Search
Filters
Close
RSS

Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 26, 1967

The Beatles' agreement with Parlophone expired according to its terms on June 3, 1966. It was not until January 26, 1967 that a new agreement was concluded, this one for a period of nine years. [Masters recorded between June 3, 1966 and January 26, 1967 were accommodated by a series of letter agreements.] Capitol continued to derive its rights to manufacture and distribute in the U.S. under the MEA (though the internal royalties override that EMI received for licensing the Beatles masters to Capitol was reduced from 5% of the retail price to 2.2% of the retail price, payable on 90% of sales, less a fixed packaging fee; there also were several other technical nuances).

Royalties payable to the Beatles for new material were substantially increased. The 1967 agreement later became the source of considerable confusion because instead of being payable on “retail” price the royalty became payable on a “wholesale” price, which was incompletely defined. This probably was due to a misapprehension by Alan Livingston, then Capitol's President. Livingston had negotiated separate terms for the U.S., Canada and Mexico and most likely got them confused because the sales base for each territory was expressed differently.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 25, 1967

Mixing: Penny Lane

Studio One. EMI Studios, London

A copy of master mono mx RM11 of Penny Lane had been sent to Capitol Records on January 23rd for American pressing. But Paul felt it could be bettered, so three more mono mixes were made between 6:30 and 8:30 this evening, the new master being RM14. The main difference between this and RM11 was the omission of some David Mason trumpet figures from the very end of the song. A copy of RM14 was made for America between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. While it was not too late to substitute new for old in Britain, however, a few singles using RM11 had already been pressed and distributed to US radio stations as advance promotion/broadcast copies - although for the commercial release Capitol used the correct mix.

The single, "Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane" was issued in Britain on Friday, February 17th, the Beatles' third double-A sided 45 in four releases, and both songs thus dropped out of the running for the album currently in the making.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 24, 1967

Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein discuss The Beatles’ third film with Joe Orton

English playwright Joe Orton had been asked by Walter Shenson, producer of the films A Hard Day's Night and Help!, to come up with a script for The Beatles' third film.

Shenson asked Orton to rework a draft script by an unknown writer. Orton used portions of the earlier script and incorporated new scenes. The result was Up Against It, which in 1967 was briefly considered as the group's cinematic follow-up to Help!.

Orton began writing Up Against It on January 16th. A contract was drawn up, which allowed Orton to buy back the script rights were it to be rejected.

On this day Orton met Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein to discuss the project. The meeting took place at Epstein's London mews house.

I rang the bell and an old man opened the door. He seemed surprised to see me. 'Is this Brian Epstein's house?' I said. 'Yes, sir,' he said, and led the way into the hall. I suddenly realised that the man was the butler. I've never seen one before. He took my coat and I went to the lavatory. When I came out he'd gone. There was nobody about. I wandered around a large dining-room which was laid for dinner. And then I got to feel strange. The house appeared to be empty. So I went upstairs to the first floor. I heard music only I couldn't decide where it came from. So I went further upstairs and found myself ina bedroom. I came down again and found the butler. He took me into a room and said in a loud voice, 'Mr Orton.'

Everybody looked up and stood to their feet. I was introduced to one or two people. And Paul McCartney. He was just as the photographs. Only he'd grown a moustache. His hair was shorter too. He was playing the latest Beatles recording, Penny Lane. I liked it very much. Then he played the other side Strawberry something. I didn't like this as much. We talked intermittently. Before we went out to dinner we'd agreed to throw out the idea of setting the film in the thirties. We went down to dinner. The crusted old retainer - looking too much like a butler to be good casting - busied himself in the corner.

'The only thing I get from the theatre,' Paul M. said, 'is a sore arse.' He said Loot was the only play he hadn't wanted to leave before the end. 'I'd've liked a bit more,' he said. We talked of the theatre. I said that compared to the pop scene the theatre was square. 'The theatre started going downhill when Queen Victoria knighted Henry Irving,' I said. 'Too fucking respectable.'

We talked of drugs, of mushrooms which give hallucinations - like LSD. 'The drug, not the money,' I said. We talked of tattoos. And, after one or two veiled references, marijuana. I said I'd smoked it in Morocco. The atmosphere relaxed a little. Dinner ended and we went upstairs again. We watched a programme on TV. It had phrases in it like 'the in-crowd' and 'swinging London'.

There was a scratching at the door. I thought it was the old retainer, but someone got up to open the door and about five very young and pretty boys trooped in. I rather hoped this was the evening's entertainments. It wasn't, though. It was a pop group called The Easybeats. I'd seen them on TV. I liked them very much then. In a way they were better (or prettier) offstage than on.

After a while Paul McCartney said, 'Let's go upstairs'. So he and I and Peter Brown went upstairs to a room also fitted with a TV ... A French photographer arrived with two beautiful youths and a girl. He'd taken a set of new photographs of The Beatles. They wanted one to use on the record sleeve. Excellent photograph. And the four Beatles look different with their moustaches. Like anarchists in the early years of the century.

After a while we went downstairs. The Easybeats still there. The girl went away. I talked to the leading Easybeat. Feeling slightly like an Edwardian masher with a Gaeity Girl. And then I came over tired and decided to go home. I had a last word with Paul M. 'Well,' I said, 'I'd like to do the film. There's only one thing we've got to fix up.' 'You mean the bread.' 'Yes.' We smiled and parted. I got a cab home. It was pissing down.

Joe Orton
The Orton Diaries, 1986

Orton delivered his first draft of Up Against It on February 25th. The Beatles and Epstein decided it was be too risqué and the project was abandoned, although Orton was well paid for his efforts. The script was returned to Orton without comment.

The reason why we didn't do Up Against It wasn't because it was too far out or anything. We didn't do it because it was gay. We weren't gay and really that was all there was to it. It was quite simple, really. Brian was gay...and so he and the gay crowd could appreciate it. Now, it wasn't that we were anti-gay - just that we, The Beatles, weren't gay.
Paul McCartney

Other film ideas considered by The Beatles at this time included adaptations of Lord Of The Rings and The Three Musketeers, but like Up Against It all were dropped.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 23, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 22, 1967

The Beatles were in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 21, 1967

There was no studio session on this day but The Beatles were still working on "A Day In The Life".


Paul attended a party hosted by Julie Felix at a Chelsea art studio.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 20, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios

Reduction mixdowns of "A Day in the Life", vacating tracks for more overdubbing, began this 7:00 pm to 1:10 am session. Take six was marked "best" and so was adorned with another John Lennon lead vocal, Paul's bass and Ringo's drums. Paul's vocal also appeared for the first time. Here was a prime example of how the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership had evolved: John's song had a beginnng and an end but no middle; Paul's had a middle but no bginning or end. But the two pieces came naturally together, creating a complete picture and the impression that they were intended as one. The illusion was compounded by the fact that Paul's vocal, the first line of which was "Woke up, fell out of bed", occurred immediately after the alarm clock had been sounded on the original recording to mark the end of the first 24-count gap. Making good use of the happy coincidence, the alarm clock was kept on the track permanently.

Paul re-recorded his vocal on February 3, instantly wiping out this January 20th version, which served only as a rough guide, ending on an expletive after he had made an error.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 19, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

The start of "A Day in the Life", the song which was to become the stunning finale of the Beatles' next album. The first four takes were recorded in this 7:30 pm to 2:30 am session.

At this stage the Beatles only knew that something would later be taped for the song's middle section. Precisely what they were uncertain, but to mark out the place where the item would go they had Mal Evans count out the bars, one to 24, his voice plastered with tap echo and backed by a tinkling piano, and to flag the end of this section an alarm clock was sounded.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 18, 1967

Television: Paul McCartney interviewed for Scene Special

Paul McCartney gave an interview on this day for the Granada Television late-night show Scene Special.

The interview was conducted by producer Jo Durden-Smith, and was recorded in a ground-floor studio at 3 Upper James Street in central London. The subtitle of the show was It's So Far Out It's Straight Down, and was directed by John Sheppard.

McCartney discussed the London counterculture, appearing in four separate sequences in the 29-minute programme. Also included were the editorial board of International Times, the Indica Bookshop's founder Barry Miles, footage of Pink Floyd performing Interstellar Overdrive at the UFO Club, a 'happening' at Piccadilly Circus, and footage of a poetry gathering at the Royal Albert Hall featuring Allen Ginsberg, Adrian Mitchell and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

If you don't know anything about it [the counterculture], you can sort of trust that it's probably gonna be all right... It's human beings doing it, and you know vaguely what human beings do.

The straights should welcome the underground because it stands for freedom... It's not strange it's just new, it's not weird it's just what's going on around.

Paul McCartney
Scene Special

It's So Far Out It's Straight Down was broadcast in the north of England at 10.25pm on Tuesday March 7, 1967.

Source: Beatles Bible

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 17, 1967

John Lennon begins writing A Day In The Life

The Beatles began recording A Day in the Life, with the working title In The Life Of..., on January 19, 1967. Two days previously, however, two stories were published in the Daily Mail newspaper which provided John Lennon with inspiration for the lyrics.

Lennon wrote the song at a piano in his home Kenwood, while reading a copy of the day's newspaper. One article inspired the song's first two verses: a brief news item reporting the coroner's verdict into the death of Tara Browne, the 21-year-old heir to the Guinness fortune.

Browne, a close friend of Lennon and Paul McCartney, had crashed his Lotus Elan car on December 18, 1966, after failing to notice a red light. The accident happened in London's South Kensington; the car collided with a stationary van in Redcliffe Gardens after swerving to avoid an oncoming Volkswagen car.

I was writing A Day In The Life with the Daily Mail propped in front of me on the piano. I had it open at their News in Brief, or Far and Near, whatever they call it. I noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.

John Lennon
Anthology

In Hunter Davies' 1968 authorised biography of The Beatles, Lennon explained how the words of the song were indirectly inspired by the events.

I didn't copy the accident. Tara didn't blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.

John Lennon
The Beatles, Hunter Davies

However, in his 1997 authorised biography Many Years From Now, Paul McCartney downplayed suggestions that the song was directly about Browne's death.

The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don't believe is the case, certainly as were were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John's head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who'd stopped at some traffic lights and didn't notice that the lights had changed. The 'blew his mind' was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The song's final verse was taken from the Daily Mail's Far And Near column. "There are 4,000 holes in the road in Blackburn, Lancashire," it read, "or one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey."

There was still one word missing in that verse when we came to record. I knew the line had to go 'Now they know how many holes it takes to... something, the Albert Hall.' It was a nonsense verse really, but for some reason I couldn't think of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall?

It was Terry [Doran, a former car dealer and friend of Brian Epstein's who later became head of Apple Music] who said 'fill' the Albert Hall. And that was it. Perhaps I was looking for that word all the time, but couldn't put my tongue on it. Other people don't necessarily give you a word or a line, they just throw in the word you're looking for anyway.