Friday, March 30, 2012

So Sad

After spending most of 1970 in seclusion at home or in the studio, Paul McCartney found himself back in the headlines as 1971 began, thanks to the case he had filed attempting to dissolve The Beatles' partnership.

His first solo single (credited to Paul & Linda McCartney), "Another Day"/"Oh Woman, Oh Why", was released February 19th in the UK. That same day, he and Linda showed up at the opening day of hearings in the case, at London's High Court. Paul would testify in person on the 26th, and by March 12th, a ruling was made in his favour appointing an accountant, James Spooner, to manage all of the Beatles' assets until the partnership could be legally dissolved. This at least freed Paul from having Allen Klein control his financial destiny.

By then, Paul was in Los Angeles, putting the finishing touches on the Ram LP. He also made an unexpected appearance at the Grammy Awards on March 16th, accepting a trophy for Let It Be:

Meanwhile, John was spending February at his new home studio in Tittenhurst, testing the equipment and doing preliminary recording for the Imagine LP. The first fruit of these labors was the single "Power To The People", released March 8th in the UK. John did minimal promotion for the release, but did chat at home with Kenny Everett around the middle of the month for Radio Monte Carlo. As well as belatedly plugging the Plastic Ono Band LP, John danced his way around the subject of the court case, admitting that it had strengthened the bonds between him and George and Ringo.

Here is a fair quality off-line recording of the interview, broadcast at 1am on the morning of March 28th, as Radio Monte Carlo was about to shut down its English broadcasts for good. This is slightly longer and better quality than the version issued by Black Cat, but still pretty crummy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let's Open The World

Proceedings in the case dissolving The Beatles & Company opened January 19th, 1971 in the London High Court. None of the group attended the earliest court dates, and only Paul would give testimony in person, the others submitting sworn affadavits.

While those in the media were left to speculate about how the money would be divided, John and Yoko got away from it all by traveling to Miami and then on to Japan, where John met Yoko's parents for the first time. They stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, registering as "Mr. and Mrs. Gherkin".

While managing to duck reporters during most of their stay, they did agree to record a message for Japanese radio before checking out on January 25th. After plugging their new albums ("on Toshiba/Apple"), John answers a few questions about his music, with Yoko translating the queries and responses. The final ten minutes are entirely Yoko speaking in Japanese.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dream Is Over

Paul waited until the final day of 1970 to file suit against his erstwhile band members, beginning the interminable process of dissolving their business partnership and cementing his role as the "bad guy" in the Beatles' breakup story.

Meanwhile, their solo careers carried on, with Paul spending November and December in New York's Columbia Studios taping the basic tracks for his Ram LP. George was being showered with accolades for All Things Must Pass and "My Sweet Lord", both of which shot to the top of the charts by year's end.

On December 12th, during a break from filming Fly, John and Yoko were interviewed once again by Howard Smith for WABC radio. The conversation touched on many of the same topics as the Rolling Stone interview (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, the future of the Beatles, Primal Therapy), John was far more relaxed and less outrageous, perhaps because he knew it would be heard on the radio, or perhaps he had vented enough steam already.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Genius Is Pain

On December 1st, 1970, John and Yoko flew back to America, landing in New York where they would produce a pair of films, "Up Your Legs Forever" and "Fly". More notably, John promoted his new album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, with a marathon interview for Rolling Stone magazine on December 8th.

The interview, conducted by Jann Wenner at ABKCO/Apple's Broadway offices, and given the cover story on the next two issues, was John's first since the Beatles' split, and more importantly his first since undergoing Primal Therapy and spilling out his version of the truth in the lyrics of his new songs. The soul-baring (and self-serving) conversation was soon compiled in a book, Lennon Remembers, but even that was censored to a degree and presented in jumbled form.

Here are the raw tapes of the complete four-hour-plus interview, divided into thirteen segments:

For those who want a more concise summary of the event, try this link.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back Upon The Shelf

As the Beatles' split was very much 3 vs. 1, it's not surprising that all of the group but Paul continued to work together throughout 1970, particularly once John was back in the country in September.

George had spent all summer working with Phil Spector and dozens of musicians, including Ringo, on All Things Must Pass. He also produced and/or played on sessions for Billy Preston, Doris Troy, and Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. Ringo drummed on Stephen Stills's solo album, and recorded a single of his own, "It Don't Come Easy"/"Early 1970", with help from George and Stephen.

At the end of September, John began recording his own solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band at EMI. Behind the drum kit was Ringo, and behind the mixing desk for the latter part of the sessions was Phil Spector. When John turned 30 on October 9th, 1970, he was presented with tapes featuring birthday jingles and greetings from other artists, such as Donovan, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, and Blossom Dearie.

George and the ATMP crew had recorded their own tribute, "It's Johnny's Birthday", the tune lifted wholesale from Cliff Richard's hit "Congratulations". And Ringo and company (including Stills, Preston, and POB bassist Klaus Voormann) refashioned "Johnny B. Goode" into "Happy Birthday John".

This spirit of camaraderie is evident on a recording from the night of October 9th, take four of "Remember", where John is having a blast recording with Ringo and Klaus; when the take is complete, George walks into the studio (he was next door mixing ATMP) and is greeted heartily by all present.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Concert At Whiskey Flat

Towards the end of 1970, vinyl Beatlegs not taken from one of the Get Back acetates (or pirated from singles) finally began to surface. Renaissance Minstrels Volume I included songs from the legendary Ed Sullivan shows (sadly, Volume II was just copied from an earlier LP, Homogenized Beatles). Then there was Shea The Good Old Days, lifted from the Shea Stadium TV special.

In October 1970, the nascent Trademark Of Quality label produced another rubber-stamped album with the intriguing title In Concert At Whiskey Flat. The source turned out to be a 1964 concert in Philadelphia, and along with the Hollywood Bowl recording, it was by far the highest-quality live Beatles performance available for the first few years of Beatlegging. It was soon duplicated on albums such as Live Concert At Wiskey Flats and In Atlanta Whiskey Flat.

- Twist And Shout
- You Can't Do That
- All My Loving
- She Loves You
- Things We Said Today
- Roll Over Beethoven

- Can't Buy Me Love
- If I Fell
- I Want To Hold Your Hand
- Boys
- A Hard Day's Night
- Long Tall Sally

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crazy With Nothing To Do

Like his 1968 pilgrimage to Rishikesh, John's four-month course of Primal Therapy in California may not have been spiritually rewarding in the long run, but it did produce a batch of new compositions of the highest quality.

During his stay from late April through early September, John recorded demos of new songs such as "Mother", "I Found Out", "Love", "God", "Well Well Well", "Look At Me", and "My Mummy's Dead". One such tape, from late July, contains several takes of "God", an unreleased song called "When A Boy Meets A Girl", and a "Poem Game" from Yoko.

Also possibly from the same period is a lengthy recording of John and Kyoko improvising songs and stories (some say it dates from the January 1970 Ålborg trip, but I find it unlikely John had a Rhythm Ace with him in Denmark).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Four Knights In Moscow

While John was busy Primaling in America, George spent the summer of 1970 recording the mammoth All Things Must Pass album at EMI and Trident Studios, and Paul remained at home with his family, composing songs for his next LP, Ram.

This left Ringo as perhaps the busiest Beatle that summer, at least in the public eye. He and Maureen attended a screening of the film Woodstock at the Cannes Film Festival on May 9th. After sitting in on some of George's early sessions, he flew to Nashville on June 22nd to record his second solo album, Beaucoups Of Blues. Nine days later, Ringo was back in England and the album was in the can; it was released in September to minimal success.

One of Ringo's neighbours and close friends in Highgate was Bee Gee Maurice Gibb, who had participated the previous year in a "Beatle outfake" recording, the notorious "Have You Heard The Word". Ringo and Maurice spent a few days around the end of August producing a short film for their own amusement. Who Goes There? features brief comedy vignettes in the vein of the Beatles' own Christmas messages of years past:

On October 1st, Ringo taped his second appearance on Cilla Black's BBC1 TV variety series, Cilla, acting in a skit and duetting on "Act Naturally". Although the videotape no longer exists, one fan recorded the audio portion as it was broadcast on February 13th, 1971.

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Intimate Bioscopic Experience

The profoundly anticlimactic film Let It Be premiered May 20th, 1970, simultaneously in London and Liverpool. None of the Beatles attended either British premiere, nor did John attend the American premiere on May 28th. Reviews and box office sales were lacklustre, although it won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score.

The movie was promoted by trailers and commercials of various lengths (60 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and 10 seconds). United Artists also issued an unusual one-sided promo single, Dialogue From The Beatles' Motion Picture "Let It Be", which I can't imagine any station adding to its rotation. The final Beatles single, "The Long And Winding Road"/"For You Blue", was issued in the US May 11th and became their final #1 hit on Billboard by June.

BBC Radio aired two specials soon after the movie was released. The first, broadcast May 23rd and entitled Let It Be, examined not only the music from the film, but the group's now uncertain future. The June 27th edition of Film Time featured an interview with Dick Lester about all the Beatles' films, and included vintage 1964 Beatle chats from Movie-Go-Round.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Let It Be

This LP, on the Underground Sounds label, was probably compiled in the period between the release of McCartney (April 20th, 1970) and Let It Be (May 18th, 1970), as it lists the correct title for "Teddy Boy" but merely guesses at "For You Blue" ("Sweet And Lovely Girl"), "Two Of Us" ("On Our Way Back Home"), and "Dig A Pony" ("All I Want Is You").

The contents are lifted from another early Beatleg, Get Back To Toronto, minus a couple of tracks and supplemented by recent singles ("Instant Karma!" and "You Know My Name"). It's similar to another LP of the era, Homogenized Beatles.

- I've Got A Feeling
- Let It Be
- Don't Let Me Down
- For You Blue
- Get Back
- The Walk
- Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

- Teddy Boy
- Two Of Us
- Dig A Pony
- Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)
- You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Really A Pity

On April 23rd, 1970, George and Derek Taylor flew to America for a 12-day visit, attending to business at Apple's newly-opened New York office on Broadway. George also dropped by Columbia Studios on May 1st to sit in on a recording session with Bob Dylan.

The following day, at the Apple office, George sat down with Village Voice reporter Howard Smith for a lengthy interview, aired on WPLJ radio. Naturally, the focus of the conversation was the future (or lack thereof) of the Beatles as a working group. George is surprisingly optimistic, refusing to rule anything out, while Smith remains skeptical that they will be able to repair the obvious rift between Paul and the others. After sharing his opinion on the McCartney LP, George reveals that he's preparing to begin recording his own solo album with Phil Spector in a few weeks.

John and Yoko had also planned to begin cutting an album with Spector that spring, but Primal Therapy with Arthur Janov effectively moved everything else in their lives to the back burner for a few months. They also flew to America on April 23rd, settling in Los Angeles where they would undergo a course of therapy that would keep them out of the spotlight through the spring and summer.

Meanwhile, the "Let It Be" single was topping charts around the world, promoted by a clip similar, but not identical to that seen in the movie Let It Be. In addition to airings on the UK's Top Of The Pops (March 5th) and Germany's Beat Club (March 28th), "Let It Be" also cropped up on the Australian series Hit Scene May 2nd, along with brief looks at the Wedding Album and Hey Jude LPs:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Such Thing As An Ex-Beatle

The headline above, from the April 10th, 1970 edition of the Daily Mirror, marked the public demarcation of an estrangement which had been ongoing in private for several months. Paul had issued an information sheet with press copies of his McCartney album that contained some blunt statements about his feelings toward working with the other Beatles, and the media took this as a declaration of independence.

That same day, George was sitting down to film an interview with BBC1 for the religious series Fact Or Fantasy, broadcast on the 26th. Not only does George not refer to a split, he refers to himself as a Beatle during the conversation, mostly focused on spiritual enlightenment.

George's interview was filmed at Apple's Savile Row offices, where the usual Apple Scruffs and curious tourists were supplemented that day by dozens of reporters and photographers, as word of the Beatle breakup spread. CBS News dispatched Bob Simon of their London bureau to cover the story, and the raw footage of his report circulates. It begins with reaction from sad and angry Scruffs in the street (most of whom seem to blame Linda McCartney), and contains a lengthy interview with a shell-shocked (and frankly denial-ridden) Derek Taylor and his assistant Mavis Smith. At the end, Ringo is filmed leaving Apple and entering a car with Mal Evans, to the cheers of the fans outside.

Here are a couple of pertinent airchecks from April 1970: WKNR in Detroit bidding "a fond farewell to our Beatle buddies", and a BBC Radio preview (possibly on Scene And Heard) of three tracks from the McCartney LP, released in the UK on April 17th.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

stolen: THE BEATLES (aka A Studio Recording)

Most of the earliest Beatlegs stemmed from the same sources: tapes of two acetates prepared by Glyn Johns, containing rough mixes of material from the "Get Back" sessions at Apple. Copies of the tapes were circulating during the last few months of 1969, particularly after broadcasts on several US "underground FM" radio stations in September.

By Christmas, the first generation of bootleggers had begun to press the material on vinyl, and the albums, packaged in plain white sleeves, were selling in head shops by January, 1970. The most famous, and possibly the earliest, was known as Kum Back, available in original and slightly modified knock-off forms within months.

These LPs, and others such as Dig It!, were based on "Acetate #1" (compiled January 30th, 1969). Material from "Acetate #2" (compiled ca. May 2nd) appeared around the same time on the untitled "Silver Album", so named due to its shiny cover. A couple of months later, Lemon Records came out with Get Back, an LP combining material from both acetates.

Note that all these albums were available prior to the official release of the Let It Be LP in May, leading the bootleggers to guess at the titles of many songs. Such was the case for the Catso Records release A Studio Recording, issued around March, and stamped on the cover (my copy, anyway) with stolen: THE BEATLES.

- Let It Be
- Get Back
- Don't Let Me Down
- I've Got A Feeling
- Dig A Pony

- Teddy Boy
- Two Of Us
- For You Blue
- Across The Universe

Power To The People!

Thanks to everyone who voted in the poll, particularly those who left appreciative comments about the blog.

A clear majority wants to see me continue with solo interviews, so that's what I'll do. But enough people want the return of vinyl Beatlegs for me to throw those in from time to time. I think an interesting way to approach it will be to combine the two chronologically. Since the Beatleg industry began just as the group was disbanding, it'll be fun to chart the black-market releases alongside the solo careers.

I'll begin with a look at the pre-breakup Beatlegs...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Poll

As many of you guessed, I reached the end of the road for Beatles interviews, at least the group years (through April 1, 1970). I do have a decent amount of solo interviews, but haven't collected them nearly as thoroughly as the group material, so there are undoubtedly some gaps. The good news is that I've transferred most of my collection to an external hard drive, so it's simple for me to grab files and upload them.

If I do carry on with solo interviews, there will be little in the way of illustrations and descriptions to go with the posts, merely because I don't have time to research everything. I will at least identify the dates and locations of the recordings as accurately as possible.

I still have over a hundred vinyl Beatlegs left to upload, so I could start posting those again. Or I could alternate the two, or move on to something else entirely. Please vote in the poll at the top left of this page and let me know what you'd like to see, and leave suggestions in the comments for this post.

And if you haven't already, please check out and pick up copies of Beatlegmania Volumes 3 and 4!