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Beatles News

John’s first wife has been written off as a mere support act. Now a new play recognises her importance in the story of the Beatles

The true identity of the “fifth Beatle” is a contentious matter for fans of the Fab Four. The name of Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon’s close friend, is often put forward, as is the ousted drummer, Pete Best. Others claim the title for manager Brian Epstein or record producer George Martin. Yet Cynthia Lennon, the artist by the young Lennon’s side for a decade, is never even considered.

Now a new play about the powerful influence of the first Mrs Lennon is to make the case that she held the band together during the years of their greatest success. “I want to get across how important she was in John’s life, and not just because of their son Julian,” said playwright Mike Howl. “John used to write to her every single day while he was out in Hamburg, playing in the night clubs of the Reeperbahn. Her friends told me they saw some of these letters. I do think that without Cynthia’s love, John would have gone completely off the rails.”

Source: Vanessa Thorpe/theguardian.com

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There’s no denying that 1965’s Rubber Soul was a breakthrough for The Beatles. With that record, the band had moved far beyond the “Love Me Do” and “From Me to You” tunes that defined their early records. In their place, you found tracks like “Girl” and “I’m Looking Through You.”

Marijuana and the music of Bob Dylan influenced the Fab Four’s songwriting heavily during this time. You could hear it clearly in John Lennon songs like “In My Life” and “Nowhere Man.” The subject matter was richer, and John was ready to explore new themes.

Looking back on this period before he died, John seemed especially proud of “In My Life.” With that track, he resolved to look into his own past for the first time and translate his experiences into song lyrics. The result was an unqualified success, but he needed a little help.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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With all the Beatles brouhaha, it’s easy to forget that Yoko Ono was a boundary-pushing and successful conceptual artist long before a certain Mr Lennon entered the picture.

In fact, he met her thanks to her artwork; cheekily taking a bite from an apple that was actually one of her installation pieces.

Born in Tokyo, Ono studied philosophy before moving to New York in 1953 and soon become a key figure in the city’s avant-garde scene. In 1960, she opened her Chambers Street loft and presented a series of radical works with composer and artist La Monte Young.

One of her most famous works, Cut Piece, was first performed in 1964 and saw the artist sit alone on a stage in her best suit, with a pair of scissors in front of her. The audience had been instructed that they could take turns approaching her and use the scissors to cut off a small piece of her clothing, which was theirs to keep.

Source: creativeboom.com

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The Beatles’ first contract with manager Brian Epstein – marking the start of their transformation into world-conquering pop band – is going under the hammer.

Epstein signed up Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best – the band’s first drummer – on January 24 1962, just two months after he first heard them play.

The paperwork, from “before any of the music that we know and love”, could fetch £300,000 at Sotheby’s.

Later dubbed the “fifth Beatle”, Epstein had no experience of band management and was running a record shop when he took up the Liverpool band.

Sotheby’s Books And Manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton described the contract as “an important piece of our cultural history” and a “transformative document”.

Source: irishnews.com

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John Lennon was the first Beatle to join the group. (Lennon didn’t meet Paul McCartney until the Quarrymen, the pre-Beatles skiffle band that Lennon founded, played their second show.) Lennon was also the first Beatle to release a solo single, and the first to leave the band. But he was the last Beatle to hit #1. That must’ve been weird.

The nascent rock-critical industry certainly regarded Lennon as the most important, poetic, and generally great Beatle, and much of the public probably agreed. But Lennon wasn’t making hits. All of Lennon’s former bandmates had multiple #1 singles before Lennon ascended to that summit. By the time he got there, Lennon didn’t even think it was possible. He’d spent his immediate post-Beatles years carving out a different path, becoming the world’s loudest and most visible protest performance-artist, staging public stunts with his wife Yoko Ono. He and Ono had done what they could to inject rock ‘n’ roll with avant-garde sensibilities — sometimes successfully, sometimes not. He’d become a public voice against the Vietnam War and against Richard Nixon, and Nixon spent years trying to get him deported as a result.

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Few songs are as well known as “Yesterday,” the Paul McCartney classic that went out on The Beatles’ Help! album in 1965. In fact, when BMI rounded up the most-played songs of the 20th century, it landed at No. 3 with more than 7 million radio airplays. (That count came 19 years ago.)

For a band that had rocked to No. 1 in America with tracks like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You,” fans definitely got a different look with “Yesterday.” For starters, none of Paul’s bandmates appeared on the record.

There was no harmonizing from John Lennon, no guitar work by George Harrison, and not even a lick by Ringo. In their place, you hear a string quartet accompanying Paul on acoustic guitar.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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The Beatles may have broken up almost 50 years ago, but drummer Sir Ringo has been keeping himself busy with his solo career ever since. In fact, it’s now been 30 years since he started touring with his supergroup, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. And Ringo may be about to turn 79-years-old, but the former Beatle still gets struck by bouts of stage fright. Speaking with NBC News’ TODAY, Ringo revealed how he deals with it.

Ringo continued: “I do one ritual while I’m touring.

“That is an hour and half every night before I go on stage.

“I have a baked potato, some vegetables and a vegetable drink. And that keeps me settled.”

Last Christmas, Ringo joined Sir Paul McCartney for a Beatles reunion at the latter’s final O2 Arena performance.

Paul invited Ringo and The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood on stage to perform in an iconic Beatles reunion supergroup.

Source: celebgossipnews.co

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Danny Boyle’s latest film, Yesterday, makes pleasure feel guilty, but it’s not a guilty pleasure. Instead, it’s an expertly crafted film telling the surprisingly complex emotional story of one man’s impossible dilemma involving some of the greatest art ever made—and it makes us question our own personal morals in the process.

Yesterday centers on Jack Malik, played by newcomer Himesh Patel. Jack is a talented but struggling musician who gets into a terrible bike accident when a blackout strikes the entire world. He wakes up bruised, battered, and in a weird alternate reality where everything is almost exactly the same, except no one else remembers the Beatles. Except him.
It’s a ludicrous, preposterous premise with unimaginable possibilities. Jack now possesses the keys to fame and fortune beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. He also knows these keys don’t belong to him, but no one else is aware of that. They just think he’s some unrivaled musical genius unlike the world has ever seen. So, as he starts to play Beatles songs for people, he very quickly gets very famous, and instantly feels incredibly terrible about all of it.

Source: Germain Lussier/io9.gizmod details

In the later years of The Beatles, there were John Lennon songs that told you exactly what was happening. “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” the No. 1 hit John recorded alone with Paul McCartney in 1969, offers a perfect example. It’s a straightforward story of events surrounding his wedding.

That was quite a different story compared to a song like “Norwegian Wood.” On that Rubber Soul track, John spoke of how he composed it with deliberately obscure lyrics. (It was about an affair he wanted to hide from his wife Cynthia.)

But on the classic “In My Life” (also from Rubber Soul), John had something of a breakthrough as a songwriter. Rather than writing in code or speaking from someone else’s point of view, he dug into his own personal history.

Eventually, the song became a bit of a literary creation and less a journalistic snapshot of places he remembered in Liverpool. But it began with mentions of both Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields — places that later became legendary in Fab Four lore.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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It’s well documented the love Bob Dylan had for The Beatles. The enigmatic singer’s adoration for the pop maestros wasn’t just kept to the band as a group but as respect for each member. In 1970, Dylan got together with The Beatles’ man with the guitar George Harrison for a recording session, from which came this beautiful cover of ‘Yesterday’.

Dylan’s particular affection for George was a known fact, least of all because of his work with Harrison in the supergroup Travelling Wilburys which also included Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. More importantly, because Dylan saw in Harrison one of the more important songwriters of a generation, though he admitted working with George to try and find his voice following the split of The Beatles.

Source: Jack Whatley/faroutmagazine.co.uk

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The Beatles play to 18 people - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

By the time the Beatles played Shea Stadium to 55,000 fans in 1965, the screams of the crowd were so loud that the band couldn’t hear themselves play a note.

But at one gig, four years before, they very much could hear themselves play, all too clearly. In fact, pretty much the only other sound they could hear was metaphorical tumbleweed blowing across the venue floor.

The venue in question was the Palais Ballroom, in Aldershot, Surrey, England. This was the Beatles’ first gig in the south of the UK, set up for the four by their pal, Sam Leach.

Leach’s big idea was to get as many London record company execs into the Palais as possible. It proved, however, impossible to get even a single one.

Source: Wolfgang Wild/considerable.com

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By early 1969, The Beatles had already started going their separate ways. In January of that year, the contentious Let It Be sessions exposed the many animosities between the band members. Before they’d put a dent in the album, George Harrison walked out with plans to quit the group for good.

George’s problems with Paul McCartney ended up on film for all to see in the Let It Be documentary. But that was only part of the story. George and John Lennon reportedly got into a fistfight during these sessions as well. And Ringo remained weary following his own walkout the previous summer.

With John and Yoko set to be married in March ’69, The Beatles didn’t seem built to last. Yet they wouldn’t go out without releasing many more classic songs. “I’ve Got a Feeling,” the last great collaboration between John and Paul, was among them.

In between the Let It Be and Abbey Road sessions, John found himself with a great wedding story to tell but only Paul around to help him record it. So he and Paul knocked it out on their own. Soon after, it became the final Beatles No. 1 hit in England.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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Paul McCartney has written countless lyrics that have been part of the soundtrack of the live of millions. But the opening line “When you were young and your heart was an open book…” was an especially evocative entry in his songbook because of its place in the James Bond movie franchise. ‘Live And Let Die’ entered the UK singles chart on 9 June 1973, and remains a key moment in McCartney’s live set more than 45 years later.

The song was even more significant to Beatles fans as it reunited Paul with the esteemed producer George Martin. He composed and produced the score for the film of the same name, the first to star Roger Moore in the 007 role. The title track, written by McCartney, was more than just one of his classic ballads, twice changing gear into suitably high-speed instrumental sections featuring Martin’s quite brilliant orchestrations.

 

Source: Paul Sexton/udiscovermusic.com

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On every Beatles album, you see the majority of songs credited as Lennon-McCartney tunes. However, after the early days of John and Paul writing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and other tracks “nose to nose,” most songs came from one songwriter or the other.

Few would mistake “Come Together” for a Paul McCartney tune. Likewise, the idea that John Lennon could have written “Your Mother Should Know” seems insane at this point in time. Nonetheless, the publishing deal had both men credited on all Beatles tracks they wrote.

After The Beatles broke up, that led to a lot of confusion. John spoke of how people kept telling him how great “Yesterday” was. Over the years, he became exhausted trying to explain it wasn’t his. (He liked Paul’s classic tune but never wished her wrote it.”)

When he ran through who wrote what on all the Beatles albums, there were some songs John simply laughed about. In fact, he said he “would never even dream of writing” one Lennon-McCartney track from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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Very few people are aware that George Harrison released two solo albums whilst still a Beatle.

The first is Wonderwall Music and the second is Electronic Sound. Wonderall Music doubles as Harrison’s first solo album and the soundtrack to the film Wonderwall, directed by Joe Massot and starring Jane Birkin, one-time wife of Serge Gainsbourg and mother to Charlotte Gainsbourg. The songs on Wonderwall Music were largely instrumental and the recording was begun in late 1967 and continued into January of 1968. And one must keep in mind that it was music written for film. Even so, there are a few stand-outs.

It was a time when Harrison was deeply into India music, having by this point become quite adept at playing the sitar. The album opens with a hypnotizing track called “Microbes” and is followed by what is perhaps one of my favorite George Harrison songs, “Red Lady Too.” The chord progressions, arrangements and instrumentation on this song are simply brilliant.

Source: DJ Pangburn/spin.com

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It’s June 9th, so September 26th is not far off.

That would be the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ towering classic album, “Abbey Road.” Something is happening, but we’re not sure what exactly.

So far, The Beatles have struck gold with 50th anniversary editions of “Sgt. Pepper” and “The White Album.” Each release was inventive and cool, and sold like crazy.

“The White Album” did include outtakes of two “Abbey Road” songs– “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.” But otherwise there are plenty of work tapes, demos, and other miscellaneous music that would be swell to hear from the making of “Abbey Road.” Also, the album, which was remastered for the 2009 box set, could get a Giles Martin remix now. Martin is also working on the 2020 50th anniversary of “Let it Be” and the movie that accompanies it.

Source: Roger Friedman/showbiz411.com

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If you ask Beatles fans which album is the best, many will go with 1969’s Abbey Road. Certainly, it’s among the most representative records the band released. It featured rockers like “Come Together,” pop ditties like “Oh! Darling,” and two George Harrison masterpieces.

On the second side, Abbey Road delivered an operatic medley that wowed critics and fans alike. It also served as a fitting close to the band’s last studio album. In so many ways, it was (as the final track announced) “The End.” But don’t expect John Lennon to get sentimental and accept that.

To John, there was much to be admired on the first side of Abbey Road. He was quite proud of “Come Together,” which became his last No. 1 hit with The Beatles. But he considered the rest of the album tossed together and, in short, “junk.”

Source: cheatsheet.com

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John Lennon’s life took a number of wild turns in the 1970s. At the start of the decade, he was completing his escape from The Beatles, the world’s most famous band. In late 1970, his triumphant debut solo album answered all questions people had about his powers as a songwriter on his own.

But a few years later, he had become estranged from Yoko Ono in what he called his “lost weekend” phase. Though he was making music and producing albums for others, he was abusing drugs and generally seemed to have lost his way.

That changed when he landed his first No. 1 single (with a hand from Elton John) and worked his way back to Yoko. The following year (1975), Yoko gave birth to Sean and John famously became a househusband to raise him. He kept that routine going through the end of the decade.

Source: cheatsheet.com

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Sir Paul McCartney, 76, and wife Nancy Shevell, 59, dressed to impress as they attended a charity event in New York City on Tuesday

Nancy looked demure as she wore a black sweetheart-neck gown and kept her accessories to a minimum by wearing a few silver rings.

The brunette beauty styled her locks into a sleek, straight style and with a side parting so that her hair framed her face well.

Sir Paul put on a dapper display in a black suit, a white shirt and a black tie, while his salt-and-pepper locks were brushed back behind his ears.

Source: Roxy Simons For Mailonline/dailymail.co.uk

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The Story of... 'Imagine' by John Lennon - Wednesday, June 05, 2019

John Lennon's seminal 'Imagine' is one of the most celebrated pieces of music of all time.

Released in 1971 from the album of the same name, it cemented Lennon as a songwriting genius on his own right following the breakup of The Beatles the year before.

Nearly 50 years later, and it's still one of the most covered songs ever, and continues to be used as a symbol of the pursuit of world peace.

But what inspired the song and how was it made? Here's all the important facts:

Lennon was inspired by several poems from wife Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit.

One poem, which Capitol Records later reproduced on the back cover of the original Imagine album titled 'Cloud Piece', reads: "Imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to put them in."

Lennon later explained that the song "should be credited as a Lennon/Ono song. A lot of it – the lyric and the concept – came from Yoko, but in those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit."

Source: Tom Eames - Smooth Radio

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Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross and Todd Rundgren are teaming up with former Chicago singer Jason Scheff and Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland for the It Was 50 Years Ago Today tour celebrating the Beatles White Album. (Let’s just ignore the fact that the album came out 51 years ago.) The show will mix in their own hits along with songs from the White Album.

The fine print on the tour poster reads “not affiliated or endorsed by the Beatles individually or collectively,” but many of the artists on the bill do have Beatle connections. Badfinger was the first band the Beatles signed to their label Apple in 1968 and members of the group played on the sessions for John Lennon’s Imagine and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. The group also performed at the Concert For Bangladesh alongside Harrison and Ringo Starr. Todd Rundgren, meanwhile, has been a mainstay in Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band going all the way back to 1989 and as recently as 2017. Micky Dolenz befriended the Beatles during his days in the Monkees and was in Abbey Road studios when they recorded Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Source: Rolling Stone

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By the mid-’60s, it’s fairly easy to tell who wrote the biggest part of a Lennon-McCartney song. The lead vocals usually gave it away. On Magical Mystery Tour, “Penny Lane” is a clear Paul McCartney number while “Strawberry Fields Forever” an obvious John Lennon song.

Even on a track like “A Day in the Life,” on which both John and Paul sing, you know it’s John song because he has the lion’s share of vocals. (Paul came up with the middle section.) Later, as writers asked them to break down each Beatles tune, Paul and John mostly agreed who did what.

But there were some songs where they didn’t remember it the same. For example, Paul remembered doing more on “A Day in the Life” and “In My Life” than it appears he did.

Speaking with Playboy’s David Sheff the weeks before he died, John remembered having a sizable hand in the composition — most of the lyrics, in fact — to “Eleanor Rigby,” a Revolver song that doesn’t sound like Lenno at all. Yet Paul said he only wrote “about half a line.”

Source: cheatsheet.com

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In 2014, John Lennon’s 1962 Gibson J160e guitar, once thought lost, was discovered in San Diego at Marc Intravaia’s Sorrento Valley Sanctuary Art and Music Studio. The following year, it went up for one of the most publicized auctions in Beatles history. However, “Once the story broke on Reuters, there was quite a few awful comments about my friend [John McCaw, the guitar’s owner] from people not knowing the whole story,” Intravaia told the Reader at the time. “He bought it in 1969 from a friend and never knew what he had until he brought it to me last August.”

John McCaw bought the mildly beat-up Gibson acoustic from a friend for $175, in a transaction at the Blue Guitar shop, then located in Old Town. "John joined my Tuesday night Potluck Players instructional jam group in 2009," says Intravaia, "and would bring along his now vintage Gibson from time to time, and we would take turns strumming this instrument while noting its fantastic action - string height and playability - and pretty tone."

Source: Jay Allen Sanford/sandiegoreader.com

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Lucia Benavides and her mother, Ida, both say that listening to the music of the Beatles at home in Buenos Aires was formative for them.

Paul McCartney's in the middle of a world tour, unaccompanied by BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music. The original Beatle is in Lexington, Ky., tonight and was just in South America. And it's there, in Buenos Aires, where Lucia Benavides first became a fan of McCartney's and the rest of the Fab Four - a fandom she shares with her mother, Ida.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: To this day, my mother can recall the moment the Beatles' music reached her home country of Argentina.

IDA BENAVIDES: I remember the night - and that was the beginning of all this - when my dad arrived home from work with an album.

Source: Lucia Benavides/npr.org

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As a producer, Jack Douglas has helped shape some of the greatest albums in rock and roll history.

From Aerosmith to Cheap Trick to Rick Derringer to Alice Cooper to Clutch to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Douglas knows rock stars better than most — perhaps better than anyone should.

And in a profession full of excess, insecurity and unrealistic expectations, Douglas says the easiest star he ever produced was also the biggest: Lennon.

Douglas worked with Lennon and Ono on their Grammy-winning 1980 album, Double Fantasy. On the latest episode of Ken Dashow's Beatles Revolution podcast, Douglas explains that, unlike many of his contemporaries, Lennon didn't sweat the small stuff. He also surrounded himself with people, like Douglas, whom he trusted with his songs.

"He drew a real line between who was the artist and who was the producer, and he liked to take direction," Douglas explains. "For example: you're putting together John's vocals. You'd think he would be there like ... [micromanaging] 'The 's' from this [take]...' You know, when you're working with Steven Tyler, he's going to want to break up the syllable on the song until I have to smack him... But with John, the only think he would ever details

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