Sir Paul McCartney is currently worth 550 million, according to a new survey. Ex-Beatle Macca, who yesterday admitted he and model Heather Mills are an 'item', tops the Sunday Times Rich List. Sir Paul made around 50 million in 1999, making him the wealthiest figure in the music world. New British entries in the list include rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, on 30 million and James Palumbo, the head of Ministry Of Sound, with an astonishing 130 million.
dotmusic-the insider's guide to music http://www.dotmusic.com/news/March2000/news13292.asp
A 40-minute interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which has previously never been screened, is to feature in a forthcoming DVD release of the former Beatle's 'Imagine' project. The release, which is expected to appear in April, will primarily feature an extended version of the documentary 'Gimme Some Truth' screened by BBC2 last last month and incorporating studio footage of the 1971 'Imagine' album being recorded with artists such as George Harrison and Phil Spector. The DVD, which also has Yoko Ono as executive producer, also features an album discography section covering Lennon's solo soutput with a 30-second exerpt of a track from each album. The release, which has been put together at Abbey Road Interactive http://www.abbeyroad.co.uk, follows the reissue of the 'Imagine' single last December and the remastered album in February.
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Brian Wilson, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Foo Fighters are all rumoured to be appearing on a tribute album to Paul McCartney. The as yet untitled record is expected to be released in the Autumn, and includes 18 reworkings of Macca 'classics' from his post-Beatles career. Other bands and musicians rumoured to be appearing include Neil Finn, Ben Folds Five, Fountains of Wayne and They Might Be Giants. The most interesting contribution may come from XTC, who are said to be working on a version of 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey' with Monty Python's John Cleese.
dotmusic-the insider's guide to music
"THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC" the upcoming CD-only release by CHRIS pays tribute to the late great John Lennon. This MAXI-SINGLE/EP release is being produced by singer/songwriter/recording artist Johnny J. Blair (producer of former Monkee Davy Jones' "Just For The Record" series, and who's music has been critically endorsed by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys), and will contain many surprises that all Lennon/Beatle fans will enjoy! The CD will be available before December 8, 2000...which marks the 20th anniversary of Lennon's death.
Some John Lennon tributes were done in the form of covers and others written as dedications (i.e.: Elton John's "EMPTY GARDEN" and Queen's "LIFE IS REAL"), but CHRIS' dedication (written by CHRIS) takes a different approach in that it summarizes Lennon's life...similar to George Harrison's "ALL THOSE YEARS AGO." The song samples Procol Harem's "WHITER SHADE OF PALE" (the organ bit clearly defined from J.S. Bach's AIR ON THE G STRING) which was a favourite song of Lennon's. The story goes that when Lennon bought his psychadelic Rolls, he had a turntable installed and would play the song repeatedly. "THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC" also features many Beatle elements and Lennonisms that will take you back! Even though it has not been released, it has already received MUCH encouragement and/or support from people associated with THE BEATLES and from Beatle Fanzines/Web Sites worldwide! THIS IS A DEFINITE MUST FOR YOUR BEATLE COLLECTION!!!! Also featured on the disc is "ANGEL EYES," CHRIS' original tribute to a 16-year-old girl from Montoursville, PA who tragically lost her life in the TWA Flight 800 tragedy three summers ago, and a cross-over "country with a POP" song entitled "APPLE CIDER KISSES" (which was recently plugged on "COUNTRY" KC101.5 FM in Liberty, PA...in which CHRIS was a "featured" in-studio guest for the "Saturday Night Dance Party" with Joan McKenna back in September), plus various mixes.
This is a LIMITED EDITION release, and fans can reserve their copy NOW! Pre-orders are now being accepted at only $5.00 per CD maxi-single plus $2.50 U.S./Canada shipping only. As of January 1, 2000, the price per CD will be $8.00. For overseas orders, please add $5.50 to the CD cost. Personal checks, money orders or cashiers' checks only...NO CASH!!! Foreign orders please remit in U.S. dollars and make all checks/money orders out to PICK PRODUCTIONS and send to:
P.O. Box 152
Cogan Station, PA 17728-0152
P.S. Remember to spread the word, and "...the WORD is LOVE!" -John Lennon, 1965
"Thank You For The Music" the upcoming CD-only release by CHRIS pays tribute to the late great John Lennon. This limited edition release is being produced by singer/songwriter/recording artist Johnny J. Blair (Davy Jones' principal music collaborator) and will contain many surprises that all Lennon/Beatle fans will enjoy...reaching out to a new generation of Lennon/Beatle fans as well as the old. The single will be available just in time for the 20th anniversary of Lennon's death...December 8, 2000.
So, why John Lennon? According to CHRIS, "For almost four decades, John Lennon's music was and still is held in high esteem by many great musicians worldwide (from pop to classical)...especially by his number one fan and early songwriting partner Sir Paul McCartney. John was the PEOPLE'S MUSICIAN ...always emphasizing YOU and WE in his music...not singing for himself but singing for us! He was a missionary for peace and love and (like many great leaders before him...from Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King) was executed for his good actions." He, according to Blair, "has been cut as both a dysfunctional rich hippie disconnected from the real world AND as an untouchable proto-Christ, elevated beyond semblance to what he really was. I think of him as neither, and I won't have anything to do with either pole. Nostalgia goads me and veneration of pop stars turns me off. To me, Lennon was an ambitious, talented guy from a single-parent home in a backwater working-class city. He worked his way to the top, earning every dime. He demanded truth and wrote some uplifting songs that made the world a sunnier place. At one point, he challenged us...from his cultural perch, he challenged us to rethink attitudes about art and religeon. Beyond that, any estimation of his career leads to futile imaginations and a Frankenstinian remake---which Lennon would have despised." THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC is CHRIS' way of honoring and "giving thanks to the man who gave us dreams for a better future!" There's no better way to celebrate the Millenium than by remembering how we got here. For questions or info, contact:
P.O. Box 152
Cogan Station, PA
c. 1996 N.Y. Times News Service
Memo to beginning bands: Save everything. Every false start, every discarded arrangement, every bungled vocal. With luck, you can release them 30 years later and conquer the top 10 all over again.
The only other requirement is that the first time around, you have to revolutionize popular music.
The Beatles, who did that, are issuing their own shadow history, culled from their rejects. What were once collectors' esoterica are now mass-market bounty.
"The Beatles Anthology 1," from 1958 to 1964, has sold nearly 10 million copies worldwide since it was released in November. "The Beatles Anthology 2" (Apple/Capitol) arrives on Tuesday. It spans February 1965 to February 1968, the group's creative peak, when the Beatles transformed themselves from a gifted pop band into rock visionaries. A final volume, up to the band's breakup in 1970, is due later this year.
A new song, "Real Love," is already promoting the second volume. (The single also includes three songs not in the anthology.) "Real Love" is the second song for which Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr reunited to build a new arrangement around a fragile-sounding tape left by John Lennon.
It's an affectionate song; Lennon moves from minor keys and loneliness to a grateful chorus, and the surviving Beatles don't crowd him as they did on "Free as a Bird" from the first anthology. They pump up a modest tune to a hefty anthem. But in 1967-68, the arrangement would have been hallucinatory.
"The Beatles Anthology 2" crosses the great divide in the Beatles' career: from a performing band, on the first disk or cassette, to the studio recluses of the second.
The first half covers the Beatles' last year of touring, stopping just short of their final conventional concert on Aug. 29, 1966. Then, tired of screaming audiences and frantic tours, and already chafing at the limitations of what a four-man band could play, the Beatles found sanctuary in the recording studio.
Abetted by the first flowering of psychedelia, they experimented with arrangements and abstract sounds. They shifted from relatively straightforward love songs to the introspection of "Strawberry Fields" and "A Day in the Life"; at the same time, their music evolved from sonic realism to surrealism.
The 1965-66 selections draw on live takes from studio sessions and concerts, and most are inferior to the original releases, with draggy tempos and less poised vocals.
On the first recording of "Yesterday," McCartney sounds more diffident and less angelic than he did on the final version; Lennon is too morose to hit the high notes in "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," while the first take of "Norwegian Wood" lands hard on every downbeat.
The Beatles and their producer, George Martin, clearly worked to give the final versions their nonchalant touch. Still, the anthology has unearthed a fine song, formerly unreleased: the rowdy "If You've Got Trouble," a warning to a gold digger sung by Starr.
On a 1965 British television show that provided four songs for the anthology, Lennon introduced "Help!" as "our latest record, or our latest electronic noise"; he was predicting his own future.
Even before they retired from the stage, the Beatles had begun to fabricate studio illusions. The anthology includes a version of "I'm Looking Through You" that sounds like a surf band attacking a bossa nova group, and a swampy, droning "Tomorrow Never Knows" that's odder than the one on "Revolver."
There are also curiosities, like "Taxman" with backing vocals different from those on the released version, and a rendition of "And Your Bird Can Sing" in which Lennon and McCartney try to add vocal harmonies and can't stop giggling.
The anthology also includes the string-orchestra arrangements for "Eleanor Rigby" and "Within You Without You," perhaps for karaoke use.
On the second disk, the music shifts decisively away from real time; the 1960s originals were assembled from multiple takes and overdubs, so there are few finished outtakes.
For songs that were assembled in bits and pieces, Martin has assembled new patchworks from outtakes and master takes, usually stripping away the baroque density of the finished songs to reveal a live band at their core.
The anthology reveals the mechanisms of the songs. In demo tapes for "Strawberry Fields," Lennon tries various rhythms and strums (including an approach he would later use on "Julia"); the band joins him in a take that was only used for the first minute of the finished song.
"I Am the Walrus" appears as its basic band track, minus huffing cellos and Shakespearean dialogue. Without backup vocals, "Good Morning Good Morning" never reveals its title.
New mixes of "Penny Lane," "Lady Madonna" and "Hello, Goodbye" bring out formerly buried instruments. And a composite version of "A Day in the Life" uses takes in which Lennon sounds more earnest and McCartney more cutting, while the big orchestral crescendo stops short.
The Beatles were still a feisty live band, as proved by a near-punk take of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)." And the final song, "Across the Universe," provides a reserved and welcome alternative to the string-sodden rendition on "Let It Be."
Most of the anthology's versions shouldn't supplant the 1960s originals. The Beatles and Martin made the right choices back then. But many other bands would be happy to have ever made scraps like these.
By Steve Plesa
Orange County Register
So why does it take so long for the British to erect monuments to their famous sons and daughters? For one thing, the places where they did their sometimes dark and deadly business still stand as monuments themselves, such as the Tower of London, where people such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Anne Boleyn lost their heads. Here's another explanation from the "London Access Guide" regarding the time it took to erect a statue for Lord Nelson, hero of and martyred at the Battle of Trafalgar: "In a city where the sun is no incentive and the past is all-pervasive, there seems to be no need to rush things, and, by and large Londoners do not. Almost 40 years went by from the time of Nelson's funeral at St. Paul's in 1805 to the raising of his column in Trafalgar Square." At that rate, perhaps a modest 1-inch-scale woodcut of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road will be placed on some Soho sidewalk by the year 2060.
"Daylight movement `above ground' had to be nimble in the white heat of Beatlemania. Maureen Cleave gives a glorious insight into this in her London Evening Standard piece of March 4, 1966 ... when she describes being in Brian Epstein's office when `a rumour came through that a Beatle had been sighted walking down Oxford Street. He (John) brightened. "One of the others must be out," he said, as though speaking of an escaped bear."'
-From "The Beatles' London," By Piet Schreuders, Mark Lewishon and Adam Smith, St. Martins Press, $10.95
A really special place to see some interesting Beatle-bilia is in the world-famous British Museum in Bloomsbury, where, sitting in a quiet corner amid texts by Milton, Keats, the Duke of Wellington and Jane Austen, to name a few, is a brown case featuring original handwritten lyrics of a couple of Beatles songs, plus a few early pictures.
Most interesting is a prehistoric scrawled version of "In My Life," a song John Lennon wrote and later described as being one of his favorites. Indeed, it has a beautiful, loving melody, and its lyrics on love, devotion and images from the past are among the best in pop. But picture how many wedding organizers would drop this baby from their playlist if the following stanza had made the final version:
"Penny Lane is one I'm missing, Up Church and to the clock tower In the circle of the abbey I have seen some happy hours."
"The Beatles' London" is a terrific little tour book, but I have a couple of cautions. It's an exhaustively researched tome, and it can exhaust you to try to follow it to the letter. It's an excellent way to introduce yourself to central London, but bring a supplemental guidebook with maps so you can see other things along the way and get a clearer, more complete guide to the streets - you'll get lost or just plain won't find some places if you rely on the book alone. Also, the book lists 20 places it states you should be able to walk to in about five hours plus get something to eat. I'm a fast walker, and it took me a hard seven hours to visit 11 places. Wear comfortable shoes, and dress appropriately - you'll freeze if it's cold and wilt if it's hot. There are plenty of pubs to receive sustenance in along the way. A last note: The book rightfully points out that just about all the places you can visit in London have no connection with the Beatles any longer and are populated by people leading normal lives. Let them be.
Some Beatle-bilia places and tours:
-Vinyl Express and Soho Records (neighboring stores) have a fair selection of Beatle stuff, from original (so they claim) Dezo Hoffman photos of the lads to coffee trays, Yellow Submarine lunch boxes and Beatle poker-chip containers. The oddest and most interesting pieces are at Vinyl Express, which features 1-inch high hand-carved wooden depictions of the foursome in their Magical Mystery Tour period and their Sgt. Pepper period, and a really weird one of John Lennon all in white with a white piano in his "Imagine" period. Only problem is, he's lying on his back with his legs in the air. "Ima-gine John fell o-ver ..."
-The Stop Gap Shop in the St. John's Wood tube station sells T-shirts, coffee mugs and a very good booklet outlining the history of the Abbey Road studios and the St. John's Wood area.
-Tours: Walking tours of Beatle sites in London are offered by London Walks for about $10. Call 011-44-071-624-3978.
-Allan Kozinn, New York Times music writer and author of "The Beatles," (Phaidon Press, $1995) is hosting a "Get Back to Britain" tour of Liverpool and London, Aug. 19-27. Call (800) 223-0599.
By Greg Kot
Yoko Ono picks up the phone at her office in New York, and one expects to hear the familiar soft, almost childlike voice. But the hippest 62-year-old in the rock underground sounds a bit rough around the edges this particular morning.
"I was howling my guts out last night," she explains with a laugh. "Sean and the guys," she says, referring to rehearsals with her 20-year-old son Sean Ono Lennon and his rock trio IMA for their current tour, "they're pushing me all the time."
The feeling is probably mutual, as Ono has never been known to back off when her art is involved. IMA's energy and versatility give Ono freedom to roam on her shatteringly intense album, "Rising" (Capital). Released late last year, "Rising" brought Ono some of the most consistently positive reviews of her long, underappreciated and often widely misunderstood career.
"I was going to do this album with session guys, because I didn't want to mix business with family," she says. "But Sean kept insisting, `Don't worry, stick with us, everything will be great.' And I finally said, `OK, OK, we'll try.' As soon as we started playing together, it was more than good, it was really great. It was meant to be."
Ono has been releasing albums steadily for decades, but she acknowledges that many of her hired-gun backing musicians on the last couple "didn't have much feel for my music."
She speaks with pride about her son's varied vocabulary in the rock idiom - "Lennon (her late husband, Beatles founder John), the Doors, every word of Hendrix." And how about his mom's music? Ono says she was surprised years ago to stumble upon Sean listening to her solo albums, and at recent rehearsals, Ono would show up to find Sean leading the band and imitating her vocal parts with uncanny accuracy. No musical generation gap in this household, it seems.
"John was a bit construed as Establishment, but he was a rebel, really, and I was too," Ono says. "I think Sean relates to us because of that. There's no point rebelling against a rebel, so he's with us in that sense."
"Rising" is in many ways a validation of Ono's own rebel impulse, her oft-misunderstood merger of rock and the avant-garde. For 30 years, in the public eye she has been judged harshly as a dilettante and an opportunist. As she recalled in a previous interview, "We'd get mail from Beatles fans who would send us a huge photo of all of the Beatles standing beside a huge trash can, with an arrow pointing to it and saying, `Yoko and her albums."'
But with the release in 1992 of "Onobox" (Rykodisc), a six-CD career retrospective, Ono's work finally found its proper context - the present.
Works that sounded extreme, otherworldly and just plain weird for the early 1970s sounded at home in the '90s. Here were pop songs filled with whimsy, naive hope and melancholy; strident rock bristling with feminist rage; delicate ballads filled with yearning and devastation; and of course, boundary-shattering vocal shrieks and guitar blasts. In many ways, here was a blueprint for much of today's edgiest music, a debt in part repaid by "Rising Mixes" (Capitol), a new EP of Ono/IMA tracks reconfigured by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Tricky, Ween, Cibo Matto and the Beastie Boys' Adam "MCA" Yauch.
What these artists no doubt grasp about Ono's music is its emotional urgency, the way it seeks out emotional and stylistic chaos within the structure of rock music.
When it is suggested that the notion of risk defines her art, Ono agrees. "If you just stuck to something safe ... by the time something is safe, it's dead," she says. "Being alive is taking a risk, so in a sense none of us is free from the stuff in the world. It's up to us to make something of it."
Even by those standards, "Rising" is a voracious and ambitious album in the way it explores a vast range of music, from the folkish resolve of "Turned the Corner" to the thrash metal of "Warzone," from the wicked children's-book imagery of "Ask the Dragon" to the cathartic caterwaul of the 14-minute title track.
The genesis for the album came when playwright Ron Destro asked Ono to write songs for his play, "Hiroshima." Ono found herself immersed in childhood memories of surviving World War II in Tokyo, and she began connecting those feelings to today's urban environment. "... now I have many friends around me who are facing slow death from AIDS," Ono writes in the album's liner notes. "They are suffering low white blood cell counts exactly as the Hiroshima victims were. I am living amongst my suffering friends, listening to them talk about their fear of death, sometimes jokingly, and other times in anger. I live through their nightmares, not daring to voice my own."
Even at its most pop-friendly, the album refuses to soothe: The seductive melody of "Wouldnit" thinly veils a harrowing tale of domestic abuse, and the music of hope that ends the album, "Revelations," assumes the worst, its yearning for a better world tempered by its clear-eyed grasp of human nature. In the end, it suggests, all we have is the ability to forgive, accept and move on.
It was in that spirit that Ono enabled the reunion of the surviving Beatles, after years of acrimonious litigation and artistic differences had kept them apart. She provided Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr with three Lennon demo tapes to finish, for inclusion on "The Beatles Anthology" television special and a series of double-CD releases.
Ono's decision was controversial, mainly because Lennon had maintained until his death in 1980 that he considered a Beatles reunion a bad idea, a nostalgia exercise that would run counter to everything the band once stood for.
Two of the songs Ono pulled from her private archive - "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love" - have undergone major overhauls in the studio and were released as singles to promote the "Anthology" campaign in the last few months. Ono praises the surviving Beatles and producer Jeff Lynne for overcoming a number of technical obstacles in producing the tracks, though her feelings about the quality of the finished recordings are more circumspect.
"Let's just say I felt they did a pretty good job," she says. "I could nit-pick it - I'm a good one for that - but in the spirit of blessing it, I refuse to do so."
The same spirit, she says, allowed her to override her late husband's well-known feelings on the subject. "I found it counterproductive to fight the others," she says, referring to the three surviving Beatles. "I thought there were many strong reasons to do it, and that it was not something worth fighting over. Anytime artists make time to get together and create, I think, Why not? I'm an artist myself, and I realize what a hard game it is.
"To me, the world is divided into two industries, the war industry and the peace industry. The war industry is very much together, but the people in the peace industry seem to be always bickering with one another, criticizing one another. We're all very opinionated, you know, and meanwhile the guys on the other side are winning. I thought it was time we should come together. Any peace project is blessed, and this is one of those.
"I'm aware of how John felt, and I did what I did and I take full responsibility for it. Everyone is expecting perfection from this project, but nothing is perfect. I believe it is something positive, however, and I think the world could use a few more positive things."
by Robert Hilburn
Los Angeles Times
What's that old saying? Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice, shame on me.
Last year's 'Anthology 1' was a wonderful history lesson drawn from the Beatles' early days, but lots of fans soon discovered that it wasn't the kind of album you'd play over and over - not if you had the more satisfying original Beatles albums, or even 'greatest hits' packages.
Well, the word began filtering out of Apple that 'Anthology 2' was going to be different. The music this time was going to be great ... something that would stand up under repeated listening like (imagine!) an actual Beatles album.
It turns out, in fact, to be more table scraps - albeit a bit choicer scraps.
For anyone who wants to hear everything the Beatles did in the studio, these alternate and live versions of songs from 1965 to early 1968 are delightful - from the original demos of 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'The Fool on the Hill' to the horseplay of 'You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)' to the harmonic experimentation on 'Got to Get You Into My Life.'
Mostly, however, these tracks simply reaffirm that producer George Martin and the Beatles chose the right versions to put on the original albums. The two previously unreleased tracks are so marginal you won't be able to remember them. If this were a video, the advice to the average pop fan would be to rent, not buy. [Here's the main story that goes with the Beatlewalk briefs]
By Steve Plesa
Orange County Register
LONDON - Three things about people in London: They all have straight hair, they all smoke and they don't remember the Beatles.
I exaggerate - the Rastafarians have curly hair.
But in a city where plaques and statues and museums and tours commemorate everyone from George Eliot to Jack the Ripper, the four lads-who-wanted-desperately-to-get-the-heck-out-of-Liverpool qualify for not the slightest public memorial.
And that's where the fun begins.
"There aren't any Gracelands in England," a record-shop owner told me. What? No lines to stand in? No tickets to buy? T-shirts? Life-size cardboard cutouts to mug with? Not even a framed rendering on velour?
Nope. What's left of the legacy of pop culture's most profound and enduring symbols - not to forget that they made some of the best music of the last two centuries - is ghostly and fascinating.
A new book called "The Beatles' London" (St. Martin's Press, $10.95) provided me with an excellent start point and a wealth of facts - a guide to where the Beatles lived, worked and played in the city, and it is an invaluable tool for any Beatle fan - you also don't have to go to London to enjoy it.
But a trip there helps. As the book's authors put it, "It is worth remembering that, though the Beatles traversed the globe, they remained resiliently British ... they will always be associated with Liverpool, but their success called them to London, and that is where they stayed."
Another part of the book says that in fact, London was the real fifth Beatle. And you thought it was Tiny Tim all this time.
That was enough for me. Armed with the book, tips from friends, a "London Access" book and a pair of good shoes, I walked the streets of the city and soaked up enough Beatle history to last until the vaults open again and spill out more anthology material, as they will this month.
X X X
7-8 ARGYLL ST.
You pop out of the Oxford Street tube (subway) station and turn left, or west, and one of the first things you see is a sign with an arrow reading London Palladium. What better place to start a Beatle browse? Walk down the shop-lined brick courtyard to Argyll Street, which is a very narrow and, for the Beatles, historic strip of asphalt. It was at the Palladium, an unassuming playhouse that must have taken hours to fill given the complete lack of street space and parking (but hey - that pretty much describes London) where the Beat boys appeared on "Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium," broadcast live in October 1963 and making them almost instantly famous in Britain. I always put ol' Val Parnell right up there with Ed Sullivan.
X X X
5-6 ARGYLL ST.
An equally unassuming, in a chrome-and-glass-lobby sort of way, building next door to the Palladium. This is where Brian Epstein opened shop in 1964 on the fifth floor, perhaps banking on some of the good fortune that happened next door to rub off. It was in these offices that John Lennon told an interviewer that the Beatles were bigger than Christ, which, given the muted feel of the tiny street, probably seemed innocuous enough but which also produced an angry, record-burning backlash around the world. Oops!
X X X
9 KINGLY ST.
Ah, that rascal Paul. The Cute One seems to have been quite the man about town, as he is reported to have been something of a club-hopper. He hopped into the basement of a club on this even tinier street in 1967 to see a great band of the time, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, and met Linda Eastman, who up until that point had taken a lot of not-so-hot photos of rock stars and would go on to become Paul's wife and food-tester. All that's there now is a street that seems ... to ... be ... getting ... tinier and tinier ... and a blue door. The club was called the Bag o' Nails and was a popular hip spot in the late '60s that saw a lot of pop-star action. It's fun to imagine the boys sneaking in and out in the wee hours, under cover of ... tininess.
X X X
31 COVENTRY ST.
You have to force yourself into the cartoon madness of Picadilly Square to get to the next stop (after passing Carnaby Street, an utterly commercial, unhip letdown). Go past the Rock Circus, a Madame Tussaud spinoff that has an utterly garish and weird Beatles segment. The building has historical value, because it was the site of the world premieres of their four movies: "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" "Yellow Submarine" (they attended the first three; "Let it Be," the sad witness to their breakup, didn't attract a one of them, no surprise). But yes, push on, push on. You're still in the overblown, noisy, bloated-building nuttiness surrounded by cars and people spinning in all directions, when you come upon the Prince of Wales Theatre. It has a dignified, dirty, worn stateliness to it compared with its neighbors. And a wonderful memory deep within. It was here, in 1963, that the band performed before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, and before the final song, a raucous, bluesy "Twist and Shout," Lennon, ever loquacious, said: "For this number we'd like to ask your help. Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? All the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry." You can't help but smile as you stand on the street and look up at the place.
X X X
39 COVENTRY ST.
This is really memorable. This hotel, now called the Hospitality Inn, is where the Beatles came for a drink after their legendary performance at the Prince of Wales in front of royalty. The hotel was then called the Mapleton and the bar was then on the first floor. But go in to the bar, now on the ground floor - five seats at the bar, one for each of them and one for you. It's soooo quiet, compared with the noise outside. Think about what these four guys from nowhere must have talked about after the show ... "We played in front of the queen" ... "We're on our way" ... "John, you're a funny guy, but don't ever compare us to Jesus or anything in the future, OK? Promise?"
X X X
3 SAVILE ROW
Another eerie, misty silence greeted me as I stood across the street from this Beatles shrine. An occasional car passed, a child's laugh echoed in the cold distance. The chill wind fluttered around me. A fitting mood of hush and reverance for the former headquarters of Apple Corps.
The subtle, flat Georgian architectural style. The door (not the original, long since completely graffitied by fans and removed, reputedly to the Dakota in New York, where Yoko still lives).
This was where the Beatles gave their last public performance, on Jan. 30, 1969, filmed partly for "Let It Be." It was one of the few moments in that otherwise wistful, sad movie where they actually had fun together, playing with great enthusiasm and punch. Bewildered British businessmen wandered below, hearing the band pound out "Get Back" and wondering what was going on (the street is home to several sophisticated men's clothiers).
Look, here comes one now!
I asked the very steady, studied British businessman if he knew what had happened here in 1969.
"The Beatles played their last performance here. Up on the roof."
"The roof?" he asked. "Why?"
Welcome to London.
X X X
34 MONTAGUE SQUARE
From the sublime to the depressing. Ringo leased the ground floor and basement of this place on Montague Square. In the winter, it's a cold, dark, unkempt area - certainly not dangerous but definitely not interesting or lively, except for the Beatle angle. Ringo occasionally let this place out to others, among them Jimi Hendrix ("The Wind Cries Montague?") and John and Yoko. John, ever one to flirt with controversy, had the bare-naked shots from the "Two Virgins" album taken here with Yoko, and it was also here in October 1968 that he and his high-pitched mate were busted for marijuana. A really crummy, depressing place to get busted. After the yin of Apple, you need this yang. I asked a neighbor walking the street if he knew what had happened, etc. and you know the answer.
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3 ABBEY ROAD
The bulk of the music we know today was recorded here. You can't get in, so don't try. Read the scribblings from the fans on the white walls outside, walk the crosswalk (but be careful, for heaven's sake; it's a darn busy street and the British in their cars of course have no idea that you are making a pilgrimage because they have no idea what happened there). Just stand and let the music go through your head. It's a House of Genius.
"The Beatles' London" has an interesting take on the famous photo session that took place here in 1969. The photographer posed the boys in different ways, walking them in different formations across the street. The picture, while defining a cultural moment, is also interesting because as a band they were just about quits and you watch them striding so purposefully, so independently. So different from the jillions of photos from the past that always portrayed them as sort of four parts of a hairy molecule, always stuck together.
Wouldn't it have been fun if the alternate poses were more interactive, such as, "OK, this time, Paul, who is dead, is in front walking on his hands while Ringo, who would like to be dead because when the band breaks up he will have nothing to do, stands on Paul's feet. George and John will clutch arms and have canes and top hats and will execute a sideways vaudevillian exit behind Paul and Ringo. All will grin widely." By the by, look at this picture and realize that these guys are still all in their 20s.
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38-52 WOBURN PLACE
For me, one of the most interesting places on the tour. This is the site of the former Royal Hotel, where the Beatles stayed on one of their first and most important visits to London ever. The hotel is no longer a hotel, instead a sad, rundown, yellow-curtained old relic, soon to be torn down. The Beatles came here basically to rest up for an audition the following morning - Jan. 1, 1962, at Decca Records. Ringo wasn't in the band; the kit was helmed by Pete Best, who was noted for hammering out the same plodding surf-style beat on every song. The term Drab Four could apply to the Best era for some, and indeed it did to the folks at Decca, because, exercising foresight and sound business judgment, they proclaimed that guitar bands were dead, the demo stunk (in a way it did, but it's a crucial part of the archives) and they weren't interested in these kids. EMI Records was, Pete got the boot and the rest is history, except of course in London. Stand outside this touching, frail building and picture what it was like - how nervous they must have been, were they singing, practicing, could they sleep?
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62-72 RUSSELL SQUARE
The Beatles were photographed in the early '60s all over Russell Square - in the square itself standing on the fountain, in the middle of Montague Place, which almost became their first album cover, etc. The President is a fitting end to this humble tour. The Beatles lived here in summer 1963, doing their BBC shows, recording (the "She Loves You"/"I'll Get You" single and most of their second album, "With the Beatles," including "All My Loving," "All I've Got to Do," "It Won't Be Long," "Please Mister Postman" and "Little Child") and essentially waiting to explode and become more famous than anyone else in the world. In the '60s, the President was a first-rate modern hotel; today, even after refurbishing, it feels like a place that was a first-rate hotel in the '60s. Big, wide lobby and meeting rooms, bland piped-in music, lots of shiny oak and faux gold trim.
In the tiny bar, I asked the very young bartender if she knew who had stayed here in 1963. She didn't, of course, and I showed her the book and we talked a little about what it must have been like.
"You know," I said, full of my Beatles knowledge, "the first time they came to London they stayed in that dumpy old depressing Royal Hotel down the street."
"Thank you very much," she said in a taut Irish accent, "that's where I live."
"So what room did they stay in at the Royal?" she asked. Hmmm. Maybe you had to insult them to get them interested.
No matter that in the next breath she told me she was a big Garth Brooks fan and wanted to go to Nashville.
A fitting end to this tale. London shoulders on, grand and proud, living alongside its history. The Beatles may have changed lives all over the world in small and large ways, but they didn't change London. And that's the best part about trodding their back streets and thinking about their lives here. You've got it all to yourself. Yoko Ono Becomes Chess Team's Guardian Queen By Robert Polner Newsday
NEW YORK - Yoko Ono Thursday came to the rescue of a New York City high school chess team in distress, turning its desperation into a dream come true.
After reading about the students in a Newsday story, the widow of slain Beatles star John Lennon wrote out a personal check for $2,500 to the top-rated Edward R. Murrow High School team so it can participate in the state and national championship tournaments.
Her generosity means that the Brooklyn chess team will be able to pay the travel and tournament expenses after all.
The team members, national champs from 1992 to 1994, had given up hope of attending either tournament for lack of funds from the city's Board of Education.
Ono, an inveterate chess player, turned the team's blues into rock 'n' roll after reading about its financial woes in the newspaper.
'Yoko felt it funny, or ironical, that a school wouldn't have money for something as educational as chess,' said Sam Havattoy, the multimedia artist's assistant. 'It's ridiculous. That's the whole point. That's what moved her to respond.'
Ono, who has a new critically received album, 'Rising,' finds time to play chess virtually every day, Havattoy said, adding that it relaxes and exercises her mind.
'You know, she likes to say that chess is the one thing that can keep kids off drugs for sure,' Havattoy said. 'If you do drugs, you can't play, because you can't keep your concentration, and chess has a lot to do with concentration.'
A few weeks ago, after winning the New York City championship, the team was invited to meet Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Some of the teen-agers had hoped the meeting would reverse their fiscal fortunes woes, what with the state tournament scheduled to begin this weekend in White Plains and the national championship starting in April in Somerset, N.J.
A few students even made mention of the predicament. The team needed a total $3,000 to pay for the van, hotel, food and fees.
Reporters jotted notes that day. But no money would materialize, except a $500 donation from the teachers union and $150 in proceeds from the students' sales of candy and 'We're No. 1' stickers.
Early Thursday morning, Ono's office contacted Newsday. She wanted help in contacting the team. Within an hour, the check was written.
'I'm thrilled, overwhelmed,' said Eliot Weiss, Murrow High chess team adviser and math teacher.
His students expressed gratitude for their guardian angel.
'This is really nice,' said Grigoriy Brayloskiy, the 16-year-old team leader whose father was a school chess coach when the family lived in Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic.
Pausing, Brayloskiy added, 'You know, in the outside world, there is a stereotype that Americans are very greedy and only care about themselves. This really shows us that some Americans - New Yorkers too - do care about other people.'
LONDON, March 8 (Reuter) - Imagine this! The Beatles can't get airtime on the biggest pop music station in Britain.
"Real Love", the new single by the most famous group in pop history, has been omitted from the playlist at the BBC's Radio 1 station which is trying to attract more younger listeners.
Beatles fans are up in arms, accusing the station of being "ageist". Conservative member of parliament Harry Greenway plans to bring the issue up for debate in the House of Commons.
"This is a form of censorship, nothing less, and a stop should be put to it without delay," Greenway said.
A Radio 1 spokesman said the song was not chosen because it lacked merit. "It's not what our listeners want to hear," the spokesman said. "We are a contemporary music station."
The station is currently embroiled in a legal case with the group Status Quo, whose new single "Fun Fun Fun," recorded with the Beach Boys, was also banned from the Radio 1 playlist.
"The station is being ageist," Status Quo singer Francis Rossi said on Friday.
"Real Love" features all four original Beatles, with the three survivors singing over a tape made of the late John Lennon singing before his murder in 1980.
Another recording released last year with vocals by the dead Lennon, "Free as a Bird," climbed to number two in the charts. Radio 1 was the first station to premiere "Free as a Bird" which was accompanied by an album "Anthology".
A spokesman for the group said he feared that Real Love, already high in charts compiled by other radio stations, would be stopped from making further progress by the Radio 1 ban.
"It's ridiculous," the spokesman said. "It's not as if the Beatles don't appeal to Radio 1's younger audience - more than 40 percent of the people who bought the first Anthology album were teenagers."
LONDON March 8 (AP) - Is nothing sacred? BBC radio's rock music channel Radio One has refused to play the Beatles' latest record "Real Love" on air on grounds it lacks sufficient merit and appeal.
The record is at number four in the British singles charts following its release Monday. It contains previously unreleased demonstration material recorded by John Lennon before he was slain by a gunman in New York in 1980.
The record combines that with overlays by the surviving Beatles - Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Lennon's demonstration tape of "Real Love" was given by his widow Yoko Ono to McCartney in 1994. The Beatles broke up in 1970.
"Each record is chosen for its own merit," the BBC said in a statement Thursday night announcing the ban. "It has not made the (BBC) playlist."
"With every week that passes more records are released and that is what it is up against," the statement added.
But Beatles publicist Geoff Baker said: "There is obviously a public demand for and interest in the record because it is at number four" in the British charts.
"I am being philosophical about it," Baker added. "The Beatles are legends and we are not whingeing (complaining). But I know it does not reflect the true situation."
BBC Radio One played "Free As A Bird" featuring a Lennon vocal recorded in 1977 and overlays by the three surviving Beatles recorded in 1994 when it was released in November. But one music critic at the time called it "a bit of a dirge."
Shortly before Christmas 1994, "Baby It's You" with Lennon as lead singer was released as part of the album "The Beatles Live at the BBC," which sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. "Baby It's You" was released as a single in March 1995.
"Free As A Bird" was part of an album of Beatles music called "Anthology" that went on sale in November last year. The "Free As A Bird' single went on sale on Dec. 4.
(Knight-Ridder) March 5 -- Beatles fans got a belated Valentine's Day gift when "Real Love," the second new Beatles song assembled from a John Lennon demo, hit record stores as the lead track on the group's latest CD single.
"Real Love" is free of the overproduction that cluttered "Free As a Bird," the first song used from the tapes provided by Yoko Ono. Both were premiered during "The Beatles Anthology" telecast in November.
The song includes Ringo Starr's simple but very effective drum fills and George Harrison's soaring slide guitar, which really takes off. Paul McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Jeff Lynne, all listed as producers of the track, have done a marvelous job in transforming Lennon's slightly dour demo, which has been circulating on the Internet and among collectors, into a wonderfully upbeat track.
The song will also be included on the upcoming "The Beatles Anthology 2," due March 19.
Other songs on the four-track single, none of which will be included on "The Beatles Anthology 2":
-"Baby's in Black": This version, recorded live, was taken from two successive nights of 1965 concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The introduction, in which Lennon, displaying his usual irreverent stage demeanor, calls the song, "a waltz for all of you people over 10," comes from the first night; the song, in gorgeous stereo, from the second.
-"Yellow Submarine": A remix of the master that fades in with a charming, never-before-heard 15-second portion (cut down from about 30 seconds, according to Beatle historian Mark Lewisohn) of a spoken introduction by Ringo. "And we will march to free the day to see them gathered there, from Land O'Groats to John O'Green, from Stepney to Utrecht, to see a yellow submarine. We love it," he says to the accompaniment of marching feet before the song begins. Too bad the whole spoken intro couldn't be included.
The song itself has been remixed to bring up more sound effects, especially the submarine noises.
-"Here, There and Everywhere": For Beatles collectors, this track will be the real prize. This is a combination of takes 7 and 13 and features a slightly nervous McCartney's guide vocal against a bare snare drum and guitar accompaniment at the beginning, with harmonies from take 13 (remixed in 1995) superimposed over the end to make the song sound closer to the original.
This manipulation, however, will probably be the cause of debate among fans on line, although many of the group's releases combined tapes from different takes.
"The Beatles Anthology 2" will feature 45 unreleased tracks dating from 1965 to 1968. In addition to "Real Love," it will include the first recorded takes of "Yesterday" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"; a strings-only version of "Eleanor Rigby"; demos of "Strawberry Fields Forever" that document the evolution of one of the group's most incredible studio creations; two songs, "If You've Got Trouble" and "That Means a Lot," never released by the group; and unreleased versions of "Got to Get You Into My Life," "Taxman," "A Day in the Life," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "I Am the Walrus," "Lady Madonna" and "Fool on the Hill."
The set, originally scheduled for February release, was delayed, according to unconfirmed reports, after the track order was revised, reportedly by McCartney. According to a widely reported story on the Internet and in Beatle fan magazines, McCartney ordered a change after ads with the original release date had appeared and the set had begun production.
The change - moving an outtake of "I'm Down" from track 6 to track 3 on disc 1 - supposedly caused the scrapping of a reported 2.5 million booklets and other materials, according to Beatlefan/EXTRA!, which said McCartney is paying the $2 million cost himself.
A representative at the group's publicity firm of Rogers & Cowan said the change was made, in fact, by the Beatles and not just McCartney, and the album was delayed because of a huge advance order.
List prices for the available configurations of "Real Love" are $5.99 for the CD single, $2.49 for the cassette and $2.99 for the vinyl.