Monday, December 31, 2012


December 31, 1962

The last day of 1962.  Time to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and look forward to what the new year might bring the boys.

The Beatles have already been with Brian Epstein and in suits for more than a year.  Just a year ago their hopes were firmly pinned to an audition recording session with Decca Records in London.  Alas, that came to naught.  So the year 1962 became a year when their public personas developed and their musical presentation became tighter and more natural.  They lost a Pete Best and gained a Ringo.  They also achieved that magic milestone, a record on the English pop charts.  All in all, Mr Epstein is earning his keep, but the Beatles are paying their show biz dues as well.  They know by now that this is no schoolboy lark or flash in the pan.  This is a rewarding and long term career path for them, one that they had dreamed of since they were schoolboys.

1963 will soon become the year of the Beatle in Britain.  They are still a northern band but they are poised at the doorstep and have simply to step through.  It will be a year of unrelenting effort and laser like focus, but they are well used to that by now.  Still, all anyone can do at this point is gaze wistfully across the broad ocean and imagine.  "What would happen if we ever broke a record over there.  But that would be bringing coals to Newcastle.  We'll have to be content making American style rock and roll with an English spin over here.  The kids seem to like it."

A long eventful year lies ahead before worldwide undying fame and fortune.  But Epstein seem to have a good sense of where the wind is and a firm hand on the tiller.  All hands aloft and raise the top gallants, me hearties!

Happy 2013, readers!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Crimble, Beatle Fans

December 25, 1962

Some of the last of the Beatles performances at the Star Club in Hamburg, were actually recorded on a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, using one mic and no sound mixing.  The poor quality recording was done by one of the club's employees at the request of Ted "Kingsize" Taylor of the Dominoes, who were sharing the bill with the Beatles.  He wanted the recordings for his own library.  In the frenzy of Beatlemania, and after much legal wrangling, the tapes were put to vinyl and made available commercially as "1962 - Live at the Star Club".

This gives you some idea of the Beatles as they sounded live at this time.

Happy holidays, friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Graduation Day

December 18-31, 1962

To wrap up 1962, the Beatles fulfill their final contract appearance at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.  Of course, they are in the moment and focused on advancing their careers, so we can understand if they are less than enthusiastic about it.  With benefit of 50 years of history since, we can be allowed the luxury of nostalgia.

Long time followers of this blog will think back to the very young, untried, inexperienced band, who had recently settled on a name for themselves: the Beatles.  They made their way to Hamburg at the instigation of Allen Williams (manager of the Jacaranda student hangout in Liverpool) in August of 1960.  They made music and began to hone their performance skills in a tiny seedy former strip club known as the Indra, and dossed down behind the screen at a third run movie theatre nearby, the Bambi Kino.  Together, they learned about love, life and loss in her streets and on her stages.  As John Lennon later said, "I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg."

These two weeks, although they really can't be expected to appreciate it, are the final echoes of that intense educational process.  They are more than ready for the next step.  But just take a moment to look back and say a fond "danke schoen" to a founding mother, boys.

Just got word via FaceBook that Tony Sheridan, the Beatles Hamburg "Teacher" and mentor is seriously ill in Germany, where he lives.  Send some good thoughts and prayers his way.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Triumph

December 15, 1962

The Beatles top the bill at the second Mersey Beat best band celebration at the Majestic Ballroom.  They have won the award for the second straight year.

Also at this time, McCartney and Lennon are  working up a song for George to sing at their next recording session, the one that will result in their first LP (aka album) - "Please Please Me".  John hearkens back to a song from Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" that his mother sang to him as a very little boy.  That song was "I'm Wishing"  and the song that results is "Do You Want to Know a Secret?"  I can't watch that scene from the cartoon without being deeply touched by John's willingness to access that distant memory for his song.  It is such an insight into the sentimental, cynical cypher that is John Lennon.  Paul remembers adding the all important bridge ("I've known a secret for a week or two...").  Sounds right to me.

Time to start packing for one last foray to the "school of hard knocks" in Hamburg, Germany.  It's  "graduation" time. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TV Premier

December 4, 1962

It's been one of those weeks for the Beatles.  On the 1st of December, they are added as an afterthought to a Tower Ballroom show, when advance ticket sales are disappointing.  Then, they do a show on  the 2nd, supporting Frank Ifield and promptly lay an egg.  (When you are bringing something so new to the ears of the wider listening public, there is always the chance that they won't appreciate it immediately.)  It's not a good day when a yodeling  Frank Ifield upstages you.  Egos are brought down a peg or two.

But today, the Beatles move into the video airwaves, making an appearance on the British kids show "Tuesday Rendezvous".  Pretty forward looking children's TV, if you ask me.  They mime parts of a couple of songs for the kids entertainment.  (BeatleSource - you are a website after my own heart!)

One of the stars of the show is a certain kitty cat puppet called "Pussy Cat Willum".

"Meow - Welcome to my show, Beatles!  Meow." (Hope someone googling "cute pussy cat photos" will be directed to my blog!)

Pussy Cat Willum with friend Murial Young