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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 16, 1969

John Lennon and Yoko Ono flew to Toronto, Canada to begin the next stage of the couple’s peace campaign. They stayed on Ronnie Hawkins’ ranch in Mississauga, Ontario, from where they gave a series of interviews to the world’s media.

The Canadian campaign coincided with the erection of a series of advertisements in 12 cities worldwide proclaiming “War is over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”. In Toronto, 30 roadside billboards were set up, as well as thousands of posters and handbills.

Lennon and Ono publicly claimed their hopes that the trip would herald the beginning of “Year One AP (After Peace)”. However, although they were given considerable publicity during their stay, which ended on 23 December, it marked the end of their protest activities for two years.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 15, 1969

Today in Centeral London, The Plastic Ono Band took part in a benefit concert for Unicef, at the Lyceum Ballroom.

The event was titled Peace For Christmas. Performing today included the Young Rascals, Desmond Dekker and the Aces, Blue Mink and Black Velvet. Emperor Rosko was the disc jockey between the performances.

The other members of the Plastic Ono Band’s first show at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival also agreed to play: Eric Clapton on guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Alan White on drums, plus Billy Preston on keyboards. Clapton arrived with almost all of Delaney & Bonnie’s touring band, which at the time included George Harrison. This, therefore, was the first time Lennon and Harrison had performed at a scheduled concert since The Beatles’ last show on 29 August 1966. It was also the Plastic Ono Band’s only European concert.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 14, 1969

Today a television tribute to George Martin, With A Little Help From My Friends, was filmed.

Ringo Starr was among the guests taking part in the televisual spectacular, which also featured Dudley Moore, The Hollies, Blue Mink, Lulu, Spike Milligan and dancers Pan’s People, plus Martin himself conducting the 40-piece George Martin Orchestra.

With A Little Help From My Friends was filmed in Studio Four at The Television Centre in Leeds. Starr’s contribution was to mime to Octopus’s Garden. Because of a Musicians’ Union ban on lip-syncing on British television, however, parts of the song had been re-recorded on December 8th to give the impression of a live performance.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 13, 1969

Today John Lennon gave an exclusive interview to Alan Smith that would be published in the December 13th issue of the New Musical Express. The article would be entitled 'Beatles are on the Brink of Splitting' and features intriguing insights into John Lennon's early thoughts about what is troubling the group.

John cites several factors on the band's disharmony that he feels could potentially lead to a Beatles breakup, including differences of opinion on how to run Apple between himself and Paul, as well as George Harrison's budding songwriting talents making future Beatles releases less interesting to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership. John says "I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably."

He goes on to say that the Beatles future "...depends how much we all want to record together. I go off and on it. I really do."

Lennon also describes what he terms as the "freeloading" at Apple and says it needs to stop.

John gets in a plug for the release of his solo album, "Live Peace In Toronto" which had been released one day earlier on December 12th.

The breakup of the Beatles would be officially announced four months later, in April of 1970.

I MAY be wrong, and I hope I am, but these are dark days for the Beatles. I begin to wonder how much longer their association can stand the strain of their own individual talent.

John Lennon pulls toward peace and his own Plastic Ono Band; Ringo pulls toward a bigger and better film career; George Harrison jumps toward his own prolific songwriting; and Paul McCartney pulls himself away to Scotland, his own songs… and silence.

Certainly, John and Paul are on opposite sides of a heavy wall of difference and self-inflicted gloom. And the bond between them can hardly have been more weak, or their opposing interests more strong.

A few days ago, John and Yoko and I in a one-hour and fifteen minute exclusive interview for NME, (partly filmed for BBC-1’s look at the world of John and Yoko Lennon in “24 Hours”), and during that time he gave me frank answers to his mental rifts with Paul and the current state of the Beatles.

He was pleasant, together, straightforward, mellow and resolute, and only in references to Paul did his voice drop in doubt.

 

He told me “Paul and I have differences of opinion on how things should be run. But instead of it being a private argument about how an LP should be done, or a certain track, it’s now a larger argument about the organization of Apple itself.”

“Whether we both want the same thing from Apple in the end is a matter of opinion. But how to achieve it -- that’s where we digress.

“Mainly we disagree on the Klein bit. But you know, I don’t really want to discuss Paul without him here. It’s just that as far as I can see, Paul was always waiting for this guy to just appear and save us from the mess we were in.

“And we were in a mess, and only my saying it in the press that time enabled Klein to hear about it and come over.

“I’m a quarter of this building, and it became a question of whether I should pull my money out if I could – which I probably can’t.

“I did say I wanted out at one time. It was just that all my income was going into Apple and being wasted by the joy-riding people who were here. In fact, that was just the minute bit of it. I just wanted it to stop.

“It’s no use pretending we can be here all the time when that kind of thing is going on. We needed a business man. No Beatle can spend his days here checking the accountants.

“There was also the question of the four of us holding different opinions on things, and the staff not knowing where they were or who to listen to.

“I know that’s what’s going on all the time. People come to me and say ‘Paul wants this done. What do you think?’ and they know damn well what I think, and they say ‘Alright,’ and then they go to Paul and say ‘John wants this done. He’s off again.’

“The result is that we kept sending in different instructions and nothing was being done. Like people anywhere, they were getting away with what they could. We were naïve and stupid.

“What I would like is for the freeloading to stop but the old Apple spirit to remain. The spirit will be there, because if Apple is not a problem to the Beatles – which it was – it just can’t help but get better.

“Our job is to put the creative side into Apple. If the Beatles never recorded together again, but each put their creative efforts through Apple… that at least would be better than me having a company, Paul having a company, George having a company, and Ringo having a company. Together we at least have that much more power.

“I know now that the original concept of helping everybody doesn’t work in its purest form. All you get are the bums and freeloaders everybody else turns down.

“The only way we can help other artists at Apple is the same way the Beatles helped other artists… by breaking new barriers. That’s what we didn’t get before. We sat back, and we started to believe our own publicity, to tell ourselves how the Beatles helped people get long hair, and the Beatles started off this, and the other.

“The Beatles split up? It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.

“The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album, Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it. Nowadays there’s three if us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.

“That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual physical problem. What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out.

“None of us want to be background musicians most of the time. It’s a waste. We didn’t spend ten years ‘making it’ to have the freedom in the recording studios, to be able to have two tracks on an album.

“It’s not like we spend our time wrestling in the studio trying to get our own songs on. We all do it the same way… we take it in turns to record a track. It’s just that usually in the past, George lost out because Paul and I are tougher.

“It’s nothing new, the way things are. It’s human. We’ve always said we’ve had fights. It’s no news that we argue. I’m more interested in my songs. Paul’s more interested in his, and George is more interested in his. That’s always been.

“This is why I’ve started with the Plastic Ono and working with Yoko… to have more outlet. There isn’t enough outlet for me in the Beatles. The Ono Band is my escape valve. And how important that gets, as compared to the Beatles for me, I’ll have to wait and see.

“You have to realize that there’s a peculiar situation, in that if ‘Cold Turkey’ had the name Beatles on it, probably it would have been a No. 1.

“ ‘Cold Turkey’ has got Ringo and me on it, and yet on half the Beatles’ tracks of ‘Abbey Road,’ I’m not on, or half the tracks on the double album – and even way back. Sometimes there might be only two Beatles on a track. It’s got to the situation where if we have the name ‘Beatle’ on it, it sells. So you get to think: ‘What are we selling? Do they buy it because it’s worth it, or just because it says ‘Beatles’?

“George is in the same position. I mean, he’s got songs he’s been trying to get on since 1930. He’s got to make an album of his own. And maybe if he puts ‘Beatles’ on the label rather than George Harrison, it might sell more. That’s the drag.

“Of course we could each make an album and call it ‘The Beatles,’ but that would be cheating. And that’s not my scene.

“Anyway, folks, remember the Plastic Ono Band LP from Toronto released December the 13th, with a nice picture of the sky, and a fab calendar inside of a year’s events with John and Yoko, with poetry and fun.”

NEXT WEEK: “DO I WANT TO BE HATED”; MISCARRIAGE; THE ‘GET BACK’ FILM; STAGE FRIGHT; AUNT MIMI; FEAR; INSECURITY; JEALOUSY; POLITICIANS – AND PEACE.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 12, 1969

John Lennon gave an interview today which took place in Lennon’s office at Apple Corps. He spoke to Harry Flower from South African radio and discussed the state’s prior ban on Beatles recordings, by now lifted. Flower explained that one station was planning a 90 minute special on the Abbey Road album. Lennon responded positively, adding that they should also do one on the newly-released Live Peace In Toronto 1969.

Lennon also discussed The Beatles’ Get Back album and film, as they were both then known, to be released in the new year. He also spoke of a Plastic Ono Band, as yet unwritten, which would be out in January. This became Instant Karma!, recorded on 27 January 1970 and released the following month.

Lennon was also involved in a campaign to have convicted murderer James Hanratty posthumously pardoned by the British government; a weekly public protest in London’s Hyde Park had been filmed by the couple, but there were plans to recruit a more experienced director. However, they made little further effort to support the campaign beyond the occasional public statement.
 
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 11, 1969

The Magic Christian, Ringo Starr's second film made its world première on this evening at the Odeon Theatre in Kensington, London.

The event was attended by Starr and his wife Maureen, as well as John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Also present was Princess Margaret.

Lennon and Ono both were black capes, and before the film held banners in the foyer proclaiming “BRITAIN MURDERED HANRATTY”.
The Magic Christian, which also starred Peter Sellers, had its US première in Los Angeles on 29 January 1970. There was also a New York première on 11 February that year.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 10, 1969

George Harrison had joined a number of dates of the English tour by husband and wife act Delaney & Bonnie. On this date the tour moved on to Copenhagen in Denmark, and Harrison again appeared as part of the band.

Delaney & Bonnie performed for three consecutive nights at the Falkoner Theatre in the Danish capital, and Harrison was there for each. They were the last tour dates he joined them for.

The Beatles had opened their world tour at another Copenhagen venue on 4 June 1964, with Jimmie Nicol standing in for an unwell Ringo Starr.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 9, 1969

UK album release: A Collection Of Beatles Oldies

Since 1966 was to have no new Beatles long-player released for the UK Christmas market, EMI decided to release its first greatest hits compilation.

A Collection Of Beatles Oldies contained eight tracks which had previously appeared on UK albums, and a further eight singles tracks which were issued here on LP for the first time. Just one song, Bad Boy, was previously unreleased. This made the album an essential purchase for 1966 Beatles completists, although it was less value for money for other fans.

The album was issued as Parlophone PMC 7016 (mono) and PCS 7016 (stereo). It entered the UK charts on 10 December 1966, and peaked at number seven. In all it spent 34 weeks on the charts.

A Collection Of Beatles Oldies was the first Beatles album to fail to reach number one. At the time Revolver was still selling strongly, and the top seller that Christmas was the soundtrack to The Sound Of Music.

 

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 8, 1969

Ringo made an appearance on a television special celebrating George Martin. It was the last Beatles-related recording session of 1969.

The show, With A Little Help From My Friends, featured a number of artists that had worked with Martin.

Because of Musicians’ Union rules on miming, it was necessary to re-record parts of Octopus’s Garden, which Starr had agreed to mime to in the show. The union had established a ban on lip-syncing on British television, but by re-recording parts of the song in the studio it was possible to make the appearance that the song was a live performance.

Because the Beatles would not agree to reconvene in the studio, Starr attended alongside three session musicians. A mix of Octopus’s Garden excluding all but drums, rhythm guitar, backing vocals and bubble effects had been made by George Martin on 2 December, and during this session new overdubs were added.

The overdubs were recorded while a copy of the 2 December mix was made. It took 10 attempts to get right, and featured new vocals, piano, lead guitar and bass guitar. The names of the session musicians are not known.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 7, 1969

George Harrison was performing on the final night of the UK tour of husband and wife team from the US, Delaney & Bonnie. George was there for five of the tour’s six dates, playing two shows each night. He appeared in Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and Croydon. He didn’t perform at the Newcastle shows on December 5th, due to his mother being ill.

Several of the shows were also recorded for possible album release – the result was 1970’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton. Harrison was credited as “Mysterioso”.

Harrison had previously performed at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall with The Beatles on September 7, 1963.