RIP Geoff Emerick 12/05/1945 – 10/02/2018

If George Martin was a wizard (and he was), Geoff Emerick was his familiar.

From Wikipedia:

Geoffrey E. Emerick was an English audio engineer who worked with the Beatles on their albums Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and Abbey Road (1969). Producer George Martin credited him with bringing “a new kind of mind to the recordings, always suggesting sonic ideas, different kinds of reverb, what we could do with the voices”.

Emerick also engineered the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle (1968), Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run (1973), and Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom (1982). He won four Grammy Awards for his work in the music recording field. His 2006 memoir Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Beatles caused controversy for its factual errors.

Early career at EMI

Geoff Emerick was brought up in Crouch End, London, and educated at Crouch End secondary modern school, where one of his teachers heard about a job at EMI and suggested he apply. At age 15, he was employed as assistant engineer. The fifth of June 1962 was his first day at work, and on the following day the Beatles came to Studio 2 at Abbey Road for their first recording session for EMI. To familiarise Emerick with his work, he was placed under the supervision of another assistant engineer, Richard Langham, assistant engineer to Norman Smith, who would be doing the first recording session of the Beatles in the evening. As a new recruit, Emerick was not entitled to get over-time pay, but was lucky enough to witness this first-ever EMI recording session by the finalised line-up of the Beatles in 1962, during which the group recorded for the first time with new drummer Ringo Starr on what would eventually become their debut hit single, “Love Me Do”.

 

Working with the Beatles and others

beatles-studio

As assistant engineer, Emerick worked on several early recordings by the Beatles, including “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. From early in 1964, his involvement with the band was limited due to his training program at EMI, as he progressed to lacquer cutter, mastering engineer and then balance (or recording) engineer. During that time, he helped record other artists for the label, including Judy Garland, and assisted at the EMI artist test of the Hollies. After working his way up to the recording engineer’s position, Emerick engineered the 1966 Manfred Mann single “Pretty Flamingo”, which became a number 1 hit in the UK.

In April 1966 at the age of 20, Emerick took over as the Beatles’ recording engineer, at the request of producer George Martin, when Smith became a producer. Emerick’s first album in this new role was Revolver, starting with the sessions for “Tomorrow Never Knows”. It was Emerick’s suggestion to record John Lennon’s vocal through a Leslie speaker on the song, to capture the ethereal sound Lennon wanted, and to close-mic Starr’s drums, formerly a prohibited practice at EMI Studios. In 1967, Emerick engineered “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”, one of the most musically complex songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Lennon told Martin he wanted to re-create the “carnival atmosphere” of the Pablo Fanque circus poster that inspired the song. For the middle eight bars, Emerick spliced together multiple recordings of fairground organs and calliope in an attempt to create the effect; after a great deal of unsuccessful experimentation, Martin instructed Emerick to chop the tape into pieces with scissors, throw them up in the air, and re-assemble them at random. Later in 1967, he engineered the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle and Tomorrow’s self-titled debut album.

Emerick abandoned work on The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”) on 16 July 1968, fed up with the intra-band tensions and arguments that hampered the sessions. Emerick also objected to Chris Thomas, Martin’s inexperienced assistant, being elevated to the role of producer in Martin’s absence, with the band’s acceptance. He returned to work with the Beatles on Abbey Road. Emerick received Grammy Awards for the engineering of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.

Despite his departure from the White Album sessions, Emerick remained on good terms with the Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, who invited Emerick to quit EMI and come and work for their company Apple Corps in 1969. In addition to engineering duties, Emerick oversaw the building of the Beatles’ Apple Studio in the Apple Corps building.

After the Beatles

Following the Beatles’ break-up in 1970, Emerick continued to work with McCartney. He served as recording engineer on McCartney albums such as Band on the Run (1973), which netted Emerick another Grammy, London Town (1978), Tug of War (1982) and Flaming Pie (1997). Emerick later said that he had always been perceived by the other ex-Beatles as “Paul’s guy”. As a result, for their solo recordings, Lennon and George Harrison chose to work instead with Phil McDonald, another former EMI engineer.

Emerick was the sound engineer on Robin Trower’s 1974 album Bridge of Sighs, and was credited by both Trower and producer Matthew Fisher for that album’s sound. He also recorded some of the backing tracks for the debut album by Stealers Wheel, The Psychomodo, but resigned early on in the process, handing over to Apple recording engineer John Mills to continue working with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Stealers Wheel album featured “Stuck in the Middle with You” and went on to receive the Dutch Edison Award.

Following the success of EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation in 1983, Emerick prepared an album of the Beatles’ studio outtakes, to be titled Sessions, for release. The former Beatles initiated legal proceedings to prevent EMI from issuing the album, saying that the work was substandard; when made available on bootleg compilations, his mixes and editing of some of the tracks were widely criticised by collectors. In the mid 1990s, these recordings were used for the Beatles Anthology CD releases.

Emerick also worked on albums by Elvis Costello (for whom he produced Imperial Bedroom and All This Useless Beauty), Badfinger, Art Garfunkel, America, Jeff Beck, Gino Vannelli, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Chris Bell, Split Enz, Trevor Rabin, Nick Heyward, Big Country, Gentle Giant, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ultravox. His other recording projects included Matthew Fisher’s first solo album, Journey’s End; Kate Bush’s demo tape to EMI, which landed her a record deal; and Nellie McKay’s critically acclaimed 2004 debut CD Get Away from Me. In 2003, he received his fourth Grammy, a Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award.

In 2007, Emerick produced a re-recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in honor of the album’s 40th anniversary. It included performances by contemporary artists such as Oasis, the Killers, Travis and Razorlight. Emerick used the original equipment to record the new versions of the songs, and the results were broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on 2 June that year.

From 1984, Emerick resided in Los Angeles.

Here, There, and Everywhere

In 2006, Emerick released his memoir, Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, co-authored by music journalist Howard Massey. The book caused controversy for its factual errors, and for its allegedly unfavorable portrayal of Harrison, bias towards McCartney and belittling and dismissal of Harrison and Starr’s contributions. According to Beatles biographer Robert Rodriguez, Emerick’s recurring theme that Harrison lacked prowess as a guitar player until the late 1960s is more reflective of Emerick’s personality, and is countered by several other sources, and some of his descriptions of the Beatles’ recordings are negated by the availability of bootleg compilations of the band’s multitrack masters.

Beatles historian Erin Torkelson Weber said that, apart from Lennon’s account in Lennon Remembers, the book also presents arguably the most negative depiction of Martin as a record producer. The publication led to an Internet flame war, as former Beatles engineer Ken Scott challenged the accuracy of Emerick’s recollections and stated that, before writing the book, Emerick had contacted him and other EMI technical staff saying he had limited memory of the events. Scott’s 2012 autobiography, From Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, sought to correct Emerick’s statements in Here, There, and Everywhere, especially with regard to Harrison’s musicianship and character.

Death

Emerick died from a heart attack on 2 October 2018, aged 72. He had been hospitalized two weeks beforehand after experiencing trouble walking, but was ruled to have been dehydrated. His manager, William Zabaleta, recalled talking to Emerick for the last time: “While on the phone, he had complications and dropped the phone. I called 911, but by the time they got there, it was too late. Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time and had a pacemaker. When it’s your time it’s your time. We lost a legend and a best friend to me and a mentor.”

Paul McCartney commented on social media: “He was smart, fun-loving, and the genius behind many of the great sounds on our records. I’m shocked and saddened to have lost such a special friend.”

***

geoff_emerick

As buried in the article, he produced my beloved Badfinger (the No More album). The list of McCartney albums is not complete (Run Devil Run), but you get the idea.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

For everything.

Literally, everything.

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

 

 

 

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Ringo Starr coming to St. Louis!

The 2018 All Starr Band includes Colin Hay (of Man at Work – “Who Can It be Now”, “Land Down Under”), Steve Lukather (Toto – “Africa”, “Hold The Line”, “Roseanna”), Gregg Rolie (of Santanna and Journey – “Black Magic Woman”, “Evil Ways”) and new member Graham Gouldman (of 10cc – “I’m Not In Love”, “Things We Do For Love”).  On percussion and sax is Warren Ham (toured with Kansas and Toto) and on drums Gregg Bissonette (who played with Santanna and David Lee Roth).

Sir Ringo is scheduled for the Fabulous Fox Theater on September 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM.

I saw Ringo and his All-Stars twice. Once in the original run in Chicago (with Billy Preston, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Clarence Clemons and Rick Danko and Levon Helm (of the Band) and in St. Louis at the VP Faire (with Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Randy Bachmann, Mark Farner (of Grand Funk Railroad), John Entwistle of the Who, etc.

Ringo always puts in a fun show – peppered with his hits and a few newer tunes. He plays drums while the other All-Stars go through their hits. I can almost guarantee the songs listed above will be performed. The All-Stars usually do two or three of “their” hits. A splendid time is … (STOP!) okay okay…

Two highlights I remember – Dr. John taking a verse during “The Weight” and watching a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders singing “Yellow Submarine” while under the St. Louis Arch.

I would like to see Ringo again, but as of now (April) with family and work commitments I may not have the time.

Perhaps someone else going can convince me. It won’t take much …

See you there?

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

 

 

Shout Sister Shout: Rosetta Tharpe and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Sometimes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets it right! Congratulations to them for inducting Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Who!?

Oh, I have loved her work for many years. She did not win on the fan ballot – in fact she came in nearly dead last.  But she was inducted anyway under the “influences” category.

And rightly so.

From Wikipedia:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe; Birth name: Rosetta Nubin, or Rosether Atkins

Born: March 20, 1915, Cotton Plant, Arkansas, US

Died: October 9, 1973 (aged 58), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. As a pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s; in particular a European tour with Muddy Waters in 1963 with a stop in Manchester is cited by prominent British guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards.

Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her music of “light” in the “darkness” of nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, Tharpe pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel, beginning in 1938 with the recording “Rock Me” and with her 1939 hit “This Train”.  Her unique music left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the pop world, she never left gospel music.

Tharpe’s 1944 release “Down by the Riverside” was selected for the National Recording Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress in 2004, which noted that it “captures her spirited guitar playing and unique vocal style, demonstrating clearly her influence on early rhythm-and-blues performers” and cited her influence on “many gospel, jazz, and rock artists”. (“Down by the Riverside” was recorded by Tharpe on December 2, 1948, in New York City, and issued as Decca single 48106. Her 1945 hit “Strange Things Happening Every Day”, recorded in late 1944, featured Tharpe’s vocals and electric guitar, with Sammy Price (piano), bass and drums. It was the first gospel record to cross over, hitting no. 2 on the Billboard “race records” chart, the term then used for what later became the R&B chart, in April 1945. The recording has been cited as precursor of rock and roll. …

Musically, Tharpe’s unique guitar style blended melody-driven urban blues with traditional folk arrangements and incorporated a pulsating swing sound that is one of the first clear precursors of rock and roll.

Little Richard referred to the stomping, shouting, gospel music performer as his favorite singer when he was a child. In 1947, she heard Richard sing before her concert at the Macon City Auditorium and later invited him on stage to sing with her; it was Richard’s first public performance outside of the church. Following the show, she paid him for his performance, which inspired him to become a performer. When Johnny Cash gave his induction speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, he referred to Tharpe as his favorite singer when he was a child. His daughter Rosanne Cash stated in an interview with Larry King that Tharpe was her father’s favorite singer. Tharpe began recording with electric guitar in the 1940s, with “That’s All”, which has been cited as an influence on Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Other musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Isaac Hayes, have identified her singing, guitar playing, and showmanship as an important influence on them. She was held in particularly high esteem by UK jazz/blues singer George Melly. Tina Turner credits Tharpe, along with Mahalia Jackson, as an early musical influence. Such diverse performers as Meat Loaf, Neil Sedaka and Karen Carpenter have attested to the influence of Tharpe in the rhythmic energy she emanated in her performances (Carpenter’s drum fills are especially reminiscent of Tharpe’s “Chorlton Chug”). Later artists, such as Sean Michel, have credited her influence with the performance of gospel songs in more secular venues.

***

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnAQATKRBN0

Tharpe.2

She should have been inducted thirty years ago…

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Sir Ringo: Early 2018, I’m (still) the Greatest!

Ringo Starr is now officially Sir Richard Starkey.

March 20, 2018:

Less than three months after the honor was announced, the Beatles drummer received his knighthood from Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, at a ceremony earlier today at Buckingham Palace.

“I’ll be wearing it at breakfast,” Starr told the BBC about the medal he was given. And even with all the money and fame he’s achieved in his career, he said that formal acknowledgment from the royal family “means a lot, actually. It means recognition for the things we’ve done, musically and in life. So I was really pleased to accept this award.” He added that it was “way up there” with all the other awards he’s received over the decades.

Starr said that he and Paul McCartney had dinner in Los Angeles together, where McCartney, who was knighted in 1997, gave his former bandmate a bit of advice on getting through the ceremony: “He said, ‘Keep smiling.'”

***

… and smile he did!

Ringo knighted 2

Originally published at http://ultimateclassicrock.com/ringo-starr-knighted/ Thank you for allowing me to republish it on this blog.

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Lovely to See You Again My Friends … the Moody Blues in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This is old news, I know.

It took me nearly as long to write about the Moody Blues being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as it took the Moody Blues to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I have been a fan of the Moody Blues nearly as long as I have been a fan of the Beatles. The Fab Four were inducted in the Hall’s third year – it was never a snub considering that the inductees of the prior two years were inspirations even to THEM!), but it has taken many years for the Moody Blues – who in 2018 were first-time nominees despite qualifying for membership since the RRHoF’s inception.

From http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-inducted-rock-roll-hall-fame-2018/

Dec. 13, 2017—The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this morning that rock legends The Moody Blues will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.  Current members Justin Hayward (lead guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals) and Graeme Edge (drums); will receive the honor alongside former members Ray Thomas (flute/vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboard/mellotron/vocals).  …

The 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Induction Ceremony will be televised on HBO, and a radio broadcast on SiriusXM.

Says Justin Hayward: “I’m extremely grateful to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, first for creating the supreme temple to all that has brought endless joy into my life since I was a small boy, and now, after all these years, for including us.  It’s a privilege to be celebrated in the same building, on the same street even, as my own heroes – Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers – and now, at last, with us, my heroine Nina Simone.  But all the thanks must go to The Moody Blues fans for giving us a wonderful, wonderful life in music – our induction has now validated the music they so love, and I’m so, so pleased, for us all. Yippee!”

Says John Lodge: “The fans are the heart of the Moody Blues — their faith, support and love have moved mountains. Their voices have been heard, and I am proud to say, “we have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”  Thank you to American Radio for keeping the faith in the Moody Blues, and to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for our induction.”

Says Graeme Edge: “I want to thank all of my peers who bestowed the honor of voting us in.  Most of all, I’d like to thank all of our fans who have supported us over the years, and have steadfastly stood by us.  I would also like to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame foundation for putting a cap on my career; one that continues to astonish me with its gifts.

Moodies now

***

Sadly, Ray Thomas died on January 4, 2018 and had retired from the band many years before.

***

The RRHoF faces is usual, albeit justified, criticism when the Moodies were nominated: why it routinely ignores certain genres of rock music, particularly progressive rock. Here’s a great article:

https://www.loudersound.com/features/yes-nomination-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-hates-prog

“You could ask whether it really matters. After all, musicians regularly try to convince us that awards aren’t important to them – usually right up until the moment they’re given one. Well, it matters to us as fans, because it seems to reflect the fact that prog as a genre still seems to be unjustly overlooked in the eyes of the mainstream.

A few more nods of respect towards this neglected wing of the art form from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might go some way towards rectifying that.”

***

And it’s not just the Prog Rock problem: I make my annual joke on Facebook and Twitter when the nominees are announced: “I am once again snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Why haven’t I been nominated? I’ve made as many rock and roll records as (Madonna, Abba, Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, you pick…).

But let’s enjoy the honor for our beloved Moodies – and if you are a fan of the Cars and Bon Jovi you should be just as proud and congratulations to your favorite band!

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Beatlemania, American Style! “8 Days a Week” review part two!

A review of Eight Days a Week; the Touring Years

A film by Ron Howard

Part Two: 1964 Mania, American Style

 

Read Part one here.

 

“Eight Days a Week” shows us (and proves to us) the hectic pace set by the Beatles from 1963 through 1966. During this time they toured constantly, stopping only to record singles and albums.

Other documentaries focus on the press constantly asking about their long hair (particularly in the US), but the most frequently asked questions (as shown in this film) were “How long do you think you will last?” and “What will you do when the bubble bursts?”

Because of the fear of the bubble bursting, the Beatles were not only put on a grueling tour schedule, but an equally grueling recording schedule –a new single every three months and a new album every six months. Milk it, baby, milk it!

November 22nd, 1963 was the day US President John F Kennedy was assassinated, but also the day the Beatles’ second album, “With the Beatles” was released. The movie shows each album and it’s time at #1 on the British charts. These are placed chronologically along with the performance clips.

A British radio reporter tells us about the Kennedy assassination and Paul tells us the bands reaction. None, well, not much. Diplomatically, he says they were too young to comprehend what had happened and they were too busy touring to let it really sink in.

At that point, touring America is discussed. Paul tells us they did not want to go to America until they had a #1 record. They did not want to go to America, flop, and then come home with their tails between their legs.

During clips of their shows in Paris, we learn “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was #1 in America. While the song plays in the soundtrack, we watch photos of the Fabs clowning around in their Paris hotel room.

There is much Beatle lore left out of this movie – its focus is on live performances and their records. The movies “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help” were shown in clips, but only as it related to their recording and performing schedules.

There is no mention of, for example, John’s two books, their personal lives (two were married and two had children during this period) or their introduction to marijuana and LSD.

If you blink you will miss the one shot of Jimmy Nichols with the band. When Ringo had tonsillitis, Jimmy Nichols replaced him in shows in Denmark and elsewhere.

Ringo was back by the time the Fabs toured Australia to young people in the grip of a Beatlemania perhaps even larger than the American version!

During this time they were guests (and sometimes hosts) in many television shows all through Europe. Although the movie uses some of the interviews from the various television programs, it does not use the performances. Perhaps because of copyright issues; but it cements that the heart of the movie is live performances, not studio performances.

So no television performances.

With one exception.

A documentary set during the time of Beatlemania can skip Stuart Sutcliff and Yoko Ono; a documentary focusing on live performances can skip Lennon’s books of poetry and Jane Asher; but no Beatle documentary – even ones that are not Ameri-centric – can skip “the Ed Sullivan Show”.

The viewership was mentioned (half of the population of the United States watched) and bits of trivia (no reported crime in New York that evening), but the film focused on the performance itself rather than its impact.

That being said, the film does a fine job showing America in the total grip of Beatlemania with shots of fans at airports and hotels with newsreels and at-the-time interviews with the Fabs and the fans.

I finally have a complaint about the film: the first US press conference as well as footage of the Washington DC concert were colorized. Poorly so. Why? Why didn’t you colorize “Ed Sullivan” and “Hard Day’s Night”, too? Showing black-and-white footage won’t befuddle us or lose our attention. Treat us like adults, please? Ron Howard, you of all people should know … why don’t you colorize the black-and-white episodes of a certain show set in Mayberry, instead? Because you don’t have to. They are both fine as is. Leave them alone.

The only other complaint of the film? Another point that shows the producers do not have much faith in their viewers: unnecessary false audio. Documentaries showing silent films (particularly World War I docs) are bad about this too. In “8 Days a Week” it shows home movies of the Beatles swimming in a pool. We hear a “splash” at the appropriate time, but no other ambient noise. At other times the fans’ individual screams are dubbed in. At one point a girl screams Ringo’s name. It’s easy to lip-read. Yet the film-makers dub a youngster shouting “Ringo” 52 years after that clip was made. At no point while watching clips of girls screaming during Beatle concerts did I ever say, “What did she say? What’s wrong with the sound?” Again, please treat us like adults.

So, “Ed Sullivan” aside, no TV shows. During the US publicity tour, the film interludes with a brief biography of Brian Epstein and how he met the Beatles and became their manager. Bare bones – a youngster asked for a copy of their record in Eppy’s record shop, his curiosity made him seek the band out. He signed them on as clients. Back to the tour …

The Fabs move to Washington DC and then Miami (no concert footage) and back to the UK to film “A Hard Day’s Night”.

A little time is spent showing clips and some background on the film, but then back to the music and the grinding tour schedule; including an August tour of the US.

Which is a pity: Lennon didn’t like the film in retrospect. After two days following the band, the writers developed personalities for the Fabs that are still unshakeable – the smart one, the cute one, the quiet one, the lovable one.

However, one of the best lines from “A Hard Day’s Night” captures the essence of the Beatles on tour. “… so far I’ve been in a train and a room, a car and a room, and a room and a room,” says Paul’s film-grandfather. They should have used that – sums up their touring schedule perfectly!

Something I have not heard mentioned in Beatle movies or documentaries: the controversy over segregating the Gator Bowl! There were plenty of clips of the Fabs at the time decrying segregation – “Why treat other people like animals?” “We refuse to play a segregated hall”. How much controversy did this cause in the summer of 1964? The kerfuffle over Lennon’s Jesus quip in 1966 is brought up in nearly every documentary (this one, too), but surely bigots protested their comments on segregation, too!

And the movie probably gives the Fabs a bit too much credit on this point. The Gator Bowl may have been desegregated during their show, but afterward…? And segregation certainly did not end in the south due to their American Tour of 1964; more hearty seed had already been planted and would take root in the years to come.

Moving on to 1965 next time …

***

            Corporate shill department: I published a fictional account of John F Kennedy meeting the Beatles, titled, appropriately enough, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it!

Original Material copyright 2016 Michael Curry

The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles – the Story Behind the Short Story

Announcing my first frenetic foray into fiction

I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid in grade school. I love writing as much as I love reading but getting my stories published has always been frustrating.

Alas, I am writing in an age where fewer and fewer publishers are … publishing.  Were that this be the early twentieth century when newsstands were lined with magazine after magazine filled with fiction of every genre in all their pulpy goodness!

Those days are gone, but now cyberspace has replaced the old newsstand. You can still read stories of any genre and of any length online.

I have published three books online with some success. Regular readers know the titles by heart as I hype them with the frequency of a carnival barker: Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption, Toddler TV and The Brave & the Bold: from Silent Knight to Dark Knight. All non-fiction.

I have not published any fiction – novels, novelettes or short stories.  Until now!

(trumpet fanfare)

JFK Beatles moptops'

“The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” is a short story (just over 5000 words) available through Amazon.

Wait, you say, John F Kennedy never met the Beatles. True.

All fiction starts with “What if…?”  What if elves and dragons were real? What if man could sail among the stars? What if vampires and zombies roamed the earth? What if three penniless sisters move to Kent, England during the Regency Period and experience love, romance, sense and …

What if Kennedy had lived? Either by surviving the assassination or by it not having occurred at all? What if he lived to see Beatlemania invade American shores? What if he asked them to perform at the White House?

Why would he ask them? Would the Beatles and their management agree? Would they say, “Stuff it”?

 

As a history buff, my recycling bin is filled with issues of History Channel Magazine (now defunct), Colonial Williamsburg Magazine (name and format now changed), Smithsonian Magazine and Renaissance Magazine.

I wrote “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” as if it came from such a magazine. It is very fact-driven – even with faux-footnotes.  Remember the old writing trope “show don’t tell”?  This is filled to the brim with “tells”. Think of it as a piece of fiction that thinks it is a piece of non-fiction.

And I like it! But then I say that about everything I’ve written.

But it’s true – I do like this story! It’s the kind of piece I would enjoy reading. I loved doing the research on the Beatles’ history and melding them with a fictional history of Kennedy’s second term.

I’ve also included quotes from the involved parties. Sometimes it was hard getting the voice correct – but I think I succeeded. I am particularly pleased with the quotes from George Reedy (LBJ’s advisor) and the humor in the press conference (“Did you vote for Kennedy?” Lennon: “I didn’t even vote for the queen.”)

I hope you enjoy it. Look for it on Amazon. It is available for viewing on Kindle and only costs $0.99.  You can enjoy it at lunchtime, before bed, or as one of many stories you can enjoy during a lazy summer.

Kennedy meets the Beatles

Here is the link to the short story available through Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Day-John-Kennedy-Met-Beatles-ebook/dp/B01HQQ7F8K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467304185&sr=8-1&keywords=beatles+kennedy+curry#nav-subnav

More fiction to come!

 

Copyright 2016 Michael Curry