Thursday, January 29, 2009

Apple of My Eye, Continued

As requested, here are the scans of the other photos that accompanied the Eye magazine article, "101 Hours with John Lennon & Paul McCartney." Lillian Roxon's article covering the Lennon-McCartney May '68 visit to NY to promote Apple is quite interesting, especially her observations of Derek Taylor (an "air of ever-so-slightly-agitated elegance") and Mal Evans ("big, cuddly, cheerful, and sexy"). She's a bit critical of Taylor, and McCartney especially, characterizing him as a ham who would have thrown a tantrum if he was not the center of attention.

The touching part of the article follows the exploits of two obsessed fans, Julia and Anne, who hatched a wonderful scheme to meet their idols. Roxon writes:
Here was the one single thing they wanted and though about, in person, living, breathing, skipping even, a few feet away, bright with color, just like his pictures off for a walk in the park with his three friends (John, Neil and Magic Alex) not at all displeased to see two admirers, glad enough for a little company, and all Julia and Anne could do was stand there. "Oh, Paul," said Julia, glad she had finally thought of a phrase to fit the occasion, "sock it to me." Walking along beside him, along 73rd Street, she confided she was going to England to talk to him. He frowned, shattering a million dreams. "That's not a wise move," he said. "I won't have time for you. If you want to talk, talk now." Julia remained silent. "Talk!" yelled Paul. John was much kinder to Anne. "I am going to live on your lawn," she told him. "You'll have to move when the gardener comes," said John with characteristic Lennon logic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Apple of My Eye

A post of lovely John images for your viewing pleasure...

The first photo is a personal scan of the September 1968 issue of Eye magazine. I had wanted this magazine for a long time, and I finally obtained a copy, buried amongst a large lot of Beatles clippings. It isn't in the best shape, but it's better than nothing. There are some other good pictures of both John and Paul accompanying the article inside. I do believe that Linda McCartney took that cover photograph; it is very similar to the one of John in the Wingspan book.

The other photos of John in the basement flat he and Yoko were sharing appeared two months later in the November 23, 1968, issue of Rolling Stone. These shots were taken by Ethan Russell (who later photographed the Get Back sessions) to accompany a thoughtful interview conducted by Jonathan Cott. Cott gives Lennon the opportunity to discuss the creation of some of the Beatles' most revered songs, as well as his political views. He prefaces the interview with a summation of Lennon's mood:
Any suspicions that John would be ornery, mean, cruel, or brutish - feelings attributed to him and imagined by press reports and various paranoiac personalities - never arose even for the purpose of being pressed down.
When reflecting on his impression of Lennon, Cott quotes Gasset: "Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"Guitar Groups Are On Their Way Out, Mr. Epstein"

Presented here are my own scans of the famous Albert Marion photographs, the first official ones of the Beatles, taken on December 17, 1961. (The Savage Young Beatles site also hosts these photos from their own scans--the link is on the right.) The last photo is a scan of an 8X10 signed by Pete Best when I met him in 2002.

Although Marion was already a respected photographer at the time, Brian Epstein had a connection with him because Marion was the photographer at his brother Clive's wedding. Against his business partner's wishes, Marion agreed to a session with this leather-clad, scruffy lot. As Marion reflected on the session, he remembered how John and Paul would often laugh and joke, messing up photos in the process. John got on his nerves the most by calling him "Curly," a reference to his male-pattern baldness! Unfortunately, Marion only preserved 16 negatives out of the 30 or so photos that were taken that day.

As I write this entry, I am listening to the Beatles' audition for Decca records, recorded January 1, 1962. I can imagine how excited the boys were, being afforded this remarkable opportunity by a major record label. Epstein was thrilled with the prospect--he had wined and dined Decca's head A&R man, Mike Smith, and had also taken him to a Beatles' gig at the Cavern. Smith was duly impressed and arranged the audition for 11 AM New Year's Day. The session did not get off to a good start, however. Eppy was furious because Smith was late, and when he arrived, Smith informed the group that they could not use their own amplifiers. When the recording began, the Beatles appeared to get nervous, as evidenced in their performance. Still, it is enjoyable, and after a few songs, they become more relaxed and confident. They persisted through 15 songs.

  1. Like Dreamers Do
  2. Money
  3. 'Till There Was You
  4. The Sheik of Araby
  5. To Know Her is to Love Her
  6. Take Good Care of My Baby
  7. Memphis
  8. Sure to Fall (In Love with You)
  9. Hello Little Girl
  10. Three Cool Cats
  11. Crying, Waiting, Hoping
  12. Love of the Loved
  13. September in the Rain
  14. Besame Mucho
  15. Searchin'
Gareth Pawlowski, in his excellent How They Became The Beatles, reports that Eppy and John had a row when Eppy criticized his vocal performance, but soon patched things up. After hearing the playback, all parties were confident they would be signed to Decca. Even Mike Smith seemed assured. Thankfully, this was not to be. (The reason I say "thankfully" is because--could you imagine the Beatles without George Martin and EMI?) After some weeks, Epstein was famously told by Decca A&R manager Dick Rowe that "groups with guitars are on their way out," and the Beatles would not be signed to Decca.

Some controversy about this rejection persists. Apparently, the Beatles were not rejected on the basis of poor performance. Mike Smith had also auditioned Brian Poole and the Tremeloes on New Year's Day. Smith was told by Rowe that he could only sign one group, and since the Tremeloes were London-based, Decca would not have to be inconvenienced by the Beatles, a group located 200 miles away in Liverpool.

As fate would have it, George Harrison himself later recommended the Rolling Stones to Dick Rowe, and soon thereafter, Rowe offered a contract to them!

For more on the early days of the Beatles, please pick up Gareth Pawlowski's How They Became The Beatles: A Definitive History of the Early Years 1960 - 1964. The pictures within are priceless. Also, go to your nearest bookstore and request a copy of the new edition of John C. Winn's Way Beyond Compare, now published by Three Rivers Press!