Tag Archives: George Harrison



A new documentary on the Beatles first U.S. concert makes its debut this month in selected theaters across the U.S.A. “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” will premier at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater on May 6, 2012. It will then be shown in over 450 other locations on May 17 & 22. See the documentary’s website to find a theater near you. Check out this website: www.lostbeatlesconcert.com

The documentary shows the group’s February 11, 1964, show at the Washington Coliseum in front of over 8,000 screaming fans. The concert footage appears in pristine video and sound for the very first time and includes the Beatles entire performance. The film also covers the birth of Beatlemania in America with a series of interviews, including Chuck Berry, Tommy Roe, Steven Tyler and Bruce Spizer.

The complete story of the birth of Beatlemania in America is told in “The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America,” which will be on sale through May 22, 2012. The hardback edition is priced at $25 and the paperback edition at $15.




Today’s trivia question pertains to the Beatles historic first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum.


What song was performed at the Beatles first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum prior to the group recording the song for proper EMI release?


The Beatles closed their historic first U.S. concert on February 11, 1964, with a wild energetic cover of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” The Beatles, with George Martin on piano, recorded the song at Abbey Road Studios in one incredible take on March 1, 1964. The song first appeared in the U.S. on “The Beatles’ Second Album,” which was released on April 10, 1964, and in the U.K. on the EP “Long Tall Sally,” which was issued on July 19, 1964.

The set list for the Beatles first U.S. concert was written by John on Shoreham Hotel stationary.





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This past week we lost another great man in Dick Clark, who was known as “America’s oldest teenager.” To the youth of America in the late fifties through the eighties, he was best known as the host of American Bandstand, a dance show featuring Clark playing hit singles. In addition, the show often had popular artists lip-sync a song or two. Teenagers would get to see other teens dance to the hottest hits, providing the opportunity to keep up with the latest and greatest dance moves and music, all in one show.

Clark also would play new records on his show in the Rate-A-Record segment. Selected teenagers would be asked what they liked and didn’t like about the song (“It had a beat and you could dance to it”) and would assign a number value. Clark would then compute an average score based on the individual scores.

Although the Beatles never performed on American Bandstand, Clark did, of course, play their records. Although tapes of the show from 1963 are limited, it has been reported that Clark played “Please Please Me” in a Rate-A-Record segment in February or March of 1963, with the single scoring in the mid-seventies.

A bit more is known about the next Beatles single featured in Rate-A-Record. Shortly after the single’s release on September 16, 1963, Dick Clark played “She Loves You.” The song averaged a mediocre 73 score. According to Clark, “When the kids saw a photo of the four long-haired lads, they just laughed.” The band’s appearance and the song’s “yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain were totally foreign to what American teens were used to seeing and hearing in 1963. Clark would not play a Beatles record again until 1964 when Beatlemania exploded in America.

I twice contacted Dick Clark during the research of my books. He took time from his busy schedule to answer my questions in writing. My last contact with him was after his 2004 stroke. I faxed him a picture (shown below) of the Beatles receiving an in-house gold record award at Carnegie Hall and asked him to identify the three people in the photo other than the Beatles. He sent me back a fax identifying two of men, who were former business associates of Clark.


Dick Clark was the co-founder and initial 50% owner of a record label that later released singles by the Beatles. What was the name of the record company, the city it was located in and the two Beatles singles it released? Bonus: What were the names of the other two co-founders of the company?


Dick Clark was the co-founder and initial 50% owner of Swan Records, which was based in his home town of Philadelphia. In mid-September 1963, Swan released the single “She Love You” b/w “I’ll Get You.” Although the record initially flopped, it was re-issued in early 1964 and went on to top the charts and sell over two millions copies. Swan also issued a single featuring the German-language version of “She Loves You” backed by “I’ll Get You.” The record was titled “Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You)” and was credited to “Die Beatles.” After Capitol Records filed suit, Swan pulled “Sie Liebt Dich” from circulation as the label did not have the rights to issue the recording.


Swan Records was founded in 1957 by Dick Clark, Tony Mammarella and Bernie Binnick. By the time the label released its Beatles singles, Clark was no longer an owner.

Although Dick Clark was not implicated in the 1959 Congressional investigations into the music industry practice of payola (disc jockeys accepting money and other favors to play particular records), the payola scandal did affect him. American Bandstand was being broadcast by the ABC television network. In order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, ABC-Paramount president Leonard Goldstein forced Clark to divest himself of his ownership interests in record and publishing companies, including Swan Records.

Swan co-owner Tony Mammarella hands George Martin and the Beatles an in-house gold record award for sales of over one million units of “She Loves You.” Co-owner Bernie Binnick is in the background between Martin and Mammarella. The picture was taken by William “PoPsie” Randolph at Carnegie Hall on February 12, 1964.



The Taxman Commeth

Although April 15 is the date United States income taxes are normally due for individuals, this year (2012) the due date is April 17. Taxes were not due on April 15 because it fell on a Sunday. And taxpayers got an extra day to file and/or pay because April 16 was Emancipation Day, which is holiday obxerved in Washington, D.C.

While you are lamenting about how much tax you must pay this year, just remember it could be worse. The maximum federal tax rate for individuals in the U.S. this year is 35%. This maximum rate has varied throughout the years, starting in 1913 at 7% and hitting its high mark in 1944 during World War II of 94%. From 1946 through 1963, it remained high at 91%. The maximum rate dropped to 77% in 1964 and the following year to 70%, where it remained until 1982, when the first of the Reagan-era tax cuts lowered it to 50%, with 1988 having the lowest post-WW II rate of 28%.

The U.K. first imposed a personal income tax in 1799 under the direction of William Pitts. Although the revenue it generated helped the British defeat Napoleon, many Brits thought the tax devised by Pitts was the pits. The income tax was dropped and reinstated several times over the next hundred years. By the 1948/1949 tax year, the pressures of the post-WW II economy led to the imposition of a top rate of 95%. This was reduced to 91.5% for the 1966/1967 tax year. By 1978/1979, it had dropped to 83%. For 1988/1989, it was down to 32%. The top maximum rate in the U.K. is currently 50%.

As you can see, the tax rate during the sixties was quite high. No wonder George Harrison wrote a song about it, which gets quite a bit of airplay in the United States every April 15.


In the Beatles song Taxman, what is the tax rate, what is taxed if you take a walk and who plays lead guitar?


The tax rate is 95% (“there’s one for you, 19 for me”). This was the maximum tax rate in the U.K. at the time the song was written. If you take a walk, the Taxman taxes your feet. As for the hard-hitting guitar solo, it was not played by George, but rather by Paul McCartney.


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“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”, directed by Martin Scorsese, airs on HBO

“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.”



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?”


“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?


“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?


“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?


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

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


“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?


“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”?


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

Article by Sharon Abella


Apple’s American Debut – The Original 1968 Press Kit

By Bruce Spizer

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.


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The above article, © 1999 and 2000 by 498 Productions, L.L.C., first appeared in Beatlology Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 5 (May/June 1999) . After its publication, a few other complete press kits have surfaced.




Paul McCartney Admits Beatles Planned Death Hoax

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]