Thursday, January 19, 2012

Running Down The Road

The long-awaited Abbey Road LP was released in the UK on September 26th, 1969. Most previous Beatles albums had promotion from the group as a whole, whether appearing on TV, radio, or giving print interviews. This time, each of the band members would give individual interviews about Abbey Road, describing the new songs for different media outlets. Listening to all four in succession is an enlightening way to compare their opinions on the final Beatles LP.

George spoke with Ritchie Yorke of the Toronto Globe and Mail, not long after John's return from Toronto on the 15th. On the 19th, Paul chatted to David Wigg for BBC Radio 1's Scene And Heard, broadcast in two parts on the 21st and 28th.

Ringo and John both recorded track-by-track dissections of Abbey Road for Radio Luxembourg; Ringo's talk with "Kid" Jensen was aired September 26th, and John's rundown with Tony Macarthur was played one night later.

Friday, January 6, 2012

36 Hours

On September 12th, 1969, John and Yoko gave a joint interview to several journalists at their Apple office, discussing their recent film Self-Portrait among other topics.

At some point on that day, Canadian concert promoter John Brower managed to get through on the phone to Apple, and much to his surprise, convinced John and Yoko to appear the very next day at the Rock and Roll Revival festival being held at Varsity Stadium in Toronto. An impromptu Plastic Ono Band consisting of Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Alan White was assembled, rehearsed on the flight to Canada, and performed in front of 27,000 fans on the evening of September 13th.

The band spent the following day in Toronto and returned to London on the 15th, where John and Yoko were interviewed by ITV News about Yoko's unusual style of performing. On the flight back, John has already made up his mind to leave The Beatles, telling Allan Klein as much but not dropping the bombshell on Paul and Ringo until an Apple board meeting on the 20th.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chant And Be Happy

The Beatles' career wound down with a series of "lasts" as a four-piece band in August 1969. Last song begun on the 1st ("Because"); last LP cover photo taken on the 8th (Abbey Road); last overdub on the 19th ("Here Comes The Sun"); last group mixing session on the 20th; last group photo shoot on the 22nd.

Paul and Linda welcomed their first daughter, Mary, into the world on August 28th, and three nights later, John, George, and Ringo watched Bob Dylan perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.

George had been working closely with the London branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, even recording a hit single for them, "Hare Krishna Mantra", which was released August 29th on Apple.

The founder of ISKCON, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was visiting London a couple of weeks later, and John and Yoko offered him a place to stay on the spacious grounds of their Ascot estate. The day he arrived (September 11th), the swami had a long conversation with John and George at Tittenhurst, which was recorded for posterity.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Million-Dollar Bash

The last group Beatles project turned out to be the recording of Abbey Road in July and August, 1969. John's auto accident in Scotland on July 1st meant that he missed the first batch of sessions, but by the recording of "Come Together" on July 21st, all four Beatles were hard at work inside EMI Studios.

With the daily focus on recording, public appearances and interviews ground to a halt, even for the ubiquitous John and Yoko. Only BBC Radio's Kenny Everett gained access to the Fabs, recording interviews for his Radio 1 show Everett Is Here.

The first may have been recorded July 24th, while Paul worked on a demo of "Come And Get It", as it includes a piano-based jingle for Kenny, as well as an interview with George about the July 26th Rathayatra Festival in Hyde Park.

Kenny definitely dropped by EMI on August 14th, listening to a mixing session for "Sun King", Mean Mr. Mustard", and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" - inside knowledge which he parlayed into several self-harmonized jingles for his show. He also chatted with John that day about the album's progress.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Acorns and Lilacs

With the Bed-ins behind them, John and Yoko put in another appearance on a David Frost TV chat series, this time the aptly named David Frost Show, taped June 14th, 1969 for syndication across the US in July. They arrived bearing gifts, including a "box of smile" for David, acorns in a bag for the audience, and of course a copy of their new LP, Life With The Lions.

Sometime in June, John was also interviewed by David Gresham for South Africa's Springbok Radio, discussing his 1966 "bigger than Jesus" remark which led to a South African media ban on Beatles records. The remainder of June found each Beatle away from home, as George was in Sardinia, Paul in Corfu, Ringo in France, and John in Scotland.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rabbis and Popeyes

Reporters and disc jockeys who couldn't make the pilgrimage to Montreal were able to speak with John and Yoko via telephone. On May 29th and 30th, they chatted with Howard Smith of WABC-FM in New York, and they rapped with WNEW-FM's Rosko on the latter night. The 30th also found them talking to Tom Campbell and Bill Holley of KYA-AM in San Francisco, a recording later distributed on a 7" single, "The KYA 1969 Peace Talk". They even recorded several peace-related jingles and promos for various stations.

Ken Seymour of CBC Radio was near enough to record his interview in person, and CBC-TV sent a camera crew to cover the Bed-in for their news program The Way It Is. Patrick Watson interviewed John and Yoko for the show, aired June 8th. Meanwhile, John and Yoko's personal camera crew were capturing all the bedside happenings for their own documentary film, issued on video in 1990 as John and Yoko: The Bed-in.

The highlight of the week was of course the live recording of "Give Peace A Chance", which took place in a crowded room 1742 on the night of May 31st. The following day, a weary John described the "bedlam" to a reporter. The Bed-in concluded on June 2nd, and John was in a reflective mood that day as he spoke with Fred Peabody, a reporter for Concern magazine.

The following afternoon, John and Yoko stopped by a peace conference at the University of Ottawa and participated in a panel discussion. A visit to Niagara Falls on June 4th was their last stop in Canada before returning to London on the 5th.