Saturday, October 14, 2006

Paul McCartney Seeks to Register Name as Trademark

Former Beatle Paul McCartney sought on Friday to cash in on his name by registering it as a trademark for use on everything from waistcoats to vegetarian food.

In addition to vegetarian items, he is also seeking permission for the name on meat, fish, poultry and game.

The application has been made by McCartney's company, MPL Communications Ltd, and if successful will give it the exclusive right to use of the name McCartney on clothing, footwear, headgear and a variety of other goods.

The full application specifies such disparate items as articles of fancy dress, overalls, waistcoats, hosiery, dressing-gowns, bath robes, sports clothing and swimwear.

MPL Communications was set up by McCartney to handle his recordings after the break-up of the Beatles.

Anyone who objects now has three months to lodge objections with the Trademarks Registry. Then a trademark judge will decide whether the marks meet the legal criteria to be registered.

Companies and individuals apply to register names and logos as trademarks in order to identify the commercial source or origin of goods and services and set their business and its products or services apart from those of others.

Once a trademark has been granted, its owners can take action to prevent others using identical, or even similar, names and logos.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Beatle-Inspired Chess Set On Show

The piece, commissioned by fellow band member George Harrison in 1973, was displayed at Takashimaya to mark the opening of a new Asprey store.

The London jeweller is selling replica sets for £15,000 each.

Starr apparently learned to play chess during the making of the Sergeant Pepper album, released in 1967.

The "hands", designed by Robin Crookshank, are set in a certain gestures to represent each chess figure, and include the rings worn by the star.

The Takashimaya department store, established in the 1930s in Kyoto as a kimono shop, is now an eight-storey shopping and dining emporium.

Paul McCartney Victim of Trespassers

The tourists took a stroll around McCartney's grounds, videotaping McCartney's home and cars after entering the property from a public foot trail nearby, the Daily Mirror reported.

The trespassers then went on to post the footage on

McCartney was reportedly very upset that the tourists gained access to his estate so easily, giving his staff a full dressing down and ordering them to tighten his security, the Daily Mirror said.

In the video posted on the Internet, the camera controllers can be heard laughing as McCartney's house comes into view.

A woman's voice says: "This is it. This is his house. It's a beautiful house. It's beautiful. Oh God, we are going to be in so much trouble."

The 64-year-old singer has already complained about the public trail running too close to his home, the newspaper said.

John Lennon's killer denied parole

Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon, was denied parole on Tuesday (October 10th), for the fourth time. Chapman, who is now 51, is currently serving a 25-years-to-life sentence in New York's Attica Correctional Facility, for killing Lennon outside the musician's New York City apartment on December 8th, 1980.

The Associated Press reported that the Division of Parole's three-member panel met with Chapman for a total of 16 minutes. A one-page decision was later issued saying, "The panel remains concerned about the bizarre nature of this premeditated and violent crime. While the panel notes your satisfactory institutional adjustment, due to the extremely violent nature of the offense, your release would not be in the best interest of the community." Chapman is eligible for parole again in October 2008.

Chapman, who was living in Hawaii at the time of the murder, stalked Lennon for days, and even briefly met Lennon's then-5-year-old son Sean outside the apartment building the day he gunned Lennon down.

A movie based on the days leading up to Chapman's murder of Lennon, titled Chapter 27, will be released next year, starring Jared Leto as Chapman and Lindsay Lohan as a fan who befriended Chapman.

The film gets its name from the "missing" chapter from J.D. Salinger's novel A Catcher In The Rye, which Chapman was obsessed with in the months before the murder. In an early '90s jailhouse interview, Chapman reportedly admitted to fantasizing about writing the missing chapter in Lennon's blood.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sir Paul McCartney to buy back Beatles rights

Sir Paul McCartney is to get his hands back on the rights to The Beatles' back catalogue of songs - which he lost 21 years ago.

The musician lost the rights to the majority of the Fab Four's hits to then close friend Michael Jackson in a bidding war in 1985.

Jackson paid nearly £40 million for the collection leaving McCartney, who dueted with Jackson on worldwide hit 'The Girl Is Mine' in 1982, fuming.

Now the former Beatle has learned the rights to many of the songs, which include 'Come Together' and 'Getting Better', are set to return to him automatically.

He revealed to Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "In about 10 years a lot of the back catalogue returns to me, just legally. Some of the important rights are about to return which I didn't realise."

McCartney, 64, has previously admitted he hates the fact he has to pay Jackson money every time he plays one of his own songs on tour.

He recently said: "You know what doesn't feel very good is going on tour and paying to sing all my songs. Every time I sing 'Hey Jude' I've got to pay someone."

Stella McCartney Dedicates Fashion Show To Parents

Everybody needs a little love sometimes. Despite Paul McCartney's ongoing divorce battle with Heather Mills, his daughter Stella lifted the music icon's spirits on Thursday with a reassuring hug at one of her fashion shows.

The former Beatle attended his daughter's debut at Paris Fashion Week and Stella returned the show of support by rushing to her father and throwing her arms around him when the pair met afterwards.

Paul has been through a harrowing time since his breakup from estranged wife Heather Mills in May and the strain of heading to the divorce courts has been "devastating."

Stella, 35, dedicated the show to her "mum (sic) and dad" - her mother was Paul's first wife, Linda, who died in 1998 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.

In a handwritten note, Stella wrote, "This show is dedicated to my husband and son. It is also for my mum (sic) and dad."

Heavily-pregnant Stella, who has an 18-month-old son Miller with husband Alasdhair Wills, was thrilled to see her proud father filming the standing ovation at the end of her ready-to-wear collection showcase.

Sitting in the front-row, Paul insisted, "It was the best show. Not that I'm biased!"

The 64-year-old musician, who has a two-year-old daughter, Beatrice, with Heather, confessed he was struggling to cope with his marriage break-up.

He said, "It's been the most terrible time for me and my family. Coming to terms with this is horrible."

Meanwhile, Heather looked gloomy as she flew to the U.S. on Thursday. The 38-year-old former model refused to comment when quizzed about her alleged demands for $254 million divorce settlement.

Rare John Lennon Green Card footage discovered by filmmakers at the last minute

The directors of the new documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon found a key piece of archival footage only weeks before the film was scheduled to wrap production. The film, which was released last month, chronicles Lennon's four-year fight to legally remain in the U.S. For years, the footage of Lenon and wife Yoko Ono appearing on July 27th, 1976 at the Department of Neutralization and Immigration in New York City was thought to have been lost forever.

David Leaf, who co-directed the film which documents Lennon's harassment by the Nixon administration, told us that the footage was discovered during the production's eleventh hour: "You know, we had interviewed people who were there and they had told us what John said outside the building, but to find John saying that, it's so impactful. You know, he thanks his fans, he makes the classic comment, 'Time wounds all heels.' We found that three weeks before we finished the movie. It was in a mismarked reel."

The footage of Lennon was shot for WABC-TV in New York.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon, which was produced with the cooperation and participation of Yoko Ono, is in theatres now.

Beatles Unleashing Love

A "new" album of Beatles music mixed by their legendary producer George Martin and described as a new "way of reliving the whole Beatles musical lifespan", will be released in November.

EMI Music and Apple Corps Ltd said on Tuesday that Martin and his son Giles began work on the album, called Love, after getting permission from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yok Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison representing John Lennon and George Harrison.

The music has already been used as the soundtrack to the theatrical Cirque du Soleil show called Love.

"This music was designed for the Love show in Las Vegas but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album," George Martin said.

"The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them.

"What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period."

The Martins worked from the original master tapes from the Abbey Road studios to produce a medley of Beatles music by remixing favourite songs, such as Harrison's Within You Without You being played to the drum-track of Tomorrow Never Knows.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fashion queen tells of her designs on young Lennon

The fashion designer Jenny Kee has disclosed that she slept with John Lennon when she was 17 after the singer declared that he had never been with an Asian girl.
Kee, 59, famous for her use of iconic Australian imagery on creations that range from jumpers to bedspreads, writes of the encounter in her memoir, A Big Life, which goes on sale on Monday.

She says she also slept with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Roger Daltry but denies she was “a hardened groupie”.

The designer, whose creations were worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, said that she slept with Lennon in Sydney during The Beatles’ first visit to Australia in June 1964. Lennon was still married to Cynthia, his first wife. He began the affair with Yoko Ono, the Japanese musician and artist, in 1968.

Asked by Australia’s Who magazine how she ended up in Lennon’s bed, Kee replied: “You’ve got to have a strategy. There was wall-to-wall security, but we pressed all the buttons in the lift until it jammed, and that’s how we got on to the stairwell and met them.

“There was no holding back. I was tunnel visioned. But in the end he [Lennon] chose me. He said: ‘I’ve never been with an Asian girl before.’ Sleeping with John Lennon was a fantastic thing.”

The magazine asked: “So you paved the way for Yoko Ono?” Kee said: “Well, he’d never been with an Asian girl before, so what can I say? I wasn’t a hardened groupie — I was very naïve. I’d only had two boyfriends before that. We got it on and magic happened.”

Most of Kee’s encounters with rock stars occurred in London after she moved there in the late 1960s and worked at the Chelsea Antiques Market, where she claims to have frequently dressed, and, it appears undressed, well known musicians.

Kee said that Jimi Hendrix came to her market stall and spoke to her on the day that he died. She told the magazine: “He was quite vacant, he was lost. You could see that fame and everything had just got to him. I feel privileged that I’ve touched these great icons . . . John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Princess Diana.”

Kee went on to design for Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel. In her later life, back in Australia, she lived with Danton Hughes, son of the Australian writer and art critic, Robert Hughes.

Danton Hughes, who was 20 years her junior, committed suicide in the Sydney home he shared with Kee in 2002.

He was convinced, Kee says, that his father, Robert Hughes, loathed the sight of him. Robert Hughes did, allegedly, disapprove of his son’s relationship with Kee. In his own memoir, Things I Didn’t Know, which is also about to released in Australia, he refers to Kee as his son’s “far older” lover.

In turn Kee, in her book, remembers Hughes Sr, whom she knew well in London in the 1960s, as an “arrogant, pompous, generous — and upwardly mobile hippy”.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

'Dad's albums inspire me'

Let’s get one thing straight. Sean Lennon has absolutely no problem with who he is.

As he relaunches his music career with the bold musical brushstrokes of new album Friendly Fire, he says: “The f***ing reason I’m playing music is because of The Beatles and my dad.”

One is immediately struck by Sean’s voice. It bears a strong American accent but is shot through with the familiar, distinct nasal lilt of John Lennon.

“I can honestly say that I have a really profound relationship with every period of his work,” he says. “Every single Beatles record, every single solo album — they’re all a big part of my dad.”

He feels the records give him a relationship with his father that otherwise wouldn’t be there because, of course, “he’s not around”.

It’s touching to remember that when John sang to his “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy”, the world shared his joy.

His simple heartfelt ode from besotted dad to “darling Sean” appeared on Double Fantasy, the album he made with partner Yoko Ono in the summer of 1980.

Sean, I discovered, has a particular place in his heart for Double Fantasy. “I mean I was there when they were making it. I actually remember it.”

He grew up in John’s adopted home city of New York with mum Yoko and these days is part of its glamourous social whirl. While sharing his parents’ love for music, the million-dollar question has been whether he would plunge into the business big time.

Happily, I can report that if his debut album, 1998’s Into The Sun, represents a flirtation, Friendly Fire feels like a full-on commitment.

So why did he leave such a gap? “The album just happened organically,” he says. “It’s not that I was avoiding. I was doing other things. The thing is, I’m not always sure I want a pop music career. A lot of the last few years I didn’t feel I wanted one.”

Now, however, he’s even approached and subsequently joined The Beatles’ first label (Capitol in The States and Parlophone here).

“It’s a big step. I’m older and I think I’ve gotten better at music. This record is also technically better and has a much richer sound. Capitol/Parlophone seemed a more appropriate label for the kind of work I’m doing now.

I’m not a kid any more so I’m not trying to say, ‘Look how weird I am’. I’m trying to make beautiful art. It’s going to be a different career for me.

“I intentionally made my first record obscure. I mean, there’s a seven-minute instrumental jazz song in the middle of it. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make it easy for people. I’m trying to make it a bit easier this time.”

That initial reticence, you sense, might have been caused by the pressure of being John’s son but Sean says: “I have never felt the pressure.”

Yet he did give this insight: “I remember playing a show in Rhode Island as a kid and there were three fat pigs in the front row with Beatles T-shirts on and one shouted ‘Play Yesterday!’ He said it in the middle of me singing and I thought, ‘This is what everyone’s talking about’.

“But my relationship to art is not defined by some sense of foreboding about who I am. It’s like. ‘Wow, this is Dad and this is what he did.’ A lot of how I learned to play music was from listening to that stuff, and it inspires me.”

Friendly Fire is a special album. The ten songs are personal, revealing and grand in scope. Rather like many of his dad’s solo efforts, there’s a dreamlike, often childlike quality.

A key song is the title track, on which he lays bare his feelings about his split from singer-actress Bijou Phillips. Did it bother him to share his innermost feelings with the listening public?

“I have to say that I never have issues with putting out songs that are personal. I have this innate thing that I don’t care.

“What bothers me is when people don’t know how I feel but are looking at me anyway. That’s what makes me uncomfortable, being in the public eye. People are projecting this idea on to me, like, ‘I hate that Lennon kid. He should be like his dad’”.

Another great thing about the album is that ever-visual Sean has shot an accompanying film featuring all the tracks, to be released on the CD/DVD edition. When you “see” the songs, everything clicks into place.

“When I was mixing the record, I started thinking about making videos. It felt like I hadn’t finished the album until I’d finished the movie of the album. It felt like this work was supposed to continue into filming. The music is pretty cinematic sounding.”

Each song gets a different, slightly surreal setting, though perhaps not as surreal as mum Yoko would have liked. Sean says: “She was a producer and gave me advice. For a while she thought I was being too commercial but I think she loves it now.

“Her sense of film is to, say, take an avocado, film it for six days and have, like, mosquitoes buzzing around in the background. I don’t want to undermine her because I think she is probably my greatest influence, my favourite artist. But I think in her mind for a while she thought, ‘Why are you trying to do this mainstream thing?’ In the end she realised I was using that medium, the mainstream, to take people on a dreamlike journey.”

The film for opening song Dead Meat sees Sean cheat at cards and get involved in a duel. The message is that you get what you deserve in life.

He says: “When I wrote Dead Meat, I knew I had a record. It represents how my life felt at the time.

“Also, I didn’t want to do the film in a half-hearted way. The guy who’s actually fighting me taught me how to fence. I had to take about ten classes. It was a lot of work — but ultimately a lot of fun.”

A dazzling fairground ride, a rollerskating venue, a dishevelled apartment, an underwater scene and a freak show circus all feature in the album film.

“It was a roller coaster,” says Sean. “It was difficult because we only had 12 days to shoot the whole thing. We were on a shoestring budget.

“We’d do a piece one day, have three hours’ sleep and come back the next morning to a different set and have a completely new set of characters.

“The crew were p****d off but now they feel very satisfied about what we did because it was a bit over the top. People said we were crazy for trying. I didn’t even have any trailers for the crew. We were sleeping on the floor.”

The sense of sonic and visual adventure pervades all on Friendly Fire, none more so than on the film for Headlights, which has a similar feel to Ken Russell’s portrayal of The Who’s Tommy.

Sean reveals: “It was one of the easiest ones. We just had to rent this fairground ride called a Gravitron. It spins round and you stick to the wall.

“I don’t know what it’s like in England but no one here wants Gravitrons any more. The guy who rented it out wanted to give it to us. ‘Please take it,’ he said. It was just sitting in the junkyard and we turned it on and it was literally like, brrrrrrr, and these lights came on. I thought, God, this is going to be good because it’s an amazing thing.”

I ask Sean if we’ll see him in Britain, touring his new songs with a band. “Yes,” he replies, “though I don’t have a permanent staff or anything, waiting for a call. Everything depends on the tour.”

Finally, we return to a subject so close to Sean’s heart — John Lennon and The Beatles. Is he bothered what the people who have a close relationship with their incredible music think of him?

“I understand that because they’re so attached to that great music that they don’t want me to f*** with their relationship with it or mess with their idea of this perfect thing.

“But I’m not really doing it for them and I’m not trying to please them anyway. I’m doing my own thing and they can take it or leave it.”

When Sean’s album goes on sale next week, my advice is: Take it, don’t leave it.

The ballad of Sean and Bijou

It takes exactly 20 seconds of Sean Lennon’s new album to reveal his biggest problem in pursuing a pop career — he sings exactly like his father. The reedy, nasal vocal is pure John. The gentle rasp when he extends his range is pure John. Even the pronunciation — “loovin’ you” — suggests a Scouse upbringing. Which is weird, because Lennon was born and raised in New York City, was five when his father died, and went to boarding school in Switzerland, which is generally a Scouse-free zone.

Sitting in a room at the Beatles’ old label, Parlophone, just down the corridor from where his dad beams out from a Let It Be poster, Lennon also looks like his father. And his mother. He’s a 50-50 fusion of John and Yoko. Until he opens his mouth, when he speaks slowly and quietly in an all- American accent, choosing his words with great deliberation. His clothes seem to have been picked with a similar attention to detail. He’s wearing a pinstriped trousers and waistcoat ensemble with a smart shirt and tie, and big dark glasses. He has tousled jet-black hair that hairdressers might call “unmanageable”, and a few days’ growth of beard.

It’s been eight years since Lennon released his debut album, Into the Sun, which fused his paternally inherited pop sensibility with a maternal experimental influence, incorporating elements of hip-hop and jazz. It failed to make a lasting impact on the public, other than some headline-making comments from its author about his father having been assassinated by the American government, and having been a bit of an “asshole” and “macho pig” in his private life. Does he regret that now? “I’m sure I will regret having said most of the things you’re going to bring up,” he sighs. “I think when you’re young, you want to be provocative.”

Today, at the age of 30, he’s made a new album that is certainly provocative, though in a very different way. Friendly Fire is a collection of songs about the end of his four-year relationship with the actress and musician Bijou Phillips, after she slept with his best friend, Max LeRoy. Lennon, heartbroken at being betrayed, poured his anger into a bitter song called Dead Meat, now the opener on his album. “Dead meat,” he croons over a disarmingly sweet music-box melody. “You’re nothing but dead meat... You’re gonna get what you deserve.”

The tragic punch line to this romantic soap opera is that LeRoy is now dead. “He passed away in a motorcycle crash last November,” explains Lennon sadly. The pair had been friends since childhood, living across the hall from each other, and had often shared a room as boys. “We were like twins,” he adds. After LeRoy died, Lennon “flipped out” and threw himself into making Friendly Fire — the oxymoronic title an allusion to the truism that you always end up hurting the ones you love. “I thought I had learnt to let go of things after my dad passed away,” he says. “But this definitely tested that. I knew my friend for 30 years, as opposed to five.”

Lennon and LeRoy never made up, something that still haunts the singer: “I think the thing I regret most is that Max isn’t around for me to reconcile with him. That’s probably one of the greatest tragedies that has ever befallen me.” He is adamant that the album, which chronicles his feelings in song — anger turning to sadness, leaving the clear impression that he is still in love with Phillips — is not meant to be taken too literally. “It’s art, not life, you know. I’m mythologising my life, but ‘myth’ is the key word. It’s not a documentation of the way things actually happened.”

The album comes with a 50-minute DVD illustrating each song in vignettes. It’s not just any old home movie, either: being John Lennon’s son brings plenty of perks in Hollywood, and he called on several of his showbiz pals to take part. Thus we have a cast that includes Lindsay Lohan, Asia Argento, Carrie Fisher, Jordana Brewster — and Phillips herself. When Lennon and Phillips re-enact a scene in which her lover comes to the door of their shared home, it’s plain weird. Was it hard to get her to agree to the role? “No. She wanted to do it.” And was it hard for him to relive their separation? “Of course I’m trying to articulate the anger that one might feel in a lot of the songs, but I have a lot of love for Bijou, too. She’s an artist, and I think she understands it’s art and she wanted to be a part of it. It’s an interesting part of the emotional recovery process, to express ourselves in that way.”

There’s a bit of an am-dram feel to the film, despite its star cast, lending it something of the air of a school play. Lennon and his famous friends lark about in extravagant costumes (including a Sgt Pepper-style military tunic for Lennon), acting out capers in different styles and periods. Meanwhile, the music and lyrics, while conjuring up ghosts of his father, might unkindly be described by critics as Imagine lite. It is impossible to listen to it without making comparisons to Lennon Sr. Which is odd because, after his debut album in 1998, Lennon Jr castigated himself for making it “way too Beatles for the world” (even though it wasn’t) and vowing that his next would “make the point that I’m not trying to copy my parents”. In fact, the new album is far more Beatlesy than its predecessor and lacks his earlier experimental edge.

Lennon says that making the record didn’t bring him “closure” in terms of Phillips, but confesses: “It was definitely cathartic. It was a necessary means of surviving that period of my life because I was so... I feel I’m really... upset.” He looks unbearably melancholic. “I’m really sad about losing my best friend, and I think I’m just one of those people who need to process their emotional lives through art. I definitely didn’t solve anything. But I think if I hadn’t had that outlet, I might have gone insane or killed myself, or something crazy.”

Aware of the interest such remarks might attract, he corrects himself immediately. “I don’t want to be overly dramatic, so maybe I shouldn’t say that. But it was a really sad thing, one of the saddest things that ever happened to me. The record is just about love, and how complicated it is between friends and lovers. It’s not like I invented that topic. I’m interested in the idea of the love song, and I think to write a good one, you have to have some pain and suffering in there to make it real.”

Lennon, of course, has experienced more than his fair share of that. “Haven’t we all?” he shrugs. “From a pessimistic standpoint, from Schopenhauer’s perspective, life is suffering — and from a Buddhist perspective. But I think it’s what we make of it that matters. Right?” Right. But one cannot help feeling Lennon might have prospered more freely had he chosen a career that bore no comparison to that of his parents. “You’re right,” he agrees. “But Nabokov’s son [Dmitri] became an opera singer, and I think he still had a hard time.” He insists that he is no longer concerned about comparisons to his father or his music. “I’ve never tried to avoid the Beatles. I can’t. It’s me. It would be like trying to avoid my left foot.”

He no longer regards his father’s legacy as a millstone around his neck. “I don’t know if I ever really felt that way,” he says. “And if I did, I was wrong. It’s not my dad’s legacy that’s a millstone — it’s the disparity between who people think I am and who I really am. It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of his legacy. ”

Lennon, who dated Lizzy Jagger after the split, won’t be drawn on whether a reunion with Phillips is on the cards, saying only that they are “friends”. He doesn’t have a girlfriend at the moment, and confesses: “I’m not capable of having a relationship right now.” Because he is still wounded from that one? “Maybe. And also because I’m so busy with work. Relationships are distracting. I’m very productive when I’m on my own.”

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