Monday, June 23, 2008

Mad Day Out

By 1968, the Beatles' overall appearance had changed significantly from the "Mop Tops" of '63. Even the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper finery was of the past as well. However, due to the lack of public appearances by the Beatles, the press had no current images and thus relied on older photographs to illustrate articles or news items concerning the group. While in the middle of the tenuous "White Album" sessions, the Beatles decided to concoct a "Mad Day Out" about London, inviting several photographers to document their antics throughout the day. Paul's then-girlfriend Francie Schwartz chose the seven locations for the shoot (as well as Paul's lovely pink suit), which took place on July 28, 1968:

1. Thompson House (blue and foil background shots)
2. Mercury Theatre (photos with the parrot)
3. Highgate Cemetery
4. Old Street Underground Station (the mock fighting, falling, etc. location)
5. St. Pancreas Old Church and Gardens (the bench, flowers, fountain and fence shots)
6. Wapping Pier Head (at photographer Tom Murray's suggestion)/St Katherine's Dock (all the photos on the docks)
7. Paul's home at 7 Cavendish Avenue ( Paul's "bubble sunroom" with the pentagon, honeycomb- patterned glass)

The photos from the "Mad Day Out" are some of the most popular and widely circulating of the Beatles' career. Because they are so well-known, I haven't tried to document the session completely--I've only scanned some from the Beatles Monthly Book. As you may notice, the first section of photos I posted are actually screen captures. Apparently, someone was also preserving the day on film as well, and Paul is in possession of this film. When Paul's Wingspan documentary premiered, fans were treated to the first 12 second snippet of this film that was not previously known to exist. Then, when Paul toured the US in 2005, different parts of this home movie were featured in a pre-show documentary. When The Space Within US was released on DVD, thankfully the pre-show film was included in the special features. I wish more of the Mad Day Out footage would be released! It would have been perfect for the Anthology project. Wouldn't it be amazing to actually see the footage of the boys clowing around?

According to photographer Tom Murray, "The band were getting on really well that day. I know it's reported at the time that they weren't but all I saw was four boys having a great time."

You can see more photos from this session here: Mad Day Out

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ready Steady Go!

We're starting the weekend a little early, as it's only a Wednesday night...

These screen captures were taken from the Beatles' three appearances on Britain's brilliant mod pop, fave rave television showcase, Ready Steady Go! Hosted by Keith Fordyce and popular teenage hostess Cathy MacGowan, this Friday night live show originally aired on ITV and ran from August of 1963 through December of 1966. At the very height of its popularity, the show was inexplicably canceled. Over those three years, a virtual who's who of pop music made appearances, including the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, the Who, Donovan, Small Faces, Them, and Jimi Hendrix. The series is now owned by Dave Clark (yes, that Dave Clark) who has released some of them on VHS (including an all-Beatles edition), but so far, none have been released on DVD. There is a Japanese laser disc entiled Ready Steady Go! Special Edition, which included more footage of the Beatles' shows, hence the Japanese characters on the screen in some of the above captures.

The first set of captures are from the Beatles' first appearance, filmed live on Oct. 4, 1963. The lovely Dusty Springfield was the co-host this evening, asking the Beatles various questions throughout the show. As usual John takes the line of questioning a bit too far, and Dusty has to quickly end the interview! The Beatles mimed to "Twist and Shout," "I'll Get You," and "She Loves You." Paul also judges a miming contest, awarding first prize to Melanie Coe, the young girl whose running away from home would would later inspire Paul to write "She's Leaving Home." Paul admits to Dusty that he does sleep with his eyes open--at least that's what the others have told him! George talks with Dusty about the new Rickenbacker 425 he's sporting--the guitar he bought while visiting his sister Louise in Illinois. This is one of the rare times he uses that particular guitar.

The Beatles' second appearance , aired live on March 20, 1964, featured them miming to "It Won't Be Long," "You Can't Do That," and "Can't Buy Me Love." The set is covered in Beatles-related artwork created and sent in by fans to be judged by the RSG! staff. As "This Boy" plays, the Beatles walk around and pretty much vandalize as many of the pictures as they can. John is in rare form this evening! He's hilarious throughout the show, especially when Fordyce interviews him about In His Own Write and when introducing Alma Cogan's "Tennessee Waltz." He refers to her as "Alma Warren" I believe, and she ends up hitting him over the head with a cue card! Since they were such good friends, it's particularly funny. (John has his arm around her shoulders in one of the above captures.)

The final Beatles' appearance on RSG! was filmed on Nov. 23, 1964, but aired on the 27th. The guys crack up frequently during this appearance. By this point, it seems they are already a bit weary of the fame and the inane questioning. The crowd screams throughout the show. John makes an interesting prediction when questioned about the Mersey Sound; he thinks that US groups will once again be on top, which does seem to happen, considering the emergence of the Byrds and other West Coast groups. The Beatles mime along to "I Feel Fine," "She's a Woman," "Baby's in Black," and "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey!"

As usual, you may click on the pictures to enlarge them.