issue them at all?
Many will remember the original BEAT CDs of the 1990s that presented the Beatles US LPs sourced from cassettes. I surely do. They became immediately obsolete with the advent of Dr. Ebbetts. No one bought those BEAT CDs anymore when I came along. Why would they? At the time, my material was far superior.
The Ebbetts BLUE BOX series was only issued because Apple/EMI's versions were substantially inferior to anything I - or any number of needledroppers - were putting out. The Ebbetts BLUE BOX set is at THE HEART of the Dr. Ebbetts Sound Systems collection, in my estimation. If that set is now inferior to the commercial release, then it has no business existing. Suffice to say, I would not release the BLUE BOX set today if new remasters were already commercially available.
I would have no need.
And if my CORE SET is inferior, I don't wish to have the rest of the catalogue branded as such either.
Therefore, it is time to put it all on the shelf.
I am requesting that all of you who have LPs with me contact me as soon as possible and let me know which ones are yours so that I might send them back to you. I promise I will get those to you in short order.
So that your return LP requests will not be lost in what promises to be a hectic e-mail shuffle, please put "MY LPs" somewhere in the subject line.
Your generosity, kindness and willingness to share your treasured possessions with me is something I shall never forget.
To each and every one of you who has supported me and befriended me throughout the years, I wish to extend my deepest gratitude. Your loyalty has moved me beyond words. This entire project began as a fanciful hobby many years ago and has mushroomed into something far beyond anything I could have imagined.
From every corner of the entire world, I have been blessed to meet some of the best Beatle people out there. I will never forget you.
But now it is time to make way for the "big boys."
Please be sure to secure your copies of the remasters. I guarantee they will replace your Dr. Ebbetts CDs in your rotations and playlists - as they should. Display them proudly and let people know who the greatest band of all time is.
Remember, quoting my project motto from all those years ago, it is ONLY about the music.
That is why I do what I do today.
Now go put your hard-earned money to good use!
A whopping 49% of all who were polled said they like the Beatles -- in scientific terms -- "a lot." Modern acts like Coldplay and Kanye West were considerably less popular than the legendary lads from Liverpool among those aged 16 to 29. Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix also placed highest among this age group.
In the age 30 to 49 bracket, the Eagles were tops with MJ and the Beatles rounding out the top three. Meanwhile the Beatles, Eagles and Elvis Presley were the most favored in the 50 to 64 age group. For those 65 and older, Frank Sinatra reigned supreme with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley also extremely well-liked.
Overall, Madonna was named as the most disliked among all surveyed. And lest you think the survey was conducted only in the suburbs, 45 percent of respondents said they hadn't heard of Coldplay.
Ultimately, based on our limited background in research analysis, it seems that people younger than 29 and older than 65 agree on a lot more than the indie-loving hipsters we know.
I’m always talking about how brilliant the Beatles were, and they were – for me the greatest band of all time and my ultimate childhood, teenage, and adulthood heroes. People think therefore that I am boring, and also have been brainwashed by the Beatles bandwagon that has been rolling since late 1962 and seems to place the band above all reproach. I take issue with this.
They weren’t infallible. Oh no. Whilst I don’t think that they ever consciously ripped their audiences off by putting out songs that they knew were crap, their efforts sometimes have to go down as a swing and a miss. With that in mind, I have constructed a shortlist of their 20 worst songs and picked the top 5 for an alternative look at their output.
These songs are not counted in the list because it would make it far too predictable.
• That entire second side of the Yellow Submarine album. Not because they’re bad – as instrumental pieces, they’re alright – but because they’re not Beatles songs.
• Revolution 9. Is it a song? If it is, it’s terrible. But it isn’t, it’s an avant-garde project and therefore is probably quite good. Terrible to listen to though.
• Maggie Mae – doesn’t count. Why did they put this on the album? Why does it even exist?
• Dig It – Not a song, just a jam session, indicative of the lack of effort, enthusiasm and enjoyment that went on during these sessions, and sadly indicative of how little they cared about the band by this point.
• Any Tony Sheridan/Anthology/Live at the BBC songs. No – because they’re often out-takes, and un-released for a reason, so they’re collector’s items more than they are a part of the legacy that the band wanted to create for themselves.
• The German songs. They’re just great songs, but sung in German – I don’t think you can reasonably count them.
• You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) – Yes, it is terrible, but it’s also not a real song, quite hilarious, and has Brian Jones on sax, so I think it just about survives.
• Any of the individual songs on the Abbey Road medley. Several of these would qualify on their own, but as part of a greater entity they all hang together well enough to class as one whole great song, I think.
The Shortlist: (An asterisk * denotes that the song is a cover)
1. Wild Honey Pie (White Album, 1968)
2. What Goes On (Rubber Soul, 1965)
3. Run For Your Life (Rubber Soul, 1965)
4. PS I Love You (Please Please Me, 1962)
5. Mr Moonlight* (Beatles for Sale, 1964)
6. What You’re Doing (Beatles for Sale, 1964)
7. Another Girl (Help, 1965)
8. Yellow Submarine (Revolver, 1966)
9. Lovely Rita (Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
10. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (White Album, 1968)
11. Cry Baby Cry (White Album, 1968)
12. All Together Now (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)
13. Little Child (With The Beatles, 1963)
14. Words of Love* (Beatles for Sale, 1964)
15. Don’t Pass Me By (White Album, 1968)
16. Flying (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)
17. Love Me Do (Please Please Me, 1962)
18. I’m Happy Just To Dance With You (A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)
19. I Need You (Help, 1965)
20. I’ll Get You (B-side, 1962)
The final 5, and why...
5. Wild Honey Pie
I’m all for McCartney in “experimental” mode, and I’m also all for him in “recording acoustic songs on his own” mode, after all, that method brought us Blackbird and pretty much every good song on McCartney too. That being said, he and the other Beatles ought really to have been able to spot a pointless song when they heard one. It’s only 53 seconds long I suppose, so even though it’s appalling it’s over relatively quickly, but even so – it really is appalling. Apparently the song was going to be left off the album, but Patti Boyd really liked it so they kept it on. Patti Boyd was not a musician by trade, and she certainly wasn’t an established rock and roll superstar who had been correctly judging what songs should and should not go on albums for the past 6 years. My basic point here is that they really should have listened to their instincts, told Patti to stick to being pretty, and kept this one for the vaults.
4. What Goes On
There are three things that count against this song. Well, there are 4 really, but the fourth is just the outcome of the equation formed by the other three. The three things are this. Firstly, The Beatles were at their absolute best when they loved what they were doing, and played/sang with enthusiasm. Examples of this include Long Tall Sally, I Saw Her Standing There and She Loves You from the early days, and Helter Skelter, I’ve Got a Feeling, and Come Together from the later days. They’re bad examples, because they’re all great songs – but even songs like I’m Happy Just To Dance With You, Little Child, Dig A Pony, and Octopus’ Garden are made considerably better than they actually are by a bit of enthusiasm and energy. This song is not only worse than all of those listed, but it sounds like the band were completely and utterly bored during the recording of the song. It’s telling that they also recorded “12 Bar Original” during this session, on November 4th, 1965 – and if I was allowing Anthology songs onto this list, that would also definitely be on there. It’s sluggish, tired, and completely without imagination or creativity. Secondly, Ringo sings it. I don’t mind Ringo’s singing, he does a good job on Boys and I Wanna Be Your Man, but this song requires just a little bit more than he has in his locker. Thirdly, the rest of the album is brilliant – and contains so much of what made the Beatles great. The songs are quirky, original, progressive, creative, bright and sparky – and all of that is missing from this wet flannel that dampens the middle and sucks all the momentum out of what should be one of the best albums ever made. The 4th thing then, is that this is just a terrible song. Lennon wrote the song way back in the Quarrymen days, and that is exactly where it should have stayed.
3. Yellow Submarine
Now, this one is relatively contentious, in so far as it’s quite a self-aware bad song. McCartney knew what he was doing with this one, and he achieved it to a T, and so I feel somewhat bad picking it out as one of the worst things the band did. However, it is dreadful, let’s be honest, and while it’s catchy and kids love it (McCartney’s goal) and it does conjure up a whimsical kind of childish fantasy world, it’s also a cartoon song of idiocy on Revolver, which was the band’s most mature and forward thinking album to date. You have to look at the songs they left off in order to make room for Yellow Submarine, and if you think that the album could have had Paperback Writer and Rain on instead, there really is no excuse for keeping it on the album – especially when it would be re-released on the soundtrack to the movie just two years later, although I suppose there’s no way they could have know that would happen. It’s worth noting though that the song is in much more comfortable surroundings on that album and doesn’t sound quite so horribly out of place. But placed inbetween Here, There and Everywhere (arguably McCartney’s most beautiful song thus far) and She Said, She Said, Lennon’s first real introspective acid trip, featuring the most beautiful interplay between Lennon and Harrison’s guitars...well, it just feels wrong. And it’s a terrible song, when all else is said and done. Maybe it could have worked for a lesser band on a lesser album...but not this band, and not this album.
2. Run For Your Life
Ah, John Lennon – how did we love thee? Let us count the ways. Well, people refer to him as a great rock star, a poet, a peace-inspiring, policitian-worrying freedom fighter, and in the years since his death (often telling referred to as an assassination), a saint. But people very rarely focus on the working-class, misogynistic, wife-beating side of him, and I can see why – it doesn’t make for good press and it does somewhat sully his public image as a loveable mop-top turned proper artist type person. But hold on there a second Paul, I hear you cry, isn’t there a song that Lennon wrote at the height of the band’s popularity which not only comes at the end of one of their most melodically, harmonically and musically beautiful albums but also reveals quite explicitly just how unpleasant Lennon could be when he set his mind to it? Yes, I reply, there is. And this is it. Now, Lennon isn’t the only Beatle to write a fairly self-satisfied song about basically being a misogynist – McCartney’s “Another Girl” on the Help album doesn’t sit comfortably and hasn’t aged at all well, but at least has some musical interest and decent moments. This one doesn’t. Now, in Lennon’s defence, he said plenty of times that this was the song he most regretted writing, and that it was his least favourite Beatles song – and the opening line was actually lifted from an Elvis song, but that doesn’t excuse its inclusion here, in my opinion. Let’s just have a look at a few of the lyrics...
Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won't know where I am
You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end, little girl
Well you know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line
Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead
People will say “yeah, but it was a different time...” and it was, but that doesn’t make it ok. They used to lynch people too, but I don’t think any of us would feel comfortable listening to songs about how much fun they thought it was. So, not only a pretty rubbish song, but actually offensive too? Definitely should have been left off. Incidentally, that’s two songs from Rubber Soul on this list. Although the Beatles didn’t put their singles on the albums, (at least not in 1965) I can’t help but feel that the inclusion of We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper instead of the two songs here would have improved this album considerably, and also reduced the number of songs about murdering cheating girlfriends in the Beatles catalogue to a more pleasing 0.
1. All Together Now.
The only good thing about this song happens in the first second. The song is in F, but McCartney slides into the opening chord from E, and it sounds quite good. And it gets worse from there. As with Yellow Submarine, it’s effectively nothing more than a children’s song, but that still begs the questions, why write it and why record it? They weren’t a comedy Disney band, this isn’t the title track to Pre-School Musical, so what’s it doing? It’s not even a proper song, it took 5 hours to record and Lennon played the banjo on it. Now, to re-iterate, I’m not against the Beatles ever having had a bit of fun, or writing and recording something for a laugh – but they had so much more in their locker than this. Good Morning Good Morning is pretty stupid, but at least it has interesting time-signatures. Hey Jude is simplicity itself but at least has some good lyrics at the start to offset the irritation of the stadium sing-a-long at the end. If they wanted to have a lark in the old days, they would record a cover of a childhood favourite, and it usually turned out pretty well, with the odd exception. So why come up with this garbage just to fill album space? They recorded their entire first album in just 12 hours, and every song on it is better than this. Now it was recorded in May 1967, so the band were presumably a) tired from recording Sgt Pepper, (which is immense) and b) off their faces. But neither of these things forgive the song a) being released or b) even existing in the first place. My feelings about why this song is so bad can be summed up by this part of its Wikipedia entry. “The song ends with an old fashioned hand-pumped car horn.” What is this, Carry on Beatling?
I could have written equally scathing things about the other songs on that shortlist, none of which are really anything special, though several of which are saved by at least one or two redeeming qualities – but if you ask me, these 5 could just drop off the face of the earth and nobody would be any worse off for it.
God bless the Beatles though, still the best band of all time.
Hard black glossy lift top with magnet clasp
CD’s packaged in three panel digi-pak with digital mini documentaries
Remastered by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee
All 13 Studio remasters plus Past Masters (digi packaging with digital mini documentaries)
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles For Sale
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
Let It Be
DVD of all 13 mini-documentaries (Running time: 40 minutes)
chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
If each viewer of only The Beatles' first two "Sullivan" appearances deposited $1 into an account in return for watching The Beatles on these telecasts, this account would have had in it, on Feb. 16, 1964, $143.7 million. If this money had been invested at the historical rate of return earned by U.S. stocks, it would have earned an annual return, on average, of 8 percent. Today, this account would be worth about $4.4 billion.
One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandmother's lap in February 1964 to watch The Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." I was only 5 years old, so much of my memory is hazy, but I do have a very clear recollection of Maw (that's what I called her) shaking her head sadly and telling her sister, who was sitting beside us, that "these boys' mommas must have wanted girls."
People forget now that The Beatles were not only famous for their music but also infamous for their shaggy, long hair. To many Americans back then, The Beatles' mop tops made them look girlish.
I recall marveling at those haircuts.
But even as a young child I marveled even more at Beatles music. I was a fan from the start. Although my parents and grandparents assured me that their music was unintelligible noise, they indulged my desire to listen to it by buying me Beatles records.
I've never tired of listening to The Beatles and, now that I'm pushing 51, I'm sure that I never will.
So I was teenager-like happy when I saw, for the first time, Paul McCartney in concert. He performed at Washington's FedEx Field on Aug. 1. When he broke into "I Saw Her Standing There" -- one of my all-time favorites -- I was indescribably thrilled.
Although the night was warm and muggy, McCartney, 67, performed nonstop for nearly three hours and was soaked in sweat. I have no idea how much he was paid for that performance but he earned every cent of it.
And he's a billionaire. Estimates of his post-divorce net worth vary, but $1 billion seems to be a consensus figure. How many of us would continue to work really, really hard at the age of 67 if we had $1 billion in the bank?
In 2006, when he was divorcing Heather Mills, more than one pundit wondered how any one person could really "be worth" a billion or so dollars.
Discussions of a person's worth quickly become very misleading. To say that McCartney is worth $1 billion is to say nothing more than what that former Beatle owns in the form of financial assets. It says nothing whatsoever about his worth as a person, a father, a husband, a friend.
But many people on the political left are so obsessed with money that they have a difficult time knowing that one person (say, Paul McCartney) is worth billions while millions of other persons are worth far less.
"How is it justified that a mere musician is worth so much money?" they ask.
My reaction is very different. When I read of McCartney's fortune, I am struck by how puny it is compared with the amount of pleasure he has contributed to humankind.
If each viewer of only The Beatles' first two "Sullivan" appearances deposited $1 into an account in return for watching The Beatles on these telecasts, this account would have had in it, on Feb. 16, 1964, $143.7 million. If this money had been invested at the historical rate of return earned by U.S. stocks, it would have earned an annual return, on average, of 8 percent. Today, this account would be worth about $4.4 billion.
Divided equally among John, Paul, George and Ringo, Paul's share today would be $1.1 billion -- his approximate current net worth. And this from only a small payment made 45 years ago by each viewer of a mere two episodes of an American television show.
Add the value of the pleasures McCartney helped to bring to us from The Beatles' other "Sullivan" appearances, the value of their many live performances around the globe, the value of their many recordings, the value of The Beatles movies and the value that McCartney's post-Beatles music brought to countless people.
And the man is worth only $1 billion. Because no one forced him to write and perform and record music, I'll certainly not argue that McCartney is undercompensated. But I do insist that his net worth of $1 billion is paltry, puny, insignificant compared with his contributions. And that's quite a bargain.
© 2009 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
by Randy Lewis
As one who got a sneak preview recently at Capitol Records in Hollywood, let me boil it down to one word: Fab.
These won’t leave anyone feeling that they’ve been missing out for all these years, and they’re not likely to make Beatlemaniacs out of anyone who hasn’t cared for the Liverpudlians’ sound before now.
But they do offer something that might have seemed nearly impossible so many years down the line: a fresh listen.
Two of EMI Records’ engineers who have overseen the remasters, Allen Rouse and Guy Massey, were on hand to A:B the new versions against the CDs that Beatles fans have been accustomed to since they were first issued 22 years ago.
Three of us — I was joined by writers for a couple of audiophile magazines — listened to a CD that included portions of new and old versions of 14 songs spanning the group’s recording career.
Calendar will have an in-depth piece in Sunday's Arts & Music section looking behind the scenes of the remastering process as well as a glimpse into the Fab Four’s entry into the world of videogames through The Beatles: Rock Band.
But here are a few observations from the preview session:
• “Till There Was You”: On the ’87 CD, Paul McCartney’s voice still sounds dreamily mellow, somewhat masked, on the Meredith Willson love song from “The Music Man”; the new version brings out more fullness in his voice, as well as more crispness in the percussion work.
• “Eight Days A Week”: This exuberant track sounded immediately compressed in the old CD master; the new one gains openness and adds noticeable presence to the signature hand claps.
• “Yesterday”: Remastering can’t alter the beauty of McCartney’s classic lament, but now the pluck of his fingers on the strings of his acoustic guitar is even more visceral.
• “In My Life”: As in many of the previewed tracks, it’s the drums and bass that are most immediately improved. Even though it’s not a powerhouse track, Ringo’s rhythmic accents are bigger and sharper.
• “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”: The opening guitar riff felt like it would rip through the speakers in Capitol’s Studio C with the added vibrancy Paul's lead guitar gets in the new version.
• “Good Night”: The closing track from “The Beatles,” a.k.a. the White Album, starts with string accompaniment that sounded canned on the old CD. I noted a slight harshness in the remastered version but also a fuller orchestral sound and an especially appealing purity in the flutes behind Ringo’s sweetly melancholy vocal.
• “The Long and Winding Road”: Paul may cringe at those sweeping strings that Phil Spector overdubbed onto his swan-song Beatles ballad, but they sound even broader and more spacious on the remaster than on the 1987 CD.
After the prepared A:B CD was through, Rouse and Massey opened the floor for requests. I asked to hear "She's Leaving Home" from the mono mix of "Sgt. Pepper," because the track was slowed down for the stereo mix that most U.S. listeners (myself included) are used to. McCartney's voice sounded sweeter, the harp more luminous.
I also got them to cue up Harrison's "Savoy Truffle" from the White Album. As a longtime sax player, I wanted to hear how the sax section came through the remastering -- nicely fat -- but the part that grabbed the attention of everyone in the room was the screaming guitar solo, which picks up considerable sting in the new version.
@ Los Angeles Times, 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012
Catalogue No. CHAT 1
Release date 23rd February 1981
Total time 54:13
U.K. Album Chart Detail : Entry Date : 7th March 1981
Highest Position : 34
Weeks in Chart : 4
Sleeve Notes : The Beatles were more than just the greatest pop phenomenon of our time - through their music, inspiration and example they became a kind of spiritual catalyst for our generation that helped to liberate our creative energies and open up new possibilities to us. So when Columbia Records offered us at "Musician:Player and Listener" magazine the chance to interview Paul McCartney, we were delighted - but also a bit sceptical, since the ex-Beatles are notoriously reluctant to talk about their time together.
Happily, the interview that took place in McCartney's London office was everything that we could have hoped for - and more.
For reasons he fully explains in the interview, Paul decided that afternoon to finally break what he called "the voodoo against talking about the Beatles". It was a fast-paced and cathartic conversation, ranging from the group's early struggles in Hamburg on through their conquest of America, including insights into "Sgt. Pepper", "Abbey Road" and McCartney's solo career.
After the interview was published in the August 1980 issue, Columbia suggested making it available on record, first as a promo disc for radio, and then in this limited edition for the general public.
Detail : This album was released on the 23rd February 1981 and deleted the SAME DAY !
This is the ONLY interview album featuring Paul to enter the U.K. chart, where it reached number 34.
The album features two photographs of Paul taken by Linda.
It is widely reported that this album has a "secret" message at the end of it. The U.K. edition does NOT have any such message. BUT, I do have a copy of the original U.S. issue on Columbia (PC 36987) and this edition DOES have a "secret" message in the run-out groove at the end of side 2.
It comprises just four words and confirms what John told us in Glass Onion.
Side 1 (29:38) - Paul Discusses :
Negative criticism of the Beatles and Wings
Venus and Mars - Wild Life
Band On The Run
Musical direction - Ringo - George - "Hey Jude"
"The White Album" - Tension - Helter Skelter
Musical background - Trumpet, guitar, piano - Learning bass in Hamburg
Early Beatles mixes - Motown and Stax influences
The Sgt.Pepper story - The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"
Rubber Soul - Revolver
Fame and success - Paul and John's reactions
Stage fright during the Beatles and Wings
How Wings started
New Wave - Early Beatles
Creating the Beatles sound - "Love Me Do" and early songs
Side 2 (24:35) - Paul Discusses :
The Beatles conquest of America
Beatles haircuts and image
Paying dues in Hamburg and Liverpool - Early tours
Weathering pressures - The break-up
Video of "Coming Up" - Reliving the Beatle image
Lennon-McCartney songwriting - Dislike of formulas
I Am The Walrus - The Black Carnation - Sgt.Pepper L.P. cover
New Wave - Bowie, Ferry, Elvis
Pop music and radio
Getting Married - Changing perspective - Waterfalls
Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Hi Hi Hi - Banned songs - Children's songs - Mary Had A Little Lamb
Paul McCartney Interview
Catalogue No. BAK 2003
Release date January 1987
Detail : A picture disc album featuring an interview with Paul made in September 1986 by Chris Salewicz of "Q" magazine.
The interview was also printed in "Musician".
It was re-issued later as Chat With The Stars: Paul McCartney ZUFG 003
Catalogue No. BAND ON THE 1 / PM 7
Release date 22nd January 1990
Total Time 56:25
Detail : The Rome press conference is recorded 15th June 1989 at the Teatro Delle Vittorie, before Paul and his band appear on the RAI TV show Saint Vincent Estate '89 and lasts 29:36.
The London press conference is recorded at 1 o'clock p.m. on 27th July 1989 prior to a concert at the Playhouse Theatre and lasts 26:47.
These press conferences were actually released on a variety of special editions :
BAND ON THE 1CD - Limited to 500 copies, this box contained a CD, and two 5x7 colour photographs.
BAND ON THE 1 - Limited to 500 copies, this coloured vinyl L.P. added a 7" single (PM 7).
BAND ON THE 1P - A picture disc L.P. which without the single, did not include the full recording.
PM 7 - Limited to 250 copies, the single was released on it's own, on red, blue and orange vinyl.
The box is a 7" plain white cardboard box with two small stickers on the front. One is a 2"x3" copy of one of the free photographs, the other just has the edition number (mine is numbered 384).
The C.D. is in a normal jewel case within the box, and the two photographs are 5"x7" good quality glossy pictures
Press Conferences: Madrid and Los Angeles
Catalogue No. TUGA 4
Release date July 1990
Detail : Side 1 - 23:25
The Los Angeles press conference is recorded 27th November 1989 at The Los Angeles Forum.
Paul refers to the recent Apple settlement with E.M.I. and actually states that the Beatles might perform together again. Paul also says that he has never written with George and would love to do so.
The following day George issues the following statement :
"There will be no Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead".
Side 2 - 21:28
The Madrid press conference is recorded 2nd November 1989 at the Palacio de Sportes, Madrid.
On the C.D. version ONLY, the Detroit press conference is added.
The Detroit press conference is recorded 1st February 1990 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The album features two photographs of Paul taken by Linda.
These press conferences were actually released on a variety of special editions :
TUGA 4 - A white vinyl L.P.
TUGA 4P - A picture disc L.P. with a bonus 7" single
TUGA 4CD - A C.D.
PM PACK 1 - This is a set of four singles which add a further interview recorded in Rotterdam, released separately below.
Rotterdam Press Conference
Catalogue No. PM 10
Release date August 1990
Detail : A 10" coloured vinyl L.P. featuring the Rotterdam press conference recorded 11th November 1989 at the Ahoy Sportpaleis in Rotterdam.
This interview was broadcast on Radio 1 over Christmas 1990.
Liverpool Press Conference
Catalogue No. FORNO 1
Release date 14th December 1990
Detail : A release containing a press conference Paul gave in Liverpool on 28th June 1990 at half past 5.
During his conversation Paul talks of his plan to include a surprise tribute to John during the live show he will be giving that evening in the Kings Dock in Liverpool. He also discusses the Performing Arts School, Yoko's tribute concert, the Get Back film, and Friends of the Earth.
It is released in Coloured vinyl edition, a picture disc, and a C.D.
The C.D. is boxed in a 7" plain white cardboard box with two small stickers on the front, both can be seen above. It is released in a limited edition, mine is numbered 571.
The C.D. is in a normal jewel case within the box, and contains three 6"x4" photographs
Press Conferences: Tokyo/Chicago 1990
Catalogue No. LMW 281F
Release date December 1991
Total Time 34:45
Detail : The Tokyo press conference is recorded 1st March 1990 at the MZA Ariake Theatre, which is attended by 800 people and lasts 24:25.
At the start of the conference Paul sings "Matchbox".
This event is also broadcast live on Japanese T.V. show Super Time.
The Chicago press conference is recorded 29th July 1990 at Soldier Field, Chicago it lasts just 10:17. It is recorded before the concert which will be the last date of Paul's ten month Tripping The Live Fantastic tour.
This event is also shown on MTV.
Released on Vinyl and on C.D.
The C.D. is boxed in a 7" plain white cardboard box with two small stickers on the front, both can be seen above. It is released in a limited edition, mine is numbered 695.
The C.D. is in a normal jewel case within the box, and contains two 5"x7" super glossy photographs
Press Conferences: London and New York
Catalogue No. BROADS 003
Release date July 1992
Detail : Two press conferences, the first in London in 1991 and
A press conference on 24th August 1989 at Lyceum Theatre in New York, broadcast live by Westwood One.
Released on red vinyl and on C.D.
The C.D. is boxed in a 7" plain white cardboard box with two small stickers on the front, both can be seen above. It is released in a limited edition, mine is numbered 820.
The C.D. is in a normal jewel case within the box, and contains two 5"x7" excellent glossy photographs, one of which is a much bigger version of the rear cover above. The other shows Paul and Linda eating hamburgers !
The pair enjoyed one of the best-known and most successful writing partnerships in history. But as their success grew, their relationship appeared to rupture and the band split up in 1970.
He denied Lennon's complaints in interviews that he sabotaged songs in the studio by not committing his full creative energy to them. Sir Paul told the Radio Times: "Oh, he was on drugs, wasn't he? This is the trouble with history, with journalism. John said so much crap that he later said he hadn't meant. It's bulls***. We were there. We all enjoyed it. I never really criticised John. I'm not that critical. It's a question of personalities. John's was more abrasive than mine, and that was good for his corner of the square that made up the Beatles.If we'd had two people like that - forget it - I don't think it would have worked."
Sir Paul told the magazine: "The image of John is seriously flawed because he was not the hard, mad man that people think he was. He was a very soft-centred guy and we had a lot more in common than people think. His favourite song when we were kids was Little White Lies, which was very sentimental. It was a smoochy old standard that his mum liked. Whatever bad things John said about me, he would also slip his glasses down to the end of his nose and say, 'I love you'. That's really what I hold on to. That's what I believe. The rest is showing off."
Speaking about how the creative bond between the pair developed, Sir Paul said: "The actual reason John and I started writing in earnest was because we'd be at a gig and the bands on before us would play songs we were about to do."
If you purchase the full Abbey Road album, you'll have the option to play the B-side medley (from "You Never Give Me Your Money" through "The End") as one continuous track. Along with this news, Harmonix confirmed that the "All You Need is Love" DLC track (160) will be available as a timed-exclusive for Xbox 360 on the game's September 9 launch date.
by Steven Sande (RSS feed) on Aug 19th 2009 at 12:00PM
As intrepid TUAW reporter Mike Schramm told you a few days ago, Apple has an event planned for September 9, 2009. Pundits are expecting the event to be the usual Apple fall event where the new line of iPods will be announced, but there's something else happening on September 9th that could herald the long-awaited arrival of The Beatles in the iTunes Store.
The Official Beatles Shop website is showing 9/9/09 as the release date for new, digitally remastered versions of the entire Beatles library. That's also the day that The Beatles: Rock Band is released. What better way for Apple to finally bring Apple Corps into the digital age than to give the Fab Four a home in iTunes?
Of course, the Beatles and Apple, Inc. have had a tumultuous legal history, and recently George Harrison's son Dhani Harrison was quoted in Blender as saying he didn't feel that the iTunes Store's per-song charge was a fair price for Beatles songs. He also mentioned that the remaining members of The Beatles were looking into creating their own website for digital downloads. Given the shaky history of most Beatles business ventures, I wouldn't give that comment a second thought.
Just last month, Sir Paul McCartney told the Guardian that in terms of the Beatles library appearing in iTunes, "The last word I got back was it's stalled at the whole moment, the whole process... I really hope it will happen because I think it should."
One would have thought that like other posthumous works, Mal’s memoirs would have been published soon after his death. This had the potential to be the mother of all Beatles biographies: A member of the Beatles’ inner circle – one that was honest to a fault – giving the real scoop on the Fab Four.
But the diaries vanished.
No one knew of their whereabouts; a briefcase was once found in Sydney, Australia that allegedly contained the lost diaries, but further inspection revealed it to be a fraud. Three years ago, however, the London Sunday Times Magazine revealed the truth. The diaries had been with Mal’s widow, Lily Evans, ever since the mid 1980s, when Yoko Ono saved them from the basement of a New York publisher.
While a book has yet to be published containing the full story, the Times published excerpts of the diaries that are tantalizing at times, but reveal little about the Beatles. It does, however, give us a great deal of insight into Mal’s life and his devotion to the Fab Four.
Only Mal Evans could (or would) chronicle his time with the Beatles with recollections such as, “Late afternoon went over to the McCartney’s in Wirral, and had dinner with them. Paul and Jane [Asher, McCartney's then girlfriend] had traveled up for the New Year – also Martha. Fan belt broke.” He writes of these times nonchalantly, but he was there when the Beatles let their guards down.
He gives us insight into possible alternatives to the name for Abbey Road, mentioning Four in the Bar, All Good Children Go to Heaven, Turn Ups and Inclinations as possible titles (none seem to fit in retrospect, do they?). He played on several Beatle songs; in a hilarious prelude to the Saturday Night Live “cowbell” skit, Mal played one on “With a Little Help From My Friends,” prompting Paul to ask, tongue-in-cheek, “Who played that great cow bell?”
At times, though, Mal felt he was being taken for granted. Being paid a pittance for his devotion and work – less than £40 per week – he was often broke, having to support a wife and two children while spending most of his time with the Beatles. He was the main go-fer boy: “”I would get requests from the four of them to do six different things at one time and it was always a case of relying on instinct and experience in awarding priorities.” Often, John would be in a stupor, only to snap out of it and mutter, “Socks, Mal,” and off Mal would go to the local department store to get several pairs of socks. Once, the Beatles had no cups to drink milk with their sandwiches; Mal pulled out four plastic cups from his pocket.
Mal realized his role within the Beatles, and it bothered him, but he was doing what he truly loved. In perhaps the most poignant moment of the diaries, he confesses:
I feel very hurt and sad inside – only big boys don’t cry. Why I should feel hurt and reason for writing this is ego… I thought I was different from other people in my relationship with the Beatles and being loved by them and treated so nice, I felt like one of the family. Seems I fetch and carry… I always tell myself – look, everybody wants to take from, be satisfied, try to give and you will receive. After all this time I have about £70 to my name, but was content and happy. Loving them as I do, nothing is too much trouble, because I want to serve them.
Since 1967, the Manson Family had voraciously lapped up the Beatles’ catalogue, utilising the group’s psychedelic imagery as a soundtrack to their own lives. However by late 1968, no one, least of Charlie, was prepared for what was contained in the group’s forthcoming album release. Following the Family’s relocation to the Californian desert, Manson’s proclamations on an impending apocalypse had begun to gain heavy momentum. Although Charlie’s followers would consume anything that spilled from their leader’s mouth, he knew that aside from his well-thumbed biblical references, he had little current evidence to support his apocalyptic ravings. Dropping in seemingly by osmosis, the Beatles’ White Album went a huge way to endorse every atom of his frenzied discourses. To Charlie, this was ample proof that a two-way thought-line had been established between him and the minds of the Beatles. Heightened by their use of LSD, the bare anonymity of the desert landscape, and Manson’s own spiralling idolatry, the album’s release was nothing short of a major revelation. If elsewhere, the more erudite of music critics saw the Beatles redraw the narrow perimeters of “pop” music with the White Album, for Charles Manson it was the nothing less than a call to arms.
With enough time to process the album’s chimera, Charlie revealed his findings at a party on New Year’s Eve, 1968, in Death Valley. In honour of his startling epiphany, Manson had purchased a battery operated record player to take to the desert to preview the album. Loyal foot soldier Susan Atkins, AKA Sadie Mae Glutz, at that point acquiescent to all of Charlie’s ever revolving philosophies, recalled the night Manson revealed his seismic convergence with the Beatles.
Susan Atkins: “It had a tremendous impact on our lives, especially Charlie’s. One night, when many of us were playing records and listening to the album, Charlie said, “They’re speaking to me.” He was convinced that he had some sort of apocalyptic connection with the Beatles. I never fully understood it, but Charlie, our unchallenged leader, was deeply affected. And I and most of the others believed that, in some way, “Helter Skelter”, the end of the world, was “coming down fast.””
Regardless of the sheer craziness of these associations, Manson had allegedly pinpointed thirteen tracks off the White Album that correlated in with his views. While a lot of the detail concerning Charlie’s interpretations arose during later murder trials (much of it, it must be said, from disaffected associates of Manson) these bizarre connections are worthy of investigation, even if just to give some verisimilitude to the receptive atmosphere surrounding Manson and his followers. Indeed, if Charlie truly believed what he’d deciphered in the recordings, it presents a vivid conduit into the eventual carnival of terror.
To attempt to unravel this extraordinary conundrum, one has to look at where the Beatles’ heads were at this point, and equally, how their wholly unintentional ambivalence could draw in the likes of Manson. Many of the White Album’s compositions were constructed in India during their meditation stint with the Maharishi in early 1968. With little outside influence and an absence of stimulants, the lyrics drew heavily on the Beatles’ inner psyche. With a brief to present a starker canvas than the dense colours that had occupied Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, the album presented the most disparate collection of songs the group had ever produced. Nonetheless, despite this more uncluttered approach, Beatlemanics swiftly honed in on the thirty tracks in search of greater symbolism; not least, one Charles Manson.
While John Lennon’s material on the White Album provided Manson with considerable ammunition, he’d find some common ground with several of McCartney’s contributions. Although the tracks “Helter Skelter” and “Blackbird” would be referenced overtly, some of Paul’s sweeter tunes would also prompt a response from Manson. “I Will” was one fairly innocuous love song that McCartney had written in India. To Charlie though, he believed that the tune was seeking to elicit a clarion call for himself; the Beatles asking Manson to pitch his voice “loud” so that they could hear him over in the UK. Another McCartney track, the skittish and untamed, “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”, was seen by Manson as the Beatles acknowledging the violent street theatre being displayed across America during 1968.
Even McCartney’s most embarrassing offering to the collection; the pithy, music hall homage “Honey Pie,” didn’t escape Manson’s receptive ears. With references to a music career that had “hit the big time” in America, Charlie believed that the cute Beatle was relating his own recording ambitions. Later in the song, Manson would detect what he believed was a direct invitation from the Beatles for him to “sail” over to England to meet them. Later, the song speaks of this intention to meet up, but the protagonist is too “lazy” to make any overtures. As a seasoned Beatlemaniac, Manson knew that the group had long abandoned touring, and so were ostensibly keener for him to make the trip over the Atlantic.
As the creative runt of the Beatles, the diminutive Ringo Starr would only produce four contributions to the group’s oeuvre during their entire career. While two were only co-writing credits, Ringo would carry with him a track from 1964 called “Don’t Pass Me By” for the White Album. While the song is at best, inane and elementary, Manson read far greater inference into the song than had ever been designed. With Starr’s lyrics talking about listening for approaching “footsteps,” Charlie believed that the Fab Four were anticipating his own advance towards them.
The unobtrusive, yet nonetheless able George Harrison would contribute an unprecedented four songs to the White Album. Normally, he’d be allotted customary space for one, maybe two tracks to the band’s LP releases. However, for the White Album, Harrison would score a quartet of largely competent songs. The track “Piggies” was an allegorical, yet powerful swipe at the expense of the rich and ruling classes. The deeply sardonic Harrison would hang out his most sarcastic colours on this song, at one point suggesting that these so called “piggies” needed a right royal "whacking." While Harrison’s reference to the word “pig” was purely metaphorical, in America’s underground, the term held a far greater symbolism. Notably, the revolutionary Black movement had broadened the “pig” symbol beyond the slang for police towards all tiers of the white establishment. Black Panther party leader at time; Bobby Seale, frequently peppered his speeches with diatribes against the “Pigs”, unwittingly handing Manson’s Beatles association on a plate.
Bobby Seale: “The only way that the world is ever going to be free is when the youth of this country moves with every principle of human respect and with every soft spot we have in our hearts for human life, in a fashion that lets the “Pig” power structure know that when people are racistly (sic) and fascistically attacked, the youth will put a foot in their butts and make their blood chill.”
Cleary harbouring his own grievances, Manson would tailor the Panther’s manifesto towards the affluent of Hollywood, and pertinently, those who were denying him a shot at a recording career. While conceding the song’s allegorical status, Harrison would ultimately play down any wider inferences, however bold they may have seemed to others at the time.
George Harrison: 'Piggies' is a social comment. I was stuck for one line in the middle until my mother came up with the lyric, 'What they need is a damn good whacking' which is a nice simple way of saying they need a good hiding. It needed to rhyme with 'backing,' 'lacking,' and had absolutely nothing to do with American policemen or Californian shagnasties!"
Despite these nebulous associations, other tracks on the album would appear strangely coincidental to Manson and his followers. Not least, was the licentious track, “Sexy Sadie.” Not that the wider public would have known it at the time, but John Lennon’s oblique paean to a shunned lover was heavily coded. Written in a fit of pique following his trip to India, Lennon hoped that signals from the song would travel towards the Maharishi, who he’d had fallen out with following some (unsubstantiated, as it turned out) sexual allegations.
Months before the White Album’s release, Manson had christened the sex and drug crazed Susan Atkins, Sadie Mae Glutz. She’d enjoyed the dubious moniker, regardless of anyone, least of all Charlie, attributing any verifiable origin to it. However, no one within the Family unit was prepared for the Beatles seemingly rubber stamping her vibrant presence onto vinyl. This alleged synchronicity contributed hugely in validating Charlie’s observations to his followers; especially as the frazzled Sadie was adept in turning on all and sundry, while breaking all the known rules. Not surprisingly, the loquacious Sadie was characteristically cock-a-hoop with the inference, and would go into an orgasmic dance routine every time the track was played.
In “Rocky Racoon,” Paul McCartney’s capricious paean to the vaudeville of the Wild West, Manson drew a racial inference with the syllable “coon.” Further references in the song would relate to gun battles and Bibles which to Charlie verified his prediction of an impending black uprising. During a Rolling Stone magazine interview with Manson in 1970, Charlie elucidated on his “Rocky Racoon” theory, even giving credence to the McCartney’s line concerning “Rocky’s revival,” which he saw as the black community’s bloody resurgence.
Charles Manson: " ‘Coon’. You know that's a word they use for black people... ‘Revival’ ‘Re-Vival’. It means coming back to life. The black man is going to come into power again. 'Gideon checks out' means that it's all written out there in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelations.”
John Lennon’s quasi-junkie song, the fractured, “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”, was said by Manson to further signify further race insurgency. Lennon’s gung-ho lyrics, originally inspired by a hunter he’d come across in India, were seen by Manson to be encouraging blacks to take up arms in their struggle.
Less coded was “Blackbird”, Paul McCartney’s poignant metaphor for the civil rights struggle in America. Within the bare acoustic delivery, the simple lyrics needed little embellishment to reveal a call for racial freedom. It was a rare political statement from McCartney, who’d rarely left the safety of the political fence up to that point. Not surprisingly, Manson’s receptive ears would cite the song’s challenge to "arise" as a clarion call for the blacks to move towards seizing power.
John Lennon’s intrepid “Revolution 1”, would find itself as the opener to side four of the album. The track that had been previewed some months earlier as the B-Side of the “Hey Jude” single, but given Lennon’s mercurial persona, the musical structure would be given a heavy rework for the White Album. During “Revolution 1,” Lennon writes about seeing the counterculture’s proposed “plans”. As Manson had formulated his own highly ambitious ideas, he interpreted that the Beatles wanted to see these strategies.
Ever receptive to even the slightest amendment, Manson would note the addition of the word “in” following Lennon’s counting himself “out” of destructive acts. Initially, the first cut of “Revolution” had Lennon’s overt pacifism turning on tin-pot revolutionaries. Some months later, his stance had shifted to a more ambivalent stance, this detachment possibly having more to do with his (then) flirtation with Heroin. He’d elucidate on “Revolution 1’s” uncertainty towards violence during the filming of “Let it Be” in January 1969.
John Lennon: “That means I am not sure. I really think if it gets to destruction you can count me out, but I’m not sure. I’m human and I’m liable to change, or depending on the situation, I prefer non-violence.”
Manson on the other hand, would assume that this subtle change was saying that the Beatles were aware that any peaceable approach would collapse as the apocalypse took hold. With his ears finally tuned for more rebellious frisson, Charlie would find an abundance of imagery on “Revolution 1’s” hugely idiosyncratic sister track, “Revolution 9.”
If indeed Manson or any of his acolytes had any stamina left following these stratospheric interpretations, the penultimate track on the White Album would send their frazzled senses towards oblivion. Without doubt, “Revolution 9” is the most complex “track” the Beatles ever put to tape, and certainly the most ambitious recording undertaken by a 1960’s “pop” group. Forty years on, it is still a remarkable and terrifying anthology of fragmented sounds, bound only by a nightmarish, disembodied voice chanting repeatedly, “number nine, number nine.”
This excursion into the unknown wasn’t exactly virgin territory for the group. The Beatles had dabbled with avant-garde noises over the previous two years, although they’d worked them into the metre and structure of a conventional framework. Whilst McCartney had first meddled with these sounds back in 1966, it was Lennon who jumped headfirst into the audio mêlée. As a result of his fascination, he’d begun feverishly assembling a library of twisted sounds at home and in the studio. Lennon’s convergence with Yoko Ono in early 1968 would elevate the importance of his avant- garde obsessions, and they would start to take a greater prominence on the White Album. With McCartney noticeable absent for the recording of “Revolution 9,” Lennon, George Harrison and Yoko Ono began to assemble the college of sounds during May of 1968. Ono’s intimate knowledge of sonic, left-field pioneers such as John Cage and Stockhausen would be an important link in the construction of the piece.
If the lyrics on the White Album tracks gave credence to Manson’s apocalyptic logic, then the aural vibrations on “Revolution 9” would be its soundtrack. With gunfire, screaming, mob chanting and other jarring sound-bites charging in and out of the mix, it’s a believable, auditory reflection of Armageddon. Not surprisingly, magnified by LSD, it added considerable verisimilitude to Manson’s rantings. Aligned with Charlie’s favourite biblical tract-section nine from the book of Revelation- it’s not that difficult to see how Manson came to derive his own association. While the Beatles blew many minds across the world with “Revolution 9’s” melange of nebulous sounds, it succeeded heavily in blurring Manson and his followers’ imagination and reality into one.
While mono versions of the original pressing would lose all of the sequencing from channel to channel, the repetition of the phrase “all right,” (itself clipped from the vocal track from the “Revolution 1”) would be easily perceptible to the ears. Manson, perhaps too far into his stride at that moment, erroneously thought that Lennon was shouting “rise!” to the black populous to get off their knees. To Charlie, this was an echo from McCartney’s “Blackbird,” and a further indication that the Beatles were predicting the black community’s forthcoming insurrection.
Save for a few passages of nonsensical gibberish at the start of the track, most of the words spoken in “Revolution 9” are totally indecipherable. During later court trials when the mass of this information was presented, it was claimed that Manson had heard the words “Charlie, Charlie, send us a telegram” somewhere in the mix. Although George Harrison does indeed mutter the word “telegram” at some point, it’s difficult to ascertain whether “Charlie” is mentioned at any point. The chief prosecutor would also claim that the phrase, "lots of stab wounds" was also detected by the Manson Family, although there is not even a hint of that anyway. Even more bizarre were the later claims that embedded in the track was the Beatles chanting, "Charlie, can you hear us? Charlie can you hear us? Call us in London. Call us in London.”
Supporting these claims of Manson’s proposed alliance with the Beatles, Squeaky and other Family members most definitely bombarded the group’s Apple offices in London with telegrams, letters and phone calls alerting the Fab Four of their presence. As Apple Records had to endure a daily litany of freaks and other incongruent parties attempting to contact the group, the Manson Family’s approaches were flatly ignored. Undeterred, Charlie would later send an emissary over to England in an attempt to meet the Beatles to discuss matters further.
While there were snippets of other tracks on the album that held some passing significance to Charlie, “Helter Skelter” would become his most foremost correlation with the apocalypse. Arguably, Paul McCartney’s most acerbic contribution to the Beatles songbook, “Helter Skelter” still to this day remains a heavy enigma. While the cute Beatle had to fight off numerous brickbats regarding his occasionally saccharine lyrics, during 1968, he was looking to prove any critics otherwise. The previous year, McCartney had read an interview with the Who’s Pete Townshend, concerning their single release entitled, “I Can See for Miles”. During the feature, Townshend described the song as the “the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number” the Who had ever put to tape. The quote stuck with McCartney, and never one to be outdone by his peers, set about to compete with a similarly raw and unfiltered piece of work. Most recently McCartney elucidated on the track for Mojo magazine in 2008.
Paul McCartney: “Just reading those lines (of the Townshend interview) fired my imagination. I thought, Right, they've done what they think was the loudest and dirtiest; we'll do what we think. I went into the studio and told the guys, 'Look, I've got this song, but Pete said this and I want to do it even dirtier.' It was a great brief for the engineers, for everyone- just as fuzzy and as dirty and as loud and as filthy as you can... I was happy to have Pete's quote to get me there."
The Beatles dabbled with the bones of the song during session for the White Album. On 18th July 1968, they began to record the track in earnest. That night was a particular potty one in all respects, and unusually for them, they abandoned their usual deference for EMI’s stuffy protocol. One memorable take lasted 27 minutes and 11 seconds, culminating in an almighty jam. Harrison had seemingly lost the plot that night, and at one point, he’d ignited a fire in an ashtray, and ran around the studio with it held on his head; a spirited homage to psychedelic prankster Arthur Brown. At the end of the recording, Ringo, whacked out by the interminable madness, screamed, “I’ve got blisters on my fingers”; a caveat duly tagged onto the stereo version of the track.
After coming down from the high-jinx that engulfed the July 18th session, the group decided there was little worthy of salvaging. Nearly two months passed before they decided to tackle “Helter Skelter” again. On the night of September 9th 1968, they taped a more cohesive version of the song. Again, it took a large amount of time to capture something credible. Eventually, take number eighteen was secured as the most competent, and was duly signed off as finished.
The finally completed “Helter Skelter” made its way onto side three of the White Album, wedged in between John Lennon’s “Sexy Sadie” and George Harrison’s highly under-rated, “Long, Long, Long.” Without doubt, sonically, “Helter Skelter” is the most ruthless track in the Beatles oeuvre, and a template for later punk bands to emulate. While McCartney has always been at pains to step back from any revolutionary stance that lyrics might have implied, the electric frisson that pours out from the track is undoubtedly explosive.
With the White Album crammed with an array of hugely disparate sounds, “Helter Skelter” was largely passed over by both critics and fans on its release. For Charlie however, it was the band’s fiercest stake; the strongest conduit between the group and the apocalypse he’d begun referring to with an alarming regularity. Within “Helter Skelter’s” scatter burst of lyrics, the coda’s repetitive chant of “Coming down fast” was to Manson, the sign that the Beatles knew that an end was evidently nigh. The song’s references to going down to the “bottom” from the “top” were confirmation to Manson that the group, like him, were aware of the “Bottomless pit” as foretold in the section nine of the Book of Revelation.
Such was the powerful intensions that Manson saw in “Helter Skelter,” Charlie christened his anticipated uprising after the song. Soon, his obedient followers would be rattling off the phrase during their preparations for the impending apocalypse. When later asked by Rolling Stone magazine to define his own interpretations of “Helter Skelter”, Manson had slightly neutered his initial premise, although he still maintained that the song held some significance towards violence.
Charles Manson: “Helter Skelter means 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.”
While Charlie had (obviously) absolutely no insider information of the circumstances behind the writing of “Helter Skelter” he was in little doubt that its semantics were wholly in line with his own interpretations from the Book of Revelation; particularly sections seven through to nine. As has been documented, Manson fascination with the Bible went back to his youth whilst sitting in the pews of McMechen, West Virginia. Despite being on the sharp end of his guardian’s Christian admonishments, he’d revisit the texts while serving time in the numerous institutions he’d been incarcerated in over the years, and they had remained something of a constant with him.
Manson had this to say of the Book of Revelation, and its connotations with the Beatles’ White Album, when drawn on the inference during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.
Charles Manson: “What do you think it means? It's the battle of Armageddon. It's the end of the world. It was the Beatles' “Revolution 9” that turned me on to it. It predicts the overthrow of the establishment. The pit will be opened, and that’s when it will all come down. A third of mankind will die. The only people who will escape will be those who have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
As the only book in the Bible to overtly cite apocalyptic themes, The Book of Revelation has confused and enraged scholars throughout the centuries. Furthermore, its nebulous and occasionally impenetrable text has provoked numerous interpretations. Given his mania, Charlie had clearly associated the passages with what was occurring across America in 1969, and similarly, in detailing his own relationship with the Beatles and their White Album collection. If nothing else, the following explanations reveal Manson’s sheer ingenuity in establishing a triumvirate between himself, the Beatles and the Book of Revelation.
In verse one of Revelation 9 it states, “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss.” Manson was convinced that the Beatles were heavenly deities, and as he had allied himself so closely to the group, he evidently saw himself as the “Fifth” angel. To Charlie, the “key of the pit of the abyss”, related to the “bottomless pit” which Manson had already drawn a connection with from “Helter Skelter’s” lyrics. Additionally, in information he’d sourced from Revelation Seven, Charlie believed that with his Family safely ensconced in the desert underworld, they would sit out the bloodbath occurring in the city. This apparently would take many years until their numbers reached 144,000; a figure Manson had again derived from Revelation Seven, which talked of the twelve tribes of 12,000. With the blacks assuming power following the revolution, in what Charlie assumed would be an inept and haphazard fashion, his followers would merge back into society and then have to clean up the mess, before ultimately taking over. Privy to most of Manson bizarre proselytising was young Family member, Paul Watkins.
Paul Watkins: “Blackie then would come to Charlie and say, you know, 'I did my thing, I killed them all and, you know, I am tired of killing now. It is all over.' And Charlie would scratch his fuzzy head and kick him in the butt and tell him to go pick the cotton and go be a good nigger, and he would live happily ever after."
Further in Revelation Nine it says, "And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Naturally, Manson’s broad entomology dictated that these bugs were naturally in kin with The Beatles. Additionally, Manson’s birth sign was Scorpio.
In section four it reads; “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” Manson had previously berated any member of the Family for killing bugs, snakes or any other animals. For the most part, they themselves were vegetarians, and any pets they kept were afforded greater rights than they themselves had. Whether Charlie knew it or not, in 1968 the Beatles were avid vegetarians, but there again, so was much of the hippie populous around that time.
Manson’s most intimate alignment with the Beatles occurred later within Revelation 9. “The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.”
Manson had already deduced that the “locusts” were in fact the Beatles, and that their “crowns of gold” signified their dominance as world leaders in the pop world. The line, “Their hair was like women's hair” was true in as much as the Fab Four were the first to push the folic length of the male since Edwardian times. The “breastplates like breastplates of iron” passage was meant to signify the Beatles’ electric guitars, strapped, as they were, to their chests. The part reading, “The sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle,” was a direct reference to the chaotic sounds heard during the Beatles, “Revolution 9”. Adding to the desert transport issue, Charlie apparently drew a connection with the chariots and his own preferred battle vehicles, Dune Buggies.
A passage reading that “four angels” would be prepared for the killing of “a third part of men.” was, to Charlie, a direct reference that the black community overthrowing civilisation and culling a third of mankind in its wake. Given that Revelation Nine was explicit in its timeline of “five months” when this would occur, Manson had projected that this would take place in the summer of 1969.
Despite the nebulous connotations Manson would apparently draw from the text, what made his correlations that more believable to his followers, were the collaborative influences of the White Album, and the activities of the black resistance movement; at its height during 1968-9. Add into the mix the desert landscape of Death Valley, strong LSD and not least, Charlie’s escalating paranoia, and it offers a terrifying insight to the horror that unfolded.
With ostensibly the Beatles full patronage, Charlie took his followers to unimaginable heights by these extraordinary interpretations. Following its preview, the White Album was played almost continuously, with Manson driving his revolutionary predictions into his followers’ malleable subconscious. For Paul Watkins, and every other component part of the Family, it was vindication of everything Manson had been pointing at for months. Watkins would later articulate this uncanny realisation following Charlie’s preview of the White Album to his followers.
Paul Watkins “Things were never the same...At that point Charlie’s credibility seemed indisputable. For weeks he had been talking of revolution, prophesying it. We had listened to him rap; we were geared for it – making music to program the young love. Then, from across the Atlantic, the hottest music group in the world substantiates Charlie with an album that is almost blood curdling in its depiction of violence. It was uncanny.”
In Memory of Sharon Marie Tate (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969)
Excerpt by kind permission of Simon Wells. "Charles Manson: Coming Down
Fast," is published by Hodder and Stoughton.
The front cover was quite an eye- opener for clues. The most obvious thing is that all four Beatles are dressed in animal costumes. Foremost is the black walrus, which is Paul. The black again is symbolic again of death and the walrus was a bad element of Viking hunters. For if they saw a dead walrus at the start of their journeys they would turn back because of its negative symbolism.
After quizzing the caller on the Beatles trivia, he would promise to send you tickets to Pepperland. It was reported that three Michigan students receive such tickets in the mail with the inscription ADN on the envelope. Apparently the stamps on the envelope, which the receiver was instructed to lick, were laced with LSD, because one of the Michigan students did lick them and jumped from the window to his death. The second student claimed to have already been to Pepperland in the Caribbean Sea and was returning there on the upcoming November 27. The third student when queried just laughed. By the way if you call these numbers today they're all out of service. The Magical Mystery Tour album contains a 24-page booklet which contains some startling clues.
537-1438 the phone number to the M and D Comapny?
Paul's Black Peddals wizard Cap
Picture from inside the booklet from Magical Mystery Tour, of Paul sitting at a desk. The plaque in front of Paul says, I Was
Another cool picture from the 24 page booklet. The police men standing on a head stone, that has been pushed over. The doctors behind the Beatles representing the doctors that tried to save Paul;s life. With that many doctors no wonder he died.
The sign "The best way to go is by M&D company" That is a funeral home in London, that if you called the phone number from the front cover of the album, they would answer the phone.
A drawing from the booklet where the L from hill splits Paul head open.
On pages 12 and 13 there is a photo of the Beatles again with Paul being barefoot. This time however we are treated to the sight of his shoes. Look closely: his shoes are stained with blood. Some argue that the red is just a runoff from the printing error on the drum but we can easily see the shade of red is much different and if it was simply a printing error it would have been corrected on later copies. The stains are still on current pressings. The drum has a message for us too: written on the drum is the message, “love the three Beatles.” We all know there are four Beatles, unless of course...
Close up of the drum "Love the 3 Beatles" and Paul's blood cover shoes.
Everyone's favorite scene appears on page 23 with the Beatles decked out with white tuxedos. Notice that Paul has on the black carnation while the others are wearing red. The Beatles said that, “We ran out of red ones and happen to find a black one backstage.” Did you know how rare black carnations are? Not likely that one would be found lying around. The only other black or dead flowers are in fact being handed to Paul by the girl on the left of the picture.
Last picture from the booklet, notice again Paul with a hand over his head, the blessing of the dead. For whatever reason Paul was the one who always had a hand over his head, no shoes on his feet, black walrus outfit, black carnation the list goes on and on. In almost every Beatle picture Paul is doing something to draw attention to him. Paul always wanted to stand out and look different than the other Beatles.