Friday, June 30, 2006

Call For Beatle Paul To Live His Lyric

IW Council member Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox is inviting McCartney to live out his vision in the song When I'm Sixty Four by coming to the Island in his 64th year. Cllr Wilcox has picked up the idea first mooted by IW Radio presenter Alex Dyke. "When there was talk about the song at the time of McCartney's recent 64th birthday, I thought it would be great to invite him," Alex said.The IW's place in pop folklore is enshrined because the full set of lyrics from When I'm Sixty Four were the first to be reproduced on an album sleeve, Mr Dyke said.The actual line goes: "Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear."Cllr Wilcox hopes her invitation may encourage McCartney to finally live out the song's premise."I know we have missed his actual 64th birthday but he will be 64 all year, so he could come for next year's festival."The invitation will be made through the council's Civic Pride initiative.

Beatles' extravaganza is a magical mystery tour you'll never forget

The Cirque du Soleil's $150 million extravaganza set to the songs of the Beatles has met with rave reviews from critics today ahead of its gala premiere tonight.

The circus spectacular called LOVE, which premieres tonight at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, will be attended by remaining Beatles Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's widow Olivia and also Yoko Ono.

It is, astonishingly, the first time the Beatles have allowed their music - including some previously unheard tracks - to be performed in a show.

And critics worldwide have showered the extravaganza with plaudits.

The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer described the show as "ravishing and almost indecently spectacular."

"Cirque du Soleil is also overpoweringly moving. For it achieves the apparently impossible, allowing you to hear the Beatles with fresh ears.

"At times you seem to be listening to the music of your childhood and youth as if for the first time," he wrote enthusiastically.

"The sound is like a dream come true."

The Toronto Star's critic Richard Ouzounian described it as "sheer bliss" and a "magical mystery tour you'll never forget."

Ouzounian added: "It is undoubtedly the most unabashedly joyous show in this organisation's history.

"LOVE is not only a satisfying artistic and original piece of entertainment in its own right, but it honours the musical integrity of the Fab Four in a way that few other shows ever have."

The show, which was born out of a friendship between the late George Harrison and Guy Laliberte, founder of the Canadian acrobatic troupe, takes its audience on a part-chronological, part-fantasy journey through the life and times of the four young men from Liverpool who inspired Beatlemania.

Performed in a custom-built, 2,000-seat theatre, the audience is treated to high-wire acrobats, break dancers, trampoline artists and skaters whom bring life to characters such as Sgt. Pepper, Lady Madonna and the sea world of Octopus's Garden in a visual feast of colour, light and adventure.

Some of the wondrous scenes include Lucy swooping on a trapeze across a sky twinkling with diamonds, Mr Kite presiding over a psychedelic circus of stiltwalkers and acrobats, and there is also the unmistakable voices of John, Paul, George and Ringo filling the surround sound-equipped arena.

For avid Beatles fans, the real star of the show is the music - some 130 songs re-mixed, mashed up and born again with a clarity never heard before.

Sir George Martin, who helped produce the show said: "We wanted to make sure there are enough good, solid hit songs in the show but we didn't want it to be a catalog of 'best ofs'. We also wanted to put in some interesting and not well-known Beatles music and use fragments of songs."

Martin, who worked on every Beatles album except Let It Be, and his son Giles Martin spent two years working from the original master tapes of The Beatles sessions to produce a 90-minute soundtrack that is played through six speakers in the back of each seat as well as a panoramic sound system.

The sound is so clear, McCartney's Yesterday feels so close you can hear the strings of his acoustic guitar snapping on the neck.

Meanwhile, well-known songs like Revolution and Come Together are remixed with snippets from other Beatles hits while tracks like Get Back and Within You, Without You are intermingled.

"The last thing we wanted to create was a retrospective or a tribute show," Giles Martin added.

McCartney and Ringo Starr, who have already seen the show in preview, were closely involved in the project as were Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono.

The idea of teaming up with Cirque du Soleil first came from Harrison before his death in 2001.

It was pursued by his widow and got the go-ahead from Apple Corps Ltd, the English company that administers The Beatles' interests, in 2002.

Beatles' Legacy Revived With 'Love' Show

The Beatles are back, not in the U.S.S.R, not on "The Ed Sullivan Show" or even at Shea Stadium _ but on the Las Vegas Strip as the focus of international theater troupe Cirque du Soleil's surrealistic portrayal of the Fab Four's career.

Friday's grand opening performance of "Love" was to feature red carpet arrivals at the retooled Siegfried & Roy Theatre at The Mirage hotel by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr along with the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

The deconstructed musical trip through the Beatles' past is filled with characters from their songs _ the walrus, Lady Madonna, Sgt. Pepper _ parts of songs, outtakes and fragments that are sure to please fans and at the same time leave them full of questions.

"John? Who knows about John," said George Martin, the Beatles' longtime producer about John Lennon, who was shot and killed Dec. 8, 1980.

"If he saw the show, he'd probably say, 'Yeah, but it could be better,'" said Martin, who worked with son, Giles Martin, to create the 90-minute show's soundscape. "John was never satisfied with anything that he ever did in his life. In his mind, he had a dream world which could not be realized."

In "Love," the Beatles' dream world does appear onstage.

The performance explodes early at the hotel-casino's $130 million, 2,013-seat theater in the round with "Get Back," the band's 1969 hit, as dancers and acrobats jump and twirl in the air.

Set to blended, reversed and enhanced parts of 130 songs and unpublished outtakes, the acrobatic and dance spectacle takes the audience through World War II, the 1960s era of "Beatlemania," the band's reclusive studio years and a psychedelic time that produced songs such as "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Some moments allude to real-life events, according to creator Dominic Champagne. Hooded figures throwing knives at a cross hint at threats made by the Ku Klux Klan against the Beatles after Lennon famously proclaimed in 1966 that the band was "more popular than Jesus."

Also dramatized to "A Day in the Life" is Julia, Lennon's mother, whose death in a traffic accident early in his life is thought to have created a bond between Lennon and McCartney, whose own mother died when he was young.

"I tried to get inspired by the lyrics, but also the moments and the motion of their careers," Champagne said. "We tried to be spiritual and physical without trying to be too didactic. I didn't want to do the live version of 'The Anthology.' We're not here to teach the Beatles story to people."

What emerged is a multitude of symbols and metaphors that will have dedicated fans dusting off their LPs and looking through lyric books.

A South African tap dance in yellow gumboots to "Lady Madonna" evokes the "children at your feet" line from the song. A lonely looking "Eleanor Rigby" drags her belongings like a bag lady behind her on stage, while "Doctor Robert," who allegedly gave the band LSD in their tea, merrily carries teapot in hand.

It was Harrison's desire to do more with the Beatles' legacy and his personal friendship with Cirque founder Guy Laliberte that sparked development of the project. The Beatles' company, Apple Corps Ltd., then signed off on "Love."

The production is the first major theatrical partnership for Apple Corps, which has earned a feisty reputation for having sued companies from Apple Computer Inc. to record label EMI to protect the band's legacy. It also marks the company's most significant endeavor since 2000 when it released "1," a CD collection of 27 No. 1 singles that has sold more than 24 million copies.

Giles Martin likened the long hiatus to the quiet time from 1966 to 1967 that his father spent in the studio with the Beatles to create their seminal album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

"'Sgt. Pepper' was done because the Beatles stopped touring," he said. "And this was done because the Beatles aren't here."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

McCartney brother shares gig photos

Behind-The-Scenes photos of last summer's Live8 concert in Hyde Park feature in a new book published by photographer Mike McCartney today.

Live8 coolpix is a photo diary of the concert, including candid shots of celebrities.

As a guest of his brother Sir Paul and show organiser Bob Geldof, Mike McCartney had access to areas closed to most press and official photographers.

Only 1,500 special limited edition copies of Live8 will be published, with profits going directly to the Live Aid Trust.

In a foreword, Sir Paul, pictured on Sting's knee, says: "Live8 was one of the greatest days possibly of the decade.

"Luckily, Mike was there to capture many of the exciting backstage happenings."

Mike added: "If all of them sell, we'll raise tens of thousands of pounds towards making African and world poverty history."

The books costs £30 unsigned, £60 signed. Pictures include Bono, Brad Pitt, Sting, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Kofi Annan, Chris Martin, Peter Kay, Madonna, Peter Blake, Sir Ian McKellen, Joss Stone, Bill Gates and George Michael.

It's big-top Beatles, by George

A Huge sheet of white silk engulfs the crowd, pressing softly against their faces. Suddenly, it's pulled forward, forming a mushroom shape as it disappears in the centre of the stage. A trapeze emerges from a starlit ceiling carrying a beautiful redhead dressed in white. She smiles broadly and begins to swing as the familiar strains of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds waft through the theatre.

If John Lennon was thinking about LSD when he wrote the song, he couldn't have wished for a more psychedelic visual accompaniment than this performance by world-famous circus troupe Cirque du Soleil.

The scene is part of LOVE, a new $150 million production set to the music of the Beatles. The soundtrack has been developed by Sir George Martin, who produced most of the band's albums including the groundbreaking 1967 recording, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Working with his son, Giles, the 80-year-old English producer has used the group's master tapes to create fresh Beatles songs for the circus performers to bend, stretch and juggle along to.

LOVE opens in Las Vegas tonight. Paul McCartney will be in the audience, along with Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono. John Lennon and George Harrison will be there too, in digital form at least - brought to life by a 90-minute soundtrack which features previously unheard music, snippets of conversation between the band members and "mash-ups": musical hybrids created from the elements of several songs.

On Good Night, for example, drummer Starr warbles along to a backing track that combines the sound effects from Yellow Submarine and the drums from Lovely Rita. On another track, the music and percussion from Tomorrow Never Knows are sprinkled with the vocals from Within You, Without You. And Martin has embellished While My Guitar Gently Weeps with a score for strings.

"We have been very audacious, but that was our brief," says Martin, at a preview of the show in Las Vegas. McCartney advised him to stretch boundaries, he said, and he was happy to oblige.

Australian fans will get to hear the music later this year when the soundtrack album is released. Martin acknowledges that not all of them will approve.

"I'll probably get a few brickbats for what I have done," he says. "I am changing the holy grail. There are an awful lot of very, very fervent Beatle fans who will say that this is wonderful music that should never be touched. But one of the great burdens about working with the Beatles' music is that it's so well known it becomes elevator music. People don't listen to it any more. What we will try to do with this show is to make the music sound as though it's live and the Beatles are really here."

The LOVE project began six years ago when Cirque du Soleil's founder, Guy Laliberte, met Harrison at the Montreal Grand Prix. Laliberte politely invited Harrison to a party, but didn't really expect him to turn up.

"He was just starting to come out in public again after being stabbed and he was also fighting cancer," Laliberte says.

"He said he'd only stay 30 minutes but he came within the first half an hour and was the last one to leave."

The pair became friends and were soon discussing the possibility of creating a Cirque-Beatles project.

"George told me that his dream, before all the Beatles go, was to make another creation."

Apple Corps Ltd, the record company that represents the Beatles, is notoriously protective of the Beatles brand and has turned down countless collaborative offers since the company formed in 1968. This time, however, Harrison and his wife Olivia, McCartney, Starr and Ono were all on board. After much legal to-ing and fro-ing ("there were a lot of lawyers involved," says Laliberte), the Martins, pere et fils, began work on the music. The Cirque du Soleil director, Dominic Champagne, began designing the visual elements of the show.

"I didn't want to go in the direction of Beatles look-alikes," says Champagne. "I focused on emotional touches rather than historical touches."

In Champagne's world, Lady Madonna is a heavily pregnant black woman, surrounded by yellow-booted helpers doing a frenetic South African gumboot dance. The Octopus's Garden is inhabited by acrobats swinging shooting stars as a fog of dry ice wafts out from underneath umbrellas.

"The thing is we all have our deep memories of the Beatles. This is my Yesterday, this is my Eleanor Rigby. Of course, some people will see this on stage and think, 'Oh, that's not how I imagined it,"' says Champagne.

Few people knew the Beatles better than Martin, who signed the four "cheeky devils" to Parlophone in 1962 and produced all their albums up to 1970's Abbey Road. Does he think Lennon would have approved of LOVE?

"I think he would think about it what Yoko thinks, because they were very close," Martin says. "She's been very supportive, quite critical but in a supportive way. She thinks what we have done is great."

For Martin, whose hearing is fading, the hours spent listening to the Beatles' master tapes brought mixed emotions.

"It was like revisiting the scene of our previous triumphs," he says. "But it was a bit traumatic listening to John talking to me in the studio."

The LOVE project began six years ago when Cirque du Soleil's founder, Guy Laliberte, met Harrison at the Montreal Grand Prix. Laliberte politely invited Harrison to a party, but didn't really expect him to turn up.

"He was just starting to come out in public again after being stabbed and he was also fighting cancer," Laliberte says.

"He said he'd only stay 30 minutes but he came within the first half an hour and was the last one to leave."

The pair became friends and were soon discussing the possibility of creating a Cirque-Beatles project.

"George told me that his dream, before all the Beatles go, was to make another creation."

Apple Corps Ltd, the record company that represents the Beatles, is notoriously protective of the Beatles brand and has turned down countless collaborative offers since the company formed in 1968. This time, however, Harrison and his wife Olivia, McCartney, Starr and Ono were all on board. After much legal to-ing and fro-ing ("there were a lot of lawyers involved," says Laliberte), the Martins, pere et fils, began work on the music. The Cirque du Soleil director, Dominic Champagne, began designing the visual elements of the show.

"I didn't want to go in the direction of Beatles look-alikes," says Champagne. "I focused on emotional touches rather than historical touches."

In Champagne's world, Lady Madonna is a heavily pregnant black woman, surrounded by yellow-booted helpers doing a frenetic South African gumboot dance. The Octopus's Garden is inhabited by acrobats swinging shooting stars as a fog of dry ice wafts out from underneath umbrellas.

"The thing is we all have our deep memories of the Beatles. This is my Yesterday, this is my Eleanor Rigby. Of course, some people will see this on stage and think, 'Oh, that's not how I imagined it,"' says Champagne.

Few people knew the Beatles better than Martin, who signed the four "cheeky devils" to Parlophone in 1962 and produced all their albums up to 1970's Abbey Road. Does he think Lennon would have approved of LOVE?

"I think he would think about it what Yoko thinks, because they were very close," Martin says. "She's been very supportive, quite critical but in a supportive way. She thinks what we have done is great."

For Martin, whose hearing is fading, the hours spent listening to the Beatles' master tapes brought mixed emotions.

"It was like revisiting the scene of our previous triumphs," he says. "But it was a bit traumatic listening to John talking to me in the studio."

All you need is cash: Las Vegas salutes Fab Four

Everyone knows Elvis is alive and living in Las Vegas. Now you will be able to hear the Beatles play in Vegas, too.

LOVE, a new $US150 million production by the circus troupe Cirque du Soleil, is set to a 90-minute continuous Beatles soundtrack remixed by the band's original producer, Sir George Martin, and his son Giles.

At the show's opening tonight - to be attended by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Beatle widows Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono - audience members will hear the Beatles's music as never before.

"We are changing the songs - a lot of people will think they are the same, but then you hear something that makes you say, 'Wow, I don't remember that'!" said Sir George, in Las Vegas.

By remixing old mastertapes, including out-takes and unreleased material, the Martins have effectively created new songs. Among the new creations are several mash-ups: tunes created by mixing together elements of several songs.

Starr sings on Good Night, backed by effects from Yellow Submarine and drums from Lovely Rita. The music and percussion from Tomorrow Never Knows is accompanied by the vocals from Within You, Without You. To While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Sir George added a score for strings. The project began after George Harrison met Cirque du Soleil's French Canadian founder, Guy Laliberte, in Montreal in 2000. McCartney, Starr and Ono have all had artistic input into the project, with Harrison's wife, Olivia, continuing to be involved after his death.

Sir George, 80, said McCartney had told him to be as adventurous as possible.

"We played him a version of Hey Jude to a reggae beat, as a joke," he said. "For a moment he looked horrified. I said, 'But you asked us to go far out'! ".

Giles Martin, 36, said he expected some Beatles fans to be disappointed.

"I think I am going to be in more trouble than Dad will, to be honest. I am the new kid on the block; it's when the youngsters come in the studio and start playing round that the fans get upset," he said.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Events slated to mark anniversary of the Beatles' 1966 visit to Tokyo

The Beatles visited Japan in June and July 1966 and gave memorable performances at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo.

This year various commemorative events are scheduled in Tokyo to mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary band's visit.

Capitol Tokyu Hotel in Chiyoda Ward, which was the Tokyo Hilton when the Fab Four stayed there, is planning some events, including a "Beatlemania" stay in which guests can book the presidential suite, the band's room 40 years ago, at about 115,000 yen per night, a quarter of the regular charge, in August.

The suite's furniture, including tables and lights, are almost the same as before, according to the hotel.

"We would like to offer a last chance for fans to stay in the suite before the hotel is torn down," said spokesman Takanori Yasuoka.

The hotel will close Nov. 31 and be rebuilt.

In addition, the Return, a Beatles cover band from the U.S., will stage a dinner show Friday at the hotel's Pearl Room, where the Beatles held news conferences.

"There are many cover bands across the world, but we have chosen the Return because its members resemble the Beatles members, with the mushroom haircut. The person playing the role of Paul McCartney is also left-handed," Yasuoka said.

The Sony building in Chuo Ward on Monday started an exhibition titled "The Beatles in Tokyo," featuring pictures taken by Shimpei Asada, the only official photographer for the band's Tokyo visit. The free exhibit runs until July 17.

Toshiba-EMI Ltd. is marketing the CD set "The Beatles '65 Box," a reproduction of four LP records compiled in the U.S. in 1965.

But what dedicated Japanese fans will no doubt be most interested in will be the Cirque du Soleil show "The Beatles-Love," supervised by George Martin, the Beatles producer, in Las Vegas this summer. Beatle George Harrison, who died in 2001, conceived the idea of the show.

Ex-Beatle Ringo never has let his Starr shine

Since the dawn of the '90s, Ringo Starr — drummer and clown prince of the Beatles, occasional actor, Monte Carlo resident and peace-sign-flashing ambassador of love, love, love — has quietly undergone a creative revival only slightly less remarkable than what Paul McCartney has achieved.

Both forever-Fab legends' latter-day catalogs stack up similarly. Each has been littered by one too many nostalgia-fueled live mementos, yet each also sports four solid studio efforts.

No one would ever suggest that even the strongest Starr set is the equivalent of McCartney on autopilot; his complete 1990-present output barely equals either the domestic bliss of McCartney's 1997 "Flaming Pie" or the darkened introspection of last year's "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

By comparison, Ringo's records — from the unexpected comeback of 1992's "Time Takes Time" and 1998's "Vertical Man" to even more robust recent work like 2003's "Ringorama" and last year's "Choose Love" — are slighter, less inventive and lyrically substantive, more predictable overall.

Yet, as with his most popular album, 1973's delightful "Ringo," they are also more immediately enjoyable than just about anything any Beatle has put out since the release of "Let It Be" signaled the end of the most important band in the history of rock 'n' roll.

You recall the bittersweet joy of George Harrison's "When We Was Fab" or "All Those Years Ago"? Or the instant fun of John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night"? Ringo's lovably retread albums are filled with buoyant ditties like those.

Mining Beatles' past
Consider his most recent title track, with its pepped-up "Taxman"-meets-"Hey Bulldog" groove, "Got to Get You Into My Life" horns, backing vocals lifted from "The Word" and self-referential lines like this one: "The long and winding road is more than a song / Tomorrow never knows what goes on."

Of course, if anyone's entitled to steal from the Beatles, it'd be one of its surviving members. It's funny: People (critics, mostly) get suspicious when Sir Paul cribs from himself or predominantly fills concerts with Beatles tunes, yet no one seems to mind when Ringo revives the '60s.

My guess is that's because we have much lower expectations of him — established, I think, because Ringo has sold himself short for so long.

True, he was never going to achieve the level of artistry and sophistication of his former band mates. In a way he was always odd man out: He was integral to the formula, but more often than not he was reduced to a sideman, given a goofy tune like "Yellow Submarine" or "I Wanna Be Your Man."

No wonder he walked out during sessions for "The White Album." No wonder, too, that the others simply carried on without him.

Sidetracked from music

Also contributing to Ringo being written off as the luckiest drummer ever: His musical development, slowed to a crawl thanks to nutty acting forays and a prolonged bout with chemical dependency.

Under the circumstances, it's hardly surprising how rarely it's pointed out that he has co-written the majority of his own material since 1992. But I blame him for this lack of respect; he doesn't exactly try very hard to assert himself. The chief culprit: his insistence on embarking on still more tours with new editions of his less-than-stellar All-Starr Band.

Once upon a time such outings were welcome. Ringo had done nothing but peddle fond remembrances for years anyway, so why not enlist a coterie of similar players — guys such as Jack Bruce and John Entwistle and Joe Walsh to deliver two hours' worth of memories?

Those first few All-Starr tours were a treat, a sort of salute to rock's second bananas and a smashing value for your hard-earned bucks. But several incarnations later it has devolved into a parade of has-beens.

Worse, Ringo's routine at these shows has become just that — a dependable shtick that needn't be witnessed more than once. It's maddening how he cheapens his career this way, and for little reward: By all accounts these All-Starr outings draw smaller crowds year after year.

Why hide newer work?

I can't help but wonder: Why bother fine-tuning solid new albums if he's only going to devalue them by offering just a track or two (if that)? Perhaps he just doesn't have it in him to do a proper tour. He turns 66 on July 7. Age could mean he doesn't want to risk a more demanding tour schedule.

Or maybe he's just happy to stay the same ol' Ringo we know and love. It's surely easier not to challenge himself, but rather play the good-time, peace-and-love fool till the end, content in knowing that he's released a wealth of fine music readily available for those who'll take the time to look it up.

But it's still a shame, I think. At best, he's coasting on his legacy. At worst, he's doing that legacy a grave disservice.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Yoko Ono Stretches Rope in St. Paul's Cathedral, Sports a Skull

Ono is in London for an exhibition at St. Paul's Cathedral of three of her works that seek to promote peace. The show, sponsored by Canon Inc., kicks off the three-week City of London arts-and-music festival.

In ``Morning Beam,'' 100 pieces of nylon rope extend from a high cathedral window to the floor as an evocation of light. ``Cleaning Piece (Riverbed)'' is a carpet of smoothed river stones, while a potted ``Wish Tree'' is designed to hold tags that viewers scribble their wishes on.

Pausing between photographs and signing autographs, Ono, 73, spoke to me about war, healing and living with John Lennon.

Nayeri: These works were done long before 9/11, the Iraq war and Afghanistan. Can you talk about how relevant they've become?

Ono: They seem very relevant, but I didn't plan it that way. Sadly, the world is becoming so violent. I was just hoping that it would be something that people can meditate on. Especially because of the situation in the world, I'm going around different countries to help them heal.

Nayeri: Is this a message you're conveying to people like (U.S. President) George W. Bush? Have you met him?

Ono: No, no. I'm sure that he wouldn't want to meet with me. (She giggles.) A busy man. No, this is not a direct protest at anybody. This is just something to offer to people to heal. That, you can do. Even the president can heal, if he wants to.

Lawyers for Peace

Nayeri: Do you think we're farther from peace than we were?

Ono: Some people are saying there's going to be a third World War. I hope not. I really think this is a time that people can start to mend things by negotiations, dealings. We know about dealings, don't we? We have brilliant lawyers. Why don't we have brilliant lawyers standing up and working for peace?

Nayeri: The wish tree comes from where?

Ono: When I was a little girl, we would go to a temple. They gave us these little cards that said Love, Life, Money, etc. It's printed, and you put that on the branch of the bush.

When you go to a temple, even from afar, you see the bush almost has blossoms, flowers, white flowers. I had that in my memory, and I was thinking, what if we did it like a tree?

I didn't think much of it, but this happens to be my most popular work.


Nayeri: Why are you wearing a diamond skull around your neck?

Ono: Is it a diamond skull? It's a skull; that's the point. Not the fact that it's diamonds. It might be rhinestones, I don't know. I like the sparkling skull just because it looks good. Also, it's kind of a reminder that it's there.

Nayeri: That death is there?

Ono: Well, yeah ... it's another form of us. I don't consider this death.

Nayeri: Where do you live most of the time, and why have you chosen to be there?

Ono: I didn't choose it. It's New York City. For some reason, my fate was that I just kept going there, and finally John and I ended up buying an apartment. Of course, we were always moving around. We didn't think it was going to be somewhere we stayed too long. But then John passed away, and it became such a big thing for me, because it was the last place that John and I were together. I didn't want to throw that away. It's the only thing, the only place that I had that we cherished and built into a home together.

Ono's Ideal Death

John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono wishes she could decide when she could die - but insists her fantasy will never lead to suicide.The Japanese singer/artist, 73, enjoys her life, but admits when her health starts to deteriorate, she will want to choose when to stop living.She says, "I want to be healthy and live until I decide I don't want to."I'm not saying that I'm going to commit suicide, but it would be nice if I could live until I get sick and tired of living... I'm not."

Ono Defends Mills

Yoko Ono has leaped to the defence of Sir Paul McCartney and his estranged wife Heather Mills, telling the media and public to leave them alone in the wake of their recent split.The former Beatle and Mills announced they were divorcing last month (MAY06) after nearly four years of marriage and a baby daughter Beatrice together. John Lennon's widow Ono, who has a famously strained history with her late husband's bandmate, admits she sympathises with the couple.Ono says, "I think that the attacks should stop with me. I have an ideal reason for you guys (the media) to dislike me, for being an Asian and a foreigner and for standing up for myself and my work. "Whatever it is that made it easier for you to make me a scapegoat is still there so leave them alone. I feel so badly for them."I send them Christmas cards and a congratulatory note when their baby was born."

Ono 'Sympathises' With Chapter 27 Actors

Yoko Ono insists she bears no grudge against the actors who are turning the actions of her husband's assassin into a movie.Crazed The Beatles fan Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon in 1980 and is the subject of an upcoming feature-length film starring Jared Leto and teen star Linsay Lohan.Ono fears Chapter 27, currently in production, will open old wounds but understands why the project is going ahead.She says, "This is another thing which will hurt me, I'm sure. I would rather not make a story out of Mr Chapman at all, although I sympathise with the actors."They need to work. It's not just films - you (the media) are always talking about it."Every day, every week, is an anniversary for me. There is not one time that John is not around me, or my memory of John is not there. It has been 25 years but it has passed so fast."

Heather Mills McCartney's assassination fear

Heather Mills McCartney believes she could be assassinated like late Beatle John Lennon. The model - the estranged wife of Lennon's Beatles bandmate Sir Paul McCartney - fears she could be attacked like Lennon and fellow Fab Four member George Harrison by a crazed fan because of the intense interest in her private life at present.

The animal rights activist - who is also concerned about the safety of her and Paul's two-year-old daughter Beatrice - has been spotted outside her home filming passers-by and paparazzi because she is so worried about being attacked.

She reportedly told photographers gathered outside her home: "John Lennon was shot and George Harrison was stabbed and loads of kids are kidnapped."

Heather - who has been staying with her sister since her split from Paul - sparked concern among her friends about her mental state after she allegedly verbally attacked a shutterbug.

She was reported in Britain's The Sun newspaper as saying: "People are pursuing me round the country. I said stay away from my baby. I have a catalogue of evidence."

Monday, June 26, 2006

George Harrison's Son Says Listening To "Yellow Submarine" Is Painful

George Harrison's son has revealed classic Beatles hit "Yellow Submarine" has ruined his life.

Guitarist Dhani has admitted listening to the song, recorded by his late dad's band, brings back painful memories for him from his school days.

He revealed to Britain's ES magazine, "I was always brutally teased for being George Harrison's son. That was from the age of about four or five, before I even knew who he was. And for seven years people would follow me about school singing 'Yellow Submarine.' I still can't listen to that song to this day."

The 27-year-old also described how all the Beatles' children regard themselves as one big family.

He said, "We're like an extended family. But the one I see most is probably Stella McCartney."

Welsh online picture agency secure Beatles snaps

Over 30 years since they split, interest in The Beatles lives on, with over 500 million album sales to date. Now Welsh online picture agency, fotolibra has secured images of the Beatles that have previously never been available for purchase. The images are not standard publicity photographs, rather authentic snaps of the Fab Four and their friends taken on their travels in the 1960s. is the world's first fully digitised online picture library. Gwyn Headley, Managing Director and unabashed Beatles fan, said, "It's not every day you come across such unusual shots of the biggest musical act of the 20th century. What a treasure! Where else can you see Jane Asher and George Harrison posing awkwardly for the camera, a hand drawn card created by Ringo Starr, and Macca looking worse for wear in India - even Prudence Farrow, who inspired 'Dear Prudence'!"

He went on to reminisce, "It's a blast from the past seeing the guys in '60s outfits, playing the sitar and sporting dodgy sideburns such a priceless and classic set of shots. Denis O'Dell's collection captures the day-to-day lives of the group; much more interesting than the hackneyed old publicity shots. The photos have only ever appeared previously in Denis's autobiography, 'At The Apple's Core'."

The Beatles Collection is the latest coup for fotolibra. Other major collections on the site include award-winning digital artist Mandy Collins, never-seen-before celebrity B&Ws courtesy of Frazer Ashford and exclusive shots taken by Frank Jessop, founder of photographic retailer Jessops.

fotolibra is open access, which makes it the only picture library where anyone can upload images and market them to publishers, design agencies and the professional picture buying community.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sir Paul McCartney And Heather Mills Meet Up

Sir Paul McCartney endured an awkward meeting with Heather Mills this week – but took the opportunity to discuss their daughter Beatrice.

The pair, who separated after three years of marriage last month, both attended their daughter’s nursery – but the former Beatle is said to have sought to reassure his estranged wife before the onset of their potentially explosive divorce proceedings.

A source tells the Sunday Mirror, “It was a little awkward but Paul used the opportunity to stress that Bea's well-being must remain their top priority, despite the looming divorce battle.

"Paul knows it's likely to get very nasty in the next few weeks with both lawyers fighting their clients' corners as hard as possible. He tried to explain to her that she shouldn't take it personally, it will just be the legal process taking its course.

"Heather was taken aback by Paul's kindness, although some cynics among her friends believe that he could be just schmoozing her to ensure the divorce goes through more smoothly."

Beatles photo mystery solved

It seems the answer to Richard Woodd's Beatles magical mystery tour has been found.

The former Dominion journalist has for years wondered who took a picture of the band in Wellington during its 1964 New Zealand tour.

Saturday's edition of The Dominion Post featured the photo of the Fab Four, which spurred several people to put forward answers.

Former Dominion staff photographer Barry Durrant said the photo looked like the work of his mate Morris Hill, who was a photographer for the New Zealand Woman's Weekly and Auckland Star.

Mr Hill was known to have been close friends with a few of the band's promoters and was given an exclusive photo-shoot with the pop stars when they stayed at what was then Wellington's top hotel, the Hotel St George in Willis St. "When I saw the photo on Saturday morning I rang (photographer) Peter Bush and we both agreed it was one of Morrie's."

Mr Durrant said he covered the tour and admitted spending a bit of time hanging around outside the hotel, which was across the road from where he worked.

Mr Hill, who lived in Lower Hutt, died about two years ago.

Beatles fan Ray Battersby said the photo was one of a series taken at the hotel when the Fab Four visited Wellington.

A photo from the same shoot appeared on the front cover of the Women's Weekly at the time, and the mystery photo in question was printed in the magazine in the 1980s. He said the photo in Saturday's Dominion Post was a reversal of the original.

The school caps worn by Ringo, Paul and George are from Mount Albert Grammar School, Auckland, though it is not known why they were wearing them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Beatles in Vegas Against Long Odds

It's the Beatles! Live in Las Vegas! This week, and for the foreseeable future! Well, O.K., it's not actually the Beatles performing live. After all, two of the Fab Four, John Lennon and George Harrison, are no longer among us. And although their surviving partners, both musical (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr) and marital (Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison), are expected to be in the audience at the Mirage on June 30, when Cirque du Soleil opens "Love," its ambitious fantasy tribute to the band, there won't be so much as a Beatle cameo or a new song.

Still, Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian acrobatic troupe, and Apple, the company the Beatles started in 1967 to oversee their creative interests, have joined forces for this $150 million production, and they are billing it as "a timeless, three-dimensional" Beatles experience that, as one of its principals describes it, will "make the audience feel as though they are actually in the theater with the band."

Promised too is a new soundtrack. Apple has given the show's two music directors — Sir George Martin, who produced the Beatles' original recordings, and his son Giles, who has worked with Elvis Costello and Kate Bush — free run of the band's session tapes. Most Beatles fans would rather the tapes were mined for previously unreleased songs and upgrades of the standard albums. But as Giles explains, "Apple's idea was that Cirque shouldn't just be performing to a CD." He adds, "It had to be something more unusual, a new way of hearing this music."

What the Martins produced was a 90-minute soundtrack in which classic Beatles songs are remixed in surround sound, sometimes combining standard versions with outtakes, and even creating mash-ups, or versions in which riffs, vocal lines, guitar solos or sitar drones from one song are interposed on another. Next month the pair will return to London to remix the music again for a soundtrack album.

What's truly odd about all his, to longtime Beatles watchers, is Apple's enthusiasm for such innovation. For much of the last 36 years, Apple — whose four directors are the band members and their heirs — has been a barricaded fortress from which volleys of lawsuits are regularly launched. Its response to requests to use Beatles recordings in theatrical productions and films has generally been a firm no. And in its zeal to protect the Beatles' name, work and trademarks, Apple has sued everyone from the producers of the late-1970's hit "Beatlemania" to Apple Computer. So what's going on here? Isn't the soundtrack to "Love" akin to what Apple so vehemently opposed in 2004, when Danger Mouse created "The Grey Album," a mash-up of Jay-Z's "Black Album" and the Beatles' "White Album"? For that matter, aren't these mash-ups exactly what Internet-based Beatles fan groups have done, often brilliantly, though necessarily flying well below Apple's radar, on underground collections like "Mutation" and the three volumes of "Tuned to a Natural E," which can be found on various download sites?

Could it be that in allowing Cirque du Soleil to base a series of fantasy tableaus on Beatles music, and in letting the Martins take such liberties with the recordings, a usually cautious company is diving headlong into the 21st century? Has it awakened to an era in which promiscuous remixing has made the notion of a "definitive text" seem quaintly academic?

On the other hand, when Apple sics its lawyers on unauthorized use of the Beatles' music, is it really protecting the integrity of the group's work and image, or is it saying "We own the Beatles name and music, and therefore only we can compromise its integrity?"

WHEN the Beatles started Apple, they described it as the antithesis of the corporate entertainment world: a haven where musicians, poets, writers, filmmakers and artists of all kinds could find support for their projects. Along with the Beatles' last four albums, the company released a magnificently eclectic catalog and a handful of films. But the open-door policy didn't last long: a parade of hucksters and freeloaders quickly drained the company's resources.

When the Beatles went supernova in 1970, Apple absorbed the immediate shock.

Sir Paul, hoping to extricate himself from the partnership, at first sued to have the company dissolved, but later reconsidered its usefulness. And for the next 19 years a tangle of lawsuits — the Beatles against one another, and the Beatles and Apple against EMI Records — were about all that Apple produced.

Those suits were settled in November 1989, and the terms were not made public. One detail leaked out, though: EMI would maintain its ownership of the recordings the Beatles made for the company between 1962 and 1970 but could not release anything without Apple's approval. At first Apple exerted this control vigorously, refusing to release anything on CD beyond the standard British albums, released in 1987.

Gradually Apple began to relent. Two popular early-1970's compilations, known as the "Red" and "Blue" albums (officially, "1962-1966" and "1966-1970") were reissued on CD in 1993. More recently Apple and EMI have collaborated on new compilations, like "1," a collection of Beatles No. 1 hits, as well as "The Capitol Versions," two boxed sets (so far) of the group's recordings in the configurations that Capitol (EMI's American arm) released in the 1960's.

Meanwhile Apple undertook archival projects, including "The Beatles at the BBC" and "The Beatles Anthology," a multimedia autobiography that included a 10-hour video, a book and six CD's of unreleased recordings. The reissue of the Beatles' cartoon film, "Yellow Submarine," in 1999, brought with it a fully reconceived soundtrack album, "Yellow Submarine Songtrack," and in 2003 Apple addressed the Beatles' mixed feelings about Phil Spector's production of the "Let It Be" album by releasing the stripped-down "Let It Be ... Naked."

But those were in-house projects. Proposals from outside continued to find their way into the dustbin at Apple's London offices, until Guy Laliberté, Cirque du Soleil's founder, discovered the secret weapon: friendship with a former Beatle, in this case George Harrison. In 2000 they began discussing a a collaboration using the Beatles' music. After Harrison died, in November 2001, Apple kept the project going. It expects "Love" to run for at least 10 years, packing 2,000 people into the theater twice a night, five nights a week, with ticket prices ranging from $69 to $150.

If the shows sell out, it would be like the Beatles filling Shea Stadium nearly 10 times a year, without having to tune up. Or even turn up.

IN the world of Beatles obsessives, the response to "Love" has been a shrug. A Las Vegas spectacular? Isn't that a little ... Fat-Period Elvis? And a soundtrack of mash-ups?

Beatles fans just want the Beatles. They want things they haven't seen or heard, and they want the music they have heard to sound better than it does on the available CD's. They want Apple to remaster the classic albums, and they want those albums in surround mixes. Some fans would like to see the recordings available for download. (In court papers filed during the company's lawsuit against Apple Computer, Neil Aspinall, the Beatles former road manager who now runs Apple's daily operations, said a remixing project was under way, and that the group's recordings wouldn't be made available online until that process was finished. He said nothing about when that might be.)

They also want Apple to release projects that have long sat on its shelf, like the revamped video of the Beatles' 1965 Shea Stadium concert, and an expanded, bonus-packed DVD of the group's last film, "Let It Be." And how about a collection of the promotional films the group made in the 1960's? Or DVD's of Beatles concerts that were televised in Paris, Munich and Tokyo? Or the CD version of the 1964 and 1965 Hollywood Bowl concerts? Or the fabled 27-minute outtake of "Helter Skelter" and the avant-garde "Carnival of Light" collage, created for a London "happening" in 1967? For Beatles fans an extravaganza like "Love" looks like an unnecessary sideshow.

But they are in for a tremendous surprise.

A couple of weeks ago Giles Martin stopped in New York on his way to London, and invited me to hear his "Love" mixes on a five-channel surround system at Magno Studios. I was knocked out by some, but I was absolutely floored by the pristine quality and fine definition of the sound. With the compression of the original 1960's productions stripped away, voices and instruments seem real, as if they were in the room. The new mixes wrap you in the group's arrangements and let you hear long-buried interplay that illuminates the Beatles' brilliance. This is a level of detail that simply hasn't been heard outside the Abbey Road studios until now.

On "Yesterday" you can hear Paul McCartney's pick hitting the strings of his guitar and the strings snapping against the neck. The guitar solo and the orchestral strings on "Something" had similar clarity and presence, and in the surround version of "I Am the Walrus" the whole kaleidoscope of textures — including an extraordinarily crisp drum sound — made the song quirkier than ever.

The mixes of "Revolution" and "Come Together" are incomparably more powerful than the familiar versions. Mr. Starr's childlike "Octopus's Garden" gets a fantastic restructuring that begins with the string introduction to "Good Night" and then places Mr. Starr's vocal, unaccompanied, in a foggy ambience (using effects from "Yellow Submarine" and drums from "Lovely Rita") before the full band kicks into the more familiar arrangement. And a juxtaposition of the drum figure from "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the vocal line from "Within You, Without You" creates a link between those mystical songs, recorded nearly nine months apart.

The new recordings were made under the close watch of Apple. Sir Paul, Mr. Starr, Ms. Ono and Mrs. Harrison occasionally dropped in on the Martins to hear the mixes. "It was a little terrifying," said the younger Mr. Martin, who is 36, born a few months before the Beatles broke up. (His father is 80.) "When Ringo came in, the first thing he said was, 'Have you done "Octopus's Garden" yet?' Paul said he liked what he heard, but that we could go even farther out than we have, and we've gone pretty far. And we were very concerned that Yoko and Olivia feel we were treating John's and George's songs well, but they were both very pleased."

Why do these recordings sound so immensely better than the standard CD's? The Martins made the "Love" soundtrack directly from the original unmixed master tapes of the Beatles' sessions. Because of the way recordings were made in the 1960's, the Beatles' music as we know it, both on LP and CD, come from tapes that were several generations removed from those session tapes, and electronically processed to make up for the limitations of 1960's audio technology. When the Beatles' CD's were released, in 1987, these processed tapes were used for all but two of the albums. (Sir George Martin remixed "Rubber Soul" and "Help!")

At the time CD mastering was in its infancy and yielded a sound that seems harsh when compared with more recent CD's, which often rely directly on the session tapes. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Byrds and even the Monkees have seen their catalogs remastered to take these improvements into account. But not the Beatles. Their CD's, priced at top dollar and running only about 30 harsh-sounding minutes apiece, look more squalid every year.

Collectors endlessly debate what the ideal series of remastered Beatles albums would be. Until 1999 the answer seemed clear: upgraded versions of the British albums and singles in their original stereo and mono mixes (there are often notable differences in instrumentation, edits or vocal takes), along with the handful of variant mixes released in Japan, Australia, Germany and other countries.

But the release of the "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" in 1999 made some listeners reconsider. Produced by Peter Cobbin, they were updated remixes of the session tapes. The resulting version of "Nowhere Man" was telling: in the original stereo mix, the vocals are on one channel, the instruments are on the other. Mr. Cobbin spread the sweetly harmonized vocals that open the song across the stereo image, to stunning effect. Maybe, listeners began to argue, an upgraded Beatles catalog should take the flexibility of modern mixing into account.

The "Yellow Submarine" and "Beatles Anthology" DVD's added another complication. Some of the surround mixes were so revelatory that tech-savvy fans, knowing how long it takes Apple to do things, began creating their own surround mixes. Even though these amateur remixers don't have access to the session masters, their versions are often surprisingly effective.

Apple should, of course, get in there with its own surround series, now that it has dangled teasers in "Yellow Submarine," the "Beatles Anthology" and "Love."

But if the Beatles really want to be revolutionary — and counteract Apple's reputation for slowness and litigiousness — they should take a truly bold step: release the component tracks of their unmixed session tapes on DVD's, with a Creative Commons copyright license that would allow fans to create their own remixes, mash-ups and recompositions for noncommercial use.

Not that they'd be the first to move in that direction. Two years ago David Bowie offered the component tracks for songs from his "Reality" album for download on his Web site and even offered prizes — including a car — to fans who created the most original mash-ups. Wired magazine has offered unmixed tracks by several bands for similar use.

The Beatles, though, could be the first major group to open its archives freely. And if Apple was really meant to be, as Paul McCartney described it in 1968, "a kind of Western Communism," what could be a more natural expression of that ideal?

It’s All in the Music

The world may seize upon the June 30 opening of the Cirque du Soleil-Beatles collaboration “Love” in Las Vegas as a chance to re-examine the Beatles legacy in all its glory and gossip, but for George Harrison’s widow, it will be a much more personal event. The $150 million surrealist spectacle, scored with an extensive remix of newly digitized Fab Four recordings, was Harrison’s last great idea, so seeing it through has been a bittersweet mission for Olivia since his death in 2001.
Harrison is due to attend the gala opening at the Mirage Hotel-Casino along with the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in a rare reassemblage of the extended, and sometimes dissonant, Beatles family. Harrison, 58, spoke to Steve Friess this week via phone from London about the show and her husband’s legacy. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: “Love” came about because your husband befriended Cirque founder Guy Laliberte. How did it all come to pass?
Olivia Harrison: George and Guy met in the 1990s on the Formula One circuit. Guy hosts a party after the Montreal Grand Prix, so George went. George came home and said, “You know, there was a man and a woman sitting in a lake. She had a tuxedo on and he had a ball gown on and they sat at a table all night long having a candlelit dinner with water up to their waist. There were people in feather costumes swinging in the trees like birds.” This really was right up George’s alley. Guy was the visionary and so was George. They had a lot of excited conversations. George instigated a meeting with Paul, George, Yoko, Ringo and Guy. Everyone wanted to have fun, be creative and have someone else be the vehicle for that.

Have you seen the show yet?
I saw one of the first run-throughs and I’m really excited about the whole thing. It’s a big sensory overload. I think it’s a lot to take in. I’d like to see it several more times.

Well, I’m sure there’s always a seat for you.
[Laughs.] Well, it’s funny, because I haven’t even been able to sit with the music yet. I want to listen to the music over and over again quietly, and I haven’t had a chance to do that. They were very careful not letting the music out of Abbey Road [Studios], so we haven’t even had our own copies to listen to.

What parts of the show moved you?
I’m not sure I can be that specific. I tried not to be so personal about it. All of us are so emotionally involved. I tend to look at George’s music, see what they’re doing with that; somebody else might look at some of their songs. I wanted to just see how I felt about the whole thing and I came away feeling that it feels good. You can dissect any show and there will be parts of it you may have had a different vision. That’s the case with this. I might have had a different vision of certain characters that you have in your mind. Everyone has a different concept of what they think something is. That’s how it is with music. [But] I always love to see [George’s] face. I thought it was beautiful.

Was it hard to watch?
Well, yes. I often think, “Would he like it? Is it what he thought it was going to be?” I don’t know. The music is great, and for me, the minute I hear those harmonies at the beginning, it’s so pure right there. It has fantastic moments, it has moments that will probably be improved. Overall, it’s meant to uplift. It’s meant to make people happy, and it does that.

Along with Yoko, Paul and Ringo, you had to approve what producers George and Giles Martin were doing with the music. [Sir George Martin produced most of the Beatles' albums; Giles, his son, is also a noted producer.] The other three were veteran musicians. What guided you?
I have ultimate respect for Ringo and Paul, and I would obviously trust their judgment. I just felt what was up to me was making sure [George] was well represented. From the very first sampling that they did, the one that we all heard in the studio, we loved it. I found it amazing that each one of those elements of the music—the harmony, the guitar part, the drum part—you can pull them apart and put it on something else and each part carried as much character as the whole song.

Since your husband’s death, you’ve become tasked with handling an important legacy. Is it awkward to find yourself his proxy to the world now?
Yes and no. "The Concert for Bangladesh" [album rerelease in 2005], the Cirque thing, some of George’s albums that we’re remastering now for rerelease, are all things he started. So I don’t feel like I’ve yet created anything that doesn’t have his approval. I just feel very privileged. It would be hard for me to see anyone else doing it.

Which song of George’s is your favorite? He must have written songs for you, right?
Yeah, I’m not going to go down that road. I love a song called “Be Here Now.” He wrote songs while he was in the Beatles that didn’t come out until “All Things Must Pass.” I was just listening to one actually today, one line I was saying to Giles, "Why couldn’t you use this," and it was from a song called “It’s All Too Much.” The line is, “Floating down the stream of time from life to life with me.” I find that very comforting.

You’re scheduled to appear at the premiere with Paul, Ringo and Yoko. Do you all get along these days?
Yes, we do. Well, I do. I see all of them. They’ve all been really supportive and I consider them all good friends.

Yoko and Paul. Is it true?
That they have issues? They never, ever talk about each other in a way that’s negative to me.

Las Vegas wasn’t the first choice to host this show, was it?
No. When George was alive, there was a plan to create it here in London. That didn’t happen, and then it was going to be in New York, and of course September 11 happened, and that was a very difficult time. So it wasn’t always the idea, but I think it’s a good place and it’ll be fun.

Did you and George like Las Vegas? Did you go on vacations there?
No. Never. It’s not really our sort of place, to be honest. George and Paul and Heather [McCartney’s now-estranged wife] and I flew in to see [Cirque du Soleil’s] “O” [early in the development of “Love”]. That was the first time I was ever in Vegas.

Has your impression of the city changed since you’ve visited?
I’d rather be in my garden, let’s put it that way.

Why do you think the world is still so fascinated by the Beatles all these years later?
I don’t know the answer to that; they don’t know the answer to that. We all keep asking that question. Maybe it’s just the obvious thing that there’s something in the music that’s very pure that somehow, it is communicating something. It must be. Why else would people still be feeling it like that?

Since this show brings a lot of attention back to the Beatles and their legacy, what was George Harrison like and what do you want people to know about him?
I don’t want them to know anything. And he didn’t really want them to know anything. Everything he was or had to say was in his music. That was it, really. People used to ask him how he wanted to be remembered, and he said he didn’t really care. If they remembered him, fine. If they don’t, that’s fine. But I think they will when they listen to his music.

Images of Beatles on eve of fame revealed

Previously unseen photographs that show the Beatles on the cusp of international fame are published in The Times for the first time today.

The images, shot only hours before the group were to learn that they had made No 1 in the charts, were taken in February 1963 and show Paul McCartney and George Harrison wearing leather coats over their suits — which Brian Epstein, their manager, asked them to remove to increase their appeal to the middle classes.

The Beatles spent the day with a young photographer, Michael Ward, who had been commissioned to cover the band, then little-known, for Honey, a now defunct girls’ magazine. There was so little interest in the Beatles from Ward’s editor that he used only one image, and the rest of the photographs remained undeveloped and unseen until now.

Ward, now 77, was just as uninterested in the group, dismissing their music as “awful”. A lifelong jazz fan, he said yesterday: “I still don’t like it.”

But he warmed to the Fab Four when he photographed them in locations across Liverpool and in rehearsals at The Cavern for one of their last performances at the legendary nightclub. The two images above show them in an area of the city that was bombed during the Blitz. Ward got the band to pose next to the Queen Victoria monument in Derby Square, which survived the attack.

The photographs will go on show at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from July 5 to October 22.

Terence Pepper, the exhibition’s organiser, likened the excitement of seeing unpublished Beatles material to finding new photographs of Marilyn Monroe.

He said: “You think you’ve seen them all and then someone suddenly remembers they might have more. Michael Ward sent them up and it was just marvellous to see.”

Recalling his day with the Beatles, Ward told The Times: “They were very friendly and helpful, up to a point. They didn’t know what had hit them. The eggshell was just about to break.”

Beatles-man on murder rap

Rock producer Phil Spector, charged with the murder of a B-movie actress four years ago, will go on trial in January, said a United States judge on Friday.

Spector has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and is free on $1m bail.

He was not present at the Friday hearing before superior court judge Larry Paul Fidler.

Spector, 66, is best known for his work with the Beatles and his signature Wall of Sound recording technique.

The music impresario is accused of the fatal shooting of Lana Clarkson, 40, in the foyer of his Los Angeles-area mock castle in February 2003.

A postmortem report found that Clarkson, the star of Barbarian Queen and Amazon Women on the Moon, died because a revolver was placed into her mouth and fired.

Spector's lawyers are expected to argue that Clarkson committed suicide, echoing claims the producer made to police shortly after they arrived on the scene.

Flashback: The Beatles begin final tour

It was 40 years ago today (June 24th, 1966), that the Beatles kicked off their final tour, in Munich, West Germany. The tour, which saw the group performing in Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and the U.S., was plagued with controversy. In the Philippines, the Beatles, who had politely declined an invitation to attend a banquet with then-President Ferdinand Marcos, were virtually run out of the country for what the Filipinos believed to be a snub towards the first family.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., trouble was brewing after a statement John Lennon had made the previous spring during a philosophical discussion about religion during an interview with The London Evening Standard was taken out of context and printed in the U.S. teen magazine Datebook. The magazine, which printed Lennon's quote that, "Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink... Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary... We're more popular than Jesus now," ignited protests, including record burnings all over the "bible belt" and southern U.S. states.

The Fab Four held a press conference on August 11th in Chicago, the night before they started the U.S. leg, where, after trying to explain exactly what he meant in the interview, Lennon essentially apologized, not for the statement itself, but for how it may have been interpreted. Death threats plagued the Beatles throughout the 14-date U.S. leg.

Prior to the group's August 19th show in Memphis, their only show in the south, Lennon and the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein went to Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion seeking advice from Presley as to how to resolve the "bigger than Jesus" crisis. Presley, however, wasn't home that day, because he was in Los Angeles shooting a movie.

The tour dragged on through the States to less-than-sellout crowds, where the group, already long bored with performing for screaming fans, lazily ran through a set which showed no sign of the experimentation heard on their Revolver album, which was released days before the tour began.

The group performed approximately a 30-minute set every night, featuring 11 songs: "Rock And Roll Music," "She's A Woman," "If I Needed Someone," "Day Tripper," "Baby's In Black," "I Feel Fine," "Yesterday," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "Nowhere Man," "Paperback Writer," and "I'm Down."

The Fab Four did their last public performance on August 29th, 1966 at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. Macca, knowing that the show was to be the Beatles' last, captured the show on a portable tape recorder, and it eventually has made the rounds of bootleg collectors. Rather than close with "I'm Down," McCartney instead launched into their longtime set closer, Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." Afterward, George Harrison broke into a few notes of "In My Life" from the group's 1965 Rubber Soul album, and the group was whisked away in an armored truck.

Paul McCartney told us that the Fab Four always felt that quitting the road would be major turning point for the group: "I remember thinking a bit like Army buddies. One of the songs we used to love was 'Wedding Bells.' (sings song) And this idea that you'd been army buddies but one day you'd have to kiss the army goodbye and get married and act like normal people -- it was a bit like that. We knew that day would come."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Raunchy Video Of Heather Mills Mccartney Airing On UK TV

The channel's spokesman said: "It's Heather Mills McCartney. Videos, pictures and dirty fantasies. You just don't want to miss it.

"Never before-broadcast scenes, plus the pictures the papers couldn't print. Heather Mills McCartney really bares all."

This is the latest blow to Heather, 38, whose X-rated past was first exposed earlier this month, when images of her posing for a sex book were uncovered.

More revelations followed, alleging that Heather - who has a two-year-old daughter Beatrice with Sir Paul - once work as a £5,000-a-night prostitute.

Heather has furiously denied the vice girl claims.

Pete Best ready for US summer tour

The Beatles' original drummer Pete Best will be heading back on the road later this summer for a series of US concert dates. The Pete Best Band performs many of the pre-Beatles repertoire, including "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis, Tennessee," "My Bonnie," "What I'd Say," "Please Mr. Postman," "Searchin'," and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" -- as well as early Beatle tunes such as "Love Me Do," "P.S. I Love You," and "I Saw Her Standing There."

Pete was the Beatles' drummer from August 17th, 1960 until August 15th, 1962, when he was replaced by Ringo Starr. He claims that he hasn't spoken to any of the fab four since the night before he was fired.

Pete first got to know the Beatles prior to joining them, when they would hang out at his mother's teen club called the Casbah. He told us that the Casbah was the place where every body bonded with each other: "Y'know we identified with each other. They had their friends down there; there was Cynthia (Lennon) down there, there was Stu Sutcliffe down there. Y'know John (Lennon), George (Harrison), Paul (McCartney), Pete Harrison -- George's brother --- it was like one big family."

The Pete Best Band will kick off their tour on June 28th in New York City at The Laugh Factory. The mainly East Coast tour winds up with Best and the Band appearing from August 11th through the 13th in Chicago at the Fest For Beatles Fans at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel.

Earliest Known US Beatles Concert Poster to be Auctioned

The auction house "It's Only Rock n Roll" ( broke all the records in December 2004 when they sold a 1966 Beatles concert poster for $132,736.52.

Will they break the record again this year with this one?

This amazing 1964 cardboard poster advertising the Beatles' first visit to Philadelphia has the distinction of being the only-known venue poster produced to promote any of the 25 stops on their North American summer tour of 1964 and, as such, is the earliest known US Beatles concert poster.

How many of these cardboard posters were printed is unknown but we're aware of only three surviving examples. Chances are they were posted at Convention Hall soon after the concert was announced the previous April, but prior to tickets going on sale. The 7 PM start time was later revised to 8 PM.

This poster features a remarkable and striking graphic design, quite unlike the typical "boxing style" concert poster of the time that featured only plain text. The heading text "The Beatles" mimics the famous text style used on the Beatles' drum head and the pictures of the Beatles are the ones used on the 1964 Topps chewing gum boxes and chewing gum wrappers. It was thus designed to be instantly visible and recognizable from a distance. Even today, it attracts instant attention anywhere it is displayed.

No doubt about it - if you are looking for one of the most rare and sought after historical artifacts of the Beatles' very first year of touring the USA, this is the one item you should have.

The auction ends on June 24th at 11:00pm or 5 minutes after the last bid, so there's still time left to register. Be part of Beatles history and bid!

Ono 'Still Suffering' After Lennon's Murder

John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono is "still suffering" the loss of the late Beatle more than 25 years after he was murdered.Addressing a conference to mark International Widows Day in London today (23JUN06), the artist and musician spoke of her heartache and urged people to "give widows a chance".She said, "It has been 25 years since my husband passed away and I still cannot get used to the idea."It is not just me, but my son who is still suffering from the loss of his father. I must confess that widowhood was something I did not think of very much until I became a widow myself."Largely because it was something that is just not talked about, especially widowhood as a social issue. The subject of widowhood in fact remains taboo in our society, more so than sex, money or politics." The event, which also featured New York senator Hillary Clinton and actress Joanna Lumley, was organised by The Loomba Trust, a UK-based charity helping the children of poor widows.

U.S. vs John Lennon Poster

The poster to the U.S. vs. John Lennon. Click on the poster to make the picture bigger.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Beatles film makes £1,200

An Ilminster man who unearthed long-lost cinefilm of the Beatles last year has pocketed nearly £1,000 after an auction at Christies.

In November, the News revealed how amateur photographer David Poole, 67, had filmed the Fab Four as they arrived at Heathrow Airport.

Forty years later, he re-discovered the film, which was somewhat faded, and decided to sell it at Christies.

This week he received a cheque for £943.85, following an auction in February.

He said: "Christies thought that because of its condition it would fetch between £300 and £500 but it sold for £1,200."

Mr Poole said he would splash the cash on a new carpet.

"Revolution" Featuring The Art Of The Beatles

If you are living in the New York area you should check out

The Beatles Art Show showcasing signed works and more from John, Paul, George and Ringo

Show includes Ringo Starr's new art - Animation art from Yellow Submarine and the Saturday ABC Cartoon Series, Rare Photographs, Album Art
and Art of the Beatles from famous artists.

11AM- 7PM


For more information call 631 298 0075 ext 14

Check out their official website

Yoko Ono: Mending Peace

In the public mind, it’s still difficult to separate Yoko Ono from the late John Lennon. Their 1969 marriage, their jointly produced happenings and albums, and their highly publicized antiwar protests pitched Ono into a realm of celebrity few conceptual artists ever attain. Pop-culture fame, however, is a mixed blessing. While affording Ono a vast opportunity to disseminate her messages of peace and love, of affirmation and imagination, it also overshadowed, for decades, her accomplishments as an experimental and interdisciplinary artist.

Still, the 2001 touring retrospective, Yes Yoko Ono, did much to reestablish her importance as an avant-gardist whose idea-based works have ranged, since the 1950s, across performance, text, new music, film, installation, sculpture, and participatory events. A little of that practice has landed at Centre A as a way of marking the World Peace Forum 2006.

Subtitled Mending Peace, the show reprises three of Ono’s earlier works. Mend Piece, first staged in 1966 and renamed Mend Peace for the World after the events of 9/11 (which regalvanized Ono’s pacifist commitments), invites visitors to repair broken ceramic objects while sitting at a table in the gallery. Shards of bowls, vases, platters, and teacups have been, and will be, reassembled using glue, transparent tape, thread—and good will. Ono is quoted in the exhibition catalogue as saying: “It’s not mending the cup so much as what you think when you’re mending it.” Her work speaks to our capacity to create metaphor. Rupture and repair, enmity and love, war and peace…

Sky TV, also produced in 1966, consists of a video camera on the roof of the building, with a live feed to a monitor in the gallery. The camera faces straight up, into the boundless sky, so that the visitor sees a vast, blue emptiness. But no, there are grey and white clouds drifting past, and the occasional distant pigeons and gulls. As many critics have noted, Ono has been staring up at the sky since her war-torn childhood, finding in it an analogy for imagination and transcendence, and a place for projecting hope.

The third work staged here, Wish Tree, has been seen throughout the world, in both fleeting and permanent form, since its 1996 inception. At Centre A, it consists of five live trees, each representing a species with a different place of origin, onto whose branches visitors tie small white pieces of paper on which they’ve written their wishes. A reinvention of a Japanese prayer tradition, this work aims to generate what the catalogue calls “a collective wish for peace”. It’s another—very moving—version of Lennon and Ono’s universal anthem. All we are saying, she reminds us, is give peace a chance.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

George Harrison's Album to be Reissued

Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing announced the reissue of George Harrison's Living In The Material World album on September 26, 2006. The CD will be issued in two formats. Both packages will contain the album, which has been re-mastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original analog tapes. The new version also includes two additional tracks, "Deep Blue" (originally a B-side from 1971) and "Miss O'Dell" (the B-side to "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)"). The single-disc package's jewel case will contain a 12-page booklet with lyrics and extra photographs. The special limited edition package will house the CD and a companion DVD with an expanded 40-page booklet. The set's exclusive DVD features:

Rare footage of George performing "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" from his 1991 Japanese tour with Eric Clapton; A mini-feature edited from film commissioned by George in 1973 of the album's production in Britain and America. Previously unreleased versions of "Miss O'Dell" and "Sue Me, Sue You Blues" set to visuals of unseen archival material.

'When I'm 64' cover perks up McCartney

A recording of a Beatles' song by Paul McCartney's children and grandchildren helped the singer enjoy his 64th birthday in London Sunday.

Three of McCartney's grandchildren joined his four eldest children in recording a cover of the Beatles' hit "When I'm 64," which they presented to the singer whose life has taken a negative turn as of late, the Daily Mail reports.

McCartney, who recently split from his wife Heather Mills McCartney and has been enduring public allegations of her purportedly lurid past, found the off-key recording to be a bright respite from his troubles.

"It was such a lovely gesture that Paul couldn't help but be touched," a source told the Mail. "He is still pretty low but the terrible singing on the record by his family was enough to have Paul in hysterics."

According to the Daily Mirror, Mills McCartney did not visit the former Beatle on his birthday, but had earlier delivered him a bottle of wine as a gift.

"It was a gesture Heather felt she had to make to wish her husband a happy birthday and to tell him to enjoy Father's Day, even if it was impossible for her to be there," an insider told the Mirror.

Billy Preston's memory celebrated at Inglewood funeral

Joe Cocker sang, Little Richard reminisced, and hundreds of friends and relatives of Billy Preston celebrated his musical legacy Tuesday during a funeral as vibrant as Preston himself.

A brass band played a rollicking version of "Amazing Grace" during a service filled with tributes to the prolific songwriter and keyboardist who played with the Beatles so often he was sometimes called the fifth member of the group.

Preston died June 6 in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 59. He battled chronic kidney failure, received a kidney transplant in 2002 and had been in a coma since November.

"He made that piano walk and talk," said Richard, who discovered Preston, then in high school, took him on tour in the early 1960s and introduced the teen prodigy to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

"There's nobody in this world who could play the piano like Billy Preston. He never got the credit he deserved. He made other people look good," Richard told the crowd in the Faithful Central Bible Church's Tabernacle Worship Center.

Earlier, Cocker elicited emotional shouts and thunderous applause when he sang the ballad "You Are So Beautiful," which Preston wrote but was made famous by the raspy-voiced singer.

A gospel choir clad in bright red sang throughout the almost three hour service, and at one point, Preston's own sister Rodena Preston accompanied on piano.

Other musical guests included Preston's longtime gospel troupe the COGICS, former Temptations lead singer Ali Woodson, and singer Merry Clayton, who said she had known Preston since they were children.

One day, Preston pulled Clayton away from doing her homework, she said, to audition for Ray Charles. They both ended up touring with the famous singer.

"Wherever I would go, Billy would go. We had a long, beautiful history. Billy was absolutely my brother and I loved him," Clayton said before launching into a booming, soulful number.

The mourners also heard letters written by Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and others who toured and recorded with Preston.

"I am deeply saddened to lose such a wonderful friend," McCartney wrote. "I love you Billy."

Bonnie Raitt, also in a letter, said Preston was "one of the most soulful artists I ever knew."

In addition to a hefty solo career, and his work with the Stones and the Beatles, Preston performed in recording sessions with Aretha Franklin, Sly and the Family Stone and Bob Dylan.

He lent his gospel-tinged touch on piano and organ to classics such as the Beatles' "Get Back" and the Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?"

Sporting a memorable Afro and gap-toothed grin in the 1970s, Preston broke out as a solo artist, winning a best instrumental Grammy in 1973 for "Outta Space," and scoring other hits with "Will It Go 'Round In Circles," "Nothing From Nothing" and "With You I'm Born Again," a duet with Syreeta Wright that became a favorite at weddings.

In 1975, Preston sang on the debut of "Saturday Night Live." Last year he appeared on "American Idol."

"We've come not just to be sad but to praise a good life," Bishop Noel Jones said during the eulogy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

George Harrison leaves his mark in the Algarve

Hidden away above Lagos in the Herdade do Funchal, a rare piece of rock memorabilia has been preserved, although in quite an unusual form. An autograph of The Beatles’ guitarist, George Harrison, has been inscribed into the wall of a villa and preserved for over 30 years.The guitarist rented the villa from the family of Moira Pitteway, 45, who now resides back in the UK. Her father, Dermott McCarthy, built the four-bedroom holiday home, which has recently been put up for sale.
The message reads: “To Moira, love from George Harrison.” A Hare Krishna prayer written underneath was mistakenly whitewashed over by decorators. The home is on the market for 715,000 euros but, according to agents Knight Frank, is in need of renovation works, “to bring the villa back to its former glory”. A two-bedroom cottage and swimming pool are also in the grounds of the woodland property situated on the Funchal ridge.Harrison visited the Algarve for a few weeks with some friends, after The Beatles split-up in 1970. He was originally put in an extravagant house in an area he didn’t like, so he asked to be shown some more and picked out the Funchal property.Moira, a Beatles fanatic, who even shares her birthday with Harrison, remembers the moment she was told the news by her father. “I vividly remember him shouting at me ‘one of those Beatles is renting our house’,” she recalls. “I went mental when he said it was George, who happened to be my favourite.” Harrison was one of the first tenants at the house. “I guess it was humbler than others, like a ranch house.”When Moira found out about the impending visit of the celebrity, she left a card out asking him to sign the wall. In addition to the signature, Harrison stuck Hare Krishna stamps over doors in the villa, however, tenants have pulled these off over the years. Harrison was a renowned follower of oriental mysticism and famously took the rest of the band to India to bow at the feet of Maharishi Meshi Yogi. His most famous Beatles’ tracks include Something and Here Comes the Sun. He died in 2001 after a long battle with cancer.“I would hope his name has added a few euros to the property value. It’s an incredibly special place and it’s heartbreaking to let it go, as three generations of our family have enjoyed the villa,” Moira ended.

• For more information about the property, call agents Knight Frank on 00 351 282 789 336.

Can't Buy Paul Love

The radio stations in London were full of it Sunday, playing “When I’m Sixty Four” as an ironic birthday tribute to Paul McCartney, just as his bitter divorce negotiations begin.

I feel sorry for Paul McCartney. As birthdays go this can’t have been his best, even though he was surrounded by his family, minus his shortly to be ex wife, Heather. I feel sorry for Paul because that old truism your grandma used to quote at you, that “wealth doesn’t make for happiness”, seems to apply to him more than most.

I think that Paul, always a controlling force, set himself on a very specific road to happiness and security when he was young and that happiness was based on three things: family, public popularity and money in the bank, and probably in that order. Now and despite all his wealth, he has reached that point where nearly all the dreams of his youth must seem to have disappeared. And the reason I think is that, amidst all the glitter and the success, McCartney has been haunted by loss all his life.

Brought up in the austere city of Liverpool in the nineteen fifties, his mother died when he was only fourteen. Then he lost his band mate Stuart Sutcliffe at the beginning of The Beatles success story. His manager, Brian Epstein killed himself and John Lennon was murdered. Paul, having married Linda, a remarkable woman who was stronger than him and with whom he was deeply in love and trusted completely, lost her to cancer. For a man who longs for certainty and security, it must have seemed as though they were both crumbling. It’s easy to say that there’s no fool like an old fool.

But fairer to look at a man in his sixties profoundly aware that he was unlikely to have another relationship, certainly not one that would compare with his first marriage, grasping for that one last chance. Who can blame him? And that it all went so sour so quickly and so publicly will be double humiliation for someone who has always been a bit wary of people, a bit of a control freak.

So, I feel desperately sorry for a decent person who I think despite his oddities has always tried to do the right thing. As for Heather McCartney, do I feel sorry for her? Not one bit I’m afraid.

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