Early years and television
Lester was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania He was something of a child prodigy, and at 15 began studies at the University of Pennsylvania, He started in television 1950, working as a stage hand, floor manager, assistant director, and then to director less than a year, because no-one else was around that knew how to do the work. In 1953, Lester moved to London and began work as a director in independent television, working for the legendary low cost television producers The Danziger Brothers on episodes of Mark Saber, a half-hour detective series.
A variety show he produced caught the eye of Peter Sellers, who enlisted Lester's help in translating The Goon Show to television as The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d. It was a hit, as were two follow-up shows, A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred.
A short film Lester made with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, was a favorite of The Beatles, and in particular John Lennon. When the band were contracted to make a film in 1964, they chose Lester from a list of possible directors. A Hard Day's Night showed an exaggerated and simplified version of The Beatles' characters, and proved to be an effective marketing tool. Many of its stylistic innovations survive today as the conventions of music videos, in particular the multi-angle filming of a live performance. Lester was sent an award from MTV as "Father of the Music Video." See IMDB for full list of Films.
Lester directed the second Beatles film Help! in 1965. He then went on to direct several quintessential 'swinging' films, including the sex comedy The Knack...And How to Get It (1965), which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Petulia (1968) (both with scores by John Barry), as well as the 1967 darkly surreal anti-war movie How I Won the War co-starring John Lennon, which he referred to as an "anti-anti-war movie"; Lester noted that anti-war movies still took the concept of war seriously, contrasting "bad" war crimes with wars fought for "good" causes like the liberation from Nazism or, at that time, Communism, whereas he set out to deconstruct it to show war as fundamentally opposed to humanity. Although set in World War II, the movie is indeed an oblique reference to the Vietnam War and at one point, breaking the fourth wall, references this directly.
In the 1970s, Lester directed a wide variety of films, including the disaster film Juggernaut (1974), Robin and Marian (1976), starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn and the period romance Cuba (1979), also starring Connery. However his biggest commercial successes in this period were The Three Musketeers (1973) and its sequel The Four Musketeers (1974). The films were somewhat controversial at the time because the producers, Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind, decided to split the film into two after principal photography was completed. Many of the cast sued the Salkinds as a result, stating that they were only contracted to make one film.
As the release of Superman neared, production on Superman II was halted to concentrate on getting the first movie completed. After the first Superman film was released in late 1978, the Salkinds went back into production on Superman II without informing Superman's director Richard Donner and placing Lester behind the camera for the completion of the film. Although Donner had shot approximately 75% of the film, Lester jettisoned or re-shot much of the original footage, resulting in Lester receiving sole credit for directing Superman II. Gene Hackman, who played Lex Luthor, did not return, and Lester instead used a stunt double and an impersonator to loop Luthor's lines into footage of Hackman shot during Donner's tenure on Superman II. The footage filmed by Donner was later integrated into television versions of the film with Lester's footage. In November 2006, Donner's footage was reedited into Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, using mostly Donner footage, with the only Lester footage being that which is necessary to cover scenes not shot during Donner's principal photography. Donner revealed on the new DVD of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut that he has never heard from Lester since his firing after the completion of the first film.
Lester also directed Superman III in 1983. The third Superman film fared poorly with critics, with fans divided, and did not perform quite as well at the box office as the previous two movies had, although actually, the film still managed to be within the top 10 most successful films of 1983; the number of blockbuster sequels released that year (two 007 movies, Octopussy and Never Say Never Again, Return of the Jedi and Jaws 3) made for stiff competition for Superman III. Despite the competition, naysayers tend to overlook the financial success of the movie and deem it a flop. It is generally seen as the turning point where the series went into decline. As such, Lester is blamed by some fans for helping to ruin the Superman franchise.
In 1988, Lester reunited the entire Musketeers cast to film another sequel, The Return of the Musketeers. However, during filming in Spain, the actor Roy Kinnear, a close friend of Lester's, died after falling from a horse. Lester finished the film, then retired from directing, only returning to direct a concert film for friend Paul McCartney in 1991, Get Back.
In 1993, he presented Hollywood UK, a five-part series on British cinema in the 1960s for the BBC.
In recent years, director Steven Soderbergh has been one of many calling for a reappraisal of Lester's work and influence. Soderbergh wrote a 1999 book, Getting Away With It which consists largely of interviews with Lester.
In Soderbergh's Getting Away With It, Lester reveals that he is a committed atheist and debates with Soderbergh (then an agnostic), largely based on the arguments of Richard Dawkins.
How I Won the War is a black comedy film directed by Richard Lester, released in 1967. The film stars Michael Crawford as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody, with John Lennon...
How I Won the War is a black comedy film directed by Richard Lester, released in 1967. The film stars Michael Crawford as bungling British Army Officer Lieutenant Earnest Goodbody, with John Lennon (Musketeer Gripweed), Jack MacGowran (Musketeer Juniper) Roy Kinnear (Musketeer Clapper) and Lee Montague (Sergeant Transom) as soldiers under his command. The film uses an inconsistent variety of styles — vignette, straighttocamera, and, extensively, parody of the war film genre, docu-drama, and popular war literature — to tell the story of 3rd Troop, the 4th Musketeers (a fictional regiment reminiscent of the Royal Fusiliers) and their misadventures in the Second World War. This is told in the comic/absurdist vein throughout, a central plot being the setting-up of an Advanced Area Cricket Pitch behind enemy lines in Tunisia, but it is all broadly based on the landings in North Africa in 1942 to the advance on the Rhine following Arnhem.
How I Won The War has never been critically well received, but its status as a curiosity — if only as John Lennons only nonBeatles film role — seems assured. Its collation of images and tableaux is darker and less structured than its anti-war contemporary Oh! What a Lovely War, the drama is not as terrifyingly unhinged as the later Catch-22, and it does not come across with the humane compassion of MASH. Though there are some memorable exchanges between characters, and fragments of battle scenes that carry a strangely disturbing ring of truth, the script is very largely composed of intentional nonsequiturs, mostly based on British Army slang, and this along with the ongoing barrage of textbook Brechtian estrangement techniques makes it perennially difficult to know what the film is aiming to do. Lester himself, acknowledging this, argued that most "anti-war" films still treat war in a rational manner, while he tried to disassemble it to the pure perversion of everything human he found it to be.
Continuing on the absurdist tone established in Help! and considering this film an artistic success, United Artists gave Richard Lester free rein to create his next film, the nuclear war satire The Bed-Sitting Room. The three films accidentally constitute a trilogy that has developed a cult audience since their initial releases between 1965-70.
The film was made on location in Spain in the autumn of 1966. It has been said "Strawberry Fields Forever" was written by Lennon on the set. The film's release was delayed by 6 months as Richard Lester went on to work on Petulia (1968), shortly after completing How I Won The War.
What happened to the original masters of She Loves You and the subsequent making of Sie Liebt Dich is one of the biggest mysteries in the history and lore of the Beatles. This is my own theory.
The History of She Loves You
She Loves You was recorded at EMI Abbey Road Studio 2 on July 1, 1963. Mono mixing and editing was performed on July 4. Since the original tapes for these sessions no longer exist, all that Mark Lewisohn could say about this session in his book The Beatles Recording Sessions, besides the dates, was:
"Precise details of the recording takes no longer exist, but three reels of tape were filled in putting down She Loves You and its B-side I'll Get You..."
On January 29, 1964, while in France for live performances at the Olympia Theater, the Beatles recorded Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand and Sie Liebt Dich for their German fans at a recording session at EMI Pathe Marconi Studios, Paris. The first takes of Can't Buy Me Love were also recorded during those Paris recording sessions that day.
While it is commonly known that the original rhythm (instrumental backing) track from I Want To Hold Your Hand was used to record Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, it is also commonly believed that the entire recording of Sie Liebt Dich was done completely from scratch. Quoting again from Lewisohn's Recording Sessions:
"First task was to add Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand vocals to the English rhythm track of I Want To Hold Your Hand, mixed down from four-track to two-track. The 'best' versions were takes 5 and 7, with overdubbed handclaps, edited together later.
"For Sie Liebt Dich, the Beatles recorded a new rhythm track, the 1 July 1963 two-track tape having been scrapped once the mono master was prepared. This was done in 13 takes, onto which they overdubbed, in one take, the vocals in the rhythm left/vocals right pattern of their earlier two-track tapes."
Because the two-track master is missing, She Loves You exists only in mono, as it was never mixed into stereo.
In addition, Allen J. Weiner, in The Beatles Ultimate Recording Guide, agrees:
"Sie Liebt Dich was a completely different recording from She Loves You and included a new instrumental track."
I've always personally accepted the above descriptions of how Sie Liebt Dich was created. Compare the released versions of She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich yourself, they do sound very different from each other.
Although She Loves You only exists in mono, there are stereo versions of Sie Liebt Dich on both the Parlophone and Capitol Rarities albums. These versions sound as Lewisohn describes the final Paris recordings above, rhythm track on the left and German vocals on the right.
When listening to this stereo version of Sie Liebt Dich recently, I thought it might be fun to try and make a fake stereo She Loves You by synching the mono She Loves You on one channel with the rhythm track from the stereo Sie Liebt Dich on the other. (Others have attempted to do this as well, one bootleg actually passed off such a synch job as "the missing stereo version of She Loves You".)
However, when I attempted to do this, I immediately noticed that the two tracks are possibly more than coincidentally the same.
Despite the accepted documentation, I have found strong evidence that the Sie Liebt Dich that was recorded on January 29, 1964 in Paris might be new vocals overdubbed onto the July 1, 1963 She Loves You rhythm track, in the very same way they made Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand.
This means that even though the July 1, 1963 two-track master of She Loves You may now be destroyed or missing, I believe it could have still existed on January 29, 1964 for the making of Sie Liebt Dich.
Keys To The Puzzle
The key to proving that both tracks have identical origins is to hear them both at the same time. However, it is very hard to successfully play back She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich together and keep them synchronized. I believe this is due to two major factors. These two factors are also very instrumental in understanding why, upon casual listening, the tracks seem to sound so different.
1. Tape Speed
Every release of Sie Liebt Dich is slightly faster than the Parlophone She Loves You. To add to the confusion, the Parlophone release is slightly faster than the American Swan and Capitol releases, which are similar. This makes the difference for American listeners even more acute. (Listen to the comparisons of the Swan She Loves You and the Odeon Sie Liebt Dich above.)
It is possible that the original speed difference is due to differences between the tape decks at Abbey Road where the rhythm track was recorded and those at Pathe Marconi in Paris where Sie Liebt Dich was produced (a difference which was later compounded when the mono mix of She Loves You made its way to America).
A turntable or tape recorder with a vari-speed function or a computer's sound editing program can be used to successfully match the speed of the two versions. When this is done, both versions become perfectly in tune musically with each other. This is an important fact. If they were totally separate recordings, played in the same key but at slightly different tempos, when corrected to match speeds, their musical keys would not match. But this is not the case.
The speed differential between the original Parlophone mix and the German mix may also be at least partially intentional, keep reading.
2. Tape Edits in Mono Mix
We can hear that the mono mix of She Loves You is very heavily edited. Sie Liebt Dich does not appear to be. Listen to this sound clip which contains three examples of edits in She Loves You from the version on the Past Masters 1 CD.
The first edit in the above version is slightly hard to hear, it takes place in the middle of the guitar after "you know you should be glad", this is approximately 1:15 into the song. The next two are much easier to hear, right before "pride can hurt you too" at 1:22 into the song, and then again right before "because she loves you" at 1:29 into the song.
These edits, and others, are in every release of She Loves You but they are easiest to hear on the Past Masters CD. Steps were taken during the mastering of earlier 45 and LP versions to hide the edits somewhat, this seems not to have been done when Past Masters was released.
The edits throw any synchonization attempts off, as they were done by hand and each physical tape edit possibly includes a tiny bit more of each recording than it should, or a tiny bit less. These slight editing mistakes are not big enough to notice upon casual listening, but are big enough to cause synch attempts to seem to drift in and out of synchronization as the edited version first includes tiny snippets of the original recording where it shouldn't, and then loses tiny bits later that should be there, when compared to the seemingly unedited Sie Liebt Dich.
A Controversial Theory
But why is the mono mix of She Loves You so highly edited, much more than any other early Beatles release? I have a theory as to why this is.
It is documented that at the time She Loves You was recorded, the Beatles were recording on a two-track tape machine. That means the song would have been recorded with the rhythm track on one channel and the voices on the other.
We also know that it took much time, especially in the early years, for George to work out his lead guitar parts, although once he worked out the part, he played very well. This is reason to believe that George's guitar might have been recorded separately from the rhythm track which was done first.
In the two-track days, for that to be accomplished, since both tracks were already taken up, one for the rhythm track and the other for the vocals, it would have been necessary to "mix down" both of these tracks to one track of a new tape, thereby opening up a new free track.
It's possible George Martin opted not to do this for two main reasons. First, a "mix-down" step would mean an additional tape generation, meaning the introduction of a lot of tape noise (hiss). Also, it meant relinquishing the ability to re-mix. Once mixed-down, the levels of the vocals to the rhythm track would be forever set and unchangeable, and it would be impossible, for example, to change something in the vocal without affecting the rhythm track.
Instead, it's possible to believe that George's lead guitar track was simply recorded on a separate tape, to be played back in synch with first two-track tape when making the mix. There is evidence they had done something similar to this earlier, on a smaller scale, with things like John's harmonica on From Me To You and Thank You Girl, where we know the harmonica is not part of the main rhythm track, because of tape evidence of the actual edit pieces, and differences in the mono and stereo mixes of the song.
If George's guitar had to be synched with the main tape when making the mono mix, that could explain why the mono mix is so heavily edited. It was way too difficult to get it all perfectly synchronized in one take, so they edited together all of the best attempts.
In addition, this perhaps explains why there is no stereo mix of She Loves You, because it would have been too hard to do, and there's no way they could do a stereo mix that sounded exactly like the mono one. There is documented evidence that George Martin did something like this again later, issuing I Am The Walrus in fake stereo rather than attempt a true-stereo mix because an effect created during the mono mix (the King Lear voice-over) could not be recreated in the same way.
I admit I have no proof that there was a separate George guitar track, it is only a theory. At the very least, upon the evidence of all the tape edits in the mono mix, the She Loves You master tapes must have been comprised of several separately recorded components which were assembled for the mono mix. This sheds some light on many of the lingering questions in the making of She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich mystery.
Norman Smith, engineer for both She Loves You sessions
It's important to remember that all of the documenation we have on the making of both She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich is shaky, at best. Taking a look again at the quote from Lewisohn:
"For Sie Liebt Dich, the Beatles recorded a new rhythm track, the 1 July 1963 two-track tape having been scrapped once the mono master was prepared. This was done in 13 takes, onto which they overdubbed, in one take, the vocals in the rhythm left/vocals right pattern of their earlier two-track tapes."
We know at least part of that account is wrong, the vocal overdubs were not accomplished in one take, as the outtake from Anthology proves.
I think it is reasonable to believe that the thirteen takes that Lewisohn describes it took to re-record the Sie Liebt Dich rhythm track could instead have been thirteen takes to successfully reconstruct the rhythm track for Sie Liebt Dich from the components of the original She Loves You master tapes. This process would have been very laborious, and could have easily taken thirteen tries, the very reason a stereo mix was abandoned originally.
At the same time, is it reasonable to believe it would have taken the Beatles thriteen takes to re-record the rhythm track for a song they already knew very well by this point?
If indeed some recombining of the master tapes was involved in recreating the She Loves You rhythm track, this could be the very cause of the speed differences between the two releases. It may have been necessary for them to slightly speed up the She Loves You two-track master in Paris as they were making the mix, in an attempt to make the various tape components match better.
Deciding For Yourself
Despite the difficulty due to the factors described above, it is still possible to synchronize She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich enough to demonstrate the phenomenon of how alike they sound. When you listen to them synchronized, it sounds as if the lead guitar and bass guitar parts are identical throughout. In addition, the drum part also sounds like it is identical in several unique passages.
To help you explore the striking similarities between She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich, I suggest to listen to the same segment of both songs, the Parlophone mono mix of She Loves You and the stereo mix of Sie Liebt Dich from the Parlophone Rarities LP.
Besides being generally alike, here are some specific things to look for:
The de-emphasized drum beat after the second "Yeah Yeah Yeah".
The lead guitar has an identical note-doubling in the phrase right before the vocal.
The unique drum break before "and you know..."
Extra notes in bass line under "but now she said she knows..."
The lead guitar phrases, the first of which starts sloppily.
When listening to these examples, try to focus on one instrument at a time. Listening in headphones makes it easier to focus on each instrumental element.
Also, listen for what is alike, rather than what is missing from one or other, as missing sounds can easily be explained by being "buried" in their respective mixes by other sounds or differences in the mixing and mastering processes.
After hearing the two versions of the song synchronized, and considering the details described above, it's my opinion that the two recordings, She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich, were made using the same instrumental performance. However, we may never know the answer for sure. Many of the people involved are no longer with us, and it was years ago. Perhaps if more of the Sie Liebt Dich recording session (a bit of which is included above) is ever released from the EMI vaults, we may know if they really did record a new live rhythm track for Sie Liebt Dich that day in Paris in 1964. Until then, we'll just have to depend on our own ears.
And remember, it was George Martin who said "All you need is ears".
I came of age in the time that was also the age of the Beatles, and I've always been grateful for that simultaneity. Along with the Beatles, and no doubt because them, many of us grew into an awareness that shared tastes in music might also amount to shared community, and that community could amount to new ideals, new oppositions, new fun, art, fear and political power. Now, these years later, I think of the Beatles as one of the most romantic and dramatic exemplars of democracy that helped move youth culture in the 1960s: They were themselves a democratic unit — all for one, one for all, and in times of disagreement, they nonetheless enjoyed a fraternal sense of accord that made consensus a functional part of their shared dreams.
But democracy is always tenuous and, in any real way, ephemeral, and it was how the Beatles exemplified these latter qualities that is what made for the dynamics we saw at work in the Beatles' end story. By the time they came apart, no matter the personal differences and rivalries and any internal pain and madness, the Beatles were just too big and important to break up without saying something about the world that they had helped shape. As the 1960s' hopes of community and free-form democracy gave way to something harder and more bitter, the Beatles too fell prey to the dissolution, and they knew it. After all, they had believed so deeply in love as a means to personal and social redemption, there was no way they could leave each other without breaking both their times and each other's hearts.
This has all been observed in many ways in the past, and will be for generations to come. Yet even if it makes a sad sort of sense — a symbol of unity that ends, like the era it centered, in disunity — there will still always be something mysterious about why and how the Beatles came apart the way they did, in so much rancor and avarice. John Lennon always referred to the band's end as "a divorce," but that was simply how he justified his own leave-taking (and clearly, Lennon was no model for how to separate fairly from others, given how he left his first wife, Cynthia).
What actually happened, I've come to believe, was something different and worse than divorce. I started work on this story well over a year ago, making my way through over 65 texts and taking (exactly) 1,440 pages of notes. Not surprisingly, the various historians, critics, biographers, musicologists, sociologists and journalists I read had strong views about whose motives accomplished what in the debacle, who was guilty and who was simply helpless in the sweep of events. In truth, there were good guys and no villains, but because these were fallible people, they certainly made some grievous errors.
Through all my research, certain conclusions became inevitable, and they managed to surprise me a bit: The Beatles' end was an accident, a maneuver by John Lennon that went horribly wrong.
It's long been known that the Beatles in fact ended when, in September 1969, Lennon announced to his bandmates, to his wife Yoko Ono and to manager Allen Klein that he was leaving his famous group, even as the album Abbey Road was meeting with the biggest sales the Beatles had yet known. Several months later, as this article chronicles, Paul McCartney also announced he was leaving the Beatles, though unlike Lennon, he said so publicly.
Though there are numerous moments in the group's chronology of dissolution that were crucial events, this move by Paul was perhaps the most critical of them all. He had loved the Beatles more than the others had — he had certainly loved John more than John had loved him — and it was due to Paul's resourcefulness and tenacity that the Beatles held together and moved forward so remarkably after the death of the manager who had made them famous, Brian Epstein. Though Lennon is more commonly regarded as the Beatles' true genius (which is inarguable: he wrote the bulk of their masterpieces and until the last couple years of their career, wrote the best tracks on their albums), it is also fair to say that without McCartney, the Beatles would not have mattered in history with such ingenuity and durability. Also, unlike Lennon, McCartney understood that the Beatles' four members would never create so much wonder separately as they had collectively. So for Paul McCartney — the only Beatle who had never left the group in a fit of pique or out of whim — to leave meant, in fact, the Beatles were over. He wasn't about to play any games about his love for what the Beatles were, nor was he going to dishonor his own pain.
McCartney had simply been forced into an impossible position by John Lennon, George Harrison and Allen Klein. At least two of those men should have loved Paul as much as he loved them, but instead they had come to resent what they saw as his drive and his domineering ways. Who knows what Lennon and Harrison thought would have become of the Beatles had it not been for McCartney — the only opinion they ever offered on the matter was that they had never expected to survive past Epstein's demise. The fact that they did is also what made them great forever, but no doubt in the midst of their unprecedented reality, any outside perspective was impossible; they were, after all, a notoriously insular outfit.
To the degree that any of this is tragedy — given that all things must pass — then it's indeed a manifold tragedy. Harrison and Lennon were profound men who understood the necessity for hope and fellowship, and yet they were also men who could be profoundly petty and ungrateful. Both of them early on came to dislike the reality of the Beatles' massive audience — "Fucking bastards, sucking us to death," John Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970 — and both men became uncharacteristically obsessed with financial eminence near the group's end.
But what I found most troubling, most tragic, in all of this was two things: Both Lennon and Harrison (Lennon, clearly, in particular) did their best to sabotage the Beatles from mid-1968 onward, and when it all came irrevocably apart, I believe that both men regretted what they had wrought. I don't think that John Lennon and George Harrison (but Lennon, again, in particular) truly meant the Beatles to end, even though they might not have known it in the moment. I think they meant to shift the balance of power, I think they meant for the Beatles to become, in a sense, a more casual form of collaboration, and I think they clearly intended to rein in Paul McCartney. But they overplayed their hand and — there's no way around it — they treated McCartney shamefully during 1969, and unforgivably in the early months of 1970.
The immediate aftermath was as dramatic as everything that led up to it, though that isn't something we had the room to track much in this article, given its already considerable length. Lennon was furious and hurt when Paul said he was leaving — he too knew there would be no repairing this, even though he had already been indicating he thought the band would resume — and he and McCartney soon launched into some sour exchanges in interviews and in song.
When McCartney sued to dissolve the band's partnership, the three other Beatles claimed in court papers that they saw no reason to dissolve, that there was no real incompatibility that would prevent them all from continuing to make music together. They were saying this for legal and financial reasons, of course, but on some level, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr almost certainly meant it. They had thrown away something special, and the man they chose to align themselves with, accountant and manager Allen Klein, turned out to be somebody they lost faith in. After that happened, they again had Paul McCartney to thank, because his legal actions at the end probably saved their legacy. But the other Beatles never apologized to McCartney for how they handled him in 1970. Some things healed with time, but some losses were eternal. Near the end of his life, John Lennon said, "My partings are not as nice as I'd like them to be. I regret a bad taste to it."
I realize there's an unseemly aspect to concentrating on how terribly the Beatles ended. Clearly, their music outshines the disaster and it always will. And though Lennon and McCartney no longer collaborated in the same ways in the group's last few years, their presence together as they continued to make music, including their contrasts, was still a partnership — one that was too often missed in their subsequent music apart.
Unbecoming or not, though, I've never come across a story that fascinated or moved me more than this particular one. The end of the Beatles was convoluted and acrimonious, but it was also transcendent: No matter their problems, no matter how much they viewed one another with suspicion in their last year or two, the Beatles still knew how to talk to each other through their music, and nobody else has truly matched that heart-to-heart they achieved. Describing working with them at the very end, on Abbey Road, their longtime producer George Martin said, "There was an inexplicable presence when all four were together in a room. Their music was bigger than they were."
That presence went well beyond the confines of room; it was a presence in the world at that time. Better than that, it was a force in history; it made possible the world we now live in, and nothing will ever unmake that. I will always be grateful to have lived in the time of the Beatles.
©Copyright 2009 Rolling Stone
From Beatles Anthology DVD.
What really happened (collected from various sources):
- It was 1966. No martial law yet (would be declared in 1971).
- The Beatles toured the Philippines.
- The band performed at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
- The band had a day off.
- Imelda Marcos called The Beatles management/staff to invite the band to play in the Malacañang Palace, together with the children.
- The Beatles management turned down the invitation.
- Beatles management did NOT inform the four Beatles members themselves of the invitation.
- "Beatles snubbed Marcos" news circulated the next day.
- British government called up manager Brian Epstein questioning the band's/management's decision to turn down the Marcoses' invitation.
- Brian Epstein attempted to pacify the angry people by making a public statement of apology on national TV. But coincidentally, the airing was shut off/turned into static noise because of some airing problems.
- Riot ensued. People manhandled the Beatles at the airport
In July 1966, when The Beatles toured the Philippines, they unintentionally snubbed the nation’s first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group’s policy to accept such “official” invitations.
The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting “no” for an answer. After the snub was broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all of The Beatles’ police protection disappeared. The group and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, road manager Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and the band members were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off, and Evans said, “Tell my wife that I love her.” Epstein was forced to give back all the money that the band had earned while they were there before being allowed back on the plane.
JOHN 1980: "'Sgt. Pepper' is Paul after a trip to America and the whole West Coast long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer the Beatles or the Crickets-- they were suddenly Fred And His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for the Beatles."
PAUL 1984: "It was an idea I had, I think, when I was flying from L.A. to somewhere. I thought it would be nice to lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a fake group. We would make up all the culture around it and collect all our heroes in one place. So I thought, A typical stupid-sounding name for a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and Traveling Circus kind of thing would be 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Just a word game, really."
PAUL circa-1994: "We were fed up with being Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn't want anymore, plus, we'd now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers... then suddenly on the plane I got this idea. I thought, 'Let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos so we're not having to project an image which we know. It would be much more free.'"
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
JOHN 1970: "Paul had the line about 'a little help from my friends.' He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine' is mine."
PAUL circa-1994: "This was written out at John's house in Weybridge for Ringo... I think that was probably the best of our songs that we wrote for Ringo actually. I remember giggling with John as we wrote the lines, 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine.' It could have been him playing with his willie under the covers, or it could have been taken on a deeper level. This is what it meant but it was a nice way to say it-- a very non-specific way to say it. I always liked that."
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
JOHN 1980: "My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,' Simple. The images were from 'Alice in Wonderland.' It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be 'Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.' It was purely unconscious that it came out to be LSD. Until somebody pointed it out, I never even thought it, I mean, who would ever bother to look at initials of a title? It's NOT an acid song. The imagery was Alice in the boat and also the image of this female who would come and save me-- this secret love that was going to come one day. So it turned out to be Yoko... and I hadn't met Yoko then. But she was my imaginary girl that we all have."
PAUL circa-1994: "I went up to John's house in Weybridge. When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, 'Look at this great drawing Julian's done. Look at the title!' So I said, 'What's that mean?' thinking Wow, fantastic title! John said, 'It's Lucy, a freind of his from school. And she's in the sky.' ...so we went upstairs and started writing it. People later thought 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was LSD. I swear-- we didn't notice that when it first came out."
JOHN 1980: "It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster."
PAUL 1984: "Wrote that at my house in St. John's Wood. All I remember is that I said, 'It's getting better all the time,' and John contributed the legendary line 'It couldn't get much worse.' Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic... then there's that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John."
PAUL 1967: "It's really about the fans who hang around outside your door day and night. 'See the people standing there/ They worry me, and never win/ And wonder why they don't get in my door.' If they only knew the best way to get in is not to do that, because obviously anyone who is going to be straight and be like a real friend is going to get in... but they simply stand there and give off the impression, 'Dont let us in.' I actually do enjoy having them in. I used to do it more, but I don't as much now because I invited one in once and the next day she was in The Daily Mirror with her mother saying we were going to get married."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul... again writing a good lyric."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, I wrote that. I liked that one. Strange story, though. The night we went to record that, a guy turned up at my house who announced himself as Jesus. So I took him to the session. You know-- couldn't harm, I thought. Introduced Jesus to the guys. Quite reasonable about it. But that was it. Last we ever saw of Jesus."
SHE'S LEAVING HOME
PAUL 1984: "I wrote that. My kind of ballad from that period. One of my daughters likes that. Still works. The other thing I remember is that George Martin was offended that I used another arranger. He was busy and I was itching to get on with it; I was inspired. I think George had a lot of difficulty forgiving me for that. It hurt him; I didn't mean to."
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE
JOHN 1968: "'Mr. Kite' was a straight lift. I had all the words staring me in the face one day when I was looking for a song. It was from this old poster I'd bought at an antique shop. We'd been down to Surrey or somewhere filming a piece. There was a break, and I went into this shop and bought an old poster advertising a variety show which starred Mr. Kite. It said the Henderson's would also be there, late of Pablo Fanques Fair. There would be hoops and horses and someone going through a hogs head of real fire. Then there was Henry the Horse. The band would start at ten to six. All at Bishopsgate. Look, there's the bill-- with Mr. Kite topping it. I hardly made up a word, just connecting the lists together. Word for word, really."
JOHN 1972: "The story that Henry the Horse meant 'heroin' was rubbish."
JOHN 1980: "It's all just from that poster. The song is pure, like a painting. A pure watercolor."
WITHIN YOU WITHOUT YOU
GEORGE 1967: "I'm writing more songs now that we're not touring. The words are always a bit of a hangup for me. I'm not very poetic. 'Within You Without You' was written after dinner one night at Klaus Voorman's house. He had a harmonium, which I hadn't played before. I was doodling on it when the tune started to come. The first sentence came out of what we'd been doing that evening... 'We were talking.' That's as far as I got that night. I finished the rest of the words later at home."
JOHN 1967: "George has done a great indian one. We came along one night and he had about 400 indian fellas playing, and it was a great swinging event, as they say."
JOHN 1980: "One of George's best songs. One of my favorites of his, too. He's clear on that song. His mind and his music are clear. There is his innate talent. He brought that sound together."
WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR
JOHN 1967: "'When I'm Sixty Four' was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck in a few more words, like 'grandchildren on your knee,' and 'Vera Chuck and Dave.' It was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got, really-- half a song. And this was just one of those that was quite a hit with us. We used to do it when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano."
JOHN 1972: "I think I helped Paul with some of the words."
JOHN 1980: "Paul's, completely. I would never dream of writing a song like that. There's some things I never think about, and that's one of them.
PAUL 1984: "I wrote the tune when I was about 15, I think, on the piano at home, before I moved from Liverpool. It was kind of a cabaret tune. Then, years later, I put words to it."
PAUL circa-1994: "I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudvillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul writing a pop song. He makes 'em up like a novelist. You hear lots of McCartney-influenced songs on the radio now. These stories about boring people doing boring things-- being postmen and secretaries and writing home. I'm not interested in writing third-party songs. I like to write about me, 'cuz I know me."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, that was mine. It was based on the American meter maid. And I got the idea to just... you know, so many of my things, like 'When I'm Sixty-Four' and those, they're tongue in cheek! But they get taken for real! And similarly with 'Lovely Rita' --the idea of a parking-meter attendant's being sexy was tongue in cheek at the time."
GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING
JOHN 1967: "I often sit at the piano, working at songs with the television on low in the background. If I'm a bit low and not getting much done, the words from the telly come through. That's when I heard the words, 'Good Morning Good Morning.'"
JOHN 1968: "We write about our past. 'Good Morning, Good Morning,' I was never proud of it. I just knocked it off to do a song. But it was writing about my past so it does get the kids because it was me at school, my whole bit."
JOHN 1972: "A bit of gobbledygook, but nice words."
PAUL 1984: "'Good Morning' --John's. That was our first major use of sound effects, I think. We had horses and chickens and dogs and all sorts running through it."
A DAY IN THE LIFE
JOHN 1967: "I was writing the song with the 'Daily Mail' propped up in front of me on the piano. I had it open to the 'News In Brief' or whatever they call it. There was a paragraph about four thousand holes being discovered in Blackburn Lancashire. And when we came to record the song there was still one word missing from that verse... I knew the line had to go, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to --something-- the Albert Hall.' For some reason I couldn't think of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall? It was Terry Doran who said 'fill' the Albert Hall. And that was it. Then we thought we wanted a growing noise to lead back into the first bit. We wanted to think of a good end and we had to decide what sort of backing and instruments would sound good. Like all our songs, they never become an entity until the very end. They are developed all the time as we go along."
JOHN 1968: "'A Day in the Life' --that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the 'I read the news today' bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said 'yeah' --bang bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which we don't often do, the afternoon before. So we all knew what we were playing, we all got into it. It was a real groove, the whole scene on that one. Paul sang half of it and I sang half. I needed a middle-eight for it, but Paul already had one there."
JOHN 1980: "Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song 'I'd love to turn you on.' I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work."
PAUL 1984: "That was mainly John's, I think. I remember being very conscious of the words 'I'd love to turn you on' and thinking, Well, that's about as risque as we dare get at this point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall' or something. But I mean that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughty in any of that. 'I'd love to turn you on' was the rudest line in the whole thing. But that was one of John's very good ones. I wrote... that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based on some of the ideas I'd been getting from Stockhausen and people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on their highest note and go in their own time... which orchestras are frightened to do. That's not the tradition. But we got 'em to do it."
PAUL 1988: "Then I went around to all the trumpet players and said, 'Look all you've got to do is start at the beginning of the 24 bars and go through all the notes on your instrument from the lowest to the highest-- and the highest has to happen on that 24th bar, that's all. So you can blow 'em all in that first thing and then rest, then play the top one there if you want, or you can steady them out.' And it was interesting because I saw the orchestra's characters. The strings were like sheep-- they all looked at each other: 'Are you going up? I am!' and they'd all go up together, the leader would take them all up. The trumpeters were much wilder."
ON RECORDING (DURING THE 'SGT. PEPPER' PERIOD)
GEORGE 1967: "Now that we only play in the studios, and not anywhere else, we have less of a clue what we're going to do. Now when we go into the studio we have to start from scratch, just thrashing it out and doing it the hard way. If Paul has written a song, he comes into the studio with it in his head. It's very hard for him to give it to us, and for us to get it. When we suggest something, it might not be what he wants because he hasn't got it in his head like that. So it takes a long time. Nobody knows what the tunes sound like until we've recorded them and listen to them afterwards.
GEORGE 1967: "When we make a record, we may be knocked out by it when we first do it... but then when we listen to it a few times we begin to feel that it's not as good as we think it is. That's the way it happens. With the Revolver album, when we first did it, we were just really knocked out with lots of the tracks. But then, by the time the record is issued, we're a bit fed up with it and looking towards recording the new one."
JOHN 1967: "Sgt Pepper is one of the most important steps in our career. It had to be just right. We tried, and I think succeeded in achieving what we set out to do. If we hadn't, then it wouldn't be out now."
JOHN 1968: "We didn't really shove the album full of pot and drugs, but I mean, there WAS an effect. We were more consciously trying to keep it out. You wouldn't say, 'I had some acid, baby, so groovy.' But there was a feeling that something had happened between Revolver and Sgt Pepper."
JOHN 1972: "Pepper was just another psychedelic image. Beatle haircuts and boots were just as big as flowered pants in their time. I never felt that when Pepper came out, Haight-Ashbury was a direct result. It always seemed to me that they were all happening at once. Kids were already wearing army jackets on King's Road-- all we did is make them famous."
PAUL 1974: "Then the 'this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards' stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it's really nothing. Take the end of Sgt Pepper. Some fans came around to my door, giggling. They said, 'Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says, We´ll fuck you like Supermen.' I said, 'No, you´re kidding. I haven´t heard it, but I´ll play it.' It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went inside after I´d seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor-- turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. 'We´ll fuck you like Supermen.' I thought, 'Jesus, what can you do?'"
RINGO 1976: "We'd finished touring in '66 to go into the studio where we could hear each other... and create any fantasy that came out of anybody's brain."
GEORGE 1977: "Sgt Pepper was only a four-track. Well, we had an orchestra on a separate four-track machine in 'Day In The Life.' We tried to sync them up. I remember-- they kept going out of sync in playback, so we had to remix it."
PAUL 1988: "EMI had very firm rules... which we always had to break. It wasn't a willful arrogance, it was just that we felt we knew better. They'd say, 'Well our rule book says..' and we'd say, 'They're out of date, come on, let's move!' We were always forcing them into things they didn't want to do... we were always pushing ahead: 'Louder, further, longer, more, different.' I always wanted things to be different because we knew that people, generally, always want to move on. And if we hadn't pushed them, the guys would have stuck by their rule books."
Specialist movie poster dealers Quadbod from Birmingham will be showing three rare original posters for the Beatles' movies 'A Hard Day's Night' (1964), 'Help' (1965) and 'Yellow Submarine' (1968). These are full sized posters at 81ins x 41ins and will be priced at £850 each.
Terry Pearson from Quadbod explains, "Interest in Beatles memorabilia has always been high and specially so this year with the re-release of their CDs. Authentic 60s Beatles posters are now very rare, and to find three in such good condition is a revelation. They are very decorative and, course, enormously collectable."
The posters will feature among a range of movie posters, showcards and other memorabilia from Quadbod who are exhibiting at The Chester Antiques & Fine Art Show together with fifty art and antiques dealers from across the country. They will also be showing a rare poster from the famous British movie, The Blue Lamp, (1949) which starred Jack Warner, priced at £750.
The Chester Antiques & Fine Art Show features dealers from across the country offering for sale a wide range of antiques, works of art and objets d'art with prices from less than £500 to more than £20,000. It is widely regarded as the premier event for antiques collectors in the northwest.
The Chester Antiques & Fine Art Show
The County Grandstand, Chester Racecourse, Chester, England
15 - 18 October 2009
Thursday 15 October 10.30am-6pm / Friday 16 October 10.30am-6pm
Saturday 17 October 10.30am-6pm / Sunday 18 October 10.30am-5pm
The highest ranking album for the week ending Oct. 17 is "Abbey Road" at #13, down from #9 last week. Then comes "The Beatles (White Album)" (#15, from #13), "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (#16, from #11), "Rubber Soul" (going up to #18, from #19 last week), "Revolver" (also advancing, from #20 to #19), "Past Masters" (#22, up from #28), "Magical Mystery Tour" (#25, from #32), "Help!" (#27, from #30), "A Hard Day's Night" (#28, from #33), "Let It Be" (#29, from #31), "Please Please Me" (#31, from #35), "With the Beatles" (#33, from #39), "Beatles For Sale" (#34, from #40) and "Yellow Submarine" (back on the chart at #40, after missing a week last week.)
On the U.S. Billboard Catalog Album chart, "Abbey Road" leads the pack at #2 (under Michael Jackson's "Number Ones"), while Hits Daily Double's Budding Album Release chart shows "Abbey Road" the highest ranking album at #26, down from #16 last week. The latest Official UK Charts Company chart (from 10/10) showed "Sgt. Pepper" highest ranking at #52.
(on his musical beginnings)
Q: "Ringo, it's been suggested that boys coming from the particular area that you've come from, if you'd hadn't found an interest in music, might have found it much more difficult to get out and make a go of life. Would you comment on this?"
RINGO: "I think it's true, you know. I mean, when I was sixteen I used to walk along the road with the rest of the lads, and we'd have all our trade coats on. You know, we'd had a few knocks with other rival gangs, sort of thing. But then I got the drums, and the bloke nextdoor played a guitar. I got a job and we started playing together. And another bloke from work made a bass out of an old tea chest... you know them days. This was about '58, mind you. And we played together, and then we started playing on dances and things, you know, and we took an interest in it. Then we stopped going, you know, out to sort of hanging around corners every night."
(on The Beatles' career before their recent fame)
Q: "You were very much younger when this enormous success started, and you're riding the summit of it now. Do you see it as interfering with the flow of your life?"
PAUL: "I don't really know what you mean by 'very much younger.' It was only a year ago."
Q: "But you've been working since '58, haven't you?"
PAUL: "Well, yeah... not working, you know. I mean, strictly speaking we've been out of work since '58 and we've been doing this as a hobby. 'Cuz we've only been doing it as semi-pros. I left school and went right into it. And we were only sort of picking up a few quid a week, you know. It really wasn't work. I think the main thing is now that, as we've got ourselves a bit of security... we don't really have to worry, at the moment anyway, what we're gonna do after it. So we don't."
(regarding the beginnings of The Beatles)
JOHN: "We started and finished several groups until we got one together that had the beginnings of a new sound. By then George had joined us. We began to do well as semi-pros. Then one day our big break came with an offer to appear at The Star Club in Hamburg. This is a kind of super-Cavern, where just about everyone who is anyone on the Liverpool scene has played at some time or another."
(regarding their Hamburg tours)
PAUL: "Back home in Liverpool we'd only ever done hour-long shows, so we just did our best numbers over and over again. But in Hamburg we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing. We played very loud in Hamburg... bang, bang all the time. The Germans loved it. The first time it was pretty rough. One night, we accidentally singed a bit of cord on an old stone wall in the corridor, and the owner of the place had the police on us. He'd told them that we tried to burn his place down, so they said, 'Leave please.' Funny really, because we couldn't have burnt the place if we had gallons of petrol... It was made of stone."
(regarding his earliest days with The Beatles)
RINGO: "The Beatles drummer was sick, so they asked me if I would sit in, you know, just for the day... just until he got better. I did that, and then I went off with another group when they got him back. Then he was sick again. So everytime he was sick they used to come and ask me to sit in. I loved it, you know, because they were a much better group than the one I was with."
JOHN AND RINGO 1963
(regarding the Beatle haircut)
Q: "Is the haircut an act by accident or design?"
Q: "You didn't have time to get your hair cut in the first place?"
JOHN: "No, it just happened, you know. Ringo's was by design because he joined later."
RINGO: "Yeah, I designed it."
GEORGE: "We'd been to Hamburg. I think that's where we found our style... we developed our style because of this fella. He used to say, 'You've got to make a show for the people.' And he used to come up every night, shouting 'Mach schau! Mach schau!' So we used to mach schau, and John used to dance around like a gorilla, and we'd all, you know, knock our heads together and things like that. Anyway, we got back to Liverpool and all the groups there were doing 'Shadows' type of stuff. And we came back with leather jackets and jeans and funny hair, maching schau... which went down quite well."
(regarding the effect Brian Epstein had on their stage show)
JOHN: "We wore leather jackets in Hamburg... and we'd always worn jeans because we didn't have anything else at the time. Then when we went back to Liverpool, they all thought we were German because we were billed as: From Hamburg. They all said, 'You speak good English.' (smiles) And we just kept on with the leather gear until Brian came along."
(about the group's name)
Q: "Paul, where did the name Beatles originate?"
PAUL: "John thought of it first of all. Just as a name; just for a group, you know. We just didn't have any name. Well, oh yeah; we did have a name, but we had about ten of 'em a week, you know... and we didn't like this idea so we had to settle on one particular name. And John came up with the name Beatles one night. And he sort of explained how it was spelled with an 'E-A,' and we said, 'Oh yes, it's a joke.'"
(regarding 'Love Me Do' on the British charts)
JOHN: "It came to the charts in two days. And everybody thought it was a 'fiddle' because our manager's stores send in these... what is it... record returns. And everybody down south thought, 'Aha! He's just fiddling the charts.' But he wasn't."
PAUL: "The only thing I couldn't cure myself of was being left-handed. I do everything with my left hand, and no matter how I try I can't change the habit. I just seem to do everything back to front. I used to even write backwards. Every time the schoolmasters would look at my handwriting they would throw swinging fits."
JOHN, PAUL, AND GEORGE 1963
(on how long The Beatles' recent fame might last)
JOHN: "How long are you going to last? ...well you can't really say, you know. You can be big headed and say, 'Yea we're gonna last ten years,' but as soon as you've said that you think, 'We're lucky if we last three months,' you know."
PAUL: "We've thought about it, and probably the thing that John and I will do will be to write songs... as we have been doing as a sort of sideline now. We'll probably develop that a bit more."
GEORGE: "I hope to have enough money to go into a business of my own by the time we do... ummm... flop. I mean, we don't know. It may be next week, it may be two or three years."
(regarding the Liverpool sound)
Q: "George, what is the status of rock & roll in England today? Is that what you call your music?"
GEORGE: "No, not really. We don't like to call it anything. The critics and the people who write about it have to call it something... and they didn't want to say it was rock & roll because rock was supposed to have gone out about five years ago. They decided it wasn't really rhythm and blues, so they called it the Liverpool sound... which is stupid, really. As far as we are concerned it's the same as the rock from five years ago."
Q: "Can you describe the Liverpool sound?"
GEORGE: "It's more like old rock... but everything's just a bit louder. There's more bass and drums, and everybody sort of sings loud and shouts."
(on what comes after Beatle success)
Q: "None of you are really concerned with going on in this field as a profession?"
PAUL: "Yeah, of course we are. I think all of us really, if it suddenly flopped, then we would do something in this profession. But what we mean... like the conventional answer is, 'I'd like to do ballads and films and straight-acting,' which is so corny. Because half the people who say that can't act or ballad or film. So, umm, we probably wouldn't want to do that unless we thought we could do it. We're having a bash at a film next year, and if we find that any of us can act, say, one out of us may become actors. But we haven't got any great hopes of being actors at the moment."
The Beatles Are Back Magazine, Published by Macfadden-Bartell Corporation in 1964.
The Beatles Are Here Magazine, Published by Macfadden-Bartell Corporation in 1964.
The Beatles 'Round The World No. 1 Winter 1964 Magazine, by Acme News Co. INC. in 1964.
The Beatles Talk! Published by Deidre Publications in 1964.
Dave Clark Five Vs. The Beatles Magazine published by Tempest Publications Inc. in 1964.
The Beatles Meet the Dave Clark Five Magazine published by Kahn Communications Corporation in 1964.
The Beatles Fun Kit Magazine. Published in 1964 by Deidre Pub.
The Original Beatles Book - Two, Published by Peterson Publishing Company in 1964.
Teen Talk Magazine: Beatles on cover - May/June 1964.
Motion Picture Magazine: Beatles on cover - July 1964 - Published by Macfadden-Bartell Corporation, New York.
On October 13, 2008, in this short video, Ringo declares he will no longer sign any autographs dated after October 20, just one week after this announcement, and all future fan mail will be trashed, unread. This was in direct response to an inordinate amount of items which have recently appeared for sale on e-bay, and to those that repeatedly send cards and items to be signed.
This message was not aimed at "real fans" and after over 45 yrs of signing we know they will understand. Ringo has always signed items and is in fact the only Beatle to have been doing so.
Ringo also feels strongly that it is a waste of paper and we all should be mindful of our carbon footprint. At the end of the day Ringo wanted to make a message that was clear and to the point and is confident his real fans understand that.
Moptops? What do you mean!
I never noticed anything particular about John, George, Paul, Pete or Stuart's hairstyles in the early days -- apart from the fact that initially some of them sported the traditional Tony Curtis style that was popular in Liverpool in the late fifties. It was a style referred to as a d.a. (duck's arse, because of the way the hair curled at the rear).
I had mine done at Max the Mad Russian's, near the Majestic Cinema in town.
Nor did I notice anything specific about their hair when they returned back from Germany. Looking at the photos of the time, taken by Astrid and by Mersey Beat photographers, I couldn't see anything that was radically different from the style most Liverpool youngsters and group members sported.
Then, when Brian Epstein took them over, I noticed that not only did he spruce them up in mohair suits made by his tailor Beno Dorn in Birkenhead, but he took them to Horne Brothers at the corner of Lord Street and had lots of publicity photographs taken of them enjoying a new coiffeur by the unknown barber there. I say unknown, because no one these days could quote the name of the barber who gave them the style, on the instruction of Brian Epstein, when he took them to the fashionable barbers in April 1963. Dezo Hoffmann photographed them having their hair cut and was to comment, "The hairdresser was a friend of theirs who liked Astrid Kirchherr's idea of longer hair for the Beatles. He would groom and discipline their hair for them every week."
Despite Brian and his Horne Brothers publicity pictures to herald a new Beatles image (he took them to the Empire Theatre to watch the Shadows, in their mohair suits, and pointed out how they bowed to the audience at the end of their act. John and Pete didn't like to abandon their leather gear, but they were outvoted. Once suited in mohair, with tidy shirts and tie, John again tried to rebel by unfastened the top button of his shirt when they went on stage, but Paul always stepped forward to fasten it again. Brian gave them neatly typed sheets instructing them not to swear or smoke on stage - paving the way for the Rolling Stones to adopt the image of 'the savage young Beatles', that Brian had carefully smoothed away), their hair style began to change initially in Hamburg.
The first steps were between the lovers, Astrid and Stuart. Millie Sutcliffe, Stu's mother said, "As for the haircut, it started when Stuart's hair was falling down and sticking out. One night Astrid had been moaning about his hair and then took him into the bathroom and cut it."
Hunter Davies, in his authorised biography, writes: "Stu turned up at the Top Ten that evening with his hair in the new style, and the others collapsed on the floor with hysteria. Halfway through he gave up and combed his hair high. But thanks to Astrid, he tried it again the next night. He was ridiculed again, but the night after, George turned up with the same style. Then Paul had a go, though for a long time he was always changing it back to the old style as John hadn't yet made up his mind. Pete Best ignored the whole craze. But the Beatle hair style had been born."
Although it's the 'authorised biography', this is inaccurate but, as writer Bob Spitz was to recall: "During an interview I did with Paul McCartney in 1997 for the New York Times, he confessed that almost half of the official Beatles bio -- done with Hunter Davies in 1967 -- was made up to spare girlfriends, wives, and family from some of the grittier side of the Beatles' legend. All of the nearly 1000 books on the Beatles were embroidered from that myth."
As a result of the implication that Pete ignored the style, many people over the years suggested that this is one of the reasons that he was kicked out, that he was uncooperative by not adopting the hair-style. Yet Astrid states that she never considered attempting to adapt Pete's hair in that style because she considered it too curly. When I discussed it with Pete he said that he was never asked to try out the new hairstyle -- and he would have done so if he had been asked.
Even Ray Coleman, in his book 'John Winston Lennon' writes, "Stuart, the first to have his hair cut and styled by Astrid faced John's scorn when, one night, he arrived at the club for work with what later became known as the Beatle haircut... Paul, always more conscious than the others about his appearance, was the next to ask Astrid to style his hair... John was the last Beatle to succumb to the Beatle cut. Only Pete Best declined, retaining his quaff and Teddy Boy aura that attracted the girls." As the last sentence about Pete indicates, writers speculate, they make assumptions, which I always think is a dangerous thing for writers to do. What evidence did he have that Pete declined? None, because Pete was never asked and would have tried the style if that was the wish of the other members.
But Ray's claim that Paul and John then followed by getting Astrid to style their hair is also wrong. John and Paul didn't have Astrid fashion their hair. They returned to Liverpool with the same hair style they'd left in.
When John received a sum of money from his aunt Elizabeth for his 21st birthday, he invited Paul to join him on a trip to Spain at the end of September 1961. They set off, but never got further than Paris, where they stayed for two weeks. They discovered that Jurgen Vollmer, a friend of theirs from Hamburg, was now living in Paris. They both decided that they wanted their hair fashioned in the way Jurgen had his hair, which was the way a lot of French youngsters had their hair styled.
He was to say "I gave both of them their first 'Beatle' haircut in my hotel room on the Left Bank" and later confirmed, "I gave them the haircut. It was their idea to have it the same as mine. They left Paris, and never brushed their hair back again. That's the real story of the haircut. Don't let anyone tell you different." And in an interview when George Harrison was asked how the Beatles haircut came about, he said, "I only brushed my hair forward after John and Paul came back from Paris."
In 'The Beatles Anthology,' John is quoted as saying, "Jurgen had a flattened down hair style with a fringe in the front, which we rather took to. We went over to his place and there and then he cut -- hacked would be a better word -- our hair into the same style."
While Paul confirmed, "He had his hair Mod style. We said, 'Would you do our hair like yours? We're on holiday -- what the hell!"
The hair style didn't raise any eyebrows on Merseyside, where it wasn't actually radically different from the hair style of the other local groups. Looking at photographs of the Beatles at the Cavern that I asked Dick Matthews to take for me I notice that John and Paul's hair was off their foreheads, while George's hair covered his forehead -- and John still had his sidies!
In their first interview for a major British publication, London's Evening Standard, journalist Maureen Cleave mentioned their 'weird' hair: "French styling, with the fringe brushed forwards." But it barely raised any attention in the British media.
However, it caused a sensation when the Beatles arrived in America in 1964. The affectionate term 'Moptops' was created and almost every comedian in the country cracked gags about their hair style. Hundreds of thousands of Beatles wigs were manufactured and it eventually led to the American youth growing their hair longer than had been previously acceptable for a young male.
Personally, I thought the wigs were more akin to the hair style of Mo Howard from the Three Stooges.
When the group first arrived in America photographers and journalists kept tugging their hair, asking them if they were wearing wigs.
Wigmania took off! New York radio station WMCA ran a competition for listeners to paint or draw someone in a Beatlewig -- either celebrity pictures clipped from newspapers or photos of friends. The most popular subjects were: Nikita Krushchev, Mayor Wagner, Alfred E. Newman (of Mad magazine), Brigitte Bardot and the Jolly Green Giant.
Capitol Records instructed all their staff to wear Beatle wigs during the working day until further notice and issued a memo: "Get these Beatle wigs around properly, and you'll find yourself helping to start the Beatle Hair-Do craze that should be sweeping the country soon."
On their arrival in February 1964, the New York Herald Tribune reported: "The Beatles' hairstyle is a mop effect that covers the forehead, some of the ears and most of the back of the neck.
During their first American press conference the group was asked questions such as 'Will you be getting a haircut?' and 'What's the greatest threat to your career -- dandruff or nuclear warfare?' Such questions continued throughout the press conferences during their autumn tour: 'What excuses do you have for your collar-length hair?' 'What do you do with your long hair in the shower?' 'Do you have any plans for a hair cut?' 'Does you hair require any special care?' and so on.
When Paul was asked 'Do you ever go unnoticed?' he replied, 'When we take off our wigs.'
A 60's joke picture: The Beatles "as we'd like to see them"The American fervour about the hair style swept the world and in Sweden it was referred to as the 'Hamlet' cut and in Germany it was described as the 'mushroom.'
So far I haven't found out who was the first person, or publication, to coin the phrase 'moptop.'
I was intrigued many years ago when I noticed a full page feature in a major British women's magazine which claimed that the Beatles hair style was based on a photograph of Agnes Flannery, mother of Joe Flannery, a Liverpool manager who was a close friend of Brian Epstein.
Joe claimed that when the Beatles visited him at his Aintree flat early in their career they noticed a picture of his mother when young. Apparently, John fell in love with it.
Joe says, "John picked up the photo, admired the hairstyle and said to Paul McCartney, 'That's the way I want my hair to look.'"
Joe continued, "Compare the photo of my mother and John Lennon and the hairstyles are remarkably similar. I have spoken on a number of occasions with Astrid and she has told me that she never ever said she created the hairstyle. In fact the group went to a barber's at Horne Brothers at the corner of Paradise Street and Lord Street."
Agnes said, "The picture that intrigued John was taken at a studio in Bold Street, Liverpool, when I was just sixteen, two years before I married... I'm sure many folk will be thrilled to learn the true story of how the Beatles came by their distinctive hairstyle which, incidentally, I'd created for myself by washing and trimming my own hair in that particular way."
Pull the other one! Virginia and I used to go to Joe's flat when the Beatles were there, but I can't give any credence to this story.