Friday, July 27, 2012

Lonely Far East Man

After the release of Living In The Material World, George retreated once again from the public eye for the remainder of 1973. One of his only Apple-related projects that year was producing the film Little Malcolm; George had seen the play on which it was based in 1966 and fell in love with the story.

The movie was filmed in February and March 1973 but not released until June 1974, when it was screened at a Berlin film festival. By that time, Apple was nearly defunct as a business, and the film remained mostly unseen until its recent DVD release. George also produced and played guitar on a song for the soundtrack, "Lonely Man", co-written by Mal Evans and performed by the duo Splinter.

As with most of George's musical efforts from this point forward, the song was recorded at his home studio, FPSHOT (Friar Park Studios, Henley-On-Thames). He invited guitarist Ron Wood to stay there in October 1973, and the duo co-wrote a song for Wood's next album, "Far East Man".

In November, George was ready to begin recording his own LP at home, inviting Ringo to participate. He would record his own versions of "Far East Man" and an earlier giveaway, "So Sad", for the album. Very little work on what would become Dark Horse was done by the time George took another trip to India in February 1974.

By that time, Ringo was hogging most of the spotlight as his LP Ringo had been a gold-seller, and the #1 single "Photograph" was followed up in December by another #1 US single, "You're Sixteen". On February 8th, 1974, "You're Sixteen" was issued in the UK (where it peaked at #3). By then, the US was up to its third single from the LP, "Oh My My", which came out February 18th. It reached #5, making Ringo the first (and to date, only) ex-Beatle to have three top five singles from the same LP.

On February 6th, Ringo sat down with Brian Matthew for an appearance on the BBC Radio 1 series My Top Twelve. As the title suggests, the show was an outlet for celebrities to choose 12 of their favorite songs, creating a fantasy LP. Ringo, whose record collection was legendarily enormous, made things easy on himself by selecting singles from his home jukebox. In addition to discussing the songs, he chatted about favorite drummers, films, seeing Elvis in Las Vegas, the Ringo LP, and his new home studio.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mickey Duck

John's promotion for Mind Games continued in late November 1973 with a trans-Atlantic telephone interview with Tony Prince. It was aired December 9th on the series Rock Present, Roll Past. In addition to running through each track of the album, John talked about his current relationship with his ex-bandmates and with Yoko, disingenuously denying any romantic involvement with May Pang.

Their relationship was stormy at this point, with John sending May back to New York for a couple of weeks, where she resumed working for Yoko. But he was soon overwhelmed by loneliness, and May returned to be with him in Los Angeles on December 6th.

Meanwhile, the oldies sessions with Phil Spector and company had fallen apart. After being kicked out of A&M Studios at the end of November, they tried three more recording dates at the Record Plant in December before taking a break for the holidays. It turned out to be a permanent break, as Phil was reportedly involved in a car accident in February and went into seclusion for most of 1974.

John closed out 1973 with a visit from his son Julian, and accompanied by Mal Evans and guitarist Jesse "Ed" Davis, the father and son spent some timeover the holidays bonding at Disneyland. Coincidentally, back in England, Paul and Linda were also spending time with Disney characters, hosting the Boxing Day edition of Disney Time on BBC1. Their introductions were taped December 16th, and the program still exists in the BBC archive (but remains uncirculated).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


After wrapping up the Band On The Run LP, Paul, Linda, and Denny flew to France in mid-November 1973, where they spent a couple of days at EMI's Paris studio. Filling in on drums was Davey Lutton, and playing lead guitar was Jimmy McCulloch, who would soon join Wings on a permanent basis. In addition to working on a few "Suzy and the Red Stripes" (aka Linda and Wings) numbers, the group taped a special jingle for Radio Luxembourg, incorporating the titles of several numbers from the new album.

Upon their return to London, Paul and Linda spent a couple of weeks promoting Band On The Run, including a visit to the studios of Capital Radio on November 24th. Despite being served with a $20,000,000 writ just before he entered the room, Paul was in a silly mood as he interacted with Kenny Everett, Dave Cash, and listeners who called in.

Paul also sat down with music journalist Paul Gambaccini to discuss Band On The Run for an interview aired on BBC Radio 1's Rockweek November 30th. The two Pauls actually met for several extended chats over the next few weeks, and the results were published in Rolling Stone the following February, and eventually in a book, Paul McCartney In His Own Words.

The Band On The Run LP was released December 3rd in the US (promoted with a 60-second radio spot) and four days later in the UK. It proved to be a slow but steady seller, hovering around the low end of the top 10 in both countries through March 1974. When the title track was eventually issued as a single (April in the US, June in the UK), that gave it the extra nudge to hit #1 in both countries.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rabbits On The Run

Having chosen "Band On The Run" to be the title track of his next LP, Paul wanted to represent the song's narrative on the album cover. With Wings down to a trio, he boosted the "band" of convicts making a prison break by inviting a number of celebrity acquaintances to join the photo shoot.

On October 28th at Osterley Park, Paul, Linda, and Denny were joined by James Coburn, John Conteh, Clement Freud, Christopher Lee, Kenny Lynch, and Michael Parkinson. Cameras were rolling in the dressing room (watch out for Paul and Kenny harmonizing on "Misery") and outside as Clive Arrowsmith snapped the iconic photo:

On October 29th, John's "Mind Games" single and LP were released in the US, the same day Ringo's self-titled album hit store shelves. A friendly competition now existed among the ex-Fabs, and Ringo won this one hands down, with "Photograph" topping the chart, and Ringo at #2 on Billboard (right behind Elton John's monumental Goodbye Yellow Brick Road).

Mind Games only made it to #9, with the single "Mind Games" topping out at #18; John's response to the situation was a tongue-in-cheek telegram sent to Ringo: "Congratulations! How dare you? And please write me a hit song."

John had other problems to deal with, such as the increasingly erratic Phil Spector, who was quickly losing a grip on the "oldies" sessions, which were now more of an excuse to drink, snort coke, and wreak havoc than record decent music. He took a break from recording in November to promote Mind Games, including a phone interview with Nicky Horne and Sarah Ward on November 12th for Capital Rap, on the newly-launched Capital London radio station.

As her album Feeling The Space was released in the US on November 2nd, Yoko was also on the promotional trail. She played a week of nightclub gigs in New York at the end of October, and spent the first week of November in Los Angeles, meeting up with John and May for lunch. Yoko also made a return visit to The Mike Douglas Show, performing "Angry Young Woman" for the November 15th broadcast.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sit And Cry

By the end of July 1973, John finally had enough new compositions to begin recording his next LP, Mind Games. As soon the sessions for Yoko's Feeling The Space album were completed, John and the same studio band began to tape backing tracks at the Record Plant East.

Within a few days, they had completed enough songs for the entire LP (plus a leftover, "Rock And Roll People"), but overdubbing and mixing dragged on into mid-September, killing much of the spontaneity of the basic recordings.

Feeling stifled by her relationship with John, Yoko was growing more independent with each passing day, performing solo at another benefit concert in San Diego on September 16th. By September 22nd, she was back in New York and it was John and their assistant May Pang who were flying to Los Angeles, where they began an 18-month relationship with Yoko's blessing.

Ostensibly, the trip was set up for John to record an oldies LP with Phil Spector and then promote Mind Games, but he ended up staying in southern California for the better part of a year. John's schizophrenic state of mind at the time can best be exemplified by two events which occurred on October 24th.

He began the day in a TV studio, overseeing the videotaping of a commercial for Mind Games. Apple PR Tony King camped it up as the Queen while May and Elton John looked on. I'm not sure whether any usable footage was captured, but two radio spots were produced, and everyone seemed to be having fun.

That night, John was in the studio with Phil Spector and a cast of thousands, taping a cover of the Lloyd Price oldie "Just Because". By this point in the evening, he had consumed way too much alcohol. Presumably the song's lyrical content hit uncomfortably close to home, and John rambled an ignominious guide vocal:

Things would get much worse before they got better, but John was in a relatively sane frame of mind, if untalkative, a few days later when he filmed an interview on Malibu Beach with Elliot Mintz. The result was aired on KABC's Eyewitness News in several segments sometime in November, and outtakes from the interview also circulate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Make This Journey Last

1973 turned out to be the busiest year ever for ex-Beatle releases, with the issue of five albums plus two non-LP Wings singles. Most of these came towards the end of the year, and Ringo was first out of the gate with the single "Photograph" on September 24th in the US.

The song topped the Billboard chart, giving Ringo his first American #1 hit; in the UK, the single was delayed until October 19th, but also fared well, peaking at #8. It was helped along by a promo clip filmed at Tittenhurst and aired on Top Of The Pops November 1st:

Sessions for the Ringo LP were completed in London in July, with mixing to follow in Los Angeles. Ringo and Maureen (whose marriage was on its last legs at this point) found the time to attend David Bowie's "farewell performance" as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3rd (note the sticker in the photo above promoting Wings' shows there from five weeks prior), and found themselves in the concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars:

Elsewhere, just prior to their trip to Lagos, Nigeria, Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell dropped out of Wings. Paul, Linda, and Denny Laine (along with Geoff Emerick) decided to carry on as a trio and spent most of August and September at EMI's Nigerian studio, as well as ARC in Ikeja, owned by Ginger Baker, who can be seen in home movies from the trip:

The first release from these sessions was the single "Helen Wheels", backed with a 1972 recording, "Country Dreamer". It came out October 26th in the UK, accompanied by a promo clip which aired on Top Of The Pops November 15th:

"Helen Wheels" reached #11 in the UK, and #10 in the US where it was released November 12th. Capitol executive Al Coury persuaded Paul to add the song to US copies of Wings' forthcoming LP, reasoning that including a known hit single would help to boost sales. As it would turn out, Band On The Run needed no such help.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When You Got A Job To Do

Wings' fifth single, "Live And Let Die"/"I Lie Around", was released June 1st, 1973 in the UK (and on Paul's 31st birthday in the US). It reached the top 10 in the UK and spent three weeks at #2 on Billboard's chart, stuck behind "The Morning After", "Touch Me In The Morning", and "Brother Louie".

The song served as a great teaser for the movie Live And Let Die, which had its London premiere on July 5th, attended by Paul and Linda (and Heather) McCartney. The date fell in the middle of a quick Wings tour; in fact, a potential gig in Stoke-on-Trent was scrubbed so the couple could attend the film.

The tour had opened July 4th in Sheffield, and continued on the 6th in Birmingham. Backstage prior to a July 9th concert at Leicester's Odeon Theatre, Paul was interviewed by John Mitchell. The result was used in an updated version of BBC Radio's documentary series The Beatles Story (first aired in 1972, and overhauled a second time in 1974), and Paul was asked his opinion of the original broadcast.

Also on July 9th, Paul and Linda were interviewed for an American broadcast, possibly by Fred Robbins, who had been conducting Beatle interviews since 1964. The recording was bizarrely repurposed later in the year for an open-end LP to promote Band On The Run, in which American disc jockeys could have the thrill of pretending to ask Paul questions about an album he hadn't even recorded yet at the time of the interview!

The mini-tour concluded July 10th at Newcastle City Hall, and the gig was professionally recorded. The tape was never used, possibly because it ended up being the final project for this lineup of Wings. By the time Paul was ready to fly to Lagos, Nigeria in August to record the next LP, he found himself two band members short.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Man's Work Is Never Done

With John mired in a songwriting slump, the suddenly prolific Yoko took up the slack. Following the double-LP release Approximately Infinite Universe at the start of 1973, she released a Japan-exclusive single, "Joseijoi Banzai", and began stockpiling songs for a follow-up LP, Feeling The Space.

On May 12th, she and John videotaped a TV special at the Record Plant in New York, being interviewed and performing songs from the LP and single backed by Elephant's Memory. It was broadcast June 30th as an episode of Flipside, a syndicated TV music series.

Yoko performed her first solo pop concert on May 20th at New York's Town Hall, a benefit for WBAI radio. Once again, she was backed by Elephant's Memory, but John was nowhere to be found. The two did travel together to the First International Feminist Planning Conference, held from June 1st through the 4th at Harvard University.

Obviously, Yoko was at the forefront there too, and her performance of a new composition, "Coffin Car" (backed by John on guitar), was released as a bonus track on the Feeling The Space CD. When WBCN reporter Danny Schecter interviewed the couple on June 3rd, the conversation drifted from feminism to the immigration situation and the recent Beatle reunion rumors.

The March 23rd ruling gave John 60 days to leave the US voluntarily, but of course his lawyer Leon Wildes immediately appealed the decision, continuing the cat-and-mouse game with the government that would drag on for a few more years. Naturally, John had been following the televised Watergate hearings closely, and while visiting Washington DC on June 27th, couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend John Dean's testimony in person, sporting a newly-shorn scalp.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Paul McCarpet

In April 1973, after taping the James Paul McCartney TV special, Paul went back into the studio with Wings, this time to back up his brother Mike McGear on "Leave It", a catchy number written by Paul:

A more notable April session took place at Apple Studios, where Ringo was working on his Ringo LP with Richard Perry. With John and George already on the album, Paul's contributions made the Beatles-on-vinyl reunion complete. In addition to adding a "mouth sax solo" to "You're Sixteen", Paul played piano and synthesizer on his own composition, "Six O'Clock". The song's rave-up coda heard on promo copies of the LP, with Paul and Linda singing, might as well be a Red Rose Speedway outtake:

Sometime around April or May, Paul was interviewed by DJ Nicky Horne; topics included the session with Ringo, the end of the Klein era, and what would be Wings' next single, the James Bond theme song, "Live And Let Die".

Wings went back on the road in May, playing 17 shows in 12 cities across England, Wales, and Scotland. The setlist was greatly streamlined from the 1972 tours, and updated to include two songs from Red Rose Speedway, plus the debut for "Live And Let Die".

On May 12th, following a concert at the New Theatre in Oxford, disc jockey David Symonds spoke with Paul for his Radio Luxembourg show. After chatting about the concert and songwriting (including a new composition, "Picasso's Last Words"), Symonds nearly brings the conversation to a halt by asking about Paul's relationship with the other ex-Beatles. Things end on a lighthearted note with David and Paul swapping cute stories about their daughters.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Only People

John and Yoko began 1973 facing yet another lawsuit, this time filed by Northern Songs/Maclen Music, who were claiming unpaid royalties on jointly composed Lennon/Ono compositions. As had happened with Paul and Linda's co-written numbers on Ram, the people who owned the rights to Lennon and McCartney songs wanted 100% of the income, claiming that to give their wives 50% credit was a ruse to retain half the money.

Having tired of the legal battles, political hassles, and immigration fights, and at a low point in their personal relationship, John and Yoko decided to make a fresh start, moving out of their Greenwich Village apartment and buying one in the Dakota building. During the move, they spent a few weeks in Los Angeles, arriving in early February. Yoko kept busy promoting her new LP Approximately Infinite Universe, including a telephone chat with Johnny Moran for BBC Radio's Scene And Heard.

More bad news arrived from New York on March 23rd, when INS judge Ira Fieldsteel handed down a decision they had been dreading: Yoko's visa application was approved, but John's was denied, and he was ordered to leave the US within 60 days. Government lawyer Sol Marks announced the decision at a press conference, where the Lennons' lawyer Leon Wildes fielded questions about his next move.

John and Yoko's response was suitably Conceptual. On April 2nd, they flew back to New York and held their own press conference, declaring themselves ambassadors of the new country Nutopia (and thereby eligible for diplomatic immunity).

On April 6th, they were back in Los Angeles, videotaping an interview with John Fielding for the London Weekend Television series Weekend World (aired in the UK two nights later). Most of the chat centered on John, George, and Ringo's March 31st decision to cut ties with Allan Klein and ABKCO, with John being careful to note that it doesn't mean a Beatles reunion is imminent.

John expanded on the subjects of reunions and Klein during his April 16th interview with Elliot Mintz at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Yoko also plugged her new LP, but most of the lengthy discussion focused on John, who talked about his recent session with George and Ringo, two Hollywood parties they had attended, primal therapy, drugs, his feud with Paul, and his marriage to Yoko, which they claimed was stronger than ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Got A Lot Of Work To Do

By the spring of 1973, the Quiet Beatle must have seemed like the Monastic Beatle. Since the release of the Concert for Bangla Desh album and film in the winter of 71-72, George had made no TV or radio appearances, given few interviews, and released no new product.

He was still in demand as a session player and always willing to help his friends in the music business, producing Ravi Shankar's In Concert 1972 LP. Apart from his work on Ringo's singles and LP in progress, in 1972 and 73 George participated on records by Nicky Hopkins:

Cheech and Chong:

Dave Mason:

and Alvin Lee:

Still, it came as a relief to Harrifans when a bona-fide NEW George single appeared in May of 1973. The A-side, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" saw no decline in quality from his heralded All Things Must Pass material, and it shot to #1 on the Billboard chart. The exclusive B-side, "Miss O'Dell" was a light and fun ditty which echoed "Apple Scruffs".

Given all the anticipation and the excellence of the single, the full LP, Living In The Material World, was inevitably a disappointment upon release a few weeks later. While it contained some excellent material, the preachiness of the lyrics wore thin on many listeners with repeated playing.

Despite George making no media appearances or promo clips to promote the album, it sold like hotcakes, racking up five weeks atop the Billboard LP chart, and going top 5 in the UK. In fact, among 1967-1970, Red Rose Speedway and George's album, the #1 slot was Fab-filled from May 26th through July 21st.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Red Rose Seedway

Back in August, 1972, Paul and Linda had been arrested for marijuana possession in Sweden, the first in a lengthy string of drug busts for the McCartneys. A month later, police raided their farm in Scotland and seized cannabis plants from a greenhouse. Paul decided to plead not guilty, with the flimsy excuse that a fan had mailed him some seeds and he planted them unaware of their illegal nature. On March 8th, 1973, he and Linda were fined £100 at the Campbeltown courthouse, and were interviewed outside by a BBC reporter.

Having finished recording their new LP, Red Rose Speedway, Wings spent most of March and April videotaping a TV special to promote the record. Titled James Paul McCartney, the show contained musical performances from Wings such as "Mary Had A Little Lamb" (shot on location March 10th), an acoustic medley from Paul during a Linda photo shoot (taped March 15th), and a mini-concert by Wings in front of an audience at Elstree Studios (shot March 18th).

The latest Wings single, "My Love"/"The Mess" was released March 23rd in the UK; the band filmed a promo clip for the A-side, including a live vocal from Paul, for airing on Top Of The Pops April 5th:

Production of James Paul McCartney wrapped on April 1st with in-studio performances of "Little Woman Love/C Moon", "My Love", and "Live And Let Die", Paul's theme song for the upcoming James Bond film. The TV special aired on ABC in the US April 16th, and May 10th on ITV in the UK, to generally poor reviews.

The new album (issued April 30th in the US, May 4th in the UK) and single fared much better, giving Wings its first US #1 hits on the Billboard album and singles charts.