Monthly Archives: February 2012
February 13, 1967 – The Beatles: “Penny Lane” b/w “Strawberry Fields Forever” (Capitol 5810) double A-sided 45 single is released in the US.
Strawberry Field was the name of a Salvation Army Children’s Home just around the corner from Lennon’s childhood home in Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool. Lennon and his childhood friends Pete Shotton, Nigel Walley, and Ivan Vaughan used to play in the wooded garden behind the home. One of Lennon’s childhood treats was the garden party held each summer in Calderstones Park near the Salvation Army Home every year, where a Salvation Army band played. Lennon’s aunt Mimi Smith recalled: “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late.'”
ON THIS DATE (47 YEARS AGO)
February 13, 1965 – The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones, Now! is released in the US.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 5/5
The Rolling Stones, Now! is the third American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released on this date in 1965 by their initial American distributor, London Records.
One of the biggest and most artistically successful of The Rolling Stones’ early American releases, Now! was built around seven tracks taken from their UK No. 2 LP, put out in the UK just a month earlier, plus a handful of singles and previously unreleased songs.
This was a time of hyperactivity for The Rolling Stones, with songs recorded in London – Bo Diddley’s I Need You (Mona) dates from way back in early 1964 and had been left off the American edition of their debut LP – Chicago and Los Angeles. There’s Barbara Lynn Ozen’s Oh Baby (We’ve Got A Good Thing Goin’), Leiber and Butler’s Down Home Girl, Allen Toussaint’s Pain In My Heart (made famous by Otis Redding) and the classic Bert Russell, Solomon Burke and Jerry Wexler soul vamp Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – all were recorded in one marathon session on November 2 1964.
Of these covers, Down Home Girl – a hit a few months previously for Alvin Robinson – was probably the most successful, the band nailing a lazy New Orleans soul groove so tight it would later feature on a more than one big hip hop record.
So in early 1965 things were moving very fast. To get some idea of The Stones’ vertiginous trajectory at the time, it’s worth pointing out that they had played two shows in two different Californian cities the day before that LA session. Less than 48 hours later they would be 2586 miles away playing a show in Rhode Island.
But perhaps the most startling thing about Now! was just how fast the song-writing duo of Jagger/Richards (actually Richard at this point, the ‘s’ wouldn’t reappear until the late 1970s) was developing.
The brilliant country-blues Heart Of Stone had originally been recorded – with either Jimmy Page or John McLaughlin on additional guitar – in London in July 1964, though it wouldn’t appear on a UK LP until Out Of Our Heads over a year later. However, this new LA version marked a big step forward for the band. Here was a song that wore its insouciant confidence as casually – and as strikingly – as a well-tailored, button-down shirt.
“If you try acting sad,” Jagger sings, “you’ll only make me glad, better listen little girl…”
What A Shame – an eerie electric blues recorded, appropriately, in Chicago, the home of electric blues – would later turn up on Heart Of Stone’s B-side, while the simple pop-romp Off The Hook was a Nanker Phelge composition, one of the few songs created by the band together where all song writing royalties were equally split.
Surprise, Surprise, recorded in London at the end of September 1964, took the band away from a pure blues base and pulled some vibrant soul and revival-tent fervour from the song writing, finishing on a gorgeous diminished chord which adds a feeling of feverish melancholy to the song. It wouldn’t even appear on a UK release until 1970, by which time the world was a very different place indeed, and the very idea of splitting your albums apart for different markets was (as Mr Jimmy put it in 1969’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and also under very different circumstances) Dead.
Now!, which reached Number 5 in the US, is the sound of a band changing as fundamentally and enthusiastically as the world around them. This was a record, after all, that had room for something as fresh and of-the-moment as Off The Hook, for Don Raye’s 1940 big-band boogie-woogie classic Down The Road Apiece and for a strict blues number like the future UK Number 1 version of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster.
On Now!, The Rolling Stones realised that they could do anything they wanted to, that no style, genre or set of songwriters could claim any kind of direction over them. The road ahead was suddenly looking very clear indeed.
The Rolling Stones, Now! is generally considered a very strong album and a highlight of their early American releases. Upon its February issuing, The Rolling Stones, Now! reached #5 in the US and became another gold seller for The Rolling Stones. In 2003, the album was ranked number 181 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
by Richie Unterberger, allmusic
Although their third American album was patched together (in the usual British Invasion tradition) from a variety of sources, it’s their best early R&B-oriented effort. Most of the Stones’ early albums suffer from three or four very weak cuts; Now! is almost uniformly strong start-to-finish, the emphasis on some of their blackest material. The covers of “Down Home Girl,” Bo Diddley’s vibrating “Mona,” Otis Redding’s “Pain in My Heart,” and Barbara Lynn’s “Oh Baby” are all among the group’s best R&B interpretations. The best gem is “Little Red Rooster,” a pure blues with wonderful slide guitar from Brian Jones (and a number one single in Britain, although it was only an album track in the U.S.). As songwriters, Jagger and Richards are still struggling, but they come up with one of their first winners (and an American Top 20 hit) with the yearning, soulful “Heart of Stone.”
All songs written by Jagger/Richards, except where noted.
No. Title Length
1. “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (Solomon Burke/Berns/Wexler) 3:00
2. “Down Home Girl” (Jerry Leiber/Arthur Butler) 4:13
3. “You Can’t Catch Me” (Chuck Berry) 3:40
4. “Heart of Stone” 2:49
5. “What a Shame” 3:06
6. “Mona (I Need You Baby)” (Ellas McDaniel) 3:35
No. Title Length
7. “Down the Road Apiece” (Don Raye) 2:56
8. “Off the Hook” 2:36
9. “Pain in My Heart” (Allen Toussaint) 2:12
10. “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’)” (Barbara Lynn Ozen) 2:06
11. “Little Red Rooster” (Willie Dixon) 3:04
12. “Surprise, Surprise” 2:29
ON THIS DATE (48 YEARS AGO)
February 9, 1964 – The Beatles made their live U.S. television debut in their first appearance on CBS-TV’s “The Ed Sullivan Show.” An estimated 73.7 million Americans watched as John, Paul, George and Ringo performed “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
The story of how The Beatles landed on The Ed Sullivan Show began with the group’s formation in Liverpool in 1960. They spent their first couple of years playing in small clubs throughout Europe. During late night gigs in the city of Hamburg, Germany, sometimes playing as long as eight hours a night, The Beatles perfected their act. However, it was not until an appearance on the British television show, “Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium” and the 1963 release of their first album, Please Please Me that “Beatlemania” began to spread. That March the album hit number one on the British charts, and by the end of the year, The Beatles’ music permeated UK radio. The “Fab Four” even performed for the royal family. It was only after this burgeoning success at home did The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, choose to launch their American invasion. They decided when they had a #1 song on the U.S. charts, then they would lock in the date of their Ed Sullivan debut.
There are a number of stories regarding exactly how The Beatles came to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. The most popular is that in 1963, while arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, Ed Sullivan and his wife Sylvia encountered thousands of youngsters waiting excitedly in the rain. When Sullivan asked what all the commotion was about, he was told that a British band named The Beatles was returning home from a tour in Sweden. When he got to his hotel room, Sullivan purportedly inquired about booking the group for his show.
For weeks, celebrities were calling in to get tickets for their kids. Walter Cronkite and Jack Paar scored seats for their girls; composer Leonard Bernstein tried but failed; while Richard Nixon’s 15-year old daughter, Julie, became one of the lucky few to get a seat. Even Sullivan himself had trouble getting extra tickets. On his show the week before The Beatles’ debut, Ed asked his audience, “Coincidentally, if anyone has a ticket for The Beatles on our show next Sunday, could I please borrow it? We need it very badly.”
At 8 o’clock on February 9th 1964, America tuned in to CBS and The Ed Sullivan Show. But this night was different. 73 million people gathered in front their TV sets to see The Beatles’ first live performance on U.S. soil. The television rating was a record-setting 45.3, meaning that 45.3% of households with televisions were watching. That figure reflected a total of 23,240,000 American homes. The show garnered a 60 share, meaning 60% of the television’s turned on were tuned in to Ed Sullivan and The Beatles.
Concerned that The Beatles’ shrieking fans would steal attention from the other acts that evening, Ed Sullivan admonished his audience, “If you don’t keep quiet, I’m going to send for a barber.”
The show was a huge television success. As hard as it is to imagine, over 40% of every man, woman and child living in America had watched The Beatles on Sullivan.
John Moffitt, then Assistant Director of The Ed Sullivan Show recalls, “Nobody realized the impact to come, how momentous it would be. We didn’t talk about making history. It was more like, ‘What are we going to do next week? Not only are we doing this again, we’re on location.’”
The Beatles returned to close the show with performances of “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” After they finished, Ed called them over and congratulated them, passing along word that legendary composer Richard Rodgers was one their “most rabid fans.”
So The Beatles were just a week from having their performance captured and preserved forever in color.
|The Beatles arrival at New York’s Kennedy Airport|
February 7, 1964 – Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport–and “Beatlemania” arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six days before with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” At Kennedy, the “Fab Four”–dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark pudding bowl haircuts–were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane and onto American soil.
“All we knew was that a couple of the records had done well in the States. We believed there was still a huge mountain to climb if The Beatles were really to make it there.
At Heathrow there was pandemonium. Thousands of fans had arrived from all over Britain and any ordinary passengers hoping to travel that day had to give up. Screaming, sobbing girls held up ‘We Love You, Beatles’ banners and hordes of police, linking arms in long chains, held them back. We were ushered into a massive press conference, where journalists, spotting me at the side of the room, demanded a picture of John and me together. To my surpirse John agreed. He was usually careful to keep Julian and me away from publicity, but this time, carried along by the momentum of the whole thing, he agreed.
Minutes later we were ushered to the plane. At the top of the steps the boys waved to the packed airport terraces as the screams crescendoed.”
~ Cynthia Lennon, John
Also on the flight were Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, plus dozens of journalists and photographers. The flight, Pan Am flight 101, touched down at JFK Airport at 1.20pm to scenes never seen before.
“It was so exciting. On the plane, flying in to the airport, I felt as though there was a big octopus with tentacles that were grabbing the plane and dragging us down into New York. America was the best. It was a dream, coming from Liverpool.”
~ Ringo Starr, Anthology
At first The Beatles found it hard to believe the reception at JFK was for them.
“There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, ‘Tell the boys there’s a big crowd waiting for them.’ We thought, ‘Wow! God, we have really made it.”
~ Paul McCartney, Anthology
Five thousand fans, mostly young girls, were crowded onto the upper balcony of the airport’s arrivals building, waving placards and banners to welcome the group. A further 200 reporters, photographers and cameramen from radio, television and the press were also clamoring for The Beatles’ attention.
“It has since been reported that their American record company had promised that every person who turned up at the airport would be given a dollar bill and a t-shirt. What really happened was that the receptionists at Capitol Records would answer the phone, ‘Capitol Records – The Beatles are coming.’ There was a lot of mention on the radio, too: ‘The Beatles are coming!’ It was the people handling the Beatles merchandise at the time who were offering the free t-shirt. I had no idea about that at the time, and it was nothing to do with the record company.”
~ Neil Aspinall, Anthology
The promotion was actually due to Seltaeb, The Beatles’ US merchandising organisation run by Nicky Byrne, which had been approved by Brian Epstein to oversee and collect the royalties for the group’s non-musical products in America.
Byrne had struck a deal with the WMCA and WINS radio stations, in which every fan who turned up at JFK would be given one dollar and a free Beatles t-shirt. Unbeknown to Byrne, Capitol had also arranged for posters and car stickers, bearing the legend ‘The Beatles are coming’, to be distributed throughout New York City.
Murray the K, a DJ at the 1010 WINS radio station, had announced the details of The Beatles’ flight number and time of arrival. The information was repeated by rival stations WABC and WMCA, which only increased the already feverish anticipation.
At JFK The Beatles gave their first press conference on American soil.
Q: Are you a little embarrassed by the lunacy you cause?
John Lennon: No, it’s great.
Paul McCartney: No.
George Harrison: We love it.
John: We like lunatics.
Q: You’re in favor of lunacy?
The Beatles: Yeah.
John: It’s healthy.
Q: Are those English accents?
George: It’s not English. It’s Liverpudlian, you see.
Paul: The Liverpool accent – so, the way you say some of the words. You know, you say GRASS instead of GRAHHSS, and that sounds a bit American. So there ya go.
Q: Liverpool is the…
Ringo: It’s the capital of Ireland.
Paul: Anyway, we wrote half of your folk songs in Liverpool.
Ringo: Yeah, don’t forget!
Q: In Detroit Michigan, there handing out car stickers saying, ‘Stamp Out The Beatles.’
Paul: Yeah well… first of all, we’re bringing out a ‘Stamp Out Detroit’ campaign.
Q: What about the Stamp Out The Beatles campaign?
John: What about it?
Ringo: How big are they?
Q: Would you tell Murray the K to cut that crap out?
The Beatles: Cut that crap out!
Paul: Hey, Murray!
Q: A psychiatrist recently said you’re nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presleys.
John: He must be blind.
Ringo (shaking like Elvis): It’s not true! It’s not true!
Q: Would you please sing something?
The Beatles: No!
Q: There’s some doubt that you can sing.
John: No, we need money first.
Q: What do you expect to take out of this country?
John Lennon: About half a crown.
Ringo Starr: Ten dollars.
Q: Does all that hair help you sing?
Paul McCartney: What?
Q: Does all that hair help you sing?
John: Definitely. Yeah.
Q: You feel like Sampson? If you lost your hair, you’d lose what you have? ‘It’?
John: Don’t know. I don’t know.
Paul: Don’t know.
Q: How many of you are bald, that you have to wear those wigs?
Ringo: All of us.
Paul: I’m bald.
Q: You’re bald?
John: Oh, we’re all bald, yeah.
Paul: Don’t tell anyone, please.
John: I’m deaf and dumb, too.
Q: Do you know American slang? Are you for real?
Paul: For real.
John: Come and have a feel.
Q: Aren’t you afraid of what the American Barbers’ Association is going to think of you?
Ringo: Well, we run quicker than the English ones, we’ll have a go here, you know.
Q: Listen, I got a question here. Are you going to get a haircut at all while you’re here?
The Beatles: No!
Paul: No, thanks.
George Harrison: I had one yesterday.
Ringo: And that’s no lie, it’s the truth.
Paul: It’s the truth.
Q: You know, I think he missed.
George: No, he didn’t. No.
Ringo: You should have seen him the day before.
Q: What do you think your music does for these people?
John: Hmm, well…
Ringo: I don’t know. It pleases them, I think. Well, it must do, ’cause they’re buying it.
Q: Why does it excite them so much?
Paul: We don’t know, really.
John: If we knew, we’d form another group and be managers.
Q: What about all this talk that you represent some kind of social rebellion?
John: It’s a dirty lie. It’s a dirty lie.
Q: What do you think of Beethoven?
Ringo: Great, especially his poems. (Muttering to the others) I’m sick of that one.
Q: Have you decided when you’re going to retire?
John: Next week.
John: No, we don’t know.
Ringo: We’re going to keep going as long as we can.
George: When we get fed up with it, you know. We’re still enjoying it.
Ringo: Any minute now.
Q: After you make so much money, and then…
The Beatles: No.
George: No, as long as we enjoy it, we’ll do it. ‘Cause we enjoyed it before we made any money.
After the press conference The Beatles were asked to say their names in the order in which they were standing at the microphones, as their individual names were still largely unknown to the American press.
Upon leaving JFK Airport, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr got into a limousine, while John and Cynthia Lennon took another. Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans had to hail a taxi to get to their hotel in Manhattan.
I remember, for instance, the great moment of getting into the limo and putting on the radio, and hearing a running commentary on us: ‘They have just left the airport and are coming towards New York City…’ It was like a dream. The greatest fantasy ever. ~ Paul McCartney, Anthology
The group and their entourage were staying at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The scenes there were as chaotic as those at the airport, with hundreds of fans being held back by the police, 20 of which were mounted on horseback.
That evening a near-constant stream of guests visited The Beatles in their 10-room, 12th-floor Presidential suite, including The Ronettes, Murray the K, and George Harrison’s sister Louise, who lived in Illinois.
At 6pm that evening The Beatles gave a telephone interview to BBC presenter Brian Matthew, to be broadcast on the next day’s radio show Saturday Club.
The Beatles’ first trip to America was filmed, not only by assembled crews from various television outlets, but by a team inside the entourage. A documentary was being directed and produced by brothers David and Albert Maysles, co-funded by Granada Television in the UK and with Brian Epstein’s NEMS company retaining some editorial control.
The Maysles took cameras virtually everywhere during The Beatles’ two weeks in America, providing a unique and insightful document of the unfolding events. These included scenes from inside their hotel suite and limousines, rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show, inside JFK Airport, Murray the K broadcasting, and The Beatles in Washington DC and Miami Beach.