Tony Bramwell – A Farewell Toast

I was saddened this weekend to hear that Tony Bramwell had died. He served as a press agent for the Beatles for several years. I, like many of those attending Beatles conventions, got to hear Tony speak and/or meet him several times. He was always friendly and full of wonderful stories about working for the boys. Tony was easy to track down at night. You knew you could find him at the bar, entertaining everyone around him with tales of yesterday.

The last time I had a long chat with Tony was on August 8, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Beatles walking through the cross walk for the iconic Abbey Road album cover. I was in London for the anniversary and went to Abbey Road, where I saw Tony being interviewed by the British press. Afterwards, I sat next to him on a bench to talk about the iconic album cover and how the Beatles have managed to remain relevant for so many years. I, like so many others, will miss him. I took this photo of him that day.

In 2011, I asked Tony if he would write the forward to my book with Frank Daniels, Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records. He was the perfect person for the foreword as he had written the sleeve notes for the Parlophone LP Beatles For Sale. Tony agreed and, as expected, penned an entertaining and informative foreword, which included the following:

“I started working for THE BEATLES in 1961, and when they got their recording contract with EMI, I was just as thrilled as thrilled could be! Although I received my free copy of Love Me Do from Mr. Epstein, I could not even tell you what colour the label was. Of course Bruce and Frank can tell you the colour, catalog number and how many were made, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they knew which machine at the Hayes factory pressed the disc and the name of the lady who pressed it!

Through my years WITH THE BEATLES, I changed the promotional practice in the U.K. record industry. In the sixties, the major record companies would only service a handful of discs to the BBC. Plugging was left to the music publishers, who would send a plugger around to pay the tune on a piano to a bandleader or musical director of a programme! As I could not play the piano, I took hundreds of records and gave them to anyone from secretaries, DJs, producers (even doormen!) in hope of finding an elusive outlet for the music! I even gave many people two copies–one for the office and one for home. No doubt many took them straight to second-hand shops for cash in hand! If only they had held on to these mini-masterpieces (first editions, sometime acetates).

By the way, the orange splodge on the bottom corner of the BEATLES FOR SALE album sleeve shown on the cover of this book is my hand!”

In the book, Tony recalled how he was responsible for the orange blob seen on the cover. “I held the branches of the tree out of the way, but my hand got in the shots! The mop tops called it the ‘Turnip Sleeve’ because of George’s hair sticking up.”

Among his other contributions to the book is the following tale of woe. Shortly before the release of The White Album, Tony picked up 200 low-numbered copies of the album to distribute to disc jockeys and reviewers. After arriving at his first stop, the BBC, he paid the cabbie, got out of the vehicle and started talking with a friend who he saw coming out of the building. As he engaged in conversation, the cabbie drove off with the precious cargo! Tony speculated that the albums were quickly sold in the East End. During the sessions, he took a picture of John singing the song Revolution while lying on his back on the floor of Abbey Road’s Studio Three.

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