Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Beatles Sue Record Label Giants

Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr plus the families of John Lennon and George Harrison allege that the companies fraudulently “pocketed millions of dollars” from the band between 1994 and 1999.

The lawsuit was launched back in December and claims that the labels falsely classified some copies of Beatles albums as faulty, but went on to sell them.

EMI requested for the case to be thrown out of the New York State Supreme Court last week, but this was rejected.

The surviving Beatles members plus their estates are seeking the minimum of $25million in damages.

Elsewhere in the lawsuit, the band claim that the labels wrongly counted the number of albums sold and labelled some albums destined for the shelves as promotional copies.

EMI and Capitol have refuted the claims saying that there was enough details of the allegations to warrant any action.

It’s not the first time The Beatles have had a run-in with EMI and Capitol. In 1979 the band claimed that they had been underpaid $20million.

This was eventually settled a decade later when the band were given higher royalty rates.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ringo Starr's Wife Hospitalised By Her Horse

The former Bond girl was admitted to the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford on Sunday morning after being kicked by her horse.

A spokesman for the hospital confirmed that she had fractured her right leg and that she had undergone surgery which had gone “very well”.

He added: "She had a stable and peaceful night and everything is going well with her recovery.”

'Lennon' documentary could score Oscar nomination

Although we tend to think of entertainers protesting a war as being a contemporary phenomenon linked to the Bush administration and Iraq, like so many other things, it's really just history repeating itself.

For those who have forgotten or, perhaps, are too young to remember John Lennon's passionate opposition to America's entanglement in Vietnam in the 1960s and '70s, Lionsgate's documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" will come as a valuable revelation. "Lennon," which is being screened at film festivals in Toronto, Venice, Telluride and elsewhere, opens Sept. 15 in New York and Los Angeles and expands Sept. 29.

Watching it recently left me thinking that "Lennon" could score a nomination in Oscar's best documentary feature category. It's a film that's likely to resonate with older Academy members, who lived through America's tragic involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as younger Academy members, who will view it in the context of today's tragic U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq.

Written, directed and produced by David Leaf & John Scheinfeld, it was executive produced by Sandra Stern, Kevin Beggs, Tom Ortenberg, Sarah Greenberg, Tim Palen, Nick Meyer. Steve Rothenberg, Erik Nelson, Michael Hirschorn, Brad Abramson and Lauren Lazin. The film stars John Lennon and Yoko Ono and features appearances by Carl Bernstein, Noam Chomsky, Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, Angela Davis, John Dean, Ron Kovic, G. Gordon Liddy, George McGovern, Bobby Seale, Tommy Smothers and Gore Vidal. It's a who's who of people who were boldface names when the U.S. government was trying to silence criticism by Lennon and Ono by deporting them. Through their comments Leaf and Scheinfeld remind us of what that period of socio-political upheaval was like and what a key role Lennon and Ono played as critics of the war.

"Lennon's" the kind of film you simply have to talk about after you've seen it, so I was happy to be able to do just that recently with Leaf and Scheinfeld and to ask them how they managed to get it made.

"John and I have wanted to tell this story for a long time, going back to the 1990s," Leaf explained. "It really wasn't until the post-9/11 world that we started to get traction, particularly in the wake of the invasion of Iraq when people at the studios and the networks started to feel that this story about something that happened a long time ago might have some contemporary relevance and resonance."

"In terms of footage," Scheinfeld added, "David and I really consider ourselves when we do these shows to be really detectives in a way, searching for the best audio-visual material. We've developed a lot of sources over the years, both domestically and internationally and we just literally scour the world looking for the best material to put in. We also preferred to use material that hasn't been seen in 10 other documentaries that have been done on John Lennon and The Beatles. So we really set as a goal for ourselves to try to find as much footage as possible that hasn't been seen before or has rarely been seen before."

"Just to give credit where credit is due," Leaf said. "John is the Hercule Poirot of the team. He is a tireless detective and does not take no for an answer. As an example, in the film you saw the footage of the day John got his green card (enabling him to remain in the U.S.). I'll let John speak to it because he's the one who did not give up."

"We'd been told for months and months and months that the footage either did not exist or had been destroyed many, many years ago," Scheinfeld pointed out. "We just kept at it. About three weeks to go before we finished the movie the footage was finally discovered in the wrong box, mislabeled in the wrong part of the news archives. But they found it and we transferred it and, as you saw in the film, it really helps accentuate what was a very critical moment in our story."

"One of the things that's interesting to me," Leaf said, "is you look closely at Yoko and it appears like she's choked up. This is a very emotional moment. We kind of take it for granted that it happened, but when you see it actually (taking place) you realize that this was a serious thing that was happening."

"And the other thing that I think probably helps define our style as filmmakers," Scheinfeld told me, "is to show don't tell. We'd heard the quote that John had given to the press that day when he was asked, 'Do you hold any grudge against (then U.S. Attorney General) John Mitchell and other people for doing this to you?' But (it was) much better to have him say it himself (in the footage that was finally unearthed)."

How do they look for footage that they don't necessarily know exists? "I think because of our history both as documentary filmmakers and our personal history as somewhat inveterate collectors," Leaf said, "we are plugged into a network of people around the world who literally have rescued these treasures through the decades as they've been discarded or displaced or dismissed from official vaults. A lot of stuff that's out there is in the hands of private collectors. So, essentially, it's sending out an SOS (that finds footage)."

"The other half of the equation," Scheinfeld added, "is we will just sort of outreach to archives all over the world where we have connections and say, 'We're looking for footage that has John Lennon and Yoko Ono in it between these years.' And we see what comes back. Oftentimes there will be some on-the-street press conference kind of footage. We wouldn't have known to specifically ask for it, but it came back to us on a whole reel -- 'Here's press conference footage' -- and then we could pick out of that what suited our storytelling."

Lennon, he continued, "has occasionally been called the most photographed man of the twentieth century. Now that could be a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. There's a lot of material available on him out there so we had quite a bit to look at. We probably went through more than a hundred hours worth of material searching for just the best moments for us."

The government's ongoing efforts at the time to deport Lennon (and Ono, too) is something that not everyone still remembers. "It's an episode in John's life that essentially came to define everything that happened to him after The Beatles," Scheinfeld observed. "We sort of took the point of view that people walking into the theater to see this movie, particularly if they're under 40, really don't know much about John Lennon. They know he was in The Beatles. They know he wrote 'Imagine.' And they know he was killed (in New York Dec. 8, 1980). Beyond that, there's not a lot of context to their knowledge of who John Lennon was and why he mattered. And to us this is the movie to watch if you want to know why John Lennon mattered during his life and why he matters afterwards.

"He was willing to speak to power, to stand up to power, in a way that we'd never seen a pop personality do before. It may be that his greatest work of art was his campaign for peace in terms of his post-Beatles career. He spent years and years using his fame and fortune to actually try to make the world a better place. I don't think it had ever happened before. We live in a time where everything's a reality show. John and Yoko were essentially pioneers in that, but they weren't using it to promote an album. They weren't using it to promote a movie. They weren't doing it to promote anything except peace and that's what makes them heroic artists here. And then to have the courage to stand up to the power of the United States -- the presidency, the White House, the FBI and the INS -- (shows they were) courageous artists and courageous people."

It was a little known story at the time, Scheinfeld said, and "in fact, it was really about four years after it started that the press got the first wind of what the government had been trying to do to Lennon. Some information has sort of crept out over the years. Professor (of history at the University of California, Irvine) Jon Weiner has written a book ('Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files') in which he publishes a number of the FBI documents which came out under the Freedom of Information Act and really through his good efforts a lot of what the government did is now known. But at the time it was a not a well known story.

"We're gigantic Beatles fans so we had sort of come across this story, but didn't really know a lot of the details and that's what originally got us interested back in the '90s. And the more we looked into it, the more compelling a story it became for us. We started production just a little over a year ago in July of 2005, although knowing that we were going to be doing this at some point about three months earlier (we shot some footage unofficially)."

"This is a story we've long wanted to tell," Leaf added. "I came of age with The Beatles. I was at school in D.C. during the Nixon administration. So to me this was always a fascinating story. And when you can find unknown stories about people that you think you know everything about, it's really exciting. We had kind of put our archival world on alert, if you will, that we expected to be making this movie. We probably did that about two years ago or so. Not telling them what the subject was, but just that it looked like we'd be doing a movie on John Lennon. The reason we were doing it then was that we had done what was one of the key steps in making this movie a success -- we'd gone to Yoko Ono and asked her to participate."

How did they get Ono to say yes? "We just asked," he replied. "We said, 'We think this is an important story that needs to be told.' We explained how we wanted to tell it. Her attorney's initial reaction was, 'Well, this story's in the public domain. Why do you need us?' (We said in order) 'to tell this story right and to make it the kind of movie we want it to be, we need three things. One, we need Yoko to sit for essentially exhaustive interviews. We need her to speak retrospectively for her and John and also to immerse us in the emotion of it as it was happening. We need John Lennon's music.' And we needed access to the Lennon-Ono archives because a lot of the footage that's never been seen before that's in the movie comes from John and Yoko's private collection."

"And so we knew that these were essentially storytelling elements," Scheinfeld added. "And if we were going to tell the story, we're going to do it right is our feeling or we're not going to do it."

Asked if Ono needed a lot of coaxing to get her to participate in the film, he replied, "David worked really hard to persuade her to do it. As you can imagine, she gets asked to do a lot of things by a lot of people. She's also a little bit wary, I think, and rightly so because she routinely gets blasted by the media for this or for that. So I think there's always an element of wariness. But David was the one who had gone to New York and worked really hard speaking with both the attorney and with Yoko to gain their trust and ultimately he did. And then as a partnership, as we've been working with her over the last 12 months, we've really gained her trust as she saw that we delivered the movie that we said we would. And that's been great. I think with anybody like that there's an element of persuasion that is necessary."

"We have something of a track record," Leaf noted, "of working with artists and/or their estates to create film retrospectives that tell stories in a way that bring an audience to an artist that might not have come to that artist. John's just written and directed a film about Harry Nilsson that's playing (soon) at the Mods and Rockers Film Festival. I did a film for Showtime two years ago on Brian Wilson and the lost 'SMiLE' album. We've done programs on Sinatra, Bette Midler, Jonathan Winters and The Marx Brothers. And in each one of these we tried to do two things. One was to make a film that we wanted to see. And, two, in a sense to bring an audience to things that we have passion for. To say, 'This is important to us and here's why it should be important to you.'"

"I think the other thing that distinguishes our work from our standpoint," Scheinfeld said, "is that we're storytellers. We're not just guys that go out and collect footage and slap it together and hopefully it works. We both come from the world of primetime television and know how to tell a story in a dramatic way. I think you see that in most of the productions we've done -- which is that it's storytelling. It isn't just, 'Okay in 1967 this happened and in 1970 that happened.' It's the way you lay it out."

Aside from getting Ono on board, what were the biggest challenges they faced in making "Lennon?" "I think from a storytelling point of view it was getting the right -- and this is a strange word to use for a documentary -- cast, the right on-camera witnesses to tell the story," Scheinfeld replied. "We were determined to have people in this film speaking with immense credibility, whether they were part of the Nixon administration or the radical left. Whether they were, perhaps, the greatest broadcast journalist of his time (like) Walter Cronkite or the greatest American historian ever like Gore Vidal. These are people who when they speak speak with immense context and credibility. So one of the key challenges was getting the right people to speak on camera.

"The real challenge, I think, for us as filmmakers was making sure that the film remained focused on story. There were a lot of side trips and cul de sacs that spin out of 'The U.S. vs. John Lennon' that as we got further and further into editing we just tossed out because they were taking us away from the story and so very much like a dramatic scripted film the challenge was to tell the story in a way that felt inevitable, that felt completely seamless so that when you reached the end of the movie the only way it could have ended and it all made sense and the audience feels they've gone on a journey with you in the way that all great films do."

"I think the other challenge goes back to what we were discussing before," Leaf told me, "with regard to finding material. It's one thing to sort of find generic John Lennon and/or Yoko Ono material. It was a whole other thing to find footage that really supported the story we were telling or that would have a unique resonance to the story we are telling. And we were able to do that. There's a reason why every piece of footage is in there and it does relate to the story we're telling."

"Another thing that was a challenge for us," Scheinfeld said, "was how do you score a movie about one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century? David and I wanted every piece of music in this film to be by John Lennon and we wanted the music to advance the story or give us some insight into what he might have been thinking or feeling at a time. That's why when in the film you hear clips from his songs, the lyrics are doing exactly that. They're moving the story forward or telling us what he was thinking or feeling at a particular moment. But then, how do you support those dramatic or humorous or poignant moments where you would normally bring in a composer? Again, because she came to trust us, what Yoko allowed us to do was to have 24 some tracks of John Lennon's solo work remixed to take out the vocals, leaving all the underlying music there. So in moments of the film where you're just hearing dramatic music, that is John Lennon music. So everything in the film is his."

"There's one Yoko song in there," Scheinfeld pointed out.

"That's right," Leaf agreed. "So we were really delighted to be able to do that and we think creatively it served our purposes and I think the film benefits from it. And I do want to acknowledge our editor, Peter Lynch, because he is a great filmmaker, too. He's got a great visual sense, but he also has a real gift for how to use music in movies. And because music is so instrumental in our documentaries we can't do it without him." Among Lynch's credits are editing "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE" in 2004 and editing and co-producing "Who is Harry Nilsson...And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him" in 2005.

In its theatrical release "Lennon" is a fast-moving 99 minutes. Looking down the road to its DVD release, I asked if there will be more content available? "Absolutely," Scheinfeld replied. "Actually, we're just finishing the bonus material. We could do the history of the 1960s from some of the interviews we got with people like (political activist) Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, but for the DVD we've narrowed it down to a half-dozen really interesting featurettes, if you will -- story threads that didn't make the movie."

"It's a little early to talk about the DVD," Leaf observed. "We're focused on how people are responding to the movie, itself. I buy DVDs and more often than not I watch the movie and not the bonus material. I know there's a lot of people who look forward to that, but if the movie isn't great I'm not buying the DVD for the bonus material."

With Lionsgate's solid track record when it comes to theatrical marketing, "Lennon" is in good hands as its release approaches. The film came to Lionsgate, Leaf explained, when "we sat down with our agent, Bruce Kaufman over at Broder (Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann, which was acquired by ICM in late July), and we made a list of where we thought this film belonged. And Lionsgate was right at the top of the list. Their interest was instantaneous."

"We're very independent guys," Scheinfeld added, "and that's always been our approach to work and the working environment. We had said to Bruce that we would more comfortable in a real independent type studio. So that's why Lionsgate was really at the top of the list. And really from the very first conversation they seemed to get what we were trying to accomplish here and they've really been extraordinarily supportive all the way through."

Focusing on documentaries as a genre, Leaf pointed out, "I would (mention) one thing that I think distinguishes documentaries from dramatic films. In a dramatic film the producer, the director and the actors are all working from a script. The scenes are there and then when the film goes into editing it follows the script. They move things around, but mostly it follows the script. We're sort of the opposite in a documentary. We gather all the material, all the interviews and then we assemble it much like a jigsaw puzzle. The difference being that the jigsaw puzzle you probably got from your folks when you were a kid only fits together one way. What we do could fit together 20 ways or 50 ways or 100 ways. So when we talk about us being storytellers, it's whatever gift we have that enables us to put those pieces together in a way that someone will say, 'Hey, work for me.' And that's something that's important to us."

The Beatles Top Album Poll

The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been voted the best number one album of all time by the British public.

The seminal record, released in 1967, topped the poll to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UK album chart.

The Beatles had a total of four albums in the top 10, with Revolver at six, Abbey Road at eight and The Beatles - also known as The White Album - at 10.

Michael Jackson's Thriller came second and U2's The Joshua Tree third.

The rest of the places were taken by a string of mid-70s records. Fourth was Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and fifth was Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water came in seventh, and Queen's A Night At The Opera came ninth.

The most recent release to make it into the top 100 was Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor, at Number 37, which charted in November last year.

Over 220,000 people voted in the poll through websites

“Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles Last Concert.”

Now back in print after 15 years, this is the definitive account of the Beatles concert in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. Written by Eric Lefcowitz, it features 60 of Marshall's celebrated photographs including images of the Beatles backstage and performing onstage for the last time.
In 1986, I approached Jim Marshall about putting together a book based on his photographs of the Beatles’ last concert on August 29, 1966.

Background on the Book

This was the last public concert the Beatles ever gave in front of a paying audience and Marshall had full backstage and onstage access to shoot—the kind of access that is rarely given to photographers anymore. He made the most of his time with the group.

It was the “last hard day’s night” as Marshall put it. What he documented on 8/29/66 was the culmination of a joy-producing, life-affirming, groundbreaking musical movement known as Beatlemania.

Sixty of Marshall’s images appear in “Tomorrow Never Knows”—images that testify to his genius for capturing spontaneous moments and candid nuances. Thumbing through the proof sheets of that historic night, you see the four Beatles relaxing, smiling, posing for photographs and finally performing. Together they provide a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse at the Fab Four.

To round off my research for the book I also conducted interviews with Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Fariña, who were invited guests, Vern Miller who played in the warm up band the Remains, soundman Mort Feld and several other witnesses to the event. I also received permission to republish several fascinating articles by noted journalist Ralph J. Gleason.

I am pleased that these beautiful images are back in print. Like the Beatles, the artistry of Jim Marshall’s photography never goes out of style.

Forty years ago today, Beatles played final concert at Candlestick

What occurred at Candlestick Park exactly 40 years ago — on Aug. 29, 1966 — had nothing to do with Willie Mays or the San Francisco Giants.
Rather, it was the occasion of the final full-length concert performed by the Beatles as the band concluded its last tour — a 14-city tour of America.

It was essentially the end of the "Beatlemania" that had begun when the group first came to America in February of 1964 and continued for the next 21/2 years.

John, Paul, George and Ringo had grown tired of their image as teen idol "moptops." By mid-1966, the gap between them as live, on-stage performers and as more sophisticated composers and studio artists had grown far too wide for their liking. The novelty had worn off. Fans would scream hysterically regardless of how well they played, and they had become virtual prisoners of their hotel rooms while on tour.

Having played their next-to-last concert the night before at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the Liverpool lads had only one more obligation to perform live as they flew north to the Bay Area.

It was a full moon on that Monday night in late August, and not surprisingly, cold and windy. The Beatles arrived at Candlestick in an armored car amid heavy security that numbered 200 strong. Inside, the park was only slightly more than half-full, with nearly 25,000 fans who had paid between $3.80 and $7 for a ticket. Not everyone on the premises, however, was thrilled with theBeatles' appearance.

More than a dozen protesters marched outside the park carrying signs that were aimed at the Beatles and comments that had been made recently by John Lennon. The outspoken Lennon had told an interviewer months earlier that Christianity was on the decline and that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ.

None of that seemed to matter to the fans inside.

The show began at 8 p.m., and the crowd greeted opening acts the Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn Down Day"), the Remains and the Ronettes, led by Ronnie Spector, wife of Phil Spector.

Finally, in the face of the hysteria and pandemonium that had become all too familiar, the Fab Four took the stage at 9:27 p.m. Located just behind second base on the field, the stage was 5 feet high and surrounded by a 6-foot high wire fence. The band kicked off their set with "She's a Woman" as the enthusiasm reached a fever pitch. As the San Mateo Times reported the following day, the Beatles "... sang and strummed while their fans shrieked, cried and groaned, wept, yelled, shouted, and did everything but listen."

Throughout the concert, about a half-dozen young fans rushed onto the field in an attempt to get to the stage. Security set about tackling them one by one to avoid further incident.

Realizing the significance of the event, Lennon had brought a camera on stage, and between songs, both he and McCartney took photos of members of the band.

The group performed a total of only 10 songs, which included popular hits such as "Day Tripper" and "Yesterday." They concluded the show with Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," climbed back into the waiting armored car, and were out of the park by 10 p.m. The Beatles were paid roughly $90,000 for their efforts.

On the plane leaving San Francisco that night, George Harrison told reporters facetiously: "Well, that's it. I'm not a Beatle any more."

The fact is, though Harrison and his mates were stepping away from live performances, and they were just embarking on their most creative, innovative and influential period.

Monday, August 28, 2006

When the Beatles Rocked Dodger Stadium

In the 44-year history of Dodger Stadium, many great moments are indelibly etched in memory — the 1963 Dodgers, who won the first and only World Championship on their home playing field by sweeping the rival New York Yankees; a perfect game by Sandy Koufax on September 9, 1965; and the magic of Kirk Gibson with his dramatic game-winning home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series against Oakland, to name a few. Yet, none of these are able to approach the sustained decibel level of another famous event held there 40 years ago.

On August 28, 1966, some 45,000 fans screamed ceaselessly, hysterically...basically, taking constant noise to a fever pitch. It was not for a baseball game, however. No, on this Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, a concert was held featuring “The Beatles”. Warm-up acts included soloist Bobby Hebb and bands “The Remains,” “The Cyrkle,” and “The Ronettes.” But they proved to be no match for The Beatles, the pièce de résistance, clean-up hitting, sizzling main course of British imports from Liverpool. Shrieking teen-age girls overpowered the 2,000-watt public address system with some 27 speakers that surrounded the baselines. Some girls worked themselves into such a frenzy, they fainted and had to be carried away.

But, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, the famed quartet who comprised The Beatles, did their job and pleased the crowd, performing 10 of their songs in a 30-minute period. The deafening crowd noise, though, prevented the majority of fans from actually being able to hear any of their music.

“The flat stage (decorated in blue and white), probably four feet off the ground, was set up at second base. We sold out all of the seats in the stadium, other than the Pavilions. The ends of the stadium were sold for the first time. With a flat stage, they could move around and the people on the far ends of the Reserved Level or Field Level could still see them. The promoters gave tickets to people who were blind to sit in the Pavilions.

“Another change was we hired a lot of the off-duty Long Beach police officers. They were in uniform. They turned out to be a great move.”

One of the primary operational concerns was to find the quickest route to get The Beatles out of Dodger Stadium following their brief performance.
“From the stage behind second base, we had a large tent set up and in that tent we had parked two limousines,” said Smith. “The purpose of these limousines was when the show was over, The Beatles would come off the stage, go into one of the limousines and the center field gates would open. The Beatles would be in one car and I think the manager and a couple of guys in another car. Before anybody realized what was happening, we would have The Beatles out of the stadium and gone. It didn’t work out that way.”

The logistical nightmare was just beginning for Smith and his co-worker, an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer named Sheldon Combs who headed the Dodger Stadium security force. The Beatles arrived on the eighth level of Dodger Stadium around 4 p.m. and traveled down the elevator to the dugout level. They dressed and prepared for the concert in the Dodger clubhouse. The same clubhouse which was home that 1966 season to four eventual Hall of Famers — Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Manager Walter Alston. The other bands used the old Los Angeles Angels clubhouse (used by the Angels in 1962-65), adjacent to the Dodger shower area (on the left field side) as their dressing room. Only Smith, Combs, the promoters and close friends of The Beatles were permitted inside the Dodger clubhouse with special passes.

“The tent was covered — it had a top on it and side curtains. We had ‘Beatles Dressing Room’ on a big sign on the tent,” said Smith. “We had three different plans. The first was, when the show was over, that they would go into the tent. We had a guy in center field and once we said to open the gates, the gates would open and out they would go in the limo. Then we had another plan with a Brink’s Armored truck in Parking Lot B (near the top of Dodger Stadium). We would get them to the elevator up to the eighth level to Lot B and out of there. Then, the third plan we had an ambulance in the tunnel down the left field side, placed there long before the gates opened. That tunnel was sealed off where nobody could go through it or exit or anything.”

During the concert, Smith divided his time between the Dodger dugout and the Press Box on the Club Level. With the help of the Long Beach P.D., Dodger security formed a ring on the field level, some three feet apart, around the stadium. Security supervisors monitored the Dodger dugout, where The Beatles made their entrance from the Dodger clubhouse to the field and ultimately on stage.

As far as the concert itself, Smith said he was less concerned about listening to the foursome’s music than he was making sure that everyone was secure and everything stayed under control.

“From the time they came on the stage till they went off, it was continuous screaming in the stands,” said Smith. “It was so loud. I don’t think you could understand what they were saying because it was so loud. The screaming would be above the music, and they kept cranking up the music. But, all the people were standing up, jumping up and down and screaming. I think compared to baseball, baseball was pretty calm compared to this. The Gibson home run was something similar to that, but it didn’t last as long as when The Beatles were there.”

The noise from the fans wafted from Dodger Stadium all the way to down to Sunset Boulevard, according to Smith. As the thirty minutes of pure pandemonium and exhilaration ended, he was prepared to implement the exit plan.

“When the show was over, all The Beatles but Ringo Starr did exactly what they were supposed to — they came off the stage and went in the tent,” said Smith. “Ringo is on the stage waving a white towel. He won’t come off. It took him maybe an extra five minutes. So now, when the first Beatles got in the limo, the center field gates open. Fans realize what’s happening. Everybody spills out of the stadium on the end of the building and they all head to the center field gates. So, the limo starts that way. The front limo runs into the batter’s eye screen post. There were so many people. We had put white tape up there, so if it got crowded, the driver would just aim at the batter’s eye. He hit the post head on, going two or three miles per hour. Now, the people are all over the car. We are trying to reverse and get the limo back onto the field.

“Chris Duca, the head of the field crew (of the Dodgers known as ‘Dukie’), runs in and he’s trying to get the big gates closed all together and we keep trying to get the limo back on the field. Sheldon Combs, the LAPD guy, got his shirt ripped off and hurt his leg. The Long Beach Police were holding everybody back. Really, they (Long Beach P.D.) saved the day for us, I think, because there were so many of them and they just happened to be in the right location. Kids were breaking those big barricades. They started fighting with police. One of the guys swung at one of the police and he ended up hitting one of his friends right above the eye when the cop ducked.

“We got ‘Dukie’ and got a big rope around those gates — those kids were pushing those gates and they were rocking pretty good. In Parking Lot 8/10 (behind center field), there must have been about 25,000 people out there just milling around, a lot of them still screaming. They wanted to get back in, because they said, ‘The Beatles are in the ballpark!’ We finally got The Beatles back on the field, brought them to the Dodger dugout and the stands were still probably a third full or more, because they were watching what was happening out there.”

Smith then got a call that he could eliminate the second plan.

“We got them back in the dugout and now we said the plan in Lot B is gone,” Smith said. “Some of the fans thought the Brink’s truck in Lot B might be a plan and they let the air out of the tires on the truck. So, that foiled that.

“I was right in the middle of it. The promoter was staying right with The Beatles at the time. We get them back into the Dodger clubhouse. Then we decided we’ve got only one area now and we’ve got to try to get them down through the tunnel, up the stairs and into that ambulance. The Beatles are starting to cooperate pretty good, because they are a little frightened.

“Now, we get them up and in the ambulance and we had two security guards we placed in the ambulance with them to kind of make sure to hold the doors. Here comes the ambulance and you’ve got your red lights and siren going. As the doors opened, the people kind of stepped back and the ambulance went right on through. They got over to Gate B exit at Scott Avenue. Two kids swung one of those paddles that closes the gate. They pushed it and the ambulance driver hit that. Well, that hit the headlight and knocked the battery. The battery ends up in the fan of the ambulance and it starts to overheat. They get them over to Elysian Park, where the baseball diamonds are at. So, now we get a call that that’s where they are stuck. We jump in our cars and head over there. By this time, we are calling for another Brink’s truck. The guy in the Brink’s truck in Lot B with the flat tires had his company send a driver from headquarters to Elysian Park. It must have taken a half hour. The Beatles are sitting right there in this ambulance under the palm trees in the park!
“The security people are almost trying to fight to hold people down. There were quite a few people who said ‘I bet The Beatles are in there (the ambulance).’ We had gotten over there in about 10 or 15 minutes and waited for the Brink’s truck. We stayed away from the ambulance. We didn’t want to create too much of a scene. When the Brink’s truck shows up, we get it close enough to the ambulance. We get the back doors open and the Brink’s guys open that. More or less, the security guards grab The Beatles and threw them in the Brink’s truck. The ambulance driver was sweating pretty good.

“Still, to this day, I remember when they were trying to close the doors of the Brink’s truck, one of The Beatles grabbed some fan’s hair and a wig came right off and when the doors were closed, the wig was still sticking out of the door as the truck left. When that Brink’s truck pulled out of there, cleared the crowd and was on the road, then I could kind of breathe a sigh of relief.”

But, Smith’s night was far from finished.

“We went back to the stadium,” said Smith. “There were some injured people at First Aid, nothing major. Most of the people were injured in the excitement out beyond center field. They just milled around forever. We were making announcements that The Beatles have gone. A lot of people wouldn’t believe that. They’re chanting, ‘The Beatles are still in the ballpark.’ It went on that way. People finally started leaving two or three hours after the event was over. Then, after that 12 o’clock, one o’clock, two o’clock, we still have got a lot of people there.

“People had dropped off their kids and now they are still trying to get back in and pick up these kids. Sometime around two or three in the morning, we moved everything to the Union Oil station. Instead of parents trying to find Lot A or the Security office, that’s where we set up a command post. People were still coming in all night long. I’m still there at daybreak. We called juvenile hall. They sent up three or four buses to pick up close to 200 remaining kids. We would call people as far away as San Diego or Santa Barbara and these people were mad because we would tell them their 15-year-old daughter was still at Dodger Stadium. Then, if they wouldn’t come and get them, that’s when we called juvenile hall. The sun was up over Dodger Stadium when that last bus pulled out of there.”

One of the most satisfying accomplishments for Smith and his staff was that the fans were unable to compromise the playing field. “We always were kind of proud of that,” said Smith, who had ringing in his ears from the noise for several days following. “That at least we didn’t let them take over the field like they had a couple of other places. There were a lot of loose seats, where they were jumping up and down. It was just another special event in Dodger Stadium. I have always thought that the World Series is one of the biggest events that we ever put on there. This was something that we didn’t know a lot about (staging a concert), but I think we prepared for it knowing what happened at the other stadia and we had a lot of extra help and everything. It was much different than a game. This crowd was probably in the 14-18 range, most of it girls.”

The Beatles moved on to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park for their last live public concert the next night before a crowd of 25,000. Their 14-city tour concluded, earning an estimated $1 million.

Smith later ran Stadium Operations for the Dodger organization, first as Director and later as Vice President, spending more than a 30-year career at Dodger Stadium, staging eight World Series, one Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Olympic Baseball exhibition tournament and a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II.

“Never had I experienced something like that at Dodger Stadium and never again,” he said about The Beatles concert. “It was quite a night!”

Recalling that historic event as “A Hard Day’s Night,” Smith remembers it as if it were “Yesterday.”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Macca in swingin' sixties

Pop king Sir Paul McCartney looks the perfect doting dad as he pushes daughter Beatrice on a swing.

Macca, 64, smiled happily as he played with the chuckling two-year-old in a park.

He also drove her around in a buggy attached to the back of his pushbike.
Delighted Beatrice lapped up the attentions of the former Beatle during the light-hearted trip in East Hampton, New York.

Sir Paul is in the city to thrash out a divorce settlement following his marriage split from Bea’s 38-year-old mum Heather Mills.

A source said: “Paul does everything he can to protect Bea from what’s going on. He looked like any other single dad taking his child to the park — except maybe a bit older than most.”

Texan foils burglary in Britain via Beatles webcam

An American helped foil a burglary in northern England whilst watching a Beatles-related webcam over the Internet, police said on Friday.

The man from Dallas was using a live camera link to look at Mathew Street, an area of Liverpool synonymous with the Beatles and home to the Cavern Club where the band regularly played.

He saw intruders apparently breaking into a sports store and alerted local police.

"We did get a call from someone in Dallas who was watching on a webcam that looks into the tourist areas, of which Mathew Street is one because of all the Beatles stuff," a Merseyside Police spokeswoman said.

"He called directly through to police here." Officers were sent to the scene and three suspects were arrested.

Friday, August 25, 2006

McCartney Pays Millions for Charity No-Show

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has paid $2.8 million to a landmine charity after pulling out of its fundraising concert causing the event's subsequent cancellation.

McCartney was supposed to attend October's Los Angeles gig for landmine charity Adopt-A-Landmine with wife Heather Mills McCartney.

But due to their current estrangement and ongoing divorce proceedings, McCartney decided not to go through with his appearance, even though he was scheduled to be the biggest attraction at the fundraiser.

Both McCartney and Mills are sole patrons of Adopt-A-Landmine, with Mills being the founding patron.

Last year the singer helped raise a massive $3.06 million for Mills' charity, which supports the United Nations' efforts to remove landmines across the world.

However, in a statement McCartney says, "While I continue to be committed to Adopt-A-Minefield and its critical mission, given the current circumstances, I will not be able to attend the gala this year."

Other stars, including Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson and Orlando Bloom, have already reportedly paid $900 for tickets to see McCartney perform at the event, which is now cancelled.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mills Fumes Over McCartney Planning Fiasco

Heather Mills is furious with her estranged husband Sir Paul McCartney after finding out she could be made homeless. The former model blames the rocker for failing to obtain planning permission for the cabin she has been residing in since their split in May (06). The former Beatle has been letting Mills stay in the building so that he can be close to their two-year-old daughter Beatrice, but is currently embroiled in a planning battle with the local council, who have given McCartney until November (06) to submit a retrospective planning application for the illegally-built lodge. A source told British newspaper The Daily Mail, "She is laying the blame firmly at his door for the lack of planning permission. "Heather is furious. When she gets back from Los Angeles - where she is on holiday - she will have to start some serious house-hunting. "She hopes to buy a property when the divorce is finalised. She did have a flat in London but Paul bought that off her so that she could buy a barn which is now being used as an office."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

McCartney ready to destroy house for cabin

Paul McCartney, in a dispute with East Sussex, England, planning officers over a cabin built without a permit, has offered to tear down a house in exchange.

His estranged wife Heather Mills had been using the lakeside timber lodge on Woodlands Farm in Peasmarsh so the couple`s 2-year-old daughter Beatrice could be near both parents. Mills blamed McCartney for not getting permission for the cabin`s construction, the Daily Mail reported.

McCartney now has offered to tear down a three-bedroom house and two barns to save the cabin. The council`s planning head Frank Rallings said it will review his offer.

But the former Beatle`s children, Stella, Mary and James from his previous marriage, are said to be upset about the possible loss of the house and barns. Their mother Linda lived on the estate, which the family has owned for 25 years -- until her death in 1998.

The Beatles Go Metal?

On October 24, 2006, Restless Records will release "Butchering The Beatles" — featuring the biggest, the baddest, the heaviest all-star line-up ever assembled to honor what is arguably the greatest band ever — THE BEATLES. All-in-all, over 50 internationally known recording artists bring their unique bone-crushing slant to these remarkable songs. Produced by Grammy award-winning producer/guitarist Bob Kulick and ace engineer Brett Chassen, "Butchering The Beatles" features 12 new, ass-kicking versions of THE BEATLES' chart-topping hits, including "Hey Jude", "I Feel Fine" and "Day Tripper", plus the more esoteric "Hey Bulldog", barked out by the legendary Alice Cooper and "Tomorrow Never Knows", uniquely interpreted by the iconic Billy Idol, alongside classic concept songs like "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Magical Mystery Tour".

When asked by Guitar Player magazine what possessed him to go all metal on THE BEATLES, Bob Kulick stated that, "BEATLES songs are the Holy Grail. They're the best rock songs ever written. These new recordings are totally faithful, yet completely different. Billy Gibbons singing 'Revolution' or (MOTÖRHEAD frontman) Lemmy singing 'Back In The USSR' are not exactly Paul McCartney or John Lennon. And of course, the guitar solo sections were lengthened to accommodate all the artists' solo styles."

"Butchering The Beatles" track listing:

01. "Hey Bulldog"

Alice Cooper - Vocals
Steve Vai - Guitars
Mikkey Dee (MOTÖRHEAD) - Drums

02. "Back In The USSR"

Lemmy Kilmister (MOTÖRHEAD) - Vocals/Bass
Eric Singer (KISS / ALICE COOPER) - Drums

03. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

Geoff Tate (QUEENSRŸCHE) - Vocals
Michael Wilton (QUEENSRŸCHE) - Guitar
Craig Goldy (DIO) - Guitar
Rudy Sarzo (DIO) - Bass
Simon Wright (DIO) - Drums
Scott Warren (DIO) - Keys

04. "Tomorrow Never Knows"

Billy Idol - Vocals
Steve Stevens (BILLY IDOL) - Guitars
Blasko (OZZY OSBOURNE) - Bass
Brian Tichy (BILLY IDOL) - Drums

05. "Magical Mystery Tour"

Yngwie Malmsteen (RISING FORCE / ALCATRAZZ) - Lead Guitar
Bob Kulick, (MEAT LOAF / PAUL STANLEY BAND) - Rhythm Guitar
Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN / FOREIGNER) - Bass
Frankie Banali (W.A.S.P. / QUIET RIOT) - Drums

06. "Revolution"

Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) - Vocals / Guitar
Vivian Campbell (DEF LEPPARD) - Guitar
Mike Porcaro (TOTO) - Bass
Gregg Bisonnette (DAVID LEE ROTH / RINGO STARR BAND) - Drums
Joseph Fazzio (SUPERJOINT RITUAL) - Drums

07. "Day Tripper"

Jack Blades (NIGHT RANGER / DAMN YANKEES) - Vocals
Tommy Shaw (STYX / DAMN YANKEES) - Vocals
Doug Aldrich (WHITESNAKE / DIO) - Guitars
Marco Mendoza (WHITESNAKE / THIN LIZZY) - Bass
Virgil Donati (STEVE VAI / SOUL SIRKUS / PLANET X) - Drums

08. "I Feel Fine"

John Bush (ANTHRAX) - Vocals
Stephen Carpenter (DEFTONES) - Guitar
John Tempesta (THE CULT / TESTAMENT) - Drums

09. "Taxman"

Doug Pinnick (KING'S X) - Vocals
Steve Lukather (TOTO) - Guitar
Steve Ferrone (ERIC CLAPTON / TOM PETTY) - Drums

10. "I Saw Her Standing There"

John Corabi (MÖTLEY CRÜE) - Vocals
Phil Campbell (MOTÖRHEAD) - Guitar
C.C. Deville (POISON) - Guitar
Chris Chaney (JANE'S ADDICTION) - Bass

11. "Hey Jude"

Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST / ICED EARTH) - Vocals
George Lynch (DOKKEN / LYNCH MOB) - Guitar
Bob Kulick (MEAT LOAF / PAUL STANLEY BAND) - Rhythm Guitar
Chris Slade (AC/DC) - drums

12. "Drive My Car"

Kip Winger (WINGER) - Vocals
Bruce Kulick (KISS / GRAND FUNK) - Guitar
Tony Franklin (THE FIRM / WHITESNAKE) - Bass
Aynsley Dunbar (WHITESNAKE / JOURNEY) - Drums

Monday, August 21, 2006

Original Beatles promoter to visit Portage

Sam Leach remembers stepping into a dingy, smelly nightclub 45 years ago like it was yesterday.

A rough-around-the-edges band was performing to an even rougher crowd.

"There was nothing as powerful as that sound that night. Even the gangs stopped fighting that night to hear them," said Leach, of Liverpool, England.

That band was The Beatles. Leach told them then they'd be as big as Elvis Presley. He was right.

Leach became the band's original promoter, signing them to nearly 50 concerts in the 18 months he represented the group.

"Their voices were fantastic. The sound just seemed to go through you," said Leach, who will be a special guest during the city's one-day Portage Music Fest on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Leach, while replaced by Brian Epstein as the band's promoter in 1963, remained close with the group. He's penned several books, including "The Birth of the Beatles."

He's making the trip to Portage as part of the performance of American English, a Chicago-based Beatles-impersonation band.

Being a part of the American English tour, he said, is deja vu.

"For those who have never seen American English, you are going to the see the Beatles live. The first time I saw them was like that first night I saw the Beatles," said Leach, who will introduce the band and then mingle with visitors to answer questions about his life with the Beatles and his career in music promotion.

"The world has never seen the Beatles like they were in those days and months," he said of his time spent with the band, adding American English's performance will bring them back as close to that time as anyone can get.

"I really love it. I really do. I like people to know what it is all about," said Leach about his trips to the United States. The Portage show will be the first of six American English performances he will attend. He'll spend a month on this side of the pond, returning to England on Oct. 2.

Leach, who was instrumental in promoting the Merseybeat sound in the 1960s, is also writing the screenplay for a film based on his life and times with the Beatles.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Paul McCartney 'Heartbroken' By Heather Mills' Behaviour

The divorce between the former Beatle and former glamour model looks set to be a long affair dragged out through the courts.

And a close friend of McCartney has revealed that he his desperately trying to understand how things have got this bad.

They said: "Paul has been left heartbroken by everything that has happened. He is not angry or bitter or full of rage. It’s much, much sadder than that. He is upset, confused and lonely."

“He can’t believe the way it has all turned out. As far as he is concerned, he always wanted their divorce to be conducted with dignity, diplomacy and discretion.”

Another friend added to the Mirror that McCartney was eager to keep up good relations with Heather until two weeks ago when Mills went public with a supposedly private legal letter.

"That moment was a turning point for Paul," said the pal. "He became convinced that the level of detail must have come from one place - and that wasn’t his own team of aides and lawyers."

"It dawned on him that the gloves were off."

Beatle Mania

Some of the biggest names in 60s music will be lining up for Liverpool's 2006 Beatleweek.

The event, at various venues in the city, features bands from more than 20 countries who will attract an estimated 300,000 fans from across the world.

The emphasis this year is on those contemporaries of the Beatles that helped shape and mould their music.

And that means a gig at the Empire Theatre on Saturday, August 26 by The Quarrymen, including four of the original members of John Lennon's school band, Donovan, who travelled with the Beatles to India to meet the Maharishi and helped to write Yellow Sub-marine, and Tony Sheridan, who the Beatles backed and recorded with in Hamburg.

There is also a gig on Friday, August 25, by the Bootleg Beatles.

Sunday, August 27 will see the 2006 Beatles Convention at the Adelphi Hotel.

Appearing there will be original Beatles member Pete Best whose band will debut a new concept album, which tracks the ups and downs of his career.

That Sunday will also see the first all-nighter at the Cavern Club for 40 years.

Taking the stage at the Empire on the Monday will be more 60s legends like the Merseybeats, the Searchers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Undertakers, Beryl Marsden and Kingsize Taylor.

Appearing at The Cavern on the Tuesday will be Joey Molland, an Apple recording star with Badfinger, Terry Sylvester, an ex-member of the Swinging Blue Jeans, and the Escorts, who became the voice of The Hollies.

The Matthew Street Festival takes place on the Monday.

Tickets are available from

For more details check the website or ring 0151 236 9091.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Macca fears Heather will turn video diary into TV show

Heather Mills is putting further pressure on Paul McCartney by filming a video diary of the couple's increasingly acrimonious split.

The former Beatle is understood to be concerned that the footage might easily be made into a television documentary to be sold to a broadcaster.

At present, the hours of camcorder tapes concentrate mainly on the frenzied press interest around Miss Mills.

But on a number of occasions recently, footage has also been filmed by Miss Mills and her aides of crucial points in the relationship break-down, such as when she was recently locked out of her estranged husband's London home, for example.

Sources claim the video diary is being made as an 'insurance policy' for Heather which might be used to pressure Sir Paul into a position where he will agree to a greater proportion of his fortune going to his estranged wife.

If broadcast and carefully edited, such a documentary could help sway public opinion in her Heather's favour by portraying her as a victim in an increasingly bitter divorce.

Since the couple announced their separation, Miss Mills has rarely been without her digital camcorder. The black, hand-held gadget has accompanied her everywhere, recording her every move.

When the 38-year-old former model has not been holding the camcorder herself, one of her aides - which have collectively been dubbed Team Heather - has taken up the role of cameraman.

A spokesman for Miss Mills has vehemently denied that she is making a documentary - insisting she is merely recording the movements of the paparazzi who have been following her closely since news of the break-up emerged.

However, the filming includes all of the occasions where Heather might feel she has been wronged by the ex-Beatle.

Last week, the campaigner's close confidante and make-up artist Mark Payne, filmed her departure from McCartney's £8million home in London, as the warring couple handed over their two-year-old daughter, Beatrice.

From the safety of a chauffeur driven car, Payne recorded Miss Mills leaving the house thirty minutes prior to the ex-Beatle's arrival.

It is not known, however, whether or not Miss Mills, who is currently holidaying in Los Angeles, has taken the trusty camcorder with her.

A source close to Heather said: 'Heather feels that her life has become a bit of a pantomime circus since the split. She is being hounded by paparazzi and has no privacy anymore. Originally she set out to film the photographers at work, to prove what a nuisance they are. Now things have moved on and it's turned into a diary of what happens to her every day.

'Heather also sees herself as something of a documentary film maker. The past three months have unwittingly provided ample opportunity to experiment with that.'

One of Sir Paul's confidantes added: 'Paul was initially happy about Heather filming. His only concern was that she shouldn't film little Beatrice. But now the gloves are off, Paul is worried the filming might be used as just another weapon in Heather's armoury.'

During her trip she has held several meetings with her American lawyers - prompting observers to question whether she is angling for residency in the US, which would allow her to obtain a far more generous divorce settlement.

McCartney is also in the United States but staying in New York on a two-week break in the Hamptons.

While Miss Mills has spent much of the past two weeks in the newspapers, being photographed in a series of different situations - and outfits - McCartney has kept a much lower profile.

Friends of McCartney fear that Miss Mills is staging a defiant media campaign with the aid of several, well thought out publicity stunts.

Such claims were fuelled by the publication of photos of Miss Mills boarding a helicopter to Heathrow, with Beatrice, following a hand-over meeting close to McCartney's estate in Peasmarsh, East Sussex.

Insiders in the McCartney camp are said to be adamant that the photographs were a set-up - although Miss Mills' aides have, in turn, been quick to deny all such speculation.

The couple's relationship is at an all-time low after McCartney issued Miss Mills with a legal letter, accusing her of taking three bottles of cleaning fluid without his permission.

Since then, he has also changed all the locks on the couple's former marital home, resulting in Miss Mills being barred from the house.

On one occasion she was humiliatingly mistaken for an intruder by members of the singer's security team, resulting in the police being called into resolve the situation.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Heather Mills To Divorce Paul McCartney In America?

Apparently Mills is trying to decide whether to divorce Macca in America where she might have a chance of getting a better settlement.

According to the Daily Mail she was in meetings with lawyers yesterday about going through the American courts.

The news once again shows that Mills is going for as much as she can get out of McCartney’s £800m fortune after rejecting his £30m offer.

She was spotted in Beverley Hills yesterday on yet another shopping spree that’ll no doubt anger her husband yet again.

She was seen visiting designer shops including Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, we wonder whose money she was spending?

Pete Best says Ringo Starr enjoyed the fruits of his hard work

The Beatles' original drummer Pete Best says that although there are no hard feelings between him and the group, he does feel that Ringo Starr enjoyed the fruits of his hard work with the band. The drummer joined the group 46 years ago (August 17th, 1960) and was fired just short of two years later on August 15th, 1962. He was replaced by Starr, who had been the drummer for Rory Storm & the Hurricanes.

Best, who says that he has had no substantial contact with any of the Beatles since the night before he was fired, told us that Starr walked into a much cushier job than he did upon joining the Fab Four: "Y'know, when you think about it, the first trip out to Hamburg, (Germany), we were playing six, seven hours a night. And I think actually, when (laughs) Ringo joined they were playing 20 minutes, half an hour sessions, or something like that. So, I did a lot of the spade work, put the long hours in and he was the one who picked up the glory."

While Ringo was with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, he did in fact play similarly grueling sets in Liverpool and Hamburg, often sharing a 12-hour bill with the Beatles.

Best has just wrapped up a U.S. tour with his Pete Best Band.

Later this fall, the drummer will re-release his 2005 Best Of The Beatles DVD, which was previously only available in limited distribution. The documentary features Best's first hand recollections of the Fab Four's formative days in Liverpool and Hamburg.

The Beatles play Boston, 40 years ago Friday

It was 40 years ago today that Sergeant Pepper came to Boston to play. Aug. 18, 1966, to be exact - a warm summer evening that crackled with excitement as my best friend's dad, a prominent Boston lawyer wanting to experience his son's Beatle mania firsthand, drove the three of us to Suffolk Downs racetrack.

The crowd of 25,000 sat facing a small wood-frame stage set up on the dirt raceway. We had paid $4.75 per ticket. Warm-up acts - the Remains, Bobby Hebb, the Cyrkle, and the Ronettes - drew appreciative applause, but the evening began when the crowd caught sight of a line of black limousines making its way down the track toward the stage. John, Paul, George, and Ringo were in the house.

If you've never heard 15,000 teenage girls (give or take a few thousand) shriek, you've missed one of life's phenomena. Jon, his dad, and I stood surrounded in the center section, perhaps 225 feet from the stage, like the silent nucleus of an atomic mob. John Lennon belted out the first lyrics - "Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music..." - sending the place into controlled pandemonium. Those proved to be the operative words of the evening - if only we could hear.

The girl next to me held out a camera and asked, screaming, if I would stand on my chair and take a picture of the stage. She never took her eyes off the Beatles as she dictated instructions. My first thought: I am going to master the guitar. By the fourth song, the girls had exhausted themselves and the squeals subsided. We had been given a window to hear.

The vocal harmony of Lennon's baritone and McCartney's tenor has never ceased to amaze me. But to hear it live is another matter. Harrison's guitar work on his sunburst Epiphone Casino offered beautiful embroidery to "Day Tripper" and "Nowhere Man." Ringo nailed each song with his rock-steady beat.

Alas, our show lasted a mere 35 minutes. After finishing the last of 11 songs - "Long Tall Sally" - the Fab Four waved, jumped in their limos, and drove into the night. It turns out we caught the caboose of Beatle mania. Eleven days later, they played their last public concert, in San Francisco, and retired from touring to focus on recording.

The Beatles have never quite left me since that night. Even though we were only in our mid-teens, Jon and I had decided to form a band that year at the private school we attended in the Midwest. We wanted to be the Beatles. He told me that he had been in a group back home and how at one of their shows a girl had jumped up and touched his guitar. He had me at "girl."

Jon played lead on his new Fender Jazzmaster. I played rhythm on my Hagstrom. Borrowing amplifiers from classmates, we played for a few class functions and once for the entire school in the gymnasium. Our repertoire included some pop tunes and, of course, several Beatles songs. We had the requisite Beatle hair cut, with bangs.

Since then, I've often wondered why the Beatles were so much a part of the DNA of our generation - the next several generations, in fact. For me, the Beatles' career bookended my teen years. I was 13 when they first appeared on Ed Sullivan Feb. 9, 1964, and I was 19 when they broke up in 1970. Potent symmetry. Music is the soundtrack to a teen's life, and I associate Beatles songs with all those formulative events - the first parties, dances, cars, and dates. To this day, a Beatle song on the radio acts as a time machine.

The Beatles were master musicians, blessed with two of the era's great voices. Their music was varied and evolved organically over time. Each album's song composition seemed better and more interesting - from their first, "Please Please Me," recorded in a single day, to "Revolver," the album they released just before the Boston concert and worked on 18 hours per song. The White Album, Sgt. Pepper, and Abbey Road were yet to come, and fans would buy them all - an estimated 1 billion discs and tapes to date, more than any group in history.

Of course, the Beatles' artistry didn't just spring from the Liverpool air. They had put in years of apprenticeship in German and English clubs, studied all of America's classic music - R&B, country, the blues, and rock 'n' roll. Their passion for these genres was critical to their sound and ultimate success.

Yet, to me, the Beatles represented more than just music. They epitomized the rebelliousness of the time. In my own version of it, I remember coming home after my first year of college. My dad opened the front door to discover my white peasant shirt and foot-long hair. "Oh Lord," he said, good-naturedly.

Today my infatuation continues, but on a different level. Jon and I still try to play Beatles' songs. We're just doing it long distance and, in middle age, sans hair. We record our parts on 12-track digital recorders and exchange them on CDs. The other adds his own voice-overs and guitar licks. It's like a traveling recording studio.

Our grown-up obsession has led to a dangerous offshoot - guitar collecting. I own Martin and Gibson acoustic guitars, in addition to three electrics. (It reminds me of the old joke about the kid who tells his mother that when he grows up he wants to be a musician. The mother replies: Son, you can't do both.)

My friend Jon has amassed a museum-size collection of Beatles-era electric guitars (24 at last count), most now worth more than Google stock, including a 1955 Gretsch Duo Jet, a 1966 Rickenbacker 12-string, and a 1964 Gibson SG - all like George Harrison's. When I ask Jon why he does it, he says simply: These early guitars represent the authentic voice of the rock 'n' roll era. To him, they are the Stradivariuses of their time.

The Beatles have secured their place as one of the most important forces in 20th-century pop culture. As such, more books come out each year trying to explain their musical genus and genius - including Walter Everett's recent two-volume set, "The Beatles as Musicians." But examine anything too closely, especially art, and it can slip through your hands. McCartney himself once said: "I'd like a lot more things to happen like they did when you were kids, when you didn't know how the conjuror did it and were happy just to see it there and say, 'Well, it's magic.' "

Forty years ago Friday night, John, Paul, George, and Ringo played Suffolk Downs. It was magic.

Beatles Fans Come Together at Fest

The days of The Beatles as a working band may have vanished down the long and winding road, but Beatle fans still abound, and their annual get-togethers still mean here comes the fun.

Fans of The Beatles are not hard to come by. In fact, it's hard to walk around Iowa City, Iowa, without seeing someone in a Beatle or John Lennon T-shirt. The group ranks as the fourth-most listed on Facebook both at the University of Iowa and nationwide. But nowhere is it easier to find Beatle fans than at the annual convention called (for legal reasons) The Fest for Beatles Fans, which took place this past weekend in Chicago. Another convention is held each spring in New Jersey. It is known to regulars as "Beatlefest" and known to me as the highlight of my year. As I entered the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the home of the Chicago Fest, I was greeted by the sound of George Harrison's captivating "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the hotel's PA. The Beatles' music continued to echo through the hotel day and night, feeding the energy coursing through the attendees. Beatle signs decorated the walls, and the halls were filled with fans dressed in Lennon sunglasses and carrying rhinestoned Fab Four purses.

The Hyatt Regency is essentially a giant cube. Rooms line the edges and look out into the open atrium reaching from the ground floor to the 11th. From just outside my room, I could look down and see the fans below, many of whom congregated in small groups, singing Beatle songs. Their voices rose up into the atrium and could be heard into the early morning hours.

The convention took over all the meeting rooms in the hotel. One room was completely taken up by original vinyl sleeves — including the infamous butcher cover, which pictured the band dressed as meatpackers, adorned in plastic babies and raw meat. The ballroom hosted presentations from speakers during the day and live music each night by paint-by-numbers tribute band Liverpool — when one was lucky enough to find standing room. Cover art for each of The Beatles' albums blown up to the size of a large window covered the walls, with the exception of Magical Mystery Tour, which "never made it back from a Jersey Fest," said the event coordinator Mark Lapidos with a laugh. It was here that Paul Saltzman shared his Beatle story.

Saltzman — a quiet and peaceful man eager to discuss the "inner self" with anyone willing — traveled to India in 1968. While there, he was thrilled to receive a letter from his girlfriend.

"I can only remember the first line," Saltzman continued. "It said 'Dear Paul, I've moved in with Henry.'" A friend suggested that Saltzman use meditation to ease his pain. He went to the ashram in Rishikesh, willing to try anything. Unfortunately, his project was hindered by one simple fact: The members of The Beatles were just then occupying the ashram with the maharishi. Saltzman camped outside, not because he wanted to meet the band members, but because he was determined to learn meditation. After eight days, an ashram attendant appeared, and opened the door. Upon learning to meditate, Saltzman saw the Beatles' members clustered in a corner of the grounds and asked if he could join them. Saltzman remembers his exact reaction when they said yes.

"Two voices went off in my head," he said. "The first voice said, 'Eek! It's The Beatles!' Then the second voice said, 'Hey Paul, they're just normal guys like you. Everyone farts and is afraid in the night.' And from that point on, I never thought of them as 'The Beatles.' " Saltzman said he later realized the second voice was his "inner voice," which he had happily just discovered through meditation.

Saltzman documented his week with The Beatles in his book The Beatles in Rishikesh, in which he includes a particularly inspiring moment in his discussions with Harrison.

"He said something that changed my life," Saltzman said. "George said, 'Like we're The Beatles after all, aren't we? We have all the money you could ever dream of. We have all the fame you could ever wish for. But it isn't love. It isn't health. It isn't peace inside, is it?' "

UI senior Jackie Alcantar also attended this year's Chicago convention, her third. She became a fan in high school after the rerelease of the film A Hard Day's Night.

"The fest was a great time for everyone, even if you're not a die-hard fan," said Alcantar, who dragged along her non-fan boyfriend, to his eventual delight. The live music, Alcantar reported, was by far her favorite part of the festivities.

Another eagerly anticipated speaker who returns each year is Mark Hudson, Ringo Starr's longtime producer. His teal moustache and orange goatee gave away his playful and charming nature instantly. His floppy hat and colorful suits endeared him to the audience, which cheered enthusiastically when he was announced. Hudson told stories about the recording of Starr's various albums and talked about the differences between Starr, who's indifferent to the attention of starstruck fans, and Paul McCartney, who eats up the celebrity.

"He was really charismatic and entertaining," Alcantar said. Some of the other speakers, though not uninteresting, were a little drier, but Hudson had an energy that particularly spoke to her. Though the stories and music are integral to the success of The Fest for Beatles Fans, the essence of the convention is the camaraderie among the attendees. The sense of shared purpose made for an instant rapport.

"There were kids there as young as 7 all the way up to grandmothers, who were all there for the same reason," Alcantar said.

Saltzman vocalized this best. "We're all just sitting here talking about The Beatles," he said. "It's because [the band has] done something for each of us. It's given us something."

While in an elevator packed to capacity, I was crammed among several people, all of whom were dressed in Beatles gear. One wore a replica of the baby blue uniform worn by McCartney on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. When we began apologizing to each other for the close quarters, I smiled and said, "It's OK. We're all friends here."

When I awoke Monday morning, all trace of the convention that had occurred was gone. The Beatle signs had been taken down from the walls. The displays of Beatle memorabilia and artwork had disappeared. The singers whose renditions of Beatle songs became so familiar to me had gone home. The intercom system, which had played The Beatles from the moment I entered the hotel on Friday afternoon, now spewed the '80s pop song "Let's Hear It for the Boy." The few thousand others who had been there just the day before now seemed to have vanished.

For a moment, I felt as though the convention had never really happened. As I left, I saw a small notice board sitting near the hotel's exit. Someone had spelled out the word "Imagine" in thumbtacks.

Win updated guide to Beatles' Liverpool

The man who first spotted the tourism potential of The Beatles for Merseyside more than 30 years ago has just published a new version of The Beatles' Liverpool - and we've six copies up for grabs.

Ron Jones was Deputy Public Relations Officer for Liverpool in 1974 when he produced a souvenir pack, The Beatles Collection - from Liverpool to the World, the first of many items used to "sell" the city using the name of the Fab Four.

Since then the Merseyside economy has benefited to the tune of millions and millions of pounds, and created many jobs, thanks to the pulling power of the group.

Ron organised the 1985 Beatles Convention handing it over to Cavern City Tours the following year.

The convention was developed into an annual Beatles Week which went on to give birth to the Mathew Street Festival, which sees hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets for the biggest free music festival in Europe.

He has run his own marketing and communications consultancy since 1987 and wrote, designed and published the third edition of The Beatles' Liverpool, which has been comprehensively updated and is now lavishly illustrated in full colour.

Ron operates the Merseyside Photo Library and also took the majority of the pictures in the book.

"At least one of the Beatles used an earlier edition of the book to guide himself around Liverpool," said Ron. "George Harrison used the book to revisit his old haunts."

The 112-page book contains a city centre Beatles trail, Beatles related places around Merseyside, background to Beatles songs influenced by Liverpool, and scores of photographs and maps.


To be in with a chance of winning one of six copies of The Beatles' Liverpool, simply email your answer to the following question to by midnight on August 31:

Which Beatle used The Guide when he revisted old haunts?

A) George
B) Paul
C) Ringo

Together with your answer, please leave your name, address and a daytime telephone number which we can contact you on. Usual Trinity Mirror competition rules apply.

The Beatles' Liverpool, price £6.95, is available from The Beatles Story, other outlets at Albert Dock, bookshops throughout Merseyside or direct from Ron Jones (email )

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

John Lennon: A New Jesus?

The Beatles, at the height of Beatlemania, were agnostic and didn’t hide this belief. Religion, Paul said in 1963, was something he didn’t think about: “It doesn’t fit in with my life.” While touring Britain in October 1964 he admitted to Playboy, “None of us believe in God.” John clarified the group’s position: “We’re not quite sure what we are, but I know that we’re more agnostic than atheistic.”

Yet just a few months later this assurance in God’s nonbeing would be rocked by their first encounter with LSD. All their material dreams had been achieved so dramatically, at such an early age, that they were starting to ask themselves what was left to look forward to. Since their teen years they’d been motivated by the possibility of wealth, fame, sex, and acclaim, but now that they had these things a fresh purpose was required. Drugs seemed to offer new possibilities.

“The four of us have had the most hectic lives,” said Ringo. “We have got almost anything money can buy. But when you can do that, the things you buy mean nothing after a time. You look for something else, for a new experience.”

They began to question their assumptions and talk openly about belief in God. They cut down on drinking whiskey as they took up smoking pot, and read Aldous Huxley rather than Ian Fleming. George was saying that the only worthwhile pursuit was the search for the answers to the questions, who am I? why am I here? and where am I going? “We made our money and fame, but for me that wasn’t it,” he said. “It was good fun for a while, but it certainly wasn’t the answer to what life is about.”

Paradoxically, as they began to search for a meaning beyond the material, they themselves became a source of meaning to millions of fans around the world. As one father explained to Time in 1967, “The Beatles are explorers, trusty advance scouts. I like them to report to my kids.” This was made all the more exciting because the art was enigmatic and the lyrics ambiguous. They seemed to know more than we did, but what it was that they knew was hard to determine. We emulated their dress and behavior. We combed their interviews for insights. We played their music in the hopes that it would soak into our psyches and somehow make us more like them.

John would later refer to the mid-sixties as the Beatles’ “self-conscious” period, and during it he made his most contentious comment about religion: “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus.” It was an artlessly delivered observation that would have unforeseen consequences, both for the Beatles as a touring group and for John as an individual. Although the controversy centered on his opinion of the crowd-pulling power of Christianity in the mid-20th century, he was also saying something about the religious function of rock music. For the music he played to be anything like a challenge to Christianity, wouldn’t it have to satisfy some of the same yearning that traditional religion satisfied?

The life and teachings of Jesus had always intrigued John. When he and Paul were still teenagers, they started work on a play, heavily influenced by the absurdism of Harold Pinter’s plays "The Birthday Party" and "The Dumb Waiter," with a central character named Pilchard who lived in suburbia and believed he was a “Christ figure.” In November 1965 Paul mentioned it to New Musical Express, saying that it was “about Jesus Christ coming back to earth as an ordinary person.” John regularly poked fun at church dignitaries, parodied hymns, and drew blasphemous cartoons of Christ on the cross in a way that only the once-faithful can. It was as though he was trying to prove to himself that he was free from the influence of the Church of England.

When he became recognized as a leader, he began to empathize with the person Christians referred to as “the Lord.” He wondered whether Christ, like the Beatles, had had divinity thrust on him by over-zealous followers. Had Jesus been someone with a gift for storytelling, insight into the human condition, and the ability to foretell the future, who had been turned into a god figure against his will? John admired his central teachings of love, justice, and seeking the kingdom of heaven but felt that Jesus had been co-opted by people with a different agenda. He speculated that Jesus’ claim to be the son of God might have been a way of telling us that we’re all divine but that most of us don’t recognize it. When asked to nominate his heroes for the cover of Sgt. Pepper, John included Jesus, but it was eventually decided not to use this image. “It was just too controversial,” says designer Peter Blake. “I’m not even sure that he was actually made into a cut-out.”

In interviews John regularly alluded to biblical events and paraphrased memory verses. When asked by Mersey Beat about the origin of the name “Beatles” in 1961 he wrote: “It came in a vision—a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an A.’ Thank you, Mister Man, they said, thanking him.” This alluded in part to Saint Peter’s vision as recorded in Acts 10: “ And [he] saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth”; in part to the story told in Genesis 17 about the origin of Abraham’s name: “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him . . . Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee”; and (possibly) in part to the story in Isaiah 6: “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” In 1973 John referred to his “flaming pie” story as “imitation Bible stuff.”

In 1980, when asked why the Beatles would never reform, his reply alluded to at least three Gospel stories. “Do we have to divide the fish and the loaves for the multitudes again?” he said. “Do we have to get crucified again? Do we have to do the walking on water again because a whole pile of dummies didn’t see it the first time or didn’t believe it when they saw it? That’s what they’re asking. ‘Get off the cross. I didn’t understand it the first time. Can you do it again?’ No way. You can’t do things twice.”

Occasionally this empathy was so consuming that, as he later admitted, when he was under the influence of drugs, “I thought, ‘Oh, I must be Christ.’” His boyhood friend Pete Shotton told of a meeting John called in May 1968 to tell Paul, George, and Ringo that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated. He wanted an authorized statement to that effect put out. Apple’s press officer Derek Taylor, who was also present, listened attentively but wisely ignored the plea, knowing that the drugs would soon wear off and this new Jesus would go back to being John.

Douglas' Night with George, Bob and Giant Dog

Actor Michael Douglas enjoyed one of the most bizarre nights of his life when late Beatle George Harrison and Bob Dylan visited him in his hotel room with a giant dog. The Oscar-winning Basic Instinct star had just won a Golden Globe for his 1987 film Wall Street, but he was miserable because he had to return to his hotel alone. But he suddenly found himself in the company of two of the biggest stars in rock 'n' roll - and a huge pooch. He says, "I was sitting there and had no one to celebrate with. I went back to the hotel, kind of excited but feeling a little sorry for myself. Anyway, I'm in my room and the phone rings and it's George Harrison. "I was like, 'Wow, George Harrison's coming round!' And a couple of minutes later, there's a knock on my door and in he walks. "Following him is the biggest dog I've ever seen in my life. And following the dog was Bob Dylan. "Man, that was one of the most amazing nights of my life."

Sir Paul McCartney's Heather ban

Sir Paul McCartney has banned estranged wife Heather Mills from collecting daughter Beatrice from his home.

Instead, the former model was forced to travel to neutral territory and meet the two-year-old tot at the Flackley Ash Hotel, just 300 yards from Paul's East Sussex home.

The Beatles legend had been taking care of Beatrice for the past week and sent his daughter to the hotel accompanied by a nanny.

A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "Paul made it very clear he didn't want her at the main house for the handover. Heather wasn't angry or upset. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, 'If he wants to play it that way, then let him.'

"She thinks the whole matter could be handled a lot more discreetly for Bea's sake. But she didn't want a big row, so she let him have his own way."

The estranged couple then both flew separately to the US from Heathrow airport yesterday (15.08.06).

Once Heather was reunited with her daughter, the pair flew to Heathrow in a navy blue Sikorsky 76A helicopter and boarded the 3pm flight to Los Angeles.

Paul flew to New York an hour later.

The bill for Heather's two-hour helicopter ride was £4,770.

Meanwhile, Heather - who has hired Anthony Julius, the late Princess Diana's divorce lawyer - is set to submit her counter claim this week and it is believed her revelations about their four-year marriage will stun the world.

Heather Mills reveals McCartney’s ‘control freak behavior’

With the impending divorce between Sir Paul McCartney and his estranged wife Heather Mills growing increasingly bitter and bloody, the model has now filed her own counter-claim to the legendary ‘Beatles’ singer’s divorce petition.

And, in a response to being called ‘argumentative’ and ‘rude’, 38-year old Mills has retaliated by stating that McCartney was a ‘controlling’ husband in the petition that she submitted at the High Court on Monday (14Aug06).

Mills has not only hired the late Princess Diana’s divorce lawyer to represent her in the UK, but has also hired attorneys in the US to refute his claims about her behavior there.

A source close to Mills said that the public has already got a glimpse of McCartney’s ‘controlling’ ways thanks to his ‘freak behavior’ which not only saw him locking his estranged wife out of her marital home, but also freeze their joint account.

“In recent weeks everyone has been able to see how controlling he is by the way he has locked her out of the marital home and written legal letters about her borrowing cleaning fluids,” the Daily Mail quoted the source, as saying.

“Heather had to put up with that sort of control freak behavior throughout the marriage. She also had to put up with the fact that he would change his plans at a whim and expect her to drop everything to be with him. He did not care that she also had work to do,” the source added.

As for the increasingly bitter divorce battle that could see Mills get as much as 200million pounds out of McCartney’s 850million pounds fortune, well the source insists that the singer was the one who threw the first stone.

“As far as Heather is concerned, she did not start this. Paul put in a divorce petition which shocked her and now she feels wound up and angry,” the source added.

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