Friday, December 29, 2006

John's Music Room--Kenwood, June 29, 1967

Apparently, there has been a bit of a controversy brewing in certain internet communities concerning the origins of a photograph of John in his music room at Kenwood. In order to dispell this controversy, I decided to scan some photos I have to confirm the photo's authenticity.

On June 29, 1967, Beatles Monthly editor Johnny Dean and photographer Leslie Bryce visited John at his Tudor-styled home "Kenwood" in the stockbroker belt of Weybridge. Bryce photographed John in various interesting places throughout his home, even taking some lovely photos of John and Julian together. Over the years, a myriad of pictures taken that day have appeared in issues of the Beatles Monthly, and the one in question made an appearance in the Sept. 1988 edition. This photo shows John playing one of his keyboards, and above him is a beautiful, touching photo of himself with friend and partner Paul, taken by photographer David Bailey. Looking closely, one can see that the photograph is on a cabinet door, and the door is slightly opened at an angle to reveal the photo to the camera--the shadows also indicate this. When the door is shut, the photo is not visible. Hopefully these scans offer evidence that this photograph has not been photoshoped by sentimental Beatles fans; on the contrary, it shows us all what a "softie" our John was at heart.

I can imagine Paul coming over, guitar in hand, settling in for songwriting sessions with John, while Cyn brings tea and butties up to them from time to time. A joint wouldn't be out of the question either! And there's that photo--the two titans poised as if sides of the same coin, as if they are One great force of art, creation, joy, and love--as inspiration for the evening's work.

I will be posting more information about Dean and Bryce's visit to John's home, and of course, more of those wonderful photographs, at a later date.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Traditional British Christmas

Okay--I have an obsession with traditional British Christmas cakes, such as the one pictured here that our lads are happily slicing and devouring for Robert Whitaker's camera. I also love the cake's appearance in The Who's promo for "Happy Jack"--Roger's on look out as the others attempt to crack a safe; alas, they become sidetracked by this Christmas treat. (Watching Keith Moon slap the merenguie about his face is hilarious.) A friend of mine has attempted to get the perfect cake for me over the past two years, but I've settled on a marzipan covered fruit cake with a holly decoration imported from across the pond. British readers--do you think I'll enjoy what I've got?

It seems as if every British band had their pictures taken around a cake or a pudding for Christmas photo sessions, and they're all delightful. There's something about those traditional decorations that I enjoy, and of course the festive time they commemorate. I guess I'm just a sentimentalist...

Here are some photos of The Beatles with their Christmas Cake, all taken by Robert Whitaker during the same photo shoot that produced pictures for every season of the year (they hold brooms and baskets for Autumn, springs for Spring, etc.) The most famous of these photos ended up cropped and served as the album cover for the Captiol record, Beatles VI. The one shown here is a reverse print, but still pretty good.

I am also including pictures from a restaurant in Sweden where they were presented with a Christmas cake in October! More Beatles Christmas-related photos to follow soon...

(The photo where John has the "Merry Christmas" wreath on his head graced my Christmas cards this year!)

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Reporting '66: End of Beatlemania" (!)

Speculation was running rampant. With no new release imminent, and individual members working on projects of their own, many critics were certain that The Beatles were breaking up. Headlines proclaimed: "Twilight of the Beatles". "The Beatles at the Crossroads". "Will They Tour Again?" Looking back, Paul McCartney loved getting the last laugh. While everyone was thinking the Beatles were washed up as a pop group, they were crafting one of the most influential and important albums in popular music history.

On the evening of December 20, 1966, The Beatles were individually met by reporter John Edwards on the steps of EMI Studios--and were also greeted with questions concerning a Beatles break-up. Some of this footage appears in the Anthology documentary, as well as The Making of Sgt. Pepper's special. The screen captures presented here are from the actual television broadcast, which circulates in its entirety. This strange special includes speculation from fans, director Richard Lester, and other critics, but without a narrator or any sort of introduction to accompany it.

Each Beatle stops to comment that they are not breaking up, but that they may do individual projects from time to time. Ringo chats the longest, and George bolts for the door after a quick "No!" in response to Edwards' question.

The 7:00 session at Abbey Road consisted of more work on Paul's "When I'm Sixty-Four".

(Does anyone know what album John has under his arm as he enters the studio?)

Here is a link to a very special Christmas treat for you: Leftfield Studio's Lego animation of The Beatles' 1966 Christmas Message--Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas. If you have not seen this, you must view it ASAP! It's perfect!

Coming up: A closer look at the Beatles' 1964 Christmas Shows...and the obligatory Beatles Crimble Photos...

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

Monday, December 04, 2006

We Will Never Stop Believing

A Poem For John Lennon
By Randy California

In days of old when thoughts were bold, ideals were high, we reached for the sky.
A guiding light for all to see, one person's special dream for humanity
We were many but now we are few, hurt and confused by what happened to you.
It seems to always end this of peace are not wanted they say
It's not just one that does them in,
but the lower evil side of man that comes back to haunt us again and again

In our lives we loved you more, you opened so many doors..............

The shock of this will never leave, for I was one who did believe.
Beautiful man, questioning one, always searching for the reason.
You let us visit into your mind, your private world for a time......
and what you gave will never die...and I'll never stop believing in you, we'll never stop believing your dream can come true.

- Randy California

(Randy California is one of the greatest guitarists of all time; unfortunately, he is underrated and underappreciated. The first four Spirit albums are essential listening, so go out and discover this amazing artist and his equally amazing band! RIP, Randy...)

I will not be able to update my blog on Friday because I will be out of town.

I miss John Lennon every day of my life, though I never personally knew him. I was six years old when he was torn from his earthly existence, but I saw at that moment how his death affected the people around me and the rest of the world as well. I took out my mother's copy of The Beatles' Second Album that she had given me (that I had worn out from repeated listenings) and drew a thin line in ink under John Lennon's name. I felt such a connection with him and his music. Over the years, he has been a constant presence in my life. I find it very hard to put into words how I feel about John. I've always related to him, or have been drawn to him, even though our lives are not similar. His intelligence, creativity, wit, talent, genius, honesty and humanity are so compelling.

There are no words for what I feel.

This blog is a testament of my love for John Winston Ono Lennon.

I will try to write more this week.