Saturday, 27 May 2017


The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which Rolling Stone named as the best album of all time, turns 50 on June 1st. In honor of the anniversary, and coinciding with a new deluxe reissue of Sgt. Pepper, we present a series of in-depth pieces – one for each of the album's tracks, excluding the brief "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" reprise on Side Two – that explore the background of this revolutionary and beloved record. Today's installment tells the story of how Paul McCartney's father's musical past inspired the "rooty-tooty variety style" of "When I'm Sixty-Four."

Alongside Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Buddy Holly, it's important to cite Jim Mac's Jazz Band among Paul McCartney's formative influences. The obscure ragtime combo never cut a record, but it happened to be fronted by the future Beatle's father, Jim. "My dad was an instinctive musician," McCartney recalled in the Beatles Anthology documentary. "He'd played trumpet in a little jazz band when he was younger. I unearthed a photo in the Sixties, which someone in the family had given me, and there he is in front of a big bass drum. That gave us the idea for Sgt. Pepper: the Jimmy Mac Jazz Band." Beyond inspiring the cover image, McCartney's musical heritage would get an affectionate nod on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band track "When I'm Sixty-Four."
The elder McCartney got his showbiz start like his son: playing workmen's dances around Liverpool as a teenager. Unfortunately, a wardrobe malfunction marred his band's public debut. "We thought we would have some sort of gimmick, so we put black masks on our faces and called ourselves the Masked Melody Makers," Jim related to Beatles biographer Hunter Davies. "But before half time we were sweating so much that the dye was running down our faces. That was the end of the Masked Melody Makers." In their embarrassment, the group changed their name to Jim Mac's Jazz Band. "I ran that band for about four or five years, just part time. I was the alleged boss, but there were no distinctions. We played once at the first local showing of the film The Queen of Sheba. We didn't know what to play. When the chariot race started we played a popular song of the time called 'Thanks for the Buggy Ride.' And when the Queen of Sheba was dying we played 'Horsy Keep Your Tail Up.'" The young Beatles would have a similar experience during an early gig backing a stripper. Unable to read her music – or any music, for that matter – they simply improvised on the spot.
Dental difficulties forced Jim to abandon the trumpet by the time sons Paul and Michael were born, but he filled the McCartney home with music played on a piano purchased from Harry Epstein – father of future Beatles manager Brian. Though self-taught, he possessed the flair of a gifted natural musician. "I have some lovely childhood memories of lying on the floor and listening to my dad play 'Lullaby of the Leaves' – still a big favorite of mine – and music from the Paul Whiteman era, old songs like 'Stairway to Paradise,'" says Paul in the Anthology. "To this day I have a deep love for the piano, maybe from my dad: It must be in the genes."
The sounds of the Twenties and Thirties, channeled through his father, became McCartney's musical foundation. "I grew up steeped in that music-hall tradition," he told author Barry Miles in the book Many Years from Now. "My father once worked at the Liverpool Hippodrome as a spotlight operator. They actually used a piece of burning lime in those days, which he had to trim. He was very entertaining about that period and had lots of tales about it. He'd learned his music from listening to it every single night of the week, two shows every night, Sundays off. ... He had a lot of music in him, my dad."
Jim encouraged his sons to learn how to play piano, noting that it would lead to plenty of party invites. McCartney was eager, but Jim refused to pass along his untutored technique. "I would say, 'Teach us a bit,' and he would reply, 'If you want to learn, you've got to learn properly,'" McCartney remembers. "It was the old ethic that to learn, you should get a teacher." But teachers conjured up images of schoolwork, hardly appealing for a young boy. "In the end, I learnt to play by ear, just like him, making it all up."

Before long he was making up melodies of his own, one of the earliest being "When I'm Sixty-Four," a jaunty tune that straddled the line between homage and parody. "I'd started fiddling around on my dad's piano. I wrote 'When I'm Sixty-Four' on that when I was still 16 – it was all rather tongue-in-cheek – and I never forgot it. I wrote that tune vaguely thinking it could come in handy in a musical comedy or something." Largely written before Presley and the rest of the rock brigade had fully conquered British shores, it's a fascinating look at McCartney's early aspirations. "When I started songwriting, it wasn't to write rock & roll. It was to write for Sinatra. It was to write cabaret," he says in a 1992 episode of The South Bank Show.
The song stuck around, becoming a jokey party piece in the Beatles' early repertoire when they played Liverpool's Cavern Club. John Lennon, rarely one to openly embrace the sentimental, shared fond memories of the tune to Hunter Davies. "It was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got, really; half a song. And this was just one that was quite a hit with us. We used to do them when amps broke down, just sing it on the piano." The Beatles' former drummer, Pete Best, has also recalled Paul launching into the song during onstage power failures, giving authenticity to the line, "I could be handy mending a fuse when your lights have gone."
"When I'm Sixty-Four" seemed doomed to wallow in obscurity until the fall of 1966. Jim had turned 64 that July, but more likely it was the recent spate of Twenties throwback groups – the New Vaudeville Band, the Temperance Seven and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band among them – that made Paul reconsider his primitive composition. "I thought it was a good little tune but it was too Vaudevillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek," he told Miles "I did it in a rooty-tooty variety style." In spite of, or perhaps because of, its age, it seemed to fit the psychedelic variety show McCartney had been conceptualizing for the next Beatles album.
Work began on "When I'm Sixty-Four on December 6th, 1966, at EMI's Abbey Road studios, with the Beatles recording a basic rhythm track. Though it had been nearly half a decade since they aired the song at the Cavern, they picked it up fast. "Because the group was already so familiar with the song, the backing track was laid down in just a couple of hours," engineer Geoff Emerick recalls in his memoir, Here There and Everywhere: Recording the Music of the Beatles.
To flesh out the arrangement, Paul asked producer George Martin to arrange a breezy clarinet part. Martin immediately got the musical reference. "'When I'm Sixty-Four' was not a send-up but a kind of nostalgic, if ever-so-slightly satirical tribute to his dad," he explained in 1994. "It is also not really much of a Beatles song, in that the other Beatles didn't have much to do on it. Paul got someway 'round the lurking schmaltz factor by suggesting we use clarinets on the recording, 'in a classical way.' So the main accompaniment is the two clarinets and a bass clarinet, which I scored for him. This classical treatment gave added bite to the song, a formality that pushed it firmly towards satire."
The song itself is perhaps the least complex on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it does contain one notable instance of studio slight-of-hand. "During the mix, Paul also asked to have the track sped up a great deal – almost a semitone – so that his voice would sound more youthful, like the teenager he was when he originally wrote the song," writes Emerick. However, McCartney himself disputes this, maintaining it was done to make the track more buoyant. "I think that was just to make it more rooty-tooty; just lift the key because it was starting to sound a little turgid."
The song was mixed down before the New Year, making it the first track on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to be completed – though it nearly didn't make it onto the album. "When I'm Sixty-Four" was provisionally earmarked as a potential B side to either "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Penny Lane," which were being produced concurrently. But after a lengthy stretch of no new Beatles releases, and whispers in the press that the band's bubble had finally burst, Brian Epstein wanted to make a splash with their next single. "Brian was desperate to recover popularity, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a marvelous seller," explains Martin in the Anthology. "He came to me and said, 'I must have a really great single. What have you got?' I said, 'Well, I've got three tracks – and two of them are the best tracks they've ever made. We could put the two together and make a smashing single.' We did, and it was a smashing single – but it was also a dreadful mistake."
Upon its release on February 17th, 1967, the double-A-sided "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" became the first Beatles single since 1962's "Love Me Do" that failed to reach Number One in the United Kingdom. Adding insult to injury, it was blocked from the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck's overblown cover of the Forties chestnut "Release Me." Martin believed the chart success was hampered by the fact that record compilers counted the two sides as individual entries, thus splitting the sales. In fact, the Beatles' release outsold Humperdinck's by nearly double. Still, Martin remained guilt-ridden for his part in breaking the so-called "roll" of Number Ones. "We would have sold far more and got higher up in the charts if we had issued one of those [songs] with, say, 'When I'm Sixty-Four' on the back," he later lamented.
There were no hard feelings from the band. When Martin turned 64 in January 1990, McCartney sent him a birthday greeting: a bottle of wine.

Friday, 26 May 2017


(Press Stop/Pause-bottom on the Beatles Radio, below)


So many of us have that “Aha!” moment as teenagers where you work out what it is you’d like to do when you grow up.
For one of us here at HQ it came watching The South Bank Show documentary ‘The Making of Sgt. Pepper’, specifically where George Martin talks the viewer through the recording of the title track. Sitting at a mixing console, the revered producer fades out all the instruments to reveal Paul’s blistering vocal take, “He’d got sawdust in his voice there!” As Mr. Martin fades back up the instruments, and the track once again takes shape that ‘Aha!’ moment happened: music! 
So imagine how excited we were when we found out there would be a special 50th anniversary release for the album responsible for changing ours, and so many other people’s lives. This also gave us the ideal opportunity to conduct a special ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ with Paul, pulling some of the most asked questions we’ve seen posted online by you, plus a few of our own that have been in our head since watching that documentary.
Our Q&A with Paul took place a few weeks before Apple announced the details of the release to the world, and we typed it up a few days after hearing Giles Martin’s new stereo mixes at Abbey Road’s Studio Two – the very room where the album was recorded! You’re going to love it. As someone who knows the songs inside out, we're happy to say you can hear every instrument on this album that we’ve “known for all these years” like you’ve never heard them before. The new clarity is incredible and, indeed, "a splendid time is guaranteed for all!”
YOU GAVE ME THE ANSWER: 'SGT. PEPPER' SPECIAL: [PMc]: Do you remember coming up with the cover and band concepts? We understand that the original concept came from you doing a doodle on a plane based around an Edwardian military band?
Paul McCartney [PM]: Yeah! Well, what really happened was I was coming back from a trip abroad with our roadie, Mal Evans, just the two of us together on the plane. And we were eating and he mumbled to me, asked me to pass the salt and pepper. And I misheard him. He said [mumbles] “saltandpepper”. I go, “Sergeant Pepper?” I thought he said, “Sergeant Pepper”. I went, “Oh! Wait a minute, that’s a great idea!” So we had a laugh about it, then I started thinking about Sergeant Pepper as a character. I thought it would be a very interesting idea for us to assume alter egos for this album we were about to make.
So that’s what we did. And yeah, I started doing drawings of how the band might look. I sort of got this military look thing going and one of my ideas was that they were being presented by the Lord Mayor of some Northern town in a park. And in the old days they used to have floral clocks, they called them. It was like a clock that was made out of flowers. So I did drawings of the floral clock and then, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”, AKA The Beatles, getting an award. So they’ve got a big cup and they’re getting some sort of award from the town.
So that’s where the idea came from and then I just talked to all the guys and said, “What do you think of this idea?” They liked it and I said, “It will mean, when I approach the mic, it’s not Paul McCartney. I don’t have to think this is a Paul McCartney song”. So it was freeing. It was quite liberating.
So, you know, we didn’t keep that idea up all the time, but that was the basic idea that we would make something that was very free. Something that this other band might make, instead of doing something that we thought The Beatles ought to make. It originally came from that mishearing of salt and pepper!
PMc: Were you doing the drawings on the same flight?
PM: I don’t remember if I did the drawings on the flight, or whether that’s just got morphed into the same story. But definitely on the flight coming back.  That was the start of it when I misheard that. So that’s the essence of the whole idea.
PMc: Had you already started to write the songs for that album?
PM: No, but when I got back I started thinking, “Okay, what would their theme tune be?” So I wrote what became the opening song where they would introduce themselves and then they would introduce another character: Billy Shears, which was Ringo.
It was just to give us all alter egos, to give us all invented characters. So that now we were making this album like a piece of theatre. We were now going in to the studio as other people. And we came down to Soho, in the West End, and had our uniforms made by Berman’s the theatrical costumiere.
PMc: Was there any reason for the different coloured outfits?
PM: No, we just chose a material. Said, “I’ll have that, he’ll have that”. There was no concept, no. It was just whoever wanted what colour.
PMc: We understand there were two drum skins created for the cover. Was there any specific reason for that, or was it just to make sure you had different options?
PM: No, I think the drum skins - as I recall - were organised by Peter Blake, who had someone he knew who did painting for fairgrounds. So you see the rides in the fairgrounds - like the Waltzer, or you know, the House Of Fun and all that - it’s always lettered and painted a certain way, which is quite an ancient tradition, apparently. There’s a specific look to it all and there are people who specialise in those, so I think Peter had those done by those people, and I suppose he just had a spare one made as well. I think we probably would have just said, “That one”.
PMc: We realised in the office that there are some grammar mistakes on the drum skin: a semicolon after ‘Sgt’, and there isn’t an apostrophe in ‘Peppers’. Is that just an accident?
PM: Yeah, that’s an accident! The guy doing it was, as I say, a fairground guy, so all this sort of stuff [Paul points to the logo on the album cover] - the filigree and all these decorative things - are the kind of things you would see on the side of a Waltzer, when you go to the fairground. It’s covered in this kind of stuff.
So I think he will have just been told “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and instead of putting a dot after the ‘gt’ of ‘Sgt.’ - which I think you might naturally do - I think it just looks better as a composition to be down there. And there’s no particular reason for it being a semi colon. It could have just as easily been two dots, or something. And then no apostrophe? There’s no reason for it. He was asked to do that and he came up with that beautiful design.
PMc: Do you remember who’s idea it was to have the cut outs that came with the album? The moustache, medals, stripes and band stand up?
PM: I think those were Peter’s ideas. I certainly gave him the basic idea of the Sgt. Pepper band. There was the floral clock that got changed into the little flower arrangements on the cover. And then the idea was that each of these characters in the “play” would have their own background. So I asked all the guys to come up with a list of people who their character might be fans of. So everyone did that like as a bit of homework, kind of thing.
PMc: Was there anybody who kind of didn’t make the final collage on the cover?
PM: Oh, yeah! I mean, some, because it was just a fun thing. You know, I think someone brought Hitler. And that was vetoed immediately: “No!” And then Jesus was in there. You know, he was an understandable hero. But there were certain ones that might have offended people.
I mean, Hitler, I think was just a joke. No way he was gonna get on there. Jesus was not so much a joke. He could have been in there but we didn’t want to offend Christians.
PMc: Do you remember any specific names you suggested?
PM: [Looking at the album cover] I think these were mine: Aldous Huxley, because I had been reading a book by him. H.G. Wells, Fred Astaire. And then there was Dylan Thomas.
There’s a footballer there, I think that’s Dixie Dean. I mean this is all documented exactly who they are. Laurel and Hardy, we liked them. William Morris, Marilyn Monroe, Terry Southern. This is what the floral clock became at the bottom of the cover. And then people thought this was marijuana, which they weren’t. They were just plants! But, of course, in those days everyone read everything into everything we did.
But that was it. We all had a list of favourites. George put in an Indian guru, that’s Yogananda. And Babaji is in there. So we just each put people in that we admired through history, so that was the idea. It was really just so if a fan magazine had said to the characters in this fictitious band, “Who are your favourites?” They’d go, “Oh, these people”. We’d go, “Okay this character, is that kind of guy. George: he’s more into mystical people, you know. Paul: okay, he’s more into literary ones, or whatever”. So it would give us each an identity. It was really just for background.
There were certain ones we all liked, like Oscar Wilde. Max Miller was a British comedian. And then there’s Stuart [Sutcliffe], who had been our old bass player, who died. Aubrey Beardsley, the artist. The Bowery Boys, they were a TV series when we were growing up, and there was one of them who wouldn’t do it. One of them wanted money for it.
We just wrote to everyone and said, “Do you mind?” Well, at first we didn’t. But the head of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood came to my house and complained! He said, “This is going to be a nightmare. There are going to be legal battles!” I said, “No, no, no. People are gonna love it! They’re all on The Beatles cover, you know! It’ll be a laugh, they’ll understand”. He said, “No, you’ve got to write to them all”.
So we did. We got a letter out: “We are planning to do this using your image. Do you mind? Is it okay? Please give us the okay”. And all of them did, except for one of the Bowery Boys who wanted to cut a deal. And we thought, “You know what, we’ve got enough people on here!”
PMc: Did that delay the album release?
PM: No. No the cover wasn’t shot. We had the idea… Or it may have been, it may have been actually. Yeah, I think it was shot, but we just had to ask them all.
PMc: Would you pick different people for the cover today, compared to 1967?
PM: I’m not sure. You know probably, yeah. But just because it wouldn’t be the same time.
PMc: We’ve read that the Sgt. Pepper moustache came about because you had been in a bike accident. Is that true?
PM: Yeah! I had a moped and was with a friend of mine up in Liverpool. It was Tara Browne, who was one of the Guinness family. He and I were going to visit my cousin Betty on these mopeds that we had, little motorised bicycles. And there was a very full moon and I said, “Wow, look at that moon!” Then I suddenly realised I’d lost my balance and I looked back and I smacked the pavement and bust my lip! And we went to my cousin’s house with my hand over my lips saying, “Hey Bett! Don’t be worried”. And she’s thinking, “Oh, isn’t he funny”. And then, “…Ahh!”
So, Betty said, “Oh, I’m gonna get this guy”. This doctor, he’s the local doctor and he came over. But, tell you the truth, he’d had a few. So he said, “I’m gonna have to stitch you!” And I said, “Oh!” Because, you know, it was Christmas time or New Years time, and he definitely was over the limit!
So he got his needle, and he could barely thread it, he couldn’t thread it even. So I think Betty sort of said, “Here, let me do that”. So she threaded his needle up for him and I went, “Ahh… Here goes nothing!”
So he put it in – no anesthetic. Bang! “Oww!” You know, and then he put it through and made a stitch up, put it through the other side, “Oww! God!” I was just sort of standing there. It was not wonderful, but I thought, “Well, he’s got to do it”. He pulls it right through, and the thread comes out. “Oh, we’ve got to do that again, then.” “Jeez.” Was I happy? No!
But yeah, so after that I started growing this moustache to hide quite a big, sizeable bump. There’s a bump still there. But it was quite a good gash, and I broke a tooth!
Yeah but anyway, so he had to do it. He finished it off. It wasn’t a brilliant job. So then, as I was recovering, I let this grow as a moustache. I wasn’t really in the public eye for a while, so then the first thing people knew was that I’d grown that moustache. And the other guys liked it and so we all grew them. It was just like a fun thing. So that’s that!
PMc: At the end of the album - following ‘A Day In The Life’ - you have that very high-pitched tone. And then you have the inner groove loop on the record. Where did those ideas come from?
PM: Okay, so the loop thing was that at that time people were partying a lot and getting stoned a lot. And one of the things is you would be in a party with everyone, you’d be playing an album on vinyl and so the record would end. But everybody would be so sort of stoned that the record would just go [mimics the noise of the record player getting stuck in the inner groove]. You’ve all been there! And people would go, “Ahhh… Yeah…” And no one would turn it off!
So we went, you know what, we should have something there. We should put in a little loop so when that happens, there will be something there! So that was the basis of that idea. So we just recorded something, we just all got around the mic, and we just said stupid stuff. It’s just a loop cut out of some stuff we said.
I think John said something like, “Cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce”. And that was just a little bit of fun for us, because we were always trying to be different from other people who made records. So this would be a very “Beatle-y” thing to do. So we did it, and it was just for that moment where [mimics record player playing the inner groove]. It would say something instead of just, “Cuh-chug, cuh-chug”.
The crazy thing was, as I said, everyone read into everything we ever did in those days. So somebody arrived at my house and the rumour was that if you played it backwards, it said something. If you play it in that groove backwards and then we thought well none of us have ever tried. So I said, “No, it’s nonsense. That’s not true, at all!” And they said, “It is! It is! It is!” And they insisted. So I said well come and show me. So he took it, and somehow, we just went against the player’s motor, turned it backwards, the loop. And sorry folks, excuse my expletives, but it was supposed to say, “We’ll fuck you like supermen”. I went, “This is just ridiculous!” But sure enough, “We’ll fuck you like supermen, we’ll fuck you like supermen”. It sounded like that!
PMc: So that was just by complete chance?
PM: It was, yeah! It was pretty random, but those things happen with the readings, you know. Because people would look into it so much, and that was that.
PMc: And no one had done that kind of inner groove loop before, is that right?
PM: Yeah, nobody had done it on a loop like that. It’s a silly idea. No one was as silly as we were!
But the other thing, that was fascinating: the high-pitched noise [whistles]. We would have great conversations with George Martin in the studio, because he was very swotty, George was. Very mathematics, and he knew the science behind a lot of what we were doing, whereas we didn’t. We just enjoyed it and loved it. But he was talking about frequencies. He said, “There are so many frequencies”. For instance, he said, “Your ears are all younger than mine”. He said, “Let’s do a little test’. So he took a little oscillator that we had and went [whistles from a low to high pitch]. And he got it up to [whistles very high]. And he said, “Can you hear that?” We go, “Yeah…” He goes [whistles higher]. He said, “I can’t hear that, can you?” We go, “Yeah!”
Then he took it higher so even we couldn’t hear it and said, “It’s still there”. The noise, the frequency was still there. He said, “Dogs can hear that. Dogs have a different framework, a different range of hearing”. We went, “Fantastic! We’ve gotta put that on the record!” So when suddenly when everyone’s listening to it, no one can hear it and the dog would perk up. You know, prick his ears up: “What’s that?”
So that arrived from those great conversations. And the other end of that conversation was he said, “Lots of people know this, this frequency thing. And one of the things Hitler had was these sort of PR people, who did movies for him. You know, Leni Riefenstahl. And there was a PR machine behind everything he did”. He said, “And one of the things, and it’s suppose to be true, was that at these rallies, hundreds and thousands of people would arrive, and you see film of it. And he wouldn’t arrive, he wouldn’t be there. And what they would do is they would put a subsonic noise [makes low-pitched hum] through the speakers. But no one could hear it, but it was sort of was rather discomforting. So you can’t hear it, but it kind of puts you off a bit.” It’s like a super sub-bass at a big club. It’s like, it can actually sort of get to you, it can bother you a bit, so he said, “They used to play this, this is the story, and then just before Hitler showed up they would turn it off”.
PMc: So they would get a sense of relief?
PM: Yeah! Like, “I feel so much better, now he’s here!” You know, and nobody knew that there’s a subsonic noise.
PMc: And George Martin told you that story?
PM: Yeah, George Martin. This was all one conversation: “The Highs And The Lows” by George Martin. But you know, we took it all in. We loved him. We loved these little chats and we used it all in our music.
You know, if someone put a tape machine on backwards by mistake once, the tape op, and we were like, “Oh! What’s that?” Whereas I always say any other band would have just gone, “You’ve got it on backwards, stupid! Put it on right!” But we were always, “Ahh, how can we use that?”
George was such a good producer and got it. And he would say, “Well, we could do it. And if we did this, and if we did that…” And so that really made it interesting, because there were all sorts of physical things like that that he would educate us with. Like half speed things. If things were very fast, the guitar solo in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ [sings the song]. It was very hard to play normal speed. So George would say, “I’ll tell you what we’ll do…” So we took it down to half speed on these studio machines. You have to take it down an octave, that’s what was intriguing. So half speed, the octave would go down. You would play it on a bass guitar or a guitar [sings song again, lower and at half speed], and it’s easy to play! And then you just put it back up [sings at full speed]. So if you listen to that solo that’s at double speed. So we had a lot of fun with that, you know, it’s gonna go down an octave, we’re gonna play it slow.
PMc: I’ve always wondered if you guys slowed down ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ because your voice sounds slightly higher?
PM: Sometimes I would just speed things up a bit. Often, when you make a song you record it and then you think, “It’s not quite fast enough!” So rather than do it again, you just lifted the tape. These days you can lift the tape and not lift the pitch, with Logic and a few other machines. But back then you would actually lift the pitch a bit.
PMc: So another question we quite often see is, in hindsight, do you wish ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ had been included on the album? And if so, where would you have placed them?
PM: No, I was happy. So we won’t even get into placing them! I was happy that it was the precursor to ‘Sgt. Pepper’. And the thing was, you know, we always liked to release things fresh. We had just made those tracks, so the thought of waiting until we had completed the whole album would not have appealed to us. You know, we liked that as soon as it’s made, at the nearest point to the actual making of the song and the record, we would like to put it out. So I was glad how we did it and it was like a fanfare, that single. Another thing we liked about it was it was simple value for money. You really got two A-sides. But it kind of heralded what was to come.
PMc: Kind of like a road sign showing what was on the way?
PM: Yeah!
PMc: Another question we see is: Did you have any kind of idea at the time just how big this album would become?
PM: No, not really. The only thing we knew was that the music press, I’m not sure who it was – it would probably have been The New Music Express or The Melody Maker, the two music papers that were very big at the time – one of them, somebody from one of those music papers said, “Oh, The Beatles have dried up. They’ve finished. We haven’t heard anything from them, you know, they’ve run out of ideas”. So we were quietly tinkering away at Abbey Road knowing we hadn’t run out of ideas and knowing it was gonna be really great to be able to say, “No, we didn’t run out. Check this out!” And give them ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and go – “Take that back!”
In fact, when it did get released, the music critic from The New York Times said it was terrible. And Linda said she met him in the street and said, “You’re crazy, man. It’s a great album! What are you talking about?” And there must have been a lot of people that said it to him that week, because he took it back a week later. He said, “You know what, it’s grown on me. I like it’.
PMc: And looking back now, what always blows our minds, is that you were only 24 when that album was recorded. That’s quite incredible!
PM: Yeah, I mean there’s quite a few people who feel they’re very grown up when they’re 24. And we did! We’d been doing the group since, well, since we were kinda 19 and 20. So four years at that kind of pace was a long time. And we all smoked Rothman cigarettes. And we had Carnaby Street stuff, so we thought we were pretty hot. So 24 didn’t seem young to us, because we had just been 20!
I mean, I always tell the story of when were 17, me and George - and George would have been 16 - and we used to go round to see John at his Art College, which was next door to our school. We were where LIPA now is, The Liverpool Institute. Next door was the Arts School which is now part of LIPA as well. But that’s where John was, so we’d go round just to hang out and see him during lunchtime and there was a guy who was in John’s year, who was like older than the class. You know that phenomenon and he was 24 and we felt so sorry for him! No, we really did, like a genuine sorrow. [Whispers] “He’s 24? God, it must be awful!” You know, now looking back he was like a child. But, you know, so by the time we were 24, we felt like we had done quite a lot. We had done enough to sort of think we were pretty grown up!
A coda from After we stopped recording our Q&A, Paul carried on telling us some very cool stories, such as how one day in the studio the ‘A’ string on John Lennon’s guitar began to resonate when he leant his guitar against an amplifier. The band jumped up when they heard the noise, saying, “What’s that?!” After George Martin explained how certain frequencies will make objects vibrate, it was agreed they would record this new sound for the start of ‘I Feel Fine’.
Paul told us how he really loved that about The Beatles: when those “happy accidents” happened, the band would want to use it in a song somehow. He likened it to how a painter might see a small, unintended brushstroke on a canvas and decide to leave it in, rather than painting it out.
Another story Paul told us was about how one of the engineers threaded the tape machine the wrong way in the studio during a session. When they pressed “Play” the song played backwards and again, up they jumped asking George Martin if they could use that somehow. Paul told us George’s response was always to rub his chin, look thoughtful then reply, “Well, I suppose we could…” And the rest, as they say, is history! 

The aniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band is Available to pick up from Amazon store online. 

*2LP: H E R E ! 
*2CD: H E R E !
*1CD: H E R E !  

Thursday, 25 May 2017


THE BEATLES invite you to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. Hear the iconic album in its entriety now mixed in DOLBY ATMOS by Giles Martin. DOLBY ATMOS transports you into the story with breathtaking, moving audio that fills the cinema and flows all around you. This is you only chance to hear this incredible new mix. 

The Beatles’ Facebook page has posted an invitation for fans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at special listening parties tonight in select movie theaters on June 1, 50 years to the day after the original album’s release. Says the post: “Hear the iconic album in its entirety now mixed in Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin. Dolby Atmos transports you into the story with breathtaking, moving audio that fills the cinema and flows all around you. This is your only chance to hear this incredible new mix.”
Click here to register.

The participating theaters are as follows:
City: New York
Theater: AMC Empire 25
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 5:00pm

City: Los Angeles
Theater: AMC Century City 15
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 5:00pm

City: San Francisco
Theater: AMC Metreon 16
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 5:00pm

City: Skokie
Theater: AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

City: Dallas
Theater: AMC NorthPark 15
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

City: Clinton Township
Theater: AMC Star Gratiot 21
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

City: Washington, DC
Theater: AMC Loews Georgetown 14
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

City: Sugar Land
Theater: AMC First Colony 24
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

City: Las Vegas
Theater: AMC Town Square 18
Date: 6/01/2017
Time: 7:00pm

From the original Capitol Records announcement of the new reissues: “It was 50 years ago this June 1 when The Beatles’ John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr astonished and delighted the world, ushering in the Summer of Love with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a groundbreaking masterwork that became popular music’s most universally acclaimed album. To salute the occasion, The Beatles will release a suite of lavishly presented Sgt. Pepper Anniversary Edition packages on May 26 (Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe). The album is newly mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio and expanded with early takes from the studio sessions, including no fewer than 34 previously unreleased recordings.”


 If you have been out and about in the city today you may have noticed to posters and signs dedicated to the Beatles’ manager , Brian Epstein.


If you haven’t seen them yet - we’re sure you will as they’re being kept up in the city until Friday, June 16.
But why?
The posters are part of the Sgt Pepper at 50 festival - a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
With A Little Help From My Friends is the name of the new artwork by award winning artist Jeremy Deller who was inspired by the Beatles’ song about friendship, loneliness and love.

The artwork consists of a series of billboards dedicated to the role he played within the band.
One of the billboards includes the quote ‘Brian Epstein Died for You’, speaking about the quote, artist Jeremy Deller said: “The phrase, ‘Brian Epstein Died for You’, though short, carries with it ideas of belief and self-sacrifice, two strong aspects of Christianity and indeed most mainstream religions.
“It could be argued that popular music itself is a belief system, and the phrase ‘Brian Epstein Died for You’, has great meaning to its devotees, as he was such a key figure in its development.”

Liverpool Presents Sgt. Pepper at 50 runs from Thursday, May 25 until Friday, June 16 and will see the involvement of international names such as Groupe F, Mark Morris, Judy Chicago, John Cage, author Frank Cottrell-Boyce, DJ Spooky as well some of the very best Indian musicians in the world, including Grammy award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
There’s also a number of events happening across the city.


A Beatles poster owned by singer Mary Hopkin has been sold at auction for £28,000.

The band's 1963 gig advert was expected to fetch between £400 to £800 as part of a collection of Sixties memorabilia auctioned off by the artist.
Hopkin, 67, from Pontardawe, Swansea, was one of the first acts signed by The Beatles' Apple Records label.
The singer, who had a UK number one single Those Were The Days in 1968, is also selling off stage dresses.
The colour poster advertised the Fab Four's gig at The Pier Pavilion in Llandudno, Conwy county, in August 1963.
Later the same month the band went straight to number one with their second hit She Loves You, sparking the eruption of Beatlemania.
The poster was sold at the Antiques and Fine Art auction in Colwyn Bay.

Before the sale, auctioneer Ben Rogers Jones said: "My hope is that it will go to somebody local to the area who was at the gig, but there's sure to be huge interest from elsewhere as the market for Beatles memorabilia is colossal."
The company will next sell off a collection of Hopkin's dresses on 2 June in Cardiff.


34 Montagu Square, in Marylebone, London, is a part of music history. Ringo leased the ground-floor and basement apartment in the mid-1960s, and Paul created several Beatles demos there in 1965, including "I'm Looking Through You" from the album Revolver.

Jimi Hendrix also lived in the apartment, subletting it from Ringo beginning in December 1966. He lived with his girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, and also with his manager, Chas Chandler, and his girlfriend, Lotta Null. The monthly rent was £30.
It was a seminal time in Jimi's career. He released "Purple Haze" in March 1967, the same year he played at the Monterey Pop Festival after Paul McCartney recommended him. It was at this festival that Jimi famously set his guitar on fire at the end of his performance.



He also wrote "The Wind Cries Mary" at the apartment, following an argument he had with Kathy (her middle name was Mary) over her ability to cook. Kathy stormed out. The song was released in May 1967 and reached No. 6 on the British charts.

But Jimi's time at 34 Montagu Square came to an abrupt end in 1967, when Ringo evicted him for throwing whitewash over the walls while on an acid trip.


Later, a third Beatle, John, rented the apartment for three months in the latter half of 1968 with Yoko Ono. The cover photograph of their album Two Virgins was taken at the address.


Meet the stars of the iconic artwork with the BBC


‘Sgt. Pepper’ Presented with New Mixes in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Audio; Expanded with Previously Unreleased Session Recordings, Video Features & Special Packaging

Previously Unreleased 1992 Documentary Film, ‘The Making of Sgt. Pepper,’ Restored for Anniversary Edition’s Super Deluxe Boxed Set
Pre-Order Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB Anniversary Edition SUPER DELUXE EDITION (6 Disc)

Hosted by composer, author, music historian and broadcaster Howard Goodall, the film features material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road Studios and reveals how the album came together.

PBS: SGT. PEPPER’S MUSICAL REVOLUTION premieres on the BBC and PBS Saturday, June 3, 2017.
Check PBS and BBC for broadcast schedule.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Meet the Band Over the next few weeks, you can meet some of the stars of the iconic artwork through the BBC archive
Pre-Order Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB Anniversary Edition 2 LP

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


The Beatles found another deft balance between the two dominant traits of songwriters John and Paul on “Getting Better” – but only after Lennon had swum through a particularly disorienting experience with LSD.
Ensconced at Abbey Road Studios during evening sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in March 1967, Lennon suddenly couldn’t finish the vocal take. “I thought I was taking some uppers and I was not in the state of handling it,” he later told Rolling Stone. “I took it and I suddenly got so scared on the mic. I said, ‘What is it? I feel ill.’ I said I must go and get some air. They all took me upstairs on the roof, and [producer] George Martin was looking at me funny, and then it dawned on me that I must have taken some acid.”

Martin only discovered what had happened with John much later. “John was in the habit of taking pills – uppers – to give him the energy to get through the night,” Martin said in All You Need Is Ears. “That evening, he had taken the wrong pill by mistake – a very large dose of LSD. I knew they smoked pot, and I knew they took pills, but in my innocence I had no idea they were also into LSD.”

Martin may not have known he was John was tripping, but they would have headed upstairs at Abbey Road either way. “I couldn’t take him out the front because there were 500 screaming kids who’d have torn him apart,” Martin said in an interview for the Anthology project. “So, the only place I could take him to get fresh air was the roof. It was a wonderful starry night, and John went to the edge, which was a parapet about 18 inches high, and looked up at the stars and said, ‘Aren’t they fantastic?’ Of course, to him I suppose they would have been especially fantastic. At the time, they just looked like stars to me.”

Paul and George continued recording the background vocals for “Getting Better,” which was finished two days later with the addition of congas by Ringo. These new pieces were placed on top of a basic track dating back to March 9, when the Beatles began seven early takes. Martin produced an unusual piano sound by directly striking the instrument’s strings, while Harrison added a tambura drone on March 10.

Interestingly, the song’s title didn’t spring from the rich imaginations of either Lennon or McCartney, but instead a one-time former fill-in member of the band. “It’s getting better” was a favorite saying of Jimmie Nicol, who subbed for an ailing Starr over eight days during the Beatles’ 1964 world tour before disappearing back into anonymity. The phrase reportedly popped into McCartney’s head while walking his sheepdog one day in 1967.

In keeping, “Getting Better” began life as an appropriately upbeat song, reflecting both the chirpy title and McCartney’s general disposition. “I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realizing that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too – and this was one of those,” McCartney told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now.
Then Lennon joined in the creative process. “I’m writing, ‘It’s getting better all the time’ and John comes in with, ‘Couldn’t get no worse,'” Paul told the Washington Post. “Instead of going, ‘Oh, you’re spoiling my lovely song.’ I go, ‘Genius, great.’ I would do the same thing for him.”
Lennon also later took ownership of surprisingly dark lyrics lamenting youthful violence toward women, something that created a striking narrative contrast for the song – even as it coincided with his own personal awakening.
“It is a diary form of writing,” John told David Scheff in All We Are Saying. “All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved‘ was me. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence.”

source: ultimateclassicrock
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