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The Kinks vs. The Beatles: Ray Davies thought ‘Revolver’ was garbage
01:18 pm


The Beatles
Ray Davies

In the August 1966, The Kinks’ Ray Davies reviewed The Beatles’ latest album, Revolver, for Disc and Music Echo Magazine. He didn’t like it. In fact he thought it was garbage, or “rubbish” as we Brits say, and that was even after listening to each track three or four times.

BEATLES and Brian Epstein were so delighted with “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yellow Submarine”, two of the tracks on the new “Revolver” LP out next Friday (August 5), that they’re also being issued a single for the same date.

But if that celebrated songwriter Ray Davies is a reliable judge, the Beatles have made a big mistake. Ray thinks Miss Rigby was definitely dedicated to John and Paul’s music teacher back in primary school; while “Submarine” should sink into a dustbin. “It’s a load of rubbish, really”, remarks Ray.

Disc and Music Echo decided to turn over the task of reviewing the Revolver album - and the Kink certainly spoke his mind.

Here’s the album, track by track, with Ray’s inter-round summaries:

Side One:

“Taxman” - “It sounds like a cross between the Who and Batman. It’s a bit limited, but the Beatles get over this by the sexy double-tracking. It’s surprising how sexy double-tracking makes a voice sound.”

“Eleanor Rigby” - “I bought a Haydn LP the other day and this sounds just like it. It’s all sort of quartet stuff and it sounds like they’re out to please music teachers in primary schools. I can imagine John saying: ‘I’m going to write this for my old schoolmistress’. Still it’s very commercial.”

“I’m Only Sleeping” - “It’s a most beautiful song, much prettier than “Eleanor Rigby”. A jolly old thing, really, and definitely the best track on the album.

“Love You Too” - “George wrote this - he must have quite a big influence on the group now. This sort of song I was doing two years ago - now I’m doing what the Beatles were doing two years ago. It’s not a bad song - it’s well performed which is always true of a Beatles track.”

“Here There and Everywhere” - “This proves that the Beatles have got good memories, because there are a lot of busy chords in it. It’s nice - like one instrument with the voice and the guitar merging. Third best track on the album.”

“Yellow Submarine” - “This is a load of rubbish, really. I take the mickey out of myself on the piano and play stuff like this. I think they know it’s not that good.”

“She Said She Said” - “This song is in to restore confidence in old Beatles sound. That’s all.”

Side Two:

“Good Day Sunshine” - “This’ll be a giant. It doesn’t force itself on you, but it stands out like “I’m Only Sleeping”. This is back to the real old Beatles. I just don’t like the electronic stuff. The Beatles were supposed to be like the boy next door only better.”

“And Your Bird Can Sing” - “Don’t like this. The song’s too predictable. It’s not a Beatles song at all.”

“Dr. Robert” - “It’s good - there’s a 12-bar beat and bits in it that are clever. Not my sort of thing, though.”

“I Want To Tell You” - “This helps the LP through though it’s not up to the Beatles standard.”

“Got To Get You Into My Life” - “Jazz backing - and it just goes to prove that Britain’s jazz musicians can’t swing. Paul’s sings better jazz than the musicians are playing which makes nonsense of people saying jazz and pop are very different. Paul sounds like Little Richard. Really, it’s the most vintage Beatles track on the LP.”

“Tomorrow Never Knows” - “Listen to all those crazy sounds! It’ll be popular in discotheques. I can imagine they had George Martin tied to a totem pole when they did this.”

So, after listening to each track three or four times, the Ray Davies verdict:

“This is the first Beatles LP I’ve really listened to in it’s entirety but I must say there are better songs on Rubber Soul. Still, “I’m Only Sleeping” is a standout. “Good Day Sunshine” is second best and I also like “Here, There and Everywhere.” But I don’t want to be harsh about the others. The balance and recording technique are as good as ever.”

There you have it…

The Beatles—‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ (Take One) Semi-Acappela.

The Beatles—‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ Isoalted Guitar Solo—not backwards.

The Beatles—‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ Partial backing tape—Isolated Drums and Bass.

The Beatles—‘Tomorrow Never Knows’—Tape Loops.

The Beatles—‘Tomorrow Never Knows’—Drums and Vocals.
H/T ‘The Classic Rockers Network

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
After The Beatles, comedy king Ken Dodd was the second biggest UK act of the 1960s
10:57 am

Pop Culture

The Beatles
Ken Dodd

Forget The Beatles. Forget The Mersey Sound. Liverpool’s biggest star during the 1960s was the comedian Ken Dodd. Oh, yes!. So great was Doddy’s fame that his only rival was The Beatles.

Dodd was a box-office smash at clubs and theaters across the country, had hit TV shows (including the brilliant kids series Ken Dodd and The Diddymen, and had a recording career that saw him out-selling most pop bands, achieving nineteen hit singles, with his hit track “Tears” becoming the biggest-selling single in the U.K. for 1965. Indeed, after The Beatles, Dodd is Britain’s biggest-selling pop star for the 1960s.

Ken Dodd was born in the Liverpool district of Knotty Ash in November 1927. He started his career (rather nervously) as a Music Hall comedian in 1954. By the early sixties, Dodd was the biggest comic in the country. With his electric-shock hairstyle, buck teeth and tickling sticks, having Doddy on any bill guaranteed a truly “tattifelarius” evening, which would leave the audience “absolutely discumknockerated.”

In 1964, Dodd had an unprecedented and record-breaking 42-week sell-out season at the London Palladium. It was also during the Swinging Sixties that Doddy earned his place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest ever joke-telling session, where he told 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours (which works out at 7.14 jokes per minute), at a performance in Liverpool.

While The Beatles split, and the pop world went Punk, Disco, Acid and Grunge, Doddy continued his exuberant comic career, with sell-out tours, and long summer seasons at the seaside resort of Blackpool.

Now, incredibly, 86-years-of-age, Doddy still tours with his comedy shows (Happiness Shows), which can still last up to five hours.

In 1976, Ken Dodd gave presenter Michael Barratt a personal tour of his hometown Liverpool for the magazine programme Nationwide. It’s a delightful snapshot of one of the U.K. most loved comedians.

Bonus clip of Ken Dodd and The Beatles, plus a selection of his record covers, after the jump…

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Famous friends of Mick Jagger thought he should play the lead in ‘A Clockwork Orange’

In early 1968, Hollywood producer Si Litvinoff was trying to find a director for Terry Southern’s screenplay adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novella, A Clockwork Orange. He sent the script around to the likes of John Boorman, Roman Polanski, Tinto Brass, Ken Russell, Nicolas Roeg and John Schlesinger with cover letters suggesting that The Beatles were interested in doing the soundtrack and that Mick Jagger or David Hemmings would be good for the lead Droog “Alex,” the role that went to Malcolm McDowell in Stanley Kubrick’s film.

At one point Jagger actually owned the rights to the Burgess novella—he bought them for about $500 at time when Anthony Burgess was apparently flat broke—and then later sold them at a nice profit to Litvinoff.

When the news reached the Stones camp that Hemmings was the favorite for the role, not Mick, Marianne Faithfull, all of The Beatles, Candy director Christian Marquand, artist Peter Blake and several others sent a note to Terry Southern:


Read the entire story at Letters of Note.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Roll over, Shakespeare!’ The Beatles take on the Bard, 1964
11:04 am


The Beatles
William Shakespeare

The Beatles do Shakespeare
In 1964 Great Britain celebrated the 400th birthday of William Shakespeare. In 1964 one subject on everybody’s mind was The Beatles, who had become a nationwide sensation the previous year. It was obvious: Why not combine the two?

That’s exactly what happened on a show called Around The Beatles, which seems to have been a variety show with many musical segments. For the Shakespeare bit, the concept was to peform the rude mechanicals’ performance of the “play within a play” about Pyramus and Thisbe from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Paul plays Bottom/Pyramus, John plays Flute/Thisbe, George plays Starveling/Moonshine, and Ringo plays Snug/the Lion. The show was taped and aired the same week as Shakespeare’s birthday—and, as it happens, his death day (they’re the same: April 23).
Mad Magazine makes fun of the Beatles
Mad Magazine uses Shakespeare to twit the Beatles, 1965

The following comes from Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy, Volume One, 1957-1965, by John C. Winn:

April 28, 1964

Following days of rehearsal, Around the Beatles (at least, the portions requiring the Beatles’ presence) was apparently filmed in just over an hour this evening.


[Then comes] the Beatles’ Shakespearean debut, performing the “play within a play” from act V, scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Paul and John take the roles of doomed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe, hamming up their parts enjoyably. Ringo plays the fierce lion, while George is Moonshine, complete with “lanthorn,” thorn-bush, and dog.

They stick to the general outline of the Bard’s text, altering the dialogue when necessary. ‘Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am/A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam; For, if I should as lion come in strife/Into this place, ‘twere pity on my life” becomes “Then know that I, one Ringo the drummer, am; For, if I was really a lion, I wouldn’t be making all the money I am today, would I?” Members of [the backing band] Sounds Incorporated fill in for Theseus, Demetrius, and Hipployta, interrupting the “play” with heckling comments, such as “Roll over, Shakespeare!” and “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Eventually, their constant interruptions ad the scereams of the audience become distracting, but seeing a golden-wigged and deep-voiced John tell Paul “My love thou art, I think” makes it all worhwhile. The “lovers” conclude with “Thus Thisbe ends: Adieu, adieu, adieu,” segueing into “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside.”

Paul does a very serviceable job as Pyramus; the same is true of George as “the Moon”—and the atmosphere in the room could hardly be better, with tons of playful, even collegiate call and response between the performers and the audience, who seem to be in a very intimate space. John, as Thisbe, wore a ridiculous blond wig and had blackened out one of his front teeth. Ringo as the lion is simply hilarious.

According to Barry Miles’ The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years, Paul later named his cat Thisbe. The Around The Beatles TV special also marked the first UK television appearance of P.J. Proby.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Lennon wanted to play Gollum in a Beatles ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie, but Tolkien quashed it

In 1967 and 1968 the Beatles were feeling ambitious. They founded Apple Records. They also started a division called Apple Films run by an associate named Denis O’Dell who had been instrumental in getting A Hard Day’s Night made. Apple Films was more successful than people remember—it released the Beatles’ 1967 TV movie Magical Mystery Tour, the theatrical Beatles releases Yellow Submarine and Let it Be, 1972’s The Concert for Bangladesh, and a few others, including the 1974 John Hurt cult movie Little Malcolm and the T.Rex concert film, Born to Boogie, which was directed by Ringo Starr.

One of the projects the Beatles were interested in pursuing—particularly John—was a Beatles adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

In 2002 Paul McCartney ran into Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson at the Academy Awards and told him of the Beatles’ plans. Jackson told Wellington’s Evening Post newspaper, “It was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage but he didn’t like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it.”

CNN reported at the time:

John Lennon wanted to play the grasping, thieving creature Gollum in a 1960s Beatles version of the “Lord of the Rings,” New Zealand movie director Peter Jackson told Wellington’s Evening Post newspaper.


George Harrison was to play the wise wizard Gandalf who advises the hobbit Frodo in his quest to destroy the evil golden ring at the center of the epic tale of good versus evil, one of the most popular books of the 20th century.

Ringo Starr was to play Frodo’s devoted sidekick Sam, while Lennon would take the part of the hobbit-like creature that tracks the heroes throughout the story, trying to get his hands on the powerful ring

Beatles Lord of the Rings soundtrack
Mockup of a fake—yes, fake—soundtrack for a Beatles/Kubrick Lord of the Rings movie
Notice there’s no mention of who Paul would have played. Some sources say he would have played Frodo. To direct, The Beatles wanted to get either David Lean or Stanley Kubrick. According to Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes, John wanted to play Gandalf.

According to Walter Everett’s 1999 book The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology, Apple Films also wanted to adapt Lennon’s two books (In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works) as well as produce some kind of vehicle for the model Twiggy.

Why Tolkien’s animus towards the Fab Four? It’s not entirely clear, but Matthew Schmitz at First Things does point out the following:

In a 1964 letter to Christopher Bretherton, Tolkien complained about “radio, tele, dogs, scooters, buzzbikes, and cars of all sizes but the smallest” making noise “from early morn to about 2 a.m.”

“In addition,” Tolkien wrote, “in a house three doors away dwells a member of a group of young men who are evidently aiming to turn themselves into a Beatle Group. On days when it falls to his turn to have a practice session the noise is indescribable.”

We don’t have the Beatles Lord of the Rings movie, but we do have the inevitable YouTube mashup—here’s a bunch of LOTR footage matched up to a big chunk of Side 2 of Abbey Road.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Read the infamously vicious hate-mail letter from a Beatles fan to Nike
06:54 am


The Beatles

Nike Ad
Maybe I’m jaded, maybe I’m unprincipled, or maybe I’ve just completely internalized the wanton commodification of art, but I can’t find it in me to be outraged whenever I hear a favorite song in a commercial. These days, for bands old and new, it’s a way to be heard and maybe make a little money. Any shock has just worn off for me. Jonathan Richman’s music advertised rum, Das Racist did Kmart, Hunx and His Punx hocked bifocals for Lenscrafters, and The Buzzcocks were featured in commercials for both Subaru and the AARP. Clearly, “respectable” artists gotta make that paper, too.

But esteemed music in major ad campaigns hasn’t always been old hat. In 1987, Nike purchased the rights to The Beatles’ “Revolution,” (from the always tasteful Michael Jackson, no less), for a then-unprecedented half a million dollars. The remaining Beatles were so opposed to the use of the song they attempted to sue, but before the artists themselves took action, the backlash among fans was already intense. The letter below is an absolutely blistering condemnation of Nike’s use of the song, so much so that it’s rumored to hang framed at Nike’s corporate office. The guy is really mad.

March 30, 1987

Nike, Inc.
Advertising/Marketing Dept.
3900 SW Murray
Beverton, OR 97005

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter of complaint is in response to a very nauseating advertisement of yours which I saw on television yesterday. From your complete lack of taste you have created a commercial for your “Michael Jordan” shoes which exploits, defiles and utterly insults Beatles’ fans, and all others of musical distinction. Your debasement of the Beatles’ song, “Revolution”, in the commercial ad is apparently indicative of your lack of integrity as a business. Your tactic, obviously, is to use the Beatles’ universal popularity to sell your product. Have you sunk that low? “Is nothing sacred anymore?”, as the cliche’ goes? Your only motive is to make more money for your greedy selves, and in the process you seemingly could not care less that you have trampled and befouled the precious memories of millions and millions of people throughout the entire world. Your kind makes me puke; you low, vacuous, malodorous perverts. Your dearth of sensitivity is equaled only by your plethora of obnoxiousness. To your credit, you have waited nearly seven years since the death of John Ono Lennon; but it was obviously not done out of respect (Huh? What’s that?) for the deceased.

Throughout my high school years as a basketball player, on to my college years, and up to present day, I have bought your athletic shoes. However, as of this very day, I can assure you that I, and many of my friends, will never, EVER, contribute in any way whatsoever to your sickeningly corporate-selling tactics. You know, with people like you in the world, euthanasia has untapped possibilities.

Thank you, and I hope you choke.

Very untruly yours,



I have to say, on some level, I admire this guy. Sure it’s self-righteous, but it also shows a resilience in the face of cultural capitalism. He’s uncynical, still truly believing in the sacredness of music. It’s a utopian idea—art protected from commodification—and I sort of like the idea that there might still some folks out there this mad about commercialization (perhaps, though, the use of The Kinks’ “Picture Book” in that Hewlett-Packard commercial sent him over the edge of sanity).

Me, though, I’m too broke to be principled. I’m well aware that I have my price. Hank, can I get an “amen?”

Via Letters of Note

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Rarest, weirdest Beatles collectible, ever?
11:34 am

Pop Culture

The Beatles

Other than a personal item, or the infamous, quickly withdrawn “Butcher” cover that saw The Beatles smiling broadly covered in baby dolls and steaks, this limited edition of their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, with a cover featuring 40 Capitol Records executives’ faces, is perhaps the most unusual Beatles collectible that I’ve ever heard of. One of them is being auctioned off:

Beatles Ultra Rare Album Cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol SMAS 2653, 1967). Most collectors think of the censored “butcher cover” when the topic of rare Beatles album covers comes up. But this super-rare version featuring 40 Capitol Records executives’ faces rather than the original collage of celebrities is much more scarce - it’s believed only 40-50 copies were ever produced! They were distributed at a Capitol party, essentially one for each of the executives pictured! In a special poll conducted for the December, 2011 issue of the UK’s Record Collector this cover was ranked #1 on a list of the world’s most expensive record covers, valued at approximately £70,000 or more than $100,000. Noted Beatles expert Perry Cox describes it as “among the rarest and most interesting artifacts produced during the original era of the Beatles.”

The custom cover came out in late 1967 after the initial pressings earlier that year, and bears the “All Rights Reserved ...” print at the the bottom right back cover and “NEMS Ent ...” at the lower right back cover. “With a Little Help From My Friends” is printed correctly on the record, another marker of the later 1967 pressing.

This particular copy belonged to Marvin Beisel, Capitol’s national sales director and one of the executives pictured on the cover. The auction estimate? $15,000 and up. Click HERE for a larger view.

Thank you kindly to Mr. Apollo, who can uproot trees with his bare hands…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ number A0000001 is up for sale
06:37 pm

Pop Culture

The Beatles

When The Beatles released their eponymous double album (aka the White Album) in 1968, each of the original copies were stamped with an individual number starting with “A0000001.”

For years, “A0000001” was considered not to exist, and if it did, would most certainly belong to one of The Beatles, right? Well, it now turns out that there is indeed a Beatles’ White Album, numbered “A0000001” and it is about to be auctioned as “Lot 46154” by Heritage Auctions, with an opening bid of $10,000.

The owner is David Mincks, who purchased the album from Clifford J. Yamasaki of Let It Be Records in San Francisco, on April 2, 1989.

The album comes with all of its original inserts, and a letter of authentication from Mr. Yamasaki, which reads:

“This is to certify that ___ purchased Beatles ‘White Album’ number: A0000001 in mint condition on this date. It is one of approximately two dozen copies given out as early promotional items to the Beatles and top Capitol Records executives. I purchased said copy from one of the above executives in the early 1970’s. Said executive was head of the classical division at Capitol Records. The ‘White Album’ number A0000001 was shown at a Beatles Convention one time only. ‘White Album’ copies with this number A0000001 were never sealed with records or sold to the public. I certify that all of the above is true and correct.”

In December 2012, The Beatles White Album number #A0000023, was sold for $13,750 (Lot 46242) after “a battle between seven bidders,” so you can imagine what this beauty is going to make.

If you fancy adding this important record to your collection, then put your bid in here.
Below, artist Richard Hamilton tells the story of one of the only records to become known by its artwork rather than its actual title. In Hamilton’s own words, it was “possibly the first ever conceptual record cover.”

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‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?’: Short film reflects on the ‘Abbey Road’ album cover
01:49 pm


The Beatles
Abbey Road
Roger McGough

Why don't we do it in the road
Every year, scores of tourists and locals alike attempt to recreate the famous Abbey Road crosswalk scene, even folks who might otherwise find such efforts at photographic performance “cheesy.” Director Chris Purcell elegantly employs the dulcet tones of Liverpudlian performance poet and literary polymath Roger McGough, creating this soothing mediation on photography, iconography that spans generations, and the passage of time.

Fun fact: Roger McGough once wrote a poem entitled, “To Macca’s Trousers,” about a pair of Sir Paul’s pants given to McGough by The Beatle’s younger brother, Mike McGear.

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The little-known story of The Beatles’ on-staff astrologer
10:49 am

Pop Culture

The Beatles

The Beatles opened their first Apple Corp. business enterprise, the Apple Boutique, at 94 Baker Street in London, on December 7, 1967. Technically it was simply called the Apple “shop,” because John Lennon disapproved of using the word “boutique.” The exterior of the shop, described by Paul McCartney as “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things,” was originally covered in a bright, swirling psychedelic mural designed and painted by Dutch art collective, The Fool (Simon Posthuma, Marijke Koeger, Josje Leeger, along with Simon Hayes, and Barry Finch). This mural was painted over after outcry from nearby businesses and an order from the Westminster City Council. The 18th-century Georgian building contained demo recording studios upstairs as well as in the basement, with the clothing and groovy accessories boutique on the main floor.

What do you need when you start an ambitious business enterprise with Eastern spiritual leanings and a hippie sensibility?

Of course, you’d require a professional on-staff astrologer.

Caleb Ashburton-Dunning was hired not only as the assistant manager of the Apple boutique but as the house astrologer to do daily horoscopes for the Beatles when asked and charts for any special event or problem. He worked out of a small office in the Apple building. His fiancee, a graphic artist named Mishi, worked as a salesgirl downstairs. Ashburton-Dunning did the majority of his astrological work for John Lennon and Yoko Ono until he had a falling out with John. 

Jazz and progressive rock guitarist and bassist Roger Bunn (who later joined Pete Brown’s band Piblokto!) used the upstairs recording studio at Apple. He wrote in his unpublished memoirs, The Right Side of the Tracks, in 2000:

“I first met Mishi through Diana’s friend Caleb Ashburton-Dunning, the Beatles astrologer, and manager of the Apple shop. Wherein, after Djinn had split, and while James Taylor recorded his demos in the basement, I was on the top floor recording “Life is a Circus” [later recorded by David Bowie]. Caleb had since left Apple in disgrace, reason being he told John Lennon to drop Yoko and return to Cynthia. Unfortunately, for Caleb Ashburton-Dunning, he was also in the process of going acid-ape.”

Ashburton-Dunning was devastated over being fired by Lennon simply for predicting that his relationship with Yoko Ono would not go well. He turned to the The Process Church of the Final Judgment, a bizarre new religious organization that had its headquarters in London.

The Process Church was founded by an English couple, Robert Moor (later calling himself Robert DeGrimston) and Mary Anne MacLean, who were former Scientologists. The Process were derided as Satanists because their teachings included the need to worship Jehovah, Satan, Lucifer, and Christ equally. This organization faltered in the mid-1970s and underwent many attempts at revival and renewal, eventually morphing into the Best Friends Animal Society, an animal rescue group.

Ashburton-Dunning seems to have disappeared after the initial disbanding of The Process. Mishi divorced him in 1969 and became the long-time common law wife of Roger Bunn.

In the clip below, from the 1968 comedy ‘Hot Millions,’ a young Maggie Smith shops at the Apple Boutique as Bob Newhart looks on.

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Still Pissed At Yoko: Disgruntled Beatles fan gets something off his chest
11:31 am


Yoko Ono
The Beatles

Dig George Johnson’s ambitious humorous homage to The Beatles and the woman some fans think “broke them up.”

I suspect that Mrs. Lennon might get a kick out of this. Johnson seems to be (I hope) poking fun at all the idiot Yoko haters, rather than joining that tired chorus. Yoko rules!

“Still Pissed At Yoko” is available for download at the iTunes store.

Thank you, Charles Hugh Smith!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Liverpool Poet Roger McGough: Reads ‘Blazing Fruit or The Poet as Entertainer’

Roger McGough reads “Blazing Fruit or The Poet as Entertainer,” and talks to critic Michael Billington about his approach to writing poetry.

McGough came to fame in the 1960s, along with Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri, as part of the Liverpool Poets. Their seminal volume of collected poems The Mersey Sound, brought poetry out of the academies and into the coffee-houses, bars, and working men’s clubs of swinging England.  As McGough said at the time:

The kids didn’t see this poetry with a capital p, they understood it as modern entertainment, as part of the pop-movement.

Associated with The Beatles, as part of the “Liverpool Explosion,” McGough went onto form the popular music, comedy and poetry group The Scaffold, with comic John Gorman, and Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear, which famously led to a number 1 hit “Lily the Pink” in 1968. McGough later teamed-up with Neil Innes for GRIMMS, and since the mid-1970s has been one of Britain’s best known and best loved poets.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

GRIMMS: The most incredible 70s Supergroup, you’ve probably never heard of…

With thanks to NellyM

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The Weekend Starts Here: The Best of ‘60s Brit Pop from ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’

This is what cultural revolution looked like in the early 1960s: youngsters dancing in a cramped television studio, as smartly dressed men and women mime love songs.

From its opening line: “The weekend starts here!” Ready, Steady, Go! was one of the most revolutionary and influential programs on British TV.

Between 1963 and 1966, Ready, Steady, Go! brought pioneering performances by the biggest pop names to millions of homes across the country. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Animals, Cilla Black, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and even Peter Cook & Dudley Moore—who later parodied the show in their film Bedazzled.

The miming eventually stopped in April 1965, after the show moved to a bigger studio and artists were asked to play live—most notably now legendary sets by The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann and The Walker Brothers. It gave the show an immediacy and power its rivals could only dream about, but by 1966, as the beat revolution moved on, Ready, Steady, Go! was canceled.

Ready, Steady, Go! had an unprecedented influence on shaping musical taste, and youth fashion, and in 2011, The Kinks’ Ray Davies paid homage to RSG! with a recreation of the show at the Meltdown Festival.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When They’re 64: What someone in 1968 thought the Beatles would look like at 64 years of age
10:37 am


The Beatles
When I'm Sixty-Four

This drawing appeared in Hunter Davies’ 1968 authorized biography The Beatles. I’m not sure why John Lennon was imagined as William Howard Taft, though? It’s perplexing. I thought the walrus was Paul?

Unfortunately, I can’t find who the artist was for this. If anyone knows, I’ll update the post with proper credit.

Update: The artist was Michael Leonard. Thank you, Dan Schwartz! 

Below, Hunter Davies talks about his time spent with the Beatles:

h/t Retronaut

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Rosemary’s Baby, the White Album and the Manson Murders: Conspiracy Coincidence Syndrome Overload

Save for the Kennedy assassination, coincidence has perhaps never coagulated with the same deeply improbable intensity as it did around the Manson killings.

Stranger still is the manner in which coincidence seems to knit the Tate/LaBianca murders together with both Rosemary’s Baby (a great film) and “the White Album” (a great record), as if all three were somehow of a piece—and in a sense that goes beyond the former’s being directed by Polanski, or the latter’s inspiring Manson’s derided “Helter Skelter” scenario.

Take, as a mere appetizer, the possibility that the Beatles may have stayed (and dropped acid) at 10050 Cielo Drive in the mid-sixties, something (apparently unwittingly) implied by John Lennon during a 1974 Rolling Stone interview.

And then, well, we just decided to take LSD again in California…We were on tour, in one of those houses, like Doris Day’s house or wherever it was we used to stay. And the three of us took it. Ringo, George and I… And a couple of the Byrds… Crosby and the other guy, who used to be the leader… McGuinn. I think they came round, I’m not sure, on a few trips.

Terry Melcher, of course, was Doris Day’s son, the Byrds’ producer, Manson’s almost-producer, and Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski’s predecessor at 10050 Cielo Drive.

In normal circumstances, Mother Superior could very well be accused of having jumped the gun were we to therefore conclude that the Beatles probably had sat turning their minds inside-out within the very walls that would—a few years later—have their as-yet unwritten song-titles scrawled upon them in blood (as if the killers were tracing indentations made by psychic shrapnel). Circumstances, however, are anything but normal…


In the spring of 1968—a handful of years after those mooted sojourns at Cielo Drive—the Beatles made their pilgrimage to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Valley of the Saints in Rishikesh, part of a sparkling celebrity coterie that included Mia Farrow and Mike Love. For the next couple of months, the days were mostly spent in epic bouts of Transcendental Meditation, as the Maharishi attempted to guide the most famous men in the world—who he himself described as “angels”—towards “total consciousness.” The Beatles, though, would spend much of their spare time writing songs – particularly Lennon, who found they were veritably “pouring out.”

Many of these new tunes would find their way onto the Beatles’ next LP, “the White Album.” One such was Lennon’s “Dear Prudence,” which playfully chided Prudence Farrow, Mia Farrow’s sister, for excessive metaphysical studiousness.

Mia Farrow herself had only recently completed filming Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Her exquisite performance as Rosemary—a resident of New York’s Dakota building, impregnated with an anti-Christ by a coven of neighboring witches—surely meant she arrived in the Valley of the Saints carrying some very interesting inner baggage. Certainly her stay would leave its mark on history—most chroniclers ascribing some rumored sexual impropriety (or worse) on the part of the Maharishi towards Farrow as being the principal reason for Lennon and Harrison’s (the last remaining Beatles) acrimonious departure that August.

Lennon later claimed that, while packing his bags, he came up with the rudiments of another tune destined for “the White Album,” “Sexy Sadie,” four syllables that supplanted the original—and extremely libelous—“Maharishi.” The same four syllables would also find themselves supplanting the name of Manson Family Tate/LaBianca murderess Susan Atkins—known in the Family as “Sadie Mae Glutz” prior to Manson’s fateful encounter with “the White Album.” Before falling in with Manson, Atkins was an associate of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. LaVey is said to have served as an unaccredited technical adviser on Rosemary’s Baby.

Incidentally, Lennon and Harrison’s jaded view of the Maharishi was such that, when their protracted flight from Rishikesh was impeded by a series of disruptions—they were abandoned in a broken-down taxi, and Harrison soon thought he was coming down with dysentery— our ruffled angels feared they had been cursed by their unceremoniously discharged guru. (Echoes, here, of Bobby Beausoleil’s attempted escape from Kenneth Anger, legendarily curtailed by Anger’s magickal locket.)

Around the very time the Beatles were arriving in Rishikesh, meanwhile, Mike Love’s cousin and fellow Beach Boy Dennis Wilson would reportedly pick up hitchhikers (and Manson Family members) Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey in Malibu.

Whether or not this actually happened (Charles Manson, for one, would later contradict this account, saying he first met Wilson at the house of a mutual friend’s) Wilson would definitely spend the following months as a sponsor and de facto member of the Family—footing the bill for their VD treatments (and much more besides), introducing Manson to industry figures like Neil Young and Terry Melcher, and so on.

Although Death Valley—in apparent contradistinction to the Valley of the Saints—sounded like an overtly hedonistic and nihilistic environment, Manson arguably presided over a commune no less spiritually preoccupied than the Maharishi’s, and Mike Love and Dennis Wilson seemed similarly as well as simultaneously attracted to their Ying/Yang gurus. But it appears positively miraculous that Wilson would be fraternizing with Manson while his cousin, on the other side of the world, would be fraternizing with the Beatles at the very time the songs were “pouring out” for “the White Album,” some of which would find themselves daubed on the walls at Cielo Drive in Sharon Tate’s blood, and two of which concerned Prudence and Mia Farrow, the latter having only just starred in a role once earmarked for Tate herself…

And that, as aficionados know only too well, ain’t even the half of it. (A little more to come from me on the topic though, shortly.)


Mark Reeve’s superb essay on the Beatles and the occult is a clear predecessor to the above piece, and can be read in the Headpress collection Gathering of the Tribe

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
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