Category Archives: 50 Years Ago

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50 Years Ago: Beatles played at Queen’s Hall

Another busy week for the Beatles

On Monday, October 22, 1962, the Beatles played at Queen’s Hall in Windes. The show was put together by Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises and featured other acts, including a group with Pete Best on drums. This was followed by a rare two-day break from preforming.

On Thursday, October 25, the group traveled to the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester to record songs for the BBC radio show “Here We Go.” Four songs were recorded before a live audience, including two written by John and Paul, a show tune that would later be recorded for an album and a fourth that was a current hit by an American artist that the Beatles would later tour with. The first three songs were broadcast the following evening. The fourth was cut from the program due to time constraints.

Friday, October 26, was typical on the hectic schedule the Beatles faced at the time. The group performed a lunchtime show at the Cavern, was able to hear their performance on the BBC’s “Here We Go” program at 5:00 pm and traveled 30 miles for an evening concert at the Public Hall on Lune Street in Preston, Lancashire.

This, of course, was followed by evening concerts on Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28. The Saturday show was at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight, Birkenhead. On Sunday, the Beatles were on the bill as part of an eight-act NEMS concert featuring an American R&B artist idolized by the group. The show was at Liverpool’s top theatre, the Empire.

This week’s trivia questions cover this fabulous week for the Beatles.

1. What group did Pete best join shortly after being fired by the Beatles?

2. What two original Lennon-McCartney songs did the Beatles perform for the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go”?

3. What show tune, later recorded for an album, did the Beatles perform for the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go”?

4. What song, then a current hit by an American artist that the Beatles would later tour with, did the Beatles record for the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go” that was not broadcast?

5. What American R&B singer, idolized by the Beatles, headlined the October 28, 1962 NEMS concert at the Empire Theatre that also featured the Beatles?

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1. A couple of weeks after being fired by the Beatles, Pete best joined Lee Curtis & the All-Stars. Curtis would soon part from the group, which was re-named Pete Best & the All-Stars. The group was later signed by Decca Records, who had previously turned down Pete’s previous group, the Beatles.

2. On the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go” the Beatles performed both sides of their recently released single, “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.”

3. On the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go” the Beatles performed the show tune “A Taste Of Honey,” which would be recorded in a few months at Abbey Road Studios for the group’s debut album, “Please Please Me.”

4. Although recorded for the October 26, 1962 BBC radio program “Here We Go,” the Beatles performance of Tommy Roe’s “Sheila” was not broadcast.

5. The October 28, 1962 NEMS concert at the Empire Theatre was headlined by Little Richard. Although idolized by the group, the Beatles would only record one of his songs, “Long Tall Sally,” at Abbey Road Studios.

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50 Years Ago: The Beatles First Television Appearance

The Beatles make their first television appearance

By mid-October 1962, the Beatles first single had been in the stores for less than two weeks. At that time, the record was not getting any radio airplay in the UK. British radio in the early sixties was limited to the BBC, which broadcast on three national radio stations. Of these, only Light Programme had some shows that featured pop music, but the station rarely played records due to needletime restrictions limiting the amount of music that could be played from records. This meant that bands could not count on radio to play their records to generate interest. Records sales came from playing the clubs and getting the word out through newspapers, music magazines and television.

The Beatles first television appearance was on October 17, 1962. The group played live on Granada’s “People And Places,” which was a magazine-style program that was broadcast in the northern part of England. The band drove to Manchester for the show, which originated from Granada TV Centre on Quay Street. They rehearsed twice that afternoon for the show, which ran from 6:35 to 7:00 pm. The Beatles played two songs.

In keeping with their hectic performance schedule, the group had played a lunchtime concert earlier in the day and would leave the studio after the show to head for an evening concert.

Today’s trivia questions are about this historic day for the Beatles.

What two songs did the Beatles play during their first television appearance on October 17, 1962?
At what venue did the Beatles play that afternoon and at what venue did the Beatles play that evening after the show?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

 

 

As one would expect, the Beatles promoted the A-side of their single, “Love Me Do.” In addition, the group played one of their concert favorites, “Some Other Guy.” That song was recorded by Richie Barrett, who co-wrote the song with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Although the song was not a hit, it was included in the repertoire of several Liverpool bands. Granada TV had previously filmed the Beatles playing “Some Other Guy” at the Cavern Club on August 22, 1962, intended for inclusion on the program “Know The North.” Granada decided against using the filmed performance due to its poor quality brought about by the dark and humid conditions in the Cavern. After the Beatles rise to fame, Granada broadcast the performance on November 6, 1963. As for the group’s other activities on the day of their first television appearance, the Beatles played a lunchtime concert and an evening concert at the Cavern Club.

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50 Years Ago: EMI Releases First Beatles Single

EMI Releases First Beatles Single

Next Friday, October 5th, 2012, will be an important day for faithful followers of THE BEATLES. Fifty years ago, on October 5, 1962, EMI released the Beatles first single, Love Me Do c/w P.S. I Love You. A review in the October 4 British trade magazine Record Retailer noted the single’s sales potential in a brief review: “A new group from the Liverpool area. Their first record but they already have a strong following and this seems to be the strongest outsider of the week.” The Beatles would not remain “outsiders” for long.

Love Me Do entered the Britain’s Top 50 chart published by Record Retailer at number 49 on October 11, 1962, eventually peaking at number 17, first on December 27, 1962, and then on January 10, 1963. Other British magazines charted the single, with Melody Maker reporting the disc at number 21, New Musical Express at 27, Disc Weekly at 24 and New Record Mirror at 17. The latter publication reviewed the single in its October 13 issue, noting the group’s peculiar name and commenting on the song’s unusual vocal combinations. The reviewer thought the song dragged in the middle and characterized the B-side as poorly arranged.

Not surprisingly, the group’s debut disc was met with more enthusiasm in Liverpool, where the city’s largest evening newspaper, The Liverpool Echo, ran the following review under the headline BIG DATE FOR THE BEATLES:

“Next Friday, October 5th, will be an important day for that talented Liverpool group THE BEATLES and thousands of young Merseysiders who have become their faithful followers. Parlophone will be issuing the quartet’s debut single on that day.

“On the A side lead vocalists John Lennon and Paul McCartney chant out their self-written lyrics of ‘Love Me Do’, an infectious medium-paced ballad with an exceptionally haunting harmonica accompaniment which smacks home the simple tune and gives the whole deck that extra slab of impact and atmosphere so essential to the construction of a Top Twenty smasher.

“There’s nothing startlingly distinguished about the simple, repetitive lyrics but a disc like ‘Love Me Do’ relies more upon punchy, ear-catching presentation and on this score The Beatles come out with flying colours.

“Flip ‘Love Me Do’ to hear another, slightly faster Lennon/McCartney number entitled ‘P.S. I Love You’. This bright ditty has a tingling Latin taste to it.

“There’s a refreshing do-it-yourself approach to this single by The Beatles. They have written their own material and provided their own vocal performance. I wish these four go-ahead young men the very best of good fortune with their initial Parlophone release.”

The above review appeared in the newspaper’s Off The Record column by Disker, a pen name used by Tony Barrow, who would soon by hired by Beatles manager Brian Epstein to serve as press and publicity officer for Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises.

Liverpool’s music newspaper, Mersey Beat, charted Love Me Do at number one in its October 18, 1962, issue. Although a writer described the song as “rather monotonous,” he recognized it was “the type of number which grows on you,” stating that while he was disappointed when he first heard it, he enjoyed it more and more with each play. Reviews of later Beatles releases often contained similar expressions of initial disappointment replaced by admiration after repeated listens. This was due in part to the higher and higher expectations for each new record issued by the group.

Despite respectable chart action, EMI was disappointed with the initial sales of the single, which stood at about 17,000 units by the end of 1962. After the group’s popularity spread beyond Liverpool with each successive release, Love Me Do sold an additional 100,000 units before its deletion from the EMI catalog in the mid-sixties.

EMI issued a 20th anniversary edition of the Love Me Do single with red labels in 1982. The reissue disc is easily distinguishable from the original as the labels have ‘A’ SIDE and ‘B’ SIDE designations at nine o’clock. The 1982 anniversary edition of Love Me Do sold an impressive 165,000 copies, which was considerably more than it sold in the sixties.

The above ad appeared in issue No. 6 of Pop Weekly magazine (cover dated October 6, 1962).

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Love Me Do, EMI is issuing a limited edition red label vinyl pressing of the single packaged in the same “beach towel” sleeve that the disc originally appeared in. The record is easily distinguishable from the original single as it has a solid center with a small center hole. It is sure to sell out quickly and become a collector’s item. The record is currently available from the website for The Fest for Beatles Fans.

 

Today’s trivia question covers other songs that were popular in Great Britain at the time Love Me Do was released.

The Beatles single was number one on the Merseyside Tops chart published by Mersey Beat magazine in its October 18, 1962, issue. Name the songs occupying the next four spots of the chart.

If you want some hints, here they are: The number 2 song was an instrumental by a British group that topped the U.S. charts. The number 3 and 4 songs were both co-written by Carole King. The number 5 song was by someone who would soon share a concert bill with the Beatles and later be an opening act at their first U.S. concert. Additional hints: The number 2 song was named after a communications satellite. The number 3 song was a dance song sung by Carole King’s baby sitter. The number 4 song has a month in its title. The number 5 song has a Buddy Holly sound to it.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles first single on Parlophone, the book BEATLES FOR SALE ON PARLOPHONE RECORDS is on sale for $50 for the entire month of October. In addition, clearance copies of the book, which have scuffed covers but perfect interior pages, are available for just $30. If you’ve put off buying the Parlophone book or want a second “reading” copy, now is the perfect time to buy the book. You’ll learn the stories behind not only the Beatles first record, but also all of the records released in the U.K. from 1962 – 1970.

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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50 Years Ago: EMI Prepares for Release of First Beatles Single

In mid-September 1962, EMI scheduled the release of the Beatles first single for October 5. By this time George Martin had determined that a Lennon-McCartney original, “Love Me Do,” would be the group’s debut disc.

Although EMI initially pressed only a few thousand copies of the single for distribution to record stores, the company devoted a full page of its weekly two-page new releases ad to the disc in the September 27, 1962, Record Retailer (shown above). This unprecedented move was most likely done to curry favor with Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who was an important customer of EMI through his NEMS record stores. While EMI was not willing to risk the cost of a large press run on an untested group, the full-page trade magazine ad, complete with pictures of the members of the group, was a way for EMI to demonstrate to Brian its support of the Beatles without incurring additional expenses.

 

EMI prepared approximately 250 promotional copies of the Beatles first single for pre-release distribution to selected media and radio stations. This so-called demonstration record has white labels with black print and a large red A on the Love Me Do side. The arrival of the disc at Brian’s NEMS office should have been a red-letter day for the aspiring manager, but instead Brian exploded in red-faced rage when he noticed that Paul’s last name was misspelled in the songwriters credit as “McArtney.” When he called EMI to complain about the error, he was told that the labels of the commercial copies would have the correct spelling. This failed to calm him down and he curtly replied, “Not the point, journalists and producers and deejays have the wrong name on their copies.” While Brian was understandably upset over the spelling error, the mistake made what was destined to be a highly collectible disc even more desirable.

Not willing to rely entirely on EMI to promote the Beatles, Brian hired a Liverpool native who wrote liner notes for a major record company to prepare a press kit for the Beatles. This individual also wrote record reviews for a Liverpool newspaper. This week’s trivia questions are about this person.

Who did Brian Epstein hire to prepare the first Beatles press kit?

What record company did this person write liner notes for?

What newspaper did this person write record reviews for?

What pen name did he use for his Off The Record column in the newspaper?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Brian Epstein hired Tony Barrow to prepare the first Beatles press kit. Barrow, a Liverpool native, wrote liner notes for EMI’s biggest rival, Decca Records. He also wrote record reviews for The Liverpool Echo. He used the pen name “Disker” for his Off The Record column appearing in the newspaper.

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50 Years Ago: The Beatles 2nd Recording Session for their 1st Single

On September 11, 1962, the Beatles returned to EMI’s Abbey Road studios to re-record their first single. One week earlier, the group had recorded “How Do You Do It,” a song written by tunesmith Mitch Murray, and “Love Me Do,” a Lennon-McCartney original, for possible release as their first single. But upon repeated plays of the acetates of both songs, George Martin was not convinced that the recordings were worthy of becoming the band’s debut single. Although the Beatles had competently performed “How Do You Do It,” he knew the group wanted to release their own songs on the single. As for “Love Me Do,” Martin thought it could be improved.

Martin booked studio time on September 11, 1962, for the Beatles to record a remake of Love Me Do, along with one of their own compositions for the flip side. Due to a scheduling conflict, Martin had to miss the start of the session. He arranged for Ron Richards to produce the session until his arrival. Although Ringo’s drumming was an improvement over that of Pete Best, neither Martin nor Richards was satisfied with the drum sound on Love Me Do. Without consulting or warning the Beatles or their manager, Richards hired Andy White, a reliable studio drummer, to sit in with the band for the session.   The first song recorded on September 11 was P.S. I Love You, which features Paul on lead vocal and bass, supported by John and George on backing vocals and guitars. To the surprise and disappointment of the group, Richards insisted that Andy White play the drums. Ringo, making the best of a humiliating situation, dutifully shook maracas. White’s rhythm on the wood block and Ringo’s maracas give the song a Latin flavor. The tenth and final take was used for the finished master. For the remake of Love Me Do, Andy White was once again behind the drums, while Ringo was relegated to tambourine. The group took 18 takes to obtain a satisfactory recording of the song. The main difference between the September 4 recording and the September 11 remake is the presence of tambourine on the later recording.

From the four songs recorded on September 4 and 11, Martin selected one of the versions of “Love Me Do” to be the A-side of the Beatles first single and “P.S. I Love You” to serve as the B-side. The following questions pertain to the various records that contain one of the two released versions of “Love Me Do.” Version One from September 4, 1962, has Ringo on drums. It shall be identified as “Ringo on drums.” Version Two from September 11, 1962, has Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine. It shall be identified as Ringo on tambourine.

What version of “Love Me Do” appears on:

1.  The A-side of the Beatles first single issued on Parlophone Records ?

2.  The Beatles “Please Please Me” album?

3.  The single issued by Capitol of Canada?

4.  “The Beatles’ Hits” EP?

5.  The “Introducing The Beatles” album released by Vee-Jay records?

6.  The Tollie single that became a number one hit in America?

7.  “The Early Beatles” LP issued by Capitol Records?

8.  Capitol Star Line single issued in 1965?

9.  “The Beatles 1962 – 1966” hits collection?

10.  The Capitol “Rarities” LP?

11.  The Capitol single issued on the 20th anniversary of the release of the “Love Me Do” single?

12.  The Capitol album “20 Greatest Hits” issued in 1982?

13.  The Capitol single issued on the 30th anniversary of the release of the “Love Me Do” single?

14.  The “Past Masters” collection?

15.  “The Beatles 1” collection of number one hits?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

George Martin selected the version of “Love Me Do” with Ringo on drums to serve as the A-side for the Beatles debut single. However, when it came time to compile the “Please Please Me” LP, Martin chose the version of “Love Me Do” with Ringo on tambourine. The Capitol of Canada single was dubbed from the U.K. single, so it has the version with Ringo on drums.“The Beatles’ Hits” EP has the version of the song with Ringo on tambourine even though the hit single had the version with Ringo on drums. The “Introducing The Beatles” album was made from the master tape of the “Please Please Me” album, so it has the version with Ringo on tambourine. Vee-Jay pulled “Love Me Do” from its “Introducing The Beatles” album when it mastered the Tollie single, so that single has Ringo on tambourine.

Prior to the issuance of the Tollie single in Aptil 1964, some stores in the U.S. sold imported copies pf the Canadian single of “Love Me Do.” Thus, those who purchased the Canadian single got Ringo on drums and those who purchased the American single got Ringo on tambourine. In all likelihood, no one noticed the difference.

The Capitol LP “The Early Beatles” has the version with Ringo on tambourine, as does the Capitol Star Line single issued in 1965. The 1973 album “The Beatles 1962- 1966” also uses the Ringo on tambourine version.

The 1980 Capitol “Rarities” album marked the first time the Ringo on drums version of “Love Me Do” was officially issued in the U.S. Oddly enough, the Capitol (and Parlophone) single issued on the 20th anniversary of the release of the “Love Me Do” single used the Ringo on tambourine version even though the original single had the Ringo on drums version. The Capitol album “20 Greatest Hits” also has the Ringo on tambourine version.

Capitol correctly used the version with Ringo on drums for the single issued on the 30th anniversary of the release of the “Love Me Do” single. The “Past Masters” collection has the version with Ringo on drums because that version did not appear on any of the core Beatles albums. “The Beatles 1” collection has the Ringo on tambourine version because that was the version on the U.S. single that topped the charts.

With the exception of the original U.K. single issued in 1962, all subsequent releases with Ringo on drums were dubbed from copies of the 1962 U.K. single because the master tape of “Love Me Do” with Ringo on drums no longer exists. It is speculated that the master tape was destroyed in the mid-sixties to ensure that it would not accidently be used on subsequent pressings of the “Please Please Me” album and “The Beatles Hits” EP.

 

 

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50 Years Ago: Beatles First Proper Recording Session

On September 4, 1962, the Beatles entered EMI Studios at Abbey Road for the group’s first proper recording session. The band was there to record two songs intended for the Beatles debut single. Because Pete Best had been replaced a few weeks earlier, George Martin did not book a session drummer, instead opting to see what the band’s new drummer, Ringo Starr, could do. That afternoon, the group, primarily under the supervision of Ron Richards, rehearsed six songs in Studio Three, including “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Ask Me Why,” “Please Please Me” and a song given to them by Martin that had been written by a professional songwriter.

After taking a break for dinner, the Beatles entered Studio Two, where they would later go on to record the majority of their singles and album tracks. As would be the case for nearly all of their future sessions, George Martin served as producer.

The first order of business was to record an instrumental backing track for the song Martin insisted they do. This was apparently achieved in a single take featuring John on rhythm guitar, George on lead guitar, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums. John and Paul then overdubbed their lead vocals and the group added hand claps over the instrumental break to form Take 2.

Having completed Martin’s choice for the A-side, the Beatles were allowed to record one of their original compositions, “Love Me Do,” for the B-side. The recording of the instrumental backing did not go smoothly, with Ringo having trouble nailing down his drum part. Although studio logs no longer exist, it is believed that the group ran through over 15 takes. John and Paul then overdubbed their lead vocals and the group added hand claps during the song’s harmonica solo. The finished master most likely is an edit of two or more takes.

Both songs were mixed for mono by George Martin and Norman Smith at the end of the session. Martin also had acetates cut for each song so that he and Brian Epstein could listen to and evaluate the performances the following morning. Although the Beatles went back to Abbey Road a week later for a second recording session, the version of “Love Me Do” recorded on September 4 was eventually chosen to be the A-side of the group’s first single.

Today’s trivia questions cover the non-Lennon-McCartney song recorded on September 4, 1962, but not released until “Anthology 1” in 1995.

1. What song, written by a professional songwriter, did George Martin insist that the Beatles record at their first proper recording session?
2. Who wrote the song?
3. Who was the lead singer on the demo of the song given by George Martin to the Beatles?
4. Who was the backing band on the demo?
5. What group later recorded the Beatles arrangement of the song with George Martin serving as producer?
6. What was the highest chart position reached by this version of the song?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Because George Martin was not convinced that the Beatles could write a hit single, he insisted that the group record a song written by a professional songwriter for their first recording session. The song, “How Do You Do It,” was written by tunesmith Mitch Murray. The demo of the song given to the Beatles featured Barry Mason on vocals backed by the Dave Clark Five, who at the time were virtually unknown. Although Martin capitulated to the Beatles wishes to have their original compositions featured on their single, he had Gerry and the Pacemakers, another Brian Epstein-managed band, record the song. Their version of the song, which closely followed the Beatles arrangement, went to the top of the U.K. charts, knocking the Beatles “Please Please Me” from the number one position.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles First Visit to Abbey Road Studios – Continued

June 6, 2012, marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to Abbey Road Studios. The group, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney George Harrison and Pete Best, arrived at what was then called EMI Studios on June 6, 1962, for a commercial test (an evaluation of a signed artist). Two days earlier, the band had signed a recording contract with “The Parlophone Company Limited of Hayes in the County of Middlesex.” The group was paid Musicians Union rates for the June 6 session, indicating that the Beatles were in fact EMI recording artists by the time they arrived at Abbey Road.

The following four songs were recording that day: Besame Mucho, P.S. I Love You, Ask Me Why and Love Me Do. The latter three songs were Lennon-McCartney originals that would later be re-recorded for commercial release, with Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You issued as the Beatles first single and Ask Me Why appearing as the B-side to the group’s second single.

Although George Martin set up the Beatles first recording session at Abbey Road, Martin’s assistant, Ron Richards, initially served as producer because he was more familiar with pop and rock ’n’ roll than Martin, whose background encompassed classical and comedy recordings. Memories differ as to when Martin appeared at the session, but all agree he was there for Love Me Do. After hearing the group perform the song, he made two significant suggestions on how to improve the song. It would be the first of many times that Martin would provide valuable input on a song’s arrangement.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION:

What two suggestions did George Martin make to the Beatles on June 6, 1962, regarding the group’s performance of Love Me Do?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

George Martin reassigned the singing of the “Love me do” refrain that ended each verse from John to Paul. This was done because John’s harmonica playing prevented him from actually singing the word “do.” He also had the group increase the tempo of the song. In the February 9, 1963, Melody Maker Paul recalled: “When we went to London for the first recording, Love Me Do was a slow number like Halfway To Paradise [a number three 1961 U.K. hit for Billy Fury, who covered Tony Orlando’s U.S. hit], you know, DUM-di-di-di-DUM, but George Martin, our recording manager, suggested we do it faster. I’m glad we did.” These would be the first of many suggestions Martin would make over the years.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles First Visit to Abbey Road Studios – More

June 6, 2012, marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to Abbey Road Studios. The group, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney George Harrison and Pete Best, arrived at what was then called EMI Studios on June 6, 1962, for a commercial test (an evaluation of a signed artist). Two days earlier, the band had signed a recording contract with “The Parlophone Company Limited of Hayes in the County of Middlesex.” The group was paid Musicians Union rates for the June 6 session, indicating that the Beatles were in fact EMI recording artists by the time they arrived at Abbey Road.

The following four songs were recording that day: Besame Mucho, P.S. I Love You, Ask Me Why and Love Me Do. The latter three songs were Lennon-McCartney originals that would later be re-recorded for commercial release, with Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You issued as the Beatles first single and Ask Me Why appearing as the B-side to the group’s second single.

TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION:

Who initially served as producer for the Beatles first recording session at Abbey Road Studios on June 6, 1962?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Although George Martin set up the Beatles first recording session at Abbey Road, Martin’s assistant, Ron Richards, initially served as producer because he was more familiar with pop and rock ’n’ roll than Martin, whose background encompassed classical and comedy recordings. Memories differ as to when Martin appeared at the session, but all agree he was there for Love Me Do. He was also there for most of the Beatles other recording sessions through January 3, 1970. As for Ron Richards, he signed the Hollies to EMI’s Parlophone label in 1963 and produced most of the Hollies music for the next 16 years. Richards died on April 30, 2009.

George Martin with the Beatles, late 1963.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Commercial Test at Abbey Road

June 6, 2012 is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to Abbey Road Studios. The group, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, arrived at what was then called EMI Studios on June 6, 1962, for a commercial test (an evaluation of a signed artist). Two days earlier, the band had signed a recording contract with “The Parlophone Company Limited of Hayes in the County of Middlesex.” The group was paid Musicians Union rates for the June 6 session, indicating that the Beatles were in fact EMI recording artists by the time they arrived at Abbey Road.

Engineers attending the session in Studio Two remember the poor shape of the group’s equipment, particularly Paul’s bass amp, which was deemed unusable due to its rattling and rumbling. Engineers Norman Smith and Ken Townsend improvised and created a bass rig by soldering an input jack to a preamp and combining it with an amp and a large Tannoy speaker taken from Echo Chamber No. 1. A string was tied around John’s amplifier to prevent it from rattling. After resolving these problems, the Abbey Road staff was ready to record the group.

Four songs were recorded that day. During the next few weeks, the significance of this historic recording session will be discussed. Today’s question covers the songs that were recorded.

What four songs were recorded by EMI at the Beatles commercial test held at Abbey Road Studios on June 6, 1962?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Besame Mucho, P.S. I Love You, Ask Me Why and Love Me Do. The first tune, written by Consuelo Velazquez and Sunny Skylar, was a Latin standard that came to the attention of the Beatles by way of the Coasters, who issued the song in two parts on Atco 6163 in 1960. The other three songs were Lennon-McCartney originals. The tape containing the songs was sent to EMI headquarters for evaluation and is presumed lost; however, acetates of Besame Mucho and Love Me Do survived. These songs were released in 1995 on Anthology 1. All three of the Lennon-McCartney songs were later re-recorded for commercial release, with Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You issued as the Beatles first single and Ask Me Why appearing as the B-side to the group’s second single.

  

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2012: THE YEAR OF 50TH ANNIVERSARIES

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This year will mark important milestone anniversaries for the Beatles. The group’s first recording session for EMI took place at Abbey Road studios on June 6, 1962. Ringo joined the band in August 1962. And the Beatles first single, “Love Me Do,” was released as Parlophone 45-R 4949 on October 5, 1962.

Because Ringo did not become a Beatle until 1962, many are considering 2012 as the official 50th anniversary of the group. While the name “Beatles” and the union of John, Paul and George date back a few more years, THE BEATLES–John, Paul, George and Ringo–turn 50 this year. So let’s not quibble over the choice of this year as the big anniversary.

We all know the press loves big round number anniversaries, so we can expect many stories this year on the Beatles appearing in books, magazines, newspapers, televison, radio and the internet. While many will make a big deal out of the music being 50 years old, the fact that people are still talking about the Beatles and enjoying their music shows that despite its age, the music is timeless. The Beatles music, like that of Beethoven, Mozart and Louis Armstrong,  never grows old.

Another great band is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Beach Boys are currently touring the nation and will be releasing a new album next month (June 5). I recently saw the Beach Boys, featuring Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. They performed a well-paced and exciting set consisting of nearly all of the group’s biggest hits, with a few surprises thrown in. The original members are backed primarily by Brian Wilson’s touring band. I highly recommend catching them this summer. You’ll be sitting on the top of the world.


Mike Love


Al Jardine


Brian Wilson

The Beach Boys at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Photos copyright 2012 by Bruce Spizer

 

This week’s trivia questions covers one of the connections between the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Which Beatles song, written during the Beatles stay in Rishikesh, India, contains lyrics that were suggested by a Beach Boy? Who was the Beach Boy and what Beach Boys song formed the basis for his suggestion?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWER]

During the Beatles stay in Rishikesh, India, Beach Boy Mike Love made the suggestion that Paul add lyrics to “Back In The U.S.S.R.” referencing girls from different parts of the U.S.S.R.  This idea was lifted from the Beach Boys smash hit “California Girls.” After singing praises of East Coast girls, Southern girls, Midwest farmer’s daughters, Northern girls and Hawaiian dolls by a palm tree in the sand, Mike Love sings that he “couldn’t wait to get back to the States, back to the cutest girls in the world,” California girls. For “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” Paul came up with “Those Ukraine girls really know me out/They leave the West behind/And Moscow girls make me sing and shout/That Georgia always on my mind.” The last line serves tribute to both the soviet republic of Georgia and the Ray Charles tune “Georgia On My Mind.” And, of course, “Back In The U.S.S.R.” has Beach Boys-style backing vocals.

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