Tag Archives: Beatles

BBC-Front

50 Years Ago: Beatles at the BEEB

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The Beatles spent a good part of the first week of April 1963 recording songs for broadcast on BBC radio, affectionately known as the BEEB. On April Fool’s Day the group was at the BBC’s Piccadilly Studios in London to record songs for two editions of the show Side By Side, during which a guest group would perform songs “side by side” with the host group, the Karl Denver Trio. The show’s format had the host and guest open with a duet on the song Side By Side. Then the Karl Denver Trio and the guest act would alternate performances for the remainder of the program.

The first set of songs, recorded during the afternoon, was broadcast on April 22. They were aimed at promoting the group’s debut album and latest single, From Me To You. In addition to the single, the Beatles also recorded BBC versions of I Saw Her Standing There, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Baby It’s You, Please Please Me and Misery.

The second set of songs, recorded during the evening, was broadcast on May 13. Once again, the program’s focus was on promoting the LP and new single, with the Beatles performing both sides of the single, From Me To You and Thank You Girl. The album tracks included A Taste Of Honey, Chains and Boys. And just for fun, the group rocked out on an exciting cover of Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally, which would not be recorded at Abbey Road until the following year.

After a rare day off, the Beatles spent Wednesday evening as guests on the BBC program Easy Beat, hosted by Brian Mathew and recorded in front of a live audience at the Playhouse Theatre in London. The group performed their two most recent singles, Please Please Me and From Me To You, as well as the album track Misery. John and Paul were panelists on the record review segment. The show was broadcast on April 7.

On April 4, the Beatles did another session for Side By Side, this time recording a mix of the usual tracks to promote singles and albums, Love Me Do, From Me To You and Boys, and two tracks that were never recorded by the group for EMI, Too Much Monkey Business and I’ll Be On My Way. That afternoon, the group was played a concert at Stowe, a boy’s public school in Stowe, Bucks.

On Friday, the Beatles gave an early evening performance for record company executives at EMI House, where they were awarded a silver disc (signifying sales of 250,000 units) for the single Please Please Me. Later that evening, the group performed at the Swimming Baths in Leyton, London.

The weekend concluded with a Saturday show at the Pavillion Gardens Ballroom in Buxton, Derbyshire, and a Sunday concert at the Savoy Ballroom in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

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Today’s trivia questions are about the Beatles on the BBC.

  1. What was the only Lennon-McCartney song performed for the BBC that the Beatles never recorded or performed live?
  2. Who recorded a version of the song referred to in the above question at Abbey Road?
  3. Which recording artist had more of his songs covered by the Beatles during their BBC programs than any other artist.
  4. Name as many of those songs as you can.

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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  1.  The Lennon-McCartney song I’ll Be On My Way was never recorded or performed live by the Beatles.
  2. I’ll Be On My Way was recorded by Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas at Abbey Road on March 14, 1963. It was released in the U.K. as the B-side to Do You Want To Know A Secret on April 26. Note: Billy will be at this weekend’s Fest For Beatles Fans!
  3. Chuck Berry had more of his songs covered by the Beatles during their BBC programs than any other artist.
  4. Too Much Monkey Business, Carol, Johnny B. Goode, Memphis Tennessee, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen, Rock & Roll Music, I Got To Find My Baby, Talking About You. The first eight appear on Live At The BBC.

 

roll-over-beethoven johnny-b-goode

too-much-monkey-business rock-and-roll-music  

 

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Conclude Roe/Montez Tour

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The Beatles continued their participation in the Tommy Roe & Chris Montez tour during the final week of March 1963. After a rare day off for the Beatles, they resumed with their tour performances on Tuesday, March 26, at the Granada Cinema in Mansfield. This was followed by a Wednesday night show at the ABC Cinema in Northampton and a Thursday evening show at the ABC Cinema in Exeter, Devonshire.  On Friday night, the tour was at the Odeon Cinema in London. Saturday night’s show was at the Guildhall in Portsmith, Hampshire. The final tour performance was on Sunday, March 31, at De Montfort Hall in Leicester, Leicestershire.

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Towards the end of the tour, Beatles manager Brian Epstein gave Tommy Roe a copy of the Beatles Please Please Me album and a Beatles press kit. According to Roe, he brought the items back with him to the States and presented them to executives at his American record company in New York. After Roe said favorable things about the group, one of the executives placed the album on the turntable to give it a listen. About a minute later, he lifted the needle, removed the disc from the turntable and tossed it across the room. He told Roe to stick to singing and let them be the judge of talent.

While those executives undoubtedly later regretted the day that doubted Tommy Roe’s ability to pick an up and coming band, it probably would not have mattered because Vee-Jay Records had a right of first refusal for all Beatles releases under the terms of its licensing agreement with EMI. Still, the story provides another example of an American record company failing to recognize the incredible talent of the Beatles.

Today’s trivia question relates to the above story.

What was the name of Tommy Roe’s record company that thought the Beatles had no potential in the States?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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Tommy Roe was with ABC-Paramount Records, just one of many American record companies that failed to see the Beatles talent.

 

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The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay – Digital Edition

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Now on digital
for the very first time!

Revised digital edition

More stories
More images
More fun!

Order below – now available for immediate download

The fascinating story of the Beatles in America on Vee-Jay Records before they were picked up by Capitol Records. In the limited time that Vee-Jay retained its rights to sixteen Beatles songs, they managed to repackage them into ten 45s, one EP, three variations of the first Beatles album, two variations of a compilation album, and one elaborate double album combining the Beatles and the Four Seasons.

“A stunning and masterful work” Beatlefan

“A visual feast”  Record Collector

PRINT EDITION SOLD OUT – The Hardcover Edition has been sold out for years and goes for Big Bucks on the secondary market  (just check Amazon and eBay)

If you wanted the Vee-Jay book but could not afford it, now you can!
If you already own the Vee-Jay book, now you can take it with you everywhere you go!

Interactive PDF enhanced with BONUS IMAGES, hyperlinks and cross references
• Zoom in to see details
• Searchable
• Bookmark and Annotate

Optimized for the Apple iPad®. Works on any computer or device that reads PDFs.

Free updates.

Click here to DOWNLOAD A FREE SAMPLE CHAPTER

OR SCROLL DOWN TO ORDER

All individuals ordering directly from the author’s website shall receive:

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  • 8.5×11 Collector’s Card with images of the Vee-Jay picture sleeves and albums covers
  • 8.5×11 Signature Card signed by Bruce Spizer showing the front and back covers of the book. You may also request personalization of the card (enter in field below).
  • 2×8 Bookmark.

ORDER AND DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY TODAY:

[stextbox id="grey"]REVISED DIGITAL PDF EDITION: $50
PDF format, 61 MB, over 450 pages
Includes items shown above.
[wp_eStore:product_id:29:end][/stextbox]

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[tab name="About the Revised Edition"]

Ever since The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay sold out and began going for a few hundred dollars or more in the secondary market, people began asking me when I was either reprinting or publishing a revised edition of the book. And while I knew there was demand for the Vee-Jay book, I was concerned over the economics of reprinting.

The Vee-Jay book was published over 15 years ago in New Orleans. Reprinting the book would not be a simple case of calling the printer and having him use the existing digital files to roll the presses. The original printing plates used for the Vee-Jay book were destroyed in the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, and even had they survived, technology has changed so much over the past 15 years that they would have been useless. Thus, I would have been required to go through the entire prepress process, effectively driving up the cost of a reprint to the full cost of a new book. With high production costs due to the use of color throughout the book, the cost per book on a small run would have been high, forcing a retail price of about $100 to make the reprint profitable. And while the cost per book would have gone down with a larger press run, I did not make sense to pay more overall printing costs and run the risk of being stuck with a large inventory of books that could take ten or more years to sell.

Fortunately, some of the younger customers of my books began asking me if I had considered doing the Vee-Jay book as a digital eBook. At first, I was troubled by the idea. There is something wonderful about holding a beautiful book in your hands. Surely I would miss the feel of the pages and the experience of turning the pages. And as a collector, I love having my bookshelves filled with books. An eBook would not be on my shelf or proudly displayed on my coffee table. It would be stored in an iPad just like music was stored in my iPhone. And that last thought made me realize that there was a place in the world for digital books.

I love collecting, owning and playing vinyl records. I love the look and feel of a 12-inch album cover. I love removing the vinyl from its jacket and placing it on my turntable. But if I am on an airplane or in a hotel room, I love that I can still hear music by playing my iPhone. Just as there is a place in my world for vinyl records, CDs and digital music files, there is room in my world for hardcover books, paperback books and, dare I say it, digital eBooks. And so the decision was made to publish the Vee-Jay book as an eBook. Not only would a digital book solve my production cost and inventory problems, but it would also fulfill a need for those who could not afford the original hardcover book and for those who wanted the convenience of taking my books with them. (People always complain about how heavy my books are!)

Once the decision was made to do an eBook, I realized that I could not merely put out the 1998 book as it was originally published. Oh sure, the book got great reviews when it first came out and demand for the Vee-Jay book had not diminished. But I learned a lot of cool stuff in the past 15 years and realized I needed to do a revised edition so that I could incorporate new information and images. This would also give me the opportunity to do some things differently and correct a few errors along the way.

As I got into the project, I began to realize all the cool things that you can do with an eBook. One of the problems with the Vee-Jay book was that although it contained great stories, the reader could get bogged down with the pages containing minute details about the record labels and trail off areas. To solve this problem, I re-edited the book by placing all such information at the end of each chapter, giving the reader the opportunity to skip the label details without missing any of the stories. And to make it easier for someone to fly past the dull but necessary information tailored for collectors, each chapter contains a green line at the point where the stories end and the record label details begin. You can merely tap on the highlighted page number and skip forward to the next chapter, bypassing the highly detailed information. (And while this certainly improves the overall reading experience, sometimes you may want to go through the final pages of each chapter just to look at all the beautiful labels.)

The digital book also gives the reader the ability to navigate pages by touching the screen. This is particularly helpful to “turn to” a page referenced in the text. By merely touching the page reference, the desired page appears on the screen. And after checking out the new page, you can touch the GET BACK key to take you back to where you once belonged (or at least back to where you were reading). The digital book also gives you the ability to enlarge images. This is particularly helpful when you want to read text in advertisements and on record labels. It’s a really cool feature that can’t be done in a regular book.

Other eBook features include the ability to read in little or no lighting and access to the interest. The book contains a few links that will take you to information that will be updated when warranted.
Now that I have undertaken my first eBook, I gotta admit I am quite excited about it. I hope you enjoy the eBook as much as I have putting it together.

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Reviews refer to print edition

Get this book! That’s my review. Get this book!

Mr. Spizer, who is a contributor to Beatlefan and Beatlology magazines, has rewritten the standards for reference books! Detailed facts are presented with clarity in a logical, impressive, oversized volume. It is impressive because Mr. Spizer has documents and over 600 colour illustrations to back his facts. His book is impressive because of his thorough presentation. In a recent correspondence to Mr. Spizer, a Louisiana lawyer, I commented that because of his ability to dig and retrieve the truth, I hoped that I would always be on his side of the courtroom.

The book chronicles the Vee-Jay Records story, as it pertains to The Beatles, including advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. Mr. Spizer has compiled a complete description of how Vee-Jay lost the Beatles to Capitol Records and their fruitless legal attempts to retain their 16-song Beatles rights.

Copies of original Vee-Jay documents and correspondence validate when, where, and how many Beatles records were pressed and sold. Details are presented, backed by illustrations, to show the differences of the many varieties of Vee-Jay albums, singles, and labels. Clear, instructional facts are given to distinguish a counterfeit Vee-Jay record from a Beatles’ original. (There are many different fakes.)

I have only one small criticism. Vee-Jay once used an innovative ad-campaign to promote their Records of Significance. Mr. Spizer chose to use the Significance theme in all of his chapter headings. I found this unnecessary.

The book costs $50 U.S., but it is absolutely worth every nickel.

Brad Howard
The World Beatles Forum, Vol. 3, No. 6, May/June 1999

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NAMED “BEATLES BOOK OF THE YEAR” BY GOLDMINE MAGAZINE

“The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay is a landmark book that will easily rate as a “must have” addition to the library of any serious Beatles collector or music historian. Even casual fans of the group will no doubt find this book to be extremely entertaining, enjoyable and enlightening.” (Goldmine, Issue 479, Dec. 4, 1998)

“This photo-rich, exhaustively researched book offers the reader a comprehensive look at the Beatles’ first releases in the U.S. It’s a must-have for any serious Beatles fan or collector.” (Billboard, May 16, 1998)

“Bruce Spizer has pulled off a major coup. A visual feast with every label variation, sleeve design, advert, document and mailer presented in full, glorious colour, and in an easily accessible form. No Beatles collector can afford to be without this masterpiece of a book.” (Record Collector)

“Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles Records on Vee-Jay is a stunning and masterful work–one of the most useful and informative books about The Beatles ever published. Lavishly appointed and extremely detailed, the book is an enormously satisfying volume of tremendous historical importance documenting this extremely complicated and often misunderstood chapter in the history of The Beatles in America. This is one book that is certainly of significant interest to every Beatlefan concerned–a souvenir of their appearances on Vee-Jay that is well worth the price of admission.” (Beatlefan, Issue #112, May-June 1998)

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BEATLES BOOK OF THE YEAR?

Wow. Bruce Spizer, a lawyer and CPA from New Orleans, has come up with an early candidate for Beatles book of the year. This meticulously researched and beautifully presented tome finally presents the truth behind one of the murkiest and least understood chapters in The Beatles’ story: their association with the small U.S. record label Vee-Jay. Filled to the brim with reproductions of record sleeves, record labels, Vee-Jay corporate documents, telegrams, advertisements, and legal documents (and more!), Spizer somehow finds space in this book to present a well-written (and oftimes humorous) text that chronicles the Vee-Jay story in amazing detail.

Moreover, Spizer has gone out and done what so few seem to do these days: primary research. The sheer amount of new information contained here would be well-worth the price if that were all “The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay” had to offer. It isn’t. From the color photo reproductions to the fantastic layout from the choice of paper stock to the beautifully designed end papers, this is without a doubt the best presented Beatles book ever produced–and it’s a private publication!

And within, revelations abound! From the first ever accurate information regarding release dates of “Introducing The Beatles” to the complete story of the courtroom proceedings that eventually prevented Vee-Jay from issuing further Beatles product. Minutiae regarding Vee-Jay’s pressings, their ad campaigns, marketing strategies. This is an absolute must for the serious Beatles scholar and a hell of a wanna-have even for the more casual collector.

Spizer is now considering a sequel: a similar tome on The Beatles on Capitol Records. One can only hope he takes up the challenge! In the meantime, I can merely bestow the highest possible compliments and accolades to him on this terrific piece of work. It’s so damned good, I wish I had written it.

The 910 Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 6, May/June 1998

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Here we have an entire book devoted to Beatles records released on the Vee-Jay label and its Tollie subsidiary. Sound like a short book? Wrong. Sound uninteresting? You obviously haven’t seen this book. Author Bruce Spizer has taken a footnote in the Beatles story and spun it into a gorgeous 242-page hardcover volume. In his diligent pursuit of every detail about this subject, Spizer has assembled everything from record sleeves to royalty statements, making this one of the best-looking Beatles tomes ever published. The glossy pages are packed with illustrations, which not only evoke Beatlemania, but also reveal a lot about the way records were made and sold in the early ’60s. There are fascinating insights into how the Beatles were signed to Capitol, how Vee-Jay tried to cash in on Beatlemania and how Capitol tried to stop them. Spizer is a lawyer and gives special insight into the legal battles between the two labels. In fact he has researched this book as though he were preparing for a court case, leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to tell the story of the Beatles on Vee-Jay. This is–to use the lingo favored by Vee-Jay’s press department–a fine book of significant interest.

Robin Platts
Discoveries, September 1998

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Songs, Pictures… is one of the most amazing Beatles collecting guides to have come out in recent years. It is similar in look (and weight!) to that of From Star Club to Cavern as far as quality of detail and of layout and production. A very superb book with professionally-produced photographs, all in full colour. The investigative approach Bruce applied to his book is evident in the detailed information in his book, from label variations from the different pressing plants to original record distribution paperwork, royalties certificates and even magazine advertising invoices!

Of particular interest to collectors should be the new cataloguing method Bruce uses to list the various pressings. Since Vee-Jay had as many variations of each release as they did months in which they pressed Beatles’ records, this numbering system is ideal reference for collectors. It sets the standard by which all pricing guides in the future will no doubt follow. I highly recommend that anyone interested in buying any of the original Vee-Jay pressings should have this book close at hand so you know exactly what you’re getting into!

Beatlology Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, September/October 1998

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“This incredible book goes far beyond being a discography. No question this is the best Beatle book of 1998.” (Daytrippin’, Issue 5, Winter 1999)

“The best and most accurate research on the subject I have seen, with previously unknown or publicized information. A beautiful and most interesting book.” (Alan Livingston, President of Capitol Records, 1961-1968)

“The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay provides the answer to every question any Beatle record collector has ever had about Vee-Jay and its involvement with The Beatles.” (Good Day Sunshine, May 1988)

“Remember what Lewisohn did with the performances and the Abbey Road sessions. Well this one is the ultimate one on Vee-Jay Records. It’s just one sea of delight as soon as you open it!” (Beatles Unlimited Magazine, the Netherlands, July/August 1998)

“All in all an incredible book! Highly recommended for the serious or casual Beatles fan. Definitely seek this one out.” (Belmo’s Beatleg News, Issue #58, Summer 1998)

“Bruce is like the Lt. Columbo of Beatles records collecting.” (Perry Cox, author of The Official Price Guide to the Beatles Records and Memorabilia)

“This book is a must for the Beatle record collector. You get thousands of dollars worth of Beatle records (or at least great color photos of rare records, common records, picture sleeves, promos, etc.)” (Rick Rann, co-author of The Beatles Memorabilia Price Guide)

“I would just like to say that The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay book is by far one of the best in the Beatles collectible market today. Being a graphic designer and a Beatles fan, I am impressed by not only the content, but the quality of the layout, the attention to detail and the computer-generated documents where needed. I was completely astounded at having obtained the original artwork production invoices. So, koodos to everyone involved!” (Andrew Croft, Editor of Beatlology Magazine)

“Absolutamente indispensible.” (Sequimos Juntos Beatles Exclusivamente, Mexico, No. 15, 1998)

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Section 1

Singles Of Significance

Vee-Jay 498 Please Please Me b/w Ask Me Why

Vee-Jay 522 from Me to You b/w Thank You Girl

Vee-Jay 581 Please Please Me b/w from Me to You

Tollie 9001 Twist and Shout b/w There’s a Place

Vee-Jay 587 Do You Want to Know a Secret b/w Thank You Girl

Vee-Jay EP 1-903 Souvenir of Their Visit to America

Tollie 9008 Love Me Do b/w P.s. I Love You

The Beatles on Oldies 45

Teen Fun Cards

The Beatles Christmas Picture Sleeve

Foreign Singles

Bingo by the Beatles

Metal Parts of Significance

How Records Are Made

The Tollie Singles Story

The Tollie Singles Discography

Fine Fakes of Significant Interest

Vee-Jay Record Sleeves and Mailers

Section 2 Fine Albums of Significant Interest

Vee-Jay VJLP 1062 Introducing the Beatles (Version One)

Vee-Jay VJLP 1062 Introducing the Beatles (Version Two)

Vee-Jay VJLP 1085 Jolly What! The Beatles and Frank Ifield on Stage

Vee-Jay VJLP 1092 Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles

Vee-Jay DX-30 The Beatles Vs. The Four Seasons

Vee-Jay VJLP 1085 The Beatles and Frank Ifield on Stage (Portrait Cover)

Vee-Jay Pro 202 Hear the Beatles Tell All

Vee-Jay VJLP 1101 The 15 Greatest Songs of the Beatles

Counterfeits of Significance

Inner Sleeve Dust Covers

Section 3 Stories of Significant Interest

A Brief History of Vee-Jay Records

A Very Brief History of Capitol Records

How the Beatles Ended up on Vee-Jay, Swan and Capitol

Alan Livingston: from Bozo to the Beatles

Lawsuits of Significance

Gold Record Awards

Significant Promotions from Vee-Jay

Beatles with an A (And One T)

Section 4 Other Significant Information

Fine Factories of Significant Interest

Other Fine Books of Significant Interest

Checklist of Beatles Records on Vee-Jay

Fine Vendors of Significance
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50 Years Ago: First Beatles Album Released

First Beatles Album Released on March 22, 1963, during Roe/Montez Tour

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The Beatles continued their participation in the Tommy Roe & Chris Montez tour during the week of March 18, 1963. It started with a pair of regal performances: a Monday night show at the Regal Cinema in Gloucester and a Tuesday night show at the Regal Cinema in Cambridge. Next, it was easy as A, B, C, with the tour hitting the ABC Cinema in Romford, Essex on Wednesday and the ABC Cinema in West Croydon, Surrey on Thursday. The Beatles managed to sneak in a recording session at the BBC’s Picadilly Studios on Thursday afternoon, performing three songs for March 28, 1963, broadcast on the radio program On The Scene. The group performed their hit single Please Please Me, as well as two songs from their debut album, which was set for release on Friday, March 22. (The ad below is from the tour program. Notice that the layout of the text on the album cover had been completed, but EMI’s art department had yet to select a font for the text.)

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On the day their first album went on sale, the Beatles performed an evening show at the Gaumont Cinema in Doncaster. On Saturday, the tour played City Hall in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northcumberland. The following day, the Beatles were at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, their first performance in Liverpool in over a month.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Please Please Me single had run its course on Chicago’s WLS, peaking at number 35 the previous week, its final week on the chart. The single received air play for about a month. Program directors in a few other markets would chose to play the single in April.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the Beatles March 21, 1963, recording session for the BBC, which was used to promote songs from their upcoming album.

  1. In addition to their hit single Please Please Me, what two songs did the Beatles record for the BBC on March 21, 1963, to promote their debut album? Hint: The two songs were the first Lennon-McCartney songs to be recorded by other artists.
  2. Who were the recording artists who recorded the songs referred to above?
  3. How did these cover versions do on the U.K. charts?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

  1. In addition to Please Please Me, the Beatles recorded Misery and Do You Want To Know A Secret.
  2. Misery was recorded by Kenny Lynch, a black British singer who became the first non-Beatle to record a Lennon-McCartney song. Do You Want To Know A Secret was recorded by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.
  3. Misery, which was released as a single on the same day as the Beatles first album on March 22, 1963, failed to chart. Do You Want To Know A Secret was recorded at Abbey Road Studios the day before the album’s release, with George Martin serving as producer. Kramer’s single peaked at number two, unable to get by the Beatles From Me To You.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles on Tour with Tommy Roe & Chris Montez

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Before resuming their participation in the Tommy Roe & Chris Montez tour, the Beatles spent Monday, March 11, 1963, at EMI House in London. The group taped conversation for the EMI Friday Spectacular program, which was broadcast on Radio Luxembourg the following Friday evening. Both sides of their current hit single, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, were played on the show off the 45 RPM disc. Because the BBC was not allowed to play records on a regular basis, the show provided an opportunity for EMI to get its records heard on the radio.

On Tuesday, March 12, 1963, the Roe/Montez tour resumed with a show at the Granada Cinema in Bedford. On Wednesday, group dropped by Abbey Road Studios in London so that John could overdub harmonica on the B-side of the Beatles next single, Thank You Girl, which had been recorded the week before. That evening, they played a tour concert at the Rialto Theatre in York. The next night the tour was at the Gaumont Cinema in Wolverhampton. For all three of the shows described above, one of the Beatles was too sick to participate, forcing the band perform as a three-piece unit. (No, they were not billed as the “Threetles” for those shows and were not referred to as a “power trio.”) On Friday evening, the Beatles were once again at full strength for two tour shows performed at Colston Hall in Bristol.

On Saturday, March 16, the Beatles performed live on the BBC radio show Saturday Club, which was broadcast from the BBC’s London headquarters from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The band performed six songs, I Saw Her Standing There, Misery, Too Much Monkey Business, I’m Talking About You, Please Please Me and The Hippy Hippy Shake. The afternoon was spent traveling 158 miles to Sheffield for evening tour shows at City Hall. The weekend concluded with a tour appearance on Sunday at the Embassy Cinema in Peterborough.

At the time the Roe/Montez tour was booked, the Beatles were relatively unknown outside of the Liverpool area. But now, with Please Please Me having topped most of the British charts, the Beatles were becoming an increasing important part of the package tour.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the Tommy Roe & Chris Montez Tour and the group’s March 16, 1963, Saturday Club BBC radio appearance, during which the group performed I Saw Her Standing There, Misery, Too Much Monkey Business, I’m Talking About You, Please Please Me and The Hippy Hippy Shake.

  1. What was Tommy Roe’s big hit single that earned him top billing on his 1963 U.K. package tour?
  2. What was Chris Montez’s big hit single that earned him second billing on his 1963 U.K. package tour?
  3. Which Beatle missed three nights of concerts on the Tommy Roe & Chris Montez Tour due to a severe sore throat?
  4. What two songs performed by the Beatles on the March 16, 1963, Saturday Club had Paul playing similar bass parts?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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  1. Tommy Roe’s big 1962 hit was Sheila. The Beatles were attracted to the song by its strong Bubby Holly influence (think Peggy Sue). Although the Beatles obviously did not play Sheila on the Tommy Roe tour, the group did play the song at some of their earlier club appearances.
  2. Chris Montez was best known, and perhaps only known, for his monster hit Let’s Dance.
  3. John missed three nights of concerts on the Roe/Montez tour with a sore throat. This required a few of the group’s songs to be rearranged and for George to handle more vocal duty.
  4. The bass part from Chuck Berry’s I’m Talking About You influenced Paul’s playing on I Saw Her Standing There.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Record From Me To You

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On Tuesday, March 5, 1963, the Beatles recorded their third single at Abbey Road Studios. The song chosen for the A-side, From Me To You, had been written five days earlier on the artists bus for the Helen Shapiro tour. The song features John and Paul on lead vocals, backed by John on his Gibson Jumbo electric-acoustic guitar, George on his Gretsch Duo-Jet electric guitar, Paul on his Hofner bass and Ringo on drums. Take 7 formed the basis for the master, which was embellished with “da da da da da dun dun dah” vocals, John’s harmonica and George’s lead guitar notes for the instrumental break.

The B-side, Thank You Girl, was also written on the Helen Shapiro tour and would have been the A-side had the boys not come up with From Me To You. The song was recorded with the same instrumentation as the A-side. The finished master combined Take 6 with the Take 13 ending edit piece, which featured Ringo’s intricate drumming. John returned to Abbey Road on March 13 to overdub harmonica. The single was released in the U.K. on April 11, 1963.

The recording session was a small part of a busy week for the group. The day before the band played a concert at the Plaza Ballroom in St. Helens. It marked the first time the group was paid £100 for a show.

On Wednesday, March 6, the Beatles returned to the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester to record four songs for the BBC program Here We Go. The group recorded Please Please Me, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Misery and I Saw Her Standing There, although the last song was not included in the March 12 broadcast of the show.

The next evening the Beatles were part of a Brian Epstein show at the Elizabethan Ballroom in Nottingham that included Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas and the Big Three. On Friday, the Beatles were at the Royal Hall in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

That weekend the Beatles began another package tour, this time headlined by two American acts, Tommy Roe and Chris Montez. Opening night was at the Granada Cinema in East Ham, London. The group played Love Me Do, Misery, A Taste Of Honey, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Please Please Me and I Saw Her Standing There. On Sunday, the tour was at the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham.

Today’s trivia questions are about the Beatles third single.

  1. What was the name of the letters column appearing in New Musical Express that gave John and Paul the idea for From Me To You?
  2. What was the name of the Beatles BBC radio show that had a theme song that used the music of their third single?
  3. What was the working title of the B-side to the Beatles third single?
  4. What third song was recorded at the recording session for the Beatles third single?
  5. What additional song would have been recorded had the group not run out of time?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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  1. From You To Us was the letters column in the New Musical Express.
  2. The Beatles BBC radio show was called From Us To You, which used an adapted version of From Me To You as its theme song.
  3. The working title to the B-side of the third single was Thank You Little Girl, later shortened to Thank You Girl.
  4. One After 909 was also recorded at the session for the Beatles third single. The song was re-recorded during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions in January 1969.
  5. The Beatles planned to record What Goes On at the session, but ran out of time. The song was later recorded in November 1965 for Rubber Soul.

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50 Years Ago: George Martin Prepares Album; Beatles Resume Helen Shapiro Tour

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On Monday, February 25, 1963, George Martin and his engineers at Abbey Road prepared the mono and stereo masters for the recently recorded Beatles album. The 14 songs selected for the album were mixed and banded in their running order. Although Martin has been quoted as saying the stereo album was prepared several weeks after the mono album, that is not correct. Both mono and stereo master tapes were prepared that day.

As was the case in the early days, the Beatles were not present for the mixing and banding session. Instead, they were heading to Lancashire for a concert at the Casino Ballroom in Leigh.

The Helen Shapiro tour resumed on Tuesday with a concert at the Gaumont Cinema in Taunton, Somerset, although Shapiro had a severe cold and was unable to perform. Danny Williams took her place as the headliner. (Although the Please Please Me single was moving up the charts, the promoter did not think the Beatles were ready for headline status.) Shapiro also missed the Wednesday night show at the Rialto Theatre in York, Yorkshire.

On February 28, 1963, John and Paul wrote From Me To You while riding on the artists’ tour bus. The song would be recorded less than a week later at Abbey Road. That evening, Shapiro returned for the show at the Granada Cinema in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The following night the tour was in Southport, Lancashire for a concert at the Odeon Cinema.

On Saturday, March 2, the Beatles were on the bill for the tour’s concert at the City Hall in Sheffield, Yorkshire. Later that evening, the group and Brian Epstein traveled to Manchester for an interview on the ABC TV program ABC At Large, which was broadcast live that evening from 11:00 – 11:50 p.m. The group did not perform, but was shown miming Please Please Me on a video clip previously broadcast on Thank Your Lucky Stars. The Helen Shapiro tour concluded on Sunday with a concert at the Gaumont Cinema in Hanley, Staffordshire.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the mixing and banding of Please Please Me album.

  1. What songs did George Martin select to open and close the Please Please Me album?
  2. What two songs appear in fake stereo on the stereo version of the Please Please Me album?
  3. Was the Love Me Do single included on the Please Please Me album?
  4. What song on the stereo Please Please Me album is noticeably different than its version on the mono album?
  5. What word did George Martin use to describe the type of rocker he used to open and close the Please Please Me album?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

  1. I Saw Her Standing There and Twist And Shout.
  2. Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You were given a fake stereo mix because the two-track tapes from the session were no longer available, most likely having been recorded over.
  3. Although the song Love Me Do is on the album, the actual recording used for the single release of the song is not. Rather than using the September 4, 1963, recording of the song with Ringo on drums that had been used for the group’s first single, Martin selected the September 11 version with Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine.
  4. The stereo version of Please Please Me differs from the mono version appearing on the single and the mono LP. The single was edited from an unknown number of takes. When stereo mixes were being made for the album, apparently the engineers were able to locate only the later takes of the song. The stereo master is an edit of Takes 16, 17 and 18, whereas the single most likely contains edits from earlier takes. The most noticeable difference between the mono and stereo versions of the song is the flubbed lyrics in the final verse.
  5. George Martin decided to open and close the Beatles first album with hard rocking songs, which he described as “potboilers.”

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Continue Promoting 2nd Single

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On Monday, February 18, 1963, the Beatles performed two separate concerts at Queen’s Hall in Widnes. The next night they played the Cavern Club, along with Lee Curtis & the All-Stars, which featured Pete Best on drums. On February 20, the Beatles were one of the acts participating in the BBC radio program Parade Of The Pops, which was broadcast live from the Playhouse Theatre in London at 12:30 pm. The Beatles performed their two singles, Love Me Do and Please Please Me. The group then headed back north for an evening concert at the Swimming Baths in Doncaster, Yorkshire. The next night the Beatles played two separate concerts at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead. On Friday, February 22, the group was in concert at the Oasis Club in Manchester.

The second leg of the Helen Shapiro tour resumed on Saturday, February 23, at the Granada Cinema in Mansfield, Notts. This was followed by a tour appearance at the Coventry Theatre in Conventry, Warwickshire on Sunday.

The Beatles hard work, consisting on television, radio and concert appearances, was beginning to pay off. The February 22 New Musical Express listed Please Please Me as the number one single. Melody Maker, Disc and the BBC chart would also list the song at number one. This was at a time in the U.K. where the BBC rarely played records due to needle-time restrictions limiting the amount of music that could be played from records.

In America, where Top 40 radio was king, the Beatles had yet to enter the kingdom in a meaningful way. However, the Please Please Me single issued by Vee-Jay was starting to get some airplay on WLS in Chicago.

George Martin spent part of the week preparing the Beatles first album for release. On February 20, he overdubbed piano on Misery and celeste on Baby It’s You.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the chart action of the Please Please Me single in the U.K.

  1. What was the only British music magazine to chart Please Please Me at number two rather than number one?
  2. What single blocked Please Please Me from the top stop in the magazine’s March 2, 1963 issue?
  3. What 1964 album featured the top two songs in the magazine’s March 2, 1963 chart?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

  1. Record Retailer was the only British music magazine to chart Please Please Me at number two rather than number one.
  2. Please Please Me was blocked from the top stop in the magazine’s March 2, 1963 issue by Frank Ifield’s recording of The Wayward Wind.
  3. Both Please Please Me and The Wayward Wind were featured on the Vee-Jay album Jolly What! The Beatles & Frank Ifield On Stage. The album, whose cover featured a drawing of a mustached English statesman holding a pair of spectacles, contained eight songs by Ifield and four songs by the Beatles, all of which had been previously issued on Vee-Jay singles. The LP was later re-issued with a cover featuring a portrait of the Beatles minus the “Jolly What!”

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TONY SHERIDAN DIES IN HAMBURG

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Tony Sheridan, the British singer/guitarist who befriended the Beatles in Hamburg, died there on February 16, 2013. During the Beatles three-month stay at Hamburg’s Top Ten Club beginning in April 1961, the Beatles often backed Sheridan. When record producer Bert Kaempfert went to the club to check out Sheridan and the Beatles, he was impressed and signed Sheridan and the Beatles to separate recording contracts with his production company. This led to the Beatles first professional recording session, which took place on June 22 and 23, 1961. A total of seven songs were recorded, five of which featured Sheridan on lead vocals. The other two, Ain’t She Sweet and the instrumental Cry For A Shadow, were performed exclusively by the Beatles. An eighth song, Sweet Georgia Brown, was recorded by the Beatles as a backing track for Sheridan on May 24, 1962.

The first recordings released from the Hamburg sessions were My Bonnie and The Saints, which were released as a single in Germany on October 23, 1961, credited to Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers. Legend has it that Brian Epstein decided to see the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club after getting a request for the single at his NEMS record shop. After seeing the group in action, Epstein ordered 75 copies of the disc for his store and became the Beatles manager.

Other recordings from the Hamburg sessions were released in the U.K. and America after the Beatles became popular. Sheridan re-recorded his vocal on Sweet Georgia Brown to add the following Beatles reference: “In Liverpool she even dared to criticize the Beatles hair with their whole fan club standing there.”

Sheridan was 72 years old.

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ALAN LIVINGSTON—A TRIBUTE

By Bruce Spizer

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On March 13, 2009, I received word that Alan Livingston had died. I wasn’t shocked. After all, he was 91 years old. But I was saddened. The fact that he had lived a remarkable life didn’t make me feel any better about his passing. I knew that I would be getting calls from the media to talk about his role in signing The Beatles to Capitol Records. And I knew that The Beatles were only a small part of his accomplishments. To refresh my memory, I pulled out a couple of my books to see what I wrote about him in 2000 and 2004. It brought memories of my visits to his home in Beverly Hills.

Although I wasn’t mainstream press and had only one self-published book under my belt, Alan was excited about my plan to write a book about The Beatles’ story on Capitol Records. He greeted me warmly and started with a brief summary about Vee-Jay and how the company had released Beatles records before Capitol. I politely listened for a few minutes and then told him that his information was wrong. Rather than scolding me or saying “I was there, you weren’t,” he asked me to tell him what my research had uncovered. After summarizing the convoluted story of Vee-Jay, Capitol and Swan, he was impressed with my knowledge and wondered why I needed to speak with him if I already knew what really happened.

I told Alan that I wanted to learn about the man who finally made the decision for Capitol to sign the Beatles and I wanted to know what influenced him to do so. Alan smiled and said, “Now that’s a story I can tell.”

I excitedly jotted down notes on his early life learning more than I could have ever imagined. Livingston began his career in the music business by leading his own big band orchestra while a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to receive a B.S. degree in economics from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. After serving as a lieutenant in the Army, he worked as a PR man for Calvert’s whiskey. Somehow this background convinced Capitol Records that he would be the perfect man to develop a catalog of children’s records for the company. Livingston’s first creation was Bozo the Clown, a character who would later become a television star and part of American culture. Bozo made his debut in 1946 on the Capitol album Bozo At The Circus, which was written and produced by Livingston. The album was an immediate hit, selling over 100,000 copies in its first month and quickly becoming a million seller.

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Alan could tell I was surprised by his claim that he created Bozo the Clown, so he filled in some of the details. His motivation for creating children’s characters was to save Capitol licensing fees that were being paid for use of Disney and Warner Brothers characters. Although Bozo was his most famous creation, his favorite was Sparky and his Magic Piano. Capitol later sold the rights to Bozo the Capitol Clown to Larry Harmon, who took the character to the next level by making him a television star. Years later Harmon would tell the world that Bozo was his invention. When the Clown Hall of Fame learned that Harmon’s claims were false, its directors censured Harmon and ordered him to set the record straight. Livingston was promptly inducted into the Clown Hall of Fame as the creator of Bozo.

Subsequent research disclosed Capitol’s dominated the children’s record market under Livingston’s guidance. When the Best Selling Children’s Records chart made its debut in the June 12, 1948 issue of Billboard, eight of the top ten albums were Capitol releases, including the chart-topping Bozo At The Circus, the fantasy Bozo And His Rocket Ship and two other Livingston creations, Sparky’s Magic Piano and Rusty In Orchestraville. During 1949, there were many weeks when Bozo had four records in the top ten.

Livingston told me that he wrote and produced many of Capitol’s children’s records, including albums featuring Woody Woodpecker, Walt Disney properties and Warner Brothers cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny. He created the “Record-Reader,” a book and album combination that would be copied many times over. He also co-wrote the novelty tune “I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat,” which was a number nine pop hit for Mel Blanc in 1951.

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Alan’s success with Capitol’s children’s record catalog earned him a promotion to vice-president. He moved from overseeing children’s records to working with adult artists such as Nat King Cole. I remember him telling me about an awkward situation he had with the singer. Alan’s bother, Jay Livingston, had written a song that Alan felt was a sure fire hit, but Cole would have nothing to do with it. Alan was reluctant to push too hard because it would appear as if he was only looking out for his brother. Eventually Cole agreed to record the song and allow it to be placed on the B-side of a track that Cole was convinced would be a hit. When the disc was released, DJs began flipping it over and playing the so-called B-side. The song was “Mona Lisa.” It raced up the charts, held the number one spot for eight weeks and went on to sell over three million copies.

Livingston was also responsible for bringing Frank Sinatra to Capitol. He spoke of the day he got a call from Sammy Weisbourg, president of the William Morris Agency, who had recently signed the singer. At the time, Sinatra’s career was at an all-time low, having been dumped by Columbia Records. Weisbourg asked whether Capitol would consider signing Sinatra. When Livingston said yes, the shocked Weisbourg replied “you would?” Some of Capitol’s employees wondered why the label should invest in Sinatra. Livingston’s answer was simple. Sinatra was a great singer and, if given the proper material and appropriate instrumental backing, he could once again sell records. On Livingston’s recommendation, Capitol signed Sinatra to a seven-year contract in early 1953.

Livingston wanted Sinatra to work with Nelson Riddle; however, the singer refused to do so out of his loyalty to arranger Alex Stordahl, with whom he had worked with for most of his career. When the first Sinatra-Stordahl recordings for Capitol failed to capture the magic Livingston and producer Voyle Gilmore were looking for, Sinatra reluctantly agreed to try a session with Riddle on April 30, 1953. That session produced the classic “I’ve Got The World On A String.” Another session yielded “Young-At-Heart,” which became the defining moment in Frank Sinatra’s comeback, peaking at number two during its 22-week run on the charts in spring, 1954.

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In 1953, Alan Livingston brought Frank Sinatra to Capitol, and paired him with Nelson Riddle (at left with Sinatra). Young-At-Heart, arranged by Nelson Riddle, left no doubt that the “Chairman of the Board” was back.

After ten years with Capitol, Livingston left the record business to work for the National Broadcasting Company in 1956. While at NBC, he produced the pilot for a series that no one was interested it. Those were the days when television networks had to find a sponsor for a show. Despite the negative feedback, Alan believed in the series and convinced NBC’s parent company, RCA, to sponsor the show so it could get on the air. The series, complete with a catchy title song written by his brother Jay, quickly found an audience and ran for 14 years, becoming NBC’s longest running hour show—Bonanza.

In 1961, Capitol persuaded Livingston to return to the company as its president. But before getting to The Beatles, Alan told me a colorful story about Frank Sinatra. While at NBC, Capitol and the singer were locked in a stalemate over Sinatra’s desire to set up his own record company. Capitol was not receptive to the idea, so Sinatra retaliated by refusing to record. Alan called him up, expecting Frank to be excited about his return to Capitol. Alan was confident that he could get Ole Blue Eyes back in the studio. But when he called Sinatra, Livingston learned that even he could not repair the rift. Frank told Alan that Capitol could take its Tower with the spire and shove it up their collective ass.

After we both had a good laugh, Alan finally told the story I had traveled from New Orleans to Beverly Hills to hear. Capitol Records, as a subsidiary of EMI, had a right of first refusal to issue recordings by artists signed to EMI, which at the time was the world’s largest recording organization.  Capitol assigned the task of reviewing all foreign product to Dave Dexter, whose background was in jazz and R&B recordings. In the forties, Dexter produced sessions for Capitol with Julia Lee that yielded songs full of sexual innuendoes. (“Snatch It And Grab It” spent 12 weeks as a number one R&B hit and “King Size Papa” topped the R&B charts for nine weeks.)  But Dexter just didn’t get rock ’n’ roll. Even more important, the few times Capitol released recordings by British artists, the records usually flopped. Although Cliff Richard was a huge star in the U.K., his Capitol releases failed to chart. The lone exception was Laurie London’s “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands,” a number one hit in 1958.

So it was no surprise when Dexter turned down The Beatles first two singles, “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me.” The latter song and the next single, “From Me To You,” ended up on Vee-Jay Records.  But Capitol would again have the opportunity to release Beatles recordings in the States when Vee-Jay encountered financial difficulties and failed to pay its royalties on its Beatles releases. When Dexter turned down the next single, “She Loves You,” EMI began pressuring Capitol to reverse its decision and put out the song. When Livingston asked Dexter why he turned down The Beatles, Dexter replied, “Alan, they’re a bunch of long-haired kids. They’re nothing. Forget It.” So Livingston stood by his employee’s judgment and “She Loves You” ended up on Swan Records.

When Dexter later passed on “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” Beatles manager Brian Epstein took matters into his own hands. Livingston recalls getting a call from Epstein asking him why Capitol refused to issue the group’s records. Alan confessed that he had not heard the records. When Brian asked him to give them a listen, Alan called Dexter and asked him to bring him some Beatles discs so he could judge them himself. Livingston told me that he liked what he heard. “I thought they were something different. I can’t tell you in all honesty I knew how big they’d be, but I thought this is worth a shot.” When he called Epstein back to inform him that Capitol would issue the new single, Brian insisted that Capitol spend $40,000 to promote the first single. Although Brian was in no position to make such a demand, Livingston agreed.

Alan told me that he brought the single home for his wife, Nancy Olson, to hear. He was anxious for her opinion as she had an excellent ear and followed the popular music scene. After telling his wife that the single had the potential to change the music business, she listened to the song. Alan smiled as he told me of her response. “She said, ’I Want To Hold Your Haaaaaand, are you kidding?’ So I thought, maybe I made a mistake. We put the record out. I never got through the $40,000. The record exploded. And the rest is history.”

Just as he finished the story, his wife Nancy entered the room and told me her recollections. “Alan’s too modest.” She went on to explain that he was the one at Capitol who heard the group’s potential and arranged for the company to put its full resources behind The Beatles. She laughed as she recounted her initial reaction to “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” telling the story from her perspective, but giving me the same facts. She scoffed at others such as Dave Dexter, who later took credit for signing The Beatles to Capitol. I remember her pointing her hand at me and saying, “Now you be sure to get the story right!”

After she left the room, Alan told me about The Beatles Campaign, which marked the first time that a record company marketed its artists and recordings directly to the consumer. Prior to that time, record companies did little more than place ads in the music trade magazines, figuring that they had done their job by getting word out to distributors, record stores and disc jockeys. That cost about a thousand dollars. But Alan had promised Brian that Capitol would spend $40,000, so the company had to get creative and come up with effective ways to apply the money on promoting the band. Although Livingston authorized the promotional campaign, he credits Brown Meggs, assisted by Freddie Martin, with putting it all together.

On December 4, 1963, Capitol released a press release on its signing of The Beatles, which contained the following quote from Livingston: “With their popularity in England and the promotion we’re going to put behind them here, I have every reason to believe The Beatles will be just as successful in the United States.” His bold prediction sounded like typical record company hype at the time, but it quickly proved true.

Although Dexter had been wrong about his assessment of The Beatles musical ability, Livingston did not fire or reassign him. Out of loyalty and faith, Livingston gave Dexter the task of compiling the group’s albums in America and selecting tracks for single release. While Capitol is often vilified for its dissection of The Beatles albums, the company’s decision to place hit singles on albums helped fuel album sales.  Under Livingston’s guidance, Capitol sold millions of Beatles records as the group compiled gold record after gold record.

During his stay at Capitol, Livingston made sure that the label retained the right to issue the group’s records in America. Although others thought the group could not sustain its incredible success, he disagreed. “I made sure Capitol kept The Beatles because I knew the songwriting talents of John and Paul would keep them successful.” When Capitol resigned the group to a lucrative contract in 1968 that included a huge upfront bonus, the chairman of EMI criticized the move, telling him, “They’ve peaked, you won’t get your money back.” Livingston, of course, was right as the label got its money back on the first release under the deal.

When his wife Nancy reentered the room, I took the opportunity to ask about the fundraiser she and Alan hosted during The Beatles first U.S. tour. The afternoon garden party was held at the home of her mother in Brentwood, California. Alan arranged for the group to appear at a fundraiser, which was held for the benefit of the Hemophilia Foundation. This was a charity close to the Livngstons as their son was a hemophiliac. In order to attend the exclusive event, an adult had to contribute at least $25 and bring a child. Approximately 500 people attended, including several Hollywood stars. The Beatles were there for an hour, shaking hands and signing autographs for the kids working their way through the receiving line. Nancy told me how much it meant to the children and how it helped the group’s image. Alan recalled Paul’s confession that “It would have been easier to do a concert.” Nancy then left to run some errands and Alan and I forged onward.

Livingston’s recollections about the butcher cover would take up an article in itself. The short story is that Livingston knew the cover was a problem, but had no choice but to follow The Beatles wishes that the cover to Capitol’s “Yesterday And Today” album feature a picture of the group in butcher smocks draped with slabs of raw beef and baby doll parts. He argued with Brian, but The Beatles manager held firm. When distributors and disc jockeys slammed the cover after receiving pre-release copies of the album, Capitol had to pull the album from its distribution pipeline and prepare a new cover, costing Capitol over $200,000. After a few gut-churning days most copies of the album had been recovered (pun intended), leaving Livingston mentally exhausted. When an employee brought a box containing about twenty mono and four stereo copies of the album into Livingston’s office, he told the employee to take them out as he never wanted to see a Butcher cover again. The employee told him that he should take the albums home and save them, so Livingston brought the box home and placed it in his closet.

Twenty years later, in November, 1986, he turned the albums over to his son, Peter, to dispose of as he wished. To confirm the authenticity and origin of each album, Livingston prepared an affidavit stating that the sealed album was from his private collection and that he was “confident that the albums are among the few, if not the only, genuine remaining editions, in mint condition, and hope that you will treat and respect them accordingly.”  The first few were sold by Peter at the Los Angeles Beatlefest, with later copies sold to collectors and dealers.  These sealed albums are known among collectors as “Livingston Butchers” and are considered pedigree copies. Today mono copies sell for $25,000 to $30,000. Although none of the stereo Livingston Butchers have changed hands for a while, a collector recently turned down an offer to sell his copy for $80,000.

Livingston left Capitol in 1968 to establish his own production company, Mediarts, Inc., which was involved with film, records and music publishing. Two of the company’s successful projects were the film “Downhill Racer,” starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, and Don McLean’s song “American Pie,” which was a number one hit in 1972. Livingston was president of the Entertainment Group of 20th Century Fox during the time “Star Wars” was developed. In 1988, Livingston published the novel “Ronnie Finkelhof, Superstar,” which tells the story of a Harvard pre-law student who becomes an overnight success as a rock musician.

My first visit gave me a treasure trove of interesting stories for my Capitol books. I went back to see him a few months later for follow up questions and to ask a big favor. I wanted to prepare a special edition of the Capitol books that would give collector’s something extra—Alan’s autograph. He agreed to this and signed 220 cover slicks that would be pasted on a cardboard slipcase housing both Capitol books. He never complaining during the signing and continued telling me stories about Sinatra and The Beatles. He also agreed to write the forewords for both of the Capitol books.

I went back to his Beverly Hills home a few years later with a Canadian journalist, Doug Thompson. Because we allowed extra time due to a severe morning thunder storm, we arrived about 15 minutes early. Nancy opened the door wearing her robe and informed us that “In Beverly Hills, it is better to be 30 minutes late than 10 minutes early.” After accepting our apologies for the sin of being early, she let us in and chatted with us until Alan’s arrival in the living room. Alan answered all of our questions and graciously signed some Bozo and Beatles albums for Doug. We both left with wide smiles on our face—the kind that children had after meeting Bozo the Clown in person.

Friday the 13th was the day Alan Livingston died. Although I received bad news on an unlucky day, I knew it was time for him to move on. I felt privileged to have known this remarkable man who went from Bozo to The Beatles, with Sinatra thrown in for good measure.

 

 

 

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Record First Album

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On February 11, 1963, the Beatles entered EMI’s Abbey Road Studios to record songs for inclusion on their debut album. In what is generally acknowledged to be one of the most productive days ever spent in a recording studio, the Beatles recorded ten high-spirited songs that were standards in their live performances. Of the ten songs completed for release, four were Lennon-McCartney originals (credited on the album as “McCartney-Lennon”) and six were cover versions that are today better known than their original versions. These songs, plus four songs recorded for the group’s first two singles, became the Beatles first album, which was named Please Please Me after the group’s second single, which was rapidly moving up the charts.

When the Beatles second single began racing up the charts, producer George Martin felt the need to quickly get the group into the studio to record a long-playing album to cash in on what the Beatles had already achieved. After checking schedules, Martin and manager Brian Epstein determined that the group could do a recording session on February 11 if they could be excused from the February 10 concert on the Helen Shapiro tour.  An arrangement was made for Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers to take the Beatles place on the bill that night.

Three February 11 recording sessions in Studio Two were booked for: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and 7:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. It was an ambitious goal, particularly considering that the band had been performing on the road non-stop since returning from Hamburg at the beginning of the year. In addition, the group had been traveling through a brutally frigid winter, and John was suffering from a bad cold.

The album was recorded on a twin-track machine. For the most part, the instruments and the vocals were recorded on separate tracks. This was done to allow Martin and the engineers to balance properly the volume of the vocals and instruments when mixing the songs for mono. The songs were recorded live with the group singing and playing their instruments simultaneously. Overdubs appear on only a few of the tracks. Paul played his Hofner bass, and Ringo was on his Premier drum kit for all of the songs. John alternated between his Rickenbacker Capri electric guitar and his Gibson J-160E “Jumbo” acoustic-electric guitar, while George played either his Gretsch Duo-Jet electric guitar or his Jumbo.

Engineer Norman Smith placed the microphones further from the amplifiers than what was normally done so that they would pick up not only direct sound from the amplifiers, but also the ambient sound of the room. This gave the songs a more raucous sound, resembling what was heard at the group’s live performances. The music performed and captured by the Beatles, George Martin and the Abbey Road engineers on that magical day resulted in the group achieving its goal expressed by John “to make the LP something different.”

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT EACH OF THE SONGS RECORDED FOR THE ALBUM

The Beatles had absolutely no time to recover from or celebrate the recording of their first album. On Tuesday, February 12, 1963, the group played two shows, the first at the Azena Ballroom in Sheffield, Yorkshire, followed by a concert at the Astoria Ballroom in Oldham, Lancashire. The next night the band was at the Majestic Ballroom in Hull. Then it was back in Liverpool for a Valentine’s Day dance at the Locarno Ballroom. Friday night the Beatles played the Ritz Ballroom in Birmingham. On Saturday, the group performed at the Carfax Assembly Rooms in Oxford.

On Sunday, February 17, the Beatles were at Teddington Studio Centre in Middlesex to tape a lip-synced performance of Please Please Me as part of the February 23 broadcast of the ABC television show Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the recording session for the Please Please Me album.

  1. At what venue did George Martin originally consider recording the Beatles first album?
  2. What Lennon-McCartney song was recorded during the Please Please Me LP session but not released until it was re-recorded for the group’s second album?
  3. What song did New Musical Express erroneously report as being recorded during the Please Please Me LP session?
  4. According to a story on the Beatles that ran in New Record Mirror, who was slated to sing lead when the Beatles recorded I Saw Her Standing There, for their first album?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

  1. George Martin was thinking about recording the Beatles first LP at the Cavern because the group had told him that they worked better in front of an audience. After seeing the group perform at the Liverpool club, he realized that it would be logistically impossible to record the Beatles there with all the screaming fans. Prior to seeing the band perform, he had also considered bringing an invited audience into the studio in London. This plan was also rejected when realized that inviting fans to the studio would result in total chaos.
  2. Although the Beatles recorded 13 takes of Hold Me Tight during the evening session for the Please Please Me album, the song was not included on the debut LP. Because the tape containing this part of the session is missing, it is not known how the song differed from the version recorded for the group’s second album, With The Beatles.
  3. Although the February 22, 1963, New Musical Express reported that the Beatles had recorded Little Eva’s Keep Your Hands Off My Baby during the Please Please Me album session, the song is not listed on the recording sheets.
  4. A few days before the group entered the studio to record their first album, Norman Jopling interviewed John for a cover story on the band that ran in the February 16, 1963, New Record Mirror. Jopling reported that although plans were indefinite for what would be on the Beatles forthcoming album, Hold Me Tight, There’s A Place and My Misery would be included, along with I Saw Her Standing There, with George on lead vocals. It is not known whether Jopling misunderstood John or whether John and Paul were planning to hand the vocal assignment on I Saw Her Standing There to George in the same way they gave him the lead vocal on their composition Do You Want To Know A Secret.

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50 Years Ago: Please Please Me Single Released in America

PLEASE PLEASE ME SINGLE RELEASED IN AMERICA

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After playing their last lunchtime concert at the Cavern on Monday, February 4, 1963, the Beatles were back on the road with the Helen Shapiro national tour. The group played its four-song sets that week at the following venues: Gaumont Cinema in Doncaster, Yorkshire on Tuesday; Granada Cinema in Bedford, Bedfordshire on Wednesday; Regal Cinema in Wakefield, Yorkshire on Thursday; ABC Cinema in Carlisle, Cumberland on Friday; and Empire Theatre in Sunderland, Durham on Saturday.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the first American record to bear the Beatles name was released on February 7, 1963, exactly one year prior to the group’s triumphant arrival in America. The disc, Vee-Jay 498, featured the same two songs as the group’s second U.K. single, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. The labels to all first pressings of the disc have the group’s name misspelled as “THE BEATTLES” with two “T”s. These records are worth over $3,000 in near mint condition.

The Beatles ended up on Vee-Jay, a Chicago-based independent label that specialized in R&B and gospel recordings, because Capitol Records failed to exercise its right of first refusal as EMI’s American subsidiary to issue the single. (Capitol had also declined to release the Beatles first single, Love Me Do b/w P.S. I Love You.) On January 10, 1963, Vee-Jay Records entered into a five-year licensing agreement with Transglobal Music Co., Inc. (an American corporation controlled by EMI) to issue the songs Please Please Me and Ask Me Why in America. A rider to the agreement also gave Vee-Jay a right of first refusal for all Beatles recordings owned by EMI for the length of the five-year contract.

The deal was brokered by Paul Marshall, a New York attorney who represented both Vee-Jay and Transglobal. Marshall offered Vee-Jay the single after several major companies, including Atlantic Records, had passed on the disc. His decision to offer the deal to Vee-Jay was based on his friendship with and respect for Vee-Jay president Ewart Abner, as well as the label’s then-recent success with a Frank Ifield single. After Capitol had declined to issue Ifield’s I Remember You, Vee-Jay released the single, which became a number five hit. In addition, Vee-Jay was doing well with another group of four white male singers, the Four Seasons, who quickly scored two number one hits with Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry.

Shortly after the single’s official release date, Chicago radio station WLS broadcast Please Please Me. The station’s March 8, 1963 survey indicates that Please Please Me by “Beattles” had been played for 3 weeks and lists the song at number 40. The survey from March 15 shows the single at its peak and final position of number 35.

Today’s trivia questions pertain to the first Beatles single released in America.

1. Who was the first disc jockey to play a Beatles record in America?

2. What American cities had radio stations that charted the Please Please Me single during 1963? (We are aware of five such cities.)

3. Which, if any, of the American music trade magazines (Billboard, Cash Box and Record Vendor) charted the Please Please Me single during 1963?

4. How many copies of Please Please Me were sold in America during 1963?

(A) 2,250

(B) 5,650

(C) 7,300

(D) 10,500

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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1. WLS (Chicago) disc jockey Dick Biondi, who frequently got together with Vee-Jay president Ewart Abner, recalls receiving a copy of the Please Please Me single in early February, 1963. Abner endorsed the 45 with his usual “I feel this could be a big record,” and Biondi liked what he heard. Biondi believes he may have debuted the single as early as Friday, February 8, 1963, during his 9:00 p.m. to midnight shift.

The WLS survey shown left has a picture of Dick Biondi at the bottom and lists Please Please Me by “Beattles” at number 35.

2. Chicago, San Bernardino, San Francisco, Miami and Houston. The highest the song got on any of the charts was #34 (KEWB San Francisco and KNUZ Houston)

3. None of the American music trade magazines charted the Please Please Me single during 1963.

4. B. Approximately 5,650 copies of Please Please Me were sold in America during 1963.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Gearing Up for First National Tour

BEATLES GEARING UP FOR FIRST NATIONAL TOUR

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The Beatles started the week of January 28, 1963, with a Monday evening concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. The following day the group got a rare day off before handling a Cavern lunchtime show on Wednesday. The Beatles closed the month on a high note with a lunchtime performance at the Cavern and two evening shows (8:00 pm and 11:00 pm) at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead. (The second show was added due to high ticket demand).

The weekend and the month of February began with a pair of Friday night concerts in the Midlands. The first was at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth, Staffs, followed by a late show at Maney Hall at St. Peter’s Church in Maney, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire.

Saturday evening, February 2, was the opening night of the Beatles first national tour. The group was part of an eight-act package. The tour kicked off at the Gaumont Cinema in Bradford, Yorks. Due to the number of other acts on the bill, the non-headlining Beatles were limited to four songs. Their set consisted of Chains, Keep Your Hand Off My Baby, A Taste Of Honey and, of course, the group’s new single, Please Please Me, which was starting to work its way up the charts. For some shows, the Beatles substituted either Love Me Do or Beautiful Dreamer into the lineup. The tour, but not the Beatles, took a few days off before resuming on Tuesday, February 5.

On Sunday, the Beatles were one of eight bands that played during an eight-hour rhythm and blues show at the Cavern.

The Beatles got some good news during the week as the January 31, 1963, issue of Mersey Beat showed the group’s Please Please Me single at number one in its Merseyside Tops chart. In the accompanying photo, John and George show off their new Gibson J-160E “Jumbo” acoustic-electric guitars.

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Today’s trivia questions pertain to the Beatles first national tour.

Q1: Who was the headliner on the Beatles first national tour that started on February 2, 1963?

Q2: What song did the Beatles write for and offer to the headliner of the tour?

Q3: When management of the headliner turned down the Lennon-McCartney song, what artist was given the song?

Q4: Who were some of the other acts appearing on the Beatles first national tour?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

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Helen Shapiro was the headliner on the Beatles first national tour. She had been voted Best British Female Singer in 1961 and 1962, although she was only 14 years old when she first won the award. Her hits included Don’t Treat Me Like A Child (#3), You Don’t Know (#1), Walkin’ Back To Happiness (#1) and Tell Me What He Said (#2).

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The Beatles wrote Misery for Helen Shapiro and sent a demo of the song to her recording manager at EMI’s Columbia label, Norrie Paramor. Shapiro’s management turned down the song, perhaps thinking that a song titled Misery would not be appropriate for the young lady who had topped the charts with Walkin’ Back To Happiness

Kenny Lynch, a black British singer, was given the song and became the first non-Beatle to record a Lennon-McCartney song. His single recording of Misery, released on March 22, 1963 (the same day as the Please Please Me album, which included the Beatles recording of the song), failed to chart.

In addition to Helen Shapiro and the Beatles, other acts on the tour included the Red Price Band, the Honeys (not the California girl group produced by Brian Wilson), Dave Allen (an Irish comedian), Danny Williams (a South African pop singer who scored a British number one in 1961 with a cover of Moon River), the Kestrels (a vocal harmony quartet that released records under their name and served as backing singers on numerous recordings), Kenny Lynch (a black singer who had a top ten hit in December 1962 with a cover of Up On The Roof), Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers (who substituted one night for the Beatles) and Billie Davis (who was on the charts with a cover of Tell Him, who was given two substitute appearances when Helen Shapiro was out with a cold).

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Promote Please Please Me Single

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On Monday, January 21, 1963, the Beatles were at EMI House in London to “perform” (mime) both sides of their new single, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, before an audience of 100 teenagers. This was part of EMI’s The Friday Spectacular show, which was broadcast on Radio Luxembourg on January 25.

On January 22, the group remained in London to participate in three BBC radio shows. The first was at the BBC’s Paris Studio where the group took part in the show Pop Inn, which was broadcast live at 1:00 p.m. The Beatles talked about their new single, Please Please Me, which was played on the show. One of the other guests was Jon Pertwee, who would later play the third incarnation of Dr. Who from 1970 – 1974. Then it was off to the Playhouse Theatre, where the Beatles recorded five songs for Saturday Club, a teen-oriented music show. The group recorded Some Other Guy, Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, Beautiful Dreamer and their two singles, Love Me Do and Please Please Me. The show was broadcast on January 26 at 10:00 a.m. Finally, the Beatles went back to Paris Studio to record three songs before a live audience for The Talent Spot. The group performed Some Other Guy and both sides of their new single, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. The show, which was set up by music publisher Dick James, was broadcast on January 29 at 7:00 p.m.

The following Wednesday morning the group headed back to Liverpool in a drive that turned out to be a frigid adventure when their van’s windshield shattered, exposing driver Mal Evans and the group to the bitter cold of January. That night the group played the Cavern.

On Thursday, the group appeared at NEMS record store to sign copies of the new single. The group gave a brief unplugged performance for customers. That night the Beatles performed at Assembly Hall in Flintshire, Wales. On Friday, the group played at Co-operative Hall in Lancashire for a Baptist Youth Club sponsored dance dubbed “The Greatest Teenage Dance!” on the promotional flyers. 

On Saturday, January 26, the group played two shows. The first was at the El Rio Club in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Then the group traveled 21 miles to King’s Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire for a late night show where the group performed a one-off cover of Walk Right In, a number one in America that was moving up the U.K. charts. Backstage, John and Paul began writing the song Misery, which would be offered to Helen Shapiro. (Her management would turn down the song because they viewed it as a downer.) The Beatles finished off the busy week with a Sunday show at the Three Coins Club in Manchester.

Today’s trivia questions deal with cover tunes performed by the Beatles in January 1963.

1. What American singer co-wrote and first recorded the song Some Other Guy?

2. What team of American song writers/producers co-wrote and produced the single Some Other Guy?

3. What American singer first recorded Keep Your Hands Off My Baby?

4. Who wrote the song Keep Your Hands Off My Baby?

5. Who wrote the song Beautiful Dreamer?

6. What American folk group had an early 1963 number one hit with Walk Right In? (Bonus: Who wrote the song?)

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

1 and 2. Some Other Guy was co-written and recorded by Richie Barrett. The team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller co-wrote the song with Barrett and produced his recording of the song. Although Some Other Guy was not a hit, it was included in the repertoire of several Liverpool bands. Leiber and Stoller were best known for their work with the Coasters. The Beatles performed several Coasters songs in their early stage shows. The Live At The BBC album contains their performance of Some Other Guy and the Coasters recording of the Leiber-Stoller song Youngblood.  The first Anthology album contains their performances of the Coasters recordings of the Leiber-Stoller songs Searchin’ and Three Cool Cats, both taken from the Decca audition tapes.

3 and 4.  Keep Your Hands Off My Baby was recorded by Little Eva as the followup to her hit single The Locomotion. The songs were written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King (yes, that Carole King). Little Eva served as their baby sitter.

5. Beautiful Dreamer is an old standard written by Stephen Foster as a ballad. The Beatles version retains the melody and some of the lyrics, but is performed at a much faster pace.

6. Walk Right In was a number one hit in early 1963 for the Rooftop Singers, an American folk trio. The song was written by Gus Cannon and recorded in 1929 by Cannon’s Jug Stompers.

some-other-guy keep-your-hands-off

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UK-13

50 Years Ago: Beatles Promote Please Please Me Single

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On Sunday, January 13, 1963, the Beatles were at Alpha Television to tape an appearance for the television program Thank Your Lucky Stars. The show was popular with Britain’s teenagers and was carried by many stations throughout the U.K. The Beatles mimed performance of Please Please Me was broadcast on Saturday, January 19, 1963, a week after the single’s release. The national exposure generated by the show helped push the record up the charts.

This important television appearance was arranged by a new contact made by Brian Epstein, music publisher Dick James. When the Beatles first single, Love Me Do, failed to receive the promotion expected by Brian, he expressed his displeasure with the song’s publisher, Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd., to George Martin. The Beatles producer agreed to help Brian find a new publisher for the Beatles next release.

One of Martin’s recommendations was Dick James, a singer whom Martin had produced in the mid-fifties. Although James was struggling as a music publisher, his former career had left him with great contacts in the entertainment industry. When Brian brought him an acetate of the soon-to-be-released Please Please Me single, James responded favorably to the song. He impressed Brian with his enthusiasm and sewed up the publishing for the single by quickly lining up an important television appearance for the Beatles with one phone call to his friend Philip Jones, the producer of Thank Your Lucky Stars. This would soon lead to a publishing arrangement that would make James a fortune.

On Monday, January 14, the Beatles played the Civic Hall in Ellesmere Port, 19 miles south of Liverpool. On Wednesday, the group traveled to Manchester for two promotional bookings. After an afternoon of rehearsals for both events, the Beatles appeared live on the 6:35 p.m. Granada Television show People And Places, miming both sides of their new single, Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. Then it was off to the Playhouse Theatre to record four songs for future broadcast on January 25 on the BBC radio program Here We Go. In addition to the new single, the group also recorded Chains and Three Cool Cats, although the latter song was not included in the show. Thursday, January 17, was a performance double header, with a lunchtime show at the Cavern and a sold out evening concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead. Please Please Me made its chart debut in the January 17, 1963 issue of Record Retailer.

The weekend schedule was typical of the time. On Friday, the group played the Floral Hall Ballroom in Morecambe. On Saturday, January 19, the Beatles were watched by a large young TV audience on Thank Your Lucky Stars and could later be seen in concert at the Town Hall Ballroom in Dodington, Whitchurch, Shropshire. On Sunday, the Beatles played an evening show at the Cavern.

Meanwhile, in America, Vee-Jay Records was preparing Please Please Me and Ask Me Why for single release. As evidenced by the packing slip shown below, Universal Recording Corp. in Chicago shipped two acetates of the songs to Audio Matrix in New York for manufacture of the metal parts used to press the single. This packing slip is the oldest known surviving piece of American Beatles memorabilia.

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Today’s trivia questions deal with the early days of the Beatles music publishing.

  1. What American record company set up Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd., the music publisher for the Beatles first single?
  2. Brian Epstein initially fancied John and Paul’s songs being published by the American company Hill & Range because the company controlled the catalog of which major American recording artist? 
  3. What British TV show theme, sung by Dick James and produced by George Martin, became a number 14 hit single when released on Parlophone in 1956.

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Ardmore & Beechwood Ltd., the music publisher for the Beatles first single, was a British joint stock company set up by Capitol Records’ music publishing subsidiary, Beechwood Music Corporation, to handle publishing in the U.K. Ironically, the publishing on the Beatles first single was initially owned by the British publishing branch of Capitol Records, the same company that would turn down the Beatles not once, but four times!

Brian Epstein fancied John and Paul’s songs being published by the American publishing company Hill & Range because the company controlled the music catalog of Elvis Presley. Brian was impressed with the promotion of Elvis and believed his boys would one day be bigger than Elvis. George Martin advised Brian against placing the publishing with a large company, believing that the Beatles would be better off with a small publisher that would work hard for the group.

Dick James’ single of the theme for the British TV show Robin Hood became a number 14 hit in 1956 on the Parlophone label. James association with the record’s producer, George Martin, would later lead to him obtaining the music publishing for most of the Beatles catalog.

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UK-13

50 Years Ago: Beatles in Scotland

BEATLES COMPLETE TOUR  OF SCOTLAND; PLEASE PLEASE ME RELEASED

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The Beatles began 1963 with a tour of Scotland that ran from January 2 through January 6, although the first date was cancelled due to a snow storm. On Tuesday, January 8, the group was at Scottish Television in Glasgow to lip-sync their soon-to-be-released single, Please Please Me, for the children’s television program Roundup. The performance was broadcast in Glasgow later that afternoon on the 5:00 pm show.

On Thursday, January 10, the group was back in Liverpool, headlining a five-act concert at Grafton Rooms. The next day was a particularly busy day for the boys. After completing their lunchtime concert at the Cavern, the band headed south to Old Hill, Staffordshire, for an early evening show at the Plaza Ballroom. They were scheduled to play a late evening concert at the Ritz Ballroom in Birmingham, Warwickshire, but it had to be postponed due to bad weather and poor road conditions. On Saturday, they ventured further south to Kent, to play an evening show at the Invicta Ballroom in Chatham.

But the highlight of the week was the release of group’s second single, Please Please Me, which was issued on January 11, 1963. Anticipation was high, as George Martin had told the group that he expected the song to reach number one on the charts. The previous week, Mersey Beat ran an article on the recording of the single in which Alan Smith raved about the song and talked of its “solid, insistent beat, defying you not to get up and dance.” He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the single jumped right into the Top Ten.

Other publications predicted success for the disc. Record Retailer reviewed the single in its January 10, 1963, issue, stating that the group was “destined to be regular chart entries” and that their second record “has chart written all over it and seems sure to do well.” The January 12 New Record Mirror described Please Please Me as a “high-pitched number with plenty of guts, and good tune, vocalizing and some off-beat sounds.” The magazine also praised the flip side and called the single a “good all-around disc — one worth buying” with sounds “that other British groups can’t reproduce.” In NME, Keith Fordyce wrote, “This vocal and instrumental quartet has turned out a really enjoyable platter, full of beat, vigour and vitality–and what’s more, it’s different. I can’t think of any other group currently recording in this style.”

Despite growing enthusiasm for the Beatles in the U.K., Capitol Records in the United States once again decided against releasing the group’s latest single. An alternative arrangement was found for the Beatles when Vee-Jay Records, Inc. entered into a licensing agreement with Transglobal Music Co., Inc. on January 10, 1963, for the rights to manufacture, advertise and sell in the United States the songs Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. The significance of this agreement will be discussed in future columns.

Meanwhile, back in the U.K., fans who paid attention to songwriting credits noticed a change from the group’s first single, with both songs being credited to “McCartney – Lennon” rather than “Lennon – McCartney.” Today’s trivia questions deal with the songwriters credits.

  1. Who was responsible for the “McCartney – Lennon” credits on the U.K. discs?
  2. Which Beatles U.K. records have “McCartney – Lennon” songwriters credits?
  3. Which Beatles U.S. records have “McCartney – Lennon” songwriters credits?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

George Martin wrote the label copy for the Beatles records in 1962 and 1963. For reasons unknown, he listed the songwriters credits as “McCartney – Lennon” for the group’s second single and continued the practice until instructed by John to go back to “Lennon – McCartney.”

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In the U.K., the “McCartney – Lennon” songwriters credits appear on both sides of the group’s second and third singles, Please Please Me c/w Ask Me Why and From Me To You c/w Thank You Girl, as well as on the original songs appearing on the Please Please Me album, including Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You, which were both credited to “Lennon – McCartney” on the group’s first single.

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In the U.S., the “McCartney – Lennon” songwriters credits first appeared on the second Beatles single released by Vee-Jay, From Me To You c/w Thank You Girl. Oddly enough, Vee-Jay’s initial Beatles single, Please Please Me c/w Ask Me Why, has “Lennon – McCartney” credits. Vee-Jay’s third single (VJ 581),which paired the two A-sides Please Please Me and From Me To You, has “Lennon – McCartney” on the Please Please Me side and “McCartney – Lennon” on the From Me To You side. The “McCartney – Lennon” credit also appears for all original songs on both versions of Vee-Jay’s Introducing The Beatles LP.

The Tollie single featuring Twist And Shout b/w There’s A Place has the “McCartney – Lennon” credit on its B-side. Both sides of VJ 587, Do You Want To Know A Secret and Thank You Girl, have “McCartney – Lennon” credits. The two original songs appearing on the Vee-Jay EP Souvenir Of Their Visit To America, namely Misery and Ask Me Why, also have “McCartney – Lennon” credits. The final Vee-Jay single, which pulled Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You from the Introducing The Beatles LP, also has “McCartney – Lennon” credits.

In case you are wondering, the Capitol LP The Early Beatles, which contains several songs from the Please Please Me album, has “John Lennon – Paul McCartney” credits.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Ring in New Year in Hamburg

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The Beatles celebrated the start of 1963 with a New Year’s Eve concert at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. The show was a fitting close to the group’s Hamburg days, during which the band made five trips to the city and logged approximately 800 hours on stage. This was an important part of the group’s development. George Harrison summed it up nicely, “we got very tight as a band in Hamburg.”

During the Beatles final 14-day Hamburg appearance, Star-Club stage manager Adrian Barber recorded some of the acts performing at the club, including the Beatles. Twenty-six of the songs performed by the Beatles were eventually issued in America in June 1977 on the LP Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany; 1962. Although the sound quality of the recordings is poor, they provide a fascinating insight into how the group sounded at the time just before they made it big.

The recordings first appeared on an album released in Germany in late April 1977. Prior to the album’s release in America, John Lennon obtained a copy of the German LP. John wrote a memo (most likely prepared for his attorney) regarding the contents of the album and its liner notes, which falsely claimed that recordings were from early 1962, before the Beatles signed their contract with EMI. As a result of the memo, four songs were dropped from the LP for its American release. The fascinating story about the Hamburg recordings and John’s reaction to them appears on pages 118 – 124 of the book The Beatles Swan Song: “She Loves You” & Other Records. (The book is on sale for $22 through January 4, 2013.)

Today’s trivia questions are about the Beatles songs recorded at the Star-Club. 

1. What two Lennon-McCartney songs were recorded at the Star-Club and were included on the German LP, but not on the American LP? (Hints, if you want them. One of the songs opens a Beatles LP. The other had been recorded by the Beatles at the time of the Star-Club shows, but had not yet been released.)

2. What non-Lennon-McCartney song that was a hit single in America in early 1964 appears on the German LP, but not on the American LP?

3. Name the eight songs appearing on the American Star-Club LP that were later recorded by the Beatles for Parlophone LPs. (Hints, if you want them. A. One of the songs is sung by George and opened the Beatles first U.S. concert. B. Two of the songs are show tunes sung by Paul. C. Two of the songs are rockers sung by Paul that were previously recorded by Little Richard. D. One of the songs is a Carl Perkins tune sung by George. E. One of the songs is sung by John at the Star-Club and by Ringo on the recording made at Abbey Road. F. One of the songs was originally recorded by Dr. Feelgood & the Interns.)

4. Who were the guest vocalists on the songs Be-Bop-A-Lula and Hallelujah I Love Her So and which Beatles normally sang these songs in concert?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

swan-119-STAR-CLUB-FRONT

1. I Saw Her Standing There and Ask Me Why.

2. Twist And Shout

3. (A) Roll Over Beethoven; (B) A Taste Of Honey and Till There Was You; (C) Long Tall Sally and Kansas City; (D) Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby; (E) Matchbox; and (F) Mr. Moonlight.

4. Star-Club waiter Fred Fascher sang lead on Be-Bop-A-Lula, which was normally sung by John in concert. Star-Club manager (and Fred’s brother) Horst Fascher sang lead on Hallelujah I Love Her So, which was normally sung by Paul in concert.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles spend Christmas in Hamburg

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The Beatles were in Hamburg, Germany, playing their final appearances at the Star Club. The December 27, 1962 issue of Record Retailer showed the group’s debut single, Love Me Do, at its peak position on the charts at number 17. The next year the Beatles would be playing Christmas shows in London as the number one act in Great Britain. The group would also issue its first in a series of annual Christmas records for members of its fan club.

Today’s trivia questions deal with Christmases past.

What song was number one on the December 27, 1962 Record Retailer Britain’s Top 50 chart at the time the Beatles Love Me Do single peaked at number 17?

During what years did the Beatles issue Christmas records for members of its Fan Club in Great Britain? (Bonus: During what years were Christmas records issued by the Beatles Fan Club in the United States?)

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

Elvis Presley’s Return To Sender was number one on the December 27, 1962 Record Retailer Britain’s Top 50 chart at the time the Beatles Love Me Do single peaked at number 17.

The Beatles U.K. Fan Club issued Christmas records every year from 1963 through 1970, although the 1970 record was an album containing all the prior Christmas messages. In America, the first Christmas disc was mailed in 1964, although it contained the 1963 Christmas message. No Christmas disc was sent in 1965. The American Fan Club sent out discs in 1966 through 1970, with the 1970 album containing all of the prior Christmas messages, including the 1964 and 1965 Christmas messages that had yet to be issued in America.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Leave for Final Hamburg Club Dates

By mid-December, 1962, the Beatles were finally beginning to achieve the recognition that had long eluded them. Their first single, Love Me Do, was on the charts of several British music publications, including Melody Maker, New Musical Express and Record Retailer. The group was making radio appearances on the BBC and television appearances on Granada Television. Although the Beatles were still giving frequent shows at the Cavern, they had expanded past small clubs and were now playing more prestigious ballrooms and theaters. It was a great time to be in Merry Ole England.

However, it was also a time to honor commitments. On December 18, 1962, the Beatles headed back to Hamburg for a two-week engagement at the Star-Club. The previous day was a reminder of their bright future as the group made its third appearance on the Granada Television show People And Places, performing Love Me Do and Twist And Shout. But now it was back to Germany and away from friends, family and fans for the year-end holiday season. It would be the last time the Beatles played the Hamburg club circuit that had been such an important part of their development.

Today’s trivia questions are about the Beatles in Hamburg.

1. How many trips did the Beatles make to Hamburg to perform in the clubs? (Extra credit: Name the dates of these trips)

2. What four venues did the Beatles perform at in Hamburg?

3. What singer was backed by the Beatles on six recordings he made in Hamburg? (Extra credit: Name the six songs.)

4. What two songs did the Beatles record as a band in Hamburg?

5. Who produced the Beatles Hamburg recordings?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

The Beatles made five trips to Hamburg: (1) August 17 – November 30, 1960; (2) April 1 – July 1, 1961; (3) April 13 – May 31, 1962; (4) November 1 – 14, 1962; and (5) December 18 – 31, 1962.

During their first visit to Hamburg, the Beatles played at the Indra Club through October 3, 1960, before moving to the Kaiserkeller the following day. Their second visit consisted on shows at the Top Ten Club. For their final three appearances in Hamburg, the Beatles played at the Star-Club.

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The Beatles, then consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, backed singer Tony Sheridan on six recordings made in Hamburg. My Bonnie and The Saints were released on the first single to have the name “Beatles” on the label in the U.K. The other four songs were Sweet Georgia Brown, Why, Nobody’s Child and Take Out Some Insurance On Me Baby (also known as If You Love Me, Baby).

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The Beatles recorded Ain’t She Sweet with John Lennon on lead vocal and an instrumental titled Cry For A Shadow, which was written by George Harrison and John Lennon. (Although the M-G-M single issued in the U.S. is credited to “The Beatles with Tony Sheridan,” Tony Sheridan did not participate in the recording.)

The Beatles Hamburg recordings were produced by Bert Kaempfert.

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50 Years Ago: Beatles Top Mersey Beat Poll Again

BEATLES TOP MERSEY BEAT POLL AGAIN

For the second year in a row, the Beatles were at the top of the Mersey Beat popularity poll. The group had won the poll the prior year with Pete Best on drums.

As usual, there was little time for celebration as Brian had booked the Beatles with an eight days a week performance schedule. On Sunday, December 9, 1962, the group played its regular Sunday night show at the Cavern. This time, George Martin was in attendance. On Monday, the Beatles were back at the Cavern for a lunchtime concert. On Tuesday, the group played the La Scala Ballroom in Runcorn, before returning to the Cavern the next day for lunchtime and evening shows.

On Thursday, December 13, the Beatles headed south for a concert at the Corn Exchange in Bedford, Bedfordshire. The next evening the group played the Music Hall in Shrewbury, Shropshire.

On Saturday night, December 15, the Beatles played an evening concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead. Then they played at the Majestic as part of the concert bill for the first Mersey Beat poll awards show, which started at midnight. As the headliners for the show, the Beatles did not finish their set until 4:00 a.m. They were presented an award for topping the poll by Mersey Beat publisher Bill Harry. After sleeping through a good part of Sunday, the Beatles were back at the Cavern for their regular Sunday night gig.

Today’s questions pertain to Mersey Beat magazine.

1. Which Beatle wrote an article on the origin of the Beatles for the first issue of Mersey Beat magazine?

2. What is the connection to that article and the title song of an album recorded by Paul McCartney?

3. What group finished second to the Beatles in the first Mersey Beat poll?

4. According to Mersey Beat publisher Bill Harry, what group had the most ballots at number one in the first Mersey Beat poll, but did not finish first because 40 votes were disqualified?

5. Why was Pete Best present at the first Mersey Beat poll awards show held at the Majestic Ballroom on December 15, 1962?

[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]

1. John Lennon wrote an article for the first issue of Mersey Beat that Bill Harry titled “Being A Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Beatles, Translated From the John Lennon.”

2. In the article, John claims that the group’s name came in a vision when a man appeared in a flaming pie and said “From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’.” The title song to Paul’s 1997 album was Flaming Pie.

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3. Gerry & the Pacemakers were the official runner up to the Beatles in the first Mersey Beat poll.

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4. Rory Storm & the Hurricanes got the most ballots for number one in the first Mersey Beat poll, but Bill Harry disqualified 40 votes that were all written in green ink by the same person. Without those 40 votes, the group fell from first to fourth place. (As far as we know, the drummer for Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, namely Ringo Starr, did not own a green ink pen at the time!)

5. Pete Best was at the first Mersey Beat poll awards show held at the Majestic Ballroom on December 15, 1962, in his role as the drummer for Lee Curtis & the All-Stars. The group was the runner-up to the Beatles that year.

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