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In 1963, The Beatles began a festive residency of Finsbury Park. We found it was an era when all the best bands played in Seven Sisters Road.

Every town or city where The Beatles played one of their early shows likes to claim the same thing: “Beatlemania started here.” There is Liverpool and Hamburg, of course. Hell, even some people in Romford claim Beatlemania started there after a couple of shows in 1963. In that case, we might as well add Finsbury Park to the list.

This week 53 years ago, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr began “The Beatles Christmas Show” – their residency of Finsbury Park Astoria in Seven Sisters Road.

Rick Burton, an expert on the theatre’s history, insists: “That was the start of Beatlemania. The shows were from Christmas Eve 1963 until January 11, but sold out instantly.

“The audience screamed when they walked out, and didn’t stop screaming. George Harrison said they were the best shows they ever did, and said Finsbury Park Astoria had the best audience.” The Beatles had only released two albums by this point, which meant they were not above doing silly sketches (described by one onlooker as “so bad&rd details

We’re closing 2016 by republishing our ten most-read articles of the year. Here’s No. 9: James Woodall on celebrating the musical contribution made by the forgotten Beatle: Ringo Starr

‘He was the most influential Beatle,’ Yoko Ono recently claimed. When Paul and John first spotted him out in Hamburg, in his suit and beard, sitting ‘drinking bourbon and seven’, they were amazed. ‘This was, like, a grown-up musician,’ thought Paul. One night Ringo sat in for their drummer Pete Best. ‘I remember the moment,’ said Paul, ‘standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like …what is this? And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.’

I think Ringo Starr was a genius. The world seems to be coming around to the idea. Two months ago, he was finally accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the last Beatle to be inducted. About time too. On 7 July he turns 75.

Some might now plead, enough. Ringo should surely just be celebrated for being Ringo: daffy, doleful, odd. Ousting for good in mid-1962 the gloweringly sexy, Mersey-fan-adored Best, Ringo chanced details

This wasn’t the first time we’d shared a bill with the Beatles. A few years earlier, they were our warm-up band, when we headlined the Cavern in Liverpool. We really admired them.

I was the trombonist in the Mike Cotton Sound, a footnote to the 1960s music scene. On this occasion, we were their support band; we are pictured here at the press call for Another Beatles Christmas Show, a follow-up to their successful production a year earlier.

The show opened on Christmas Eve and ran until 16 January, and consisted of variety performances, with sketches and comedy that seemed anachronistic even then. Produced by a friend of Brian Epstein, it was lavish, with cascading waterfalls that flooded the stage. We started the night on a revolving podium and the leads kept getting tangled up. Jimmy Savile was compere; none of us liked him. He was an awful show-off.

At the press call, John Lennon knew all the photographers and journalists, and called out to them: “How do, Daily Express? How’s it going, Sunday Times?” So we called out, too, reflecting our lowly status: “Hello there, Willesden Chronicle!”

I’m standing next to the singer Elkie Brooks, apparently with details

As has already become clear during Wonder Week, Stevie Wonder is pretty much better than all other pop musicians at all the stuff that pop musicians do. Concept albums? Stevie did ‘em the best. Funky jams and schmaltzy love songs? Yeah, he nailed ‘em both. Oh, you thought it’d be fun to dabble in drumming? Self-taught Stevie only became, like, the best drummer on Earth.

And, of course, everyone covers the Beatles. Everyone. But it’s notoriously hard to cover the Fab Four, because they tended to perform definitive, unimprovable versions of their own tunes. The only exception? Stevie Wonder and his cover of “We Can Work It Out,” not only the best Beatles cover of all time but the only one that is definitively better than the Beatles’ original.

Like many Motown artists, Stevie Wonder was a Beatles fan—of sorts. “Stevie loved the Beatles, mostly Lennon and McCartney for their writing,” Wonder’s childhood best friend John Glover says in Mark Ribowsky’s Stevie biography Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. “That was where he saw their genius, not their performing—in fact, he didn’t think they performed some of their songs as well as he details

Sir Paul McCartney and wife Nancy Shevell supported his son-in-law on Monday in New York City. The 74-year-old rock legend and Nancy, 57, attended a screening of the upcoming British romantic drama This Beautiful Fantastic written and directed by Simon Aboud. Simon and Paul's daughter Mary McCartney, 47, married in June 2010.

The Beatles singer and songwriter kept it casual with a white shirt under black denim jacket and black trousers for the event at Park Hyatt. Nancy went with the casual chic look in a long-sleeved white blouse with gold trim. 

Simon, 51, looked sharp in a crisp white shirt, black jacket and black trousers. Paul earlier this year joined daughter Mary and her sister Stella, 45, for a screening of the film in London. The BAFTA screening in February also drew Noel Gallagher, Chrissie Hynde and former Dr Who star Andrew Scott. 

This Beautiful Fantastic was written and directed by Simon and is due out in the US in early 2017. The British romantic drama follows a young woman Bella Brown, played by Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, who dreams of writing children's books. She lives next to a curmudgeonly old widower Alfie Stephenson, played by Tom Wilkinson, and they strike details

George, John, Paul, Ringo: they’ve all made solo albums, now. Listening to them all, all through, it’s difficult to believe that they were made by four men who once formed a band together. I hear no important points of connection.

I guess this is partly because each bottled up his personal ideas during the Beatles’ latter, bad days; and now the cork is out. I think there’s another reason, too. A couple of years back, reviewing the white album, I suggested that the magnetism of the Beatles could be seen in terms of the temperament of each man corresponding with the four elements (Harrison, fire; Starr, earth; Lennon, water; McCartney, air), and also the four humours. So that, working together, they could work for any listener, whatever his nature and mood. It would follow that, separate, their temperament would clearly be very different each from the others.

This notion works, for their solo albums. Take Ringo: he’s not bothered with a need to express any views of his own. Sentimental Journey (Apple PCS 7101), produced by George Martin, was a bread gig; quickie standards arranged by faces like Les Reed, Quincy Jones, John Dankworth, and Maurice Gibb. Beaucoups of Blues (Apple PAS 100 details

IT WAS 50 years ago today ... when an 18-year-old Richard Lush was learning his craft as a sound engineer and working on the iconic Beatles album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Having started off his career mixing small sections of records such as Rubber Soul and Revolver, little did he know he was about to be become the chief sound engineer at Abbey Road Studios in London on an album, which not only came to define the 1960s, but is now arguably considered one of the greatest records of all time.

Mr Lush, who has called Sydney home since the 1970s, and fellow engineer Geoff Emerick, who now resides in Los Angeles, will take part in a 50th anniversary retrospective, discussing the legendary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album at a Q & A event in Melbourne in February.

Mr Lush, who spoke exclusively to Leader, said the first song he worked on was A Day In The Life, which at the time was considered an ambitious recording.

“I heard it in basic mode, just some rhythm guitar, piano, then Paul dropped in the ‘woke up, got out of bed’ part in the middle, then the orchestra and the big chord at the end was done separately,” he said. “When it was details

A painting of Sir Paul McCartney by a Liverpool Beatles fan was given the thumbs up by the music legend himself.

Sir Paul, pictured below, shared the colourful piece by talented Kevin Allen on his social media pages as part of his regular “Friday fan art” feature.

The image – which uses bold shades of purple, yellow, blue and pink to make up the music legend’s face – has so far been liked a staggering 36,000 times on Instagram and 14,000 times on Facebook.

Fans have heaped praise on Kevin’s work, with one calling it “a fantastic psychedelic painting” and another hailing his “fantastic imagination”. Kevin’s sister Maria Dillon, 56, from Aigburth, submitted the photo on Twitter as a surprise – and said she was delighted Sir Paul had picked it out of the thousands submitted every week.

She told the ECHO: “Kevin has always drawn and he does all kinds of different drawings. I was looking at his pictures on my phone and I thought it was really amazing. “I said to my daughter, ‘Send that to Paul McCartney’ but she said ‘Mum he won’t even see it’. “I went ‘Well he might’, so details

Jacques Volcouve was a schoolboy fan of Jimi Hendrix in 1967 when his brother’s friend lent him a new album by a British band and urged him to listen to it.

The album was the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Volcouve loved it. It was the start of a 50-year obsession that has made the Frenchman one of the world’s greatest living experts on the Fab Four.

“The Beatlemania bug bit me and I was never cured of it,” Volcouve told the Observer. “I listened to the album and I thought the music was incredible. From then on, I wanted everything to do with the Beatles: records; newspaper clips, posters, memorabilia … everything.”

In March, Volcouve, now in his 60s, will see his collection of 15,000 records, signed books, posters, autographs, figurines and memorabilia go on sale at the prestigious Drouot auction house in Paris.

To mark the occasion, the French tribute band We Love You Paul has been invited to play during the pre-sale exhibition of the thousands of lots. For Volcouve, the sale will be a bittersweet occasion. He hopes that parting with what has turned out to be his life’s work will raise enough money to keep him in a details

Along with the centenaries of two Russian revolutions, next year will also mark the 50th anniversary of a rather more benign event that, even so, marked the overthrow of an old order. It was the release of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been in planning since before Christmas 1966 and burst onto the streets in June 1967.

Was that another “Ten Days that Shook the World”? Well, I can’t comment, because I was barely out of a pram at the time. But I’ll take the word of Rolling Stone critic and professor Langdon Winner, who later wrote: “The closest Western Civilisation has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt Pepper album was released”.

There has, it is true, been some revisionism about the album (and about the Congress of Vienna) in the years since. It seems to have fallen slightly out of fashion, even among the group’s aficionados. To rephrase Hermann Goering, when the subject of the Beatles’ revolutionary effect on culture arises, many fans reach for their Revolver (1966) as the more important record.

Revolutionary For some John Lennon snobs, Sgt. Pepper is over-flavoured with Paul details

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