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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : March 3, 1964-

The Beatles still filming in the West Country

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : March 2, 1964-

Various locations today through March 6th - London to the West Country

Today, the Beatles became film actors for the first time, hurriedly joining the closed-shop actor's union Equity only minutes beforehand, on the platform at Paddington Station. They were proposed and seconded by Wilfrid Brambell and Norman Rossington, the two main support players in the group's debut feature film, which, for the moment was untitled. They were all gathered at Paddington for a purpose, of course, the first six day's shooting - Monday to Friday of this first week was to take place on a train. Hire of the train and the track facilities set back Proscenium Films, producer Walter Shenson's company, making the film for United Artists at a tidy sum of £600 per day, but the results were certainly worthwhile. At 8:30 this first day, amid scenes of Beatlemania at Paddinton Station, the train pulled out from Platform Five and headed for the West Country.

No actual shooting was done at Paddinton, however, the film's opening sequence, shot at a London station, was done instead at Marylebone. The Beatles decided after this first day that they could board the train more discreetly elsewhere, so for the remaining five days of shooting they embarked at Acton Main Line, in west London. Similarly, they never returned to Paddington in the evenings, jumping out at interim suburban stations like Acton Main Line, West Ealing, Westbourne Park and Hayes & Harlington, where they would be met by their chauffeur-driven car.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : March 1, 1964-

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

The Beatles' first Sunday session for EMI, recording three songs in three hours, 7:00-10:00 pm. The first was "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You", written by John for George to sing, and recorded in four takes. They then taped two songs which would end up not as part of "A Hard Day's Night", but on an EP: "Long Tall Sally" and "I Call Your Name". (Surviving paperwork suggests that the latter, if not both, were intended for the film soundtrack at this early stage).

"Long Tall Sally" was a stupendous recording: Just as John had once captured "Twist And Shout" to perfection in a single take, so Paul, performing his greatest ever Little Richard impersonaton, put his all into "Long Tall Sally" - and, again, one take was all that was required. The Beatles backing - including George Martin on piano - was perfect too, so they didn't even bother with a second take.

"I Call Your Name" was also a recording of merit, the Beatles lending a ska beat to the middle-eight section of this Lennon composition. The song had been released before, by Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas as the B-side of their August 1963 number one "Bad To Me" (also written by John). The Beatles' recording was completed in seven takes, the "best" being take seven but the finest ska solo coming in take five, so this was edited into take seven at mising stages.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Friday, February 28, 1964-

Studio One, BBC Piccadilly Studios, London

Following the success of their initial "bank holiday" special - From Us To You, broadcst on December 26, 1963, the BBC booked the group to headline a second such program, taped this day and transmitted in the Light Programme under the same title between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon on Easter Monday, March 30th. Recording took place between 6:30 and 9:00 pm (inclusive of rehearsal time) at the Corporation's studios at 201 Piccadilly, central London. (Other guests in the show, booked by the BBC but supposedly at the invitiation of the Beatles, included Acker Bilk, the Swinging Blues Jeans and Vince Hill. They were all taped at a different session).

The Beatle's contribution was the usual mixture of music and with, the latter surfacing in the form of light-hearted interviews with the program's host Alan Freeman. Recordings made especially for the show were "You Can't Do THat", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Till There Was You", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Please Mister Postman", "All My Loving", "This Boy" and "Can't Buy Me Love". Additionally, the show opened and closed with an a 55-second recording, "From Us To You" - however, this was not the version recorded on December 18, 1963 for the first such "bank holiday" special, but a new rendition taped at this February 28th session. (The two subsequent From Us To You shows - taped on May 1 and July 17, 1964 - repeated this new version).

Reaction to the program was mixed. A BBC audience research report noted, among others, two widely different opinions from members of the public. A security guard considered the Beatles "vastly over-rated; their performance was decidedly amateur, and their entertainment value nil", while a solicitor, self-described as being "over-20", stated "How can anyone fail to like them? Their music is so gay and uninhibited, and they themselves are full of joie de vivre."

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Thursday, February 27, 1964-

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Two sessions at Abbey Road, 10:00 am-1:00 pm and 2:30-7:15 pm. In two takes of the second re-make, "And I Love Her" was finally recorded to everyone's satisfaction, and then two more film songs were started and finished, both composed mostly by John: "Tell Me Why", done in eight takes, and his stunning ballad "If I Fell", finished in 15.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Wednesday, February 26, 1964-

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

This long day at Abbey Road began with a three hour mono-mixing session, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, preparing British and US masters of the single "Can't Buy Me Love"/"You Can't Do That". Issued at home on Friday, March 20th and in America the previous Monday, the 16th, its seized upon what was now global Beatlemania and sold in immense quantities, topping the charts everywhere. In the USA, Capitol shifted more than two million copies within a week, the single earning a gold disc on it's day of issue, an unprecedented achievement. In Britain, advance orders alone passed the million mark.

From 2:30 to 5:30 and 7:00 to 10:15 pm, the Beatles turned their attention to re-makes of "I Should Have Known Better" and "And I Love Her", although they ended up leaving this latter title for yet another time and a second to re-make.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Tuesday, February 25, 1964-

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

The Beatles' first feature film, to begin shooting the following Monday, necessitated the writing and recording of a crop of new Lennon-McCartney songs. Some were required before the film went into production, others were to be recorded after the film was completed. So, this day saw the first in a new series of EMI sessions. It was also George's 21st birthday.

But the most pressing duty of the day was to finish off, with vocal and guitar overdubs, what would be their next single, "Can't Buy Me Love", and then tape it's B-Side, John's "You Can't Do That", a nine-take recorded completed in one session, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm.

Between 2:30 and 5:30 pm two film songs were recorded, although both would be re-made this same week: Paul's "And I Love Her", (two takes) and John's "I Should Have Known Better" (three).

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Monday, February 24, 1964-

The Beatles had a day off.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Sunday, February 23, 1964-

Studio One, Teddington Studio Centre, Teddington

The Beatles hardly had time to overcome the jet-lag before they were thrust back into homeland activities again. This morning they travelled to the Teddington Studio Centre of ABC Television to tape their 2nd appearance on the variety show Big Night Out. Following rehearsals, the program was shot in front of an audience during the evening - and it wasn't until 10:30 pm that the Beatles were able to leave the premises. The program was transmitted by most of the ITV network the following Saturday, February 29th, although in the London area it was screened the following Tuesday, March 3rd. Other guests on the show were Billy Dainty, Jackie Trent and Lionel Blair.

Viewers saw the Beatles participate in three comedy skits with show hosts Mike and Bernie Winters. One of these took advantage of the group's famous return from the USA, with them filmed sailing in a boat down the adjacent River Thames, alighting at the studio, driving in an open-top car around the studio lot and entering through a door marked "Customs", with the Winters' dressed as customs officers. Naturally, they opted to search the group's luggage, finding each suitcase stuffed with cash.

The Beatles also mimed a music set, playing "All My Loving", "I Wanna Be Your Man", "Till There Was You", "Please Mister Postman", "Money (That's What I Want)" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand".

Note: News cameras from ITN filmed the Beatle's River Thames jaunt for it's early eveing bulletin (6:05-6:15pm) and George volunteered to provide the commentary, parodying the annual Oxford Vs Cambridge boat race broadcasts by John Snagge.

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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Saturday, February 22, 1964-

Kingsford-Smith Suite, London Airport, Heathrow, Middlesex

The return of the Beatles to England after such an eventful first trip tot he USA was deemed a matter of such national importance tha BBC footage of their touchdown at London Airport, and an accompanying interview, was slotted into the Saturday afternoon TV sports program, Grandstand, broadcast between 1:00 and 5:15 pm. Correspondingly, the interview was conducted by David Coleman, the BBC's premier sports commentator.

The item - not a brief filler but of 13 mins, 12 seconds duration - was shown along with horse-racing. Eddie Waring was commentating on live rugby league from Hunslet, amateur boxing from Cardiff and the classified football results.

The return was covered by most film and TV organizations. Pathe News turned its footage into a special Beatles Welcome Home report for cinema distribution, narrator Bob Danvers-Walker piling on the puns in best Pathe style, "Never mind crush-barriers, the Beatles fans would smash the sound-barrier!". And it was covered by radio, too, the Beatles crowded around a telephone at London Airport shortly after landing and were interviewed by Brian Matthew, 4 mins, 20 seconds of which went into the last 20 minutes of this morning's edition of Saturday Club, broadcast, as usual, by the Light Programme from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. (The interview was followed, incidentally, by a dedication for George's imminent 21st birthday - "Shop Around" by the Miracles was requested and played - sent in by George's mother).

The return was also covered by radio news and a brief extract from one such interview, Neville Barker Talking to George Harrison, was repeated in The Public Ear on Sunday, March 8th (3:00-4:00 pm) as part of a feature titled, "Beatlemania".

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