What four songs recorded by Peter & Gordon were written by Paul McCartney and what was the songwriting credit for each of these songs?
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“World Without Love,” Nobody I Know,” “I Don’t Want To See You Again,” and “Woman” were written by Paul McCartney and given to Peter & Gordon (Peter Asher and Gordon Waller). The first three are credited to “Lennon-McCartney,” while “Woman” was initially credited to “Bernard Webb” and later “A. Smith.” The duo was the recipient of these songs due to Paul dating Peter’s sister, Jane Asher. “World Without Love” topped the U.S. charts, while “Nobody I Know” peaked at 12 and “I Don’t Want To See You Again” peaked at 16, all in 1964. In an attempt to prove that one of his songs could be a hit even if the public didn’t know it was written by a Beatle, Paul used the name Bernard Webb for the songwriter’s credit for “Woman.” The ruse was quickly blown apart when people realized that it had the same publisher, Maclen Music, as the Lennon-McCartney songs issued by the Beatles starting in mid-1964. (Both “I Don’t Want To See You Again” and “Woman” are credited to Maclen Music, Inc.) “Woman” was released in early 1966 and peaked at 14 on the U.S. charts.
What were the names of John Lennon’s first band and Pete Best’s first band?
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The answer to this question is in the cards. John Lennon and Pete Shotton formed the Black Jacks, which was quickly renamed the Quarrymen. Before joining the Beatles, Pete Best played drums for a group known as the Blackjacks. The bass player for the Blackjacks, Chas Newby, played a few concerts for the Beatles after Stu quit the Beatles to remain in Hamburg.
Which Beatles song is heard at the beginning of the last Monkees’ TV episode?
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In the last episode of “The Monkees” TV series, “The Frodis Caper” (also known as “Mijacgeo”), the Monkees wake up to the opening of “Good Morning Good Morning” played on a record player that is part of an elaborate alarm clock.
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”, directed by Martin Scorsese, aired on HBO Wednesday, October 5th and Thursday, Oct 6th at 9pm. At the New York premiere, Martin Scorsese explained that , “the film took over 6 years to make and fifty people worked on it”, while Oliva Harrison shared, “I never imagined this film would get finished. It could not be rushed. It had to just sit. In the last five years we have what George would call, ‘the support of nature’. George’s true essence was so elusive and subtle. His life was so known and so big, but his inner self was very difficult to capture. I don’t think anyone but Marty could capture it.”
BRUCE SPIZER, IS A BEATLES HISTORIAN AND THE AUTHOR OF, “THE BEATLES’ STORY ON CAPITOL RECORDS”, “THE BEATLES ARE COMING: THE BIRTH OF BEATLEMANIA IN AMERICA”, and “BEATLES FOR SALE ON PARLOPHONE RECORDS”, and five other Beatles books. He took the time to answer the following questions listed below.
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “What can you tell me that has rarely, if ever, been said about, “The Beatles”?
A: BRUCE SPIZER: “With so much already written about “The Beatles”, that is hard to do. I was fortunate to uncover some very interesting and little known facts when researching my books. I came across an interview made during “The Beatles” first U.S. visit in February, 1964, in which New York TV reporter Gabe Pressman asks Paul, “What effect do you think “The Beatles” will have on Western culture?” Paul is amused by the question and responds, “I don’t know. You must be joking with that question. It’s not culture.” When asked what it is, Paul replies, “It’s a laugh”. This shows the innocence of the times. While Gabe Pressman’s question now appears to be very astute, he was being sarcastic, as if to say, “Where do you think you will be in a few months?” But as we know now, “The Beatles”, have had a tremendous impact on Western culture.
I also uncovered the fact that CBS broadcasted a five-minute feature story on “The Beatles” on the CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace in November, 1963. No one, including, Mike Wallace, remembered the broadcast because President Kennedy was shot a few hours later.
“The Beatles” first U.S. single, “Please, Please Me”, was released on February 7, 1963, exactly one year prior to the group arriving in America for the first time. While the record was largely ignored at the time, “The Beatles” arrival exactly one year later, was national news.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “When did the John/Paul competition start?”
A: Bruce Spizer: “I would imagine that the competition between John and Paul was htere from the very beginning. When John first met Paul, he was impressed with Paul’s abilities. He had to decide whether to take Paul into his band and no longer be the most talented musician in the group, or decline to let Paul join the band and remain the group’s best musician. John chose to take in Paul because he knew it would improve the band.
There was always competition between John and Paul over getting the A-sides of singles. In the early days, John normally had the A-side, although some songs were true John and Paul compositions. John also insisted that songs be credited to “Lennon-McCartney”. This was done for the first two singles, but producer, George Martin, listed songs as “McCartney-Lennon” for the group’s first LP and the third single. At John’s insistence, all future records said “Lennon-McCartney”. It was a friendly competition in that John and Paul pushed each other to write better songs. When Paul came up with a great song like “Hey Jude”, John would admit it should be the A-side even though he initially wanted his “Revolution” as the A-side. Their competition brought out the best in them as songwriters.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: How did it grow (before Yoko ever came in)?
A: BRUCE SPIZER: “It wasn’t so much that Yoko increased the completion between John and Paul, it was more a case of John electing to spend all of his time with Yoko, which meant he had little time for Paul. During the “Let It Be” project, there was very little competition for songs as John had only a few new songs to offer. For “Abbey Road,” John pushed for an album of separate songs, while Paul liked George Martin’s idea for a long medley or suite of songs. A compromise was reached where side one was separate songs and side two was dominated by a huge medley.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Was Ringo ever replaced during the studio recording process by another drummer?”
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“Ringo played drums during “The Beatles” first proper EMI recording session held on September 4, 1962. “Love Me Do”, and “How Do You Do It?” a non-Lennon-McCartney song, were recorded that day. Neither George Martin, nor his assistant, Ron Richards, were pleased with the drum sound, so Ron Richards brought in a session drummer, Andy White, when the group was sent back into the studio one week later, on September 11th. They re-recorded, “Love Me Do”, and recorded another Lennon-McCartney original, “P.S. I Love You.” Andy White played drums on both tracks, while Ringo played tambourine on “Love Me Do” and shook maracas on “P.S. I Love You.” The group’s first single used the version of “Love Me Do” with Ringo on drums coupled with “P.S. I Love You.” When the group’s first album was compiled, the version of “Love Me Do” with Andy White on drums was used.
During the recording of “The White Album” in 1968, Ringo temporarily quit the group after an argument with Paul over the drumming on “Back In The U.S.S.R.” McCartney played drums on that song, along with “Dear Prudence,” before Ringo returned to the sessions. Paul also played drums on “Wild Honey Pie,” an experimental piece he knocked out himself during the “White Album” sessions.
Paul was the drummer on “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” which was recorded entirely by John and Paul in April 1969. John was in a hurry to record the song, so he and Paul did it by themselves because Ringo was busy filming “The Magic Christian” and George was out of the country.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Why didn’t Paul show up to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?”
A: BRUCE SPIZER: “That is a question you’ll have to ask Paul.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “How did George Martin get involved?”
A: BRUCE SPIZER: “In addition to being a record producer, George Martin was the head of EMI’s ‘Parlophone’ label. Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, was referred to George Martin by Sid Colman, who was the general manager of a British publishing company set up by Capitol Records to handle U.K. publishing. After giving “The Beatles” an artist test on June 6, 1962, Martin began his association with the group. At the time, Martin did not know that “The Beatles” had been turned down by EMI’s two major labels, Columbia and HMV. ”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Were decisions made by the four Beatles voting?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“All decisions of the Beatles were normally made with all four in agreement, though John and Paul were influential enough so that if the two of them were in favor of something, George and Ringo often capitulated even though they
did not necessarily agree. An example of this was the use of the Butcher photo on the cover of the album “Yesterday And Today.” John came up with the idea to use the photo for the cover and Paul thought it would be cool. Although Ringo and George did not like the idea, they did not formally object to its use. John did not always get his way. The song “Revolution” was re-recorded to get a faster version of the song for the single. John was unable to get the song “What’s The New Mary Jane?” on “The White Album.” The group was deeply split on the hiring of Alan Klein to manage Apple and the Beatles. Paul objected and never signed an agreement with Klein”.
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Who decided the final songs on the records?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“As the group’s producer and the head of the Parlophone label, George Martin was responsible for deciding what songs the group would record and what would end up on the records. Although he forced the Beatles to record “How
Do You Do It,” a song written by a professional songwriter, for the group’s first session, he never did so again, allowing the Beatles to chose the songs to record. He wisely recognized the group’s talent and saw no need to
select songs for them.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: The order of the songs on the records?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“George Martin selected the running order of the songs on the group’s albums released from 1962 – 1966. By the time “Sgt. Pepper” was recorded, John and Paul were heavily involved in selecting the running order of the songs with
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Besides the writer royalty, was everything else split equally?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“After Ringo’s brief probationary period with the band ended, all group income was split equally. John and Paul made more money due to songwriter’s royalties.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Where should I go on the Liverpool tour?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“The Cavern, John and Paul’s houses, Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, the church were John met Paul. Just walk around and get the flavor of the city. Also go to the Beatles museum.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Are you going to see Scorsese’s new documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”?
A: BRUCE SPIZER:
“Of course. I am looking forward to it. A great film maker doing a documentary on a great man and musician.”
Beatlesnews.com has learned that Bruce Spizer received a small number of advance copies of his upcoming book “Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records.” According to Spizer, the copies arrived about a week ahead of schedule, giving him confidence that the book will indeed be available for sale at the August 5 – 7, 2011, Fest for Beatles Fans in Chicago and later that month at the International Beatles Week in Liverpool. He will also have the book for the Washington, D.C. Abbey Road on the River over Labor Day weekend.
Spizer indicated that he was very pleased with how the book came out. “The colors look great. Although I was concerned that the black with silver print Parlophone labels would make for a dull-looking tome, there are enough colorful posters, record jackets, 45 sleeves and other cool images to make the book a visual treat comparable to my other books.”
The book is a massive 444 pages and comes with a 24-page booklet containing a checklist of all of the label variations and cover variations of the Beatles U.K. records released in the sixties. The booklet also contains ads from respectable Beatles vendors and a pictorial bibliography.
Fans will also have the option of buying the book with a slipcase. Spizer said, “I am delighted with the case. It is green to match the color of the Parlophone singles sleeves. It has an image of the “Paperback Writer” label on one side and the “Please Please Me” red label single in its multi-colored geometric sleeve on the other.”
The special Collector’s Edition comes in the slipcase along with a bookmark, a poster showing the covers of the Beatles U.K. album covers and EP jackets, a color print by artist Eric Cash of the Beatles performing “Hey Jude” and a replica of the “Penny Lane”/”Strawberry Fields Forever” promotional card prepared by Tony Barrow for NEMS. Spizer indicated that the book contains two other drawings by Eric Cash. One depicts John singing “All You Need Is Love” for the Our World broadcast. The other, featuring Paul singing “Get Back” during the roof top concert, was drawn by Cash especially for the book.
Co-author Frank Daniels is also excited about the book, having just received his copy. Daniels says that “Now that I’ve actually seen the finished product, I am even more convinced that fans and collectors alike will learn quite a bit about the Beatles from reading the book.” The book devotes a chapter to each of the Beatles records. According to Daniels, “There is something fun in every chapter. We solved a few mysteries and busted a few myths along the way.”
The book will be officially published on October 5, 2011, which is the 49th anniversary of Parlophone 4949, the Beatles first single, “Love Me Do.” Spizer expects to send pre-publication orders received before July 15 out in early August. The book has two cover variations. One cover features the jacket to the mono “Beatles For Sale” LP, while the other has the jacket to the stereo version of “Beatles For Sale.” Spizer said pre-orders are brisk, with about 70% requesting the mono cover.
On August 22, 1968, Apple Records’ Los Angeles office sent press kits to radio station program directors across the United States. The kits were packaged in white envelopes with an Apple logo in the upper left corner serving as the return address. The logo was a solid green circle with a white apple in the center with the word “Apple” in white script above the stem. The post mark indicated that the package cost a then hefty eighty cents to air mail. The lucky recipients of these envelopes would be among the first people in America to see and hear what the Beatles new Apple venture was all about.
Those individuals following the group already knew that John, Paul, George and Ringo had formed a new corporation named Apple Corps. Ltd. The initial U.S. promotion of Apple had been handled earlier in the year by John and Paul, who flew to New York on Saturday, May 11, 1968, for a series of events designed to spread the word. From the very start it was obvious that Apple would be different — a blend of the Beatles individualism and creativity combined with the corporate world. There was also an attitude of doing things on a whim without considering the costs of frivolous behavior. John and Paul’s first Apple business meeting in the States set the tone. It was held on a Chinese junk sailing around New York harbor and the Statute of Liberty.
On Monday, May 13, John and Paul went public, giving interviews at the St. Regis Hotel. The next day they held a press conference at the American Hotel. On Tuesday night, John and Paul appeared as guests on The Tonight Show, which was hosted that evening by former baseball great Joe Garagiola subbing for Johnny Carson. Mission accomplished, they flew back to London the following evening.
Readers of the May 25, 1968, issue of Billboard encountered an article titled “Hungry Beatles Form Apple in Bid for Slice of Trades’ Pie.” Billboard reported that the first project for Apple’s music division would be a soundtrack album for the film Wonderwall, featuring a score and arrangements by George Harrison. The article indicated that the Beatles would produce records and write songs for Apple, but would not record for Apple as the group was under contract to EMI in England and Capitol in the U.S.
More details became available a week later in a Billboard story titled “Beatles’ Apple Firm Picking U.S. ‘Core’ of Staffers, Artist Roster.” The article touted Apple’s grandiose plans. The company would have offices in Los Angeles and New York. Apple was going to develop a roster with key American artists and had just signed the Modern Jazz Quartet, who had previously been on Atlantic Records. The Beatles would actively produce new artist sessions and devote much of their time to the company. Paul McCartney had recorded Apple’s first discovery, Mary Hopkins, a sixteen year old Scottish vocalist. [Her last name was actually Hopkin and she was from Wales.] Ron Kass, director of Apple Records, indicated that a number of British artists who had developed clannish friendships with the Beatles had indicated a willingness to join Apple upon expiration of their present recording contracts with other labels. High of the list of potential artists was the Rolling Stones, who for months had been reported as entering a musical venture with the Beatles.
The article further stated Apple’s Savile Row headquarters in London would house an elaborate recording studio, complete with a computer and a control board with 72 channels, designed by Greek engineer Alexis Mardas. [In 1968, 16 channels was considered state-of-the-art. When the Beatles attempted to use the studio built by "Magic Alex" during the Get Back/Let It Be project, they discovered Mardas didn't have a clue and were forced to bring in remote equipment from EMI.] Billboard reported that Apple was discussing U.S. manufacturing and distribution rights with five companies and hoped to reach a decision during June.
The June 29 Billboard announced that Apple Records had entered into an agreement with Capitol Records to manufacture and distribute Apple product in the United States and Canada. The August 17th issue of the magazine stated that the Beatles Apple Records project would get rolling on August 25 with the release through Capitol Records of five discs. The Initial releases would be the Wonderwall soundtrack and four singles, including a new Beatles disc featuring “two new songs written by them, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Hey Judge.'” [The latter song was really titled Hey Jude. The release of George Harrison's Wonderwall album was pushed back to the end of the year.] The other releases would be records by Jackie Lomax, Mary Hopkins and the Black Dyke Mills Band, a traditional British brass band. It was further reported that the Beatles were at work on a new album of their own for a scheduled fall release.
For those disc jockeys who had been monitoring Apple’s progress by reading trade magazines, the arrival of the classy looking white envelope with the Apple logo was truly a magic moment. Upon ripping open the envelope, the recipient encountered a glossy cream colored folder with a large Apple logo on its front side. Inside was a treasure of sound, visuals and text.
In contrast to the white envelope and folder were four distinguished-looking black center cut record sleeves. One proclaimed “The Beatles on Apple” in an attractive script font. The group’s name was in white and Apple in green. The other three sleeves merely said “Apple” in the same eye-catching green script letters. Peeking out of the center of each sleeve was a record label covered with a Granny Smith green apple.
The sleeves were not the only thing different about the singles. While most records had the same label design on both sides, these discs had a full green apple on one side and a sliced apple was its exposed white innards on the other side. The singles also had something new to most Americans — a slip guard consisting of 360 interlocking serations surrounding the label. Although the tiny grooves appeared to be an innovation of Apple, several British labels had been pressing discs with slip guards for years. By coincidence, Capitol had re-tooled its pressing plants for slip guard singles at the beginning of the month, so the Apple singles were among the first Capitol manufactured titles to take on the new look.
For program directors, the most important part of the package was the first new Beatles single in over five months: Hey Jude b/w Revolution. The quality of both sides of the single assured that listeners would stay put when the songs were aired. Disc jockeys were delighted to see that the running time for Hey Jude was an incredible 7:11. At the time the 45 was released in 1968, singles normally contained songs running between two and three minutes long. This record would truly be a DJ’s best friend when nature called or a groupie dropped by the station.
Because the Beatles were under contract to Capitol, their new record was assigned a Capitol catalog number, 2276, even though it was pressed with Apple labels and packaged in an Apple sleeve. There are at least ten different label variations of the Hey Jude single on Apple. The first pressings of the record do not have “Produced by: George Martin” or “Recorded in England” on their labels. The East Coast version has a master number (45-X-46434 for Hey Jude and 45-X-46435 for Revolution) below the record number (2276), whereas the West Coast first issue does not. The West Coast records were pressed by Capitol’s Los Angeles factory and have a machine stamped “*” symbol in the trail off areas. This LA first pressing was the version of the single included in the press kit. It was packaged inside a tab cut “The Beatles on Apple” sleeve.
The other three singles included in the press kit were also pressed by Capitol in LA and packaged in tab cut sleeves. Unlike the Beatles disc, they have Apple catalog numbers, beginning with 1800. The first of these was Thingumybob b/w Yellow Submarine by the John Foster & Sons Ltd. Black Dyke Mills Band. The text on both sides of the label is printed vertically. Thingumybob is credited to “McCartney & Lennon.” Both sides of the disc have a Paul McCartney production credit. Paul also produced Apple 1801, Mary Hopkin’s Those Were The Days b/w Turn, Turn, Turn. All label information on this 45 appears horizontally. Apple 1802 paired Sour Milk Sea and The Eagle Laughs At You by Jackie Lomax. The record was produced by George Harrison, who is given production credit on the label. George is mistakenly listed as the writer of both songs. Although he wrote Sour Milk Sea, the B side was penned by Lomax.
The press kit also included two 8″ x 10″ black and white glossies of each of the artists featured on the records. The Beatles are represented by their cartoon images from the Yellow Submarine film. Paul and his sheep dog Martha are pictured with the Black Dyke Mills Band in the brass band’s horizontal publicity still. Jackie Lomax and the lovely looking Mary Hopkin are each featured in vertical pictures. All four glossies have the artist’s name printed below the picture towards the left side and the Apple logo in lower right corner.
Recipients of the press kit learned about each artist through separate 8 1/2″ x 11″ information sheets and 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ booklets. The text of the information sheets is credited to Apple press agent Derek Taylor. Although no credit is given in the booklets, the writing is appears to be the work of Derek Taylor as well.
The information sheet on the Beatles reads in part:
“It is the Beatles again, doing it again, doing our minds in again with the magical mystic Beatle mastery of their medium. They are the message, are the medium. They have written and produced two sides for this new single which you know, you know beyond the thinnest wisp of a shadow of a doubt, will engage the most profound admiration from the public, from the industry, from those in other groups, who strive to match the Beatles achievements. ‘Hey Jude’ is lead sung by Paul McCartney and it is a long lovely loving love-song offering hope (‘Hey Jude, don’t be afraid… take a sad song and make it better…’) and beauty in the words and extraordinary melodic subtleties in the music. ‘Hey Jude’ is the longest song ever recorded by the Beatles (seven minutes and five seconds), and I would say it was the best if it weren’t for all those others that have gone before. I would say it was the best if, also, it were not that ‘Revolution’ — main voice John — were not so breathtaking vital and insistent. This is the new Beatle peace — with strength message, with the voices forced out of the grooves by a backing as new for Capitol now as Strawberry Fields was for then. A theme for today, ‘Revolution,’ written by revolutionary visionaries. The Beatles are without peer. Their music is magnificent. It can be said again and again as they sing and sing it again.”
The booklet on the Beatles is full of optimism and tells a story of the Beatles quite different from the feuding that was actually going on during the recording of the group’s first Apple album:
“The Beatles are in good health, of sound heart and willing spirit, and by the Fall the new evidence of their continuing supremacy will be spinning on the world’s turntables around the symbol of their own shimmering green Apple label.”
“At this moment they are deeply involved in the twin responsibilities of recording the album-successor to the profoundly respected Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and of administering the Happy Apple complex of companies in London.”
“John, Paul, George and Ringo, firmly united one for all and all for one as the Beatles, growing up and outwards, phasing their expansion so as to keep a hold on which might otherwise consume their precious careers and confuse the thread of their energy sources are confident and cheerful and the human condition will be thrilled by the coming results of their willing and enduring Beatle-bondage. Unhampered by the pressures of world stardom, entranced by their opportunities, simulated by the blossoming of Apple, they will give all of us new wonders to soothe our pain.”
“The end for now, but there is no end.”
While comments about “Happy Apple” and “willing and enduring Beatle-bondage” proved false, the statements about the brilliance of the Beatles new single were on target. Hey Jude quickly topped the charts and remained at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine straight weeks during its 19 week run. Revolution charted separately for 11 weeks and peaked at number 12. The Beatles first Apple single sold over three million units in its first two months of release.
The information sheet on the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band urges readers (including radio program directors) to “come on and hear about the best band in the land.” The opening text was a play on the lyrics from the tune Alexander’s Rag Time Band (“Come on and hear the best band in the land”). The accompanying booklet is titled “The Black Dyke Mills Band and a Beatle.” The reader learns that the band is 113 years old and is sponsored by John Foster and Son Ltd. of the Woollen Mills in the village of Queensbury, Yorkshire near Bradford. The band, which has 27 members plus a percussion section, won The National Champion Band of Great Britain award in 1967 for the seventh time since 1945. The sheet tells the following story:
“When Paul McCartney was faced with the challenge of producing his theme song for the London TV show ‘Thingumybob’ he decided to forget studio musicians, and the sophistication of formal studios and took himself up the trunk road which splits England from top to bottom. Up from exciting London to industrial Bradford in the north where, in an ancient city, he recorded The Black Dyke Mills Band in their home town. The results are strong and amazingly contemporary for within the song there are those strange, unique touches of the Beatle-flair. The ‘B’ side is ‘Yellow Submarine,’ one of the great youth marching songs of all time played as a march as it is begged to be played. Be played by them. March to them yourselves across the living room, be young again, and brave.”
Although the single was interesting and well produced, most program directors were not brave enough to play the single on their stations. It failed to chart and is highly collectible.
The booklet on Mary Hopkin tells the tale of how super model Twiggy saw the young Welsh folk singer on the British TV talent show Opportunity Knocks and was so impressed that she told Paul McCartney of her talent. Paul signed her to be part of the launching of his dream organization, Apple. The information sheet boldly predicted that “Mary Hopkin will be #1 in the charts with Those Were The Days.” According to Derek Taylor:
“The record is produced by Paul McCartney who is English, sung by Mary Hopkin who is Welsh, written by Gene Raskin who is American. It is for all ages, all tastes, all creeds, sensibilities, for anyone with the capacity to be stirred by music and is there anyone who has not this capacity? It is a long song: it builds, grips, embraces. It will be whistled, hummed, sung, translated, exploited, adapted all over the world. It will be one of the hits of the year.”
All of the above proved true except for the prediction that the song would be number one. Although Those Were The Days was number one in England, it had to settle for the second spot in the United States, where it could not get past Hey Jude.
Although the booklet on Jackie Lomax tells more of his background than most people would care to know, the information sheet gets straight to the point: “Jackie Lomax is from Liverpool and it shows.” Derek Taylor informs the reader that:
“George Harrison produced and wrote for this first Lomax solo effort on the fresh, new just-ripening APPLE label. It is called ‘Sour Milk Sea’ — the sea we all find ourselves in from time to time. ‘Get out of that Sour Milk Sea, you don’t belong there. Come back to where you should be……’ A few words of Beatle-warning, Lomax delivered. The backing of the record is astounding — listen to the guitar solo and know that Britain can still play rock’n’roll.”
Although the information sheet justifiably raves about the Lomax single, it tells the reader little about the song’s history and recording. Sour Milk Sea was written by Harrison during the Beatles stay with the Maharishi in India in March of 1968. The Beatles recorded a demo of the song in May of 1968 at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher, Surrey. The song was one of 23 tunes recorded in demo form for consideration for the upcoming Beatles album. For reasons unknown, George decided against recording it for the Beatles LP. Instead, he gave it to Lomax as his first Apple single. The song was recorded in late June with a line up featuring the Threetles. Lomax sings lead and plays rhythm guitar along with Harrison on rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, Ringo on drums, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Eddie Clayton on conga drums.
Sour Milk Sea is a great rock single that should have been a hit. Unfortunately for Lomax, Harrison and Apple, the song was overshadowed by the Beatles and Mary Hopkin singles and did not chart. The song was re-issued in July of 1971 on Apple 1834, this time paired with (I) Fall Inside Your Eyes. Once again, the song failed to chart.
The Apple press kit mailed to U.S. radio stations in August of 1968 is the American equivalent to the elaborately packaged “Our First Four” box, which contained the same debut singles and was distributed to British radio stations and members of the press. Although Apple reportedly delivered copies of the boxes to the Queen and the Prime Minister, it is unlikely that a copy of the U.S. press kit was sent to the White House.
Only one complete copy of the press kit, which is in the author’s collection, is known to have survived. Two other copies are near complete. Over thirty years later, it is still a thrill to go through the press kit, read its flowery Derek Taylor text, look at the pictures of the beautiful Mary Hopkin, the cartoon Beatles and Paul with his sheep dog Martha posing with a brass band, and, of course, play the great singles that launched Apple Records. One can only imagine the excitement created by that white envelope with the Apple logo all those years ago.
The story you’re about to read is true. No names were changed to protect anyone.
My name is Spizer. I carry a card. It says I’m a Beatles author/historian. I write and publish books on the Beatles and sometimes freelance for magazines and internet sites. This was one of those times.
I got a call on a Friday from a Peter Lindbald. He’s the new associate editor at “Goldmine” magazine. Seems they needed an article about a group a lot of their readers were interested in–The Smithereens. I told him I wasn’t from New Jersey and suggested that he assign the article to someone else. My beat was the Beatles.
Peter said that they could use a write up on the group, also know as the Fab Four, but didn’t want the same old stuff you read in other magazines. He added, “I want something new.”
I told him that album came out in August, 1964, and that it was already covered in my book “The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records.”
He said, “No, I mean something rare.”
“Like the Rarities album?” I asked.
“No. Mark Wallgren already covered that in an article appearing in December 9, 1994, issue of “Goldmine.” I want you to write about something that has perplexed Beatles fans and collectors for decades.”
So I asked, “What do you have in mind?”
He then asked that immortal question, “Remember The Titans?”
“Yeah,” I said. “That was the group that had six songs on an MGM album titled ‘The Beatles With Tony Sheridan And Their Guests.’ It came out in early February, 1964, during the height of Beatlemania. An exploitation album to cash in on the popularity of the Beatles, it had only four songs with any Beatles involvement, and they were recorded in Hamburg, Germany, back in 1961. Three of the tracks had lead vocals by Tony Sheridan; the other was an instrumental called ‘Cry For A Shadow.’ Although ‘Billboard’ charted the album at 68 and ‘Cash Box’ at 43, ‘Record World’ didn’t chart it at all.”
Peter was unimpressed. “Every Beatles expert knows that. But I want to know who were The Titans?”
I told him all I knew. “The liner notes on the MGM album call them the ‘rocking, socking’ Titans, who are described as ‘a group musically related to their English cousins [The Beatles].’”
Peter remained unimpressed. “Yeah. We can read, too. Our writers looked into it, but it seems that The Beatles didn’t have any cousins. Only people who claimed to be related to them, trying to cash in on their fame. You know the type. We thought we had a lead when a film came out a few years ago called ‘Remember The Titans,’ but it was about a high school football team. And then there was the NFL team in Tennessee, but they were to young to have been in the group. The Greek mythology angle didn’t pan out either. It was ancient history at best, most likely false idolatry. Tim Nealy checked with ‘Beatlefan,’ ‘Beatlology,’ ‘Penthouse.’ None of them had a clue.”
I took the bait. “So you want me to solve the mystery of who The Titans were and why they were on a Beatles album?”
“Yes. And you have to do it within our budget.”
I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But this was a subject that had frustrated Beatles and Talmudic scholars for what seemed like centuries. Sure it was a challenge, but I was up for it.
The first thing I did was check to see if the Titans had released an album on their own. I checked an MGM discography and found a Titans album titled “Today’s Teen Beat.” I looked for it on the internet and found one available for sale at $10. I immediately ordered the LP, hoping that there would be liner notes telling me all about the band. I also expected there to be a picture of the group. Knowing there was nothing further I could do until the album arrived, I took the weekend off and listened to my Smithereens CDs.
The album arrived at my office the following Tuesday afternoon. Had I been writing an article on the Moody Blues, it would have been an omen. But this was to be an epic of historic proportions on the Titans. When I pulled the LP out of the package, my heart sank. The only picture on the front album cover was that of the MGM lion. And the back cover had neither liner notes nor a picture. The only clue was a production credit to Danny Davis.
This Danny Davis fellow was my only lead. Maybe he’d be willing to talk if he wasn’t sworn to secrecy. But first I had to find him.
An internet search revealed that “Danny Davis” was an alias. His real name was George Nowlan. This guy had a rap sheet dating back to the thirties. Although he came from a good family and was educated at the New England Conservatory of Music, he fell in with a fast crowd at the age of 15, hooking up with some ringleader named Gene Krupa. During his stint with Krupa, he was used as one of the trumpet boys. He then got involved with other leaders such as Bob Crosby and Freddy Martin, as well as hit-men like the Blue Barron and Sammy the Kaye.
But Nowlan grew restless and decided to sing. He became part of the MGM syndicate, taken under the wing of a Harry Meseron, who advised him to change his name because it was too hard to pronounce. Meseron told Nowlan he “looked like a Danny.” Davis was picked as his last name because it was a big family name in the South.
By 1958, he was out of the singing racket, moving up to staff producer for the MGM syndicate. He arranged hits on Connie Francis, Conway Twitty and David Rose. In 1962, the vice squad investigated him for producing “The Stripper” for Rose, but no charges were brought when the song ended up on a commercial for Noxema Shaving Cream (“Take it off, take it off, take it all off”).
In 1965, he began working as top assistant to a notorious axe-man, Chet Atkins, before forming his own gang, Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass, in 1968. Although they never made the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List” or cracked the Top Ten of the “Billboard Top LP’s” chart, they were heavily into the numbers racket, charting ten albums between 1969 and 1980. According to the “Billboard Hot Country Singles” chart, Davis and his gang were involved in nine hits in the Nashville area from 1970 through 1987. For two of these hits, he brought in Willie Nelson, who had made a name for himself as an outlaw countryman and by engaging in a running battle with the boys from Internal Revenue.
This Davis was no Southern governor spreading sunshine, but maybe he had mellowed a bit. But was he willing to talk about his past? Was he even alive?
As fate would have it, I was scheduled to fly to Nashville the next day to appear as a speaker at a Beatles convention. I figured if Danny Boy was still active, he’d involved with the Union. They always were. My Nashville contact had a Union directory and gave me his number.
I quickly dialed the number, hoping that he would tell me the secrets of the Titans. Maybe it would be some sort of Deep Throat thing. “I’ll give you their names when they’re dead.” But, then again, maybe he would think it was time to come clean. After all, the statue of limitations had expired.
When he picked up the phone, I got right to the point. “Mr. Nowland, I’m a Beatles author/historian on an assignment for a great metropolitan newspaper, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. I need to know the truth about the Titans. I’ll be flying to Nashville tomorrow. Can we meet?”
Nowland said he could help me, but I’d have to do it his way. He didn’t want me to come by the studio. He didn’t want to be seen talking to the press. I suggested we meet in the control booth of an auditorium at TPAC. He knew the place and said he’d be there tomorrow at noon.
On the flight to Nashville the next morning, I was so excited I didn’t eat my peanuts. I was about to meet Danny Davis, the man who held the answers to the Titans mystery.
Shortly after noon, Davis walked into the control room. He looked younger than I imagined. He had thin brown hair, with only a touch of gray. He was also slim. This Davis was no Nashville fat cat.
I immediately presented him with the evidence–first the Beatles LP with the six Titans songs and then the smoking gun, the Titans album with his name as producer. I asked him if he was willing to talk about it. After all, it was a long time ago.
Davis agreed it was now time for the truth. The Titans were not a hip young rock ’n’ roll band. In fact, they were not a band at all. Davis confessed that he had put the group together to pull a con. The MGM syndicate wanted him to prey on youngsters craving for the big beat sound. So Davis assembled a gang of elite New York session musicians.
His top recruit was axe-man Billy Mure, a/k/a The Supersonic Guitar Man. Mure had been associated with the RCA Victor gang in the fifties, releasing “Supersonic Guitars in Hi-Fi” (RCA 1536), “Fireworks” (RCA 1694) and “Supersonics In Flight” (RCA 1869). He was know for multi-tracking guitar parts and producing a mix of jazz and exotica. He defected over to the MGM syndicate and was responsible for “Supersonic Guitars” (MGM 3780).
Davis also brought in Dick Hickson of the New York Philharmonic family on bass trombone, Don Lomond on drums and, for the intimidation factor, Milt “The Judge” Hinton on bass. He was proud of his gang, calling them “one take musicians,” meaning they got it right the first time, keeping studio costs to a minimum. He also admitted he had come up with the name and played trumpet, just like he had done for Krupa years earlier.
The Titans album was called “Today’s Teen Beat” (MGM E/SE 3992) and contained hits of the day such as “Last Night,” “Who Put The Bomp” and “Bristol Stomp.” The year was 1961. The liner notes proclaimed, “Try this LP on your turntable. It’s endsville!” But while the disc may have been endsville, it did not chart.
The MGM syndicate did not give up on its plans to exploit record buyers. This time they told Davis to go after adults. His targets were easy marks. The aging cocktail guzzler who wanted to show how hip and cool he was by embracing the latest dance crazes. The stay-at-home wife who wanted her kids to see how hip she was as she twisted the night away.
The album was called “Let’s Do The Twist For Adults” (MGM E/SE 3997) by Danny Davis and the Titans. It included twist-style arrangements of standards still under copyright such “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball” and “Johnson Rag,” plus tunes in the public domain: “The Man On The Flying Trapeze” was called “Flying Twist;” “Comin’ Thru The Rye” was called “Rye Twist;” “In The Good Old Summertime” was called “Summertime Twist;” and “Auld Lang Syne” was named “Happy New Year Twist.” Guitarist Billy Mure arranged the tracks and got an additional piece of the action by collecting songwriter royalties on the public domain selections. It was quite a scheme, but the public wasn’t buying.
In early 1964, Beatlemania hit America. The Capitol family of Hollywood, California, had dumped a fortune pushing the group on the youth of America. They ruthlessly aimed the music and long hair of the Beatles at vulnerable kids, showing total disregard for how the British invaders would corrupt this country’s youngsters. They were not alone. The Vee-Jay gang, which operated out of Chicago and was establishing a base in Los Angeles, was working to introduce the Beatles to America. In Philadelphia, the Swan syndicate also jumped in. These operations had no shame, putting profits ahead of the mental health of the country.
Not surprisingly, MGM wanted a piece of this Beatles action. MGM had a contract with a German mob, Deutsche Grammophon (“DG”), under which they would distribute German product in the States. This included the DG and Polydor labels. At an early January, 1964, meeting with Polydor’s New York representatives, MGM was presented with a copy of a German EP featuring four songs by Tony Sheridan & the Beatles, namely “My Bonnie,” “The Saints,” “Why” and “Cry For A Shadow.” Sheridan sang lead on the first three songs and the fourth was an instrumental written by George Harrison and John Lennon. Looking to exploit the Beatles name and fool the youth of America, MGM entered into a five-year contract giving them the exclusive rights to distribute the four songs in America. At the time the agreement was reached, they were the only four Beatles Hamburg recordings that had been released. Because DG switched its allegiance to the Atlantic/Atco family a few months later, MGM did not obtain the rights to the other four Tony Sheridan/Beatles recordings.
MGM wanted to penetrate both the singles market and the album market. They planned on unleashing a 45 featuring “My Bonnie” and “The Saints” (MGM K13213), but didn’t have enough Beatles songs for an LP. They quickly acquired the rights from DG for two more Tony Sheridan tracks (with no Beatles involvement) that appeared on a German single, “You Are My Sunshine” and “Swanee River.” But that left them six songs short of the dozen needed for an album.
Once again, MGM turned to Danny Davis. There wasn’t time for him to reassemble the Titans to pull off the job, so he took six songs off “Let’s Do The Twist For Adults.” To complete the con, he renamed the songs to get rid of the twist reference and add the emphasis on “beat,” as in Beatles. “Flying Twist” became “Flying Beat.” “Rye Twist” was renamed “Rye Beat.” “Summertime Twist” was christened “Summertime Beat.” And “Happy New Year Twist” became “Happy New Year Beat.” And that’s how the Titans ended up on a Beatles album.
I reminded Davis that when released on February 3, 1964, “The Beatles With Tony Sheridan And Their Guests” (MGM E/SE 4215), sold well enough to chart in both “Billboard” and “Cash Box.” We both found it odd that all 12 songs on the album were recorded and/or released in 1961. I had to admit that while the mixture of Beatles/Tony Sheridan recordings with twisting standards by the Titans sounds hokey on paper, playing the record straight through does provide an interesting and somewhat entertaining listening experience.
Davis, now 81, remains active in the Nashville music scene. As for Milton “The Judge” Hinton, he died in December, 2000, in Queens, New York, at the age of 90. Some jazz experts believe he played on more records than anyone else. Billy Mure formed his own production company and had success with Marcie Blane’s “Bobby’s Girl.” He relocated to Florida and, at age 94, plays the clubs on a regular basis with a female vocalist and occasionally fronts exotica bands. Meanwhile, a stereo copy of the Beatles/Titans LP “The Beatles With Tony Sheridan And Their Guests” is valued at $700 in near mint condition. And, at long last, we can remember the Titans.
[stextbox id="black"]The above article was originally published in a 2007 article in Goldmine Magazine. Danny Davis died on June 12, 2008.[/stextbox]
plus a special booklet containing a detailed checklist
Written by Bruce Spizer, with a healthy assist from Frank Daniels, Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records covers the all of the Beatles singles, albums and extended play discs issued in the U.K. from 1962 through 1970.
The book details how all of the recordings released by the group during that time were written, recorded and marketed in the U.K. — presented in the same style as Spizer’s previous critically-acclaimed books on the Beatles American record releases. In addition to discs with Parlophone labels, the book covers the Apple singles and albums manufactured and distributed by EMI, as well as the Fan Club Christmas discs and the Polydor releases of the group’s Hamburg recordings.
This book has it all.
444 pages plus a 24-page checklist. 9″ x 12″. Over 700 pictures, all in color or original black & white.
Available in Mono and Stereo covers (identical contents)
Signed & numbered. Limited to 400 stereo and 400 mono copies. You may request a particular number, but please be advised that many numbers have already been assigned. If the number you request is not available, you will receive the lowest available number. There are less than 60 Mono Slipcase Edition sets remaining and less than 150 Stereo Slipcase Edition sets remaining.
Comes with the slipcase, a poster, a limited edition Eric Cash print, a replica of a historic Beatles promotional card and a bookmark.
Signed & numbered. Limited to 200 stereo and 200 mono copies. You may request a particular number, but please be advised that many numbers have already been assigned. If you request a number that is not available, you will receive the lowest available number. The Mono Collector’s Edition is SOLD OUT. There are less than 50 Stereo Collector’s Edition sets remaining.
Bruce Spizer’s Beatles history books have been marvels of information for detail-obsessed fans like us. His latest, “The Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records” (also available online in the UK, Canada and Japan) is no exception. Steve Marinucci, Beatles Examiner [expand READ FULL REVIEW]
Book tells everything to know about Beatles on Parlophone Records
Steve Marinucci, Beatles Examiner, October 8, 2011
Bruce Spizer’s Beatles history books have been marvels of information for detail-obsessed fans like us. His latest, “The Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records” (also available online in the UK, Canada and Japan) is no exception.
Co-authored with Frank Daniels, it goes into the history of the Beatles on the label and features lots of detailed information, like extensive pictures of cover and label variations. Those variations aren’t surprising, as Spizer told us in an interview earlier this year, because the British have been known to tweak labels and covers. The pictures in the book also include albums, EPs and singles, ads, magazines with Beatles on the cover, album parodies and even a few bootlegs (including the “Get Back” bootleg that included a poster, press release and mailing label (with canceled stamps).
The book even includes a section on the history of the label, how the records were made and album covers and inner sleeves and a checklist.
There’s so much here it’s mindboggling. This and his other books belong to a select group of pivotal reference works that are musts for an essential Beatles library. “The Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records” fits in perfectly on the shelf with his other books.
One word of advice, though: Make sure you have a strong shelf. The weight and amount of information in them is staggering…[/expand]
Spizer chronologically works his way through the 45 rpm singles, then the LPs, then the EPs and finally includes a section that covers a range of related topics, from histories of EMI and 33 1/3 rpm longplaying albums to trail-off area markings on vinyl LPs, the printing of labels, demo discs and Palophone’s sister EMI labels. For each recording you get the release history, quotes from reviews, interesting notes about how The Beatles wrote the song and created the recording in the studio, how the label promoted and marketed the record and, of course, this being Spizer, everything you could possibly want to know about all the different release variations.
If you’ve collected Spizer’s earlier efforts, you’ll definitely want this one. And if you’ve never delved into one of Spizer’s discographies, you might want to make this your first, as it covers the entire period from 1962 up through the breakup in 1970.
I don’t know of a better single-volume history of The Beatles’ recordings.
William P. King, Beatlefan, July-Aug 2011
Once again, Spizer has managed to balance the minutia necessitated by collectors, insight treasured by fans, and aesthetics demanded by more casual readers. A ‘must have’ on your Beatles bookshelf. Tom Frangione for Joe Johnson’s BeatleBrunch [expand READ FULL REVIEW]
I’ll never forget my initial reaction to learning about Bruce Spizer’s book The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay: “Big deal”.
I mean, how much could be written about a label that cut and pasted barely a dozen songs into nearly as many compilations and configurations. Had the well really run dry on Beatles topics to explore?
Then I received the book as a gift. And found it really WAS a big deal ! Suffice it to say, the author’s research efforts set a new standard for Beatles scholars. Not only was the book chock full of new information and never before published images, but it was handsomely presented and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Spizer’s other books about the Beatles records on Capitol & Apple, as well as other related volumes maintained and at times exceeded that standard.
Fast forward to Spizer’s eighth and latest book Beatles For Sale On Parlophone Records. While previous books had a decidedly American take on the Beatles catalog (one that has made for great banter vs. the “purists” defending the UK catalog), this volume examines the home-field advantage British releases.
At a whopping 444 pages, no stone is left unturned. Singles, albums, and the decidedly UK favored “EP” (extended play) records are examined, as are certain export singles and issues of the pre-EMI Hamburg session material. As with the “US” themed books, rare titles such as the original unreleased Get Back album and the Christmas fan club album (here, titled From Then To You) are covered as well.
Before singing any further praises of the book content, in the interest of full disclosure it must be stated that I was among the proof-readers helping Bruce on this latest work, as was frequent Brunch contributor (and Beatlefan Magazine Executive Editor) Al Sussman. That little disclaimer out of the way – in the spirit of Bruce’s “other” life as a tax lawyer – let’s continue.
As with previous outings, a well-placed foreword has been secured, this time from NEMS and Apple associate Tony Bramwell. Beatles press agent Tony Barrow gets in on the fun, too, with an endorsement (shall we say) quite reminiscent of his liner notes found on the rear sleeve of 1963’s The Beatles Hits EP.
That the volume is profusely illustrated with label & sleeve images will come as no surprise to readers of Spizer’s previous books; this time around, artist Eric Cash has been enlisted to flesh out the work with some brilliant and unique images.
Once again, Spizer has managed to balance the minutia necessitated by collectors, insights treasured by fans, and aesthetics demanded by more casual readers. While not intended to be a cover to cover excursion, the book is nicely segmented among formats (singles, albums, EP’s, etc) and by individual release within the respective sessions. Even die-hards and “well-read” Beatle fans will find something new to revel in here – for me, it was the examinations of the off-the-beaten-path material such as the Christmas Album and even the Collection of Beatles Oldies compilation from the mid-sixties.
Set for publication on October 5, 2011 (the 49th anniversary of the Beatles first EMI single “Love Me Do” c/w “P.S. I Love You”, advance copies will be available at the Chicago Fest For Beatles Fans in August.
List price of the book is $70 (only a bit steeper than previous editions, but quite reasonable given the over-sized content). Bearing the Beatles For Sale sleeve on the cover, it is available in both “mono” and “stereo” editions. Yes, you read that right, and NO it does NOT mean one covers the stereo versions and one covers the mono versions of the records. It’s just a slightly alternate cover. The content of the books is identical. Me, I’m a mono guy.
As with previous volumes, certain “extras” are available, catering to the collector. A sturdy slip case is available for an extra $20 (highly recommended, given the size and weight of the book), which handsomely presents the “Paperback Writer” label on the front and red “Please Please Me” single on the rear. Beyond that, a deluxe edition is available for $150, which includes the slipcase, as well as a 2-page fold out poster of the Parlophone LP and EP sleeves, a custom bookmark, an 8 ½ x 11” portrait by Eric Cash depicting a scene from the “Hey Jude” promotional clip, and a two-sided “Penny Lane” / “Strawberry Fields Forever” advert, as depicted in the book.
Spizer’s books have become highly treasured volumes by Beatles fans worldwide, and this volume will no doubt be prized as well. As the books are produced in fixed quantities, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Sold out editions (like the Vee-Jay book) command several hundred dollars – when you can find them – on Ebay and collectors sites. As this volume is more comprehensive, covering the entirety of the Beatles active recording career (1962-1970) it makes for a “must have” on your Beatles bookshelf.
Review by Tom Frangione for Joe Johnson’s BeatleBrunch [/expand]
Having information from his previous books available in ONE book alone makes Bruce Spizer’s, “Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records” a vital addition to any Beatles library. At 444 pages (plus the insert), this could be the most important book documenting Beatles’ records. Ear Candy Magazine [expand READ FULL REVIEW]
Bruce Spizer is one of the foremost Beatles authors when it comes to the subject of Beatles record releases in the US. His seven books, (“The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay”, “The Beatle’s Story on Capitol Records” – parts 1 & 2, “The Beatles on Apple Records”, “The Beatles Are Coming!”, “The Beatles Solo on Apple Records”, “The Beatles Swan Song”) have set the bar for almost obsessive accuracy in research, leaving no minutia uncovered. Most of Spizer’s previous books have concentrated on US releases, be it Vee Jay, Capitol, Swan, etc. With his 8th book, “Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records”, he comes full circle. Now the concentration is on the UK releases: 45 rpm singles, extended play records, and albums. This book is probably Spizer’s most important book, Since the UK releases were truly “as nature intended” and the only officially sanctioned Beatles records.
As in his previous books, the same format is followed: release dates, label variations (including photos), recording dates and the stories behind the songs, and chart performances. Also included is a portable 25-page checklist of all UK Beatles records with all label variations listed. In Spizer’s attention to detail, the aborted “Yellow Submarine” EP is discussed in the EP section, along with a computer-generated “what if” cover. Finally, there is a section covering the history of EMI, including the manufacture of 33-1/3 long playing albums, 45-rpm singles, and the labels themselves.
As some of the stories are repeats from previous Spizer books, there are inevitable, but necessary repeats. But there is enough Beatles minutia to keep even the most rabid fan satisfied. My enjoyment was finding stories & facts (mostly about the album covers) not previously mentioned, such as:
The orange blog on the cover of “Beatles For Sale” is actually Tony Bramwell’s hand – as he was holding back tree branches for the photo shoot.
The back photo on “Beatles For Sale” is not a simple picture – The Beatles image was cropped and superimposed over a background of leaves.
The “Help” cover wasn’t shot on location for the movie – but rather it was taken at Twickenham Film Studios on a specially constructed platform.
Part of the “Rubber Soul” cover was airbrushed to hide a loose thread on John’s jacket. However, the untouched photo still made the cover of some releases, such as Argentina!
And then there are the photos! Those familiar with Spizer’s Beatle tomes have come to expect the full-color pictures (many of them unseen in color before). While some of the photos are again the inevitable repeats, there are a few new ones, such as the previously mentioned “Rubber Soul” original cover; Paul’s original lyric sheet for “Lovely Rita”; The Russian “Sgt. Pepper” complete with a Russian-ized drum and the added Beatles fan in the crowd (actually, the owner of the Russian Anfon label, Andre Tropillo); and the cover of “Disc and Music Echo” showing an alternate “Butcher” shot. New is the superb artwork of Eric Cash (ericcashillustration.com) and his excellent renderings of the Beatles.
Having information from his previous books available in ONE book alone makes Bruce Spizer’s, “Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records” a vital addition to any Beatles library. At 444 pages (plus the insert), this could be the most important book documenting Beatles’ records.
Bruce Spizer constantly impresses with his thorough research into lesser-known areas of their history. Blogcritic.org by Kit O’Tool. [expand READ FULL REVIEW]
Think you know everything about The Beatles? Although countless books have chronicled virtually every aspect of the Fab Four’s careers, author Bruce Spizer constantly impresses with
his thorough research into lesser-known areas of their history. From the group’s beginnings on such small American labels as Swan and Vee-Jay to an in-depth look at the 1963-1964 US Beatlemania marketing campaign, Spizer researches particular, previously hidden corners of the Beatles’ story. His newest book, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records (co-written with Beatles historian Frank Daniels), thoroughly examines the UK album, EP, and single releases, which can be a source of confusion for those accustomed to the American releases. While some information may be overly technical for some fans, the “behind the scenes” stories of the Beatles’ vast music catalog should interest all Fab Four enthusiasts.
Covering 1962-1970, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records actually comprises two books in one, and Spizer’s introduction promotes that concept. Those who want the behind-the-scenes stories of how certain songs were written and recorded will want to read relevant parts of each section: “45 RPM Singles,” “Long-Playing Albums,” “EPs,” and “An EMI Recording,”
which details the history of Parlophone/EMI. Tidbits include revealing the song on which Lennon based “I Feel Fine’s” guitar lick, the origins of that orange smudge on the bottom of the Beatles for Sale album cover, and how “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” was written and recorded. While Spizer does not detail every difference between British and American releases-that would constitute its own book-he does clarify how each UK album was carefully designed and compiled. Ever wonder about the history of the Fan Club Christmas Records? These are covered here, too. Why was “Strawberry Fields Forever” not included on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Spizer addresses that question and many more. Rare photos of the group, original advertisements, and other ephemera grace the pages.
The second book that inhabits this tome is intended for hard-core record collectors. Numerous full-color photos illustrate how the Parlophone/EMI (and later Apple Corps) labels differ from one another. Every color, misspelling, logo, number-Spizer chronicles every label variation imaginable. Researcher Daniels helped compile the data, which serves as essential information for anyone interested in owning every LP, EP, and 45 possible. As Spizer notes in his introduction, he realizes that not all Beatles fans will find these parts of the book fascinating. Therefore he recommends skipping those sections, although record collectors should find the photos, lists, and descriptions of various labels invaluable. However, it is not necessary to read those “hard-core” sections to enjoy Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records.
Accompanying the book is a glossy booklet entitled Check List and Valued Vendors, tucked into a replica of a 45 sleeve. Again, this version on an appendix should appeal mainly to collectors, as it lists catalog numbers, pressings, and other highly technical statistics.
While Spizer’s books can be expensive?$70 or so-their abundance of information make them essential additions for any Beatle fan’s library. Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records continues his pattern for producing painstakingly researched and designed reference tools for intermediate to advanced hobbyists. Like Mark Lewisohn, Spizer has deservedly earned the reputation for being a top Beatles historian and a trusted resource. His latest book follows in this tradition, and is well worth the price.
Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records will be published October 5, 2011, but pre-orders are accepted at Spizer’s website. The hardcover book is also available in two limited editions: the slipcase edition, which is numbered and includes the author’s autograph; and the collector’s edition, which includes the slipcase, a poster, replica of a vintage Beatles promotional card, a bookmark, and a limited edition print.
August 12, 2011
Serious Beatle record collectors will undoubtedly have at least one of Bruce Spizer’s books on their shelves, which have delved into the history of The Beatles on the Vee Jay, Swan, Capitol and Apple record labels (in addition to his definitive account of The Beatles’ arrival in America, in “The Beatles Are Coming!”). Even noncollectors can enjoy his beautifully printed books, as they contain a wealth of information on how the records were packaged and marketed, along with interviews and numerous illustrations. – Gillian G. Gaar Goldmine Magazine [expand READ FULL REVIEW]
Spizer had thought that “The Beatles Swan Song” (released in 2007) would be his last book. Instead, he’s getting ready to publish another one, “Beatles For Sale on Parlophone,” written in collaboration with Frank Daniels (whose “Price Guide For The Beatles American Records” was published in 2007 by Spizer’s company, 498 Productions).
It marks the first time Spizer has looked at The Beatles’ U.K. recording history. “I always assumed that someone else would do a comprehensive Beatles U.K. records book,” he explains. “At least two different people at prior Beatlefests told me they were working on a U.K. book in my style, but they apparently gave up once they realized what was involved. I still had no plans to do a book until Frank Daniels sent me an e-mail to discuss doing something together. Frank had already compiled rough images and data about what records were out there, and realizing that his assistance would make the project less burdensome, I agreed to once again take up the mantle.”
“This is a massive undertaking,” Spizer adds, with no exaggeration. Covering the U.K. records pressed by EMI incorporates not just the 22 singles released in the U.K., but also those pressed for export sale; an extensive section on EPs (including two that were never issued); the 13 U.K. albums (including the two unreleased “Get Back” albums) and export albums; and the Christmas album. along with the fan club discs. No surprise then that book runs to 444 pages.
“I did not realize how many label variations there were,” Spizer says. “EMI seemed to redo the labels every time they ran out. It was not a case of using the same typesetting each time. It seems like the boys in the print shop kept tweaking the label every time new ones were needed. There were also changes in label styles and perimeter print. I also learned a lot from U.K. trade magazines and from interviewing people. I tracked down a man who worked at EMI’s Hayes factory starting in the mid-’50s until the plant was sold by EMI. He was most helpful. I also learned some fun stories about the music and how it was marketed. No matter how much someone knows about The Beatles, he or she will learn new things from the book.”
Given that the titles of Spizer’s other books have drawn on Beatles record titles, “Beatles For Sale on Parlophone” was a natural fit. Though Spizer’s own record collection had concentrated on U.S. and Canadian records, his work on this project has led to some changes. “My U.K. collection has grown from about a dozen discs to a few hundred in the time I started the book less than a year ago!” he says. “This book will give other collectors the confidence to start collecting the U.K. records.”
Spizer hopes to have books ready in August, for Chicago’s Fest For Beatle Fans and Liverpool’s International Beatles Week. Then, a much-needed break will be in order.”
“This could even be my last book,” he says. But Spizer’s fans shouldn’t despair, for he quickly goes on admit, “My last book, ‘The Beatles Swan Song,’ was supposed to be my ‘swan song’ as an author. So as in the title to that James Bond film, never say never again!”
When it comes to Beatles books, there’s no shortage of supply, no matter what your level of interest.
For the typical Beatles fan, there are compendiums like the Beatles Anthology. For serious Fab Four devotees, there are lovingly researched tomes like Mark Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions and Andy Babiuk’s Beatles Gear.
For the rest of us obsessives, there is Bruce Spizer and his canon of books devoted to minutiae about the group’s records. A lawyer by trade, Spizer pursues his love of all things Beatles with an exhaustive — some might say compulsive — level of research and analysis.
Beginning with The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay in 1998, Spizer has written six volumes that document the group’s group and solo releases, detailing not only the making of the songs and albums but also minor variations in sleeve and label printings from one pressing factory to another. He also tackled Beatlemania in The Beatles Are Coming, in which he documented, in typical exacting detail, the recordings, performances and behind-the-scenes deals surrounding the group’s American breakthrough.
Now comes the latest — and reportedly last — book in Spizer’s series: the 444-page Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, which covers all of the Fab Four’s singles, albums and extended-play discs issued in the U.K. from 1962 through 1970.
Spizer and co-author Frank Daniels go even further than the title states by including details about the group’s Apple albums and singles, Fan Club Christmas discs (the Beatles issued a holiday “greeting” through the club every year from 1963 through 1969) and Polydor releases of their Hamburg-era recordings.
As you might guess given Spizer’s previous books, the depth of information is satisfyingly comprehensive. In addition to telling the stories behind the songs and albums, Spizer and Daniels explain how the records are mastered and manufactured, how they were marketed and how they performed on the British radio and record charts.
But the real treat here is in the pictures. As with his other publications, Spizer has richly illustrated the new volume with hundreds of color and black-and-white photos. There are the requisite shots of album covers and sleeves of 45s and EPs. But the real eye candy here is the pictures of rare promotional materials that EMI used in its publicity efforts, reminders of the marketing machinery behind the Beatles’ pop-culture juggernaut.
The Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records will be released October 5 and is available now for preorder from Beatle.net. The book is offered in three versions: book only ($70), a signed and numbered slipcase edition ($90), and a collector’s edition ($150) with slipcase, poster, limited-edition print, a replica of a historic Beatles promotional card and a bookmark. The book itself features the cover of the group’s 1964 Beatles for Sale album, and you can choose between “stereo” and “mono” versions (the contents is the same).
Beatles fanatics, take note: the mono versions are outselling the stereo versions. Get yours while they last.
Christopher Scapelliti is the executive editor of Guitar World magazine and managing editor of Guitar Aficionado.
Page 86, fourth full paragraph, first sentence: Paul got the idea for Lady Madonna from a photo in a magazine depicting a woman and baby with the caption “Mountain madonna” (almost certainly the January 1965 National Geographic, pages 58 –59, which shows a woman of Maloyo-Polynesian origin residing in Viet Nam with the caption “Mountain Madonna, with one child at her breast.”). [expand Read more in this short article by Frank Daniels]
Paul McCartney has discussed the composition of this famous Beatles song on several occasions. As we report in Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, he borrowed the piano work from “Bad Penny Blues,” a Humphrey Lyttleton song. Where did he get the inspiration for the lyrics?
“I was looking through this African magazine when I saw this African Lady with a baby. And underneath the picture it said ‘Mountain Madonna’. But I said, oh no, LADY Madonna… and I wrote the song.” through Richie Havens in A Hard Day’s Write Havens recalled it slightly differently in July, 2002:
“He said, “I was reading one of those National Geographic magazines, and I saw an African woman with a baby, and it said, ‘Mountain Madonna,’ so I just changed the name.””
For years, no one has produced the source magazine. This was likely due to the fact that Paul had misidentified the woman as African. In fact, she was Malayo-Polynesian. The story was not about the woman at all. Instead, the author — photographer Howard Sochurek — was following American soldiers around Vietnam. The article indicates what those American servicemen saw and did in a nation at war. When they encountered the “mountain madonna,” the author indicated (via a caption, see below) that her people’s way of life was now being intruded upon by refugees from the Vietnamese lowlands. Out of the article, Paul was struck by the most human elements. Noticing the woman, he wondered how she was able to run a family and live her life.Â So, the mountain madonna became “Lady Madonna.”
Section One – 45-RPM Singles
3 LOVE ME DO c/w P.S. I LOVE YOU
13 PLEASE PLEASE ME c/w ASK ME WHY
19 FROM ME TO YOU c/w THANK YOU GIRL
23 SHE LOVES YOU c/w I’LL GET YOU
29 I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND c/w THIS BOY
33 CAN’T BUY ME LOVE c/w YOU CAN’T DO THAT
37 A HARD DAY’S NIGHT c/w THINGS WE SAID TODAY
41 I FEEL FINE c/w SHE’S A WOMAN
45 TICKET TO RIDE c/w YES IT IS
49 HELP! c/w I’M DOWN
53 WE CAN WORK IT OUT c/w DAY TRIPPER
57 PAPERBACK WRITER c/w RAIN
63 YELLOW SUBMARINE c/w ELEANOR RIGBY
67 STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER c/w PENNY LANE
73 ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE c/w BABY, YOU’RE A RICH MAN
79 HELLO, GOODBYE c/w I AM THE WALRUS
85 LADY MADONNA c/w THE INNER LIGHT
89 HEY JUDE c/w REVOLUTION
97 GET BACK c/w DON’T LET ME DOWN
103 THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO c/w OLD BROWN SHOE
107 SOMETHING c/w COME TOGETHER
109 LET IT BE c/w YOU KNOW MY NAME
115 EXPORT SINGLES
119 Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand c/w SIE LIEBT DICH
121 POLYDOR SINGLES
Section Two – Long-Playing Albums
129 PLEASE PLEASE ME
147 WITH THE BEATLES
161 A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
175 BEATLES FOR SALE
199 RUBBER SOUL
223 A COLLECTION OF BEATLES OLDIES
229 SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
249 THE BEATLES (The White Album)
273 YELLOW SUBMARINE
281 THE BEATLES; GET BACK (unreleased)
297 ABBEY ROAD
311 GET BACK w/ Let It Be & 10 other songs (unreleased)
315 LET IT BE
325 “FROM THEN TO YOU” (Beatles Christmas Record, 1970)
by Bruce Spizer
(Originally Published April, 2004. Upon completion, be sure to read the note in the black box at the end of the article!)
While on a recent quick vacation in New Orleans, Paul McCartney let his guard down and admitted what some Beatles fans have suspected for years. He confirmed that the “Paul is dead” clues found in several Beatles album covers and songs were deliberately planted by the group as part of an elaborate scheme dating back to the summer of 1966.
According to McCartney, the plan was formulated by manager Brian Epstein. “Brian dropped by the studio to hear the playback of our latest single, ‘Paperback Writer.’ He didn’t like it one bit. ‘Not a love song,’ he said. He was concerned that the press and our fans wouldn’t get it. He told us, ‘People want love songs. They won’t spend money for a song about a novel writer. You boys are gonna blow it with this one.’ But by this time, we were running the show, not Brian. We insisted that ‘Paperback Writer’ would be our next single and told him that the song represented the new direction our songwriting was going in.”
When contacted in London, former Beatles press agent Tony Barrow confirmed Brian’s concerns. “Brian was into traditional love songs. He had told Paul to come up with another ‘Yesterday’ or ‘Michelle’ for the next single. Imagine his shock when he heard ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain.’ Not only were they not love songs, but they were so loud! We didn’t know it at the time, but the Beatles had recorded the first heavy metal single. Not exactly ‘Till There Was You’ or ‘A Taste Of Honey.’ I was worried, too. I wondered, ‘Had the boys gone too far this time?'”
Brian became even more concerned when he imagined an album full of unconventional songs. While a fan might take a chance on a single, an album purchase was a big thing in those days. Due to its higher price, youngsters, particularly those in the U.K., were very careful about buying albums. That is why the Beatles often issued an EP from an album containing four of its best tracks. So Brian came up with a plan to help sell albums in the event he was right about the dangerous new direction the group was heading in. Paul explained, “When I told him our future albums would be dominated by songs about interesting people and places, his heart sank. He didn’t think people would buy such albums and came up with this great idea to push sales in the event he was right and we were wrong. The idea was that we would plant clues in our songs and album covers that one of us had died in a car wreck. If after a few albums, our records weren’t selling well, we’d leak out word about the clues and let our fans and the press take over. People would buy the albums to see and hear the clues. We thought, ‘Wow, that’s an incredible idea!’ We realized it would be great fun to have all those clues sitting there undiscovered until people started going nuts looking for them all.”
Tony Barrow also thought the plan was brilliant. “Nothing re-energizes a singer’s career like his death. Do you really think Buddy Holly would have been so famous had he not died in that plane crash? Same for Richie Valens and certainly that one-hit wonder Big Bopper with his ‘Chantilly Lace’ song. And how about Otis Redding? He never had a number one hit till after he died in a plane crash. The fact that Brian came up with a car crash shows his genius. Airplane crashes were the norm.”
Having sold the group on the idea, the Beatles had to decide which one of them was to “die.” Brian wanted the victim to be Ringo because he was the most popular Beatle in the all-important U.S. market, but the drummer wanted nothing to do with it. Tony Barrow recalls, “Ringo flat out refused to be the one. He said, ‘Being painted red in a movie is one thing, but pretending to be dead’s another. I’m superstitious. Those clues might make it happen.’ Brian was disappointed because he knew Ringo was the most sympathetic Beatle. You know Ringo got more mail from America than the other members of the group combined.” [Author's Note: Ringo was unavailable for comment.]
After Ringo turned down the “opportunity” to die, the honor of being a dead Beatle was up for grabs. According to Paul, “George said right away he didn’t feel comfortable faking his death. But it sure got him thinking. A few days later he showed up at a session with a new song called ‘The Art Of Dying.’ We didn’t think it was that good a song, so we never recorded it. George later improved the lyrics and included it on his first album.”
Paul’s recollections are backed by the original lyrics to the song, which appear in George’s “I Me Mine” book. The 1966 version of the song referred to Brian Epstein, who was the mastermind behind the death clues. It contained the line “Then nothing Mr. Epstein can do will keep me here with you.”
With Ringo and George not willing to “die” for the good of the group, it came down to John and Paul, with both thinking it would be fab to be “dead.” Paul recalls, “John wanted to be the dead Beatle, but this time I didn’t cave in to John like I did on the songwriter credits. I thought it should be me because I was the second most popular Beatle. Brian agreed it should be me because he was worried that once the clues became known, people might think it was a John practical joke if John was supposedly dead. But me…Brian thought, ‘No one would suspect Paul for rigging his own death. They think John’s the clever one.’ So I got to die.”
A few days after the “Paperback Writer” listening session, the group was at Brian’s office when photographer Bob Whitaker dropped by with the pictures from the butcher session. Brian asked Whitaker to shoot a picture of Paul in steamer trunk to symbolize his lying dead in a coffin. Paul picks up the story. “Bob thought it was too direct, so he suggested we stand the truck upwards and have me sit in it with the other standing around. That way, it would only look like I was lying in a coffin if the cover was turned sideways. Bob had Ringo place his hand on the trunk lid like he was closing the coffin. Brilliant! Brian told us to throw some clues into our songs. Right away John came up with ‘I’m Only Sleeping,’ as if ‘Paul isn’t dead, he’s only sleeping.’ Pretty subtle. Most people missed that clue, and that was one of the first!”
The “coffin trunk” photo was sent to Capitol to serve as the cover for the American album “Yesterday And Today.” But when Brian saw the cover mock-up, he began having second thoughts about using the photo so early in the game. He was concerned that people might suspect Paul was dead a lot sooner than the group wanted to clues to be discovered. So Brian sent Capitol the butcher photo, knowing that it might ultimately be rejected, but at least it would deflect attention away from the provocative coffin trunk cover. The plan worked to perfection with the Butcher cover causing so much controversy that when it was “replaced” by the trunk cover, no one noticed it showed Paul lying in a coffin!
One of the casualties of the plan was Robert Freeman’s unused cover for “Revolver.” Paul explains that, “For ‘Revolver,’ Robert Freeman came up with a great cover image, but there was no death clue in it. I asked Klaus [Voormann] to do a pen and ink with a photo collage so we could throw in some clues. I had him place an image of my face in my ear. That represented a ‘beetle’ crawling out of the ear of my buried corpse. You know, insects get into coffins and mix with the dead bodies, crawling through eye sockets, ear openings and the like. Very creepy and very subtle. And the other clue came from Klaus drawing my face in a side profile looking to the left. The others were drawn looking forward. When you turn the cover on its side, I’m looking upward, just like I’d appear on a morgue slab or if I were buried underground. We really were into having clues appear when you turned our covers sideways. I’m surprised nobody caught those ‘Revolver’ clues.”
According to Tony Barrow, there was one other clue planted on “Revolver.” “John had this really weird song that had no title, so he called it ‘Mark I.’ Later he came up with ‘The Void,’ to symbolize the void left in the group by Paul’s death. Ringo thought that was too subtle, so he came up with the perfect phrase for describing the direction the group would go in if Paul really were dead. And that was ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ Ringo was great at stuff like that.”
By the time the Beatles recorded “Sgt. Pepper,” the plan really took off. Tony Barrow recalls, “Brian thought ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was way out there. You can imagine his fear of an entire album of songs like that. He was terrified that Sgt. Pepper would be viewed as pretentious nonsense! He told the boys to throw in a bunch of clues on that one!”
The first song recorded for “Sgt. Pepper” was “Strawberry Fields Forever,” though it ended up being used as a single. At the end of the song, John was supposed to repeat “I buried Paul” several times, but that was too obvious, so instead he said “Cranberry sauce” and then slurred his words so that “I buried Paul” sounded like “I’m very bored.” The plan worked as it took over two years before anyone realized what he was really saying.
Later songs also had clues. Paul admitted that “She’s Leaving Home” contained the time the car wreck supposedly occurred-“Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins.” The line “Meeting a man from the motor trade” tied in the motor vehicle. And, of course, “A Day In The Life” was about a car crash. According to Paul, “The drug references were just a smoke-screen to deflect attention away from the car crash, you know. ‘He blew his mind out in a car’ could mean his head was crushed or he was doing drugs. Take your pick.”
The cover was full of clues: the crashing car; Paul’s bass made of flowers; Paul having his back to the camera on the back cover; the hand over Paul’s head; and the infamous “O.P.D.” patch on Paul’s uniform, which was McCartney’s favorite Pepper clue. “We had to work hard on that one. Someone told John that in America the letters OPD stood for ‘Officially Pronounced Dead.’ I remembered I had this patch with the letters “OPP,” which I got in Canada. I think it stands for Ontario Police Precinct or something like that. So I got the idea to put the patch on my uniform’s sleeve and shoot the picture so that the lower part of the second ‘P’ would not be visible, thus making it look like ‘OPD.’ I was quite pleased with the way it came out.”
Although the sales of “Revolver” and “Pepper” made Brian realize that the clues probably weren’t needed to sell records, the group kept creating more and more clues. According to Paul, “It was so neat coming up with clues that we kept doing them even thought we never thought they’d be needed to sell albums. It was great mischievous fun! When Brian died, we really went wild with it! For ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ I wanted to wear a black flower on my jacket. The florist thought Alistair Taylor was nuts when he insisted they send us a black carnation. We became worried people would catch on when they saw the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ booklet because the clues were so obvious. The 4 or 5 musicians, the “I was” sign. But no one caught on.”
Paul stated that placing the clues in the songs was even more fun than the visual images. “Ringo had this old song, ‘Don’t Pass Me By,’ which we had refused to record for years. But I realized it could be used for a clue. I gave him the line ‘You were in a car crash and you lost your hair’ And we did great stuff with backwards tape loops and mumbling. John going ‘Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him.'”
Some of the clues were easy and obvious. John’s “Glass Onion” even told the fans what was going on with its line “And here’s another clue for you all, the Walrus was Paul.” But some were quite intricate.
According to Paul, the toughest one was “Revolution 9.” “We had to come up with a phrase to go ‘Number 9′ when you played it backwards. Our plan was to have it go ‘Number 9′ on the record, but when you played it backwards it would sound like ‘Paul is dead.’ When we recorded ‘Paul is dead’ and played it backwards, it didn’t go ‘Number 9.’ It sounded more like ‘Pythagorian Theorem.’ The phrase ‘Macca is dead’ sounded like ‘Thermo nuclear’ when we played it backwards. We experimented for hours until Alan Parsons came up with ‘Turn me on dead man.’ When we reversed the tape, it sounded like he was saying ‘Number 9, number 9.’ So that’s how we did it.”
Abbey Road engineer Alan Parsons remembers the session well. “We spent hours recording different phrases until I lucked into ‘Turn me on dead man.’ When I played the tape backwards and heard ‘Number 9,’ well, it was one of the greatest moments of my life! We were all sworn to secrecy about the clues, but now that Paul’s let the cat out the bag, I can talk about it. I later recorded my own song about looking for clues, ‘Eye In The Sky.'”
The last batch of clues were planted on the album cover to “Abbey Road,” which was designed by Paul. McCartney came up with the idea to stage his own funeral. George, in the role of the grave digger, dressed in work clothes. Ringo, the funeral director, wore a black suit. John, the angel, wore white. Paul was barefoot, as it is the custom in several cultures to bury people without their shoes. In a subtle touch, the left-handed McCartney held a cigarette in his right hand. This was to imply that the Paul who had been with the group since mid-1966 was a right-handed imposter.
Paul recalls the other major “Abbey Road” clue with fondness. “I’ve always liked puns, so I wanted to have a Volkswagon Beetle represent me. Alistair Taylor arranged for a friend of his to park his VW Beetle on the street by the studio. Alistair and I placed a special license tag we had made the night before on the car. It said ’28 IF,’ meaning that I would have been 28 if I had lived. Unfortunately, I out-thought myself on that one. I was only 27 at the time, but I told Alistair to paint it as 28 because I didn’t think “Abbey Road” would come out until I was 28. That’s because I was sure that the “Get Back” album would come out first. By the time we decided to put out “Abbey Road” first, I had forgotten about that clue, so we didn’t have the picture altered to have the tag read ’27 IF.'”
When John told the others he was quitting the group, Paul began thinking it was time to expose the clues. “I was always nervous before a record came out, you know. Would people like it? And, in this case, what if word leaked out that John had quit? We were all worried that the album would bomb, and when word spread that John was out, we’d be forgotten. No one would buy our latest LP or our old records. The clincher was a pair of bad reviews published in ‘The New York Times’ and ‘Rolling Stone.’ I thought, oh sh*t, no one likes the long medley on side two. So I had Mal [Evans] go to Detroit and tell some college kids about the clues. One of the guys phoned in some of the clues to a radio station there. That was all it took.”
Once people started looking for clues, they were easy to spot. The American press was fascinated with the story. Brian’s plan worked to perfection. Not only did sales for “Abbey Road” take off, but people began buying “Sgt. Pepper,” “Magical Mystery Tour” and “The White Album” to see and hear the clues. Paul hid away at his farm in Scotland to further fuel the hoax. When a reported from “Life” magazine finally caught up with him, Paul dead-panned, “If I were dead, I’d be the last to know.”
The Beatles and their inner circle kept the clue caper a secret for over thirty years. Not only do we now know that the Beatles deliberately planted the clues, but we also know that it was part of a brilliant marketing plan formulated by manager Brian Epstein back in 1966. As for why Paul finally revealed the secrets behind the scheme, we may never know if it was an accidental slip up on his part or a plan to reignite sales of the Beatles catalog.
[stextbox id="black"]Bruce Spizer is a well-know Beatles author and historian who has not only written a series of critically acclaimed books on the group’s American records, but also has been known to tell a tall tale or two for April Fool’s Day. This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2004 issue of Goldmine Magazine.[/stextbox]
Nearly 35 years after the Beatles’ tumultuous January 1969 back-to-basics recording sessions, Apple finally had released the album the group wanted all along. “Let It Be… Naked” is more than a stripped-down version of the officially released “Let It Be” album. It is a freshly remixed collection of the best takes of the best songs identified with the “Get Back”/”Let It Be” project. It comes with a 32-page booklet full of pictures taken during the sessions and extracts from the original “Let It Be” Book, plus a 22-minute bonus disc containing studio chatter and snippets of songs.
Since its release in 1970, the “Let It Be” album has evoked strong opinions from fans and critics, particularly among the those who have heard bootlegs containing the unreleased “Get Back” album compiled and mixed by engineer Glyn Johns. Although “Get Back” contains many ragged performances, it has humor and charm. It was designed to be “The Beatles with their socks off.” No overdubs. No edits. Warts and all. The “Let It Be” LP, which was reproduced for disc by Phil Spector, has better performances of some songs but deviates drastically from the project’s original no-overdubs policy. Those who enjoy the loose quality and simplicity of “Get Back” vilify Spector for the orchestral and choir embellishments added to a few of the tracks. Others believe Spector turned an amateurish-sounding collection of poorly performed songs into a highly-polished and respectable album. The Beatles were never really satisfied with either version.
Early in 2003, word began filtering through Beatles fandom that Apple was going to release a “de-Spectorized” version of “Let It Be”. Many people assumed that the “new” disc would be the “Get Back” album. Others speculated that “Let It Be… Naked” would have the same running order as the “Let It Be” album, but would use the pre-Spector versions of “Across the Universe”, “I Me Mine”, “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be” that appeared on the “Anthology” album. Few gave any thought to the possibility that Apple would issue an entirely new version of the album. But that’s exactly what happened.
In early 2002, Apple Managing Director Neil Aspinall contacted Allan Rouse at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios about redoing the “Let It be” album. Rouse had served as project coordinator for the “Anthology” and “Yellow Submarine Songtrack”. He brought in Paul Hicks and Guy Massey to mix and engineer the album. The trio was given the freedom to select which versions of songs to include and to remix the songs as they saw fit. Because the objective was to produce an album of great songs that would fit in with the rest of the Beatles catalog, the trio decided to drop the throw-away tracks “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” as well as all studio banter. For example, we no longer hear about “Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf-aids.” Although the trio listened to all 30 reels of tape recorded at Apple during January 1969, most of the tracks on the new album use the same master take as the previously released album.
The new disc opens with the same Jan. 27 performance of “Get Back” released on the single and all previous versions of the album. The clarity and depth of the track is astounding. George’s chopping rhythm guitar, Ringo’s galloping snare drum part, Paul’s bass and lead vocal, Billy Preston’s electric piano fills, and John’s lead guitar and backing vocal all leap through the speakers with a force not previously heard. The only drawback to the new mix of the song is that it is missing the Jan. 28 coda that was edited to the end of the single.
Rouse, Hicks and Massey selected the Jan. 31 rooftop concert version of “Dig a Pony” used by Spector rather than the Jan. 22 runthrough selected by Johns for his “Get Back” album or the different Jan. 22 take that appears on “Anthology 3″. Although parts of the song sound different than the “Let It Be” LP version, the mix and editing on the track are influenced by Spector’s work on the song.
“For You Blue” is the same basic Jan. 25 1969, take with George’s re-recorded vocal from Jan. 8, 1970, that appeared on the “Let It Be” album. The “Get Back” album has the same take, but with George’s original vocal, and “Anthology 3″ contains the group’s first recorded take of the song. The new mix brings out the unique sounds of Paul’s plucking piano and John’s lap-steel slide guitar.
The “Get Back”, “Let It Be” and “Anthology 3″ albums all feature the same Jan. 26, 1969, take of “The Long and Winding Road”; however, Spector augmented the sparse performance of Paul’s ballad with 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, a harp, three trumpets, three trombones, two guitars, and a choir of 14 singers and Ringo on drums. Although some people believe Spector made necessary improvements to a dull and plodding song, most feel he overproduced the track. Beatles producer George Martin and Johns were shocked and disgusted. Paul was particularly upset with the use of the choir.
Rather than use the familiar Jan. 26 version, the Abbey Road trio selected the final Jan. 31 take of the song that appears in the film. During the earlier recordings of the song, including the previously released version, Paul sings “Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried.” By the end of the sessions, Paul had changed the lyrics to “Anyway you’ve always known the many ways I’ve tried.” (In concert, Paul has sung the words from the earlier version. It will be interesting to see if he switches to the Jan. 31 lyrics for future performances.) The decision to use the final take of the song is a wise one. Paul gives a stellar performance on both piano and vocal, John hits his bass notes and Preston provides a soulful organ solo.
While Johns selected a barely passable runthrough of “Two of Us” from Jan. 24, Spector went with the upbeat Jan. 31 take of the song used in the film. It is perhaps Spector’s best work on the “Let It Be” album. “Anthology 3″ contains a charming Jan. 24 performance of the song in which Paul acknowledges the Everly Brothers (Phil and Don) by saying “Take It Phil” just after completion of the middle eight. Rouse and company used the upbeat Jan. 31 version and improved what was already a great sounding song. The acoustic guitars and harmonies of Paul and John are so crisp and clear that it sounds as if the two of them are in the room with you.
Both the “Get Back” album and “Anthology 3″ contain the same spirited but incomplete runthrough of “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Jan. 22. Spector used the first of two performances of the song from the Jan. 31 rooftop concert. The “Naked” crew created a new edit using the best bits of the two rooftop performances of the song. Although this breaks the “no edits or overdubs” rule, the new version showcases the fun spirit of the concert and is superior to all previous mixes.
“Let It Be… Naked” has the same rooftop performances of “One After 909″ selected by Johns and Spector. The new mix gives the song added punch, with Preston’s piano riffs and George’s guitar ripping through the speakers.
Although “Don’t Let Me Down” was not included on the “Let It Be” LP, a studio version of the song from Jan. 28 was released as the flip side to the “Get Back” single. Johns included a soulful but loose Jan. 22 runthrough of the song on his “Get Back” album. The Abbey Road trio decided against using either of the previously mixed versions, opting instead for the rooftop concert. Oddly enough, Lennon never turned in a performance of the song in which he didn’t flub the lyrics. The single solved this problem by dropping in vocals from one take onto the master take. During the two rooftop performances, John botched the lyrics to different verses, thus enabling the “Naked” producers to edit together a flawless Lennon vocal. The new version of the song showcases strong vocal harmonies by John and Paul not present on the single.
“I Me Mine” was rehearsed at Twickenham but was never properly recorded at Apple. Because the song was featured in the movie, the group was asked to record the song for “soundtrack” album. On Jan. 30, 1970, The Beatles (minus Lennon, who was out of the country) got together at Abbey Road with Martin for what would be their last recording session. With George on acoustic guitar, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums, the band ran through 16 takes of the song before obtaining a satisfactory backing track, which was then overdubbed with vocals, organ and additional guitar parts. The finished master, which runs a mere 1:34, was mixed by Johns and added to the proposed “Get Back” LP. Spector used a clever edit to extend the song to 2:25 and then gave the track his famous wall of sound by superimposing an orchestral score. The original 1:34 master was released on “Anthology 3.”
The Abbey Road trio started with the pre-orchestra Spector edit of the song rather than go back to the short and unembellished Take 16. Thus, the track isn’t really naked, as it contains several overdubs by George and Paul. The mix brings out the swirling organ as well as the acoustic guitar parts and the distorted electric guitars with stunning clarity.
“Across the Universe” was recorded on Feb. 4, 1968, during the session that yielded “Lady Madonna”. Take 7, which features John on acoustic guitar, George on tamboura and Ringo on tom-toms, served as the backing track and was given several embellishments, including backing vocals by two female fans invited into the studio by Paul. John was not satisfied with the way the song turned out, so The Beatles did not release the track as a single. Instead, the recording was used as the band’s contribution to a charity compilation album titled “No One’s Gonna Change Our World”. Martin speeded up the song and added sound effects of birds to the beginning and end. This version of the song made its debut on a Beatles album in 1988 when it was included on the compilation album “Past Masters Volume Two”.
John’s unhappiness with the recording prompted him to resurrect the song during the “Get Back” project. The group attempted several runthroughs of “Across the Universe” at Twickenham but never came close to improving on the earlier recording. By the time the sessions moved to Apple, Lennon had given up on the song. Because the song was featured in the film, Johns added “Across the Universe” to the “Get Back” album. His mix is at the proper speed and without the sound effects.
Spector performed major surgery on the embellished Take 7. By transferring the four track-track tape to an eight-track. He was able to mix out the backing vocals of the female fans and superimpose an orchestral backing and chorus. He also slowed the song down. “Anthology 3″ contains Take 2 of the song.
Rouse, Hicks and Massey use the unembellished Take 7, with John’s vocal and acoustic guitar, George’s tamboura and Ringo’s drums. The song starts out with no reverb and minimal separation. As the song moves forward, the tamboura is spread across the mix. Progressive amounts of reverb are then added, with the song ending in a massive flood of reverb. Although it is the only track on the new CD that deviates from the dry mixes, this new version (the fourth to be released) fits in well and provides a suitable lead-in to the album’s final selection.
The disc appropriately closes with “Let It Be”, which has long been at the center of controversy among Beatles fans. Although Spector’s reproduced version of the song sounds like it is a totally different take than the Martin-produced single, both use the first Take 27 from Jan. 31, 1969. “Let It Be” became the first song from the sessions to receive enhancements. Because Harrison hit a few sour notes during his guitar solo, he overdubbed a fresh solo on April 30, 1969. Johns prepared a mix of this version of the song for unreleased “Get Back” album.
During a Jan. 4, 1970, Martin-produced session, the eight-track master was further enhanced with brass, cellos, maracas and additional backing vocals and drums. In addition, Harrison contributed a slightly raunchy lead guitar solo. When mixing the single, Martin tastefully placed the brass, cellos and maracas in the background. He also opted to go with George’s April 30, 1969, laid-back solo. Spector, on the other hand, brought the instrumental enhancements to the front of the mix and used the Jan. 4, 1970, raunchy-sounding solo. He also placed echo on Ringo’s hit-hat and edited in an additional chorus after the third verse. By the end of the song, Paul’s vocal fights for attention with the blaring brass and George’s lead guitar. Even Lennon, who championed Spector’s work on the album, admitted that Phil got “a little fruity” on the song.
The new CD also uses the first Take 27, but without any of the enhancements. Rather than choose between the two later recorded guitar solos, the Abbey Road trio edited in Harrison’s solo from the second Take 27, which appears in the film. The new mix also has the backing vocals, Lennon’s bass and Preston’s organ more towards the front.
Although the CD runs only 35 minutes, Apple wisely chose to put the 22 minutes of bonus material on a separate disc. The bonus disc is designed to be a “fly-on-the-wall” presentation of what went on during the sessions. It mixes conversation with brief snippets of songs. The disc is not indexed and plays as one continuous track. This makes it difficult to locate a particular song or bit of banter. Most listeners will initially be fascinated with the bonus disc but will not find themselves going back to it often.
The disc opens with the group arriving at Twickenham and then alternates between discussions and rehearsals of songs. To make up for the dropping of “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” from the new album, the bonus disc includes bits of different versions of each song. Other songs include “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “All Things Must Pass” and a country version of “Get Back”. The dialogue provides insight into what the different members of the group were thinking during the sessions. George observes that “The things that have worked out best for us haven’t really been planned anymore than this has.” Towards the end of the disc, Paul says “Goodnight and thank you very much for having us. It’s been wonderful working with you.” Wonderful indeed.
Some people will undoubtedly complain that Apple has blown an opportunity to deliver the ultimate “Get Back”/”Let It Be” album. After all, the main disc and bonus disc run only a combined 57 minutes. Others miss the studio banter. I miss the coda on “Get Back” and wonder why the disc wasn’t issued in the SACD (Supper Audio) hybrid format. But one shouldn’t judge the new album for what it isn’t. It should be judged for what it is.
First and foremost, “Let It Be… Naked” sounds spectacular. The Abbey Road team took full advantage of today’s technology to add clarity and depth to the recordings. They selected the best performances of the best songs, made appropriate edits and bought previously buried vocals and instruments to the front of the mix. And while the disc is not The Beatles with their socks off, it is an album that fits in comfortably with the White Album and “Abbey Road” as a well-produced collection of great songs played by a great rock ‘n’ roll band.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, over 73 million Americans gathered around television sets to see what all the excitement was about. For several weeks American radio stations had been saturating the airwaves with Beatles music. The power of radio had led to sales of millions of Beatles singles and albums. For weeks, the country had been warned “The Beatles Are Coming!” The American press picked up on the story, with several magazines and newspapers running feature stories on the group. Two days earlier, CBS and ABC showed film of The Beatles’ arrival in America at New York’s Kennedy Airport on their evening news shows. But the big event was The Beatles’ first live appearance on American television, which took place on the country’s most popular variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
The excitement began shortly after 8 p.m. EST when Sullivan gave his famous introduction: “Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles. Let’s bring them on.”
Sullivan’s last words were drowned out by the screaming young girls in attendance at CBS Studio 50. After Paul McCartney’s count-in, the group opened with one of the more popular tracks from their Capitol album, “All My Loving”. It was an energetic performance that showed The Beatles had total command of the situation. The girls yelled and bounced in their seats for the entire song. Upon its completion, the crowd screamed even louder and wildly applauded as the group bow in unison.
Paul took the spotlight again on “Till There Was You”. A lovely ballad from “The Music Man” that even the adults in the audience could appreciate. Although the girls were quiet at first, the screaming resumed early on, with one youngster shouting “Ringo” as George Harrison took a solo on his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar. During the song, the camera focused on each member of the group, with his first name superimposed on the screen. When it came time for John Lennon, “SORRY GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED” appeared below his name. The relative calm of the ballad was quickly shattered by a rocking version of “She Loves You” that provided a bold demonstration of the big beat sound. The loudest screams occurred each time John, Paul, and George went “Woooo” and shook their heads. When it was over, The Beatles took their customary bow.
Thirty-five minutes later, Sullivan introduced the group’s second segment with a simple, “Ladies and gentlemen, once again.” The Beatles then played boot-tapping versions of both sides of their Capitol single, “I Saw Her Standing There” and the No. 1 hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” During these songs, as well as the earlier performances, the cameramen did a superb job of capturing The Beatles and the excitement of the event despite being unable to hear the director’s instructions through their headphones over the screaming girls. The last song effectively mixed long shots, close-ups, crowd shots and a move in and out on drummer Ringo Starr by a mobile crane camera.
After taking their bows, John, Paul and George removed their instruments and Ringo jumped down from his drum riser. The group then headed over to Sullivan to shake hands and wave to the crowd.
For many, The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was a defining moment comparable to “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or man’s first steps on the moon. The powerful sounds and images of those performances are forever embedded in our minds. For 40 years, the story of The Beatles on Sullivan has been told in countless books, articles and documentaries, but often with myths and misinformation.
The official version of how Ed Sullivan learned about The Beatles begins on Oct. 31, 1963. On that day, Sullivan and his wife were at London Airport. It was an unusually busy day at the airport with the prime minister due to fly out and contestants for the Miss World contest (being held that year in London) arriving. Although the city was experiencing a heavy rainstorm that day more than 1,500 youngsters lined the rooftop gardens of the Queen’s Building and others congregated on the ground. Sullivan asked what all the commotion was about and was informed that it was for The Beatles, who were returning from a tour of Sweden. He replied, “Who the hell are The Beatles?” Sullivan was told that the Beatles were a well-known pop group. Although Sullivan would later claim that the incident caused him to immediately inquire into booking The Beatles on his show, the true story is a bit more involved.
Jack Babb, who was the talent coordinator for the Sullivan show, spent his summers in Europe checking out potential acts for the program. He was assisted by Peter Prichard, a London theatrical agent who was also employed by Sullivan as his European talent coordinator. Prichard became good friends with Sullivan and Babb. He also knew Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who sometimes called him for advice.
During the summer of 1963, Prichard took Babb to see The Beatles on at least one occasion. Although The Beatles were developing a following on the British concert circuit and had two No. 1 singles and a chart-topping album, the group had yet to become part of the national consciousness. Because no British pop act had ever achieved prolonged success in America, neither Prichard nor Babb gave consideration to booking The Beatles on the Sullivan show.
By September 1963, The Beatles were gaining coverage in the British press and were receiving tremendous radio and television exposure. But their big break through was a widely-watched and well-publicized television appearance on “Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium”, which was televised throughout the U.K. during prime time Sunday evening and was the British equivalent of “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The Beatles headlined the Oct. 13, 1963, Palladium show, which was seen by more than 15 million people. The bedlam caused by the group both inside and outside the theater caught the attention of British news editors, who elevated The Beatles from a successful entertainment act to a national news phenomenon. The Daily Mirror described the hysteria as “Beatlemania!” The term stuck.
The Beatles’ triumphant Palladium appearance was quickly followed by the Oct. 31 airport reception witnessed by Sullivan and their playing before British high society at the Royal Command Performance, also known as the Royal Variety Show. Their presence on the Nov. 4, 1963, show drew more attention than the arrival of Royal Family. The Beatles, who were seventh on the bill of 19 acts, impressed the upscale crowd with “She Loves You”, “Till There Was You”, “From Me To You” and “Twist and Show”. Prior to ripping into a rousing rendition of their closing rocker, Lennon said, “For our last number I’d like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry.” While Epstein viewed John’s remarks as being a bit risque, he was relieved that the crowd seemed charmed by the Beatle’s cheeky humor. Before the show, John had joked to Brian that he was going to ask the Royals to rattle their “fookin’ jewelry.”
The next day Epstein headed to New York with Billy J. Kramer, a 20-year-old singer who was one of the other acts he managed. The primary purpose of the visit was to promote Kramer, whom Epstein hoped would develop into a successful cabaret crooner capable of headlining shows in New York and Las Vegas. The other purpose of his visit was to explore why The Beatles hadn’t “happened” in America and, more important, perhaps do something about it by “spreading the gospel of The Beatles in the U.S.A.”
Prior to leaving for New York, Epstein was contacted by Prichard, who said he should try to get The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and offered to negotiate a deal. When Brian said that he would rather handle the negotiations himself, Prichard told Brian to call him when he got to New York so that he could set up a meeting with Sullivan.
As Epstein’s plane was heading to New York, Prichard began workout his pitch to Sullivan for The Beatles. He later called Sullivan and gave him a report on the Royal Variety Show. Prichard mentioned the tremendous response The Beatles received and recommended that Sullivan book The Beatles for his show. Sullivan, remembering the large crowd at London Airport, was interested, but needed an angle to promote the group, which at the time was still unknown in America. Prichard informed Sullivan that The Beatles were the first “long haired boys” to be invited to appear before the Queen of England. That convinced Sullivan to consider the group for his show.
Epstein’s 1963 appointment book indicates he met with Sullivan at his suite at the Delmonico Hotel on Monday, Nov. 11. This was followed by a 5 p.m. dinner meeting the next day at the Delmonico Hotel’s restaurant.
The initial meeting was apparently attended only by Epstein and Sullivan. They tentatively agreed that The Beatles would appear on Sullivan’s Feb. 9, 1964, show live from New York, and then the following week on a special remote show broadcast live from th4e Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach. Bob Precht, Sullivan’s son-in-law and producer, was asked to attend the second meeting during which the deal was finalized. Upon his arrival at the Delmonico, Precht was introduced to Epstein and told by Sullivan that the manager had a great group of youngsters who were going to be “really big”.
Although Sullivan paid up to $10,000 for a single performance, he offered Brian $3,500 for each show. He agreed to pay the group’s transportation and lodging. Realizing the importance of having his boys on the Sullivan show, Brian agreed to the deal provided The Beatles received top billing. Although Brian claimed Sullivan gave in to this demand, it is unlikely that Sullivan did more than agree to consider top billing for the group. By the time the first show aired three months later, Sullivan eagerly promoted The Beatles as the headline act. However, Mitzi Gaynor received top billing for the Miami Beach Show. Precht suggest that in addition to the two live programs, The Beatles should tape a performance for alter broadcast. The parties agreed on a payment of $3,000 for the taped segment, thus bringing the total for the three shows to $10,000. As was often the case with Epstein’s negotiations, the deal was then sealed with a handshake.
After leaving the meeting, Precht began having second thoughts about featuring the unknown British band on the show and called Sullivan at his suite to voice his concerns. Sullivan assured him that he felt it was worth the investment. And that ended the matter. The decision had been made. Sullivan later told The New York Times, “I made up my mind that this was the same sort of mass hit hysteria that had characterized the Elvis Presley days.”
For nearly a month after booking The Beatles, Sullivan probably gave little if any, additional thought to the British act. But that changed on Dec. 10, 1963, when he saw a four-minute story on the “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite”. Shortly after the program ended, Sullivan called Cronkite to ask him what he knew about “those bugs, or whatever they call themselves.” His inability to remember the group’s name was typical Sullivan. “Those bugs” were still virtually unknown in America, but Sullivan sensed that was about to change. After all, if Cronkite deemed The Beatles newsworthy, America would soon catch on. Three days later, CBS issued a press release announcing that “The Beatles, wildly popular quartet of English recording stars, will make their first trip to the United States Feb. 7 for their American television debut on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ Sunday, Feb. 9 and 16.”
This announcement encouraged Sid Bernstein to contact Epstein in hopes of booking The Beatles for concerts at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall. Although some accounts stat that Bernstein called Brian several months before Sullivan booked The Beatles, this is not correct. In a 1964 interview, Bernstein stated, “I kept reading about The Beatles [in the British papers] and then when Sullivan had signed them I got Epstein’s numberâ€¦and called him up.”
In addition to prompting CBS to begin promotion of The Beatles’ upcoming appearance on the Sullivan show, Cronkite’s decision to broadcast The Beatles story on Dec. 10 set forth a domino effect causing Beatlemania to explode in America nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. That evening, 15-year-old Marsha Albert of Silver Spring, MD, viewed The Beatles performing “She Loves You” on the CBS news and like what she saw and heard. Marsh wrote a letter to her favorite radio station, WWDC, referring to The Beatles’ appearance on the news and asking, “Why can’t we have this music in America?” DJ Carroll James, who also had seen The Beatles on the news, arranged to have a copy of the group’s latest British single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, delivered to him by the BOAC airline.
On Dec. 17, 1963, exactly one week after the CBS broadcast, James had Marsha Albert come down to the station to introduce the song on his radio show. After the song ended, James requested that listeners write in to let him know what they thought of The Beatles. Bust most couldn’t wait and began calling the station immediately. According to James, the station’s switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree with eager listeners phoning in to praise the song. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was immediately added to WWDC’s playlist and placed in heavy rotation.
It didn’t take long for Capitol to learn that a Washington station had jumped the gun by playing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” four weeks prior to its scheduled release date of Jan. 13, 1964. Capitol telephoned WWDC and requested that the single be pulled off the air, but the station refused. Capitol then hired New York entertainment attorney Walter Hofer, who represented Epstein, The Beatles and the song’s publisher, to contact the station and demand that WWDC “cease and desist” playing the song. According to Hofer, James told him, “Look, you can’t stop me from playing it. The record is a hit. It’s a major thing.”
Realizing that they could not stop WWDC from playing the record and believing that this was an isolated incident that would not spread elsewhere, Capitol decided to press a few thousand copies of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to send to the Washington area.
This strategy might have worked had James opted to keep his exclusive; however, he apparently sent a tape of the song to a disc jockey buddy of his in Chicago, who then played it on his show. Listeners in the Windy City also reacted favorably towards the song. When a St. Louis disc jockey played a tape of The Beatles’ new song, his station was hit with tons of requests for it.
With Christmas less than a week away, stations in three major markets were playing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. In addition, tapes of the song were circulating among the nation’s disc jockeys. Capitol quickly came to the realization that the genie was already out of the bottle. The company also remembered that radio airplay was essential for sales. Capitol’s job was to get stations to play The Beatles. It made no sense to try to halt airplay just because the record’s scheduled release was weeks away.
Although record companies traditionally did not issue any new product during the holiday season, Capitol was beginning to realize that there was nothing traditional about The Beatles. The company pushed up the single’s release date to Dec. 26, 1963. Capitol also realized that its initial factory requisite of 200,000 units would be insufficient to meet demand. Word went out to its factories in Scranton and Los Angeles to step up production by having all pressing machines exclusively manufacture the Beatles 45. In addition, Capitol subcontracted with other companies, such as RCA and Decca, to press additional copies of the single.
Distribution of The Beatles record began the day after Christmas. New York’s WMCA immediately played the song, with rivals WABC and WINS following shortly thereafter. Soon, all three stations placed the song in heavy rotation. The same patter was repeated throughout the nation. Boosted by saturation airplay at a time when American youngsters were out of school for the holidays, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was an instant best seller with over 250,000 copes sold in its first three days of release. By Jan. 10, 1964, the record had sold over one million units.
Although Sullivan was the first American TV host to book the Beatles, television personality Jack Paar pulled a coup by broadcasting a filmed performance of group on his NBC show over a month before their scheduled Sullivan show appearance on CBS. Paar had seen the group in London at the Royal Variety Show on Nov. 4. He purchased film from the BBC, including shots of screaming girls and The Beatles performing “She Loves You”.
Epstein was furious with the BBC for selling the Beatles performance to a rival of Sullivan and worried that Sullivan would be angry. Epstein had promised Sullivan the first and exclusive American television appearances of The Beatles. Epstein threatened to cancel The Beatles’ radio shows on the BBC if action was not taken. The BBC tried to rescind its licensing of the film, but Paar refused to budge. Sullivan was furious and phoned Prichard to cancel The Beatles. Fortunately, Prichard decided to wait a few days before calling Epstein. Sullivan cooled off when he realized what a hot ticket The Beatles were becoming and canceled his cancellation before Epstein ever knew.
Paar’s motivation for showing The Beatles on his program was not to herald the coming of the next big thing, but rather to make light of the band’s success in their homeland. He later admitted, “I didn’t know they were going to change the culture of the country with music. I thought they were funny. I brought them here as a joke.”
On Friday, Jan. 3, 1964, the announcer for “The Jack Paar Show” read the guest list for the evening’s program, including “from London, a special film appearance of the sensational rock ‘n’ rollers, The Beatles.” Paar began his program sitting alone on a wooden stool giving a monolog. After running through topics such as teenagers and driving, he abruptly shifted gears and talked about The Beatles. After assuring viewers he was only “interested in The Beatles as a psychological, sociological phenomenon,” he showed film of girls going wild at a Beatles concert. As the film continued, Paar gave a running commentary, which was often interrupted by laughter from the studio audience. “I understand science is working on a cure for this. These guys have these crazy hairdos and when they wiggle their heads and the hair goes, the girls go out of their minds. Does it bother you to realize that in a few years these girls will vote, raise children and drive cars? I just show you this in case you’re going to England and want to have a fun evening. Now here are The Beatles.”
Paar remained silent during the filmed performance of “She Loves You”, which ended with shots of screaming girls. After his studio audience politely applauded, Paar dead-panned, “It’s nice to know that England has finally risen to our cultural level.” After laughs from the studio audience, Paar informed his viewers that “Ed Sullivan’s going to have The Beatles on live in February.” Apparently feeling the need to justify his broadcast of The Beatles to his sophisticated followers, Paar explained that “our interest was just showing a more adult audience that usually follows my work what’s going on in England.”
Much to the surprise of Paar and nearly everyone else, what was going on in England would soon be happening in America. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” raced up the charts and was soon No. 1 in Billboard, Cash Box and Record World. Vee-jay and Swan, two independent record companies that had previously issued Beatles songs in America that were initially ignored, re-released their records in hopes of cashing in on The Beatles’ phenomenal success. Swan’s “She Loves You” and Vee-jay’s “Please Please Me” quickly followed the Capitol single to the upper reaches of the charts. Capitol’s “Meet the Beatles!” and Vee-jay’s “Introducing The Beatles” would soon hold down the top two spots on the album charts. With three hit singles and two albums to program from, radio stations were saturating the airwaves with Beatles music.
By February 1964, The Beatles had become part of the American consciousness. To ensure that the group’s arrival in the States would not go unnoticed, Capitol Records provided details of the group’s itinerary to New York’s radio stations, who encouraged their young listeners to greet The Beatles at Kennedy Airport even though it was a school day. On Friday, Fed. 7, more that 3,000 teenagers stood four deep on the airport’s upper arcade to greet The Beatles as they stepped off Pan American Airways Flight 101 shortly after 1:20 p.m. The crowd was even larger and more vocal than the crowd Sullivan had witnessed at London Airport 15 weeks earlier.
Shortly before 7 that evening, The Beatles watched themselves on the “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite” while relaxing in their Plaza Hotel suite. As they exited the plane, Cronkite stated that, “The British invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania. D-Day has been common knowledge for months, and this was the day.” The group was then shown at their airport press conference as Cronkite continued, “The invasion took place at New York’s Kennedy International Airport.” After a few sound bites from The Beatles, Cronkite gave his traditional sign off, “And that’s the way it is, Friday, February 7, 1964.” And that’s the way it was. Forty-nine hours later, 73 million Americans would gather around television sets to see The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” And America would never be the same.