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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 2, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Overdubbing of Paul's lead and the group's backing vocal onto "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", followed by a reduction mixdown of take nine into take ten, ready for future overdubs. A rough mono mix, for acetate-cutting purposes, was made at the end of the 7:00 pm-1:45 am session.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 1, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios

It wasn't going to be Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band until "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" came along. That is, the album was not  "The Sgt. Pepper Project" until the recording of this Paul McCartney song and Paul's realisation soon afterwards that the Beatles could pretend they were actually "Sgt. Pepper's Band", the remaining songs on the LP forming part of a show given by the fictitious combo. Takes one to nine of the title song's rhythm track were recorded during the 7:00 pm-2:30 am session.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 31, 1967

Filming: Strawberry Fields Forever

Knole Park, Sevenoaks

The Beatles returned to Sevenoaks during this afternoon, staying through to the evening and completing in that time the "Strawberry Fields Forever" clip. Among the scenes shot this day was the one where Paul dropped own from a high branch in the dead oak tree and ran backwards to a piano - a sequence which, when played in reverse, showed Paul running towards the tree and jumping uo onto the branch. All clever stuff, inspired, no doubt, by the Beatle's present fascination with backwards recordings.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 30, 1967

Filming: Strawberry Fields Forever

Having decided that their next single would be the double a-side Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, The Beatles took part in promotional films. Work began on this day in Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent.

The films were both produced by Tony Bramwell for Subafilms, and were shot on colour 35mm film by a crew from London-based Don Long Productions. The Swedish director was Peter Goldmann, who had been recommended by Klaus Voormann.

Goldmann had arrived in England in early January and looked for suitable locations in London and elsewhere. The first location he decided upon was Knole Park, owned by the National Trust.

On this evening filming began on Strawberry Fields Forever. A number of sequences were shot around a dead oak tree near the park's birdhouse. The tree is no longer there.

Work on the Strawberry Fields Forever clip continued on the following day.

Mixing: A Day In The Life

 

A rough mono mix of A Day In The Life was made in the control room of Studio Three on this day. It was for demo purposes and wasn't intended for release, as recording wasn't yet complete on the song.

 

The Beatles were not present for the session, which began at 7pm and finished at 8.30pm. They were at Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent, to make promotional films for Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane.

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 29, 1967

The Beatles in-between producing songs...........

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 28, 1967

Top 20 Song Chart for January 28, 1967

1. Georgy Girl - The Seekers

2. Tell It Like It Is - Aaron Neville

3. Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen

4. Kind Of A Drag - The Buckinghams

5. I'm A Believer - The Monkees

6. We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet - Blue Magoos

7. Standing In The Shadows Of Love - The Four Tops

8. 98.6 - Keith

9. Words Of Love - The Mamas & the Papas

10. Nashville Cats - Lovin' Spoonful

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 27, 1967

The Beatles signed a deal with Hunter Davies, who was planning to write a biography on the band.

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.