Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One Great Source

January, 1963

A great page of pics from 50 years ago on a great Beatles history site:

The Beatles Source

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Misery Loves Company

January 23, 1962

Lennon and McCartney are branching out.  They sit down together and knock out a song specifically for another artist to perform.  Her name: Helen Shapiro.  (They're thinking of her because they are scheduled to tour the UK with her starting in a couple of weeks.)  The song: Misery.  Shapiro didn't seize the opportunity to be the first artist to record a Lennon and McCartney original (other than the Beatles), but  someone else did.  His name is Kenny Lynch, a black British soul singer.  He shared management with Shapiro and it was decided it was better suited to his style.  He will record it later this year and has a modest hit on the British charts.

Much later, Kenny Lynch will appear on the album cover for Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" album.

Roll on, L and M, roll on!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

ITV, Radio Lux, BBC

January 19, 1963

Thanks to Dick James, the Beatles make their first appearance on "Thank Your Lucky Stars", a British ITV equivalent to American Bandstand in the USA.  The show was recorded on the 13th and has the Beatles miming "Please, Please Me".

On the 21st, they record for later broadcast material for "The Friday Spectacular", a Radio Luxembourg radio show.  On the 22nd they produce material for three separate broadcast appearances.  First, they chat with the host of "Pop Inn" a live lunchtime BBC chat show, at a studio on Regent Street in London.  Then the band rushes across town to record for the BBC show "Saturday Club" for later broadcast globally across the entire British Empire via short wave.  Finally, back to Regent Street to record for "The Talent Spot", yet another BBC offering.

The big push is on!  And Dick James is the right guy at the right time to be putting his shoulder to the wheel.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brian Rolls a Stoney

January 13, 1963

The Beatles travel to Birmingham to record a short appearance on the TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars", a show broadcast on the ITV network.  ITV is an ABC affiliate and an alternative to the government sponsored BBC network, and is therefore somewhat more open to innovation.

During this trip, Brian Epstein first comes in contact with another manager of musical acts, a show-biz hustler named Andrew Loog Oldham.  (Oldham has not yet come into contact with the band from the south of England just now forming known as the Rolling Stones.)  Ever the "Bad boy" of the English music scene, Oldham advises Epstein that he should emphasize the Beatles anti-establishment image.

Friday, January 11, 2013


January 11, 1963

The Beatles second single, "Please, Please Me", their breakthrough record in the UK, is released on the Parlephone label today.  The B side on this version is "Ask Me Why", a perfectly serviceable song, but it is more prototype than finished product.  Had to get something on the flip side.  Both songs were recorded back in November at Abbey Road under the watchful eye of George Martin.

The label sends down a lightening bolt,  The boys cross their fingers, and begin to wait on the thunder.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Connecting Two Bands of Merry Men

January, 1963
Dick James back in the day

It's time for another important behind the scenes character to enter the story.  In those far off days, songs after being written were given to a "publisher" whose role was to find a suitable artist to record it and then to promote (plug) the record.  The Beatles first song, "Love Me Do", was published by an arm of  the EMI recording empire and Brian Epstein had not been overwhelmed by their efforts in its behalf.  When he made his dissatisfaction known to George Martin, Mr Martin made some suggestions for alternatives.  One of those alternatives was Dick James.

George Martin had met Dick James in 1958 when Dick was a performer and had made a recording with him to be the theme music for a British TV serial, The Adventures of Robin Hood.  (In the US, we saw the show in syndication, so you may remember the song.  It's very corny, but hey, this was the '50s.)

By now, tired of the endless peregrinations required of a professional singer, Dick has turned his hand to music publishing.  And that is how he comes to meet with Brian and how he comes to hear a demo of "Please, Please Me".  He immediately understands the enormous potential of this song by a relatively unknown group and enthusiastically offers to publish it.  Brian is impressed with his attitude and agrees that if Mr James can make this song number one on the UK charts, he will become the Beatles music publisher.  Dick calls a friend who books talent for a teenager focused TV show called "Thank Your Lucky Stars", and convinces him to book an appearance of the group.  On such friendly foundations, fortunes are built.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Beatle New Year

January 1, 1963

The Beatles return from their last sojourn to Hamburg, ready to take on the world.  But it will be a long, hard climb to the toppermost and 1963 will be the year.  It will be a year when package tours and life on the road will become much more important and one night stands in Liverpool ballrooms and lunches at the Cavern, much less so.  They and their manager Brian Epstein will take nothing for granted and agree to just about any opportunity to spread the bands fame.

They fly to London and spend the night there in preparation for a flight tomorrow to Edinburgh to start a tour of Scotland, a tour that gets off on the wrong foot when snow and wind cause cancellation of the first date in Keith (where they played in support of Johnny Gentle, on their shoestring tour just a year and a half ago).  John flies home to be with Cyn for a few hours at least and returns to Scotland on the 3rd to resume the tour at Elgin.  The next week is spent traveling from place to place, playing in ballrooms and sleeping in hotels.  On the 8th, there is an appearance on a local Glaswegian kids TV show.  (The kids show appearances really demonstrate that the entertainment powers had no clear idea what to do with this new band.)  Finally, they get a day off at home on the 9th.