Tag Archives: John Lennon

1963 ➤ With The Beatles the day Kennedy was shot

Beatles, UK tour, 1963, Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,  Beatlemania, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, CBS News, video, JFK, assassination, President Kennedy, Nov 22,

Beatles live onstage in Stockton, Nov 22, 1963: George Harrison at the microphone on the night Kennedy was shot

❚ WHERE? LIVE, ONSTAGE IN STOCKTON-ON-TEES. Count the simple Vox amps behind the band and note how one is perched on a chair! This picture was taken on Friday Nov 22 1963 at the 2,400-seat Globe theatre when the Beatles played the art-deco venue on their first nationwide tour. The band’s half-hour set during twice-nightly performances at 6.15 and 8.30 was supported by seven other acts with tickets priced from 6 shillings to 10s 6d, when a workman’s weekly wage might be £7.

Beatles, UK tour, 1963, Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,During the first house in Stockton, England, the assassin’s bullets killed John Kennedy in Dallas, USA. At 43 he was the youngest man elected to the US Presidency and during the cold war era as the Soviet Union threatened world peace the hopes of the West rested on his shoulders. In Britain TV programmes were interrupted to break the dramatic news just after 7pm.

In those days we’d seen nothing as electrifying as the Beatles and while their audience at the 18th date on their first serious tour were discovering the power of The Scream, these fans remained respectfully seated throughout the show. Even so, personal accounts say the second house in Stockton was distinctly more subdued. Shocked by the news about JFK, Lynda Richardson, a fan travelling back to Redcar by coach, said: “No one spoke a word all the way home.”

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Also on this day the Fab Four’s second album With The Beatles was released on Parlophone eight months after their chart-topping debut LP and it immediately broke sales records. Lennon’s raw vocals barked fresh life and sexual danger into the Motown covers Please Mr Postman, Money and You Really Got a Hold on Me. With its eight original compositions, this was the album that moved William Mann, classical music critic of The Times, to write that Lennon and McCartney were “the outstanding English composers of 1963”.

 With The Beatles , album ,vinylEarlier in the year three Beatles singles had gone to No 2 and to No 1 twice in the UK chart and now another with advance sales of a million copies – I Want To Hold Your Hand – was racing up the chart to become the Christmas No 1.

This November, too, the Daily Mirror coined the word Beatlemania to describe the tour’s first gig, a phenomenon really triggered with the release of the single She Loves You in August. During the tour, The Beatles had also stopped the Royal Variety Performance – playing four numbers and watched by half the nation in a TV show of recorded highlights – when John Lennon famously quipped: “Will those in the cheaper seats clap your hands. The rest of you can just rattle your jewellery.” The group guest-starred on BBC TV’s flagship Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, while their own Beatles’ Christmas Show was to run at London’s Astoria Finsbury Park for 30 performances (100,000 seats) featuring the Fab Four in comic “skits” with six pop acts in support including Cilla. By this stage the Fabs could go nowhere without a personal police escort. [See, How does a Beatle live? – at Shapersofthe80s]

Globe theatre, Stockton-on-Tees,

The Globe, Stockton, 2009: a glorious interior in art deco style

Today the Globe in Stockton, a small market town in County Durham, is a disused shell which is Grade II-listed. Built in 1935, its facade is enlivened with fluted plaster and the interior retains riotously colourful art deco features typical of the period. As a “super-theatre” the Globe hosted opera, ballet and an annual pantomime, together with touring variety, musicals, and pop concerts by Tommy Steele, the Rolling Stones, Searchers, Seekers, Billy J Kramer, Herman’s Hermits, Animals and Swinging Blue Jeans. It closed as a theatre in 1975, eked out the role of bingo hall until 1996 and then closed its doors.

The Theatres Trust describes the Globe as “an excellent example of its kind” and it is one of 68 buildings on its At-risk register. In 2009, Stockton-based Jomast Developments Ltd announced plans to restore the Globe and recruited theatre expert David Wilmore to the task. He called the Globe “a real Sleeping Beauty”. Finally last month Jomast reported that the Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked £4m towards an £8m project to transform the Globe into a live entertainment venue for music, comedy and other events, with a capacity of 2,500 and the potential to create 64 jobs. The new venue is likely to open in 2016.

THE DAY AMERICA’S CAMELOT FELL

❏ View The Beatles on CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace on November 22, 1963 (despite the erroneous date on the video), the day JFK was shot … In old-school TV style Alexander Kendrick reports grudgingly on Britain’s energetic threat to The American Way under the title, The Beatles, New Phenomena In Britain. Asked about the band’s future Paul McCartney says: “We could have quite a run.”

ANOTHER LEGEND IN THE MAKING

➢ At the Northern Echo in 1963 its young editor was Harold Evans, who went on to build the international reputation of The Sunday Times. On Nov 22, after putting the Echo to bed, he was being driven to Stockton for the annual press ball when news of JFK’s assassination came over the car radio. He immediately returned to his Darlington office and produced an entirely new paper. Evans decided The Beatles were worth a few downpage column inches squeezed into the Teesside edition only.

PHOTO UPDATES

➢ Ringo Starr’s lost Beatles photo album, Nov 2013 – “All anyone could talk about when we came to America was our hair. The boots were famous. The jackets were famous. The pop songs were famous, but they came in about third. The hair was first.”

➢ Fab finds: Never-before-seen Beatles photos, Nov 2013

➢ Five wild JFK conspiracy theories still troubling Oliver Stone

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➤ Record numbers visit Shapersofthe80s for the best Blitz Kid photos and eye-witness memories

Planets club in Piccadilly, 1981: George O’Dowd before he became Boy, his sidekick and future singer Marilyn, and fashion goddess Kim Bowen. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s

❚ 2011 WAS A BUMPER YEAR for Shapersofthe80s. Visits to this website have doubled year on year, to a total of 174,658 page views during 2011. Also during the past six months, views increased by 40% over the previous six months — driven substantially by our exclusive pictures of Steve Norman’s wedding, and by exploring the heritage which informs We Can Be Heroes, Graham Smith’s definitive new photobook about 80s clubbing.

Of all topic areas, inevitably Blitz Kids and New Romantics have attracted most visits — about 16,000 views in total. Nightclubbing in the 80s came third with 11,000. Discover why, inside at Why them? Why then?

Most popular popstars viewed here in 2011 …

Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, NYC,Axiom,fashion

Lexington Avenue 1981: A fashion shoot features Martin Kemp wearing Demob and Steve Norman wearing Pallium, along with local girls. Photographed © by David Spahn

1 — Spandau Ballet — Total page views include Tony Hadley’s international tour with John Keeble, Steve Norman’s wedding, Martin Kemp’s cinematic triumphs and Gary Kemp as cultural pundit, as each of the band members has been pursuing his own interests since their farewell performance in July 2010.

2 — Boy George whose rise and fall seems Greek in its tragedic possibilities.

3 — Duran Duran who have patiently rebuilt their credibility over the past year. (Of their total page views here, almost half came in one day, yesterday*)

4 — Paradise Point — Britain’s brightest new pop musicians who mysteriously vanished from the stage almost as soon as they had published one of the most seductive videos of the year [see below].

5 — Sade whose long-awaited world tour slaked her fans’ thirst and gave her a No 1 album on both sides of the Atlantic.

6 — George Michael — another 80s survivor whose vulnerability almost renders him indestructible.

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Steady attractions at Shapersofthe80s are the post about John Rutter’s royal wedding anthem, and historically important interviews with the painter David Hockney (1983) and with Beatle John Lennon (1966).

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* It is an astonishing statistical exception that yesterday proved our busiest day of the year thanks entirely to Duran Duran sharing on Facebook the link to our choice of the 10 most creative tribute videos celebrating their comeback. So, despite our having followed Duran’s world tour since their newest album was launched in 2010, almost as many fans visited in a single day as during the entire year to date.
❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click

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➤ Index of posts for December 2010

Duran Duran, 80s, pop

The early Duran Duran: discovered by invitation in 1980

➢ 80s shapers win 2010 New Year Honours for fashion, music and walking in space

➢ 1980 secrets revealed about the SAS, arming Afghanistan and death of the tanner

➢ 1980, As Spandau play in Heaven, all around we can hear the new sounds of 1981

➢ 1980s, So many shapers shaped the decade that people think was all down to Margaret Thatcher — key books of the year

John Lennon death, Daily Mirror, people magazine, 30th anniversary
➢ What larks! Festive fun and games and British ways to make merry

➢ A jolly festive tree by Andrew Logan

➢ 2010, Duran no turkey: here’s the Bacofoil video and two new tracks premiered at East Village Radio

➢ 1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

➢ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices

➢ Whatta they like? Essex reality stars shake their vajazzles in the face of Hollywood

➢ 1980, The Lennon we knew: unfulfilled talent with a genius for making friends the world over

Adam & The Ants, David Bowie, Swinging 80s,Top Of The Pops
➢ 1980, The week the Swinging 80s clicked into gear

➢ Live online now, mad hatter Stephen Jones

➢ This £5m iPhone has to be a spoof! Yes, that’s $7.8m or €6m or 52m Chinese Yuan or 245m Russian Rubles

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2010 ➤ Index of posts for December

Duran Duran, 80s, pop

The early Duran Duran: discovered by invitation in 1980

➢ 80s shapers win 2010 New Year Honours for fashion, music and walking in space

➢ 1980 secrets revealed about the SAS, arming Afghanistan and death of the tanner

➢ 1980, As Spandau play in Heaven, all around we can hear the new sounds of 1981

➢ 1980s, So many shapers shaped the decade that people think was all down to Margaret Thatcher — key books of the year

John Lennon death, Daily Mirror, people magazine, 30th anniversary
➢ What larks! Festive fun and games and British ways to make merry

➢ A jolly festive tree by Andrew Logan

➢ 2010, Duran no turkey: here’s the Bacofoil video and two new tracks premiered at East Village Radio

➢ 1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

➢ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices

➢ Whatta they like? Essex reality stars shake their vajazzles in the face of Hollywood

➢ 1980, The Lennon we knew: unfulfilled talent with a genius for making friends the world over

Adam & The Ants, David Bowie, Swinging 80s,Top Of The Pops
➢ 1980, The week the Swinging 80s clicked into gear

➢ Live online now, mad hatter Stephen Jones

➢ This £5m iPhone has to be a spoof! Yes, that’s $7.8m or €6m or 52m Chinese Yuan or 245m Russian Rubles

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1980 ➤ The Lennon we knew: unfulfilled talent with a genius for making friends the world over

John Lennon, Yoko Ono, New York City, 1980,Allan Tannenbaum

The last pictures: Allan Tannenbaum photographed John Lennon and Yoko Ono throughout November 1980, the month before the murder. The couple were emerging from a self-imposed five-year seclusion to prepare for the release of Double Fantasy, Lennon’s final album

❚ ON THIS DAY IN 1980, ex-Beatle John Lennon, one the few gods in the international pantheon of pop, was shot dead in a New York City street, aged 40. Today it’s impossible to describe convincingly the impact of The Beatles throughout the exhilarating decade we call the Swinging 60s, when their songs themselves became barometers of change.

John Lennon death,Time magazine, Newsweek, 30th anniversary
Here is how music journalist and Beatles expert Paul Du Noyer encapsulated the contribution of the Lennon & McCartney partnership (1957-1970) in a mighty partwork published by The Sunday Times in 1997 titled 1000 Makers of Music:

“Whether measured in statistics or simply the love of the common people, the Beatles’ achievement looks unbeatable. And the engine of it all was the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Before them, nobody dreamt that rock and roll would spawn enduring songs or that English rock could rule the world. Musically illiterate, the two Liverpool teenagers began by aping their American heroes and grew into writers of prolific originality. From the sunny simplicities of She Loves You, or A Hard Day’s Night, to the artful ingenuity of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, they dazzled at every turn. Each was rocker and balladeer, lyricist and composer. They were a marriage of truth and beauty: Lennon soul-baring and verbally acrobatic (Norwegian Wood, I Am the Walrus); McCartney having the greater gift for melody (Yesterday, Hey Jude). Mostly they wrote alone, but raised one another’s game. Neither displayed the same consistency after the split [in 1970]. They lacked anyone with the nerve to say ‘Why don’t you change that bit?’ Their key work was A Day In the Life, 1967.”

➢ An index to Paul Du Noyer’s
published work on The Beatles

Today The Beatles hold the records for selling more albums in the United States than anybody else, and they head Billboard’s all-time top-selling Hot 100 list of singles artists, compiled in 2008. At home The Beatles have enjoyed more number one albums in the UK charts than anyone.

In the 60s, the mass media we know had scarcely left the starting line. This was a simpler era when any globally successful pop group was a novelty. When Beatlemania burst, it was a bombshell. The Fab Four, as the band were dubbed, found themselves writing many new rules in the celebrity game which fan worship then transmuted into the cultural phenomenon called Beatlemania — hordes of girls who stalked, pounced and screamed in frenzy — all accurately parodied in Dick Lester’s effervescent films, Help! and A Hard Day’s Night, based on the Beatles’ sudden worldwide fame. It also resulted in a deranged fan shooting his hero Lennon dead.

Beatlemania 1965, LHR

Typical Beatlemania: the band fly out from Heathrow bound for Austria and public vantage points are abrim with fans. Picture from Getty

Such sway did The Beatles hold, that their Merseyside cheek inspired provincial British pop groups not only to dare take on the unimaginative impresarios of the London entertainment mafia for whom blandness was the key to an act’s success, but then to take on the world showbiz mafia dominated by America, where within corporate frameworks artistic spontaneity might actively be indulged. The Beatles’ music — like the self-expressiveness of rock and roll — had a passion that chimed with the forces of grassroots social change, of liberation, emancipation, the debunking of authority figures, and the reform of cobwebbed institutions such as government, church and unions, all of which had been under attack by the stormtroopers of the satire movement since its dawn in 1960 with Beyond the Fringe.

The early Beatles hits captured the essential “sunny simplicities” of pop, though these acquired darker overtones as the decade matured and the increasingly “affluent society” of the West drew criticism from the New Left. By 1968, the daftness of the hippy dream saw The Beatles setting up Apple Corps. In 25-year-old Paul McCartney’s words this was to be “a business with a social and cultural environment where everyone gets a decent share of the profits. I suppose it’ll be like a sort of Western Communism”. Whateva.

John Lennon death, Daily Mirror, people magazine, 30th anniversary
One secret to The Beatles becoming fab was being born in the port city of Liverpool, which had long bred its own resilient sense of humour. The band empathised with the working-class values of their community in ways the few young bloods in London’s middle-aged mainstream media found refreshing. Their heritage also included Liverpool’s role as the “New York of Europe” and home to Britain’s oldest Black African community. Little Richard and Berry Gordy’s Motown were in their blood, and The Beatles maintained the noble trade between Britain and North America which has seen each enhance and export the other’s music in a continuing chain of call-and-response since World War 2.

The songwriting partnership of Lennon & McCartney was unique, as also was their distinct vocal style absorbed from heroes such as Ben E King, and they transformed popular music utterly, never to be equalled. In his most infamous article, The Times’s music critic William Mann concluded in 1963: “They have brought a distinctive and exhilarating flavour into a genre of music that was in danger of ceasing to be music at all.” [See more, below]

Lennon’s own undoubted greatness was co-dependent on McCartney. Moreover, it becomes impossible to estimate the loss to music caused by his early death, when many people feel that, despite his wit and intelligence, his shortcomings hindered him from fully realising his true potential. This was the unsentimental verdict of journalist Maureen Cleave — who had known The Beatles since writing the first significant piece about them — as expressed in her frank and moving obituary for The Observer magazine in December 1980.

Beatles, life magazine, tribute
My other Evening Standard colleague who knew Lennon well during the Beatles’ later years is Ray Connolly, Liverpudlian author of many illuminating articles on Lennon. Connolly was due to meet him the day after he was shot. (“The last phone call I made before going to bed was to the Lennons’ apartment in New York to tell them that I would be in New York at lunchtime the following day.”) He agrees the Beatle was no saint, but he was “someone who wrote and played rock and roll music better than virtually anyone else”. In addition: “When he died millions of people mourned the loss of a friend. His real genius was in his ability to communicate. He was to perfection a creature of his times.”

In his instant paperback published by Fontana within two months of Lennon’s shooting, Connolly writes:
“[The American composer] Aaron Copland once said that when future generations wanted to capture the spirit of the 60s all they would have to do was to play Beatle records. That’s true, but I would go further. Future historians will find that understanding of the 60s and the 70s widened immeasurably by focusing on the life of John Lennon. From Liverpool war baby to killer’s victim just across the road from Central Park, Lennon’s every interest told a story of the times. The widespread grief at his death was compared with the mourning which followed the assassination of President Kennedy [in 1963]. No one should have been surprised, though many were.”

One of the reasons was that “Lennon chose the role of anti-hero for much of his life, casting off the trappings of glamour, throwing aside the shell of lovable immortality. John Lennon would never have made a politician. Political heroes are pragmatists. That is their job. John Lennon had no time for pragmatism. He was outspoken about everything and everybody, and then bore the consequences for his outrageousness.”

Ray Connolly, John Lennon biography, Fontana— Extracted from John Lennon 1940-1980, a biography by Ray Connolly (Fontana 1981). For many more interviews with all the Beatles, visit Connolly’s website and archive that includes Lennon: The Lost Interviews in which the journalist claims that “arguably one of Lennon’s most inspired acts was his deliberate destruction of The Beatles in 1969”. Connolly’s latest novel The Sandman arose from his years writing about rock music, not least about John Lennon and the Beatles, and is now available on Kindle

HARMONIC ORIGINALITY AND RICHNESS
UNKNOWN TODAY

In 1000 Makers of Music critic Ian MacDonald summarised the contribution of the Beatles as a band:
“As expressive of England in the 1960s as the music of Benjamin Britten in the 1950s, The Beatles made some of the world’s best music during their decade (1960-1970)… from the infectious melodies of their early beat-group years, through the LSD adventure of their central period (Revolver, 1966, and their key work Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967). Each member of this Liverpool foursome made a vital contribution to a sound that blended boldness of melody and rhythm with a harmonic originality and richness of detail unknown in today’s pop… The Beatles redefined pop, revolutionised studio recording and completely dominated the culture of the 1960s. Their influence remains omnipresent.”

Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head, Lennon death, 30th anniversary— Ian MacDonald was the author of the monumental song-by-song analysis, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties (Pimlico).

His real name was Ian MacCormick and the book is worth consulting also for his essay Fabled Foursome, Disappearing Decade, on the social effects of the 1960s.

FOOTNOTES TO HISTORY

Richard Williams’s obituary for Ian MacDonald (1948-2003) in the Guardian noted: “Probably no other critic — not even the late William Mann of The Times, with his famous mention of pandiatonic clusters — contributed more to an enlightened enjoyment of the work of The Beatles than Ian MacDonald, who has died aged 54. In his book Revolution In The Head, first published in 1994, MacDonald carefully anatomised every record The Beatles made, drawing attention to broad themes, particular examples of inspiration and moments of human frailty alike. What could have been a dry task instead produced a volume so engagingly readable, so fresh in its perceptions and so enjoyable to argue with that, in an already overcrowded field, it became an immediate hit.”

Sample William Mann’s legendary and hilarious critique of Beatles technique from 1963:
“… One gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody, so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat submediant key switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of Not A Second Time (the chord progression which ends Mahler’s Song of the Earth) … Those submediant switches from C major into A flat major, and to a lesser extent mediant ones (eg, the octave ascent in the famous I Want To Hold Your Hand) are a trademark of Lennon-McCartney songs … The other trademark of their compositions is a firm and purposeful bass line with a musical life of its own; how Lennon and McCartney divide their creative responsibilites I have yet to discover, but it is perhaps significant that Paul is the bass guitarist of the group.”

➢ Extracted from What Songs The Beatles Sang
by William Mann, music critic of The Times

➢ William Mann’s monumental review of the Sgt Pepper album in 1967: The Beatles revive hopes of progress in pop music

FRESH INSIGHTS INTO BOY AND MAN

Over the past year Lennon’s life has twice been intelligently dramatised. In Nowhere Boy, visual artist Sam Taylor-Wood made her film debut directing several exceptional acting perfomances in an emotionally convincing evocation of Lennon’s adolescence during the austere 1950s, based on a novel by Lennon’s sister. For BBC television, Edmund Coulthard directed Lennon Naked, an unsentimentally credible account of Lennon’s confronting the desperate emotional crossroad that caused him to destroy the Beatles and abandon his wife and son for Yoko Ono.

DISILLUSIONED LENNON ON SELLING OUT

“When we played straight rock, there was nobody to touch us in Britain. As soon as we made it [as The Beatles], the edges were knocked off us, and Brian put us in suits. But we sold out. The music was dead before we even went on the theatre tour of Britain [Feb-June 1963, supporting other acts such as Roy Orbison]. We had to reduce an hour or two of playing to 20 minutes and go on and repeat the same 20 minutes every night. The Beatles’ music died there. As musicians we killed ourselves then.”

➢ John Lennon speaking in The New York Years
— this week’s BBC Radio 2 documentary by Susan Sarandon

Lennon’s Aunt Mimi Smith on his music

Aunt Mimi Smith, John Lennon“He used to drive me mad with his guitar playing, and I’ll always remember telling him, ‘The guitar’s all right for a hobby, John, but it won’t earn you any money’.”
➢ View the complete 1981 video interview
with Aunt Mimi

➢ 20 most underrated John Lennon tracks in NME Dec 14, 2010

Beatlemania, Hard Day's Night,

Beatlemania: the band on the run from fans and police in Dick Lester’s 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night

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