Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fans photographs

I found this paragraph in Paul Wane's book Sgt. Peppers (which features fan taken photos of the Beatles outside of EMI during the recording of the Pepper album...amazing stuff!) I thought it was interesting and sort of put a new light on things for me.

A number of fans took photographs, these would normally be taken on an inexpensive, small Instamatic camera. the girls were just teenagers, some of whom only had pocket money, lack of funds meant that the girls would have to be very selective as to the way in which they used their limited amount of film. For those girls who could afford film the cost meant that they would have to make a choice as to which member or members of The Beatles they photographed. This would normally mean photographing their favourite Beatle, with the possible exception of a situation where a wide open opportunity of getting a great shot of another member of the group presented itself. One mildly regrettable consequence of the unswerving attention of the girls camera lens on The Beatles was that virtually every other major star or group who came to eMI in the late 60's either to record or visit a Beatle session was ignored! Even photos of Brian Epstein or George Martin arriving at EMI are practically non-existent. Nor did the fans cameras capture the sight of friends such as Mick Jagger or Twiggy visiting Paul's house in Cavendish Avenue. The girls only had eyes for the Beatles!

The overwhelming impression I derived from speaking to the fans who kept vigil outside of the studios in the late 60's was what a great time they had had waiting for The Beatles and what a positive effect it all had on their lives. In virtually every case the 60's are remembered by the fans as a period in their lives which thye look back on with warmth and enthusiasm, relishing the fact that they were around at that particular time. Most of the girls are still very strongly attached to their memories of their experiences with The Beatles. Many of them have remained friends and stayed in contact until this day, regularly corresponding with each other by email and sending each other greeting cards at birthdays and Christmas. I have listened to the girls, now women, recounting their memories and been fascinated and amused by their stories and ... oh yes, just a little envious!

In the bag

So I got a "new" John photo and I noticed something that I have seen a few times before in photos of John and Yoko from 1968. It is a green velvet bag. If I only saw it on Yoko, I would have assumed that it was her purse, but I also see John carrying it on his shoulder in this photo. Being the Beatles geek that I tend to be, I can't help but wonder: why did they carry this bag and what did they keep in it?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Last Rose of Summer

This is a pretty well-known photo of Paul McCartney from the 1966 tour. For years I have wondered about this photograph. It was lumped in with my "Boston" photos because it was published in the Boston newspaper in 1966. But where was it taken? It doesn't look like the concert or backstage. It doesn't appear to be a hotel or an airport. And what is the teenage girl doing there? Is she giving Paul something? I recently found a larger photo that had a caption of with the photo. First I learn that the photo is titled "The Last Rose of summer" and it was taken by Leo Tierny. The caption says " Donna Chapmin 15 years, Newton is shown as she gives Paul McCarty (someone has handwritten "McCartney" over the misspelled name) a rose he gave her tmm when he arrived in Boston from London for his four (marked out) tour of the United States. They are shown at the rear door of the Hotel Sommer (marked out) Somerset." Aug. 18, 1966.

Oh that clears it all up! She is giving him a flower that he gave her? Huh??? Which is it? Did she give the flower to him or did he give the flower to her? And wait....I had always had this with my Boston concert photos and they are saying it was from when the landed in Boston from London? (which they did...) and why do they make it sound like Paul McCartney did a solo tour in 1966? I frequently do when I find out a fans name, I googled it. And I found a nice review of a Paul McCartney concert . This actually clears things up, including the actual spelling of the girls name in the photo and not what the newspaper thought her name was. Geesh..newspapers never get things right!

In February of 1964, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in America, propelling them to a height of fame unknown before their time. I hear that there was nothing like it - the girls I mean. My Godmother, Donna Chapman of Newton, MA, was one of them. Forty years later, she is still reliving the memory of meeting Paul McCartney at Hanscom Air Force Base in Concord, MA, my home town. Her love for Paul was unmatched, so it seems, and one day her uncle who worked at Hanscom surprised her with a chance to meet the handsome young Beatle as he boarded his plane. The encounter lasted only seconds, but the story has been told a thousand times. Out of shock, the only thing she knew to do was take something from the moment that would last a lifetime - and it has: the pink flower from McCartney's lapel that she has kept all these years. A photograph of my Godmother, 15-years-old at the time, reaching for the flower in total awe was printed on the front of several newspapers in the area and headlined on the radio that week. She received hundreds of letters from young girls all over the country begging for every detail of the meeting as if it were the most life-altering event ever to take place. In the world of teenage girls, I'm sure it was.

The Beatles at Candlestick - Myths & Legends of the Last Concert

One of my all time favorite photos of John Lennon.
The other night my nerdy (in a different way than how I am nerdy) boyfriend asked me what super powers I would like to have if I could have any power in the world. My first thought was the power to fly, but then I thought that with my luck, I would get attacked by birds (I am scared of birds) and wrapped up in power lines. So I decided that I want the power to go back in time but not change history. There is no need for me to mess up the world. Why would I like that power? Well obviously that way I could go back in time and see a Beatles concert, watch the Fab 4 cross Abbey Road on Aug 8, 1969, talk to the Apple Scruffs on the steps of 3 Savile Row, the possibilities as a Beatles fan would be endless. Then he tells he that I can only pick one Beatles event. What would be it? Gosh.....there are so many things! I decide that I want to see the Beatles in concert. But which show? I first decided to kick out any shows that I have seen video of. So out goes Washington D.C. '64, Sydney '64, Shea '65, Germany '66, Japan '66, etc. I decide that I want to go back and see Candlestick Park. Sure we have some of an audio recording, but the last few minutes are missing. I want to see that show for myself. But since I am just an obese school teacher, and not a someone with superpowers or someone who owns a time machine, I have to go with the next best thing and that is Barry Hood's film of the day. Barry was a 15 year old Beatles fan who wanted to make a documentary about the Beatles and brought his 8mm video camera with him to the San Francisco concert. If you have ever seen any color footage of Candlestick park, that is Barry's film. Some of it is seen in the DVD called "the Unseen Beatles." In 2006, he wrote an article for Beatlefan magazine about that. I found that article online and am going to share some of it with you. Oh and I just added some random photo taken that day. I hope you enjoy it!

This just in! (October 23, 2012):  Barry Hood has emailed me and let me know that you can order his DVD of the footage at this site!  Awesome!

The Beatles at Candlestick - Myths & Legends of the Last Concert
by Barry Hood

In 1966 I won the Kodak teen-age movie awards for a sound-on-tape 8mm film I made on Disneyland. I had a habit of following Walt around Disneyland. As a matter of fact, I think that's why Walt created security. Their first target? Me. I had long hair. Tidy but a little long over the ears. So what? I simply cut it, and still followed Walt all over the park even more. When he stepped out the gate behind the firehouse above which he had an apartment, there was that darn kid again stalking Walt with his movie camera.

For the next year, 1967, I was going to enter the Kodak contest with a film about The Beatles, but admit, I lost interest when the foursome didn't show up again on another tour in '67 or ever again. My intent was to add more film to that which I had. And I was disappointed. But it wasn't until years later that I realized the historical importance of the document which I had already shot.

I had grown up in San Francisco but at age 11 moved farther north. In the summer of '66 I sent for tickets to the Candlestick Park gig. These were being sold by KYA radio through mail order. I rode the Greyhound bus 250 miles with my mother all night long on the 27th in order to get to San Francisco on the 28th. I skipped the first day of a church camp to attend the Candlestick show with my mother on the 29th.

We left our hotel in the Market Street area, at about noon. Our Muni bus arrived at the far corner of the parking lot just as the fog was breaking up. Here I began watching, listening and filming the day's events.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We spent the day at Candlestick. We even brought a sack lunch. As music from the new album "Revolver" played on the park's P.A., I shot various angles of the stage being built out on 2nd base, along with the sound system and two wire fences which surrounded the stage. Other kids were busy doing their job of putting up handmade posters. The sound crew was busy setting up two massive columns of speakers on the infield.

As the spectators began to fill the ball park, there was a sudden scream which was coming from an area very nearby. I sprinted in my Beatles' boots to the end of the stadium. Just then the Beatles' bus rolled under me and I got a clear shot of George taking a photo of me. Neil Aspinall is seated in the window directly in front of George.
Imagine the biggest act in the world not being allowed to haul their equipment to the stage. They were forced to manually cart their equipment across the field.

Mal Evans and the roadies did get into a bit of a "row" with the Giant's groundskeeper. He told them point blank they could not drive onto the field with their equipment van. You can see Evans clearly exchange some terse words and display obviously disgruntled body language. In my footage we see Evans, Ed Freeman, also The Ronettes road manager, and Sandy Scott, the tour manager from GAC, General Artists Corp, the booking agency who put the tour together.

Ringo does not swing the mic. around and sing into the counterweight at the beginning of the Concert, as the sound system manager says. I have heard this misnomer in other places but never challenged it. You can see this clearly in my film. The mike is in the same position as it was prior to entering the stage. Later when Ringo's solo comes up, the mike is positioned before him.

One gentleman dressed in a dark trendy suit with white shirt goes to two cases sitting side-by-side on the field, picks them up and moves them closer to the stage. He walks out from behind some people a split second later without the cases! I can see this clearly by viewing it a frame at a time. Perhaps this is Tony Barrow and one of the cases is a tape recorder, the source for the famous recording which was never released in audio.

The Beatles take one last final stage bow, and my footage ends. But we see George in the playing position, both head and hands, and he just stands there while John's right hand is not in playing position. John is swiftly walking to the amp and appears to unplug his guitar. Many say that the first few notes of "In My Life" were played. If this is true it was definitely George! As George plays, Paul walks over to the stage mike but stops, turns around, and says something to George. offstage, inaudible to the audience. George looks up and says something back. Then Paul continues to talk into the mike.

What were these final words? A final good-bye perhaps? Does anyone know? There my footage cuts out. The audience got the impression that an encore was starting but, suddenly there was nothing and The Beatles abruptly climbed into the Loomis armored car and left the stadium, and their public performing career was over. Forever.

I'm proud of the old color 8mm Kodachrome footage. It still sparkles, and the color has not faded. With today's technology we should be able to extract even more detail. Plus there is a whole section of material which has never been transferred nor released, which contains the opening acts! There's Barry Tashian and The Remains and also Bobby Hebb backed up by The Remains.

My mother, now 90, remembers it well. She even attended the concert with me. But she sat in the cheaper seats where there was plenty for screaming. I was in the box seats. I could hear the concert perfectly. Some say they couldn't hear a thing. Much was dependent on where you were seated. It all has to do with which way the wind blows and apparently the wind was blowing the music directly to me. Candlestick was famous for its circulating winds. This was one of the reasons the San Francisco Giants had a new stadium built.

When I got to the church camp a day late, where I was the night before made me the envy of every teenager, and the object of annoyance to the counselors and staff. 1966 was that kind of a year.

The Final Invasion

Since this is the 45th anniversary of the Beatles last touring concert, Candlestick Park, and also because I love the 1966 tour so much, I saved this article to post on this date. This story comes from a newspaper called "Bam." It can be found in issue #239 which was published September 5, 1986. The article was written by Dave Zimmer.

On August 29, 1966, while the Beatles flail and wail away on a small, fenced –stage near second base on the baseball diamond at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, who knew this would end up being the group’s last performance in America?
“I knew,” says Rachael Donahue, who helped produce the show for radio station KYA with her late husband, Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell – both KYA disc jockeys at the time. “The three of us, we all knew, because the Beatles told us they weren’t coming back to the United States.”
Had it not been on the Donahues’ efforts, the last Beatles show in the US would instead have been at the Hollywood Bowl (Sara’s note: this is incorrect. The Beatles show in Los Angeles was at Dodger’s Stadium in 1966. The Beatles played at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965). “We had an agreement with the Beatles. They had signed a contract,” says Rachael. “Then before they go to Los Angeles, we got a call and were told they wanted to back out. The Beatles wanted to play the Hollywood Bowl show, then go back to England. Of course, Tom wasn’t about to let that happen. He told them, “Hey, this is a California contract you signed here. You’ve got to play.” But it didn’t end up being that simple.
“They day of the Hollywood Bowl show, we went down to LA to serve them with a summons. I was holding this big gold backstage pass and Tom – who was a pretty huge, imposing guy – led the way. No one was going to tell him he couldn’t go where he wanted to go. So there we were backstage, and all of a sudden all four Beatles appeared and ran right past us. We couldn’t move, didn’t say anything. Then they were gone. We finally had to hire a process server. That saved the show.”
The Beatles were guaranteed $10,000 and a portion of the gate – a paltry amount by today’s standards. Many rock super stars now routinely command six figure amounts per show. But it must be remembered, this was 1966 and 24,000 lucky Beatles fans who attended the Candlestick show only had to fork over $5.50 per ticket.
“We probably could have changed a higher price, and we could have sold 10,000 more seats that would have just provided a view of the “Beatles’ backs,” says Rachael, “But we were being thoughtful. We weren’t out to take advantage of the Beatles’ popularity.”
In fact, Rachael says, “We would have lost money on the show if we had sold the tickets at the KYA studios and had been forced to hire 200 rent-a-cops who wanted $14 an hour. Instead, we just mailed the tickets – which were very special, over-sized ones. Also, at the concert, rather than hire regular security guards, we used a bunch of our friends, a lot of them former Oakland Raiders. So some of the guards were real huge football guards.”
Rachael, now a KLOS disc jockey but an impressionable 19-year-old at the time of the Beatles concert, admits, “It was the biggest thing I’d ever seen. It was bigger than the Stones show Tom had me produce at the Cow Palace in ’65. I was very young and thought, ‘Hey, OK, I’ll try anything.”
When the Beatles arrived in San Francisco August 29, photographer Jim Marshall was there to greet them. “That day, “remembers Marshall, “was right out of A Hard Day’s Night, I swear to God. When we got to Candlestick in this bus, the stadium groundskeeper wouldn’t let us in. We didn’t have the right permission, according to them. So we drove around Hunter’s Point while things got straightened out, and we finally got in about 20 minutes later. Right away, though, another motherfucker started giving the driver shit because he didn’t have permission to drive onto the grass.”
Rachael says, “I remember one of the Giants groundskeepers was crying because he was afraid the field was going to be ruined and there would be bad bounces during the next baseball game.”
Of course, the ground crews ultimately allowed the “rock invaders” to set up a stage and a ten-foot high chain-link fence on the field. And former Giants owner Horace Stoneham was ready to provide any necessary amenities backstage (actually a rather barren section of the Giants’ clubhouse). Rachael recalls, “Unlike today, there were no outrageous demands. I don’t even think there was any alcohol. John Lennon wanted some fruit juices, but that was about it.”
Jim Marshall says, “I was the only guy backstage with a camera. I remember the Beatles didn’t want to do any group shots, but other than that, they were very nice, very easy to deal with. The president of the local teamsters union wanted me to take a picture of him and his daughter with Ringo. Then (disc jockey) Bob McClay took a shot of me with Ringo. We were all fans. It was a joyous time.
“There was no big entourage or heavy groupie thing backstage,” Marshall continues, “there were maybe 30 people there, tops. And I don’t remember any bad vibes.”
When the Beatles finally came into view of the fans in the stands, there was an eruption of screaming that continued throughout the performance. Marshall, who was stationed with his camera ten feet from the stage, says, “I don’t think the crowd ever heard the band. The screaming was that crazy.”
Rachael agrees, “The noise from the fans was tremendous. The Beatles couldn’t even hear themselves. I remember they started singing a medley flat, way off key. Tom and I were standing next to the stage. But there was no use saying anything. The crowd didn’t care. They were having a great time. Tom and I just looked at each other and said, “We did this for the kids.” Then I looked up at the crowd and realized that this was it, San Francisco would never have another change to meet the Beatles.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beautiful John autograph

I spotted this John autograph on ebay tonight. I think it is a beautiful autograph. I love how he signed a drawing of both him and Yoko. I don't know...the whole thing is just so clear and bright. If my name was Mike, maybe I would think about buying it. But then who am I kidding? I will never have the type of money that is needed to own a John Lennon autograph.

A Teenager's door in 1965

I love these type of photos. It is like you are taking a mini time machine back into 1965. Some teenager hung these beautiful Beatles posters on her (I assume it is a girl) bedroom door and took photographs of those doors. And here they are today! The posters she hung in her room are still amazing Beatles photographs!


Something about these photos of the Beatles wearing headphones I find to be overly adorable!

Blue Ringo

I really do think that Ringo looks very handsome during this this new photo!

Silly Girl

So this is photo that has been posted before, but I am a happy person because I located it in a larger version. Now I can see that "Paul" is written on Paul's front gate and is not just written on the photograph (as I thought at one time).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meeting Paul

Playing for the children

Early EMI regulars

The date of this photo is July 1 1963 (thank you Frank at Day by Day!) and look at all of the fans who are already hanging around EMI while the Beatles are recording. Wow!

time for 7 minutues in heaven?

Why does it appear that Ringo and this young lady are in a closet together?

Awaiting on you all

Thanks to Sean over at the Kenwood blog, I was lead into my magazine library towards Beatlefan magazine issue #109 (Nov/Dec 1997) where I found a re-written account by Barb Fenick of her summer Beatle adventures. When I read through it, I quickly realized that was the same story I had put on this blog a few days ago. I wasn't going to post it, but then I realized that I personally found it interesting to read the same fan account told 13 years after the original one was written. It is the same story, but much more gentle this time around. Gone is the story of Linda yelling at her, nothing is said about the British fans being noisy at John's house, also gone is her kissing Paul on the cheek among other things. She also makes it sound like when George arrived, they just left his property right away. But in her original story, they stayed around long enough to show George some photographs, plus this photo of George outside his house was taken by Barb.

On July 20, 1969, the first man landed on the moon. On July 21, I finally landed on British soil. And just like the astronauts, we unfurled our flag (next to a BOAC jet). Amazed travelers wondered who were these people as the pilot took our picture. We didn’t mind their looks; we had achieved our first goal. We were in England; we were on our way to meeting The Beatles.

With high hopes and Arthur Frommer’s “England on $5 a day” in hand, we staggered up the steps of our bed-and-breakfast, weighed down with camera, binoculars and 50 copies of the Beatles Monthly. Well, the packing list said you could take “a reasonable amount of reading material!” Our room, the size of my bathroom, was so small the suitcase had to go under the bed and only one person could stand up at a time. But we spent very few moments there anyway. We were, after all, on a quest!

We had no idea when we’d first planned this Beatles odyssey for July 1969 whether The Beatles would even be in the country, let alone accessible. We figured the first logical place to look was at Apple, their offices at 3 Savile Row.

We were very naïve and most presumptuous, so without even knocking, ringing or hesitating we just walked right in. The secretary at the desk was much too “fab” to concern herself with the likes of us. So we made ourselves at home on their couch. Within moments, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans came in. Neil ignored us. Mal sat down and chatted with us for a few minutes, telling us about his holiday in Portugal.

Then Maureen called and we overheard the secretary’s conversation with her and realized Ringo was inside the building. My friend Susan (ie, “Richie”) was thrilled to hear that, but tried not to let her excitement show too much. We were trying our teenybopper best to appear blasé and not get ourselves thrown out.

But then a group of fans from Holland showed up and began to sing “Give Peace a chance” in Dutch. They were giving an impromptu audition right there in Apple’s main lobby. The secretary finally had to raise an eyebrow at that and threw us all out. We had to wait on the steps like fans are supposed to. Well, it took us a bit to psyche out the rules of the game.

We joined the Apple Scruffs and fans from all over the world – regulars and day-trippers. They explained things: where the rightful places of the fans was, the hierarchy of fandom and much more. We soon realized that we newly arrived vacationing American fans were on the bottom of the totem pole: lower than dirt, and not to be taken seriously. We managed to get in trouble constantly for forgetting those facts. I gave out some buttons that said, “Beatles Rule” (the name of my Beatles fan club) and they crushed them and threw them in the gutter. Did we get the message?

Fortunately, it wasn’t that long before Ringo came out, shaking his head vigorously and saying “no” to all the photographers who wanted him to pose for pictures. As he was getting in his car, Richie told him we’d just come 7,000 miles to see him. He looked at her, eyebrow raised and said, “7,000 miles, eh?” Already he thought we were tetched.

We wondered where he was off to in such a hurry, but not for long. Fans were rushing off after him and we followed along and jumped in a taxi to share a ride. As we zoomed across London we were let in on the good news: The Beatles were all in the country and were all at the recording studio doing some work on a new release. We couldn’t have had better timing!

We spent our first of many evenings on Abbey Road behind the red-barred fence, met all sorts of characters we’d never forget, made many new friends and had the adventure of our lives.

The Beatles had their routine for each working day, so we quickly established ours to match. Paul would be the first to arrive each day between noon and 2 p.m., sometimes driving up in his little green mini, sometimes even walking over form his St. john’s Wood home just a few blocks away.

My first good close-up look at him was the next day, Thursday, July 24, when he arrived in a pink suit. A crowd of at least 50 was on hand already to greet him. They rushed around him, calling his name, taking pictures, jostling him, but he took it all in stride. Someone handed him three pink carnations or rosebuds which he held up against his pink suit, making a nice picture. “I was a bit overwhelmed. But he disappeared inside so quickly. You wanted to say, “Is that all there is?”

For more of a fix, I was drawn to Cavendish Avenue to take a look at his house, his block, even his neighborhood.

A friend of Heather’s was at the gate. She asked if I wanted to come in. The gate opened for her and she turned expecting me to follower. I figured I’d better not tempt fate so I stayed by the gate, took a few pictures and soaked up the atmosphere until one of the British regulars showed up. She took out a flute and began to make an unholy racket with it. I found out that this was just one aspect of their harassment plan that had been going on since Paul, their favorite bachelor Beatle, married Linda, their least favorite American.

A British bobby came down the block , just as Linda was opening the gate to let Heather’s friend out. She saw me and my companion and asked the bobby to escort us away. So he walked us back to the EMI studio. We had quite an informative chat on the way. Not only had “fans” been annoying the neighbors with loud noise, they were constantly defacing the walls on the block with ugly, obscene remarks about Linda. He told us that Paul’s home had even been burgled recently by a “fan’ who broke in through a second story window and made off with some personal items of Paul’s and hundreds of Linda’s slides. He told us Cavendish Avenue was off-limits to fans ever since.

One could only gaze down the block from the corner after that. On one such reconnaissance of the neighborhood, I bumped into Linda out doing her errands. Not knowing what else to say, I blurted out an urgent need for directions to Regents Park – as if I hadn’t been loitering in St. John’s Wood to spy on her and Paul, and was really just lost on my way to the zoo. I even asked her if there were elephants

Linda laughed, but did not treat me like I was abnormal. As I followed her across a street, she had to put out her arm to keep me from walking right into traffic. I told her I had a gift for her and Paul I’d brought from the States and she said I should leave it at Apple office for them and she’d look for it there. She was so nice; I forgave her for having us kicked off the block.

Back at the recording studio, we joined the rest of our friends waiting for Ringo, George and John to arrive. Both Ringo and John came into town from the suburbs each day in the chauffeur-driven white Rolls Royce’s. George had just bought a flashy new navy Ferrari and was quite proud of it. He drove in like a race car driver – so it was get out of his way or be roadkill!!

George had been growing his hair long and often wore it tied back in a ponytail with a ribbon around it. In his jeans and plain long-sleeved shirts, he was usually the most casually attired. But he never spoke to the fans, never communicated and with those dark shades he always wore, who could tell what he even noticed around him.

Ringo was usually just the opposite. He’d arrive in good humor, despite his long trek in form Surrey. He’d graciously accept gifts from the fans, pose for pictures, say a word or two in response to those shouting out his name. At least he noticed and acknowledged those who had come so far and cared so much.

John was held in awe even then by the fans. They idolized him. They parted reverently as he made his way out of his car through the throngs and up the steps, protectively guarding Yoko all the way. She was still recovering from the car accident they had been in not that long before and had scars on her forehead that she was covering with jewelry.

Yoko was so tiny she was nearly swallowed up by the fans and would have been lost, literally, without John’s help. John, with his hair almost golden in the summer sun, gleaming in all-white attire, was definitely the “Sun King”. The fans sensed this and acted like John was above it all; they didn’t pester him for autographs or call his name --- they just watched as he came through and let him pass.

Paul, of course, always created the biggest stir. Fifty to a hundred fans mobbed him every day. Wanting his attention, wanting his photo, waiting to give him gifts, flowers. He held his head high and valiantly made it inside each day. It was frustrating to be so close and yet have him be so distant – lost in distractions complicated by his impending fatherhood, new marriage, fan harassment at his home and the problems with The Beatles’ disintegration over Apple, Allen Klein, Yoko, etc.

So despite seeing The Beatles every day, we were desperate for more personal encounters,. More one on one experience. We thought we’d track them down on the weekends at their homes in the suburbs. Paul’s London home was already off-limits what with those Bobbies patrolling the block with nightsticks. So we’d try to meet Ringo. We knew he’d moved out of his Weybridge home to let John and Yoko use it and had bought Peter Sellers’ old house in Elstead, Surrey. But where in Elstead, Surrey? We discovered the address one day at the studio when we noticed a letter sitting on the dash of Ringo’s Rolls. We copied it down and then asked at a train station that Sunday for a ticket to that town.

Once we got there, of course, we didn’t have a clue how to find his home, address or not. We were aimlessly walking around the centre of this small village (dressed to the hilt in dresses, dress coats, pumps, the works!) looking lost when a local resident came to our rescue. We showed him the address and said we were looking for Ringo’s house. Assuming we were invited guests (probably because we were so overdressed) he took us right to Ringo’s door. When we just stood there in front of his gate, weighing our options, he realized his mistake and drove off in a huff.

Oh well! We had to work up the nerve to push open his front gate and march up to his front door and knock. There were bones in that yard! The remains of fans who had boldly gone before? Finally we did go in, and it was Maureen who answered the door. It was her birthday, Aug. 3, and we wished her well and had a gift for her. We even showed her the new issue of the Beatles Monthly because she was in it a lot and she hadn’t seen it yet. We’d missed seeing the kids; she said they were gone for the day and she and Rich were going out that evening after he’d had a long hot bath and washed his hair.

She stressed the fact that this was his day off, after all. But she didn’t mind if we waited for him to be up though. So we took a few pictures of the house and then went back into town for some lunch. Two hours later, we returned, knocked at the door again and we could see Ringo through the window, getting up from an easy chair. He was only wearing a bathrobe so we figured he’d let Mo open the door again. But there he was, right in front of us. Bright pink bathrobe, wet, slightly mussed hair and all. It’s a miracle my friend didn’t fall over in a dead faint at the very sight. If it had been Paul, I would have been speechless.

Ringo asked whether he could do anything for us. We said we’d only come to wish Mo a “happy birthday” and say hi. He actually did remember my friend Susan from the studio as he recited several of the many gifts she’d already bestowed on him there.

He told us he was taking Mo to the Hank Snow concert in London that evening, which lead to a discussion of country-western music and the aging old-timers like Ernest Tubb. He must be “90 and about to fall over!”

Ringo even demonstrated his idea of an American square dance, then asked us if we know how to polka! Doesn’t everybody from Minnesota? I commented that it must be nice to live out in the country. It seemed so peaceful. But he said it was too long a drive to London and he felt it wasn’t worth wasting so much time in the car commuting. He was going to move back into his old house as soon as John and Yoko moved out. (Lennon had bought the Ascot mansion already, but was waiting for the “old lady to move out,” Ringo said).

We told him we wouldn’t take a picture as he wasn’t really dressed. And he said, “Oh you’ve got thousands from EMI.” Then he said, “Well I’m off.” Guess that means us too and we joked about how hard it had been to get to Elstead on a Sunday. It’s not a major destination. He joked back that if we were still there in the morning he’d give us a lift back to London. We were sure he was kidding, so we thought better than to push our luck, tempting as that offer was! Instead, we got back to London before Ringo and Mo and saw them at the theater that night as they arrived for the Hank Snow concert. Their chauffeur/bodyguard Allen looked at us quizzically like, how did you know he’d be here tonight? And we just smiled back.

The next Sunday, we had the really mad idea we would travel down to Weybridge and try to meet John Lennon. We had the address of Ringo’s old house on St. George’s Hill and we only had ot take the train to the Weybridge station. And, of course, we were immediately lost. We finally hitched a ride and gave the address, but even our driver didn’t seem to know where he was going. It wasn’t until we spotted a group of teenage girls gathered around the gates that we knew we’d found the right place. As we got out, the driver said, “Well, why didn’t you say you wanted HIS house?”

We sat in the driveway (again) too intimidated to knock. We could hear voices inside so we knew someone was home. And looking in the window we could see empty trunks all over. But mostly we stayed way back by his fence so as not to be seen by the security vans who patrolled his neighborhood. We didn’t wan to be carted away for trespassing. Instead, we watched his weeds grow for more than two hours before finally taking the plunge and knocking on the door.

No answer but more sounds of people moving around. I thought maybe they didn’t hear the knock, so I tried again. I thought John or at least Yoko would come to the door. But instead I heard some voices from above. I had to back up and crane my neck to see where it was coming from. But from an open window just above me there was John Lennon leaning out and shouting this immortal words that I’ll always remember him by, “Piss off already, will you!”

I had to look around, was he talking to me? How rude! I had merely come by to say hello and I was really sorry about trampling the weeds in his garden but if he just had a minute there was a lot I wanted to talk to him about.

My friends had to push me out of the yard, reminding me that the security van might be on its way back with our names this time. I said yes, but wasn’t this the John Lennon who had been preaching love and peace and bagsim, etc? Didn’t that includes too? I really thought he’d want to embrace even his fans in the feeling of universal love. Obviously, I didn’t have a clue. Reality? I wasn’t even in the ballpark.

On our way back to London, we made a detour at Esher and thought we’d really top off the day by sneaking a peek at George’s house there. We took a few pictures of his painted house and the pool area, talked to his chauffeur/bodyguard/pal Terry Doran, who was minding the house while George was out. Seems he had gone to the airport to pick up Pattie.

We were just trudging down his driveway to leave when his car came racing up. We didn’t expect him to be overjoyed to find us there but weren’t expecting him to be as ornery as he was. He glared at us and yelled at us to get off his property. We said we were just leaving but he looked at us like that wasn’t happening fast enough. And we made our exit a little quicker. We were really batting a thousand that day! (A friend of ours had bene there earlier in the afternoon and George had been so friendly he’d even invited her inside and gave her a car of soda. I guess it’s all in the timing!)

All in all, that summer of ’69 was quite an education. Quite a wake-up call too. We heard Mal Evans give us his speech that “a fan is a fan is a fan” in the eyes of the Beatles. We also had long soulful talks with Kevin on the steps of EMI late at night. He was their young roadie/gofer and probably because of his own youth identified with the teenage fans more.

And yes, we were there on Aug 8, the day the famous “Abbey Road” cover picture was taken. Of course, we managed to miss this most memorable of moments by a mere two hours. The Beatles tricked us, you know. They had trained us to start arriving each day around noon because that was when they started to arrive. So on that day, they got there at 10am. So now you know why there are no fans in the pictures. They got all their shots done well before any of us even showed up! George even went to Regents Park zoo afterwards (Wonder if he found the elephants). Later, when we got all our pictures developed, we realized we had photos form that day –Paul in his dark blue suit, George in the denim, John in white. So close – but so far off.

Our last day, we ran into Ringo at the Apple offices again just like we’d seen him on the first day of our trip. He did pose for some pictures for us, signed autographs, was very sweet and friendly. My friend Richie was on Cloud Nine with all the chances she’d had to be near him. I was a little more disappointed in the lack of personal contact I could have with Paul that summer. I knew I was lucky to have seen him at all, and certainly it had been much closer than any concert seat could have afforded. But there had been no communication. He was very shut off and guarded emotionally form his fans that summer. I left London hoping that some day I’d be able to come back and really meet him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fans won't let him BEA

Just in case you were wondering, yes I did scan this from a Beatles bubble gum card from the 1960's.

Lizzie's vest

I find it sort of interesting that this blog discusses the Beatles clothing as much as it does meeting the Beatles. Not that discussing Beatles clothing is a bad thing, because I actually think it is fun! Here is the vest that Lizzie had made in the 1960's to look like the one that Paul frequently wore. Just for good measure, I threw in a color photograph of Paul wearing the vest. It is really adorable! (I mean the vest, not Paul although Paul isn't bad to look at either!)

Meeting John Lennon

Our good friend, Lizzie posted this link on facebook today. Another great story about a fan meeting John Lennon at Kenwood! And this one takes place in 1966.

The Photo that Captured the Highlight of My Life: Meeting John Lennon

by Elizabeth Sneed

The year was 1966. And I was 13 years old, visiting England for the first-time with my British-born mother.

Did I want to meet the British side of my family? Of course I did. But was I dying to see the changing of the guard, the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels, Buckingham Palace and all the sights of London?. No, I most certainly was not.

All I wanted to do was find - and meet --my idol, Beatle John Lennon. And that's exactly what I did.

Having obtained an address from a US Beatle fanzine, (yes, you could do that back then) I showed it to my British Uncle Vic, who surmised that the address (albeit a bit bungled) was in St. George's Hill Estate in Weybridge, an upscale residential area 19 miles outside London. Uncle Vic and my mother agreed to drive me around the woodsy neighborhood filled with ivy-covered Tudor-style mansions until we found what I was convinced was the right address. The signs left by fans that read, "I Love You, John!" at the gate were a pretty safe clue. Satisfied, the adults dropped me off to stand in the driveway and wait for in hopes of meeting John while they went off to play 18 holes of golf at the nearby country club.

I stood all alone in the driveway all morning - armed with my camera, a pen and a photo for him to sign -- wearing a black Beatle cap, a Beatles sweatshirt and short skirt. At one point, it started to rain but I was not deterred. I waved to the postman and the milkman when they opened the gate and made their deliveries to the sprawling house up the snaking driveway.

I even saw John's Aunt Mimi, his wife Cynthia, with their son, Julian, drive out. Shortly afterwards, a long black limo with tinted windows rolled slowly down the drive. I expected it to keep going but instead the limo stopped and the rear window rolled down. Sitting inside, wearing black sunglasses, was... John Lennon.

John looked at me and asked, "What do you want, Luv?" It was then that I realized i had not prepared anything to say. I was speechless! I managed to stammer, "May I have your autograph?" and handed him the photo and a pen. Then I pointed my camera at him while he signed. Seconds later, John passed the photo and pen back to me and said, "Well, gotta go, Luv. Tarrah." The tinted window rolled back up and the rolls slowly drove away. I thought to myself, 'Nothing will top this experience. Nothing. I can die happy,' I decided, so typical of a 13-year-old.

But even now, some 40 very odd years later, I can safely say that really was the highlight of my entire life. And thank God the photo actually turned out.