Tuesday, 23 May 2017

'GETTING BETTER': THE STORY BEHIND EVERY ‘SGT. PEPPER’ SONG


The Beatles found another deft balance between the two dominant traits of songwriters John and Paul on “Getting Better” – but only after Lennon had swum through a particularly disorienting experience with LSD.
Ensconced at Abbey Road Studios during evening sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in March 1967, Lennon suddenly couldn’t finish the vocal take. “I thought I was taking some uppers and I was not in the state of handling it,” he later told Rolling Stone. “I took it and I suddenly got so scared on the mic. I said, ‘What is it? I feel ill.’ I said I must go and get some air. They all took me upstairs on the roof, and [producer] George Martin was looking at me funny, and then it dawned on me that I must have taken some acid.”

Martin only discovered what had happened with John much later. “John was in the habit of taking pills – uppers – to give him the energy to get through the night,” Martin said in All You Need Is Ears. “That evening, he had taken the wrong pill by mistake – a very large dose of LSD. I knew they smoked pot, and I knew they took pills, but in my innocence I had no idea they were also into LSD.”



Martin may not have known he was John was tripping, but they would have headed upstairs at Abbey Road either way. “I couldn’t take him out the front because there were 500 screaming kids who’d have torn him apart,” Martin said in an interview for the Anthology project. “So, the only place I could take him to get fresh air was the roof. It was a wonderful starry night, and John went to the edge, which was a parapet about 18 inches high, and looked up at the stars and said, ‘Aren’t they fantastic?’ Of course, to him I suppose they would have been especially fantastic. At the time, they just looked like stars to me.”

Paul and George continued recording the background vocals for “Getting Better,” which was finished two days later with the addition of congas by Ringo. These new pieces were placed on top of a basic track dating back to March 9, when the Beatles began seven early takes. Martin produced an unusual piano sound by directly striking the instrument’s strings, while Harrison added a tambura drone on March 10.

Interestingly, the song’s title didn’t spring from the rich imaginations of either Lennon or McCartney, but instead a one-time former fill-in member of the band. “It’s getting better” was a favorite saying of Jimmie Nicol, who subbed for an ailing Starr over eight days during the Beatles’ 1964 world tour before disappearing back into anonymity. The phrase reportedly popped into McCartney’s head while walking his sheepdog one day in 1967.

In keeping, “Getting Better” began life as an appropriately upbeat song, reflecting both the chirpy title and McCartney’s general disposition. “I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realizing that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too – and this was one of those,” McCartney told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now.
Then Lennon joined in the creative process. “I’m writing, ‘It’s getting better all the time’ and John comes in with, ‘Couldn’t get no worse,'” Paul told the Washington Post. “Instead of going, ‘Oh, you’re spoiling my lovely song.’ I go, ‘Genius, great.’ I would do the same thing for him.”
Lennon also later took ownership of surprisingly dark lyrics lamenting youthful violence toward women, something that created a striking narrative contrast for the song – even as it coincided with his own personal awakening.
“It is a diary form of writing,” John told David Scheff in All We Are Saying. “All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved‘ was me. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence.”




source: ultimateclassicrock

SGT. PEPPER 50th ANNIVERSARY BOX SET RANKS AT Nº5 A WEEK BEFORE RELEASE

One week before its release, the 50th anniversary edition box set of the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” ranks at number on amazon. It’s been there more or less every day for the last month. The box costs $117.99. Capitol Records doesn’t release pre-order figures, but at this rate the box could be the number 1 album the week it goes on sale.


Is it worth it? I’ve been listening to it for a couple of weeks now and the answer is “absolutely yes.” And listen, I’m old. I have the original LP. the picture LP, replacement LP, the original CD, the updated CD, the CD from the 2009 box set and the CD from the 2009 mono set. And still the production on these discs is so lovely and superior, I’ve put all those aside.
First of all the box itself, physically, is beautifully designed. In addition to the discs (four audio, two video) there’s a substantial book that tells the story of “Sgt, Pepper.” You also get the original posters.  And the discs come in a replica of the original album.
The book is quite substantial, by the way. There’s so much information about the making of the album– including recording logs and replicas of the original lyrics– you don’t need to buy any other books.
But it’s the music that has kept me listening. Paul’s bass on “Lucy in the Sky,” his piano on “A Day in the Life,” Lennon’s overall contribution to keep the album rocking and not ever cloying (which could have happened), Ringo’s brilliant drums, and George, George, George. Plus, George Martin’s prowess as the Fab Four’s guide here reaches nirvana.
Recently, I’ve been focused on “A Day in the Life.” It’s a masterpiece, of course. You do know the BBC banned it from airplay in 1967 because of “Drug references”? The letter to EMI from the BBC is included in the book. I’ve been listening the mono mix, but there is the ‘new’ stereo mix and the outtakes. You listen to this and wonder how, 50 years later, we’ve traveled backwards from here musically. It’s very sad. “A Day in the Life” rises to some level we only give to Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Extraordinary.

Two other important features of the box set– the addition of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Originally recorded for the album, they became a standalone double A sided single. Once they were hits, the Beatles decided to leave them off “Sgt. Pepper”– which had no singles of its own. Now they come at the end of the mono CD, with work versions included on the “extras” CDs. It’s hard to say where they’d fit in the actual sequence at this point– somewhere before the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, I suppose.
As I say often in this space, these songs are each stories– every one of them is a story, and that’s why they’ve lasted and grown in importance. They’re short stories, and we know the characters’ names– from Billy Shears to grandchildren Vera, Chuck and Dave, Lovely Rita the meter maid, the girl who’s leaving home, Mr. Kite and so on. If Bob Dylan could get a Nobel prize, how can the Beatles be excluded for this landmark creation? “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” is the very definition of literature.

GEORGE's KINFAUNS HOUSE, ESHER, TO RECEIVE BLUE PLAQUE


George is to be posthumously honoured with a blue plaque on his former home Kinfauns, in Esher. 


Pattie Boyd, the late musician’s first wife, who lived with him at Kinfauns from 1965 to 1970, will unveil the plaque at 6.30pm today at 16 Claremont Drive, the site of the original building.
George, bought the property in July 1964 for £20,000, after moving out of London to escape fans on the advice of the band’s accountant, Walter Strach.


John and Ringo moved to St George’s Hill, Weybridge, for the same reason. Fans tracked George down, though, and carved messages to him on the house’s wooden gates. 

In 1967 Pattie and George painted the outside of the house with psychedelic patterns inspired by the book Tantrum Art. 

Visitors to Kinfauns included Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, who came by once to find nobody home, then painting ‘Mick and Marianne were here and we love you’ on the front wall. 









In 1968, after the Beatles returned from India, they recorded some demos at the house, which became known as the Kinfauns or Esher Demos.
Some of these tracks were later recorded for The White Album, which is being remixed and reissued for its 50th anniversary next year. 





In 1970 George moved to Friar Park and Kinfauns was demolished and replaced with a new house.
The house was substantially demolished in 2003, being replaced by a two-storey house, but the new building incorporated the two round studio windows. 









JOHNNY DEPP: "PAUL´S A GREAT ACTOR"

Actor Johnny Depp says "great actor" and legendary musician Paul McCartney doesn't "lack in the talent department". Depp was happy to shoot with Paul for the forthcoming fifth instalment of "Pirates of the Caribbean".
"Paul's a great actor. Clearly the guy is not lacking in the talent department. If I changed something up in the scene, he'd change something up in the scene. He'd make stuff up. He was amazing," Depp said in a statement.



Depp says it was his idea to get Paul on board for the film.
He said: "A funny idea came into my head about Jack running into his Uncle Jack in jail and I thought Paul McCartney would be perfect to play him.
"I didn't know if it would be possible for me to drum up enough courage to ask him, even though he's the sweetest man in the world, and certainly the most talented. But I just did it."

Paul confirmed that he will feature in film last week with a Twitter post. He tweeted a character poster that sees the 74-year-old in full pirate hair and make-up.
Talking about how he mustered up the courage to call the Beatles star, Depp said: "I just called him and told him that I have this idea for a gag in the film that might be fun, and asked if he would be interested. He thought it sounded cool, so we started talking about character."
The title of the fifth instalment of the "Pirates Of The Carribean" franchise is known as "Pirates Of The Carribean: Salazar's Revenge" in India, Asia, Russia and Europe, and "Pirates Of The Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" in the US.

SIR ROGER MOORE, DIES AGED 89

Roger Moore died early today (May 23) after what his family tweeted, “a short but brave battle with cancer.” They also tweeted, “With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.”
Roger Moore died in Switzerland; his family stated that a private funeral will take place in Monaco. He was 89.

Roger Moore and Barbara Bach
He wasn’t the first James Bond, nor was Bond the only role he played. But for seven of those ever-popular films. 

He played the famous spy in seven Bond films including Live and Let Die(1973),The Man with the Golden Gun (1974),The Spy Who Loved Me(1977),Moonraker (1979),For Your Eyes Only (1981),Octopussy (1983),A View to a Kill (1985) it was Roger Moore in the title role as 007, the British secret agent created in 1953 by the late Ian Fleming.

Sir Roger George Moore was born in Stockwell, London, on Oct. 14, 1927. Following his national service, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began appearing as an extra in films while also working as a model.
In 1954 he signed a contract with MGM and appeared in several unsuccessful films before signing with Warner Bros. two years later. In 1959 he starred in the film The Miracle and in an episode of the TV series The Third Man.


It was, in fact, television that gave him his steadiest work in his early years, with roles in Ivanhoe (1958-59), The Alaskans (1959-60), Maverick (1960-61) and, finally, The Saint, which elevated him to international fame. Moore appeared in 118 episodes of the series, then took a role in The Persuaders! (1971–1972) before the Bond role was offered to him.
In addition to the Bond films, Moore was best known for his role as Simon Templar in the British TV series The Saint from 1962-69.


Roger and Barbara in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me
Moore was being considered for the role as early as the mid-’60s, according to various biographies, but said that he would not take it until he was certain that Sean Connery, who had been begun starring as Bond in 1962’s Dr. No, was finished playing the character.

In 1969, for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, actor George Lazenby took the role, and Connery returned for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, but by 1973 Bond was Moore’s for the asking. He played the agent in Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill before moving on to other things.

After leaving the Bond films, Moore took a five-year break before coming back with the TV series My Riviera and the film Bed & Breakfast. He appeared in the 1996 film The Quest, and as the Chief in Spice World in 1997. He continued to land roles in other films and television programs.
Moore never won an Oscar for his film work but was the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards. He was knighted in 2003.

James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me 
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. Curd Jürgens and Barbara Bach co-star.  

Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova/Agent Triple X: A Soviet KGB agent also investigating the theft. Her attraction to Bond is cut short when she learns he killed her lover. Bach was cast only four days before principal photography began, and performed her audition expecting just a role in the film, not one of the protagonists.

Monday, 22 May 2017

'SGT.PEPPER' AT 50: WHEN JESUS DROPPED BY DURING 'FIXING A HOLE' SESSIONS

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which Rolling Stone named as the best album of all time, turns 50 on June 1st. In honor of the anniversary, and coinciding with a new deluxe reissue of Sgt. Pepper, we present a series of in-depth pieces – one for each of the album's tracks, excluding the brief "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" reprise on Side Two – that explore the background of this revolutionary and beloved record. Today's installment tells the story of the time a man claiming to be Jesus Christ visited the studio during the recording of "Fixing a Hole."

 
In August 1966, John Lennon faced a media firestorm in the U.S. after he uttered his infamous quote claiming that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus." So it's not hard to imagine his amusement when, six months later, Christ himself seemed to accompany Paul McCartney into a recording session for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
On the night in question, the band began work on "Fixing a Hole," which, like many tracks on the album, would inspire a number of outlandish rumors. Perhaps the most persistent in the wake of the LP's 1967 release was that the title referenced "fixing a hole" in the arm of a heroin addict. McCartney rebuffed the interpretation in a contemporary interview with illustrator Alan Aldridge. "If you're a junky sitting in a room and fixing a hole then that's what it will mean to you, but when I wrote it I meant if there's a crack, or the room is uncolorful, then I'll paint it." He elaborated in the 1997 biography, Many Years From Now, written by friend Barry Miles. "At that time I didn't associate it, really. I know a lot of heroin people thought that was what it meant because that's exactly what you do, fix in a hole. It's not my meaning at all. ... Mending was my meaning. Wanting to be free enough to let my mind wander, let myself be artistic, let myself not sneer at avant-garde things. It was the idea of me being on my own now, able to do what I want."
One less nefarious – and more literal – analysis of the song is that it was inspired by repairs McCartney made to his High Park farmhouse near Campbeltown on the west coast of Scotland, which he purchased in June 1966 as a property investment. Beatles confidant Tony Bramwell supports this account, and another colleague, Alistair Taylor, recalls the song's composer decorating the drab brown wall of the cottage "in a colorful way" with fluorescent pens, but McCartney denies any connection to the rural hideaway. "It was much later that I ever got 'round to fixing the roof on the Scottish farm, I never did any of that 'til I met Linda," he says in Many Years From Now. "People just make it up! They know I've got a farm, they know it has a roof, they know I might be given to handyman tendencies so it's a very small leap for mankind to make up the rest of the story."

Some of the lyrics take aim at overzealous followers who hounded the band for attention. "The 'Silly people who run around, they worry me, and never ask why they don't get in my door' – these were the fans that constantly besieged my home, often camping outside on the pavement for days," McCartney explained to Aldridge. "If only they knew that the best way to get in is not to do that, because, obviously, anyone who is going to be straight, a real friend and a real person, is going to get in."
On February 9th, 1967, one such visitor made it past his door – and ironically into the session for the song – by using the novel approach of insisting he was the son of God. "A guy arrived at my front gate and I said, 'Yes? Hello,' because I always used to answer it to everyone. If they were boring I would say, 'Sorry, no,' and they generally went away," he told Miles. "This guy said, 'I'm Jesus Christ.' I said, 'Oop,' slightly shocked. I said, 'Well, you'd better come in then.' I thought, 'Well, it probably isn't. But if he is, I'm not going to be the one to turn him away.' So I gave him a cup of tea and we just chatted and I asked, 'Why do you think you are Jesus?' There were a lot of casualties about then. We used to get a lot of people who were maybe insecure or going through emotional breakdowns or whatever."
The band was due to record that evening. Oddly, the session was not at their usual creative home at EMI Studios just a short walk away on Abbey Road. Instead it was at held at Regent's Sound..." "I'm afraid the boys didn't plan very much," producer George Martin later remembered. "When they wanted to come into a studio they never said to me, 'Keep the next two weeks free, because we're sure we're going to be needing a studio.' They would ring me up at 10 in the morning and say, 'We want to record tonight at 7 o'clock, OK?' And I had to find a damned studio." Instead, Martin had booked them into Regent Sound, marking the first time that the band had worked at any other English studio.
Perhaps wisely, McCartney decided to keep a close eye on the alleged savior by taking him along. "I said, 'I've got to go to a session but if you promise to be very quiet and just sit in a corner, you can come.' So he did, he came to the session and he did sit very quietly and I never saw him after that. I introduced him to the guys. They said, 'Who's this?' I said, 'He's Jesus Christ.' We had a bit of a giggle over that. ... But that was it. Last we ever saw of Jesus!"


source: rollingstone

BROADCASTING LIVERPOOL FILMMAKERS INVITED TO SHARE A DAY IN THE LIFE

Aspiring filmmakers are being invited to take part in a unique challenge as part of Liverpool’s 50th anniversary celebrations of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album.They are being asked to submit short films (under 5 minutes) based on A Day in the Life, the final song on the iconic album, that depict a day in their life on Thursday, 1 June 2017 – 50 years to the day since the album’s release.

The competition’s run by Liverpool film company Hurricane Films who are behind “A Day in The Life – 24 Zero Hours” – a short film written by celebrated author Frank Cottrell-Boyce, featuring comedian Tom O’Connor.That premieres on Friday, 16 June and will mark the finale of Liverpool’s Sgt Pepper at 50 celebrations and a selection of the submitted films will also be shown on the night.
The short films can range from professional – standard productions to those shot and edited on smart phones.They will be selected for their imaginative response as much as their technical quality, and should show originality, have emotional impact or just provide an interesting insight into the day in the life of the film maker.
“A collection of films that portray different lives on one day will provide us with an invaluable visual time capsule”  said Carl Hunter, Director ‘A Day In the Life – 24 Zero Hours’
Alicia Smith, Creative Producer at Culture Liverpool for Sgt Pepper at 50, added: “We know there’s a huge amount of creative talent across the city and with the emphasis on originality we’re expecting a great response to how people interpret what a day in their lives means to them.”
Online Youtube or Vimeo links of the completed films should be sent via email to: info@hurricanefilms.co.uk by midnight on Friday, 9 June.

SERGEANT PEPPER ON THE GATES OF ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS

Something is happening at   ..
We're celebrating 50 years of The Beatles' #SgtPepper starting today with a takeover of our wall. Why not swing by and see for yourself?  #SgtPepper50





Sunday, 21 May 2017

FLOWERS RETURN TO CHISWICK HOUSE FOR SGT PEPPER ANNIVERSARY

Chiswick House is celebrating its role in the release of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50 years ago by recreating the flower bed that forms part of the album cover.

Its gardens were a location for music films shot by the band before the record went on sale on June 1, 1967.
The album’s artwork, by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, used large cut-out photographs of famous people above a bed of hyacinths and peperomia plants, which is being redesigned in front of the Ionic Temple at Chiswick House and will be on display from today as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival.














Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale supplied the flowers for the recreation and the original — when it was asked at the last minute to bring anything it had in stock. The delivery boy who brought the flowers asked if he could make a guitar shape and it made the final cut.










LISTEN THE BEATLES - LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS (Take 1 / Audio)































Music video by The Beatles performing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. (C) 2017 Calderstone Productions Limited (a Division of Universal Music Group) / Apple Corps Limited

(Press pause/stop on the Beatles Radio below, on the page) 




Saturday, 20 May 2017

STUNNING BEATLES LIGHT SHOW TO TAKE IN WOOLTON

The event is part of a new Beatles festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. An enchanting FREE light festival is set to take place in Liverpool as part of the Sgt Pepper at 50 festival - and you can enjoy a moonlit picnic while watching it.
The Suspended Time light festival will take place on Woolton ’s Camp Hill - close to where Paul and John met for the first time at St Peter's Church.
The event has been inspired by Lucy, the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, from John Lennon’s song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and the location will be transformed into a unique magical land for one night only.

It will be unlike any event ever staged before in the city and it is part-performance, part-storytelling and part-pyrotechnic display. The show is being produced by Christophe Berthonneau and Groupe F - the French team behind the opening and closing ceremonies at last year’s Rio Olympics .
The fun begins at 8pm with local organisations Lantern Company, Circo Rum Ba Ba, Caustic Widows and Anna Mulhearn lighting up the park with strange and superb street theatre. The main display will then begin at 10.30pm because it needs to be pitch black to create the best effect. It will last for around half an hour.
Families are being encouraged to bring food with them so they can enjoy a moonlit picnic - but don’t forget to take something warm.
It is a FREE EVENT and because it falls during the school half-term, families won't need to worry about it being a late night.
The event takes place on Thursday, June 1 between 8pm to 11.30pm. This is the first time the council has used this space for a large-scale outdoor event before, so people are urged to consider the timings of the event and plan their journeys to and from the area in advance.

PAUL "WIX" WICKENS, HAMISH STUART AND ROBBIE McINTOSH WILL BE PERFORMING TONIGHT AT THE CONCERT OF THE KINGS


All Star Band, with James Hamish Stuart, Robbie McIntosh & Paul "Wix" Wickens, they will be performing tonight at the Concert Of The Kings, Rock against Cancer.

Now after the recent special 2017 re-release of that album, band member Paul “Wix” Wickens has reunited some of the original band to play at Concert at the Kings. 

And they’ll be joined by other musicians who have played with musical royalty over the years to give us a spectacular finale.


Wix joined Paul McCartney’s band in 1989 for McCartney’s 1989 comeback album, Flowers in the Dirt. He’s Paul’s Musical Director and Keyboard player and has appeared on most studio albums since then and on all of the live Paul McCartney albums.
He has performed and recorded with many artists as well: Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Nik Kershaw, Edie Brickell, Tim Finn, John Kilzer, David Gilmour, and Bill Payne…too many artists to list.
 
Robbie McIntosh joined Paul´s band for McCartney’s 1989 comeback album, Flowers in the Dirt. He has legendary status among his fellow musicians. His career to date includes spells as guitarist with Paul McCartney, Sir Tom Jones, John Mayer, and Norah Jones. Robbie has played many of the world’s top festivals and venues. Among his numerous TV and radio appearances, Robbie was with Sir Tom Jones on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny BBC TV show on New Year’s Eve 2015. As a long-term member of The Pretenders,  Robbie played at Live Aid in 1985 and on their top-10 UK hit, Don’t Get Me Wrong.
 

Hamish joined Paul ´s band for McCartney’s 1989 comeback album, Flowers in the Dirt.
A member of Average White Band  from 1972 to 1982, Hamish went on to work with Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and David Sanborn. He wrote Atlantic Starr’s 1986 hit “If Your Heart Isn’t in It” and songs for Smokey Robinson, Jeffrey Osborne, George Benson and Diana Ross.
 

Gary Brooker MBE – founder, lead singer, pianist & composer of Procol Harum who this year celebrate their 50th year of performance.  Gary has had solo albums and forays with Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman’s Rythmn Kings and Ringo Starr to name but a few, besides directing many big ‘Charity Bashes’ himself. This month sees the release of a Studio Album of new songs by Procol Harum “NOVUM” on Eagle Records.











PAUL VISITED LIPA


Paul and Woody Harrelson visited the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (18 May). By coincidence both chose the same day to hold Q and A sessions with students.
Paul - who is LIPA’s Lead Patron and a regular visitor – held a series of one-to-one mentoring sessions with seven third year singer-songwriters on the Music degree course before taking part in a session open to all students, where they asked him questions about the music industry and his career.

 



Paul then joined students for a screening of Woody Harrelson’s new film Lost in London in the Paul McCartney Auditorium.
The film, which Woody stars in, was his first as a director. It was shot in one continuous take in January and originally broadcast live – as it was filmed - to 500 cinemas in the US.
After the screening, Woody took part in a Q and A with students where he discussed both the film’s content and production method.


















LIPA’s Founding Principal and CEO Mark Featherstone-Witty said: “We were energised by the whole day. This has never happened here before. What an experience for students, let alone staff.”
The visit wasn’t a one-off with LIPA regularly holding masterclasses with professionals at the top of their respective disciplines.





























Paul spent the day at LIPA conducting one of his Master classes, he had driven himself from Liverpool John Lennon Airport where he had arrived by private jet, he left after 9:30 and flew back to London. While at the airport he signed a few copies of the beatles albums for waiting fans, before saying his goodbyes.





Friday, 19 May 2017

'SGT PEPPER AT 50: REMEMBERING THE REAL 'LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS'

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which Rolling Stone named as the best album of all time, turns 50 on June 1st. In honor of the anniversary, and coinciding with a new deluxe reissue of Sgt. Pepper, we present a series of in-depth pieces – one for each of the album's tracks, excluding the brief "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" reprise on Side Two – that explore the background of this revolutionary and beloved record. Today's installment tells the story of how a school drawing by a three-year-old Julian Lennon inspired "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."


"I swear to God, or swear to Mao, or to anybody you like, I had no idea it spelt LSD," John Lennon insisted to Rolling Stone in 1970 of the title of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." In interview after interview, John begged listeners to accept that the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band standout was "not an acid song." The public, for their part, merely rolled their eyes. 


 
Until the end of his life, Lennon maintained that the song was actually inspired by a painting that his three-year-old son Julian had made of Lucy O'Donnell, his classmate at Heath House nursery school. "This is the truth: My son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around," he explained during an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971. "I said, 'What is it?' and he said, 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds,' and I thought, 'That's beautiful.' I immediately wrote a song about it. After the album had come out and the album had been published, someone noticed that the letters spelt out LSD and I had no idea about it. ... But nobody believes me."

John was very forthright about the role drug use played in his songwriting. He consistently attributed "She Said, She Said" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966's Revolver to his experiences on LSD, and the 1969 Plastic Ono Band track "Cold Turkey" is an unvarnished musical self-portrait written in the midst of his own excruciating heroin withdrawal. It seems out of character that John would lie about the true origins of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."


Besides, the number of witnesses is truly astounding. "I was actually with John when Julian came in with this little kid's painting," Ringo recalled in the Beatles Anthology documentary. John's wife Cynthia also related a similar story in later years. "I remember him coming home from school with it and showing it to his dad, who was sitting down. At the time he didn't say, 'Oh, my God! What a great title for a song,' but it obviously stuck." Even Lennon's boyhood friend Pete Shotton was present for the song's genesis. "I happened to be there the day Julian came home from school with a pastel drawing of his classmate Lucy's face against a backdrop of exploding, multi-colored stars," he wrote in 1983's The Beatles, Lennon and Me. "Unusually impressed with his son's handiwork, John asked what the drawing was called. 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Daddy,' Julian replied. 'Fantastic,' John said, and promptly incorporated that memorable phrase into a new song."

The five-by-seven-inch piece of paper had a marked effect on all who saw it back in 1967. "I showed up at John's house one day, and he said to me, 'Look at this great drawing Julian's just done,'" Paul McCartney recalled in a 1992 episode of The South Bank Show. "And I remember it very well. It was a kid's drawing, and kids always have people floating around like [painter Marc] Chagall does in all his things. I think it's something to do with kids not realizing that people have to be put on the ground." He and Lennon began swapping surreal suggestions for lyrics, drawing on a shared love of Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.

Julian himself remains bemused by the pop-cultural debate he inadvertently triggered as a little boy. "I don't know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age," he says in Steve Turner's book, A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. "I used to show dad everything I'd built or painted at school and this one sparked off the idea for a song."
For all the fuss about what the song is or isn't about, perhaps the least-discussed aspect is the identity of its namesake. As a child, O'Donnell lived near the Lennons' Kenwood estate in Weybridge, Surrey. "I can remember Julian at school," she told Turner. "I can remember him very well. I can see his face clearly. We used to sit alongside each other in proper old-fashioned desks." O'Donnell held fond memories of Julian, telling the Daily Mail in 2009, "He was the bravest boy in school whom I recall jumping into a freezing swimming pool."


Like most children, the pair shared a love for mischief. "Julian and I were a couple of little menaces from what I've been told," she admitted. Apparently they were up to no good on the day Julian painted the famous picture. "I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant," she said in a 2007 BBC radio documentary. "Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school."
Nearly a decade would go by before O'Donnell learned of her role in the song's creation, by which point she had heard the popular rumor that it glorified LSD. "I don't relate to that type of song," she told the Associated Press in 2009. "As a teenager, I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends at school that I was the Lucy in the song and they said, 'No, it's not you, my parents said it's about drugs.' And I didn't know what LSD was at the time, so I just kept it quiet, to myself."

The friends lost touch once Julian left school following his parents' split in 1968. Over the decades they saw each other just once, briefly, at one of Julian's concerts in the mid-Eighties. They eventually reconnected in April 2009 under tragic circumstances, after Julian learned that O'Donnell (then known as Lucy Vodden) was battling an advanced case of Lupus. "Julian got in touch with me out of the blue, when he heard how ill I was, and he said he wanted to do something for me," she told The Guardian soon after they rekindled their friendship.
"I wasn't sure at first how to approach her," Julian said at the time. "I wanted at least to get a note to her. Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I'd help with something she's passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face." He began sending her garden-center gift cards and texting her regularly.

Lucy O'Donnell Vodden died on September 22nd, 2009, after a five-year battle with the disease. The following month, Julian released "Lucy," a duet with James Scott Cook, in her memory, with all proceeds going to Lupus charities. 








THE BEATLES’ HAIR SELLS FOR MORE THAN $10,000


Catawiki, a premier auction site for special objects, announced that strands of hair belonging to the Beatles sold for more than $10,000. The hair, which yielded four times its estimated value, attracted the attention of online bidders from all over the world.
Strands of hair from all four bandmates were cut on March 25, 1964, during the filming of “A Hard Day’s Night.” The locks were swept up by John O’Gorman, head of the movie studio’s makeup department, which he later gave to his friends as a wedding anniversary present.

“Nowadays, collecting the hair of famous people is a booming industry,” said Denny Hoekstra, Beatles expert at Catawiki. “In general, the hair of celebrities will only become more valuable over time, which makes these locks of hair a good investment.”


 



During the auction, the hair was offered up as four individual lots. “Paul McCartney’s hair was the most sought after, selling for $2,996,” said Hoekstra. “Each lot contained four to five strands, which means McCartney’s hair sold for approximately $600 per strand.”

“George Harrison’s and Ringo Starr’s lots were both sold to a bidder from France for $2,901 and $2,885, respectively. The hair belonging to John Lennon yielded only $1,385, which surprised us.”
Over the years, fans have paid top dollar to own a piece of their favorite celebrity. Here are the Top 5 most expensive celebrity hair auctions, according to the experts at Catawiki:
  1. Elvis Presley, $115,000
  2. Che Guevara, $119,500 (with fingerprints and photographs)
  3. John Lennon, $48,000
  4. Justin Bieber, $40,668
  5. Marilyn Monroe, $40,000
Catawiki is the world’s fastest growing online auction website. Originally founded as a community for collectors in 2008, Catawiki has since become the number one website for buying and selling special objects. Since 2011, Catawiki has been hosting weekly auctions, now in over 80 different categories, including classic cars, art, jewelry, design, and watches. Every week, more than 35,000 objects are auctioned on Catawiki.













BEATLES´NEXT EXPANDED REISSUE PROJECT WILL FOCUS ON THE WHITE ALBUM


The Beatles have already set their sights on the next expanded reissue project after this month’s look back at Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Producer Giles Martin, son of the late Beatles collaborator George Martin, confirms they’ll focus on the the band’s 1968 self-titled release, better known as the White Album.

He admits that the task is far more daunting this time – despite the fact that the upcoming super-deluxe Sgt. Pepper’s set includes a whopping 100 minutes of outtakes, many previously unheard and unreleased.
 
 
“The White Album, which is the next release – that is where they started becoming indulgent,” Giles told the BBC in a new interview. “There are 70 takes of ‘Sexy Sadie,’ for instance. The efficiency went slightly out the window. There’s a lot of stuff. So, it’s getting the balance right.”
That said, Martin finds the process meaningful, no matter how long it takes. “It’s really trying to sort of humanize it in some way,” Martin said. “That gives you added respect. We’ve convinced ourselves that singers don’t really sing, and producers do it – or it’s all done with buttons and faders. But, really, it’s down to them performing in the studio.”
The younger Martin came into these new reissues with a deep list of Beatles-related credentials: He remastered 2016’s Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and also collaborated on the George documentary Living in the Material World and on Paul‘s most recent studio album, New.

The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sets arrive on May 26.
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