Wednesday, May 8, 2013

VHS Rewind

I've started a new blog, for anyone who might be interested in the contents of my 33-year old VHS collection. Check it out here:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Murray and Eppy

Happy 2013! I thought I would start off the new year by filling a request.

I've posted a small bit of this before, but here is the complete interview from March 1967 between Murray The K, then at WOR-FM in New York City, and Brian Epstein. It lasts just over an hour and while Eppy sounds a bit tired, he's not as drugged up or out of it as Philip Norman's Shout! led us all to believe.

Friday, November 30, 2012

When Snoopy Died

On November 23rd, 1975, Derek Taylor, now managing director of Warner Brothers Records in the UK, sent a semi-serious letter to John Lennon at the Dakota, asking him to sign with the "very reasonable and extremely rich" label.

By this time, John was truly relishing his role as a stay-at-home father to Sean, and had no intention of signing with anyone when his EMI contract expired in January. On December 11th, friend and photographer Bob Gruen was invited to the Dakota to shoot the first professional pictures of Sean with his parents.

Around this time, John received a request from WNEW disc jockey Vin Scelsa, who was assembling a radio tribute to New York City, which was suffering from major financial problems. Scelsa mailed a questionnaire, along with a tape and recorder for John to return with his responses, to the Dakota. John duly replied, sounding disinterested and drowsy.

In contrast, John was downright goofy when he used the same questionnaire as a springboard to record the first-ever "interview" with his two-month-old baby. Unsurprisingly, Sean has little to say about New York, cab drivers, or a balloon mishap during the recent Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (actually Underdog, not Snoopy), only becoming agitated when his godfather Elton John is mentioned.

Bob Gruen was also present just before Christmas when two surprise guests showed up at the Dakota: 

"There was a big flash of paranoia when the doorbell rang. It was like, ‘Oh my God, who can that be?’ In the Dakota, every visitor gets announced from the desk downstairs, so when the bell on your apartment door rings suddenly, it's a real fright. It wasn't just a little paranoia - they were very scared, very nervous.

They said to me, ‘Go see who it is, don't open the door until you know what's going on,’ and I went to the hallway and I heard what sounded like kids singing Christmas carols. So I called back to John and Yoko, ‘Don't worry, it's some kids from the building singing carols,’ and when I looked through, it was Paul and Linda. They were singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, very cute, kind of adorable, just standing there singing.

I said, ‘I don't think you're looking for me; come on, I'll take you into the bedroom where John and Yoko are,’ and they kept singing all the way in. You know, you read about all the animosity between them, about how the Beatles' wives don’t get along, but they all seemed like giddy old school chums. Hugging, patting each other on the back, the guys were like high-school buddies who hadn't seen each other in a long time and really liked each other. The girls were very chatty and pleasant. If you didn't read the magazines, you wouldn't know Yoko and Linda were supposed to hate each other, they were getting along just fine. They all went into the next room to look at Sean, who was just two months old. 
Paul told them about the pot bust in LA and how they'd been denied a Japanese visa, and how much he and Linda wanted to go to Japan. John and Yoko really loved Japan and went there a lot, so they talked about that. It was all pretty general, nothing about any business between them, and then when they got up to leave there was lots of hugging and kissing, general holiday good cheers. It was so fascinating seeing the two of them together like that with their wives, and everything totally pleasant.

After they were gone, John and Yoko were saying, ‘Wow! Do you believe that?’ And they seemed to be so happy about the visit. Whatever fights were going on between their lawyers, they knew each other too long and too well not to be glad about seeing each other.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mr. George Harrison Sings

On December 8th, 1975, the second single from George's Extra Texture album was released in the US. "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)", a sequel to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in name only, found George responding to the critics of his last album and tour (particularly Rolling Stone). To drive the point home, he placed "Maya Love" from the Dark Horse LP on the B-side. The single failed to reach the charts in either the US or UK (where it was issued February 6th, 1976, the very last release on the Apple label until Live At The BBC in 1994).

At some point late that year (possibly during his October visit to Los Angeles), George was interviewed for the syndicated series Earth News Radio. It was aired the week of December 15th in most markets, and while I don't have a copy of the original broadcast (anyone?), much of it was re-used in 1978, when Earth News Radio dedicated a whole month of shows to the Beatles. Here are all of George's bits from those episodes.

With their BBC series finished, the members of Monty Python were concentrating on group films and individual TV projects. John Cleese and Connie Booth's Fawlty Towers had premiered to great acclaim in September, and Michael Palin and Terry Jones were shooting the pilot for Ripping Yarns, which would air in January. Eric Idle had progressed from his own radio series, Radio 5, in 1973, to a TV sketch comedy. The first series of Rutland Weekend Television, written in collaboration with Neil Innes, aired on BBC2 in May and June.

George was delighted to appear on the Rutland Weekend Television Christmas special, taped December 13th and aired on Boxing Day. "Pirate Bob" had a blast performing a specially-composed Harrison/Idle composition:

Eric Idle later recalled how his new friend was able to spread some Yuletide cheer that year: "George once gave me the most spectacular present. It was Christmas 1975 and my marriage was breaking up and I was very sad and it was snowing and my little two year old son and I were alone on Christmas Eve. There was a ring at the door and we stood on the stoop bewildered as two men unloaded a big bulky heavy object from the back of a large truck and carried it inside. Carey and I looked at each other puzzled. What on earth was it? It was wrapped in corrugated brown paper and tied up with string, so we set about ripping the covering off. To our amazement and utter delight it was a juke box filled with rock and roll classics! There was a note on it which said 'Every Home Should Have One, Happy Christmas, love George and Liv.' Well we plugged that thing in and it glowed and throbbed and pulsated with sound and we danced madly to it all that Christmas. What a great gift."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tea And Sympathy

Ringo took most of 1975 off, appearing at the occasional movie premiere and sitting in on sessions with friends (e.g., Harry Nilsson's Sandman LP), but recording no new solo material. Instead, a greatest hits LP, Blast From Your Past, was compiled and released by Apple November 20th in the US (where it peaked at #30 in Billboard). It contained the first eight of Ringo's US single A-sides, plus the B-side "Early 1970" and the LP track "I'm The Greatest".

The album came out December 12th in the UK, where two of the cuts, "Oh My My" and "No No Song" had never been A-sides. The two were paired as a UK-only single on January 9th, 1976, but neither the LP or 45 charted. These turned out to be the final releases on the Apple label in Britain.

Ringo's vanity label, Ring O'Records, was still struggling along; on November 14th, it issued the UK-only single "I've Had It" by singer-songwriter Carl Groszman. The connection would come in handy when Ringo recorded Carl's "A Dose Of Rock 'N' Roll" on his next LP.

On November 21st, Ring O'Records released the UK single "Cokey Cokey"/'Away In A Manger" by one "Colonel Doug Bogie". Bogie was an engineer and one-man band who had briefly played bass with Queen. In the US, the sides were flipped when ABC Records picked up the single on December 8th. Reports that Ringo drums and Eric Clapton plays guitar on "Away In A Manger" remain unverified; either way, the single flopped in both countries.

While Neil Aspinall attended to the dismantling of Apple in London, Mal Evans had spent most of the last two years in the US, hanging out with John, Ringo, Harry, Keith Moon, and other partygoing musicians. He also immersed himself in Beatle fandom, making an appearance at the 2nd Beatlefest convention in New York on September 6th and 7th.

Mal had kept a diary throughout the 60's and spent much of 1975 turning it into a memoir, 200 Miles To Go (aka Living The Beatles Legend), with the help of a ghostwriter, John Hoernle. Mal made a couple of radio appearances to pre-promote the book (the manuscript was due to be submitted to the publisher January 12th).

The first, on November 29th, found him spending an hour chatting with Laura Gross on KCSN in Northridge, California, about his life and career in the Beatles' inner circle. It went so well that Mal was invited back to appear on KCSN's show Full Circle in December, where he talked to Ken Doyle and answered questions from callers.

Although Mal appeared cheerful and upbeat during both broadcasts, his life was not going well. Badfinger, the band he'd discovered and brought to Apple, had disbanded following the untimely suicide of Pete Ham in April. Mal was working in the studio with Badfinger's guitarist, Joey Molland, and his new band, Natural Gas. With John now firmly back in the Dakota and Ringo becoming a jet-setter (purchasing a residence in Monte Carlo that December), Mal saw less and less of the ex-Beatles.

Most importantly, his wife of 14 years, Lil, requested a divorce just before Christmas. On the evening of January 6th, 1976, Hoernle visited the L.A. apartment Mal shared with his girlfriend Fran Hughes. Depressed and heavily medicated, Mal picked up an air rifle which Hoernle was unable to wrestle away. Hughes called the police, who arrived and commanded Mal to drop his weapon. Disoriented, he failed to comply and was struck down by four shots from two of the officers, killing him on the spot.

Only Harry Nilsson was in town to attend Mal's cremation the next day, but his ashes were flown to England for the sake of his family. Harry recalled, "A couple of days later, Neil Aspinall from Apple called and kept saying, 'Harry, Harry! Where's Mal?' And I said, 'Well, I sent him'. And he said they couldn't find him, he's not here, and his mother's downstairs and his wife Lil is here and they're all crying, what am I supposed to tell them? So we sent out tracers at both ends, and eventually I got a call from the airport that they'd found him. I asked where, and they said, 'In the dead letter office!'"

Full Circle rebroadcast the November 29th interview with Mal during a January 25th tribute, followed by this epilogue.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Wings' 1975 Australian tour continued November 10th and 11th with concerts at Festival Hall in Brisbane. Here is a selection of interviews said to be from Brisbane, including more with Norman Gunston and Paul's thoughts on Patty Hearst.

Three concerts at Tokyo's Budokan Hall were scheduled to follow the Australian jaunt, from the 19th-21st. These were cancelled on November 11th, when Japan's Minister of Justice denied the band visas due to Paul and Linda's March, 1973 cannabis charge. Paul spoke to reporters about it upon arrival in Melbourne the next day.

The opening night show at Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl on the 13th was filmed for a TV special, allowing Australian fans who couldn't get a ticket to experience Wings in concert. It was also broadcast on Japanese TV and radio, to make up for the cancelled shows in Tokyo:

Backstage following the concert, Wings filmed an interview for the Mike Walsh Show, aired November 15th on the 0-10 Network:

On November 14th, prior to the final show of the tour in Melbourne, Paul filmed a brief and awkward apology to Japanese fans, presumably to air in tandem with the concert film and radio broadcast:

Wings headed back to London November 15th and spent the remainder of 1975 enjoying a rest before returning to the studio early in the new year. Their latest British single, "Venus And Mars/Rock Show", was released November 28th, accompanied by a promo clip filmed during the UK leg of the tour:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Road To A Koala Bear

On October 28th, 1975, Paul McCartney and Wings arrived in Perth to begin the Australian leg of their tour. Beatlemania had not subsided since the wildly successful June 1964 tour, and most of the shows sold out quickly, with second nights added in four of the five cities.

The opening night concert in Perth was held at the Entertainment Centre on November 1st; portions of the performance were aired on Melbourne's 3XY Radio. Backstage following the gig, 3XY's John O'Donnell spoke with Paul and Linda.

The following day, a press conference was held at the Cottesloe Civic Centre; the event was humorously hijacked by faux-reporter Norman Gunston, who had announced his intentions ahead of time. The conference received wide radio coverage on 3XY and elsewhere, and Gunston's antics were aired on his ABC TV series The Norman Gunston Show:

After spending a couple of days relaxing in Perth, Wings flew to Adelaide for two concerts at Apollo Stadium on the 4th and 5th. Paul was interviewed for Adelaide radio on the 5th prior to the final show (also included is an interview with trombonist Tony Dorsey in Melbourne later in the tour).

They continued on to Sydney November 6th, where an impromptu "press conference" took place on the tarmac at Mascot Airport. Both the following nights' shows at the Hordern Pavilion were sellouts, and Paul spoke with a reporter from 2UE Radio after the last performance on the 8th.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Collectable Lennon

October of 1975 found the ex-Beatles scattered around the globe. Ringo was the most active, participating in a celebrity tennis tournament in Johannesburg September 27th, flying to Los Angeles in October to attend Dr. John's concert at the Roxy Theater, and visiting Vancouver later in the month. He may also have attended the world premiere of Lisztomania in New York on October 10th:

George Harrison was back in Los Angeles promoting Extra Texture; on October 16th, he was in the audience at one of Bruce Springsteen's legendary shows at the Roxy. During his Los Angeles visit, George was interviewed by Don Ellis about Ravi Shankar's music - specifically, the Music Festival From India, which would be released as an LP by Dark Horse in the US on February 6th, 1976. The interview was aired on KCET in March.

Paul and Wings were at EMI Studio 2 in London recording tracks for their next LP, Wings At The Speed Of Sound. At the end of the month, the group would fly to Australia for the next leg of their Wings Over The World tour. On the evening of October 17th, disc jockeys Ronnie Sparks and Tim Webster of 2SM in Sydney phoned Abbey Road and gave Paul and company a chance to promote the upcoming concerts. Paul failed to rise to the occasion, having little or nothing interesting to say about his previous albums.

John spent a weekend in Massachusetts during September, visiting Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, before returning to the Dakota for the final weeks of Yoko's pregnancy. On September 23rd, good news in the deportation case arrived in the form of a temporary stay, reportedly on humanitarian grounds due to Yoko's impending delivery. Even better news was handed down the the court of appeals on October 7th, when the deportation order was reversed by a 2-to-1 decision. John's next step was to apply yet again for permanent residence in the US. The best news of all came on John's 35th birthday, October 9th, when a healthy baby son, Sean Taro Ono Lennon, was born at New York Hospital. 

While John was now effectively retired from the music business, he did assist EMI in compiling one last release before his contract expired. Shaved Fish was the first greatest hits package by an ex-Beatle, collecting most of John's singles (plus a bit of the unreleased One-To-One benefit performance of "Give Peace A Chance"). The album was released October 24th in the UK, accompanied by a single, "Imagine"/"Working Class Hero". EMI's Bob Mercer had urged John to release "Imagine" on 45 in the UK (it had been a US-only single back in 1971), where it and the LP both peaked at #5. Shaved Fish reached #12 in the US, eventually going platinum.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Waiting For The Show To Begin

The 1975 Wings Over The World tour kicked off September 9th, 1975 at the Southampton Gaumont. From the start, it was a more polished and professional act than Paul had taken out in a decade. The addition of a four-piece horn section added dynamics and color to the sound, the lighting and stage effects were top-notch, and most importantly, Wings now had a long string of chart hits and successful LP tracks to choose from. This meant Paul could have his cake and eat it too, allowing him to sprinkle in a few Beatles tunes without being accused of cashing in on past glories.

The tour passed through Bristol, Cardiff, and Manchester, where Granada TV's Tony Wilson interviewed Wings in their dressing room on September 12th. Three nights later, the band returned to Paul's hometown, playing to a sold-out crowd at the Liverpool Empire. This time, it was German TV's Treffpunkte interviewing Paul backstage. A bit of the conversation was repeated December 6th, 1976 on Phonzeit, which also aired a bit of "Blackbird" from the tour, and the "Letting Go" promo clip (possibly shot September 21st in Glasgow).

Director Tony Palmer had produced a critically praised look at the rock scene back in 1968, All My Loving, which had included interviews with Paul and Ringo. Now he was working on a greatly expanded 17-part documentary series, All You Need Is Love, whose scope included the history of popular music stretching back a century.

Naturally, the Beatles occupied much of one installment, and Palmer filmed a new interview with Paul to sit beside the older clips. It was most likely shot in Liverpool on September 14th or 15th, and the episode, which aired May 14th 1977, closes with a performance of "Yesterday" probably from the Empire show:

The tour wrapped with four performances in Scotland, covering Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Dundee. At one of these stops, French TV interviewed Paul and Linda backstage for the show Vous Avez Dit Bizarre? The report, broadcast December 4th on Antenne 2, included a live performance of "Letting Go", different from the promotional clip for the single (which doesn't seem to be on YouTube anywhere):

Thursday, November 8, 2012


George's new single, "You", was released September 15th, 1975 in the US, followed a week later by the LP Extra Texture (Read All About It). In four years, George had fallen from most commercially successful ex-Beatle to least, and sadly, the new releases did nothing to change that status.

"You" was easily the catchiest, most upbeat number on the album (unsurprisingly, it had been written and recorded back in February 1971 as a potential Ronnie Spector track), but the single could manage only #20 and #38 placements on the US and UK charts, respectively. The rest of the LP was very much a product of mid-70's Los Angeles studio rock: slickly played but bland and uninspired, and the lyrical content was somber and pessimistic.

George did a bit of promotion in the UK which helped boost the album to #16 (whereas Dark Horse had failed to chart). He gave a lengthy interview to Melody Maker, and appeared live with DJ Nicky Horne on Capital Radio's Your Mother Wouldn't Like It on September 12th. George also went through the album track-by-track with Paul Gambaccini for BBC Radio 1's Rockweek, aired September 6th.

Throughout 1975, George had been making his share of contributions to his friends' projects. Billy Preston's LP It's My Pleasure was released June 20th, featuring George's guitar on the song "That's Life". Billy had been performing the song most nights on the Rolling Stones' summer US tour:

British singer-songwriter Peter Skellern was also the recipient of a Harrison guitar solo, on the song "Make Love, Not War". The cut was released September 26th on the UK-only album Hard Times:

Throughout the rough period of 1974-75, George could always count on one thing to lift his spirits, and that was Monty Python. He had been enjoying the troupe's BBC TV sketch comedy since its inception in 1969, and after the final series aired in December 1974, he set about making friends with the group's members.

He had met Michael Palin and Terry Jones briefly in November 1972 when Apple Studios was used to cut a version of Monty Python's Previous Record, but his first and fastest Python friend became Eric Idle. The two met when George attended a screening of Monty Python And The Holy Grail in Los Angeles during March 1975 and bonded instantly.

George had been using the "Lumberjack Song" as pre-concert music during his Dark Horse tour, and agreed to produce a new recording of the number for release as a UK Christmas single. The session took place October 3rd at Workhouse Studios in London, with Michael Palin reprising his role from the TV version; Idle, who usually performed the tune in Python stage shows, was content to watch from the control booth. George mixed the song the next day at FPSHOT and the single was released November 14th:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Put Her In A Broadway Show


The summer of 1975 was a very quiet period for all four ex-Beatles. John and Yoko slowed things down during Yoko's pregnancy, occasionally going out to see a Broadway show (Same Time Next Year) or dine with friends. John kept busy by corresponding with British relatives and beginning to write poetry and prose, much of which would end up in Skywriting By Word Of Mouth.

In Los Angeles, George worked on his Extra Texture LP, played slide guitar on a Tom Scott recording, met Bob Marley at the Roxy on July 17th, and attended one of the Rolling Stones' July concerts at the LA Forum.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Ringo celebrated his 35th birthday on July 7th, and ten days later his divorce from Maureen was finalized. In August, he appeared in a promotional film for Dr. John's Hollywood Be Thy Name LP, and participated in more Keith Moon solo sessions. Back on June 21st, Ringo and Nancy Andrews had attended Elton John's Wembley Stadium concert in London:

Paul and Linda took a break from rehearsing in early July to visit Linda's family in New York; Wings rehearsals resumed in August at Elstree Film Studios, with a world tour now scheduled to begin September 9th in Southampton:

Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Prince dropped by during the rehearsals and interviewed Paul about the upcoming tour, asking how he chose which Beatles numbers to perform. On September 6th, Wings performed a stripped-down version of their live act at Elstree for an invited crowd of fan club members, EMI employees, and celebrity guests (including Ringo).

The second single from Venus And Mars, "Letting Go", was issued in the UK just prior to the tour, on September 5th. It failed to chart there, but squeaked into the US top 40 after a September 29th release. Meanwhile, Paul's May conversation with Paul Gambaccini was apparently doing the rounds of radio stations as an open-ended interview. One such broadcast was on the Dutch pirate station Radio Mi Amigo International, which aired this version on September 19th (including bits not heard in the Rolling Stone News Service edit).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Wonder Of It All

With the Beatles' EMI contract due to expire in January, 1976, the company was eager to hang on to as many of the band members as possible. Paul was the first (and only, as it turned out) to re-sign, and the day after it was announced, he issued a new Wings single in the UK. The catchy "Listen To What The Man Said" was a big hit, peaking at #6 in Melody Maker, and giving Paul his fourth US #1 on Billboard's chart.

The album which followed, Venus And Mars, came out on May 27th, 1975 in the UK, and three days later in the US, accompanied by a TV commercial filmed in a billiards room at Holland Park:

In 1974, Paul and Linda had purchased Waterfall, a cottage on a farm in Sussex; they moved in and spent much of May and June rehearsing with Wings at the Ealing Cinema in Rye, in anticipation of an autumn UK tour. 

To promote the LP, Paul chatted with Paul Gambaccini in St. James' Park for a Rolling Stone feature article. Portions of the interview were syndicated on American radio for the Rolling Stone News Service. Venus And Mars would prove to be another best seller, certified gold in the US on June 2nd and topping the US and UK charts by July.

The third single from Ringo's Goodnight Vienna LP was released as in the US only on June 2nd. It was actually an edit of the album's title track and its reprise, and struggled up to #31 in Billboard, Ringo's poorest outing since 1970's "Beaucoups Of Blues".

Around this time, Ringo taped a guest appearance on the TV special The Hoyt Axton Country Western Boogie Woogie Gospel Rock And Roll Show. Axton had written Ringo's most recent hit, "No No Song", and the two joined a typically disparate cast of mid-70's celebrities in a performance of the tune. The special was syndicated across the US and aired on various dates (June 7th in New York City):

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mostly Sunny & Partly Cher

John Lennon's final TV (and public) performance occurred on the evening of April 18th, 1975. At the New York Hilton, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences held a banquet to honor Sir Lew Grade. The head of Associated Television, Grade had also purchased the Northern Songs catalog in 1969, which makes John's agreement to perform at the dinner surprising.

He did get revenge on Grade by having his backing band (BOMF again) don two-faced masks while he sang new vocals over prepared backing tracks. "Slippin' And Slidin'" and "Imagine" both made the final cut of Salute To Sir Lew - The Master Showman, while "Stand By Me" circulates from an audience tape. The show was aired in the US June 13th on ABC and in the UK June 20th on ITV:

With that, John began his retirement from public life, spending the rest of the spring and summer at home in the Dakota with his expectant wife, granting the occasional interview to publications such as Disc. The sole exception was a trip to Philadelphia in May, where he spent the weekend of the 16th through the 18th contributing to a radio fundraiser on WFIL-AM.

The Helping Hand Marathon kicked off around 3PM on the afternoon of the 16th, and while the DJs awaited John's arrival, he was busy taping an appearance in the same building. Larry Kane, who had covered the 1964 and 65 North American Beatle tours, now worked at WFIL's sister TV station, WPVI, as a news anchor. He invited John to fill in for the weatherman, and John's less-than serious forecast was aired on that evening's 6PM newscast:

By that time, John was already downstairs on the air in WFIL's radio studio, reading the names of people who pledged money, and playing requests such as "Be-Bop-A-Lula", "No No Song", and "A Hard Day's Night". DJ "Banana Joe" Montione also surprised John by having Yoko call in from New York to wish him luck.

On the 17th, John spent all afternoon on the air, shuttling between the studio and the parking lot where he posed for photos with fans, signed autographs, and collected donations in person, gathering the money in a pair of socks he had worn the previous day, then auctioning those off for $50! 

By the 18th, John and the other disc jockeys were a bit punch-drunk from the long weekend, but did manage to exceed the goal of $110,000 before midnight. In the last 90 minutes of the marathon, John plays more Beatle songs ("Love Me Do", "The Word", and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"), makes some requests of his own ("Angel Baby", "Hound Dog", and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"), and announces that he's off to meet his wife Ringo in Detroit, Iowa!

Friday, November 2, 2012

No Clear Blue Skies

On April 21st, 1975, George went back in to the studio to begin work on a follow-up LP to Dark Horse. Working at A&M Studios in Los Angeles, he spent the next three weeks working with studio musicians from the group Attitudes (who would soon record a single for the Dark Horse label), taping backing tracks for what would become Extra Texture (Read All About It).

During a weekend break in the sessions (most likely April 26th or 27th), George was interviewed by DJ Dave Herman for the syndicated DIR radio special A Conversation With George Harrison. The program, aired in two parts during May, went all the way back to George's childhood, and touched on Slim Whitman, Lonnie Donegan, and grammar school. Pete Ham of Badfinger had committed suicide on the 24th, and George lamented the loss, tying it in with the general air of negativity which led Rolling Stone to eviscerate his recent tour.

In discussing the Dark Horse label and where the ex-Beatles might end up when their EMI contract expires in January 1976, Herman brings up Ringo's new vanity label, Ring O'Records. Ringo had officially launched the label with a press conference on April 4th, and its first release was David Hentschel's Sta*rtling Music.

Ringo and Nancy Andrews flew from London to Los Angeles on April 9th to promote the label, and no doubt hung out with George and Olivia (they attended Nancy's birthday party on May 14th). While in California, Ringo taped a guest appearance on The Smothers Brothers Show, performing his current hit single "No No Song" alongside Tom and Dick. The episode was aired April 28th on NBC:

Ringo had also contributed drums to "More And More", a track from Carly Simon's new album Playing Possum, which was produced by Richard Perry and released April 21st in the US:

PS - Thanks to mg for pointing out Black Cat's upgraded version of John Lennon's Rock 'N' Roll conference call, which can be found here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eat A Banana

John continued his international promotion for Rock 'N' Roll during the first week of April, 1975. On the 4th, he had several interviews lined up at the Dakota. First was a French TV crew, who filmed Jean-François Vallée in conversation with John for the series Un Jour Futur. The completed program, aired on Antenne 2 June 28th, had most of John's dialogue obscured by translations, but the clean audio can be obtained from one channel of a stereo copy. The show's undoubted highlight is John's piano rendition of Labelle's current hit "Lady Marmalade".

Once the crew departed, John chatted on the phone with Tommy Vance of Capital Radio in London. Capital had also sent Nicky Horne to New York to obtain a more in-depth interview, and their conversation was aired April 10th as An Evening With John Lennon. Topics include the US government's harassment, life with Yoko, the history of the oldies project, the collapse of Apple, people judging his work, the Bed-In era, and plans for a new album.

April 8th was another busy day for John, beginning at the Record Plant where he filmed two performances for BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test. He sang live vocals over the backing tracks to "Stand By Me" (the current single) and "Slippin' And Slidin'" (scheduled to be the next single), while the band BOMF mimed behind him:

That evening, John journeyed to 30 Rockefeller Center and sat down to film what turned out to be his final TV interview, with Tom Snyder for NBC's Tomorrow. Despite Snyder's somewhat stiff line of questioning, John clearly enjoyed being on a show he watched each night before bed, and the result was one of the more entertaining solo Lennon appearances. The program was initially aired April 29th at 1AM. A rebroadcast on December 9th, 1980 was released on VHS a couple of years later and eventually on DVD in 2008:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We'll Meet Again

Having dispatched with much of the US Rock 'N' Roll promotion in a single phone call, John turned to the UK. Disc jockey and TV presenter Bob Harris, host of BBC2's Old Grey Whistle Test, flew to New York and filmed an interview with John at the Dakota on March 17th.

Accepting his fee in the form of Chocolate Olivers, John was relaxed, witty, and willing to discuss topics such as the American music scene, his telephone having been bugged, inebriated escapades with Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector, and his relationship with the other ex-Fabs. The interview would be broadcast April 18th, accompanied by two specially-shot performances of Rock 'N' Roll numbers (more on those in a future post).

Across the country, Paul and Wings were spending a few weeks in Los Angeles, adding the final overdubs to Venus And Mars and mixing tapes at Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood. On March 24th, Paul threw a launch party aboard the Queen Mary, permanently moored at Long Beach Harbor, to celebrate the LP's completion. Among those in attendance were George Harrison, Mal Evans, and Derek Taylor, along with Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Mick Jagger, Carole King, Cher, the Jackson Five, and members of the Monkees and Led Zeppelin.

Shipboard entertainment was provided by a number of New Orleans-based acts, including the Meters, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, and Professor Longhair. The Professor's influence pervaded Venus & Mars, from a namecheck in "Rock Show" to the outtake "My Carnival" and an unreleased cover of "Mardi Gras In New Orleans". His set was recorded and released as the 1978 LP Live On The Queen Mary:

During his stay in Los Angeles, Paul played bass on an unreleased single by Kenney Jones, then a member of the Faces, who also attended the Queen Mary bash. Kenney had recently played drums on the soundtrack of the Tommy film, and he and Paul and Linda attended the movie's Hollywood premiere on March 19th. The ridiculously star-studded occasion was covered by ABC's Wide World Of Entertainment, whose host David Frost interviewed the McCartneys during the after-party, although it was Elton John who stole the show:

On March 26th, Tommy had its London premiere at the Leicester Square Theatre, and Ringo was present, accompanied by Nancy Andrews. He was interviewed by Nicky Horne for Capital Radio's Your Mother Wouldn't Like It, which was broadcasting live from the cinema that evening. (Does anyone have copies of the Frost or Horne interviews?)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So This Is What Dawn Does

To promote Walls And Bridges, John had done one-on-one phone interviews with dozens of radio stations from his base in New York. For Rock 'N' Roll, he decided to kill 35 birds with one stone; on February 21st, 1975, he hosted a conference call from the Capitol offices in New York and fielded questions from disc jockeys across the country in a single phone event.

Unfortunately, this format didn't lead to any in-depth discussion and the topics covered were par for the course: reunion rumors, the Roots LP, the immigration case, disco music, and his reconciliation with Yoko. He also discusses "Have You Heard The Word", "What's The New Mary Jane", and "How Do You Do It". The event ends in humorous chaos when a pre-recorded voice interrupts to repeat "please hang up and try again".

Former US Attorney General John Mitchell had been found guilty of conspiracy in the Watergate case earlier that day, and John is asked to comment. He also mentions being in the studio the previous day to add ARP synthesizer strings to the single mix of "Stand By Me". The single was released March 10th in the US, where it would peak at #20. It failed to chart in the UK.

John also mentions his plans to cut a new album soon, claiming to have plenty of new material composed. Whatever the case, when Yoko discovered she was pregnant soon thereafter, John decided to put his musical career on hold for a while. He was still seen in public, beginning with a memorable appearance at the Grammy Awards on March 1st. John co-presented the award for Record Of The Year with Paul Simon and Andy Williams:

John, Yoko, and David Bowie socialized at the Grammies after-party, and early the next morning the trio (prompted by their limo driver) decided to call in to WPLJ-FM and speak live on the air with Alex Bennett. Bowie sounded a bit reluctant to chat, but John brought him out of his shell with a faux-interview, while Yoko mostly remained silent. John also conflated hearing "Love Me Do" on the radio for the first time (October 1962) with President Kennedy's assassination (November 1963).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waking Up On The Floor

George and Pattie had separated in 1974, and Ringo and Maureen followed suit in 1975. Ringo began dating model and photographer Nancy Andrews, and the new couple flew from London to Los Angeles on February 7th.

His solo music career was still in great shape, with the second US single from Goodnight Vienna ("No No Song") released January 27th, and climbing to #3 on the Billboard chart. For the UK, the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition "Snookeroo" was chosen as the next single release on February 21st; surprisingly, it failed to reach the top 30.

Ringo spent much of February and March filming Lisztomania, directed by Ken Russell, fresh from putting the Who's Tommy on film. Roger Daltrey played Franz Liszt and Ringo co-starred as the Pope:

Ringo was also fast friends with Who drummer Keith Moon, and had contributed to Keith's first and only solo LP, Two Sides Of The Moon. It was released March 17th in the US, accompanied by a radio spot with Ringo audible in the background. Ringo also drummed on Keith's cover of "Together" by their mutual drinking buddy, Harry Nilsson:

Speaking of Harry, he too had a new LP out in March 1975. Duit On Mon Dei had a drumming contribution from Ringo on the song "Kojak Columbo", and he also appeared in the TV spot promoting the album:

Friday, October 26, 2012

You Should'a Been There

As part of a legal arrangement with music publisher Morris Levy, John had recorded songs from the Big Seven music catalog (including "You Can't Catch Me", which precipitated the issue) on his oldies LP. When John presented him with roughly-mixed tapes of the album, Levy enthused and proposed a TV campaign to sell the album via mail order (an increasingly popular, if somewhat tacky, way to hawk music in the mid 70's).

John tentatively agreed, but when he proposed the idea to Capitol's legal team, they nixed it immediately. Undaunted, Levy took the handshake agreement and ran with it, pressing up albums from the rough mixes, and slapping on an ugly cover with an inappropriate 1968 Lennon photo, calling the whole mess John Lennon Sings The Great Rock And Roll Hits: Roots, and releasing it on his own Adam VIII label.

Levy's TV spots began to air the weekend of February 8th-9th, by which time John had rushed to complete his own EMI-approved LP, Rock 'N' Roll. It omitted two songs ("Angel Baby" and "Be My Baby") and altered others via early fades and editing. While the lawyers went to work sending cease and desist orders to TV stations and record distributors, John set about promoting the new album, making sure to emphasize that Levy's package was inferior and unlicensed.

Towards the end of his 1974 appearance on WNEW-FM with Dennis Elsas, John had lamented that he missed reconnecting with DJ Scott Muni. He made up for that by giving Muni the first crack at airing Rock 'N' Roll. John brought the album, fresh off the presses, with him on February 13th, and spent three hours on the air with Scott, playing and chatting about each song from the LP.

The real bombshell, dropped in toward the end of the show, was John's announcement that he was now officially back together with Yoko, and that "their separation was a failure". He had abruptly moved back in to the Dakota a few days earlier, leaving a shell-shocked May Pang behind and scotching any plans to record with Paul in New Orleans.

Sometime in February, John also made a return visit to the airwaves of 3XY in Melbourne, once again talking with John O'Donnell about the new album.

Rock 'N' Roll was rushed to US shops by February 17th, accompanied by a radio commercial in which John advised listeners, "You should'a been there". The LP came out four days later in the UK, and would hit the top 10 in both countries; Levy's Roots would sell fewer than 2,000 copies before vanishing from the market.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is It Any Wonder?

The new year began with the end of an old era, when the London High Court officially cut the legal ties binding The Beatles and Company on January 9th, 1975. John Lennon was at a bit of a crossroads, having an oldies album wrapped and ready to go and already composing material for a new solo LP.

He spent much of January at the Record Plant in New York working with other artists. On the 13th, he co-produced a session with engineer Roy Cicala for Roy's wife Lori Burton. Lori had sung backup on a couple of John's albums, and was being backed by a group dubbed "BOMF" (Band of Mother Fuckers). On the 22nd, John & Roy co-produced a few songs by the band, now renamed Dog Soldier after the lyric from a Lennon/Cicala composition, "Incantation". This and two of the Burton numbers ("Answer Me, My Love" and "Let's Spend The Night Together") were eventually released on a CD included with the book Beatles Undercover in 1998. The rest of the sessions remain unheard.

Far more prominent was John's work with David Bowie a couple of weeks later. The two had become casual acquaintances during 1974, and Bowie was currently finishing up his LP Young Americans at New York's Electric Lady Studios. He invited John to join him in a new rendition of "Across The Universe", and having enjoyed his experience remaking "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" with Elton John (and not being satisfied with either Beatles release of the song), John readily agreed, playing rhythm guitar on the number:

During the session, a guitar riff improvised by Carlos Alomar developed into a jam which reminded John of the recent disco hit "Shame Shame Shame". He began to sing "Shame", morphing it into "Fame", which inspired Bowie to pen a set of lyrics on the topic of celebrity. With John providing backing vocals, the new song was recorded, and a surprising number one hit was born:

One person John came close to working with that winter was, even more surprisingly, Paul McCartney. He and Linda passed through New York en route to New Orleans, where they would arrive January 16th and continue recording Venus And Mars with Wings. An open invitation to join them (whether to record or just socialize) was offered via May Pang, and John tentatively agreed.

The iteration of Wings recording at Sea Saint Studios was now sans English drummer Geoff Britton, who was fired early in the sessions and replaced with American drummer Joe English (I know, right?). The band soaked up the local atmosphere during Mardi Gras week, and although little of it is present on the final album, they did cut a number for the occasion, "My Carnival", which would remain unreleased until 1985.

Local TV station WVUE was allowed to film the February 12th session for their News Scene Eight (broadcast on the 24th). A day later, Wings held a press conference aboard a steamboat chugging along the Mississippi.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ring Out The Old

December 1974 was turning out to be a pivotal month in the relationships among the ex-Beatles. I've already discussed John and George's prickly meeting at the Plaza, and John and Ringo had been socializing in Los Angeles earlier in the month. Paul and Linda were also in New York for a pre-Christmas visit with the Eastman family.

The Beatles' business partnership had been in limbo since the March 1971 court decision to channel all their joint income through a receiver, but four years of negotiations had finally resulted in a dissolution agreement everyone could agree to. December 19th was chosen as a date to sign the papers, since George was in New York for his Madison Square concert that night and John and Paul were both in town.

Paul and George met up at the Plaza Hotel that afternoon, along with Ringo's representative (the drummer had returned to England for the holidays), and waited for John to arrive. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually a balloon arrived with a note attached: "Listen to this balloon".

That was all George could take, and he phoned John, angrily demanding an explanation. The only response was that John has consulted his (more accurately, Yoko's) astrologer and that "the planets weren't right" for him to sign anything that day. In truth, John had gotten cold feet at the last minute, and perhaps wanted to stick it to George after their earlier disagreement.

Paul and George went ahead and signed the agreement, the latter muttering "Krishna Krishna" to calm himself down:

An irate George then sent word to John that his presence at the Madison Square shows was now unwelcome, which must have come as a relief to John. George went on that night and vented some of his frustration at the audience, admonishing them for smoking "reefers":

The tour concluded December 20th with two more concerts at the Gardens. By now, George was in much better spirits (and his voice was mostly healed), and the tour was able to end on a high note. Paul and Linda were even present in not-so-subtle disguises:

Julian Lennon was in New York visiting his father for Christmas, and attended George's concert in proxy for his ostracized dad. Now that two of the things which had been weighing most heavily on his mind, the tour and the legal matters, were behind him, George was in a far more relaxed state. He met with Julian backstage and offered a peace branch, inviting John to his end-of-tour party at the Hippopotamus Club late that night.

The two old mates socialized at the club and then returned to George's hotel room, where at 5AM, a lucky radio reporter was able to talk with two Beatles, although as it was a Harrison interview, John mostly kept his distance, only joining in when invited by George. After looking back on the tour, George chatted about his improved opinion of Texas, meeting Gerald Ford, writing "My Sweet Lord", and his favorite Beatle songs.

Just as quickly as New York had been full of Beatles, it emptied of them. Paul returned to Scotland, George to England, and John and Julian flew to Orlando where they spent Christmas at Walt Disney World (and where John finally signed the Beatles dissolution papers). George closed 1974 with a New Year-themed single, "Ding Dong Ding Dong", released December 23rd in the US and accompanied by a Pythonesque promo filmed at his home:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Magic In The Air

The week of November 16th, 1974 marked a commercial high point in John Lennon's solo career, as the single "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" and album Walls And Bridges both topped Billboard's charts. All his promotional efforts of the past two months had paid off handsomely, and the album was certified gold in the US on October 22nd.

On December 7th, John and May flew to Los Angeles for a few days, stopping by Billboard's office on the 9th where John accepted an award from the magazine's chart director, Bill Wardlow. That evening, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, John fulfilled a promise made to Howard Cosell back in October by appearing live during halftime of the Redskins-Rams game on ABC's Monday Night Football. The interview was brief and charming, if unenlightening, but would have a sickening echo nearly six years later:

John had been following the progress of George's hapless North American tour closely, well aware that he would be expected to join his ex-bandmate onstage when it reached New York. A meeting between the two at the Plaza Hotel on the 14th ended in anger when a frazzled George lashed out at Lennon for years of perceived slights. John refused to rise to the bait, and the two made amends the next day, with John and May attending George's performance at the Nassau Coliseum that night, but remaining offstage.

The tour was scheduled to conclude with three shows at Madison Square Garden on December 19th and 20th, and John offered to participate on the final night. He hinted at the reunion during a live interview on NBC's Today December 17th. Reporter Jim Hartz led off with the usual reunion questions before shifting to the immigration case (with John offering yet another lively and entertaining account of his 1968 drug bust):

John also took a moment to plug his new single, "#9 Dream", released the previous day in the US, where the song would peak (of course) at #9 on Billboard (I guess Bill Wardlow had a sense of humor). This turned out to be John's final live TV interview.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Sweet Ford

George's 1974 tour continued to slide downhill as it trudged from city to city. Things went okay in Baton Rouge on November 26th, in Memphis the following night, and Atlanta the night afterwards:

The problems began after two shows in Chicago on the 30th:

Following the evening performance, Ravi collapsed backstage and was taken to the emergency room with a suspected heart ailment. It turned out to be severe indigestion brought on by stress, and he would miss the rest of the shows until December 19th in New York City.

The rest of the band carried on, but the next scheduled shows in Cleveland on December 2nd had to be cancelled due to a snowstorm. The tour continued north, hitting Detroit, Toronto, and Montreal by December 9th, when the Dark Horse LP was finally released in the US. Boston and Providence followed, and December 13th found George and company in Landover, Maryland.

At the Salt Lake City stop back in November, George had met with Jack Ford, son of US president Gerald Ford. Jack invited George to visit the White House during their Maryland visit, so prior to their matinee show on the 13th, George, Ravi, Tom Scott, Billy Preston, George's father Harold, and his budding sweetheart Olivia Arias congregated in Washington to meet the Prez:

After that peculiar summit, it was back to the Capital Centre for two more shows. At the tour's conclusion, Jack Sheridan of Baltimore station WCAO aired this hatchet job on the concert (and George in general), which was sadly representative of the mainstream rock press's feelings.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Joyous Occasion

All the events of 1974 in John Lennon's life came to a head on Thanksgiving night, November 28th, at Madison Square Garden. To backtrack a bit, when Elton John had participated on "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" back in July, he had semi-jokingly extracted a promise from John that if the song hit #1, the two would perform it together at one of Elton's concerts.

Unlikely as it seemed (John hadn't reached the top 10 since "Imagine" three years prior), the single did indeed top Billboard's chart for the week ending November 16th. John agreed to fulfill his end of the deal, so he and Elton's band met up at the Record Plant a couple of days before the gig to choose and rehearse the numbers for John's appearance:

Things were changing in John's private life as well. He and May had been going through some rough times, exacerbated by John's November 5th assignation with another female companion at the Bottom Line following a Jerry Garcia show. After a photo of the couple was published in Cashbox, May was understandably outraged, and John ended up spending the night of November 16th back at the Dakota (sleeping in the living room while Yoko participated in an Arts Festival at Shea Stadium).

So John was understandably on tenterhooks the night of November 28th, knowing that Yoko had a ticket to the Elton show, that May would also be there, and that he had never performed (albeit as a guest) without his own band or at least Yoko before.

Towards the end of the show, Elton paused to make the dramatic introduction; a buzz was already in the building as rumors of John's attendance and sightings of May and Yoko made their way through the crowd, which absolutely exploded when John strolled onstage, guitar in hand:

John's mini-set was short but memorable, playing guitar and singing on "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (Elton's new single, also headed for #1), and a song usually associated by his "estranged fiancee", "I Saw Her Standing There". John also returned for the encore, "The Bitch Is Back", to shake a tambourine.

As legend has it, John and Yoko decided to reunite after meeting backstage following the concert. In reality, the wheels had been in motion for their reconciliation for a long time, and it wasn't until 1975 that John finally returned to the Dakota for good. Thanksgiving 1974 should really be remembered as the last night of John Lennon's live performing career, and it's gratifying to observe that he went out on a high note.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hari's On Tour (Depressed)

George Harrison's 1974 North American tour kicked off November 2nd in Vancouver, Canada. Fans' expectations were through the roof, with the Concert for Bangla Desh setting a high bar, never mind the ex-Beatle mystique and reunion rumors which dogged George at every stop on the tour.

The setlist began with a new instrumental, "Hari's On Tour (Express)", from the Dark Horse LP, which nobody in the audience had heard yet. The one-two punch of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something" followed, but any thrill of hearing George sing these Beatles numbers was dampened by the state of his voice, and the lyrical changes he insisted upon ("while my guitar tries to smile", "something's in the way, remove it!"). Worse was to come with a dirge-like "In My Life" ("I love God more") and two unfamiliar songs from Living In The Material World which George was smart enough to drop from the setlist after the first night.

A lengthy set from Ravi Shankar and Friends occupied the last half of Act 1, and while the performances were top-notch, with participation from Tom Scott and the rest of George's backing band, 30 solid minutes of Indian music tried the patience of many audience members. The unquestioned highlights of the tour were Billy Preston's solo numbers, which brought the crowd to its feet each night.

The tour moved on to Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, and Long Beach, before reaching Los Angeles on November 11th and 12th for three shows at the Forum. Reporter Ben Fong-Torres interviewed a rather testy George backstage on the 12th for the Rolling Stone News Service radio series. Fong-Torres tried to challenge George about meeting the audience's expectations, but he deflected all criticism by either claiming it was in God's hands, or telling disappointed fans to go see Wings instead.

From there, it was on to Tucson, Salt Lake City, Denver, St. Louis, and Tulsa, where friend and Bangla Desh cohort Leon Russell made a special guest appearance on November 21st:

The "Dark Horse" single finally came out in the US on November 18th, peaking at #15 on Billboard's top 40. On the 24th, George played two shows at the Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston. The following night (actually closer to 1AM on the 26th), he made a surprise appearance on local station KLOL-FM, sitting in on Levi Booker's overnight shift. He seemed to be in much better spirits, chatting freely about finances, meeting John & Paul, Sgt. Pilcher's arrest, the concept of happiness, Ravi, Monty Python, and Lord Buckley, as well as playing a rough mix of "Maya Love" from the (still-unreleased) Dark Horse LP.

PS - Thanks to TFM for uploading a substantially more complete recording of George's October 23rd L.A. press conference. It can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Better Not Fight

In November 1974, Paul McCartney and Wings settled in at EMI's Abbey Road Studios to begin recording their next album, Venus And Mars. On the 6th, the day's "session" was actually a ruse to lure boxer John Conteh to the location in order to spring Eamonn Andrews and his big red This Is Your Life book on the pugilist.

Paul and Linda had been close friends with Conteh, who appeared on the Band On The Run album cover; in turn, they had attended his Empire Pool bout on March 12th, congratulating him on his victory afterwards. So it was easy enough to convince him to participate in a photo shoot at Abbey Road, where the TV camera crew waited. Wings went through the motions of rehearsing "Junior's Farm" as John entered:

The EMI sessions only produced a few numbers for the LP, such as "Letting Go", "Love In Song", and Jimmy McCulloch's "Medicine Jar". Part of the problem was that drummer Geoff Britton wasn't a good fit with the other band members, whose recreational drug use ranged from casual to heavy. Britton was a health fanatic and a karate practitioner who frowned on such activity. In fact, his participation in an Amateur Karate Association tournament on November 11th was filmed by MPL in London. The film, titled Empty Hand, included a soundtrack of "abstract percussion" contributed by Paul. It was completed in 1976 or 77, but doesn't circulate.

One gem from the November Abbey Road sessions was this superb alternate take of the song "Rock Show":

Wings' other task that month was to promote their new single "Junior's Farm", taping a TV appearance on Top Of The Pops November 20th for airing the following night. This clip was considered lost until it surfaced in the 2001 Wingspan documentary; the full performance was released on the McCartney Years DVD in 2007.

Paul and Linda closed out the month on November 27th by making a surprise guest appearance at Rod Stewart's Lewisham Odeon concert. The show was being filmed for the US TV series Midnight Special (aired April 25th, 1975); their cameo amounted to brief backing vocals towards the end of "Mine For Me", Paul's song for Rod's recent LP.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fancy Bumping Into You, Basingstoke

Goodnight Vienna, the eagerly-anticipated follow up to the smash Ringo, was released November 15th in the UK and three days later in the US. The first single was a cover of "Only You (And You Alone)", an oldie made famous by the Platters. Ringo's version featured John Lennon on acoustic guitar and Harry Nilsson providing smooth backing vocals.

As John had a month earlier, Ringo sat down with EMI's Bob Mercer in Los Angeles around the beginning of November for a chat to promote the single and LP. Their brief conversation was issued on a white-label promo single for EMI's British sales staff, with "Only You" on the flip.

The single came out November 11th in the US, where it peaked at #6; the UK release (simultaneous to the LP) scraped into the top 30 for a couple of weeks, then disappeared. Ringo went all-out to promote the song, filming a humorous and elaborate promo on November 14th at the Capitol Tower building in Hollywood. Harry joined Ringo for the shoot, which carried out the LP cover's Day The Earth Stood Still theme to ridiculous proportions:

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Footage from the day's shoot was also used in the TV advertising campaign, with a voice-over assist from John:

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Perhaps inspired by John's September DJ stint, Ringo spent three hours on November 19th co-hosting Billy Pearl's evening shift at KHJ-AM in Los Angeles. He proved to be a natural on-air personality, reading local ad spots, interacting with hysterical callers, and spinning discs by Neil Diamond, the Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Jim Croce, Chuck Berry, Harry Nilsson, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Elton John, America, Billy Swan, B.T. Express, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Jim Stafford, Olivia Newton-John, Harry Chapin, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, Wings, and of course... "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas.