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“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”, directed by Martin Scorsese, aired on HBO Wednesday, October 5th and Thursday, Oct 6th at 9pm. At the New York premiere, Martin Scorsese explained that , “the film took over 6 years to make and fifty people worked on it”, while Oliva Harrison shared, “I never imagined this film would get finished. It could not be rushed. It had to just sit. In the last five years we have what George would call, ‘the support of nature’. George’s true essence was so elusive and subtle. His life was so known and so big, but his inner self was very difficult to capture. I don’t think anyone but Marty could capture it.”

BRUCE SPIZER, IS A BEATLES HISTORIAN AND THE AUTHOR OF, “THE BEATLES’ STORY ON CAPITOL RECORDS”, “THE BEATLES ARE COMING: THE BIRTH OF BEATLEMANIA IN AMERICA”, and “BEATLES FOR SALE ON PARLOPHONE RECORDS”, and five other Beatles books. He took the time to answer the following questions listed below.

 

Q: SHARON ABELLA: “What can you tell me that has rarely, if ever, been said about, “The Beatles”?

A: BRUCE SPIZER: “With so much already written about “The Beatles”, that is hard to do. I was fortunate to uncover some very interesting and little known facts when researching my books. I came across an interview made during “The Beatles” first U.S. visit in February, 1964, in which New York TV reporter Gabe Pressman asks Paul, “What effect do you think “The Beatles” will have on Western culture?” Paul is amused by the question and responds, “I don’t know. You must be joking with that question. It’s not culture.” When asked what it is, Paul replies, “It’s a laugh”. This shows the innocence of the times. While Gabe Pressman’s question now appears to be very astute, he was being sarcastic, as if to say, “Where do you think you will be in a few months?” But as we know now, “The Beatles”, have had a tremendous impact on Western culture.

I also uncovered the fact that CBS broadcasted a five-minute feature story on “The Beatles” on the CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace in November, 1963. No one, including, Mike Wallace, remembered the broadcast because President Kennedy was shot a few hours later.

“The Beatles” first U.S. single, “Please, Please Me”, was released on February 7, 1963, exactly one year prior to the group arriving in America for the first time. While the record was largely ignored at the time, “The Beatles” arrival exactly one year later, was national news.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: “When did the John/Paul competition start?”

A: Bruce Spizer: “I would imagine that the competition between John and Paul was htere from the very beginning. When John first met Paul, he was impressed with Paul’s abilities. He had to decide whether to take Paul into his band and no longer be the most talented musician in the group, or decline to let Paul join the band and remain the group’s best musician. John chose to take in Paul because he knew it would improve the band.

There was always competition between John and Paul over getting the A-sides of singles. In the early days, John normally had the A-side, although some songs were true John and Paul compositions. John also insisted that songs be credited to “Lennon-McCartney”. This was done for the first two singles, but producer, George Martin, listed songs as “McCartney-Lennon” for the group’s first LP and the third single. At John’s insistence, all future records said “Lennon-McCartney”. It was a friendly competition in that John and Paul pushed each other to write better songs. When Paul came up with a great song like “Hey Jude”, John would admit it should be the A-side even though he initially wanted his “Revolution” as the A-side. Their competition brought out the best in them as songwriters.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: How did it grow (before Yoko ever came in)?

A: BRUCE SPIZER: “It wasn’t so much that Yoko increased the completion between John and Paul, it was more a case of John electing to spend all of his time with Yoko, which meant he had little time for Paul. During the “Let It Be” project, there was very little competition for songs as John had only a few new songs to offer. For “Abbey Road,” John pushed for an album of separate songs, while Paul liked George Martin’s idea for a long medley or suite of songs. A compromise was reached where side one was separate songs and side two was dominated by a huge medley.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Was Ringo ever replaced during the studio recording process by another drummer?”

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“Ringo played drums during “The Beatles” first proper EMI recording session held on September 4, 1962. “Love Me Do”, and “How Do You Do It?” a non-Lennon-McCartney song, were recorded that day. Neither George Martin, nor his assistant, Ron Richards, were pleased with the drum sound, so Ron Richards brought in a session drummer, Andy White, when the group was sent back into the studio one week later, on September 11th. They re-recorded, “Love Me Do”, and recorded another Lennon-McCartney original, “P.S. I Love You.” Andy White played drums on both tracks, while Ringo played tambourine on “Love Me Do” and shook maracas on “P.S. I Love You.” The group’s first single used the version of “Love Me Do” with Ringo on drums coupled with “P.S. I Love You.” When the group’s first album was compiled, the version of “Love Me Do” with Andy White on drums was used.

During the recording of “The White Album” in 1968, Ringo temporarily quit the group after an argument with Paul over the drumming on “Back In The U.S.S.R.” McCartney played drums on that song, along with “Dear Prudence,” before Ringo returned to the sessions. Paul also played drums on “Wild Honey Pie,” an experimental piece he knocked out himself during the “White Album” sessions.

Paul was the drummer on “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” which was recorded entirely by John and Paul in April 1969. John was in a hurry to record the song, so he and Paul did it by themselves because Ringo was busy filming “The Magic Christian” and George was out of the country.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Why didn’t Paul show up to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?”

A: BRUCE SPIZER: “That is a question you’ll have to ask Paul.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: “How did George Martin get involved?”

A: BRUCE SPIZER: “In addition to being a record producer, George Martin was the head of EMI’s ‘Parlophone’ label. Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, was referred to George Martin by Sid Colman, who was the general manager of a British publishing company set up by Capitol Records to handle U.K. publishing. After giving “The Beatles” an artist test on June 6, 1962, Martin began his association with the group. At the time, Martin did not know that “The Beatles” had been turned down by EMI’s two major labels, Columbia and HMV. ”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: Were decisions made by the four Beatles voting?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“All decisions of the Beatles were normally made with all four in agreement, though John and Paul were influential enough so that if the two of them were in favor of something, George and Ringo often capitulated even though they
did not necessarily agree. An example of this was the use of the Butcher photo on the cover of the album “Yesterday And Today.” John came up with the idea to use the photo for the cover and Paul thought it would be cool. Although Ringo and George did not like the idea, they did not formally object to its use. John did not always get his way. The song “Revolution” was re-recorded to get a faster version of the song for the single. John was unable to get the song “What’s The New Mary Jane?” on “The White Album.” The group was deeply split on the hiring of Alan Klein to manage Apple and the Beatles. Paul objected and never signed an agreement with Klein”.

Q: SHARON ABELLA: Who decided the final songs on the records?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“As the group’s producer and the head of the Parlophone label, George Martin was responsible for deciding what songs the group would record and what would end up on the records. Although he forced the Beatles to record “How
Do You Do It,” a song written by a professional songwriter, for the group’s first session, he never did so again, allowing the Beatles to chose the songs to record. He wisely recognized the group’s talent and saw no need to
select songs for them.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: The order of the songs on the records?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“George Martin selected the running order of the songs on the group’s albums released from 1962 – 1966. By the time “Sgt. Pepper” was recorded, John and Paul were heavily involved in selecting the running order of the songs with
George Martin.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: Besides the writer royalty, was everything else split equally?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“After Ringo’s brief probationary period with the band ended, all group income was split equally. John and Paul made more money due to songwriter’s royalties.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: Where should I go on the Liverpool tour?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“The Cavern, John and Paul’s houses, Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, the church were John met Paul. Just walk around and get the flavor of the city. Also go to the Beatles museum.”

Q: SHARON ABELLA: Are you going to see Scorsese’s new documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”?

A: BRUCE SPIZER:

“Of course. I am looking forward to it. A great film maker doing a documentary on a great man and musician.”

Article by Sharon Abella

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