Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another Beatles Christmas Show 1964

A humorous anecdote about the Beatles second Christmas show was relayed in the Dec. 1999 issue of Beatles Monthly: Mal Evans presented the Beatles with fur-trimmed hooded jackets and announced, "Eppy says these are your stage suits for the next tour. You're going to Eskimoland, lads."

"That wouldn't surprise me," was George's typical sardonic reply.

I imagine the Beatles themselves, particularly John and George, found their Christmas shows, a mix of music and pantomime, a bit "daft," particularly the comic routines. However, the 1964 shows at the Hammersmith provided a welcomed Christmas gift to the fans, as well as some time at home after a year of grueling tours. Accompanied by the Yardbirds, Sounds Incorporated, Michael Haslam, and Elkie Brooks with the Mike Cotton Sound, "Another Beatles Christmas Show" opened to a sell-out crowd on Dec. 24, 1964, and continued for a three-week run of two performances per day.

The show's producer, Peter Yolland, was understandably upset when he discovered he had only 3 days to rehearse and get the entire production ready for public consumption. I don't think the comedy sketches and acting prowess of the cast would matter to the fans; a chance to see the Fabs in person was the chief motivating factor. The main sketch told the tale of four explorers searching for the Abominable Snowman, played by DJ Jimmy Saville.

The Beatles' closed the show with a half-hour set including "She's A Woman," "Twist and Shout," "I'm A Loser," "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby," "Baby's In Black," "A Hard Day's Night" and "Long Tall Sally". After the first show, the Beatles retreated to their dressing rooms for what writer Frederick James termed "greasy eggs, sausages and chips washed down with scotch and Coke before doing it all again for the second house audience."

All the photos in this post were taken during rehearsals for this Christmas show. The photos were scanned by me and taken from various issues of the Beatles Book Monthly.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Here's A Bouncy Remix"

Christmas Time Is Here Again!
Presented here is a selection of Christmas-related Beatles photos I've gleaned from various sites over the years. Hopefully you'll find a few you hadn't seen before and can add something new to your own collection. I'm particularly fond of the Christmas card portraying Santa with a beret, pipe, and umbrella while seated on a large trunk, signed by all four Beatles. The scan of Lennon's artwork shown above was used for Yoko's Christmas card in 2000. (Click to enlarge all photos.)

I wish all of you a very magical holiday season, filled with the wonder and excitement only this time of year can bring.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

'A' Is For 'Apple'

On this night 40 years ago, the Apple Boutique opened at 94 Baker Street, brightly adorned with the psychedelic designs of Dutch artists The Fool--much to the chagrin of the merchants in the area. (Soon after it's unveiling, the Beatles were forced to paint over the mural.) Until a permanent residence for Apple was established at 3 Saville Road, the top floor of the boutique served as an office. Judging from the film and photos from that opening night, it looked like a splendid party, with guests including Eric Clapton, Cilla Black, and Richard Lester. Only John and George represented the Beatles at the party--Ringo could be excused as he was in Rome filming Candy. (If you'll indulge the fan in me to speak for a moment--I think John looks very handsome with this hairstyle, glasses, and suit. Something about the sideburns during these few months...The last photo of John, which is one of my faves, is from Yoko's exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, which also took place around the same time.) I wish more color footage from the party existed!

The original idea of establishing Apple Corp was to spend money by investing in music-related ventures, in essence obtaining tax breaks and avoiding paying upwards of 3 million pounds in taxes. The spirit of the company, however, was to reflect the spirit of the age--music, films, avant-garde projects, electronics, publishing, etc. in a form of "western communism," as Lennon stated. They wanted to give artists a chance to be discovered without "crawling on their knees in some office" (yet again, a Lennon statement). A very noble intent--but soon the boutique and other divisions of the company were draining funds like a sieve. For an in depth look at the workings of Apple, two books are highly recommended: Apple to the Core by Peter McCabe and Robert D. Schonfeld, and one of my favorite Beatles-related books ever: The Longest Cocktail Party by Apple House-Hippie Richard Diello. The first scan is from Apple promotional poster designed by The Fool. (They also painted John's piano, a carriage for Julian, and George's fireplace. One of their finest works was for the cover of the Incredible String Band's 5000 Spirits, or Layers of the Onion.)

(Reference: The Beatles: 10 Years That Shook The World by the editors of Mojo, p. 280)