Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Ellen Show

Did you happen to see Ringo on the Ellen Show today?  Thanks to my mom, I got to see it.   I have to confess that I am not a fan of Ellen.   I have never found her humor to be very funny.   And so I can't really saw that I have ever watched the entire Ellen talk show.  For the most part, I enjoyed seeing Ringo's interview.    I think some of the questions Ellen asked were predictable, but then I have to remember that not everyone watching daytime talk shows are Beatlemaniacs.   My favorite part was when Ringo stood up and did his imitation of John playing the guitar.   That was so funny!!!  

Famous profile

Friar Park baby

Isn't baby Dhani the cutest thing?   He is here with a friend of the family.    What a cutie pie!

Behind the scenes of "Eight Arms to Hold you"

Behind the scenes of “Eight Arms to Hold you”

Why were the high priests of the terrible goddess of Kaili interested in the Beatles?
Why was Ringo pursued to the ends of the earth by a gang of Eastern thugs?
What did they want of him, they weren’t fans?
Two leading scientists hoped to rule the world.
Paul was threatened by a beetle.
An Eastern beauty saves the boys’ lives time and time again.
A channel swimmer ends up in an Alpine lake and Buckingham Palace has a busy day.
When Scotland Yard arrives in the Bahamas after unsuccessful maneuvers on Salisbury Plain, they find four Ringos but only one George, one Paul and one John.
When the power crazy scientists arrive in the Alps, the boys miraculously escape their deadly weapons.
Will John live to sleep in his pit again?
Will Paul ever get back to his electric organ?
Will George be reunited with his ticker tape machine?
And Ringo, will he ever play the drums again?

That’s an official synopsis of “Eight Arms to Hold you,” the Beatles newest screen gem.   The actual plot of the movie is still as under wraps as Mark Jaggar’s forehead, but there’s no lack of behind the scenes information.

“The script itself is zany, almost to the point of surrealism, and certainly very, very different,” says Brian Epstein.  “I think the Beatles will do even better as film entertainers than as live entertainers.  And they’ll make many more films.  I think they will explode again in their next picture.  Then they must eventually fit into pictures not just as Beatles but as actors.”

George Harrison, interviewed on the set said, “We’re loving it.  It’s a year since we made our first movie and now we’re getting a liking for it.  Each scene is short and in between each take we sit in an air-conditioned car and learn the words for the next scene.”

Producer Walter Shenson and director Richard Lester are the team responsible for the enormously successful first Beatles film, “a Hard Day’s Night,” also for UA, and winner of two Academy Award nominations.   Appearing in the new movie with the Beatles are Eleanor Bron, Leo McKern and Victor Spinetti.  This is the first Beatles film in color.  The picture introduces a number of songs written by Lennon and McCartney, including “Ticket to Ride” and “Yes it Is.”

In Nassau, where filming began February 22, the Beatles swam in a swimming pool while full clothed (something John had always wanted to do), rode in circles on bicycles and sat atop piles of sea shells as the cameras rolled.

They lived in a bungalow beside the sea, George was awakened early one morning by the sound of three familiar voices singing “Happy Birthday to you” (he was 22), and when they left the island, Ringo carried a large, gold paper-wrapped, secret present for his wife.

For the two weeks filming of location sequences of the new Beatles movie in Obertauern, Austria, every room in the little ski resort had been booked solid.  When the news came that the Beatles would be shooting, hundreds of press men from all over Europe besieged the village and by the time the film untit of seventy-five arrived it was bursting at the seams.

At night when the bars and cafes closed down there was a rush for improvised beds on sofas, tables, pianos and even billiard tables.

No one wanted t be an extra on “Eight Arms to Hold You.”

On the last picture, “A Hard Day’s night,” fans stormed producer Walter Shenson’s office begging for the privilege even without pay, but there was no rush for the job in the picturesque Austrian ski report. 

The mayor of the town explained that 1500 people in Obertauern were visitors, vacationing there strictly for the wonderful skiing that the town provides.  The rest of the population, numbering 150, was hard at work looking after the visitors in the hotels. 

Finally some visiting newspapermen and women were pressed into service and the situation was saved.  The end of the story is that one of the newspaper women who played an extra delightedly wired back the story of her day’s work to her newspaper and the next day Walter Shenson was besieged with offers from fans all over Austria for the jobs.

Just before the Beatles’ arrival in Obertauern, Austria an avalanche swept a bus load of vacationers into a ravine killing half of them.  During shooting, the hot spring sun caused two more avalanches within full view of the film unit.  John, Paul, George and Ringo once had their own personal avalanche when they walked down the steps of their hotel.  A two foot deep slab of packed snow slipped gently off the roof of the hotel and landed right at their feet. 

The most envied girl in Beatledom 1964 was Betty Glasow, the girl that the Beatles liked to have around.  Her hands had run through the hair of them all and in 1965 she did it again.   Betty Glasow is the hairdresser who coiffed the world famous locked throughout the filming of “A Hard Day’s Night.”

By special request of producer Walter Shenson, Betty returned to trim and shampoo Paul, Ringo, George and John for their second movie.  She went with them on location in the Bahamas and at the ski resorts of Austria and returned with them to London’s Twickenham Studios for the final scenes.
Betty could have made a fortune on the last picture if she’d agreed to save the hair clippings that dropped to the floor but she is a girl interested only in being a good hairdresser and a good friend of the Beatles.  After all, hairdresser Maureen Cox was once a friend of the Beatles before she became Mrs. Richard Starkey.

It was Ringo who dreamed up the title for both Beatles films.  He stole the show in “A Hard Day’s Night” and early reports say he does likewise in “Eight Arms to hold you.”   Said producer Walter Shenson in Austria, “Ringo’s the surprising man of the Beatles – quiet for days, then suddenly he’ll come up with something, like the title, that takes everybody off guard and proves he’s as sharp as the rest.”  There’s no doubt that all the Beatles are sharp.

When asked how they would like to be remembered when retirement comes, Paul said, “With a smile.”  John said, “I’ll be in a mental home, and I’d like to be remembered as the one with the twinkle in his eye.”  George said, “I don’t care.”  Ringo said, “I’d like to be remembered as Mrs. Starkey’s little boy.”

Call me back agian

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thumbs up again

Ringo girl

Long Beach George

The George Harrison twitter account posted this great photo of George at the Long Beach race in 1977.  

Post card about the boys

This is a very interesting artifact.   It is a postcard from someone in England sent to his pen-pal in the the United States.   It was sent to the pen-pal in Delaware right before the Beatles really took off in America.     It is an interesting item for sure!   Click on the photo if you need to see it larger.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Speaking Words of Wisdom--book review

Before I start this week's Wednesday Review, I wanted to remind everyone that you still have one week to get your raffle number for my 6th anniversary Beatles contest!  There will be 5 winners for some great Beatles prizes, so if you have not entered, go ahead.  Email me at meetthebeatlesforreal@gmail.com and I will get you your number so that you do not miss out!

Tonight's Wednesday's Review is for a book with the title Speaking Words of Wisdom it was written by Mark Swearingen and Don Christian. 

This book is full of Beatles interviews from 1962-1970.   They are transcribed word-for-word in this book.   Basically any time the Beatles were interviewed and it was recorded, then the transcription of the interview made the book.  So you will read everything from radio interviews to press conferences to individual interviews.   It really is a treat because you get to capture the Beatles at some of their funniest, zaniest moments.   Some of those "off the cuff" comments that are so funny get lost when you listen to the audio of the interview, so it is great to have it in print.  

I love that the book has the interviews in chronological order.   One thing I found interesting in read through the interviews is that the Beatles get asked the same questions over and over again and they will often make a joke in one interview and then carry the same joke over a few days later in the next interview when they are asked the same question.    It is an inside joke to them and they are laughing about it.    It is sort of neat to see the evolution of a Beatles inside joke take place.   You also get a real feel for how un-informed and at times how stupid the reporters were that interviewed the Beatles.  Didn't they do their homework at all?   Apparently not.  

This book is a great reference book and one that I know as I continue to research the Beatles, I will be going back to.  I know a lot of these interviews are available to read online, and I do appreciate that as well.  But there is just something about having them all in book form that appeals to me. 

The only thing I disliked about this book was at the very beginning they gave a key directory of people associated with the Beatles.   I think the small biographies they did were very crass.  The way they went into some of the individual's deaths just felt extremely wrong to me.   My advice is to skip that part.   My other small complaint is that on the cover is says "includes pictures", well the pictures are extremely tiny and some are blurry.  

But really it is a good book to have in your Beatles library because the interviews of the Beatles are such a big part of the story of the Fab 4.

I ordered this book on ebay.   I am not sure if it is available anywhere else at this time.

Overacting for the cameras

I am sure these girls are very excited about getting Beatles concert tickets but from the reaction of the other girls, I think some of them are just playing it up for the camera.

A whole lot of stripes for one photograph

Paul gets a check-up

In 1963, Paul McCartney caused the Beatles to  miss one concert date on their UK tour because he was too sick to go on stage.  This photo is the next day, and George and John and giving him some sort of check up to show that he is well again. 

Rainy days with Ringo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The fan that you need is on your shoulder....

Brooklyn chewing gum

From us to you

I love it when I find a "new" fan story on line and I have the photographs from that day already in my files.   Matching up photos and stories is what started this blog 6 years ago and it is what still gets me excited. 

This is a wonderful story that I found on 12 Bar Blog, which has a lot of interesting stories about famous folks that I recommend checking out.   It seems to be a new blog (and I love the name) written by a man named David.   A think we will be seeing more from this blog in the future!

In the 1960’s  how many people do you think there were  in the entire world who had never heard of the Beatles?  A half  dozen  cave dwellers maybe?   – And me.

I confess  I was too busy listening to, and learning from, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, Errol Garner,  and  Dizzy Gillespie to bother with pop groups. To me, pop groups were just a bunch of musically illiterate kids banging away for the entertainment of an equally musically illiterate bunch of kids.

I was also very busy with my own career. At that time I was doing three TV shows a week in Wales, composing the music for the Revue ‘New Cranks’  and doing solo piano broadcasts on the BBC.
It was while I was in the middle of recording a solo piano programme for the BBC that one of their major producers, Dennis Maine Wilson, came into the studio.  Dennis was of middling height – a thin, balding man of around 60 years of age.

The moment I had finished whatever it was I was playing, he shouted up to the producer in the production suite, “Can I borrow Dave for a couple of minutes?  It will only be a couple of minutes I promise”.

My producer spoke back over the studio PA, “I’ll give you five minutes but that is all.

As we went up the stairs to the studio above, Dennis was explaining:  “I’ve got this pop group upstairs and their manager wants to make sure everything is okay for tomorrow night.  We’ve got this big show to do and I want to get all the balances right at this rehearsal.  And by the way Dave, like most of these damned pop groups,  I don’t  think their guitars are in tune.

In the studio,  Dennis introduced me to this shaggy haired quartet.  He said, “I’ve  brought Dave Lee up from the studio downstairs  to help me get you boys in tune. Dave is a famous pianist”. Then he introduced me to them:   “This is George, this is John and this is Paul and over there” (he pointed to the drummer),  “that  is Ringo – that is your name isn’t  it?”  Ringo nodded.

Whilst shaking their hands  I explained that I am here only for a very short time.  “Dennis wants me to check your tuning, so give me a chord in E please.  I banged out the chord of E major on the studio piano in case they were too musically illiterate to know what I meant.

I was wrong. Not only did they know what I meant but to my surprise they seemed a nice refined bunch of guys.

Later, in the BBC canteen after my recording I was joined by Dennis, who thanked me for fine-tuning the guitars.  (In actual fact, all I had done  was tell John Lennon one string was a bit sharp – which  he probably knew anyway. After all, this was only a rough run through to give the producer some idea of the kind of music to expect so there was no need to be meticulous).

As he sipped his coffee, Dennis said to me,  “You know, I’ve produced symphony concerts, comedy shows,  and serious political programmes.  I never thought I would be lumbered with this pop music stuff” Then he added,  “But you know Dave,  I understand this bunch has a successful record out and apparently they are considered to be something really special”.  Shaking his head he said ruefully he said:  “Whatever happened to good music eh?  Even now I’ve got to go back to discuss with their manager the order of the numbers they are going bang out, and. he’s not coming back until 9 o’clock so I’ll be here half the bloody night!”

Not ever having heard them, I asked him the name of the group.

He said, “They call themselves The Beatles.  They spell  it  B-E-A-T-L-E-S,  not like the insect”  Then he asked me   “David, you should know, are they really better than the all the other pop groups? They are  supposed to be y’know”.

I replied as honestly as I could: “ I don’t know” I said. I’ve never heard them – or of them for that matter. But,” I added, “I suppose they are no better or worse  than  all these other groups”.

I was to learn just how wrong I was that very night.  Over dinner, I mentioned the affair and in a joking way I said to my 12 year-old pop-music-loving  daughter, Laura   “You and your pop music.  I had to tune the guitars of a pop group today.  The Beatles – ha.”

Her knife and fork fell from her hands as she said   “Did you say The Beatles?”

“Yes” I said. “Why? Are they important?”

She stared at me in astonishment.  “Important? Daddy they’re only more important than  the  Queen of England that’s all”

And so I phoned Dennis Maine Wilson to ask if I and my daughter could come to the actual recording of the show.

This was how, on December 18th 1963, Laura and I were the only visitors sitting in the empty Lower Regent Street BBC theatre – apart from Brian Epstein, their manager, who was sitting next to Laura,  as we listened and watched the Beatles record their Christmas show “From Us to You”.

At one point John’s guitar string broke and he gave me his guitar to tune the string in.   As I handed him back his tuned guitar he offered the broken string to Laura – which she took with great pleasure.  She still has it today, all these years later, as well as the autographs she got at the end of the recording.

They were very good to her. As I was talking with Ringo about the drumming genius of Buddy Rich, Laura was talking away with John Lennon.

As we left I remember them shouting  “’Bye Dave, bye Laura”. My daughter clutched my hand and whispered to me, “They called me Laura”.

To the city of lights!

The three Beatles are all (well mostly) smiles as they travel to Paris in 1964.   Who is that man in the background?

Tony meet Paul

So I have completely lost the story that went along with this photo.     I know it had to do with a guy named Tony who had written a  book about the Beatles and meeting Paul at a car park in 1993.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Meet the Beatles on the Beach

In February 1965, when the Beatles were in the Bahamas filming Help!, one fan's family vacation became a dream come true.   This fan and her sister came down from the United States to the Bahamas for some sun and sand.   Being big Beatle fans, they were excited to hear that the Beatles were right where they were and for the several days, the two girls went to Paradise Island and opening snapped photos and spoke with the Beatles.    

When the Beatles all came off of the boat at Paradise Island, she was waiting for them with a newspaper announcing their arrival for them to sign.   She managed to get all 4 Beatles signatures, plus Victor Spinetti's.

After the Beatles had left for the day, she and her sister took turns sitting the Paul's sports car and she took an empty cigarette pack as well as the call sheet for the previous day's filming session that Paul had left behind.

All of these items are currently available at Heritage auction house.   Bid now!  (and send me scans later).  :)