Saturday, October 22, 2005

Forty Years of Stunning Magazine Covers

Images of the turbulent 1960s dominate a list of the top 40 magazine covers of the past 40 years, announced this week by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek and president of the ASME, tells Debbie Elliott what he and 51 other judges looked for in making their selections. The top pick was a January 1981 Rolling Stone cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, entwined on a bed.

Here's a list of the Top 10 covers.

1. Rolling Stone, Jan. 22, 1981: John Lennon and Yoko Ono in a photo taken just before the musical icon's death.

2. Vanity Fair, August 1991: A nude, extremely pregnant Demi Moore, in full-figured profile.

3. Esquire, April 1968: "The Passion of Muhammad Ali," showing the embattled boxer with arrows in his body.

4. The New Yorker, March 29, 1976: An outsized drawing of New York dominates a sketch of the rest of the country to Pacific Ocean.

5. Esquire, May 1969: Andy Warhol drowning in a Campbell's soup can to illustrate an article on the decline of the avant-garde.

6. The New Yorker, Sept. 24, 2001: The World Trade Center's Twin Towers drawn in all black against a gray skyline.

7. National Lampoon, January 1973: "If you don't buy this magazine, we'll kill this dog."

8. Esquire, October 1966: White typeface on an all black cover blares: "Oh my God -– we hit a little girl." The feature article followed M Company's harrowing combat tour in Vietnam.

9. Harper's Bazaar, September 1992: Linda Evangelista holding up the letter 'A' in magazine's title: "Enter the Era of Elegance."

10. National Geographic, June 1985: Afghan girl: "Haunted eyes of an Afghan refugee's fears."

NPR : Forty Years of Stunning Magazine Covers

In my worst nightmares about Yoko

Shortly before we were due to leave for India John spent the weekend with Derek Taylor, a former journalist who had become the Beatles press spokesman and a good friend to us all. He, his wife Joan and their five children lived in a big country house where they seemed incredibly contented. When he came home after that weekend John put his arms around me and said, 'Let's have loads more kids, Cyn, and be really happy.' Despite my increasingly strong feeling that John was slipping away from me, it seemed at moments like that as though nothing had changed. John was off drugs and seemed almost like his old self. 'We can make it work, Cyn,' he said. 'When we're in India we'll have time for us and everything will be fine.' I hoped he was right.

A few days before our departure, we had a meeting with the Maharishi's assistant at a house in London to finalize details of the trip. As we entered the main room I saw, seated in a corner armchair, dressed in black, a small Japanese woman. I guessed immediately that this was Yoko Ono, but what on earth was she doing there? Had John invited her and, if so, why?

Yoko introduced herself to the group, then sat silent and motionless throughout, taking no part in the proceedings. John chatted to the other Beatles and the Maharishi's assistant and appeared not to notice her. My mind was racing. Was he in regular contact with this woman? What on earth was going on?

At the end of the evening Anthony was waiting outside for us. He opened the car door and, to my astonishment, Yoko climbed in ahead of us. John gave me a look that intimated he didn't know what the hell was going on, shrugging, palms upturned, nonplussed.

He leant and asked if we could give her a lift somewhere. ‘Oh, yes, please. Twenty-five Hanover Gate,' Yoko replied. We climbed in and not another word was said until we dropped her off, when she said, ‘Goodbye. Thank you,' and got out.

‘How bizarre,' I said to John. ‘What was that all about?' ‘Search me, Cyn.' He insisted he hadn't invited Yoko and knew nothing of her being there, but common sense dictated that it had to have been John who had asked her to come. Whatever my doubts, though, it was clear that he wasn't going to provide an explanation.

Back at Kenwood John continued to be distant towards me. Now that we were away from the others and the charms of India, I felt increasingly afraid and depressed. John and I were back in the same bed, but the warmth and passion we had shared for so long were absent. John seemed barely to notice me. He was little better with Julian and was more likely to snap at him than give him a hug.

There was just one moment of real warmth between us and that was, ironically, when John confessed to me that he had been unfaithful. We were in the kitchen when he said, out of the blue, ‘There have been other women, you know, Cyn.' I was taken aback, but touched by his honesty. ‘That's OK,' I told him.

He came over to where I was standing beside the sink and put his arms round me. ‘You're the only one I've ever loved, Cyn,' he said, and kissed me. ‘I still love you and I always will.' A couple of weeks later John suggested that I join Magic Alex, Jennie, Donovan and Gypsy on a two-week holiday in Greece. I told him I didn't want to go without him. Apart from those rare occasions when I had taken Mum and Julian away because he was working, we had never spent holidays apart.

‘I've got a lot on at the moment and I can't go, but you should. It might cheer you up,' he said. I was uncertain, but he persisted and in the end I decided to go. John was busy writing songs for the Beatles new album, The Beatles, better known after its release as the White Album. He wrote 13 of the tracks, including Julia, a tribute to his mother, and Goodnight, for Julian.

Cheered by the hope that John might miss me, and the prospect of a change, I left for Greece. Julian had gone to stay with Dot's family and John was lying on our bed when I left. He was in the almost trance-like state I'd seen many times before and barely turned his head to say goodbye.

On the way home our plane stopped off in Rome where we had lunch. Wouldn't it be fun to finish the day with dinner in London, after breakfast in Greece and lunch in Rome? We laughed. ‘Let's get John to join us.' Alex suggested I ring him to let him know what time we would be back.

I spoke to him briefly. ‘Hi, darling, I'll be home soon. Can't wait to see you.' John's reply sounded normal: ‘Fine, see you later.' Donovan and Gypsy headed home, but Jennie and Alex came with me to Kenwood to see if John fancied dinner out. We arrived at four in the afternoon and immediately I knew something was wrong: the porch light was on, the curtains were still drawn and everything was silent. There was no Dot to greet me, no Julian bounding through the door, shouting with delight, for a hug. What was going on?

The front door was unlocked. The three of us walked in and began to look for John, Julian and Dot. ‘Where are you all?' I called, still expecting them to appear from behind a door, laughing at the joke.

As I put my hand on the sunroom door I felt a sudden frisson of fear. I hesitated, for a second, then opened it. Inside, the curtains were closed and the room was dimly lit so it took me a moment to focus. When I did, I froze.

John and Yoko were sitting on the floor, cross-legged and facing each other, beside a table covered with dirty dishes. They were wearing the toweling robes we kept in the poolhouse, so I imagined they had been for a swim. John was facing me. He looked at me, expressionless, and said, ‘Oh, hi.' Yoko didn't turn round.

I blurted out the only thing I could think of: ‘We were all looking forward to dinner in London after lunch in Rome and breakfast in Greece. Would you like to come?' The stupidity of that question has haunted me ever since. Confronted by my husband and his lover — wearing my dressing-gown — behaving as though I was an intruder, all I could do was carry on as if everything were normal. In fact I was in shock, operating on auto-pilot. I had no idea how to react. It was clear that they had arranged for me to find them like that and the cruelty of John's betrayal was hard to absorb. The intimacy between them was daunting.

I could feel a wall round them that I could not penetrate. In my worst nightmares about Yoko I had not imagined anything like this.

As I stood in the doorway, rooted to the spot in shock and pain, John said, indifferently, ‘No, thanks.' I turned and fled.

The Globe and Mail: 'In my worst nightmares about Yoko'

Best to play in What Cheer

WHAT CHEER - Pete Best, the original drummer for The Beatles, brings his band to the What Cheer Opera House at 7 p.m. Sunday for a special evening of the "Best of the Beatles - The Pete Best Band." Right from the first beat, listeners will be immersed in nostalgia, listening to what many people call "the best years of The Beatles," 1960-62, according to Ralph Gatton, local coordinator for Best's appearance. "The show starts at 7 p.m. but we'll have 'people getting seated' music starting at 6 p.m.," Gatton said Friday. "The music will be songs by Chad & Jeremy, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and others from that era."
Tickets for the single appearance are $25. For information, contact Gatton at (641) 919-2788.

Best played in more than 1,000 shows over a two-year period as an original member of The Beatles. His publicist quoted John Lennon's comment from years ago: "We were at our best when we were playing in the dance halls of Liverpool and Hamburg. The world never saw that."

Best joined The Beatles - John, Paul, George, and Stu Sutcliffe - in late 1960, according to Best's Web site, Their previous drummer, Tommy Moore, had left earlier in the year.
Best's mother, Mona, ran The Casbah Club, a cellar club in Hayman's Green, where the Beatles had been playing. When Allan Williams got The Beatles booked to play two months in Hamburg, Best was asked to join the group. The girls in Hamburg were wild over him, and would shout at him on the stage in English and German.
The other Beatles thought Best was a pretty good drummer, but in Hamburg they heard and met Ringo Starr. When the Beatles returned to Liverpool, Mona Best acted as their booking agent for what she considered "Pete's band". She got them introduced into the Cavern Club. Best played on "My Bonnie" and the other tracks recorded with Tony Sheridan for Bert Kaempfert in Germany.

In November 1961, Brian Epstein became The Beatles' manager, and in April 1962, he succeeded in getting them an audition with George Martin at Parlophone, which happened on June 6.
By this time, both McCartney and Harrison were encouraging Epstein to help them get rid of Best, to bring on Starr permanently.
In late July, Martin committed to recording The Beatles. When Martin told Epstein that he didn't care for Best, and that they would use another drummer on the sessions, he didn't know The Beatles were already thinking the same thing.
Best's fans were outraged. Cries of "Pete Best Forever - Ringo, never!" were heard at the Cavern Club. The following Monday, one of the many scuffles outside the Cavern Club resulted in a black eye for George Harrison.

Ottumwa Courier - News - 10/21/2005 - Best to play in What Cheer

Interview with George Harrison's widow

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Completing the projects George Harrison started before his death is a labour of love for his wife Olivia. And that's in the truest sense of the words labour and love. "It's bitter and sweet, I have to say," said Olivia from London, England, in an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun. "But George wanted it done. I can't not do it, not when he had his hand on it and was working on it. There were three or four projects -- actually, more like a half-dozen -- that hopefully I'll be able to finish."

One of those finished packages hits stores Tuesday: The first appearance of The Concert For Bangladesh on DVD, along with previously unseen rehearsal and show footage, and a new and fascinating documentary.

A strong argument can be made that George, who died in 2001 at the age of 58, had more of an impact in a worldwide, cultural sense than any rock icon of the 1960s.
There was his obvious musical contribution as one of the Beatles, and with his solo career.

There was his championing of Indian musicians, which opened up the whole "world music" scene.

There was his quiet financial intervention to save what we now consider to be classic comedic films, such as Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

And, of course, there was The Concert For Bangladesh, which took place on Aug. 1, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York. It marked the first time rock stars "weren't just thinking about ourselves for five minutes," according to participant Eric Clapton.

It all was organized by Harrison, the quiet ex-Beatle, through personal phone calls and despite tight deadlines in an era when similar charitable forays were not common.

"Things were simpler then," said Olivia, 57. "George was asked by a friend. He hated to see (famous sitar player) Ravi Shankar in distress (about conditions and circumstances in Bangladesh). George said, 'This was happening to people miles and miles away from where I was, and yet it was right there in front of me, because Ravi was in such distress. How can you ignore that?'

"George knew (the concert) had an effect, and he knew it at the time." But it didn't become a model until many years later (with such events as Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005). "I think people were slow off the mark, if you ask me."

George had a strong sense of humour, so it is not an insult to his memory to acknowledge The Concert For Bangladesh has been the target of jokes through the years.

For example, during an episode of The Simpsons, Krusty The Klown has overstayed his welcome at the Simpsons residence. As his hosts fight off sleep, Krusty fingers through the family's record collection and exclaims, "Whoa! The Concert For Bangladesh!" The next sound you hear is a sitar playing.

The point being, this is how a boring night gets even worse.

Of course, the concert is not all sitar-heavy. The main ensemble features, among others, Harrison, fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and Billy Preston.

Even Olivia admits the average music fan may not have the time to watch the whole concert, at least in one sitting. The real prize is the documentary, which was Olivia's idea.

Among the notable insights: Harrison's reluctance and nervousness about being a front man; Dylan's fear of playing in front of such a big crowd, to the point that Harrison wasn't totally sure Dylan was going to walk onto the stage until moments before it happened; and Clapton's admission that he was so drug-addled, "I was in another world, not really there."

"I thought people would understand more about it, and the importance of it, if we had a documentary," said Olivia, who wed George in 1978. "When you just watch the concert straight through, it might not be so clear in hindsight. I think you need that context."

Olivia appreciated and agreed with the assesment that George became a crucially important figure in pop culture and beyond. But George never thought of it that way.

"George did a lot of different things, but he didn't actually care what the outcome was," Olivia said. "Sure, it would have been nice if everybody said, 'Wow, that's great,' because they enjoyed it. But he didn't need the praise.

"He wanted to share the things he loved so much. Who got it, got it, and who didn't, didn't.

"He always had things going on like this. That's why he was such a fun guy."

And that's why he now is such a missed guy.

The tale of the tapes

Even some of the most important tapes in rock 'n' roll history can wind up gathering dust in somebody's basement.

"Yeah, mostly mine," said Olivia Harrison, wife of late, great Beatle George Harrison. "I have quite a lot. I've been collecting them for 30 years."

However, tracking down the tapes that led to the new DVD release of The Concert For Bangladesh was an ordeal.

"I was helping George in 2001 when he was remastering the audio, hoping to bring it out for the 30th anniversary," Olivia said. "Lo and behold, it had been remastered and somebody had given George the wrong tapes.

"That began a process of tracking down the correct ones. There were so many different versions because they did the film and the album. Everybody seemed to have the wrong ones. Finally we got in touch with (producer Phil Spector, who was involved in the original recording of the show in 1971). We're saying, 'Phil, do you have the tapes?' And he was like, 'Yeah, I got 'em.' 'Well, send 'em over!' "

Still, getting things ready for the 30th anniversary proved to be an unrealistic task.

"DVD was just beginning in 2001, so we had no idea it would take that long," Olivia said.

Royalties donated to UNICEF

The Concert For Bangladesh just keeps on giving.

All artists royalties from the new DVD release of the show will be donated to UNICEF.

The original concert on Aug. 1, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York, raised $250,000 US, which went immediately to charitable causes.

Subsequent movie and album sales raised millions of dollars more. But main organizer and ex-Beatle George Harrison was furious that it took so many years for the cash to reach its intended destination.

"The money from the gate went directly to UNICEF, but the royalties took longer to get to UNICEF, because of the way it was structured," said Olivia Harrison, George's wife.

"Eventually it did get there. But in 1973 George set up his own foundation because he was frustrated with all the bureaucracy and the situation with the (tax authorities in the United States).

"George said, 'I'm not going to let that happen again. I'm going to have my own foundation so if I want to give money away, I can do what I want.' "

CANOE -- JAM! Music - Artists - Harrison, George: Interview with George Harrison's widow

Friday, October 21, 2005

Paul McCartney: Now I'm sixty-three

Paul McCartney has just taken a seat at his piano, centre-stage at a sports arena in downtown Miami, Florida. Before he touches the keys, he glances idly at his audience, which, this afternoon, comprises approximately a dozen people, mostly security guards and members of his crew. Directly opposite McCartney, on the arena floor, one of the crew members sits at a long table making notes on a sheet of paper. McCartney furrows his brow and says into the mic, "With that guy sitting over there, I feel like I'm on Pop Idol." The small crowd chuckles, as McCartney, imitating Simon Cowell, barks, "You're no good!" Then, in the voice of a cringing novice, he says, "W-w-well, we been t-t-told we were all right." Once the laughter dies down, McCartney turns back to the piano and plays "Hey Jude".

The last time McCartney toured North America, in 2002, the shows grossed $126m (£72m), which made him the top touring artist of the year. McCartney has just worked out the set list this morning for his current tour, which will begin in less than a week. "I like to keep things a little loose," he says with a shrug. "You don't want it to become like a Broadway show."

Fans, of course, will come to see the hits, which McCartney happily delivers. During this afternoon's rehearsal, he and his touring band run through "Penny Lane", "Good Day Sunshine", "Back in the USSR", "Band on the Run" and "Live and Let Die". They also play "Too Many People", a rare angry-McCartney track from his 1971 solo album, Ram. (Beatles fans interpreted lyrics like "You took your lucky break and broke it in two/Now what can be done for you?" as references to John Lennon; they also read something into the back-cover photograph of what appears to be one beetle sodomising another.)

But however bottomless the love for McCartney's past glories, the most exciting thing about his latest tour may be the fact that - as with his peers in the Rolling Stones - it's in support of a new album that people actually like. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard has been hailed by many critics as McCartney's strongest effort since Flowers in the Dirt, the 1989 album on which he co-wrote a number of songs with Elvis Costello. For Chaos and Creation, McCartney chose another younger collaborator, the producer Nigel Godrich, best known for his work on the past four Radiohead albums and Beck's Sea Change. McCartney played nearly every instrument on the album - not only guitar, bass, drums and piano but flugelhorn, guiro, harpsichord, triangle, maracas, gong, toy glockenspiel, Moog organ and tubular bells - with a result that's always sonically captivating and often thrillingly weird. Because this is a Paul McCartney album, there are love songs, but most have a haunted, slightly mournful air, a seeming reflection - though McCartney insists none of his songs is directly autobiographical - of the death of his wife of 29 years, Linda McCartney, from breast cancer in 1998, and of his subsequent marriage, in 2002, to the former model Heather Mills.

"How Kind of You", for example, is decidedly downbeat, with lyrics from the point of view of a grateful older man surprised to find romance in the twilight of his life. "I thought my faith had gone," McCartney sings, as a sinister melody twists in ways that keep the listener as off-balance as the song's weary protagonist. There's a similar vibe on "At the Mercy", which plays upon one of McCartney's most famous lyrics - "The love you take is equal to the love you make", from "The End" - in the far more ambivalent overtures of a man reluctant to choose between "the love I've got and the love I'd lose".

Chaos and Creation also finds McCartney far more comfortable with his own musical past. The standout track "Jenny Wren" is a lovely acoustic ballad in the vein of "Blackbird" that could be an outtake from White Album. And "Anyway" spins a simple "People Get Ready" vamp into a soaring arrangement that recalls the final suite of Abbey Road.

"Early on, say, with Wings, it was a necessity to not sound like The Beatles," says McCartney, who, for rehearsal, is casually dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt that reads East Hampton Town Dump. "I didn't want to write another 'Eleanor Rigby'." He hums the melody, as if I may not be familiar with the tune. "And it's only more recently that I've realised I did establish my own identity and said, 'Well, OK, what's the battle about, then? There's no need to keep fighting. You're a part of The Beatles, you're a part of Wings and you're a part of your new stuff now, and it's all your style.' And so, yeah, on 'Blackbird', I had done a kind of slightly folksy guitar part which had a top melody and an accompanying bass line, and the two going together gave it this certain character. And I've never done anything since along those lines. And so now, on this new album, I thought, 'Why not? What am I frightened of?' There could be two songs in the world like that. And I wrote the first one! So it's not like I'm nicking anyone's thing."

I interviewed McCartney in two sessions during rehearsals - as he snacked on broccoli, green beans and a heavily buttered slice of bread - and later after a photo shoot at New York's Brooklyn Navy Yard. The day of the shoot, McCartney drove in from the Hamptons, the seaside retreat of the East Coast elite, where he spent part of his summer with his wife and their two-year-old daughter, Beatrice. At 63, he's trim (a 33-inch waist) and a bit grey at the temples (the tabloids have delighted in accusing Mills of pushing hair dye on Sir Paul, who retorted that he'd been dyeing his hair for years). We began by talking about Godrich, who was recommended to McCartney by The Beatles producer George Martin.

MARK BINELLI: Do you and George Martin still talk regularly?

PAUL McCARTNEY: Yeah, we meet up quite a bit, actually. Particularly because we used his studio for the London end of the recording. George always pops in, especially if he knows I'm there. He's one of the most important men in my life, and that's including my father, my brother, the Beatles - George Martin is right up there in the top five. Really, I would like to work with him for ever. That would be my dream.

MB: Does he still produce?

McCARTNEY: No. He's got a hearing problem, like a lot of us from the Sixties. We did listen to it too loud. He just got to the stage where he thinks, very nobly, that he shouldn't produce. I say to him, "George, the engineers need the ears. You're the ideas man." But I think it's very cool of him to know when not to do it. So I just rang him up and said, "If I can't have you, who's the man?" He chatted it around, thought about it, talked to his son, and a couple of days later he came back and said Nigel.

MB: Had you been aware of Nigel's work?

McCARTNEY: Yeah, but without knowing he was the man behind it. I liked the last couple of Radiohead albums, particularly the sound. And Travis, The Invisible Band. And Beck. So we just met up, chatted and liked each other - I think. I liked him. And then I sent him a couple of records that I thought might either turn him on or off, or might just be a direction to go.

MB: Demos you'd made?

McCARTNEY: No, other people's records. I liked the idea of toying with a kind of Asian thing, a one-chord thing. There's an artist called Nitin Sawhney who I like. It was just a vibe I was into at the time, that sort of droniness. I didn't know what I'd do with it. It was just a mood thing. And Nigel said, "Mmm, no. I know what album I want to make if I'm going to work with you. I want to make an album that's you." And I thought, "That's the kind of producer I need now." So we agreed to meet up for a test period - two weeks in London. The first week was with my touring band, and we were quite excited to record together. But Nigel had this itching feeling, like he could do something else. He wanted to move in a bit more daring direction. He said, "I want to take you out of your safety zone." Kept saying that - "It's just too easy."

Godrich eventually talked McCartney into saving his band for the tour and playing nearly every instrument himself, just as he'd done on his first solo effort, McCartney. That album was recorded in 1970 and released 10 days after McCartney's official statement that the Beatles had broken up. McCartney's relationship with the group's manager, Allen Klein, had particularly soured. "I used to have dreams in which Allen Klein was an evil dentist," McCartney recalls. "That was a bad sign. I just wanted to be as far away from Apple [the Beatles' label and business office] as possible."

To that end, McCartney set up a Studer four-track recorder in his living room and, as he says, went from "everything to zero. It was liberating." McCartney made the entire album alone (save for some harmonies with his wife), using a single microphone, which he moved closer to the drum kit if he wanted a louder cymbal sound. Some tracks, like "The Lovely Linda", are mere fragments of a song, and background noises are audible throughout. McCartney called the album "kind of throwaway" in a 1974 interview, but today its loose, offhand feel is charming, a precursor to the low-fi home taping of indie-rock bands.

In coaxing McCartney to play multiple instruments on Chaos and Creation, Godrich began with percussion. "I love kicking around on the drums," McCartney admits. "I'll do it at the drop of a hat. So I started kicking, and he said, 'Yeah! This is it, man. It just turns the track around. It's you!' Then he said, 'Look, I'd like to hear you on guitar. What have you got?' I brought my old Epiphone electric guitar out, which was like a cheap Gibson in the early days. It's the guitar that I played the opening riff of 'Paperback Writer' on, so it's a lovely guitar. It can be quite varied - sort of horny and hard, like the 'Taxman' solo; that was the other thing I used it on. George [Harrison] let me have a go for that solo because I had an idea - it was the early Jimi Hendrix days and I was trying to persuade George to do something like that, feedback-y and crazy. And I was showing him what I wanted, and he said, 'Well, you do it.' Even though it was his song, he was happy for me to do it. And this became Nigel's favourite guitar."

MB: Do you have a lot of old guitars you end up pulling out?

McCARTNEY: I've got a few guitars that I like. The trouble with fame and riches is that you have more than one guitar. When you're a kid, you've only got one guitar, and you love it, and you string it and you cherish it, and you put it to bed at night and all that shit. You relate to it. When you've got two you don't know which one to choose. It's an embarrassment of riches. Then you've suddenly got three and four, and then at my stage in the game, people give you guitars. So you've suddenly got a cellarful.

But my Epiphone, that's my electric guitar, that is the one. I like to play on it because it's oldish and a bit infirm. It won't stay in easily - Jimi Hendrix's guitar didn't. Jimi was always, like, calling out to the audience, 'Will you come tune this? One night - it's an old story of mine and I love it - we released Sgt Pepper's on a Friday, and on Sunday Jimi opened his show with it in London. He did this long solo like only Jimi could. And at the end of it, he had gone hopelessly out of tune. So he shambled over to the mike and said, Is Eric [Clapton] in the house? Eric shrunk down in his seat. Some girls said, "Yeah, he's here!" Jimi said, "Will you come and tune this for me?" Of course, Eric shrunk even lower and Jimi had to tune it himself. Anyway, I was into that kind of thing, and that's why I bought my Epiphone. I went to the shop and said, "What have you got that feeds back great?" That was normally a disadvantage in the old days - in the older old days. I use the Les Paul onstage, because it doesn't go out of tune as much, and it has a nice sound. But Nigel would wrinkle his nose and say, "It's a bit heavy rock."

MB: I'd imagine it's hard to find people, especially in the studio, who aren't intimidated by you, and who won't just be yes-men.

McCARTNEY: I suppose it is. With Nigel, I pretty much knew the minute I met him he was gearing himself up to tell me: No. From the word go. When I first brought him some songs, he just passed a few by and went to the next one, like he was shopping. I brought them back later and said, "Well, you didn't look at this one." He said, "I like the other one better."
MB: Did you wrestle with that kind of bluntness initially?

McCARTNEY: Yeah, I was well pissed. "You don't like my songs. How dare you? Who are you? Punk." But I realised he was looking for a vibe. So if one of my songs was a bit perky, maybe he didn't think we should do it this time around. I might have thought, "Well, I've heard a lot of good perky songs on the radio. And I'm in a perky mood!" But he was just like, "Nah."

And it was good for me, because it was like working with a band member. It was like working with ... I mean, it's too heavy a comparison to say it was like working with John. Because if I say that, it's a huge statement. But it was like working with a great band member. It was similar to me and John, back to when we were just kids, before we'd been discovered.

There was one key moment when it all rose to the surface. I was in the studio, raring to go. Got my Hofner [bass guitar] out, tuned her up, knew what I was going to play. I was in a good mood. I was just about to listen to the track and find my way through a bass part when Nigel said, "You know that song you played the other day? I really didn't like it. I think it was crap." I said, "Oh, yeah?" And I thought, "What will I do now? Fucking ... punch him? Or just spit at him? Tell him to fuck off? Or what?"

MB: When was the last time somebody told you to your face that a song of yours was crap?

McCARTNEY: It's happened. But a while ago. I thought, "OK, we'll talk about it." It wouldn't be so bad if I thought the song was crap, too. But there was something there. I said, "Well, look, I'll just try the bass, and we'll talk about the song in a little bit."

I tried the bass, and of course my energy had totally gone. And the hole that my energy used to be in was now floating with insecurity. The pool was filling up fast. I couldn't get anywhere on the bass. I said, "OK, look. I can't do this now. I'll tell you what - that was really terrible timing. I was all energised. Don't you know that that was not that diplomatic a moment to tell me?" I was slightly pissed that he told me, and I was probably turning it into a timing issue. He said, "I didn't think you would take it like that." I said, "Well, come on, man, I'm human. You just told me something that I've worked on is crap."

Anyway, I tried to do something else - just something fun, like [playing on] wine glasses, anything, just some goof-off thing that I didn't need any talent for. But I couldn't even do that. I said, "You know what, I'm going home. Sorry, guys. Goodbye." I didn't storm out, but I just sort of said, "I can't cut it. I got home and it totally just wrecked my mood. But I had a good evening, got over it all and came in the next day and said, "Put that track on, I'm doing the bass." I did the bass in, like, one take. But then we had the talk. I said, "I'm so spoiled. George Martin is the diplomat of all diplomats."

MB: If George Martin didn't like something, what would he say?

McCARTNEY: He would say, "Oh, perhaps we ought to try another approach on this. What I was thinking was, we might try, for instance, a string quartet on 'Yesterday'." And I'd go, "Oh, no!" He said, "But look, we could try it. I could be wrong. And if you don't like it, take it off." I told Nigel this, and he said, "I understand. But I'm not George Martin. This is who I am, and if we're to get on, we've got to find a way."

So after that one little incident, it was like, "Fuck off, Nigel! Fuck off!" It was great. We just shouted at each other after that.

Though the past two decades or so of McCartney's solo career have often proved embarrassingly mawkish - see everything from "Ebony and Ivory" to the September 11 anthem "Freedom" - he had an impressive run in the Seventies. He followed up McCartney with the pastoral psychedelia of Ram, then formed the hit machine that was Wings. Though songs like "Band on the Run" and "Let 'Em In" could be placed alongside McCartney's best work with the Beatles, Wings would become synonymous with the overblown arena rock of the day - and with easy-listening trifles like "Silly Love Songs." McCartney was also widely mocked for insisting that Linda - an accomplished photographer but not a trained musician - sing with the band.

What the critics failed to acknowledge was that "Silly Love Songs" is a master-crafted easy-listening trifle, the platonic ideal of easy-listening trifles. And as for the overblown arena rock, well, fashions change. Backstage at this summer's Live 8 London concert, Bono greeted McCartney by asking, "You know what the fucking hippest band is this year?" When McCartney shrugged his shoulders, Bono exclaimed, "Wings!"

"I thought, 'If only Linda could hear this,'" McCartney says with a bemused shrug. "The vindication!"

MB: Being younger, does Heather have very different musical references? Are there certain things she loves that you hate, or vice versa?

McCARTNEY: She was brought up with a lot of classical music - her dad was a classical-music freak - so she knows a lot of Wagner and things like that. But the strangest area is the Beatles. Certain things she won't know at all. I thought it was a generational thing, but her younger sister does know the Beatles. It must have been where her life was at, at the time. She had a complex life and troubled childhood. And I guess she sort of skipped a beat while everyone else was listening to the Beatles.

MB: Was she really into punk or something like that?

McCARTNEY: No, her younger sister was punk rock. Heather liked AC/DC.

MB: So was there one Beatles song she didn't know that just shocked you?

McCARTNEY: Yeah! Once "Get Back" was playing somewhere. She recognised my voice and asked, "Is this you?" I said, "Yes, darling. It's called 'Get Back.' It's quite famous."

MB: Michael Jackson bought much of the Beatles' publishing catalogue in the Eighties. Now that he's having financial difficulties, have you considered buying it back?

McCARTNEY: No. Everyone else thinks I should, though. The thing is, I get some money from the publishing already. And in a few years, more of the rights automatically revert to me. The only annoying thing is, when I tour in America, I have to pay to play some of my own songs. But I don't think about that.

MB: Back when you were investing in other people's publishing, would you always invest in songs that you liked? Or could you bring yourself to invest in, say, a Celine Dion song you hated but you knew would be profitable?

McCARTNEY: No. I would need to like the song. That's why I got into that sort of investing. You don't play music because you want to become a businessman. Early on, we got "Stormy Weather" and a lot of standards. We got Buddy Holly. One of the publishing deals we ended up passing on was Bob Dylan's. We considered it, but it seemed like too much responsibility. I didn't want him ringing me up at three in the morning going, "Why have you screwed up my songs?!"

MB: Are you competitive with your contemporaries? When Dylan puts out a good album, do you think, "Wow, this raises the bar"?

McCARTNEY: I don't feel competitive. I've been in enough competitions in my life [laughs]. I'm done with that.

MB: I'm interested in what you said about finding someone to collaborate with. It seems to me that when two people who are so perfectly matched, like you and John Lennon, end up working together, and you're on this equal level, where you're battling each other and driving each other to do better work, after something like that, can you ever -

McCARTNEY: No. The answer's no. With John and I, it was so special, I think both of us knew we couldn't get that again. And it's proved itself, through time, to be as special as it felt when we were doing it. So I don't think that could happen again. We really were a complete fluke - just two kids who happened to meet up in Liverpool and share an interest and start writing songs together. And then developed, organically, together. And had the same sense of humour. And learned things at the same rate. Found out about Vietnam together. Little things.

All of these little awarenesses pretty much hit us at the same time over a period of years. And you really become soulmates when that happens. With writing, it was just too amazing, when we'd get on a roll with a song. We'd work so fast. We'd go in for about a three-hour session. We'd get a bit bored after three hours, although we never looked at the clock. But it was always about three hours. And at the end of every single session, we came out with a song.

One of us might get blocked, and the other would suggest something. The song "Drive My Car", which I brought in, was originally called "Golden Rings" - good meter, good rhythm, but lousy lyrics. "Baby, I get you golden rings/I can get you anything/And baby I love you." Whatever. And we tried. We tried so hard. And we got completely stuck. We couldn't live with these rings. So we just had a break, a cup of tea or something, and then came back and said, "All right, what the hell's going on here?" And we somehow just rethought it from the point of view of this girl who wanted a chauffeur. And suddenly we were in LA and the sun was shining, and it wrote itself.

Then there were songs like "A Day in the Life", where we wrote, "I'd love to turn you on," looking at each other like naughty little schoolboys, knowing what we were about to unleash with that lyric.

MB: If you're not working on an album, do you still play music every day?

McCARTNEY: No, not every day. I'm not a great practiser at all. We were never great practisers. The Beatles would come together for about a day before we had a tour, to make sure the amp worked. Now I'll do two weeks, just because I'm the only vocalist now and it's a bigger affair.

Keith Richards once said to me, "Do you know the difference between your band and ours, man? You had four frontmen, and we only had one." And I must say, I had never thought of it that way. But he's right. Any one of us could hold the audience. Ringo would do [the Beatles' cover of the Shirelles song] "Boys", which was a favourite with the crowd. And it was great - though if you think about it, here's us doing a song, and it was really a girls' song.

But we never even listened. It's just a great song. I think that's one of the great things about youth - you just don't even think about that shit. I love the innocence of those days.

MB: Speaking of the Stones, it seems like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have a similar sort of contentious relationship as you and John did. Why do you think it still works?

McCARTNEY: Well, I don't know if they do have a contentious relationship. But John and I certainly didn't, not when it came to making music. Never in the studio. It was everything else - business, relationships, all that shit. But when we came into the studio, it was great. John could bring in a song like "Come Together", and I could tell him, "That sounds like a Chuck Berry tune" - it was fast when he brought it in, and it sounded like a Berry tune called "You Can't Catch Me". And I said that, not like, "Oh, you're ripping off Chuck Berry." I just mentioned it and said, "What if we slow it down to bum bum ba da bum ..." And he said, "Yeah!" That was the kind of relationship we had. Let It Be was the only album where things were contentious, but that was a one-off. That was the very end.

MB: Are you bracing yourself for the slew of "When I'm Sixty-four" articles when you turn sixty-four next year?

McCARTNEY: My kids have told me, "Dad, you must not be on the face of the planet next year." Or else, I'll be in the thick of it. I'm taking suggestions.

PURCHASE: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Independent Online Edition > Interviews : app5

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Released by the Beatles in November of 1968, the song Revolution #1 was written by songwriter and guitarist, John Lennon. As complex in its making as it is in its message, Revolution #1 is the supreme statement on the album we all know as the White Album. In Lennon’s lyrics we get a glimpse into the creative, young artist’s struggle with the two political positions of the time’s youth: pacifism and radicalism. In 1968, when Lennon wrote this song, the world was in the throws of a long-overdue reaction to the Vietnam War and his hope for peace was starting to wane. Twenty years later in the Eighties, Revolution was a Nike Ad background tune. Oh, the horror.

Is nothing special to us today? Is everything we hear and see just a product of someone’s marketing agency? I ask this in this context because the latest high-rise tower project proposed for National City is called the Revolution. And while they want to call it a revolution, it is nothing but the same old stuff.

Reading through my copy of the city newsletter last week, I came across an insert from the Community Development Commission of National City. This corporation, led by our elected officials, has met with a staggering number of developers in the last year and this insert is just another of its weapons to win the hearts and minds of the unsuspecting people of National City. The insert, as if dropped like a carpet bomb into everyone’s mailbox, calls the 22 story high-rise tower at National City Boulevard and 11th Street a “viable solution for National City’s next generation who desires innovative, stylish living close to home.” Spelling and grammatical errors aside, this published piece of propaganda insults our community. Critical thinking will be the necessary antidote against this advertising agent.

First, a 22- story high rise will not offer a “viable solution” for National City’s homeless, or for the unemployed motor home dwellers, the single parents with kids and the grandparents raising their grandchildren, nor for the middleclass, two income families so common in our community. This is not affordable housing. Every condo above the third level will cost in excess of $400,000, with the highest ones being reserved for the very wealthy and the well connected. The City Council and the Corporation continue to ignore this problem and further, they refuse to address the impacts from thousands of new people, with their cars, energy and water needs, and wastes. They choose instead to use postal messages and ad campaigns to convince us that everything “is gonna be alright.”

Secondly, the claim that Revolution is for the next generation who desires… oh I just can’t repeat it. The next generation does not have a desire for high-rise living. The next generation is not born yet for crying out loud.

The insert goes on to say, “Mayor Nick Inzunza has praised the Revolution project saying, ‘Constellation Property Group is doing great things for the people of National City.’ ” It’s easy to say this kind of thing when the developer has met in private with you many times to garner your support. And you thought there was an open government process when it comes to development? Remember, this insert which gives the impression that this project is already going up, went out in the mail before a public hearing was even held to consider granting the developer a waiver of the 90-foot height limit. Revolution comes in at 240 feet tall, much taller than the two hotels on NC Boulevard or anything else in the city. The taller it is, the higher the profit for the developer; and the more unmitigated impacts for the community. The only “great things” that are being done are for this developer, who drops in from Australia, and not for the people of National City. More high rises are in the works. Read between the lines of this insert for the secret battle plans.

Many residents are so concerned with the actions of the City Council and the Corporation they tell me that they see the sales tax increase measure on November’s ballot as the time to send a message back. Often called the most regressive tax, meaning the most damaging to families, a sale tax increase eats away at a household’s income day after day. Rewarding the unresponsiveness and the over spending by giving them more money seems too many people to be a recipe for disaster, no matter how the advertisement campaign spins it.

Ted Godshalk can be reached at

National City Spotlight: National City Spotlight:

McCartney, solo again

At 63, Paul McCartney has returned to the formula of his very first, self-titled 1970 solo album. On "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," the cute Beatle plays nearly every instrument, spurred by cutting-edge producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck). It's just the latest step in a resurgence for McCartney, who spent the bulk of the '80s and '90s making largely unloved records and rarely performing live. Wednesday, he returns to Xcel Energy Center a mere three years after his last local show — notable, given that before that, he only played the Twin Cities three times (with the Beatles in 1965, Wings in 1976 and solo in 1993) in four decades.

I talked to McCartney last week during a phone interview from his dressing room, shortly before he took the stage in Chicago.

Q. Your longtime friend George Martin recommended you work with Nigel Godrich on the new album. Was there a point when you realized he was the right man for the job?


When I heard the sounds he was getting, that was very encouraging. Eventually, he started to say, "This isn't quite right — you can get this better." Or, "I'm just not wild on that line — it just doesn't do it for me." It was 'round about then that I started to realize it was good to have someone like that on board.


Q. Nigel had to persuade you to do the entire album on your own, right?


Yeah, he said, "Give me a few days alone with you in the studio." I wasn't sure about it, but he said, "We're working together. Let's try it this way."

The worst thing was explaining it to the band. He said to blame it on him, and you'd better believe I did. (Laughs) I said, "Guys, this ratfink of a producer wants to do this alone." (Laughs)

In actual fact, it was a little reminiscent of working with a band, anyway. I was writing the drum part, I was writing the keyboard part and I had more of a hand in the arrangements. John (Lennon) and I might have said to Ringo (Starr), "Play here, stop here, don't play through this part." We would give a lot of directions even to Ringo, who was the world's greatest drummer.


Q. The record does seem to have a somber feel to it. Was that a conscious decision on your part?


It's funny, I don't really see the somber aspect. But that's a lot of the feedback I'm getting. I would say a lot of the stuff — "Promise to You Girl," "Fine Line," "This Never Happened Before" — isn't somber.

I do think it's more that certain songs aren't what you might expect from me. (I realized) instead of going to a psychiatrist, you can chat it through in a song. Everyone goes through moments in their life when they've got troubles, when they're puzzled and rejected — I don't care who you are. But in my case, I'd never written about it, until now.


Q. At the same time, it feels like you've been revitalized in recent years. You're touring more and recording more frequently.


Yeah. I have been through a lot of problems. Obviously, losing Linda (who died from breast cancer in 1998) was a huge tragedy, and before that, the shock of John, and since then George. But I think finding Heather (Mills, whom he married in 2002) and making a new life with her had a lot to do with it. So did finding this band and really enjoying playing with them. I think after Sept. 11, doing the Concert for New York City and the American tour, that was a big recharge. It all kind of came together.


Q. On the tour, you're playing a few rare numbers, including "In Spite of All the Danger," a song you wrote with George Harrison way back in 1958. How did that end up on your set list?


When I sit down to do a set list, I can choose anything. I started thinking about how wide is this spectrum. So, I went back to the first record we made. I still have very cool memories of going to the studio in Liverpool with the guys, and I talk to the audience about that. Then, I can go right up to now and sing one of the latest songs. It's literally like a wish list — it's exciting.


Q. You also just published your first children's book, "High in the Clouds." Was it inspired by your 2-year-old daughter, Beatrice?


Not really. In fact, even back in the '60s, I loved Disney so much, I wanted to do a full-length animated film. I would talk to John, and he'd say, "Well, do it, man." It's just not that easy. And all these years later, I'm still looking to do it. This started as just a mock-up to condense and focus our ideas for a feature film. But suddenly, there was a book there.

Yeah, it predates my little baby. But she likes the pictures in it. It's cool.


Q. Any memories about your previous concerts in the Twin Cities?


Well, I always remember the fact that it's my name appearing on all the signs in St. Paul. (Laughs)

Ross Raihala can be reached at or 651-228-5553. Read more about the local music scene on his blog, "The Ross Who Knew Too Much," at Who: Paul McCartney

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Xcel Energy Center, 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul

Tickets: Sold out

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 10/21/2005 | McCartney, solo again

The Beatles Dubbed Icon of the Century

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NEW YORK Oct 21, 2005 - Sorry Johnny, Oprah and Madonna you just missed the cut. Variety ranks the top 10 entertainment icons of the century in a new commemorative issue marking the trade publication's 100th anniversary. The Beatles were dubbed the no. 1 icon in the issue, currently on newsstands.

Following the Fab Four, the top 10 is rounded out by Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and Elvis Presley.

Variety also lists 90 more icons, though not ranked. It includes Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Bob Dylan, the Marx Brothers, Johnny Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna and others.

Bugs Bunny did not make Variety's list, but Pac Man did. The most contemporary choices were Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur and Quentin Tarantino.

The lone animal named an icon? Lassie, much to Alf's dismay.

ABC News: The Beatles Dubbed Icon of the Century

You know it ain't easy

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Who was John Lennon? Member of the Beatles, accomplished solo artist, peace activist and, ultimately, tragic figure - we thought we knew John Lennon. But nearly 25 years after his murder in New York City on Dec. 8, 1980, Lennon's legacy has morphed. He has gradually become someone different from who he was when he was slain by deranged fan Mark David Chapman while returning home from a recording session. With his longtime partner Paul McCartney now on tour, playing some of the songs he and Lennon wrote together - and with his widow, Yoko Ono, taking potshots at McCartney while reissuing yet another collection of Lennon's hits - the legacy sometimes seems muddled and malleable.

That is, the answer to the question of Lennon's legacy depends on whom you ask.

"I've given up on the whole notion of 'definitive,' " says Gillian Gaar, who writes the monthly "Beatle Beat" column for the collectors magazine Goldmine and is the author of "She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock 'n' Roll."

"As objective as people try to be, they're still human and they still have an agenda," she says. "Being in Seattle, I've watched the battles over the (Kurt) Cobain and (Jimi) Hendrix estates. It's kind of the same old story."

The Lennon tug of war got a public shot in the arm last week when Ono, a savvy publicity-seeker at the very least, drew international headlines at an awards show in London. In an acceptance speech just days after the release of a new Lennon best-of CD package, Ono said she once told Lennon, who expressed insecurity about his songwriting compared with McCartney's, that, "It's not June with spoon that you write." The comment was widely seen as a shot at McCartney's supposed penchant for facile lyrics.

Meanwhile, Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, has just published her second book-length account of her life with Lennon, "John." That's one of a dozen new books on Lennon, including a new Time-Life coffee-table tome, "Remembering John Lennon 25 Years Later." And a new Broadway musical based on his songs and life story, "Lennon," recently closed after a brief run.

Clearly, the fascination with the former Beatle has survived the years. But his image has changed during that time, and, some say, forever - not for better.

Marty DeAnda falls into that camp. A huge Lennon fan since he discovered the Beatles in his youth, DeAnda, co-owner of the record label Dig Music and manager of local wunderkind Jackie Greene, says the Lennon he sees now isn't the Lennon he loved growing up.

"Nowadays, when I hear the name John Lennon, the first thing that comes to mind is 'limited edition,' " DeAnda says. "He's been massaged and morphed and marketed into something different than what he was."

DeAnda notes that Lennon was a real musical and cultural revolutionary, a controversial figure who was on CIA and FBI watch lists for his anti-war activities in the late 1960s and early '70s. He was also an artist who, with Ono, posed nude on an album cover and challenged listeners with abrasive singles such as "Cold Turkey."

While he made controversial headlines in 1966 with his offhand comment that the Beatles had more impact on American youths than Jesus Christ, and later complained in a song that "they're gonna crucify me," he has himself been turned into a soft-focus pop icon, a pinup for peace.

A driving force behind that, all agree, is Ono, who, as Lennon's widow, creative partner, business partner and manager of his estate and legacy, has revised the man. Now, he comes across as a dreamy house husband, not as the firebrand who wrote the raw, violently emotional "Yer Blues" and "Working Class Hero."

Instead, we get the Lennon of clouds and dreams and childish doodles, widely available as lithographs - "limited edition," of course. Or, the idealistic Lennon caricature in the Broadway production "Lennon," authorized by Ono but savaged by critics for its tendency to turn a complex man into "a one-size-fits-all alter ego to the world," as the New York Times put it.

Lennon was a complex man, no doubt. In Cynthia Lennon's book, she repeatedly writes of his abrupt changes from sensitive and kind to violent and even abusive - at least verbally.

Larry Kane's new book "Lennon Revealed" features revelations about the rocker's early days on the road, as well as his antics in the early '70s, painting a complex picture of a difficult man who often is lost in Ono's simplified marketing campaigns.

Lennon himself was very upfront about his shortcomings - at least some of them. This was in contrast to McCartney, who was always the diplomat.

But Cynthia Lennon's and Kane's books explore new areas of Lennon's life. Cynthia goes into more depth on her late ex-husband's stormy relationship with his Aunt Mimi, who raised him, than anyone has before. Mimi comes across as a much less admirable character than Lennon himself painted her.

Likewise, Kane reports that Lennon's infidelities occurred not only during his first marriage - Cynthia found out her husband was having an affair with Ono when she came home one morning and found them sitting together in white bathrobes - but also during his marriage with Ono, says Kane.

Kane had long, frank conversations with both Ono and Lennon's lover May Pang, who rarely has been interviewed. According to Kane's account of these interviews, Pang said she and Lennon remained lovers long after Ono and Lennon reconciled after an 18-month separation in the mid-'70s.

That might merely be personal history, says Kane, but Ono's passion to manage Lennon's legend affects subsequent products that Ono releases under Lennon's name. For instance, he notes, a DVD collection of updated video clips she commissioned for release in 2003 - "Lennon Legend" - featured Lennon's 1975 hit "No. 9 Dream." Kane says the song was written not for Ono but for Pang, and that the voice that whispers "John, John" on the bridge was actually Pang's, not Ono's.

"But in the video, Yoko casts herself mouthing the words 'John, John,' " says Kane. "Both women are still fighting for his affections."

Kane also concludes, based on an interview with early Beatle Stu Sutcliffe's sister, Pauline, that Lennon and band mate Sutcliffe had indeed been lovers. (Pauline Sutcliffe says the same in her 2002 book, "The Beatles' Shadow: Stuart Sutcliffe and His Lonely Hearts Club.") But he also opines that long-standing rumors that Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein were lovers are probably not true.

Martin Goldsmith is program director of classical music at XM Satellite Radio in Washington, D.C., and an expert on the Beatles. He, like others interviewed, considers Ono's comments comparing Lennon's and McCartney's talents to be a "stupid" exercise pitting one genius against another.

That's because they mask the essential truth of any artist: Artists are, almost by definition, complex.

"No one is a bigger admirer of John than I am," says Goldsmith, "But John also wrote 'Run for Your Life,' which is horribly misogynistic and not very good to boot. ... And John also wrote 'Goodnight,' which is very treacly.

"I think it's very dangerous when anyone says a human being, particularly a creative human being, is one thing," he says. "If art teaches us anything, it's that the human animal is very complex. No one is very consistent in his creative or daily life. For anyone to say the mystery of John Lennon's character has been solved now is wrong."

And in any case, he adds, "Artists give their art to us, not their personalities."

But when there's money to be made, and perhaps old scores to settle - and more than anything else, when a figure inspires as much love and devotion as Lennon continues to do - opinions will be expressed and stories told, subject to all manner of prejudice and agenda.

Harvey Kubernik is a longtime music journalist and author of a recent book of interviews, "This Is Rebel Music." He met Lennon a couple of times and has been close with many of his associates through the years.

"Someone once told me, you don't marry one person, you marry the whole family," he says. Indeed, Paul came with John, and John comes with Yoko. They all were parts of a creative explosion that continues, in its various and expanding forms, through the storytelling and even historical revisionism of the past 25 years, and for perhaps 100 years more.

What stays true is Lennon's music.

"Look at the man," says Kubernik. "He took what might have seemed a simple statement, 'Give peace a chance,' recorded it in a roomful of people, mucking about - talk about lo-fi! - and it is somehow more poignant 35 years later. It is more durable than anyone might have expected.

"The stuff he did with Phil Spector - 'Crippled Inside,' 'Imagine' - they hold up really well," he adds. "We were getting information from a man who was unchained, who had economic security, so he could sing and speak his mind, and not worry about economic repercussions.

"Even now, it's powerful stuff."

SacTicket // Music // You know it ain't easy

Yoko Remodels for Lennon Exhibit

PARIS (AP) - Oct. 21, 2005 - Yoko Ono has torn apart her own home for the sake of a John Lennon exhibit now running in Paris. Curator Emma Lavigne of the Cite' de la Musique says Ono lent about 90 percent of the artifacts for the exhibit "John Lennon, Unfinished Music."
She says Ono has "holes in her apartment." The show includes the 1966 Andy Warhol portrait of Lennon that Lavigne says normally hangs over Ono's fireplace in New York.

The show features collages Lennon made for George Harrison and Paul McCartney, the original handwritten lyrics to the song "Imagine" and the piano upon which Lennon composed most of the "Double Fantasy" album. It also includes Beatlemania trinkets like Beatle dolls, watches, rulers, official hair pomade and Beatles panties.

It also has Lennon's school report issued by the headmaster at Christmas in 1953, in which he describes Lennon as "shocking" and notes, "There will be serious trouble ahead unless he learns to behave himself." The exhibit runs through June 25th. Yoko Remodels for Lennon Exhibit


A Sing Along Party for lovers of Beatle Songs! The WannaBeats will be providing the entertainment! Guitar and Vocals: George Stass, Marc Gwinn. Lead Guitar: Special, for this performance only: James Carrington. Woodwinds, Percussion and Vocals: David Julian. Bass: Larry Russell (Billy Joel, Gary US Bonds, Mamas & Papas). Keys: Ilya Maslov. Drums: Tony Kendirgi...and special guests.....So come on down, and sing with us!!!


A Special ONE 2-HOUR SHOW FROM 7PM till 9PM


The Baggot Inn

82 W 3rd St (bet Sullivan & Thompson)
Greenwich Village, NYC 212-477-0622.
take the A, CC, D, E, F, trains to West 4th Street

The WannaBeat's original songs, 'Too Blue' and 'Don't Turn Me Down', can be heard on

Come together

Now that the only remaining Beatles are Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, cover bands are the only way for diehard fans to get their live fix of the Fab Four. But even fans who haven't spent hours playing records backwards or scrutinising album covers trying to figure out if Paul is dead should enjoy the upcoming "Bangkok Beatles Fest 2005". The three-day concert gets underway October 28 and runs until the 30th at Seacon Square on Sri Nakarin Road.

Bangkok's first Beatles festival will feature performances by the most popular Beatles cover bands in the country - The Betters, The Lennonwise, The Isn't and The Duo. There will also be a special show by a newly minted Brit-Thai hybrid aptly named the Britthai Beatles. The event also features a Beatles seminar and a display of Beatles memorabilia.

For those living under a rock for the past 40-odd years, The Beatles were a rock group from Liverpool, and are generally considered to be the best such group of all time. From their early pop anthems like She Loves You and their infamous appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show to their darker, more mature work on albums like The White Album and Let It Be, the band shattered sales records and had more than 50 top 40 hits.

The Betters

Perhaps Bangkok's only Beatles cover act, The Betters were formed in December 1999, although the only remaining original member is Aisoon Thivavarnvong.

Initially, Aisoon was The Betters' answer to John Lennon. His voice was widely considered to be the closest to Lennon's and he was happy to play the role. But in the latest incarnation of the band, the parts of John, Paul and George are shared among the band members, although they do have their preferences.

Today, The Betters features four talented musicians: Aisoon (guitar and lead vocals), Odd Pharoe (guitar and lead vocals), Penn Priyachet (bass) and Hasanai Lertmahakiat (drums and support vocals).

The Lennonwise

Aisoon Thivavarnvong covers John Lennon in three bands. After the success of The Betters, a plan was hatched to commemorate John Lennon's stellar work as a solo artist. But after a close listening to the Legend album, Aisoon didn't know if he could pull off the tough vocals Lennon recorded in his post-Beatles career. After some hard work, Aisoon decided it could be done and began rehearsals with The Lennonwise in October 2004.

The Duo

Formed in 2000, The Duo features Krongthong Tassanapunt and Sopon Juntaramittrees. Krongthong was a well-known singer in the '70s and is the daughter of the famous Thai music composer, Somyod Tasanapunt.

Sopon Juntaramittrees is a guitarist with a Bachelor's degree in music from Chulalongkorn University, and has been a professional musician since he left school. He majored in blues guitar and, naturally, also has his own Clapton tribute band.

The Duo will cover the Beatles unplugged for fans looking for a laid back afternoon.

The Britthai Beatles

Headliners The Britthai Beatles will feature guest singer Robert Simpson from the London Beatles tribute band Imagine the Beatles as Paul McCartney. Simpson will perform alongside Thai musicians from The Betters - Aisoon as John Lennon, Pharoe as George Harrison, and Danai as Ringo Starr.

Robert can sing in all the same keys as Paul's songs, which tends to be the toughest task for a cover singer. Also, his voice and diction are so incredibly close to Paul's that you can almost feel his Beatles spirit.

Because The Betters are best known for their John Lennon, it will be interesting to see how they balance the performance to achieve the perfect mix of Lennon and McCartney.

The Britthai Beatles - put together especially for this event - may embody the perfect combination of East and West and will undoubtedly put on one of the best performances of the festival. RT

The "Bangkok Beatles Fest 2005" will take place at Seacon Square, ground floor, on October 28-30 from noon-6:30pm. The concerts and other events are open to the public free of charge, though seating for the shows is limited. For free tickets, call 02-719-0077/9, fax 02-300-4395 or visit

Bangkok Post Friday 21 October 2005 - Come together

Paul McCartney gives Ohio couple permission to marry

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - An ordinary down-on-one-knee engagement request just wouldn't be memorable enough for Ben Okuly. He wanted something more, so he planned to ask his girlfriend, Melissa Steele, at a Paul McCartney concert Oct. 14 in suburban Detroit. But it became a whole lot more memorable when McCartney joined in. Ben, a 26-year-old who works at a library in Findlay, Ohio, thought about asking Melissa at the concert while the two were driving to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

"We haven't had the best time for the last 18 months," he said. "I lost two grandparents in three months, and in July, Melissa lost her sister. I was trying to think of a way to do this and make it a memorable occasion, really special."

So he made a sign and held it up from his fourth-row seat: "CAN BEN ASK MELISSA TO MARRY HIM?" During the concert, McCartney spotted it and read it out loud.

"Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" the former Beatle ordered. Ben did, and Melissa said yes.

"Well, that's a first for me," McCartney quipped of the in-concert engagement. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

"To have Paul McCartney be there and start the proposal, I really don't have words to describe what that was like," Melissa, who works in a hospital emergency room, told The Detroit News for a story published Friday. - Paul McCartney gives Ohio couple permission to marry

Thursday, October 20, 2005

John Lennon's life as poet and protester

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Larry Kane's got a ticket to write. It's been stamped, punched, approved and validated in the best way possible: The broadcaster's first two books have been best-sellers - one about his love affair with Philly; the other as being the lone ranger on the road accompanying the Beatles on their first American tours in the '60s. Now, Lennon Revealed reveals the triptych of a trip Kane has taken since retiring from the local TV anchor scene (albeit not from broadcasting) some years back. He's hit the road with Abbey Road again, traveling the country promoting his latest effort about how the beat goes on for Beatlemania - notably for John Lennon.

For boomers whose boom-boxes still echo refrains of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band," Kane has homed in on the heart of the Beatles, finding rhyme and reason - and occasional madness - in the one longhair often regarded as the Fab Four''s most fabulous poet.

Kane has eclipsed himself with this one. Coming on the heels and hell of the 25th anniversary of Lennon''s death - the day the music died for many who recall the dark chapter in the life of the Dakota in New York City that Dec. 8, 1980 - the legendary broadcaster''s eyewitness news accounts of the best boy band ever is no Band-Aid on their often tumultuous times and scabrous affairs. And his accounts of the composer whose marriage to Yoko Ono broke the yoke that kept the band together is strung through with surprises.

So how was Kane, who, as a young Jewish kid played the accordion, accorded such entree into the daily and delirious lives of the lads from Liverpool?

Against his will, as he tells it now.

"I was a serious news reporter and wanted to do serious news stories," Kane recalls of that day 41 years ago in Miami when he was asked to accompany John, Paul, George and Ringo as they rang up register tills in arenas and stadiums across the country.

"Frankly," he writes, "as a hard-news radio reporter, I would rather have covered a bank robbery than travel with a band - any band."

In a way, he was covering the Jesse James of the rejuvenated music set - or maybe they were the rockin'' Robin Hoods, a quartet of quadraphonic music-makers who stole from the hearts and gave hope to the young.

But the straight-laced reporter went straight to the heart of the matter, especially so in forging a friendship with Lennon, even if such a friendship occasionally meant friendly-fire: "I was always targeted as John''s special victim," he writes, "probably because my straight-laced style, as perceived by John, made me appear vulnerable to him. Or perhaps he liked me so much that he thought I would enjoy mashed potatoes and peas being massaged into my hair … "

Larry Kane, doing the Mashed Potato? The heart quickens.

But, quickly, such frat-boy frenzy would fade to reveal the mensch - and mixed-up genius - behind the music. "He was writing, painting, composing - such a creative genius," says Kane.

And, as with other brilliant creative types during the Age of Aquarius, the Beatles became a sign of their time - if on different planets. "[Paul] McCartney was a world-class commercial entertainer, really good, his work very upbeat," says Kane of the "cute" if solipsistic singer.

But it''s obvious that it was Lennon - "who lived off his insecurities and negative vibes" - who impressed Kane the most, including his engaging interview with the four featured on a DVD included with the book.

"John wasn''t the kind of guy who needed to be on stage," unlike McCartney.

But once he was there, he lit up like a bong. And yet, recounts Kane, if he learned anything about the hot rocker from the hardscrabble origins, it was "that John loved teaching others."

The young Jewish reporter from Miami learned a thing or two, too, hanging out with the hotshots. There was the time, recalls Kane, when he was seated in the front of the plane during the tour and overheard one of the four in the back saying something anti-Semitic. Surprised even at his own guts, the proudly Jewish Kane went back and - shaking, nervous - upbraided the four for such insensitivity and prejudice.

My sweet Lord! Hitting an air pocket of prejudice? Was Lennon the biased Beatle?

No, replies Kane, refusing to acknowledge who actually said the slander. "But John came up to me afterward and wanted to apologize on behalf [of the group], saying nothing was meant by it."

"Look," says Kane, far from condoning the contretemps, just explaining it, "they all grew up in a rough area, and were suddenly thrust into such a huge success. They really hadn''t matured as adults. As [one-time press officer for the band] Tony Barrow said, people are products of their environments."

Not that bashing Jews was a big-time thrill for the Beatles.

"After all," points out Kane, "their manager, Brian Epstein, was Jewish."

Religion didn''t cause any kind of rift after that between the boys and the broadcaster, but Kane and Lennon went to war over Vietnam. "We talked about the draft and politics," recalls Kane. "He thought [President Lyndon B.] Johnson was a dangerous man."

It was a minefield for the rocker and the reporter. And Lennon served up a verbal battle against Kane when the young broadcaster broadcast his own intent to serve his country. "I was lucky enough to get into the Reserves," recalls Kane.

The pacifist John was less than reserved about the revelation. How livid was Lennon?

He offered his own version of "I don''t know why you say good-bye when I say hello": "He offered me a job if I moved to England" and stayed out of the service, says Kane.

Doing … "Maybe working as a publicist for them, a writer."

Right. Lennon, limey, sure. But Kane, quintessentially and proudly American, was not about to go. But the war of words did show how the writer and the singer were not in concert on so many views.

Which Kane wants to make clear: "I didn''t approve of a lot of the way he conducted his life," says the writer of those wrong roads Lennon took manifesting why the mantra of "sex, drugs and rock ''n'' roll" was an organic orgy of urges for the composer.

And yet, despite revelations of Lennon as a man beset by a bad temper and inflamed passions - he once bloody-well kicked and beat the daylights out of one of the true loves of his life, original band member Stuart Sutcliffe - Kane concedes that, in putting together the final chapter of his book, devoted to reminiscences by others, "I couldn''t find anyone to say anything negative about him."

But bad buzz did beset Lennon, dogged as he was by the FBI as an undesirable, with J. Edgar Hoover desiring to keep him out of the country, and by those who saw him only as a guitar-strumming stumblebum of a troublemaker. "But he didn''t see himself as that way," says Kane. "Even in the song, ''Revolution,'' that song is about seeking peace."

A piece of all that is, of course, the way the boys looked - longhair musicians who had nothing to do with the classical sense of the word. And, oh, how the four got snippy when people made cutting remarks about their hair.

"They all hated to be called mop-tops," says Kane.

Top of the verbal assaults on Lennon? He was a flaming radical, a political bomb with a short fuse. But "he was hardly a left-wing extremist. In fact, he was someone who loved cops, and bought bullet-proof vests" as a gift for New York City''s finest.

One of the finest recollections in the book focuses on New York - the Shea Stadium concerts, a field of dreams for fans, held on the turf of baseball''s New York Mets. Some of the less-than-stellar memories are about those dearest to Lennon''s heart.

There are tales of the robust romances with inamorata May Pang ("She is not thrilled with this book," says Kane); first wife Cynthia Lennon (whose own memoir just came out); and, of course, Yoko Ono, the yoyo of good/evil whose yin-yang influence on Lennon infuriated fans.

Kane''s conversations with her for the book were instructive and intriguing, with Ono depicted far more benign than bedeviling. Response from rock''s royalty? Was that a scream - or just her singing? No, just sounds of silence.

"Yoko has not said a word to me" since the book came out.

But silence speaks volumes - of acceptance, even if May "said she felt a tinge of disappointment" in the book.

Writer''s cramps? "If both loved it, I''d be worried," kids Kane of trying to please two of the loves of Lennon''s life.

All ya need is love - and insight: "The book is a different way of looking at a person''s life," Kane says of the format he devised of "12 to 13 themes."

Did Beatles music thread its way through his own young life? "When I first heard ''I Want to Hold Your Hand,'' I thought it was a little bubble-gummy," says Kane. "But the more I heard it, the more I liked it."

What really rocked his world and stood out was "I Saw Her Standing There." Says Kane: "That did it for me."

A Penny Lane for this thoughts now on what Lennon would be like today, if he were alive at age, ironically, 65? A golden-oldie playing … golden-oldies?

"No, not at all. He loved technology," and would have been at the forefront of new sounds.

Kane says he could imagine Lennon diversifying. Imagine … If McCartney''s now into McClassics, what would Lennon do?

From Shea Stadium, home of the Mets, to the … Met: The Beatle of Seville?

Replies Kane: "I could see John composing opera."

On the Scene
Of War and Peace… and Music: Larry Kane offers revelations of John Lennon''s life as poet and protester

- Michael Elkin
The Jewish Exponent - Philadelphia, PA

DVD For Bangladesh

(Press Release) Apple Corps is proud to announce the autumn 2005 release of "The Concert For Bangladesh - George Harrison & Friends" on DVD and CD. The Concert for Bangladesh was the first benefit concert of its kind in that it brought together an extraordinary assemblage of major artists. The two shows, a Grammy award-winning triple album boxset, and the feature film, generated millions of dollars for a charitable cause and as importantly raised global awareness of a hitherto unpublicized humanitarian disaster. It is therefore acknowledged as the inspiration and forerunner of the major global fundraising events of recent years. To quote the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "George and his friends were pioneers".

Besides George himself the concert featured some of his friends, including: Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar and Ringo Starr. Performances include 'Here Comes The Sun', 'Something', 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', 'My Sweet Lord', 'Just Like A Woman', 'Blowin' In The Wind' and 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall'.

During the struggle for independence from Pakistan millions of refugees fled to neighboring India to escape hunger, disease and bloodshed. The crisis was deepened when massive floods hit the region. Alerted to the scale of the suffering by his friend Ravi Shankar, George Harrison organized the Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden on August 1st, 1971 with the proceeds going to UNICEF.

The DVD will be released by WMG (Warner Music Group) on October 25th, 2005, as a 2-disc package, including the original 99 minute film restored and remixed in 5.1, as well as 72 minutes of extras. The extras feature a documentary about the background to the two shows with exclusive interviews and contributions from Secretary General Kofi Annan and Sir Bob Geldof. There is also previous unseen footage: "If Not For You", featuring George and Bob Dylan from rehearsals and "Come On In My Kitchen" featuring George, Eric Clapton and Leon Russell at the sound check and a Bob Dylan performance from the afternoon show of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" not included in the original film.

Apple Corps / WMG, will also simultaneously release a special deluxe version (limited to 50,000 copies worldwide) that will feature a hardbound book, a reproduction of the Harrison's handwritten lyrics for the song "Concert For Bangladesh," and a reprint of the original theatrical poster.

The CD is being repackaged and released by Capitol Records on Oct 25th, 2005 to which an additional track will be added - the Bob Dylan performance of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit".

All artists royalties from the sales of the DVD and the CD will continue to go to UNICEF.

DVD Contents:
Disc 1
The Concert For Bangladesh (1971)
Bangla Dhun
My Sweet Lord
Awaiting On You All
That's The Way God Planned It
It Don't Come Easy
Beware Of Darkness
Band Introduction
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Jumpin' Jack Flash
Here Comes The Sun
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
Blowin' In The Wind
Just Like A Woman
Bangla Desh

Disc 2
The Concert For Bangladesh Revised (2005)
Special Features
Documentary: The Concert For Bangladesh Revisted with George Harrison and friends
If Not For You*
Come On In My Kitchen*
Love Minus Zero/No Limit*
Mini Features
The Making Of The Film
The Making Of The Album
The Original Artwork
Recollections-August 1st 1971
Photo Gallery
Take A Bow

*Previously unseen performances

PURCHASE: The Concert For Bangladesh - George Harrison & Friends

DVD For Bangladesh - antiMUSIC News

New York City: John Lennon

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One of my favorite all-time New Yorkers (he lived here for most of his thirties, until he was shot by that deranged mother f@#ker in 1980 whose name I will neither write nor speak) is John Lennon. First off, I have to say that if there is/was any single cultural figure alive or dead who I would most like to meet and hang out with, it would be John Lennon. Several years ago, in fact, I even produced a fairly in-depth multi-media package on Lennon and his life in New York for ABC I got to talk to Yoko, interviewed his mistress May Pang, and chatted with a lot of other folks who knew him. It was exhilarating and brought me about as close to the man himself as I could have gotten after his death. The package was, I will add, a runner-up in that year’s online journalism awards.

In fact, and this is mere coincidence, but wonderful coincidence, my apartment is basically next door to 105 Bank Street, where Lennon lived for the first year or so of his life here. It’s odd, too, because hardly anyone knows he lived there, and yet as I understand it, that apartment was the location of many late-night jam sessions with the likes of Dylan, Clapton, etc. Big-time history took place in that little, non-descript apartment on Bank Street, and yet there’s no plaque, nary a mention in guidebooks, and so on.

So if you are a Lennon fan, and have plans to come to New York, or even if you live here. I figured I’d point out a few cool Lennon spots you may not be aware of….and some of them you will know right away.

The Dakota Buiilding is where Lennon moved after Bank Street. The building sits right on Central Park is is also famous for the many other famous folk who live there (like Lauren Bacall). Yoko still lives there. Lennon used to grab coffee and breakfast often at Cafe La Fortuna on West 71st Street.

Strawberry Fields ”Imagine” memorial is very near the Dakota inside the park. It’s a cool place to hang out and have a cup of coffee and watch folks come and go.

Even though he had been out of the limelight for a while, Lennon did a major benefit concert at Madison Square Garden and appeared with Elton John. The two sang Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. It was his last public performance.

Lennon recorded Double Fantasy at the Hit Factory on West 54th Street which, sadly, has since closed. But you can go by and look at the space. Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett, Madonna, U2, Donald Fagen, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Billy Joel, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and hundreds of others also recorded there over the years.

You might also remember that Lennon recorded a record called Some Time in New York City, that was loud and political, and not, in my opinion, one of his better works.

And here’s some very recent Lennon news: that famous Rolling Stone cover with the naked Lennon spooning Yoko, well, that just won an award as the best magazine cover of the last 40 years. The photo, if I remember correctly, was taken that same morning by Annie Liebowitz. It’s nice to see John in the news again. Lennon lives.

gadling ©
Gadling - _

Is Anyone Hearing John Lennon's Message?

PARIS - A solitary white piano at a thought-provoking John Lennon retrospective in Paris invites visitors to play the song that everyone knows but, in these times of terrorism and war, few seem to hear ... "Imagine all the people living life in peace." That Lennon, 25 years after his murder, still comes across as a hopeless dreamer is itself a sad indictment of how little progress the world has made toward achieving the lofty and, yes, perhaps utopian, goal he expressed in song.

Turn on your TV and see Saddam Hussein on trial. Visit "John Lennon, Unfinished Music," at Paris' Cite de la Musique for the next eight months starting Thursday, and watch footage of the ex-Beatle and Yoko Ono holding court at a bed-in for peace at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth hotel in 1969, parlaying their fame into a cause long before Bono or Bob Geldof.

"Nobody's ever tried the peace thing," a shaggy-looking Lennon said then, his round glasses framing intense eyes. "We are selling it like soap."

But while he spoke of peace, John Winston Lennon seems to have rarely lived it himself. Born Oct. 9, 1940, at Liverpool Maternity Hospital when Nazi air raids regularly pummeled the port city in northwest England; gunned down Dec. 8, 1980, outside his Dakota apartment building in New York, violence bookended Lennon's 40 years.

His drug abuse, infidelities and "lost weekend" hedonism of the early 1970s are well-documented. And his turbulent formative years - being raised by his aunt Mimi after his parents separated; losing his mother Julia to a traffic accident - fed into his later angst as an artist ("Julia," "Mother").

"I really had a chip on my shoulder," the adult Lennon said of his mother's death, "and it still comes out every now and then."

Lennon's Liverpudlian lilt is heard everywhere in recordings and film footage at the exhibition divided into two floors, one for Lennon's childhood and Beatle John years, the other - in white-themed rooms - for the latter period when he and Ono were simply "John and Yoko."

Curator Emma Lavigne said Lennon's widow lent around 90 percent of the hundreds of exhibits that make up the show, leaving her with "holes in her apartment."

A 1966 pink yellow and red Andy Warhol of Lennon, which Lavigne said usually hangs over Ono's fireplace at the Dakota, is exhibited above a standup Steinway he played when composing "Double Fantasy."

Among other gems: Lennon's black 1963 Fender Telecaster with a worn fingerboard and rusty pickups; collages he made for other ex-Beatles Ringo and George; a 10-minute film of a silent Central Park gathering by crowds mourning his death; a copy of Lennon's original "Imagine," three verses written on New York Hilton letterhead.

Lennon's cheeky and sometimes smutty and macabre humor and wordplay showed early in the "Daily Howl," a spoof newspaper of teenage doodling and musing he circulated at his Quarry Bank High School for Boys.

The weather report: "Yesterday it was wet ... the rain did it."

His headmaster's Christmas 1953 school report - "Shocking ... There will be serious trouble ahead unless he learns to behave himself" - seems to foretell the rebel who later declared the Beatles to be more popular than Jesus, prompting some outraged fans to burn their 45s.

At Beatlemania's height, there were Beatle dolls, plastic figures, drinks trays, watches, school rulers, 'Highest Quality' Beatle hair pomade, even silky knickers - all displayed at the exhibition.

Concert footage shows how tight and polished the Beatles were. But "nobody heard anything ... They were too busy tearing each other up," Lennon said of playing to hysterical fans.

In contrast to the rock 'n roll energy downstairs, the upstairs John and Yoko section is calmer, more reflective. One gets the sense of Lennon the man, with imperfections and with Ono as a muse, not of Lennon the pop icon.

Lavigne said leaving a copy of "Imagine" on the white piano for visitors to play was a deliberate effort to make them revisit the song that otherwise "you might hear in a supermarket, doing your shopping."

"The message is still there. This song is still relevant," she said. "I wanted the exhibition to be as alive as possible, so we don't say to ourselves 'he (Lennon) is in a museum.' Because I think he would have hated that."

Is Anyone Hearing John Lennon's Message? - Yahoo! News

Mystery is missing magic in McCartney's tour

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Hey, Paul, you let me down. You took some great songs -- and made them boring. From the opening fanfare of "Magical Mystery Tour" to the pairing of "Hey Jude" and "Live and Let Die" that closed the set proper on Tuesday, the first of Paul McCartney's two sold-out shows at the United Center was only slightly more energizing than a warm glass of milk and a sleeping pill. When Sir Paul performed at the same venue in April 2002, he rose above the mediocrity of his most recent release, "Driving Rain," and delivered an inspiring set that, though heavy on decades-old tunes by the Beatles, seemed vital and of the moment.

It's hard to say exactly why Tuesday's performance was such a letdown in comparison. This time, Macca is supporting one of his strongest solo albums in "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard." He is traveling with the same five-piece band and playing many of the same songs, with a few more unexpected gems. He's still in fine form vocally, while personally he is happy, content and proud to be a new dad. Yet he was just going through the motions.

The star long has vacillated between flashing a self-effacing, "regular guy" charm and a rampant ego almost as large as Bono's. The show opened with an unimpressive techno DJ remixing McCartney's songs for the rave tent -- at 63, Sir Paul still likes to pretend he's cutting-edge -- and a laughably hubristic film that began with his birth during the blitz and recapped his career to such recent non-accomplishments as his performance at "The Concert for NYC," his gig at the Super Bowl and his appearance with U2 at Live 8. But the nadir in the self-importance department came when he went on and on about how NASA recently used "Good Day Sunshine" to wake up the astronauts on the damaged space shuttle the day they could finally come home.

The implication was that the Beatles' music remains the most important not only on Earth but in the entire universe. Apparently, Sir Paul never stopped to consider that the guy working the outer-space cell phone that morning just happened to be a fan. Or maybe "Revolver" was the only CD he had handy in his car.

Having grown entirely too comfortable backing One of the Most Important Voices of His (and Every) Generation, lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist-bassist Brian Ray, keyboardist Paul "Wix" Wickens and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. indulged in as much shtick as musicmaking. Sir Paul foolishly gave each of them a turn to chat with the fans and tell us how much they love Cleveland -- er, Chicago -- which was only a bit more inane than the boss' own chatter. "We have come from many miles away to rock you, and rock you we will!" McCartney actually exclaimed at one point.

Wickens worked overtime to provide the George Martin orchestrations for "Eleanor Rigby," "For No One," "Penny Lane" and other tunes, but the digital samples were so uniformly cheesy and canned that they ruined the performances. For more than $250 a seat, Macca could have sprung for some real strings and horns. Or better yet, he could have updated the arrangements to veer away from the recorded versions, giving us a hint of freshness and spontaneity.

As in 2002, the best moments came when the star stood alone with his acoustic guitar or sat solo behind the grand piano, hypnotizing 22,000 people with renditions of stripped-down but gorgeous songs such as "Blackbird" and the new "Jenny Wren." The possibility of an entire tour in this mode or one that focuses on the new album remain enticing prospects, but neither is likely to happen.

Stratospheric ticket prices have become such a sad fact of life that readers now ask why I even bother mentioning them, but in an interview last week, McCartney himself said he was reluctant to play more of his new songs because the people who pay the big bucks to fill the arenas expect the hits. The fault lies not with them, but with the artist for pandering and refusing to play smaller venues at a more reasonable cost so he'd have more freedom to perform the music he is most passionate about.

Then again, there is always the chance that McCartney's passion is pandering, or at least reveling solely in craftsmanship. Rock critics have been having this debate for decades, but there was a revealing moment Tuesday when Macca introduced "Blackbird" with a story about how he lifted the main riff from a piece by Bach.

When the song first appeared on "The White Album" in 1968, it was heard in the wake of the riots on the streets of Watts, Detroit and Newark, N.J., as a quiet anthem in solidarity with the struggle for racial equality. That fight continues today, yet McCartney made no reference to it, or to any other pressing problem in the world around him. Instead, he simply played his songs as if they were created and continue to exist in a vacuum, absent of meaning, and nothing more than trifling entertainments. At the United Center, this was indeed the sorry truth.

Mystery is missing magic in McCartney's tour

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Behind the Beatlemania: Just the Facts, Lots of Them

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Bob Spitz says that his book about the Beatles is only one-third as long as the manuscript that he submitted to Little, Brown. Even so, it spans nearly a thousand pages and is longer than major new biographies of Mao and Abraham Lincoln. Why? Is it major news? A press release citing the book's big revelations includes ''a full account of the day Ringo was stolen away from his previous band to join the Beatles.'' Keyhole-peeping? The gossip is kept at bay. A trove of musical minutiae? While the musical details will be new to some, many a Beatlemaniac already knows that it took three pianos and 10 hands to hit the walloping E chord at the end of ''A Day in the Life.''

Here's the new angle: Mr. Spitz means to outdo these conventional tactics by elevating the Beatles' story to the realm of serious history. Imagine "John Adams" with music and marijuana. "The Beatles" is written for the reader who seeks deep, time-consuming immersion in the past and can look beyond traditionally lofty subjects to find it. Like Mark Stevens's and Annalyn Swan's recent biography of Willem de Kooning, it means to meld the forces of personality, culture and art into a broad and emblematic story.

At first this is worrisome. Yeah, yeah, yeah: Mr. Spitz goes back centuries to link the slave trade with American and West Indian exports shipped back to Liverpool. He locates John O'Leannain and James McCartney II as Irish refugees from the potato famine of the 1840's. He embroiders the atmosphere of his subjects' early years, imagining how young John Lennon (as the family name evolved) was awakened by "a clatter of hoofbeats as an old dray horse made milk deliveries along the rutted road."

But the built-in momentum of the material quickly takes over. And this book - with its eerily gorgeous cover, unguarded photo illustrations and enchanting endpapers that reproduce a teenage Beatlemaniac's love-struck scrawl - begins to exert its pull. With sweep already built into its story and the cumulative effects of the author's levelheaded, anecdotal approach, the book emerges as a consolidating and newly illuminating work. For the right reader, that combination is irresistible.

Much of this information can be found in other accounts. There are nearly 500 Beatle books floating around. But Mr. Spitz means to be authoritative, to cut through the fictions and calumnies of earlier versions, and to put together a broad, incisive overview. Among the areas in which he succeeds startlingly well is the specifics of songwriting, performance and studio work that made the Beatles worth such scrutiny. (Mr. Spitz relied on the extensive archives of the New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn in some of his research.) The arc of their life together is revealed by the arc of their work.

"The Beatles" amplifies and corrects some of what is known about the band's formative years. It shapes a particularly vivid picture of the young, surly John Lennon, with a particularly revisionist and haunting portrait of his mother. It also captures the exhilarating freshness of young English musicians ready to try any crazy thing (another band of the time: the Morockans) with no clue about how far they might go. "It had never occurred to the Beatles that they might have fans," Mr. Spitz writes. And he transports the reader to the time when that could be true.

Like Martin Scorsese' recent documentary about the young, meteoric Bob Dylan, this book powerfully evokes both the excitement and the price of such a sudden rise. This book is with the Beatles as they hit upon a winning, hair-shaking performance style and as they watch the world go berserk over it. When the exhilaration begins to sour, it captures the frightening fishbowl sensation of their being imprisoned by fans' hysteria and critical acclaim. Among its quaint notes are stories about the naysayers who dismissed the Beatles' sound. ("Musically they are a near disaster, guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms, harmony and melody.")

Mr. Spitz contends that the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" days were more remarkable for innovative recording tactics than for songwriting depth. He makes a fascinating case by describing the step-by-step construction of some of the best-known recordings in existence. George Martin, the Beatles' producer, is one of many figures who were close to them and wrote about his experience in detail. But Mr. Spitz is able to incorporate these and other memoirs into a bigger picture. By and large, it's a captivating picture that hasn't been seen before.

"THE BEATLES" also illuminates the way in which the collaboration came apart. Mr. Spitz replaces rumor-mongering and finger-pointing with a clear understanding of how the slights and misunderstandings accumulated. "He could charm the queen's profile off a shiny shilling," one associate snipes about Paul McCartney, whose quiet efforts to buy shares in the Beatles' publishing company infuriated John Lennon. The book also fathoms the union of Lennon with Yoko Ono and illustrates, with unusual acuity, how and why he angrily outgrew his Beatle role.

Length notwithstanding, "The Beatles" does not deign to describe certain things. It essentially ends with the group's breakup. It does not invade privacy by recounting the details of Lennon's death or George Harrison's. Time and again, it chooses perception over presumption in ways that set it off from the pack of Beatle stories. There is one exception: the author has had the effrontery to register as a Web site, although it is not yet active. Here is one more bit of evidence that those fascinated by the Beatles have made the Beatles part of their lives.


Behind the Beatlemania: Just the Facts, Lots of Them - New York Times

Was that really Ringo shopping at Bronner's?

Employees at a Frankenmuth Christmas theme store say they are sure they saw Richard Starkey, also known as Ringo Starr, the drummer for the Beatles. "This place rocks," Starr or someone with the same name wrote in a guest book at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland's Silent Night Chapel, said Carla Bronner-Spletzer, whose father is owner Wallace Bronner. That was Monday, about 9 a.m. It was then that cleaning staffers, known as the "Sparkle Crew," saw a black limousine pulling away from the sprawling Christmas store.

"They were very definite about it," she said.

And just minutes earlier, Janet Sperling, a store employee, said she had directed to the rest room a man dressed in black whom she "knew looked familiar."

Sperling also had handed a store directory to Starr, who began pushing a red Bronner's shopping cart, Spletzer said.

But Spletzer, who began a frantic search for the 65-year-old left-handed percussionist from Liverpool, England, still was half-expecting a ruse -- until she spoke with a couple in the Silent Night Chapel.

The pair, whose names she does not know, claimed Ringo had come through, Spletzer said.

"I said, 'Are you sure?' The guy said, 'Oh yeah. My wife is a big fan of the Beatles, and we're sure it was him,"' Spletzer said.

She checked the chapel's registry. Sure enough. Someone very neatly signed: "Ringo Starr, London. This place rocks."

But Spletzer had her doubts.

"The penmanship was too neat, but there was a younger blonde lady with him, so we thought maybe she signed it for him," she said.

Still not completely sure, Spletzer checked concert schedules to find ex-Beatle Paul McCartney had performed in Auburn Hills twice over the weekend.

"That gave him a reason to be in town," she said of Starr, whose post-Beatles hits included "Back off Boogaloo" and "You're Sixteen."

If Starr graced the store, he would join the ranks of Faith Hill, Ted Nugent and Marie Osmond, among other celebrities who have stopped in.

Was that really Ringo shopping at Bronner's?

Harrison's wife knows she will meet him again

George Harrison's widow Olivia knows she will meet the late Beatle again. The musical icon died in 2001 following a four-year battle with throat cancer, and Olivia has taken comfort in her Hindu beliefs which teach that lovers are reunited in a spiritual world. She says: "I feel very fortunate. I have a lot of joy because I know it's OK. This physical world is not the end by any means.
"It's just another place you pass through. I don't just believe that, I know it.

"In the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures), it says you'll meet a multitude of past relatives, lovers and people and friends that you know, so why not think you're going to bump into somebody somewhere along the way?"

Irish Examiner > Breaking News > Harrison's wife knows she will meet him again

McCartney's concert rests on his laurels

On his trip to the United Center in 2002, Paul McCartney let his audience have it right between the eyes. He had a young band and a terrific drummer in Abe Laboriel kicking his tail, and one sensed that McCartney was responding to them as much as to his fabled past. It was a thrilling concert. But the songwriter's return to the same arena for the first of two sold-out shows Tuesday was a different story. This time, it was a more self-satisfied McCartney who ambled onstage after 30 minutes of puffery: a deejay blasted remixed versions of the former Beatles bassist's hits, then a self-important video biography played on the big screens. Even when McCartney took the stage, the preening continued.

In '02, it was the music that spoke loudest, and the cheers were earned. On this night, the sense of urgency wasn't there. McCartney and his four-piece backing band played some wonderful music, but their performances were lackluster. Laboriel, the band's linchpin, played behind the beat instead of pushing it as he had in the past. This worked well on the mid-tempo soul numbers, especially "Let Me Roll It," but rockers such as "Jet" and "Back in the U.S.S.R." lagged.

McCartney was at his casual best when he played solo. His banter, though similar to previous tour stops, was ingratiating and conversational, his acoustic fingerpicking graceful. He described and then demonstrated how a classical Bach chord progression inspired the riff in "Blackbird." He dug back for an early pre-Beatles rockabilly number called "In Spite of All the Danger." From the elegant concision of the Beatles' "I Will" to the lovely meditation "Jenny Wren," he played the genial genius, the understated troubadour. Unexpected choices such as "Flaming Pie," a surging "Too Many People" and a shambling garage-rocker, "I've Got a Feeling," spackled the 37-song, 21/2 hour set. But "The Long and Winding Road" still sounded mawkish, particularly with the keyboard-triggered string arrangement. Why didn't McCartney perform the less ornate version he supposedly preferred, as heard on the recent "Let it Be … Naked" album? And Meredith Wilson's "Till There Was You," which sounded cheesy when the Beatles performed it in the early '60s, has aged even less well.

McCartney offered plenty of hits spanning his Beatles and Wings careers, including uninspired takes on "Hey Jude," "Live and Let Die" and "Yesterday," and limited the choices from his latest album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," to four songs. The audience ate it up. Fans who had paid as much as $250 plus service fees were clearly happy just to be in the same room with a legend. McCartney had nothing to prove, and for the most part, he played like it.

Metromix. McCartney's concert rests on his laurels

George Harrison: His widow talks about realising his final vision

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When George Harrison died of cancer four years ago at the age of 58, his widow, Olivia, vowed to finish the projects he had been working on. So far she has continued the restoration and maintenance of the large Victorian garden at their mansion near Henley-on-Thames, remastered and released six albums from his back catalogue and finished Brainwashed, the album he was working on in his final months. And today, in Los Angeles, she will be joined by her husband's friends - led by fellow Beatle Ringo Starr and a clutch of other Sixties rock musicians - to launch a DVD, with accompanying documentary, of the concert that Harrison organised in 1971 to raise funds for refugees in Bangladesh.

The original Concert for Bangladesh and associated merchandising raised $15m, which was distributed through Unicef, the United Nations' Children's Fund, and all the royalties for the new release will go to the same cause. It is this cause that has enticed the reluctant Mrs Harrison into the limelight. She looks slightly uncomfortable at being the focus of attention, though she tries hard to be gracious.

In an elegant cardigan-jacket and fitted black trousers, Olivia, petite and raven-haired, nurses a coffee and betrays her Mexican-American roots with a gentle accent as she requests her own tape recorder to record our interview. We talk in the living room above her office at the headquarters of Apple Records, the Beatles' label, in a Belgravia townhouse that would make an estate agent swoon.

Images of John, Paul, Ringo and George line the walls and it remains the hub of the Fab Four's vast business empire, which backed Harrison's venture in 1971 and is supporting the release of the DVD now - albeit for no profit. I wonder whether it is distressing to be confronted with so many reminders of her late husband, but Olivia retains her detachment. "I always separated George the artist from George the person." Even when he was alive, she says, they would walk past pictures of him as if it were somebody else entirely.

Indeed, she resists discussing her emotional life and is on guard against betraying the privacy she and Harrison guarded so closely. It is Unicef she wants to talk about. The fund co-operated with the release, and the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke warmly in the accompanying documentary about the impact the original concert had. "This re-issue is a very big deal for Unicef; they're really happy about it," says Olivia. "We're just handing them the whole project and hopefully it will generate more funds for them. It's an historical document and it's theirs."

The concert came about after Harrison's friend Ravi Shankar confided his fears for his native Bengal, where thousands of refugees created by its fight for independence were stricken by severe floods. But it was a nerve-racking venture, with Harrison unsure until the very last minute whether friends such as Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan would turn up to Madison Square Garden for the two performances, in the afternoon and evening of 1 August. Although it ultimately proved to be the model for Live Aid and the huge charity concerts of the Eighties and Nineties, the event, according to Olivia, represented risky and uncharted waters at the time.

"The music community had never made that sort of endeavour before. But it was innocent and simple and straightforward and beautiful, I think, because it was an expression of concern through their music. It was the only way George knew how to help." The idea of the DVD was originally floated before what would have been the 30th anniversary of the concert in 2001, and Harrison seized on it with typical enthusiasm. The original footage was retrieved from storage at Apple. But with Harrison undergoing treatment for the throat cancer with which he was diagnosed in 1997, he had remastered only the music by the time of his death.

He never saw forgotten footage of, for instance, himself performing "If Not For You" with Dylan in rehearsals, and a Dylan performance of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" not included in the original film (which was released briefly on VHS). It was left to his softly spoken widow to put all the film together and complete the work.

"I couldn't devise a more perfect project for myself. It's so close to George and he had his hand on it. I couldn't just put it back on the shelf," Olivia says. Dhani, her son with Harrison and also a musician, helped complete Brainwashed, but he has been less involved with the DVD. "It's a bit more my era - 1971," she says, smiling.
As Olivia reminisces about Harrison and how carefully he looked after his fellow musicians, how touched he was that men like Clapton and Dylan had agreed to take part because they could see it mattered to him, it is almost possible to forget that she was not there at the time.

Although the film project has brought her as close to the event as many who were actually present, she only experienced the concert second-hand. She and Harrison met three years afterwards, when they were introduced at his American record label where Olivia, then 27, was working. But in 1971, she had been travelling in Europe. "I remember being annoyed that I didn't know about the concert and thinking, 'How can I have missed that?'" Yet she recalls the effect it had on public awareness of the disaster in Asia. "I don't think any of us knew about it before, I'm ashamed to say. We didn't have the media like we have today."

David Puttnam, the film producer and Labour peer who was at the first concert, believes that Bangladesh had not really been an issue for the international community before Harrison used his fame to put it on the agenda. In the documentary accompanying the DVD, he speaks warmly of the ex-Beatle as a Sixties romantic. "He never gave up hoping that the dreams of the Sixties could be realised. In hindsight, I think what was so special about George is that he always believed in the power of goodness." Olivia seems touchingly grateful for these words. "It's lovely of him to say that. It's hard for me because George didn't like to blow his own horn and I don't want to do it for him. He wouldn't like that. He was very self-deprecating. But George always wanted to make something better. He learned a lot from that concert personally, what he could achieve."

Harrison has often been presented as a difficult recluse, but Olivia says it was only the press he wished to avoid. "Ringo always used to say George was the most social 'recluse' he knew. If you came to the house, there would always be people there. If he walked in the room now, he would make you smile. He had a great presence, and he was an uplifting person," she says, adding: "He could be grumpy too, but he didn't like people around him to be unhappy. He liked everyone to be having a good time. Otherwise it was a waste of life. People say life is too short and it is." And so it proved. Inquiring about Harrison's final days with cancer, I ask whether he had, Dylan Thomas-like, raged against the dying of the light, but Olivia responds quickly: "There's no dying of the light." It's a reaction that springs from the profound spiritualism she and her late husband shared, a spiritualism that to a non-believer seems strangely at odds with the immaculately coiffured and manicured woman discussing the practicalities of transferring film to video.

"I feel very fortunate. I have a lot of joy because I know it's OK," she says. "This physical world is not the end by any means. It's just another place you pass through. I don't just believe that, I know it." Ask her whether she thinks she will be reunited with her late husband and she suggests she will. "In the Vedas [ancient Hindu scriptures], it says you'll meet a multitude of past relatives and lovers and people and friends that you know, so why not think you're going to bump into somebody somewhere along the way?"

She will not discuss the possibility of ever finding love again. "I have too many things to do right now. I'm on an even keel and I like it this way." When Harrison died in 2001, the couple were living in Switzerland where they had moved after he was attacked and stabbed by an intruder at their Henley home, but she has since returned to Britain. She is uneasy talking about that difficult period, but says Harrison had wanted to leave the UK for a long time and the attack was the clincher. "If he hadn't died, Switzerland would have been our home. But after he died, I came back. I had more history here."

Cynthia, John Lennon's first wife, has recently published an autobiography, which includes the allegation that Harrison had an affair with Ringo Starr's first wife, Maureen, after Starr left her in the early 1970s. Olivia says nothing about the claim and, while refusing to criticise Cynthia for her revelations, the idea of doing likewise clearly appals her. "Cynthia has just written a book about John. That's fine," she says. "I just want to appear where I have to. I don't need to say anything about George to present him or preserve him because that's not what he would have wanted. I'm just trying to finish what he started."


Independent Online Edition > Profiles : app3

Beatles' inventiveness, uniqueness was genius

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At the time of its unfolding, the Beatles story seemed like one glorious continuum. But viewed with 40 years of hindsight -- three distinct acts in their improbable journey into mankind's heart are apparent. From the fabled Saturday afternoon in July 1957 (when the teenage Lennon and McCartney first met and became instant musical blood brothers) to December 1961 was Act I. These were years of evolution from rock 'n' roll admirers and copyists to nascent self-contained pop group.

From January 1962 to October 1965, their Act II revealed a gift for buoyant reinvention of popular music and a giddy optimism that rejuvenated a world reeling from the JFK assassination.

But it was Act III, October 1965 to the summit point of October 1969 (when Abbey Road, their last recorded work, was released) that immortalized them. The toil of the early years, the promise of their middle era, all came to fruition beyond the wildest imagination in that glorious four-year finale.

If there was a piece of music that could convey those last Fab Four years it would be the orchestral crescendo that concludes their masterwork, A Day in the Life. The Beatles swept themselves and the world along a gathering tide of musical invention that swooshed inevitably toward a grand climax of majestic proportion and the satisfying resolution of that definitive final chord.

The unfortunate postscript of 1970, when the dream truly was over, revealed the human foibles behind our musical gods. They broke up. They sued each other.

In retrospect, while the manner of their dissolution was regrettable, at least they exited the stage at their height. Never to have a Sunset Boulevard-style descent into unbecoming fads, the Beatles as a group left us with as crystalline and perfect a recollection as we hold of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and John F. Kennedy. Forever young.

'Never meet your heroes'

One of the keys to understanding this immaculate third act lies in a meeting in August 1965 in the improbable setting of Bel-Air. It was the denouement of a nine-year love affair. From March 1956, when the 15-year-old John Lennon first laid his ears and eyes on Elvis Presley, he wanted to be him. He wanted to be that swaggering, rebellious rock 'n' roll star. He gathered fellow travelers Paul McCartney (in 1957), George Harrison (1958) and Ringo Starr (1962), who all shared that passion.

Together they synthesized much more than just Elvis. They absorbed rock 'n' roll, rhythm 'n' blues, soul, folk, country, rockabilly, jazz, swing, pop, calypso, blues, dance-band crooning, English music hall, vaudeville -- and myriad other shards from the musical universe. But at its heart lay Lennon's passion to be like Elvis. Until the fateful day he met him. "Never meet your heroes," as the adage goes, "they can only disappoint you." So it was to be. For when Lennon finally met Elvis, he discovered the tragically empty facade that Presley had become.

The physical obesity had not yet manifested -- but the sterile, vacant cadaver living in ivory- tower isolation and divorced from musical invention, devoid of any intellectual curiosity and apparently content to be the pawn of a greedy manager -- was in Lennon's eyes as corrupt spiritually as Elvis' body became 10 years later.

And Lennon resolved that he would not emulate his former idol. There was now something that Lennon wanted even more than his 1956 wish to be like Elvis. He wanted to be not like Elvis. He didn't wish to stagnate creatively.

What happened over the next four years was unprecedented in popular music. Until then, musical performers did not "progress" creatively. They got better at doing essentially the same thing: sang better, played better, wrote better. But they tended to mine the same basic seam of music they had started in -- simply providing a higher standard of entertainment for their fans. In other spheres of the arts, playwrights, poets, film directors might aspire to break new ground. Serious jazz musicians certainly did. But the world of pop music was not predicated on creative advancement and innovation. It was rooted in entertainment that simply became more polished.

The Beatles led the charge in changing that.

What happened was not the result of calculation, it was the flowering of genius in an era when creativity was prized. Artists prided themselves on breaking ground. It was a thirst to offer something exciting, a willingness to experiment and even to risk failure in the quest to create something daring.

Amazingly prolific

It is hard in the present era to comprehend fully the quantity and quality of what the Beatles achieved in those four short years.

We now live in a world where a band can take a week in the studio just to get a drum sound they are happy with, where a band will take a year or more to eke out 10 songs to complete an album, a year or two on the road to promote the album -- issuing singles culled from the album.

With a ferocity and pace that would exhaust today's youngsters and in an era before computers and 64-track recording, in just an 18-month period the Beatles wrote, arranged and recorded the trio of albums that are perhaps their crowning glory: Rubber Soul, a collection of songs bathed in warm optimism; Revolver, sharply edged and acutely bright; and Sgt Pepper, suffused in Edwardian imagery.

At the same time, they toured the world, recorded a few "throwaway" singles not on the albums (Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, We Can Work It Out, Paperback Writer, All You Need Is Love), came up with the forerunner of the music video (and filmed several of them), wrote songs they gave away to other artists, wrote books (Lennon), film scores (McCartney), pioneered what became the Western interest in world music (Harrison) and reinvented rock drumming (Starr).

And that just addresses the quantity. What is even more astonishing is that each of those albums broke considerable new ground, with quantum leaps in artistic imagination from album to album. Melodies became more inventive. Harmonies defied all known rules. Rhythms and time signatures became complex. Lyrics became insightful and addressed serious topics.

The Beatles' incandescent shining moment lasted in real time from 1963 till 1970. But in rare defiance of the laws of celebrity physics, they have stayed brilliantly luminescent.

Unlike most entertainers who eventually slip into a lower profile -- offset by the occasional revival -- the Beatles' star continues to burn bright. That's because their music was not about the '60s; it was born during the '60s, and it reflected, illuminated and galvanized those years. The music itself was, and remains, timeless.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 10/19/2005 | Beatles' inventiveness, uniqueness was genius

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pete Best Returns

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Pete Best, the original drummer for the Beatles, brings his band to The Boulton Center in Bayshore. The Pete Best Band delivers the raw, thumping intensity of the Beatles' savage sound during the early sixties. The band is proud of its authentic sound and energy. Right from the first beat, you'll be immersed in nostalgia, listening to 'the best years' of the Beatles, 1960-62. This is an opportunity to hear those 'Hamburg days' recreated by The Pete Best Band. Pete played in over 1,000 shows as an original member of the Beatles.

Pete Santora will be opening for the Pete Best Band. Santora performed in the highly acclaimed Broadway show Beatlemania, in which he portrayed "George". Also appearing is the up-and-coming Johnny Black Band.

Lightyear Entertainment has just released the new DVD titled Best of the Beatles - The Greatest Rock N' Roll Story Never Told. For the first time, viewers will hear Pete's story, his pivotal role in forming the Beatles and how he survived a very public nightmare, all illustrated with a variety of music, archival material and interviews, some of which has never been seen before.

The show will be held on October 28th, beginning at 8 p.m. Boulton Center Special VIP tickets will include a buffet and a Meet & Greet. The Boulton Center is located at 37 West Main Street. There will only be 64 VIP tickets offered; VIP tickets are $55 and General Admission is $40. Call: (631) 969-1101. Tickets can be purchased through the Boulton Center website.

Pete Best Returns


HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY was left disgusted days after having her leg amputated, when an insensitive counsellor informed her she'd have trouble attracting men in the wake of her accident. The former model, who is married to British rocker SIR PAUL McCARTNEY, lost her lower left leg in 1993 when she was hit by a police motorcycle while crossing a London street. And in the midst of her trauma, the former model was forced to deal with the counsellor's harsh comments.

She says, "She said, 'You know, men won't be as attracted to you as they were before.' I looked at this woman, who was not particularly attractive, and I said, 'I think if my arms and legs were missing, darling, I'd still be more attractive than you!'

"She shouldn't say that to people who have just had an accident. Inner confidence, that's the most important thing."



LATEST: SIR PAUL McCARTNEY's younger brother appeared in court in Chester, England today to deny sexual assault charges. MIKE McCARTNEY, 61, is accused of groping a waitress at a pub in September last year (04). McCartney Jr - formerly a member of 1960s pop group THE SCAFFOLD - appeared at Chester Magistrates Court only to confirm his name. He is due back in court next month to enter a plea. The former Beatle recently said of the charges against his brother, "He is a devoted family man.

"Mike has respect for people and has earned respect for himself in his professional and private life."


Lizzie Jagger Speaks-up in Favor of Kate Moss

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Lizzie Jagger, Mick Jagger's daughter, defended yesterday supermodel Kate Moss regarding the cocaine scandal, arguing that, in England, it's a common thing to use drugs. Lizzie, 21, who is currently a model for Lancome cosmetics, stated that she doesn't understand the treatment the British media put Moss through, after she was photographed snorting cocaine in a London recording studio. Jagger has also confessed that she thinks the people who have attacked the supermodel are hypocrites and unfair with her, because, in Britain, “everybody takes drugs”.

As she says: "It's not just Kate. Everybody in England is doing (cocaine). There's so much of it about. You have to deal with the bigger problem, not just blame her."

Elizabeth, born March 2, 1984, is Mick and Jerry's first child together.

Lizzy’s first appearance on the fashion runway was in 1998, when she modeled for Thierry Mugler alongside her mother. Lizzie also appeared in the film "Igby Goes Down" and is the half-sister of jewelry designer Jade Jagger; she used to date Sean Lennon.

Lizzie Jagger Speaks-up in Favor of Kate Moss - Softpedia

Wear Lennon's wardrobe

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At a live online auction on October 29, you can bid for precious pieces from John Lennon's personal wardrobe. The white suit which John wore walking across the zebra crossing on the cover of Abbey Road, was at the time thought by some to be a mock preacher's outfit - further fuelling the bizarre rumour that Paul MacCartney was dead. The Beatles apparently did not dress specifically for the album cover shot, but were photographed in the outfits they wore to work in the studio that day. The white suit is expected to fetch around £80,000.

Also available from Californian company Julien's Auctions, is the brown embroidered jacket Lennon wore in the Imagine video. Made in France by Renamo, the two-buttoned jacket is estimated to go for around £10,000. John and Yoko's Austin Princess car which also features in the Imagine film of 1973 is also on sale and comes with the original registration documents signed by Lennon himself.

The togs along with other celebrity treasures including Marilyn Monroe's notebooks have been on a US/Japanese tour and can currently be seen at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas until October 29.

In July this year at another auction, the jacket Lennon wore for the cover of Sgt. Pepper's was auctioned for £100,000. A portion of the proceeds from the forthcoming auction will go to Amnesty International USA.

fashionUK >> Wear Lennon's wardrobe


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WHEN Paul McCartney strode on stage at Madison Square Garden last month, it promised to be a trip down memory lane for the 18,000-strong audience. What they didn't expect among McCartney's hits and Beatles' classics was a song with a bitter message - one designed to rekindle an old feud with John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono. Too Many People - a number he had never before performed live - sat oddly among such old favourites as Eleanor Rigby and Magical Mystery Tour.

Many fans would have been unaware of the song's significance. Written in 1971, when his relationship with John was at an all-time low, Paul accuses Yoko of hijacking her husband's career.

The fact he played it in New York, where Yoko lives, was hardly a coincidence.

"It's well known Paul and Yoko have never been mates and never will be," says a source at McCartney's record label, EMI.

The bad blood has been there since The Beatles split but reached boiling point five years ago when Paul wanted to change the credits on some old Beatles songs and Yoko said no.

"Too Many People is a very elaborate way of saying, 'What the f*** have you got to do with me and John? You were only his wife so stop interfering.' Paul has always said, 'I took abuse from John, who called me a lot worse when he was alive, but I'm not going to take it from Yoko now he's gone.'

"It was always Lennon and McCartney, not Lennon, McCartney and Ono."

At last week's Q music awards in London, Yoko, 72, appeared to ridicule Paul's songwriting ability. She told journalists: "Sometimes, in the middle of the night, John would ask, 'Are you awake?' and I would say, 'Yes.' And he said, "You know, they always cover Paul's songs and never mine, and I don't know why.'

"I said, 'You're a good songwriter - it's not just June and spoon that you write.'"

At the weekend, Paul, 63, hit back when he said Yoko was "not the brightest of buttons," adding: "Her life is dedicated to putting me down. That's what she seems to do all the time. Yoko is a law unto herself."

The bitter rift between Paul and Yoko began soon after they met in 1968. He and John were the most successful songwriting partnership the world had ever known.

John, who'd been married to Cynthia Powell since 1962, first met Yoko, a Japanese performance artist seven years his senior, at a London art gallery in November 1966.

He slowly became enchanted by her, but it wasn't until May 1968 that they became lovers - and John immediately insisted on his new girlfriend attending sessions for The Beatles White Album.

The EMI studios in Abbey Road, North London, had long been the band's private clubhouse.

Now Paul, George and Ringo were going to have to get used to a small, unsmiling woman sitting in.

Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn says: "Yoko attended every Beatles recording session and would encourage hostility by whispering conspiratorially into John's ear.

"She would sit on his amplifier and appear to preside over the session by openly criticising and suggesting changes to the music being recorded."

By 1969, the biggest-selling group the world has known was disintegrating, with Lennon ditching McCartney as collaborator in favour of his girlfriend.

John and Yoko recorded three albums together and even used their 1969 honeymoon to hold a 10-day press conference in a "bed-in" at the Amsterdam Hilton.

By the time of The Beatles' final public appearance, an impromptu gig on the roof of their Apple record label headquarters in London, Paul could no longer control his frustration.

Although he later denied it, some say he glared at Yoko every time he sang the chorus to the hit song Get Back.

But the recriminations and lawsuits surrounding The Beatles' split a year later, in 1970, were as nothing compared to the extraordinary public spat that was to follow.

The opening salvo came when John wrote to Paul and his new wife, New York photographer Linda Eastman, viciously berating them for their treatment of Yoko.

"I hope you realise what s**t you, and the rest of my kind and unselfish friends, laid on Yoko and me since we have been together.

"It might have sometimes been a bit more subtle or should I say 'middle class' - but not often."

He went on to warn that his old friend's marriage would not last. "God help you out, Paul," he wrote. "See you in two years. I reckon you'll be out then."

The following year, Paul hit back on his second solo album, Ram, which contained the cryptic anti-Yoko rant Too Many People.

It included the lyric: "Too many people pulled and pushed around/ Too many waiting for that lucky break/ That was your first mistake/ You took your lucky break and broke it in two."

Within months, John had dispensed with any attempts at subtlety by recording the blistering How Do You Sleep?, dismissing his former partner's new material as "muzak" and accusing him of surrounding himself with sycophants.

But it wasn't the song's acidic lyrics that bothered Paul. It was knowing that Yoko had helped think them up.

"Paul could handle the attack but what really got to him was when he heard some of the lyrics had been suggested by Yoko," says the EMI source.

"That really angered him and he's never forgiven her."

Although Lennon and McCartney were reconciled in the 70s, any hopes of a musical reunion were scuppered after Yoko began intercepting Paul's calls.

It's long been a strand of Beatles folklore that Paul rang Yoko in January 1980, just before a tour of Japan, and mentioned that he had some particularly potent marijuana.

Two days later he was arrested at Tokyo airport for possession of illegal substances and spent 10 days in jail. It was hinted the Japanese authorities had received a tip-off from someone who knew exactly what Paul was carrying.

Since John Lennon's murder in December 1980 by deranged fan Mark Chapman, the Paul-Yoko rift has rumbled on.

In 1997, she compared John to Mozart while Paul, she said, more closely resembled his less-talented rival Salieri.

The next year Paul pointedly refused to ask Yoko to attend a New York memorial service for Linda, who had just died of breast cancer.

The feud surfaced again in 2000 as the three surviving Beatles were preparing a Beatles greatest hits package, 1. Although the song Yesterday had always been credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was entirely the work of Paul who now asked for his name to be put first.

"I felt that after 30 years this would be a nice gesture and something that might be easy for Yoko to agree with," said Paul.

"At first she said yes, but then she rang back a couple of hours later and reversed her decision."

Two years later, Paul hit back when he changed the credits for all The Beatles songs included on his album Back In The US Live 2002, to "composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon".

Yoko hit back by removing Paul's credit from the track Give Peace A Chance on the Lennon Legend DVD.

Peace, it seems, is now the last thing on Paul and Yoko's minds. - News - EXCLUSIVE: PAUL VS YOKO

Music lives, through Paul McCartney

The man who is arguably the most famous musician on the planet had a lousy musical education in school. "It was very bad," says Paul McCartney. "I don't think the teacher was interested remotely." Growing up in working-class Liverpool, England, in the 1950s, he remembers, "we had a music class kind of once a week, but the guy used to just put on a record and leave us alone with the record. So I'm afraid that didn't do an awful lot. We turned it down and told jokes."

No wonder, then, that the former Beatle, who is in the thick of a sold-out U.S. tour, is promoting music education in schools. On Tuesday he kicks off a national campaign for Music Lives, his non-profit foundation.

At concert dates and online through, he is raising money by selling $40 pewter bracelets engraved with his signature. The entire $40 goes to children, McCartney says, in many cases covering the entire cost of putting a musical instrument into the hands of a child who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

The foundation is co-sponsored by Fidelity Investments, which is also co-sponsoring the tour. McCartney hopes to get kids excited about learning to play an instrument. "The thing that I always try and do is just to try and engage them — let them know what fun it is, how easy it is, how uplifting it is."

The effort comes as music programs in many cities fall victim to cash crunches and a national focus on math and reading. "School boards and other decision-makers are having to make some very hard choices," says Michael Blakeslee of the National Association for Music Education.

Though federal surveys show that about 90% of students get at least a minimal music education, only 43% get three or more classes a week.

In a telephone interview from Detroit, McCartney recalled that while his music education at school was "zero," he was lucky because his father played the piano and his childhood home was filled with music.

"He would point out things to me on the radio and stuff, you know, like the bass on a piece of music. He'd say, 'Hear that low noise? That's the bass.' So I was lucky that way."

Relatives shared their records. "Everyone would sing all the old songs. There was a lot of music around."

The man who would write Yesterday and Hey Jude still composes and plays by ear, without reading music. He actually took three cracks at formal piano lessons, once when he was still in primary school, but got "very bored with the five-finger exercises."

He tried again at age 16, "but then of course they took me back to the five-finger exercises again." By then he already had composed When I'm 64 and was playing in clubs with John Lennon and George Harrison.

Eventually he tried piano lessons a third time, at age 21. It was 1963.

"Again they took me back to the basics, and took me, really, too far back," he says, "because by then I'd written Eleanor Rigby." - Music lives, through Paul McCartney


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SIR PAUL McCARTNEY's wife HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY is enjoying a fresh change to her diet - she's become a vegan. The animal rights activist ditched meat from her diet more than a decade ago, but she recently decided she also wanted to throw out all other animal by-products. She says, "I've been a vegan for three months. I was a veggie for 12 years. I went vegetarian because I got an infection in my leg in hospital, and, after three months, somebody said, 'I cured myself of breast cancer going veggie,' and I was like, 'Yeah, right, I'm sure.'

"I went to an institute in West Palm Beach... and within three weeks of wheatgrass and garlic and pulses, my whole leg just closed and healed. So I was ruled vegan for about a year and a half. And then I couldn't cope with going to restaurants and all that kind of stuff so then I went to become veggie."

Since coming across a wider variety of vegan-friendly food, Mills McCartney decided it was time to make another drastic change.

Ironically, McCartney's first wife, LINDA, was also a famous vegan, who launched her own vegetarian food range.


This Day in Beatles History - October 18

These events occurred on this day in Beatles history...1957 - The Quarry Men perform at New Clubmoor Hall (Conservative Club),
Norris Green, Liverpool. This is Paul McCartney's first appearance with the group. The line-up for The Quarry Men is John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, and Len Garry. Paul McCartney, suffering from a case of the stage jitters, flubs his guitar solo on the song "Guitar Boogie." Upset with his playing, Paul tries to make amends by showing John a song he had written, "I Lost My Little Girl." John then shows Paul some songs that he has composed. The two start writing songs together from that moment, which marks the birth of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. Pete Shotton, out of the group by this time, had no real musical ability and knew it; he was almost relieved when, during a drunken argument, John Lennon had smashed Pete's washboard over Pete's head. That was the end of Pete Shotton's career as a member of the Quarry Men.

1959 - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison audition for
Carroll Levis' TV Star Search under the name "Johnny and the Moondogs,"
at Liverpool's Empire Theatre. They qualify for the final round of
competition. The previous week, Jett Storm & the Hurricanes (including
drummer Ringo Starr) had also qualified for the final round. At the end of
the month, the local finals are also held at the Empire Theatre, and
even though Johnny and the Moondogs do not win, they place high enough to
qualify for the last round of auditions. "Jett" Storm would later
change his stage name to "Rory" Storm. The exact date of this audition is
not known for certain though it was most likely around this time.

1960 - The Beatles perform at the Kaiserkeller Club, Grosse Freiheit,
Hamburg, West Germany.

1961 - The Beatles perform lunchtime and nighttime shows at the Cavern
Club, Liverpool.

1963 - The Beatles tape an appearance for the Granada Television
program "Scene At 6:30," Granada TV Centre, Manchester, performing a lip-sync
of "She Loves You." The show is broadcast that evening.

1964 - The Beatles in the recording studio, Studio Two, EMI's Abbey
Road Studios, London. Having a day off from their British tour, The
Beatles start and complete the recording of six album tracks and the A-side
of their next single. They also complete "Eight Days a Week." Songs
recorded for their next album include: "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey" (2
takes); "Mr. Moonlight" (4 takes); "I'll Follow the Sun" (8 takes);
"Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (1 take); "Rock and Roll Music" (1 take);
and "Words of Love" (3 takes). For the next single, The Beatles record
"I Feel Fine" (9 takes), and they experiment successfully with
intentional amplifier feedback to begin the song. The "I Feel Fine/She's a
Woman" single is released on November 27. Note: The Beatles had recorded
four takes of "Mr. Moonlight" on August 14, but wanted to improve upon
those performances. "The Beatles Anthology 1" includes Take 2 of "Kansas
City/Hey Hey Hey Hey" (Disc 2, Track 26).

1965 - The Beatles in the recording studio, Studio Two, EMI's Abbey
Road Studios, London. Completion of George's "If I Needed Someone,"
overdubbing vocals and tambourine onto the instrumental track recorded during
the previous session. Next they record John's "In My Life," recording
three basic tracks and overdubs. The song is complete with the exception
of a gap in the middle section, which is filled with a George Martin
piano solo on Oct. 22.

1968 - John and Yoko are arrested for possession of cannabis resin.
They are also charged with obstructing police in the execution of a search

1977 - Ringo Starr's single "Drowning in a Sea of Love/Just a Dream"
(Atlantic 3412) is released in the U.S.

1982 - The Beatles' compilation album "The Beatles: 20 Greatest Hits"
(Parlophone PCTC 260) is released in the U.K. Tracks: "She Loves You,"
"Love Me Do," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Can't Buy Me Love," "A Hard
Day's Night," "I Feel Fine," "Eight Days a Week," "Ticket to Ride,"
"Help!," "Yesterday," "We Can Work It Out," "Paperback Writer," "Penny
Lane," "All You Need Is Love," "Hello Goodbye," "Hey Jude" (short version),
"Get Back," "Come Together," "Let It Be," and "The Long and Winding

1988 - The Travelling Wilburys "The Traveling Wilburys Volume One"
(Wilbury/Warner Brothers 9-25796-2) released in the U.S. Produced by
Harrison and Lynne, no real name appears anywhere on the album. George
Harrison appears as Nelson Wilbury, Roy Orbison as Lefty Wilbury, Bob Dylan
as Lucky Wilbury, Tom Petty as Charlie T. JR. Wilbury, and Jeff Lynne as
Otis Wilbury. Tracks: "Handle With Care," "End of the Line,"
"Margarita," "Dirty World," "Rattled," "Last Night," "Not Alone Any More,"
"Congratulations," "Heading for the Light," and "Tweeter and the Monkey Man."

Maintained by Beatlology, Inc. publishers of Beatlology Magazine, the
magazine for fans and collectors around the world -

Monday, October 17, 2005

Teenage symphonies, 3 minutes long

As the 60s dawned, two bustling restaurants on the ground floor at 1619 Broadway (Manhattan's legendary Brill Building) were pumping out roast beef sandwiches and porterhouse steaks for hungry Times Square patrons.
Meanwhile, upstairs, seven songwriting duos - most barely out of their teens - sat in airless cubicles, huddled around banged-up pianos, cooking up the classic pop confections we still can't get enough of today, songs like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" "Chapel of Love," "Jailhouse Rock," "Be My Baby," "Walk on By," "Up on the Roof," and "Leader of the Pack" - get the picture?

These are the songs that have jump-started pulses, accelerated birthrates, and enriched wedding and bar mitzvah bands across the planet for more than four decades now. Just the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " by itself - radio's most played pop song ever - has been heard more than 10 million times.

In Always Magic in the Air, Ken Emerson (author of "Doo-Dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture") makes the case that although rock 'n' roll may have died in 1959 with the plane crash that claimed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, it was soon reborn - with smoother edges and wider appeal - in the overheated incubators of 1619 and 1650 Broadway.

The Brill Building songwriters' remarkable success in dominating radio's record charts in the late 50s and early 60s is a testament to their talent, doggedness, and infectious alacrity.

Some were the oddest of couples. Others were marriages of both hearts and talent. From 1960-1965, seven songwriting teams: Doc Pomus/ Mort Shuman, Carole King/Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann/ Cynthia Weil, Mike Leiber /Jerry Stoller, Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry, and Burt Bacharach/Hal David accounted for hundreds of Top-40 hits by artists ranging from teen idols like Bobby Vee to The Drifters, Dusty Springfield, The Everly Brothers, and Elvis.

This book, long on detail, follows these 14 songwriters - nearly all from Brooklyn - whose eclectic tastes and absorbent minds spawned a second great wave of American popular standards.

They represented a uniquely American form of cultural fusion. Emerson explains: "As Brooklyn Jews, raised on the Rosenbergs and Jackie Robinson, they developed racial awareness ... as the children and grandchildren of immigrants, they had some respect for, and in several instances, training in, classical European music, which they did not forsake even as they fell in love with African-American and ... Afro-Cuban music."

It is no coincidence that these NY-based writers created the first rhythm and blues records to combine classical strings with the exotic Cuban baion beat. Leiber and Stoller's productions of the Drifters' "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" were as sophisticated and daring as pop records had ever been, until Bacharach/David started making their own magic with Dionne Warwick's string of hits like "Don't Make Me Over" and "Anyone Who Had a Heart" with its thundering tympani and dramatic setting.

Later, legendary producer Phil Spector would collaborate with writers Greenwich and Barry on smashes like "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Be My Baby," creating his own gargantuan symphonies, less than three minutes long.

Of course, it couldn't last. The story of how most of these partnerships finally crashed and burned is chronicled with fly-on-the-wall detail and compassion. When the Beatles hit pop radio in the US like an atomic bomb in 1964, their nearly instant domination ended the Brill writers' run of success almost overnight, and many of the duos parted company. A few left for California or London, scattered by the winds of change, hoping to become part of a hot new scene. But Emerson's upbeat "where are they now" coda reveals that a majority of these souls resurfaced - reinvented.

Goffin and King penned the deeply soulful "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" for Aretha Franklin's first great album. Carole King became a popular singer/songwriter who continues to tour today. Leiber and Stoller's revue "Smokey Joe's Café" is undoubtedly playing somewhere in the world at any given time. Mann and Weil are still writing radio hits.

And who's cooler than the still-debonair Burt Bacharach, last seen featured in an Austin Powers movie and collaborating with popster Elvis Costello?

Emerson's affection for his subjects and the music they created permeates his narrative and makes me want to revisit every little 45 rpm masterpiece I own.

• John Kehe is the Monitor's art director.

Teenage symphonies, 3 minutes long |

Fats Domino Back in New Orleans

Fats Domino proved you can go home again. You just might not like what you see. The rock 'n' roll pioneer returned to his New Orleans home Saturday for the first time since evacuating in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, only to find his house and most of his personal belongings unsalvageable. Mud, debris, mold and mildew filled the 77-year-old's Lower Ninth Ward home, the result of tainted floodwaters passing through in the days following the storm. WWL-TV, which arranged the visit, reported that at one point, the water in Domino's home reached well over eight feet.

Just three of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's 21 gold records were found in the rubble--"Rose Mary," "I'm Walkin'," and "Blue Monday." His white grand piano had been flipped over and broken by the flood. Another prized keyboard was thrashed and beyond saving.

Domino and son-in-law Charles Brimmer were able to salvage some jewelry, including a gold ring, in one of the rock 'n' roller's adjoining houses, as well as a favorite shirt and an unbroken bust. But more sentimental items, including the pianos, the gold records and a picture of Domino with Elvis Presley, proved "too messed up, we couldn't salvage it."

But all in all, Domino said his house "did pretty good," especially considering the scope of devastation around it.

The entertainer himself also did pretty good. He had been feared dead in the days after the hurricane after family members couldn't contact him and reported him missing.

A spray-painted message on the side of his balcony read: "R.I.P. Fats. You will be missed."

"There was a big 'Rest in Peace' on my balcony on the other house," the boogie-woogie great told WWL-TV. "I'm still here, thank God. I'm alive and kicking.

"I sure do appreciate that people think so much about me.

A rescue boat plucked Domino and his wife from their second-floor balcony shortly after the flood hit. They were then taken to the Super Dome, where they were able to reunite with the rest of their family before being bussed to Louisiana State University. Once there, they met up with a "friend of a friend," LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and stayed, alongside 20 other people, in Russell's off-campus for three nights, before taking off again.

The Fat Man and his family are currently staying at a hotel in New Orleans to be close to the neighborhood he was born in while it rebuilds.

"I don't know what to do, move somewhere else or something," Domino said. "But I like it down here."

Domino is scheduled to play a concert Nov. 5 in Baton Rouge ("if I'm feeling better) and is considering whether to release a record he made about two years ago called Alive and Kicking.

He is also among the more than two dozen artists contributing tracks to Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now. The all-star double-disc album will benefit victims of Katrina and Rita and will be released next month. Aside from Domino, there will be contributions from Coldplay, James Brown, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Dave Matthews, Elton John, John Fogerty, Sting, John Mayer, the Neville Brothers, Ringo Starr, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, Andrea Bocelli, Harry Connick Jr., Eric Benét, Michael McDonald, Wynonna Judd, Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt, Clint Black, City Beneath the Sea, Kirk Whalum, Coolio and even Louis Armstrong.

Fats Domino Back in New Orleans - Oct 17, 2005 - E! Online News

Lennon-Ono Photo Deemed Top Magazine Cover

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NEW YORK Oct 17, 2005 - On what would be the last day of his life, John Lennon posed for photographs with Yoko Ono in a session with photographer Annie Liebovitz. One of the pictures, a naked Lennon curled around and kissing a clothed Ono, became the cover for Rolling Stone magazine's tribute to him. That iconic image published a month after his December 1980 death has been ranked the top magazine cover of the last 40 years by a panel of magazine editors, artists and designers. Others on the list include images from the Sept. 11 attacks, the Vietnam War and of Katiti Kironde II, the first black woman on the cover of a national women's magazine, in the August 1968 Glamour. The American Society of Magazine Editors announced the winners of the competition on Monday during the American Magazine Conference in Puerto Rico. The competition was held as a way to mark the 40th anniversary of the group's awards.

"Both the choice of a cover and the execution of a cover are crucial for any magazine," said Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek and ASME president. "Every editor wants their cover to stand out."

Coming in second was the shot of a very pregnant Demi Moore on the August 1991 cover of Vanity Fair, followed by an April 1968 image from Esquire of boxer Muhammad Ali with arrows in his body. The Saul Steinberg drawing of New York's West Side dwarfing the rest of the country, published in The New Yorker on March 29, 1976, came in fourth. Esquire's May 1969 image of Pop Art maven Andy Warhol drowning in a can of tomato soup took the fifth spot.

Other covers on the list include The New Yorker from Sept. 24, 2001, silhouettes of the World Trade Center towers against a black background; National Geographic's June 1985 cover of an Afghan refugee girl with haunted eyes; People magazine's cover from Sept. 15, 1997 a black-and-white portrait of a smiling Princess Diana; and Life magazine's image of man on the moon from 1969.

There were a few ties, leading to a total of 41 images chosen.

Magazine covers can reflect the society around them, by how controversial they choose to be, said Johanna Keller, professor of magazine journalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications.

"They're absolutely a societal barometer of what we find acceptable to look at," she said.

Good covers can range from funny to poignant, she said. "The ones that work best touch us in the same way that great art touches us … stirring our very deepest human emotions."

The list was decided on by a panel of 52 magazine editors, design directors, art directors and photography editors.

Esquire, Time and Life each had four covers on the list. Eleven of the covers came from the 1960s, eight from the 1970s, three from the 1980s, 10 from the 1990s and nine from this decade. Thirty-two covers were photographs, while seven were illustrations and two were text.

ABC News: Lennon-Ono Photo Deemed Top Magazine Cover

Prolific hit song writer Baker Knight dies at 72

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Prolific songwriter Baker Knight, whose hits were recorded by stars ranging from Elvis Presley to Ricky Nelson, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, has died at age 72. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Knight wrote almost 1,000 songs. More than 40 singers recorded his tunes, which include the 1970 Presley hit The Wonder of You and Martin's Somewhere There's a Someone and That Old Time Feelin'. Nelson and McCartney sang the same Knight hit, Lonesome Town, decades apart.

Perry Como, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mickey Gilley also recorded some of Knight's songs.

Born Thomas Baker Knight Jr., he died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Birmingham, according to his daughter, Tuesday Knight.

Knight went to Los Angeles in 1958 and met Nelson through a mutual friend. Within six months, Nelson's version of Lonesome Town, a ballad about being lonely in Hollywood, was on Billboard's Top 10, as was its flip side, I Got a Feeling, another Knight tune. In all, Nelson recorded 21 Knight originals.

Knight learned to play guitar while in the Air Force. He formed a rock band, Baker Knight and the Knightmares, whose height of fame was opening for country stars Carl Perkins and Conway Twitty in 1956.

After the band split up, Knight moved to Los Angeles for a movie role that never materialized. He returned to Birmingham in 1985 and began to suffer from agoraphobia and a condition similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, which put his songwriting career on hold.

Knight is survived by his daughter and a son, Thomas Baker Knight. - Prolific hit-song writer Baker Knight dies at 72

Les Paul, 90, cuts his first rock album

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NEW YORK -- Take it from Peter Frampton. Or from Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend or Jimmy Page -- they all owe a debt to Les Paul, father of the electric guitar. "They all mention Les as an inspiration because of (his) early records, which were jaw-dropping when you first heard them as a novice guitarist,'' says Frampton, who recalls learning licks off of Paul's records as a nine-year-old in England. "We revere him, but Les is so genuine and down-to-earth that he's still one of the lads."

At age 90, the man who developed the solid-body electric guitar, and who has long been a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has finally released his first rock album, Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played. The list of friends includes Frampton, Beck, Clapton, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora and other guitar legends.

"They're not only my friends, but they're great players," Paul said in a telephone interview from his New Jersey home. "I never stop being amazed by all the different ways of playing the guitar and making it deliver a message."

This is Paul's first new recording since the mid-1970s, when he released two albums with the legendary country guitarist Chet Atkins, including Chester & Lester, which won a Grammy for best country instrumental album.

Born Lester William Polsfuss on June 9, 1915, to a German immigrant family in Waukesha, Wis., Paul has done more than perhaps any other individual to create the tools and techniques that shaped the past 60 years of pop music -- from Alvin and the Chipmunks' sped-up tapes to ZZ Top-style southern rock powered by Gibson's Les Paul-model guitars.

Paul built one of the first prototypes for the solid-body electric guitar in 1941. After repeated rejections, Gibson finally began mass-producing a guitar based on Paul's design in 1952.

Paul also developed many of the recording techniques such as multi-tracking and echo delay that made possible such classic rock albums as the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Only Paul could have brought together the disparate all-star lineup of jazz and rock guitarists who turned up at Carnegie Hall during the jazz festival in June for a 90th birthday tribute concert. More than a dozen guitarists -- from jazz veterans Bucky Pizzarelli and Pat Martino to rockers Frampton and Steve Miller -- performed separately and then crowded the stage to join Paul for a rollicking jam session on Let the Good Times Roll.

Jazz guitarists revere Paul as one of the first to make the electric guitar a lead solo instrument. In the 1940s, Paul earned renown in jazz circles for keeping up with the lightning-fast runs of pianist Art Tatum in jam sessions and giving a memorable performance with pianist Nat King Cole at the first Jazz At The Philharmonic concert.

Even though the rock revolution led Paul to retire from public performing in the mid-1960s, he was never disparaging to the upstart younger guitarists. Jimi Hendrix was among the many rock stars who would call Paul for tips.

His numerous other accomplishments include designing the first eight-track tape recorder for Ampex and an early-model synthesizer to create sound effects, which he called the Les Paulverizer.

In May, Paul was inducted into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, earning a spot alongside Thomas A. Edison and the Wright Brothers.

"The thing about Les that's different from everybody else is that he has such generosity, respect and encouragement for all musicians," says Miller, 61. "He never discriminated against anyone if they played loud horrible buzztone guitar or the best jazz guitar in the world, he treated everybody equally."

None of the musicians on the new record has a closer relationship to Paul than Miller, who prefaces Fly Like An Eagle with a homemade tape recording of the guitarist encouraging him to sing when he was a young boy in Milwaukee. Miller's father was the best man at Paul's wedding to singer Mary Ford.

"Les taught me my first chords on guitar when I was about four-and-a-half... and he's been my mentor for my entire life," said Miller. "I was light years ahead of everybody else because I was right there when this guy was inventing most of the stuff."

On the album, Paul plays lead guitar on only one track. On the others, he listened to the lead and solo tracks recorded by the guest stars, then recorded his own riffs, trills and other accompaniments at his new state-of-the-art home studio.

"What surprised me the most was Les's continuing desire to innovate and learn new things," said Fran Cathcart, who co-produced the CD. "He learned a whole new set of songs in a whole different style than he's ever been used to and actually used different guitar tones than he's ever used before."

Paul acknowledges that he can no longer play the way he did at his peak. Arthritis has gnarled his fingers and he has needed a hearing aid since a friend playfully cuffed his ear and broke an eardrum back in 1970. He has taken to heart the advice given to him by a nurse who showed up shortly after he started playing at New York's Iridium Jazz Club in 1996.

"She said, 'Don't make the mistake of trying to play like you did when you were a kid, you're never going to do it, so play like you play now,' " Paul remembers. "All these guys... play so fast, but the guy that wins is the guy that plays the melody and reaches the heart."

But what keeps Paul going more than anything else are his Monday night gigs at the Iridium, where Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan might turn up in the audience and legends like Tony Bennett, Keith Richards or Jeff Beck might show up on stage.

"I wouldn't miss Monday for anything," Paul said. "It gives you a reason to get out of bed other than to go to the bathroom."

© The Associated Press 2005

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This Day in Beatles History - October 17

These events occurred on this day in Beatles history...1960 - The Beatles perform at the Kaiserkeller Club, Grosse Freiheit,
Hamburg, West Germany. 1961 - The Beatles perform at the David Lewis Club, Liverpool. 1962 - The Beatles perform lunchtime and nighttime shows at the Cavern Club, Liverpool. In between the two shows, they travel to Studio Four, Granada TV Centre, Manchester, Lancashire, to make their television debut. They appear live on a local magazine program called "People and Places," which is broadcast across the north of England. The Beatles perform two songs for the live transmission, "Some Other Guy" and "Love Me Do."

1963 - The Beatles in the recording studio, Studio Two, EMI's Abbey
Road Studios, London. The Beatles work on three recording projects this
day, a failed attempt to improve their track "You Really Got a Hold On
Me" for the "With the Beatles" album, recording their 5th single, "I Want
to Hold Your Hand/This Boy" and, recording "The Beatles' Christmas
Record," the first of seven annual Christmas records distributed free to
members of their fan club (the second Christmas record would be the first
one issued to fan club members in the U.S.). This session was also
important in that it marked the introduction of four-track recording at
EMI, which allowed for more creativity in the studio. The Beatles used
this new recording process for "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy,"
both of which were completed in 17 takes. The Beatles then record the
12th take of "You Really Got a Hold On Me," before ending the session
without completing it.

1967 - John, Paul, George, and Ringo attend a memorial service for
Brian Epstein at the New London Synagogue, Abbey Road.

1983 - Paul McCartney's album "Pipes of Peace" (Parlophone PCTC
1652301) is released in the U.K. Tracks: "Say Say Say" [with Michael Jackson],
"The Man" [also with Michael Jackson], "Pipes of Peace," "The Other
Me," "Keep Under Cover," "So Bad," "Sweetest Little Show," "Average
Person," "Hey Hey," "Tug of Peace," and "Through Our Love."

1987 - George Harrison makes an unannounced appearance with Bob Dylan
on stage at Wembley Arena.

Maintained by Beatlology, Inc. publishers of Beatlology Magazine, the
magazine for fans and collectors around the world -

McCartney plays up life in music

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AUBURN HILLS -- On Friday night, the first of a two-night stand, Paul McCartney presented 16,000 souls at The Palace of Auburn Hills with a marathon show that would have served well to explain who he is to, say, a visiting alien from Venus. Starting at about 8:30 p.m., a DJ served up loud mashups of McCartney songs. One could sense the relief from older members of the audience when the cacophonous music simmered down in volume and World War II sirens heralded a documentary of McCartney's life, starting with his birth certificate.

It's fascinating stuff for McCartney and Beatles fans, but it goes on a bit. And we didn't get to see the knight himself until just about 9 p.m., when he came bashing out playing "Magical Mystery Tour" with his young band. He entertained the sellout crowd for the next 2 1/2 hours, zipping through Beatles songs, Wings songs and several songs from his new album "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

McCartney played his old Hofner left-handed bass for most of the Beatles songs like "Drive My Car," "I'll Get You," "Got to Get You Into My Life." The Hofner is a bit more worn now than it was back in the '60s when he played it onstage, but burnished and mellow -- much like McCartney's voice. It hits an amazing number of high notes for his age but sounds a little worn at the top this time out. He has to bear the brunt of all the singing, unlike in the Beatles when he had John Lennon, George Harrison and even Ringo Starr to take over the leads.

McCartney switched to piano for "Fine Line" and the always-stirring "Maybe I'm Amazed," his early love song for his late wife, Linda, that still sounds raw and hopeful.

The next song was one only the hardcore fans had heard: "In Spite of All the Danger," a rockabillyish tune McCartney recorded with his pre-Beatles group, the Quarrymen (also featuring John Lennon and George Harrison).

He explained that the recording cost five pounds, one from each boy, so each of them got to keep the old shellac record for a week -- except the drummer, who kept it for 23 years.

As always, McCartney's interaction with the audience is well-honed and continuous. He kept up a patter about the many signs out in the audience and how he feared that reading them would make him lose his place. But he read one anyway, "'Ben is asking Melissa in the fourth row to marry him. ... Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" he ordered.

Ben complied, and someone yelled out, "She said, yes!" "Well that's a first for me," McCartney quipped. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

Later on, he had different sides of the arena sing the chorus to "Hey Jude," then the people on the floor -- first just the men, then the women "and now just Ben and Melissa," McCartney said, pointing to the fourth row. They did, although nobody could hear a word.

Some of the best moments of the show were McCartney's softer songs ("Fixing a Hole," "I Will," "For No One,") that seem slight at first hearing but have the common thread of dreamy, quirky melodies that were always a nice counterpoint on the Beatles albums to the blunter acerbity of Lennon's songs.

The otherworldly quality present in those songs, particularly "Let It Be," put the lie to idiotic jibes like Yoko Ono's recent one, that McCartney's songwriting was simpler and somehow less serious than that of her late husband, Lennon.

McCartney's rockers, particularly "Jet," "Live and Let Die," and "Back in the USSR," are what keep a vast arena like The Palace rocking. But there's something about the elegance of the chords of "Hey Jude" or "Let It Be" that creates the most emotion.

Cynthia Lennon, John's first wife, recently was moved to tears, telling a reporter how touched she was that McCartney wrote a song as authentic and enduring as "Hey Jude" to cheer up her son Julian when she and Lennon were getting divorced.

One of the best moments was the impromptu songwriting workshop. McCartney played a snippet of Bach, on guitar, that he and Harrison used to play together as boys messing around in McCartney's front parlor in Liverpool.

He showed how a certain part of the melody that they got wrong, actually fascinated him because "I liked the way the bass part had a little melody in it. So I took that bit and put it in this song," he said, chiming into the chords to "Blackbird," the beautiful ballad from "The White Album."

You can reach Susan Whitall at (313) 222-2156, or at

McCartney plays up life in music - 10/17/05

Lennon's heartache behind his genius

LONDON: Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has claimed that John Lennon's talent for writing emotionally charged lyrics for songs was a result of profound heartache he suffered during his lifetime. McCartney has also admitted that though he often attempted to write some heart-melting numbers , his tracks always seemed too "perky" or forced, while Lennon could do it effortlessly.

"John could write a great mean song. He had a lot of venom in him, whereas I had a pretty happy childhood... My dad didn't leave home, and my mum died of cancer rather than being knocked over like John's mum," Femalefirst quoted him as saying.

Lennon's heartache behind his genius -

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Finally at ease, McCartney gives, receives the love

AUBURN HILLS - If, as Paul McCartney sang at the end of his Friday performance at The Palace, ''the love you take is equal to the love you make,'' then there was a lot of lovin' going on at the first of his two sold-out shows here. In fact, the former Beatle interrupted the proceedings to read one of the many signs that dotted the sell-out crowd. "Can Ben in Row 4 ask Melissa to marry him," McCartney read/asked, before offering a little encouragement: ''C'mon, Ben, in front of 20,000 people!''

A tearful and stunned Melissa accepted, prompting McCartney to say, "That's a first for me, Ben, and I hope it's the last for you."

Let's hope it's not the last time McCartney decides to hit the road. Picking up where 2002's revitalizing "Driving USA" tour left off, McCartney has reached a certain level of comfort in his life and his current "US" tour celebrates that.

He no longer feels he has to compete with John Lennon's ghost. He has put the death of his longtime wife Linda behind him (even excluding her image from the 10-minute biographical film that opened the show) and appears rejuvenated by his marriage to Heather Mills and the new family they've started.

He recently made one of the best, most personal albums of his solo career in "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" and he's touring with the same sterling band - guitarist/vocalist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Brian Ray, keyboard wizard Paul "Wix" Wickens and drummer/vocalist Abe Laboriel Jr. - that energized him on the last tour and whose versatility allowed him to dig confidently into a revered Beatles song bag.

Like the last tour, McCartney is performing some songs for the first time ever. He's digging even deeper into his treasure trove, pulling out obscurities like "In Spite of All the Danger," a "pre-Beatles" song, as he called it, from the group's skiffle-era precursor, the Quarrymen, and the standard "Till There Was You," which he described as one of the "smoochier songs" the Beatles had to do to get better-paying gigs in their early days.

It also served as a powerful reminder of just how sweetly melodic his voice still is at 63 years of age.

McCartney also dipped into the "White Album," "Abbey Road," "Let it Be" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" for such rarely or never-performed gems as a solo piano version of "Fixing a Hole," a blustery "I've Got a Feeling," a lovely "I Will" and a noisy "Helter Skelter," which he shouted more than sang.

For every well-executed staple, like "Let it Be," "Hey Jude" and "Jet," there was an equally assured surprise, like the Beatlemania-era obscurity "I'll Get You," a song so old, he joked, "If you remember it, you weren't there."

It was a smartly designed, well-paced show, with clean staging and unobtrusive, often clever video accompaniment. The song sequencing allowed the aging legend to touch upon the best phases of his storied career and preserve his voice, conserving his energy early, showing off his wonderful way with a melody in the mostly solo-mid-section and rock with abandon at the end.

Through it all, McCartney's indomitable spirit and persistent positivism shone through. He is living proof that there is such a thing as a good, happy song (despite some of those bad silly love songs he used to write) and that in divisive times we need to pull together. John may have said all we need is love, but on Friday, Paul was giving it and getting it.

Finally at ease, McCartney gives, receives the love

This Day in Beatles History - October 16

These events occurred on this day in Beatles history...1960 - The Beatles perform at the Kaiserkeller Club, Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg, West Germany. The Beatles' contract with Bruno Koschmider is extended until December 31, although events would see all of them except Stu Sutcliffe back in England by December 10. 1961 - The Beatles perform a lunchtime show at the Cavern Club, Liverpool. 1962 - The Beatles perform at La Scala Ballroom, Runcorn, Cheshire.

1963 - The Beatles tape an appearance for the BBC radio program "Easy
Beat." They perform "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," "Please
Please Me," "From Me to You," and "She Loves You" in front of a live
audience. Brian Epstein, fearing for The Beatles' safety and trying to
limit the seemingly unlimited requests for Beatles appearances, announced
that The Beatles would no longer appear on radio shows involving a live
audience; for concerts The Beatles would only play in theatres or halls
with fixed seating, no more ballrooms. After the taping for "Easy
Beat," The Beatles are interviewed about the invitation they had received to
perform at the Royal Variety Show on November 4. The interviewer is
clearly condescending to The Beatles, but they just as clearly deflate his
arrogance with their clever wit. The interview is broadcast that
evening on the BBC news program "Radio Newsreel." "I Saw Her Standing There"
is included on the 1994 Beatles double-CD "Live at the BBC" (Disc one,
Track 27).

1964 - The Beatles perform two shows at the ABC Cinema in Hull.

1965 - The Beatles in the recording studio, Studio Two, EMI's Abbey
Road Studios, London. recording "Day Tripper" for their next single. After
three takes of the basic instrumental track, they add vocals and other
overdubs, completing the song before the end of the session. Then they
record a basic rhythm track for George Harrison's song "If I Needed
Someone," leaving the overdubbing of vocals and additional instruments for
the following day.

1968 - The Beatles in the recording studio, Studios One, Two, and
Three, and Rooms 41/42, EMI's Abbey Road Studios, London, to complete the
mixing, editing, and the running order for "The Beatles." The Beatles
conduct a 24-hour session that utilizes, at some point during that time,
every studio and listening room at Abbey Road Studios. Ringo and George
having already departed for Sardinia and Los Angeles, respectively, it
is left to John and Paul and George Martin to finish everything up.
"What's the New Mary Jane" and "Not Guilty" are dropped from the album,
leaving 30 songs. Then the running order and side allocations are worked
out. George Martin had urged The Beatles to cull the material down to
one album's worth of songs, thinking that the album included tracks of
dubious quality, but The Beatles insisted on releasing all of it. "The
Beatles," released in a stark white cover that would earn it the
nickname the 'White Album', is released in the U.K. on November 22, and in the
U.S. on November 25. It would sell nearly two million copies within the
first week. It remains one of the most popular of The Beatles' albums.
"The Beatles" was issued in both mono and stereo versions in the U.K.,
but it was released only in stereo in the U.S.

1987 - George Harrison's single "Got My Mind Set On You/Lay His Head"
(Dark Horse 7-28178) is released in the U.S. Also released as cassette
single. The B-side is a remixed version of a song released on either CD
or vinyl EP included with George Harrison's book "Songs by George

1992 - George Harrison joins a number of other musicians for a 30th
anniversary tribute concert for Bob Dylan at New York's Madison Square
Garden. Harrison sings the Dylan songs "If Not For You" and "Absolutely
Sweet Marie." He also joins in on the concert's final songs, "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door" and "My Back Pages."

1999 - Paul McCartney's premiere performance of "Working Classical" in
Liverpool, England. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Songs
for orchestra and string quartet. Some of the string quartet
arrangements were previously played at memorial services held for McCartney's late
wife, Linda.

Maintained by Beatlology, Inc. publishers of Beatlology Magazine, the
magazine for fans and collectors around the world -

Interview with Pete Best

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Was Ringo Starr a better drummer than Pete Best? "No," the friendly Best said, with a chuckle of resignation, during an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun. "Some people might say that's just drummer's pride being the way it is. But being truthful, no. That's my own personal opinion. Others may voice their own opinion, but you've asked me my opinion and I'm giving it." Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the history of rock 'n' roll knows the name Pete Best. He was the drummer for the Beatles but was kicked out of the band and replaced by Ringo mere months before the lads gained international fame.

Amazingly, there still has been no communication between Pete Best and the Beatles since the day he was fired. Not a phone call. Not a card. Not a letter. No chance meetings on the streets of Liverpool.

"That's true," said Best, 64. "A lot of people might say, 'Oh, it's so easy to get in touch with them.' But when you actually put it in black and white, it brings reality home.

"Life goes on and you hold your head high. But I've done that basically on my own. Once the decision was made and the split actually took place, they went their way, I went mine, and there has been no sort of reconciliation since then."

Best continues to tour with his own band, something he has done since 1988, following 20 years in the British civil service. Best will play three shows in this area later this month (Oct. 25 at the Casbah in Hamilton, Oct. 26 at J's Place in Brantford and Oct. 27 at the Drake Hotel in Toronto).

Best recently released a new DVD, Best Of The Beatles, that tells his life story. It includes some shocking tales, such as the time Beatles manager Brian Epstein -- who was as openly gay as you could be in the 1960s -- propositioned Pete.

Did Pete's rejection of Brian's sexual advances have something to do with the ouster?

"It's just something that, yeah, it happened," Best told the Sun. "We were aware of Brian's gayness. The hit on me was made. It was rejected. People who were aware were like, 'You rejected him, you're in trouble.' Well, it's not my cup of tea. You do what you want, but you're not doing it with me."

Best does not recall there being any palpable tension between himself and Epstein afterward.

"Nope, not that anyone was aware of," Best said. "John (Lennon) and Cynthia (Lennon's first wife) killed themselves laughing, saying, 'What?' People around Liverpool said, 'You got (Epstein's) feathers ruffled because you wouldn't drop your (pants).' But look at it from my point of view."

Equally eyebrow-raising was Best's recollection of the night in Hamburg, Germany, in the early 1960s when the four lads from Liverpool tried to mug a sailor.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison chickened out at the last minute. So Pete and John jumped the guy. A scuffle ensued. They grabbed the sailor's wallet. But then they noticed the sailor had a gun in his hand.

"We heard this blast and we didn't wait around to see if it was a gas gun or a real gun," Best said. "We ran off."

Pete and John hurried back to where they were staying and met up with Paul and George again. Pete thought John had the wallet. John thought Pete had it. As it turned out, the wallet had been dropped in the panic and confusion.

"It had seemed so easy," Best said.

Obviously, any discussion with Best eventually drifts back to the same question. Theories have abounded through the years as to why Best got the axe.

"In my heart of hearts, I really don't know," Best said. "That's the enigma, the whole thing that is clouded in subterfuge. That mystery still prevails.

"There's at most only two or three people alive who may know the definitive reason, or would be prepared to say what the definitive reason was. But if that is mentioned as the definitive reason, it still is going to lay itself open to criticism. People would ask, 'Where is he coming from? What's his angle?' "

Best is past the point of bitterness. He has led a full life in the interim. But he does puzzle over the fact that the Beatles never have been able to keep their stories straight.

"They've never stuck to one particular, logical reason," Best said. "First of all, I was a crap drummer. Then they said I'd left the band. Then I was anti-social. Then Brian was inhibited. Then you get George turning around and saying I was becoming unreliable. We played 1,000 gigs and I missed four, so I plead the Fifth.

"So controversy arises, doesn't it? It's like, 'Hang on, guys, how many more reasons are you going to pile on to say that was the reason you got rid of me?' "

When Best was dumped, the Beatles already were the biggest band in Liverpool. Perhaps Best's good looks and popularity were worrisome to the other Beatles.

It's not as if Lennon, McCartney and Harrison weren't getting any attention. But maybe they felt Best was getting more of the focus than he deserved. For example, when the Beatles signed their first recording contract, at least one publication ran a picture of Pete -- alone.

"After the dismissal there was stigma and there was financial embarrassment," Best said. "One day you're in the No. 1 band in your area, earning damn good money for a kid, and all of a sudden your pay structure disappears overnight.

"You continue in show business for a few years, but once you're married, different priorities take over. I didn't have the best paying job in the civil service, but there was a promotion structure if you worked hard and there was security and safety."

Best insisted it is not painful to talk about his Beatles experience after all these years.

"It's lovely, because down the line maybe someone believes this enigma will be solved," Best said. "But at the present moment I'm as much in the dark as anyone.

"It might remain like the mystery of the Sphinx. If the reason does come out, and if you agree with it -- that's the key, if you agree with it -- then all well and good. But if not, it's not going to make a lot of difference to my life at this point."

Best identified the No. 1 misconception about him.

"The biggest misconception is that I don't talk," Best said. "If I don't talk, I wouldn't be doing this interview would I? And I have a sense of humour. I can make a few people laugh now and again. The guy is vocal."

Well, you were known as "mean, moody and magnificent," Pete. Old images die hard.

"Moody doesn't mean I don't talk," Best said with a laugh.

After what happened to Pete Best, if he can laugh and lead a happy life, surrounded by family and loyal friends, there really is no excuse for the rest of us.

CANOE -- JAM! Music: Interview with Pete Best

A peek into McCartney's 'Backyard'

While there are certainly benefits -- the healthy bank accounts and the knighthood among them -- the down side of being Sir Paul McCartney, icon of a generation and the most celebrated surviving Beatle, is that almost anyone you collaborate with will be too intimidated to tell you when you've had a bad idea or are doing sub-par work.

With all too rare exceptions, a McCartney solo album usually has been a mixed bag, with the occasional glimpse of the brilliance he displayed in partnership with John Lennon ("Maybe I'm Amazed," "Every Night," "Band on the Run" or "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five"), scattered full-scale disasters/flat-out embarrassments ("Monkberry Moon Delight," "Silly Love Songs," "Ebony and Ivory" or "Freedom") and a whole lot of plain old mediocrity.

Hailed by many fans and critics as one of his strongest efforts ever -- and my personal favorite since the fiery roots-rock cover album "Run Devil Run" (1999) -- "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," McCartney's latest and the 20th studio solo album of his career, succeeds largely because the artist allowed himself to be challenged and to heed some much-needed criticism, in this case from producer and brave soul Nigel Godrich, who arrived on the job highly recommended by another of the queen's knights, Sir George Martin, and with a list of earlier credits including Radiohead, Beck and Travis.

The 63-year-old McCartney has said in several recent interviews that at one point during the recording sessions, he had to restrain himself from physically assaulting Godrich after the producer called one of the tunes he'd just tracked "crap."

"I was well-pissed," Macca told the European Web site "It was like, 'You don't like my songs? How dare you? Who are you?' I thought: 'What will I do now? Punch him or just spit at him?' "

McCartney refrained from doing either, and after cooling down overnight, he accepted Godrich's critique and bagged the tune -- which had to be pretty awful if the producer considered it worse than "English Tea," the new disc's nadir.

"I realized he was looking for a vibe, so if one of my songs was a bit perky, maybe he didn't think we should do it this time around. It was good for me: It was like working with a great band member. It was similar to me and John, back to when we were just kids."

To be certain, nothing on "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" comes close to approaching the Beatles at their best ("Revolver"), or even at their worst ("Let It Be"). But the good moments are very good indeed, including the irrepressible "Fine Line," the lilting "Jenny Wren," the George Harrison tribute "Friends to Go" and the majestic "Promise to You Girl."

The most pleasant surprise of all: a hidden track consisting of three unrelated musical snippets that Godrich surreptitiously recorded as McCartney tinkered at the piano. These improvised instrumental snippets alone boast a dozen melodies strong enough to make lesser composers green with envy.

"I love those, too," the always charming former cutest moptop told me during a brief interview Tuesday via cell phone from the back of his limousine after a sound check before a show in Toronto. He broke into that famous chuckle when I said I'd welcome an entire disc in this mode.

"But you are in the real world, and people expect songs from me. I'll goof around anytime, though, and you can have 90 minutes of that if you want."

Though Lennon was always much more outspoken about the burdens of being an ex-Beatle, McCartney also clearly feels the weight of his considerable history. Of the 38 songs in his current two-hour, 45-minute show, 22 of them hail from the Fab Four's catalog. While he's justifiably proud of his latest album, only four songs from "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" made the set list, though he's pleased to report that fans -- many of whom are paying $250 plus Ticketmaster service fees per seat, or more than $7 per tune -- have been responding enthusiastically to his new material.

"It really is nice. One of the exciting things on a tour like this is that you start to tour, and people don't really know the numbers, and then as you get into the second and third week of the album's [release], people are singing along and holding up signs, and the numbers get better and better and better, so it's very gratifying."

Still, I asked, if you were so inclined, could you perform the new disc in its entirety, casting off the burden of history and eschewing those Wings and Beatles classics, or at least relying on them a little less?

"I think you could," McCartney said. "I'd say it's a beautiful burden, this business of having a history, but I know what you mean: I think what we'd have to do is to do a smaller venue and announce up front that we were just doing the new stuff, because people come with expectations to these big venues. We've got big families and stuff coming to these shows, and people obviously want hits.

"I'm a bit like that when I'm in the audience as well. I saw Coldplay recently, and it's a big moment when they do 'Yellow.' But it's a beautiful burden, and I'm happy with it, but sometimes it would be nice to just do unknown material for the people who would really like that."

In the same way that Godrich challenged McCartney in the studio, I mentioned that the band of young musicians that has joined him onstage for the last few years -- lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist and bassist Brian Ray, keyboardist Paul "Wix" Wickens and hard-hitting drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. -- seems to prod the legendary musician gently out of his comfort zone, inspiring him to try that little bit harder. McCartney readily agreed.

"That's one of the great things. In a way it's a bonus for me: I knew they were good from the word go, and it was always easy and fun to work with them. But now we are realizing that we have a few miles under our belt, and just like any band, if you have good players and then add mileage, real unexpected stuff starts to happen. It's really cool, and I have to say we are popping as a band right now."

In fact, one of the only disappointments of working with Godrich on the new album was the producer's insistence about a week into the project that McCartney dismiss the group and record most of the instruments himself, a la "McCartney" (1970).

"It was a personal disappointment in a way, but in another way it was a compliment," McCartney said. "[Godrich] basically said, 'I want to do something different. We can make the album straightforward, and the guys are great players, but I want to hear how it sounds like this and like this.' He had some things he wanted to do, so I thought, 'If I'm working with a guy like this, I'm either going to listen to him or I'm not.'

"He's a teammate, and I can overrule him if I want, but it was really more embarrassing than anything to have to tell the guys that he wanted me to come in over the next few days and try some stuff alone. He said, 'Blame me,' and I said, 'Oh, I will, don't worry.' [Laughs] But they are my guys, and they were great about it, and they know about making records. It's not easy to get a record nailed, so they said, 'Whatever it takes. You try it and see what happens.' And I think the way the album has worked out proves [Godrich's] point: It was worth stretching."

It always is, Paul -- in interviews as well as in creative endeavors. But although the Sun-Times had been promised 20 minutes to chat with the musical giant, this reporter wound up barely getting six before the limo arrived at the venue and Sir Paul bid a friendly "cheerio," leaving unaddressed a long list of questions small (What's up with dissing Ringo lately? And what do you think of the swipe Yoko Ono just took at you as the sort of songwriter who rhymes moon, June and spoon?) and large (Given the steep ticket prices, why did you feel the need to take even more money via an obnoxious sponsorship from a luxury car company? And how on earth could the same artist capable of writing a song as timeless and beautiful as "For No One" also pen something as dreadful as "Ode to a Koala Bear"?).

Alas, on McCartney's personal magical mystery tour, some things are destined to remain forever unexplained.

While rabid Beatlemaniacs are being a bit too effusive in their praise of Paul McCartney's new "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," the album's strongest moments do place it high on the list of his most rewarding post-Beatles recordings. Here are my choices for five more standouts, listed in chronological order by date of release.

"McCartney" (1970)
The first of two self-titled albums, the singer-songwriter's solo bow has some real low points, including "Lovely Linda" and the aptly titled "Junk." But two of his best songs ever, "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Every Night," and the spare, stripped-down production earn this disc its spot on the list.

"Band on the Run" (1973)
Although the production sounds pretty dated -- the synthesizers are just plain goofy -- this album stands as Wings' finest moment, and the post-Fabs McCartney has never rocked harder than he does on "Jet" or the title track. "Let Me Roll It," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" and "Picasso's Last Words" are all pretty great, too.

"CHOBA B CCCP" (1991)
The first of two efforts in this vein, the so-called "Russian Album," also known as "Back in the U.S.S.R.," was a quick and dirty bit of non-sentimental nostalgia, the result of a two-day session that found McCartney kicking out the jams on a set of vintage rock 'n' roll covers such as "Kansas City," "Lucille" and "Ain't That a Shame."

"Strawberries, Oceans, Ships, Forest" (1993)
Recorded as "The Fireman" in partnership with the British techno DJ Youth, this collection of ambient house instrumentals is an overlooked gem, not so much on its own merits -- it doesn't come close to the genius of the Orb -- but it's a welcome reminder that Macca was once at the forefront of the psychedelic rock avant-garde.

"Run Devil Run" (1999)
After his wife Linda's death, the aging rocker found catharsis by putting together a top-notch band, including Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and tearing through another passionate set of the '50s classics that made him fall in love with rock 'n' roll, including hits by Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Ricky Nelson. You've got to respect that.

Jim DeRogatis

A peek into McCartney's 'Backyard'

Harrison benefit moved the heart of rock n roll

George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh was the first all-star goodwill gig of its kind, but it was far from the last. "This was the model for many other concerts afterwards," says Olivia Harrison, George's widow. Held Aug. 1, 1971, at New York City's Madison Square Garden, the concert raised $250,000 from ticket sales alone for the refugees of war-torn, famine-stricken Bangladesh. Besides ex-Beatle Harrison, who spearheaded the event, the high-profile headliners included Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. There actually were two sold-out shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

A live triple album and a film of the concert eventually brought in more than $14 million for UNICEF, although an IRS audit of the Beatles-owned record label, Apple, tied up some of the money for years.

Now the landmark benefit is back in the spotlight, with a two-disc DVD set of the "The Concert for Bangladesh" film and a two-CD reissue of the "The Concert for Bangladesh" album due in stores Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The event also is the focus of "George Harrison and the Concert for Bangladesh," an exhibition opening Friday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

George was eager to have the album and the film see the light of day again. He died in 2001, after a long battle with cancer, before the projects could be completed.

George and Olivia married in 1978. She didn't attend the Concert for Bangladesh, although she came to learn how much it meant to George.

"It changed his life as much as it changed the lives of anyone in Bangladesh who might've been helped by it," she says.

She'll attend a reception Thursday for museum members at the Rock Hall.

"The beauty of the concert was its simplicity," Olivia says. "They didn't call a promoter to organize it. They organized it themselves."

George's friend Ravi Shankar, the world-renowned sitar player from India, got the ball rolling. He was moved by media reports about the millions of people displaced by civil war between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971. Floods compounded the plight of those who sought refuge in India.

"It was so sad, the refugees -- all the women and children, especially -- and the suffering they were going through," says Shankar, who had relatives affected by the tragedy. "I wanted to do something, to perform, to raise some money."

He was in Los Angeles at the time, collaborating with George on another project.

"He saw my anguish, how upset I was," Shankar says. "So he volunteered to help."

Shortly before the concert, George wrote and recorded "Bangla Desh." He sang:

My friend came to me with sadness in his eyes

Told me that he wanted help

Before his country dies

His handwritten lyrics are part of the Rock Hall exhibit, along with the white suit and orange shirt, both designed by Nudie, worn by George during the concert and his Grammy Award for "The Concert for Bangladesh" album.

Check your ego and keep

an eye out for Dylan

As soon as George signed on, he took Shankar's tentative plans for a benefit to another level.

"It was great, because he immediately phoned all his friends -- Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and some other people," Shankar says.

Among the others were Leon Russell and Billy Preston, the singer-keyboardist who sat in with the Beatles toward the end of their career.

"Everybody was excited about playing with each other," Preston says. "There were no egos or anything. Everybody worked together to pull it off."

During his performance of "That's the Way God Planned It," Preston busted some unscripted stage moves.

"The spirit just came over me," he says, laughing. "All of a sudden, I just jumped up and started dancing."

The concert opened with a brief set of Indian music by Shankar and a group of Indian musicians.

"If you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you enjoy the playing more," Shankar joked after they got a round of applause just for warming up.

"We wanted to start by setting the atmosphere of the area through our music," he says. "I was a little anxious about whether our performance would be fitting, but then everything went wonderfully."

George performed his Beatles-era faves "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something," as well as "My Sweet Lord" and other selections from his solo career.

Clapton was the house band's lead guitarist.

"The Beatles had been trained to the view that if you're going to do it, you might as well do it big," George wrote of the concert in his autobiography, "I Me Mine."

Dylan's set included "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Mr. Tambourine Man." Landing him was a coup. After a 1966 motorcycle accident, he did only a handful of gigs until the mid-1970s, when he hit the road again.

"It was a big deal," Preston says. "I mean, everybody was waiting to see if he really was going to show up."

Dylan's previously unreleased performance of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" from the concert is a bonus track on the reissued live album. George himself supervised initial remixes.

In addition to the original film, enhanced with 5.1 surround sound, the DVD features a wealth of extras, including a documentary about the concert and behind-the-scenes footage from rehearsals. A limited-edition deluxe version of the DVD comes with a 64-page booklet.

Artist royalties from CD and DVD sales will go to UNICEF.

Keeping the beat at Madison Square Garden alongside journeyman drummer Jim Keltner was Starr, who also handled lead vocals for "It Don't Come Easy."

With John Lennon and Paul McCartney absent, however, a full-blown Beatles reunion was not to be.

No Fab Four comeback, but a lasting legacy

Less than two years after the Beatles broke up, relations between some of the ex-bandmates were strained, Shankar and Preston say.

"I think the last thing on George's mind was a Beatles reunion," Olivia says. "They hadn't even really gotten away from each other, never mind coming back again.

"George had a lot of friends outside the Beatles. He'd been in Woodstock with Bob Dylan and the Band. He'd been on tour with Delaney and Bonnie and Eric Clapton. He'd been playing with Leon Russell, too. George moved on pretty quickly in life.

"Ringo has said George didn't invite him. Ringo just called George up and said, I'm coming!' "

Lennon dismissed the concert as "ca-ca" in a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine.

"I am not going to get locked into that business of saving the world onstage," Lennon said. "The show is always a mess, and the artist always comes off badly."

Well, maybe not always. The Concert for Bangladesh didn't go off without a hitch -- the film crew was plagued by technical difficulties, for starters -- but it did go down in history.

"George assumed a great responsibility when he invited his friends to play," Olivia says. "He wanted it to be good for them. He didn't want it to be a bad experience."

In the film, you can see the concentration on George's face when he launches into "Here Comes the Sun," only to break into a grin moments later when he flubs the lyrics.

"He was so nervous, he forgot the words," Olivia says. "Then it was like, OK, good.' He blew off a bit of steam. He could laugh about it."

The concert paved the way for Live Farm, Farm Aid, Live 8 and a host of similar charitable extravaganzas, including the Hurricane Katrina benefits of the last few weeks.

Music is an ideal vehicle for bringing people together and rallying support in tough times, Preston says.

"I feel music is the voice of God," he says. "It can touch souls. God rest George for his compassion and for being the first to do anything like this."

Trend-setting precedents aside, George was just doing what came naturally, Olivia says.

"If there was a situation, and George was called upon to help, what could he do?" she says. "He could grab his guitar and play a song."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4562

Harrison benefit moved the heart of rock 'n' roll


SIR PAUL McCARTNEY has apologised on behalf of YOKO ONO for her embarrassing on him at the Q Awards - insisting the Japanese artist is "not the brightest of buttons". Ono took a swipe at McCartney when she took to the stage at the London ceremony last week (10OCT05) to collect a special award on behalf of her late husband JOHN LENNON. She told the gathering, "John... would say, 'They always cover Paul's songs, they never cover mine.' I said to him, 'You're a good songwriter, it's not June-with-spoon that you write."

But McCartney, who has repeatedly clashed with Ono since Lennon's death in 1980, is refusing to retaliate. He says, "She's John's wife so I have to respect her for that, but I don't have to do any further. I don't think she's the brightest of buttons. I don't want to get in a bun fight but she's said some particularly daft things in her time. Yoko is something else. Her life is dedicated to putting me down, that's what she seems to do all the time. But she will notice that I attempt very strongly not to put her down, I have respect for her as my former comrades wife."