Sunday, October 9, 8940
John Lennon (1940-1980) - The Beatles
John [Winston Ono] Lennon, MBE (b. John Winston Lennon, October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980) was an English rock musician, singer, songwriter, artist, and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. As a member of the group, Lennon was one of the lead vocalists and co-wrote the majority of the band's songs with bassist Paul McCartney.
In his solo career, Lennon wrote and recorded songs such as "Give Peace a Chance," "Imagine," and "Instant Karma!"
Lennon had two sons: Julian Lennon, with his first wife Cynthia Lennon, and Sean Ono Lennon, with his second wife, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. After a self-imposed retirement from 1976 to 1980, Lennon reemerged with a comeback album, but was murdered one month later in New York City on December 8, 1980.
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in the Liverpool Maternity Hospital, Oxford Street, Liverpool, to Julia Lennon (née Stanley) and Alfred (Alf, or Freddie) Lennon, during the course of a German air raid in World War II.
He was named after his paternal grandfather, John 'Jack' Lennon, and Winston Churchill.
Alf was a merchant seaman during World War II, and was often away from home, but sent regular pay cheques to Julia, who was living with Lennon at 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, but the cheques stopped when Alf went AWOL in 1943.
When Alf eventually came home in 1944, he offered to look after Julia and Lennon, but Julia (who was pregnant with another man's child) rejected the idea.
After considerable pressure from her sister, Mary "Mimi" Smith (who contacted Liverpool's Social Services to complain about Julia) she handed the care of Lennon over to Mimi.
In July 1946, Alf visited Mimi and took Lennon to Blackpool, secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him.
Julia followed them, and after a very heated argument Alf made the five-year-old Lennon choose between Julia or him, and Lennon chose Alf twice. As Julia walked away, Lennon began to cry and followed her. Alf then lost contact with Lennon until the early 60's, when father and son met again.
Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi and her husband George Smith, who had no children of their own, in Woolton, in a house called "Mendips" (251 Menlove Avenue). Julia Lennon visited Mendips almost every day, and when Lennon was 11 he often visited her at 1 Blomfield Road, Liverpool. Julia taught Lennon how to play the banjo, and played Elvis Presley's records to him.
Lennon was raised as an Anglican, and attended Dovedale County Primary School until he passed his Eleven-Plus exam.
From September 1952 to 1957, he attended the Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool, where he was known as a "happy-go-lucky" pupil, drawing comical cartoons.
Julia bought Lennon his first guitar in 1957, which was a Gallotone Champion acoustic (a cheap model that was "guaranteed not to split").
Julia insisted it be delivered to her house and not to Mimi's, who hoped that Lennon would grow bored with music, as she was sceptical of Lennon's claim that he would be famous one day, often telling him, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it."
On 15 July 1958, when Lennon was 17, Julia was killed on Menlove Avenue (close to Mimi's house) when struck by a car driven by an off-duty police officer.
Her death was a bond between Lennon and Paul McCartney, who also had lost his own mother (to breast cancer) on 31 October 1956.
Lennon failed all his GCE O-level examinations, and was only accepted into the Liverpool College of Art with help from his school's headmaster and Mimi. Lennon met his future wife there, Cynthia Powell.
Lennon was often disruptive in class and ridiculed his teachers, resulting in them refusing to have him as a student
Lennon failed an annual Art College exam despite help from Powell, and dropped out before his last year of college.
When Lennon decided that he wanted to try making music himself, he and fellow Quarry Bank Grammar School friend, Eric Griffiths, took guitar lessons at Hunt's Cross in Liverpool, although Lennon gave up the lessons soon after.
Lennon started The Quarrymen in March 1957.
On July 6, 1957, Lennon met McCartney at the Quarrymen's second concert at the St. Peter's Church Woolton Garden fête.
McCartney's father told his son that Lennon would get him "into trouble," but later allowed The Quarrymen to rehearse in the front room at 20 Forthlin Road
It was there that Lennon and McCartney began writing songs together.
McCartney convinced Lennon to allow George Harrison to join the Quarrymen (even though Lennon thought Harrison to be too young) after Harrison played the song "Raunchy" for Lennon on the upper deck of a bus.
Harrison joined the band as lead guitarist, and Stuart Sutcliffe -- Lennon's art school friend -- later joined as bassist.
After a series of name changes, the group decided on The Beatles. Lennon was always considered the leader of the group, as McCartney explained: "We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader -- he was the quickest wit and the smartest and all that kind of thing."
Allan Williams became the Beatles' first manager in May 1960, after they had played in his Jacaranda club.
A few months later he booked them into Bruno Koschmider's Indra club in Hamburg, Germany.
Lennon's Aunt Mimi was horrified when Lennon told her about the trip to Hamburg, and pleaded with him to continue his studies.
After the first residency Sutcliffe left The Beatles to concentrate on his artwork, and to be with Astrid Kirchherr. McCartney took over as bass player for the group.
Koschmider reported McCartney and drummer Pete Best for arson after the two attached a condom to a nail in the 'Bambi' (a cinema where they were staying) and set fire to it.
They were deported, as was George Harrison for working under age.
A few days later Lennon's work permit was revoked and he went home by train.
After Harrison turned 18 and the immigration problems had been solved, The Beatles went back to Hamburg for another residency in April 1961. While they were there, they recorded "My Bonnie" with Tony Sheridan.
News of Sheridan and The Beatles' record was published on the front page of Mersey Beat -- a Liverpool music magazine -- which was available at Brian Epstein's music store, and prompted Epstein to order extra copies from Polydor.
In April 1962, The Beatles went back to Hamburg to play at the Star-Club, and were told that Sutcliffe had died two days before they arrived.
This was another shock for Lennon, after losing his uncle and mother.
On May 9, 1962, George Martin signed The Beatles to EMI's comedy label, Parlophone. After their first recording session, Martin voiced his displeasure with drummer Pete Best.
It was decided that Ringo Starr, drummer with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, should join, although it was left to manager Epstein to inform Best. Epstein dismissed Best on August 16, 1962, which was almost exactly two years after Best had joined the group.
The Beatles released their first double-sided original single, "Love Me Do" b/w "P.S. I Love You" on 5 October; it reached #17 on the British charts (although Starr did not play on these tracks, Martin having secured the services of Andy White a session drummer, before he knew Best had been replaced). On February 11, 1963, the group recorded their first album, Please Please Me. They recorded the entire album in one day with Lennon suffering from a common cold.
Please Please Me is the second single released by The Beatles in the United Kingdom, and the first to be issued in the United States. It was also the title track of their first LP, which was recorded to capitalise on the success of the single.
It was originally a John Lennon composition, although its ultimate form was significantly influenced by George Martin.
It is a common belief that Please Please Me was never a Number 1 single in Britain but on 22 February 1963 the song reached number one on the singles charts compiled by the New Musical Express (the most recognised chart at the time) and the Melody Maker where it was Number 1 for two weeks. It only reached number two on the Record Retailer chart, which subsequently evolved into the UK Singles Chart and is the most widely quoted today.
The single, as initially released with Ask Me Why on the B-side, failed to make much impact in the US, but when re-released there on January 3 1964 (this time with From Me to You on the B-side) it reached number three in the US Hot 100.
Originally, the Lennon-McCartney songs on the first pressing of the album (recorded in one day on February 11, 1963) as well as the single From Me to You, and its B-side, Thank You Girl, are credited to "McCartney-Lennon," but this was later changed to "Lennon-McCartney."
From Me to You is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and released by The Beatles as a single in 1963. The single was the Beatles' first number one in some of the United Kingdom charts, second in others, but failed to make an impact in the United States at the time of its initial release. However, a 1963 cover version released by Del Shannon resulted in the song becoming the first Lennon/McCartney tune to enter the American pop chart. It was one of the very last songs to be credited "McCartney/Lennon"; soon afterwards their songs began appearing credited to "Lennon/McCartney."
Lennon and McCartney began writing "From Me to You" while on a coach heading to Shrewsbury as part of the Beatles' tour with Helen Shapiro. The title was inspired by the name of the letters section of the New Musical Express, which they had been reading: "From You to Us."
McCartney noted that their early songs tended to include the words I, me, or you in them, as a way of making them "very direct and personal."
In his 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon recalled writing the song:
We were writing it in a car I think, and I think the first line was mine. I mean I know it was mine [Hums melody of first line]. And then after that we took it from there. It was far bluesier than that when we wrote it. The notes—today you could rearrange it pretty funky."
McCartney also talked about rearranging the song in 1964:
From Me to You -- it could be done as an old ragtime tune -- especially the middle eight -- and so we're not writing the tunes in any particular idiom. In five years time we may arrange the tunes differently. But we'll probably write the same old rubbish!
McCartney was not the only one on the bus who called it rubbish -- singer Kenny Lynch, upon hearing the Beatles singing "ooh," remarked "You can't do that. You'll sound like a bunch of fucking fairies!" Soon afterwards he stormed off, declaring the Beatles didn't know anything about songwriting.
Roger Greenway recounted the story:
John and Paul were sitting at the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch, who at this time fancied himself as a songwriter, sauntered up to the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch ... decided he would help them write a song. After a period of about half-an-hour had elapsed and nothing seemed to be coming from the back, Kenny rushed to the front and shouted, 'Well, that's it. I am not going to write any more of that bloody rubbish with those idiots. They don't know music from their backsides. That's it! No more help from me!'
Regardless, the song was regarded by the Beatles as innovative and catchy enough to be released as a single. This was one Lennon/McCartney song that the duo truly co-wrote; McCartney described it as "very much co-written."
"From Me to You" comprises five verses and two bridges. The form is Intro, V V B, V V B, V, Coda. The first half of the fourth verse is instrumental.The last half of each verse is a mini-refrain, while the lyrics of the bridges are identical. The verses each consist of a rather short eight measures played in C-major. In the bridge the song modulates to the subdominant (IV) key: F-major. The tonic-subdominant modulation is almost a cliché, but Lennon & McCartney avoids the cliché by going another route from I to IV than the standard I-I7-IV. At the bridge's climax, the chord changes are accompanied by "woo!" Another characterizing element in the bridge is the augmented chord - a Gaug - that ends the bridge and leads back to home key (C-major). Lennon plays prominent harmonica solos during the beginning, middle and end of the song, as he did with Love Me Do.
McCartney said of the song:
The thing I liked about From Me to You was it had a very complete middle. It went to a surprising place. The opening chord of the middle section of that song heralded a new batch for me. That was a pivotal song. Our songwriting lifted a little with that song.
The idea of singing the song's opening lick—the "da da da da da dum dum da" part -- was suggested by George Martin, the Beatles' producer. The group thought it unusual but put their trust in Martin. "In a way, this made [the Beatles] aware of George's enormous musical sense," EMI producer Ron Richards later said.
In the song, the singer offers his love to the object of his affections -- he has "everything that you want." Although the song is based on first-person pronouns, it lacks a lead singer.
Lennon and McCartney usually needed an hour or two to finish a song; most of which were written in hotel rooms after a concert, at Wimpole Street -- Jane Asher's home -- or at Cavendish Avenue; McCartney's home or at Kenwood (Lennon's house).
[McCartney, Starr, Harrison, and Lennon on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964]
The album and single hit #1 in Britain, and EMI offered the album to their U.S. subsidiary, Capitol Records, but they turned it down.
Epstein finally secured a deal with Vee-Jay Records; a predominantly black R&B and gospel label.
Neither the single or the accompanying album, Introducing The Beatles, were successful in the US. By the time the group recorded She Loves You, they were dropped from Vee Jay and once again, Capitol declined to release their records. EMI were forced to release it on the even more obscure Swan Records label.
She Loves You
"She Loves You" is based on an idea by McCartney, originally recorded by The Beatles for release as a single in 1963. The single set and surpassed several records in the United Kingdom charts, and set a record in the United States by being one of the five Beatles songs which held the top five positions in the American charts simultaneously, a record which is still unchallenged. It is the Beatles' best-selling single in the United Kingdom, and was the best selling single in Britain in 1963.
The song was also the first time Lennon's name had taken precedence over McCartney in the credits — until then, they had traditionally been credited as "McCartney/Lennon."
The song was one of the Beatles' first songs to be heard by a substantial amount of Americans ; the only United States release by the Beatles that had even charted before that was "From Me to You," which lasted three weeks in August 1963, never going higher than number 116.
She Loves You was, under the title, Sie liebt dich, one of the two songs rerecorded by the Beatles in German (the other being Komm, gib mir deine Hand). Sie liebt dich was released in Germany and in the USA b/w I'll Get You by "Die Beatles" on May 21, 1964.
McCartney and Lennon started composing She Loves You after a concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle as part of their tour with Roy Orbison and Gerry & The Pacemakers. They began writing the song on the tour bus, and continued it later that night at their hotel in Newcastle.
In 2003, plans to install a plaque at the hotel concerned were stalled after it turned out neither Paul McCartney nor Ringo Starr, the surviving Beatles, could recall whether it was the Imperial Hotel or the Royal Turk's Head where the group had stayed.
The other circumstances under which the song was written are generally agreed upon. In 2000 McCartney said: "There was a Bobby Rydell song out at the time Forget Him and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another. We were in a van up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. I'd planned an 'answering song' where a couple of us would sing 'she loves you' and the other ones would answer 'yeah yeah'. We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called She Loves You. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it — John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars." It was completed the following day at McCartney's family home at Forthlin Road, Liverpool.
Unusually for a love song, the lyrics were written in the third person. This idea was attributed by Lennon to McCartney in 1980: "It was Paul's idea: instead of singing 'I love you' again, we’d have a third party. That kind of little detail is still in his work. He will write a story about someone. I'm more inclined to write about myself."
The British music establishment at that time found the phrase "yeah" controversial. National radio in the form of the BBC broadcast the single and "in some quarters it was seen to hail the collapse of civilised society."
Lennon, being mindful of Elvis Presley's All Shook Up, wanted something equally as stirring: "I don't know where the 'yeah yeah yeah' came from. I remember when Elvis did All Shook Up it was the first time in my life that I had heard 'uh huh,' 'oh yeah,' and 'yeah yeah' all sung in the same song."
"The 'wooooo' was taken from The Isley Brothers' Twist And Shout. We stuck it in everything."
McCartney recalls them playing the finished song on acoustic guitars to his father at home immediately after the song was completed: "We went into the living room [and said] 'Dad, listen to this. What do you think? And he said 'That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you sing "She loves you, yes, yes, yes!". At which point we collapsed in a heap and said 'No, Dad, you don't quite get it!'."
George Martin, The Beatles' producer, questioned the validity of the major add six chord that ends the song, an idea suggested by George Harrison "They sort of finished on this curious singing chord which was a major sixth, with George [Harrison] doing the sixth and the others doing the third and fifth in the chord. It was just like a Glen Miller arrangement."
McCartney later reflected: "We took it to George Martin and sang 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeeeaah…' and that tight little sixth cluster we had at the end. George said: 'It's very corny, I would never end on a sixth.' But we said 'It's such a great sound, it doesn't matter'."
The recording of the song on 1 July 1963 was done on a two-track recording machine. Standard procedure at EMI Studios at the time was to erase the original two-track session tape for singles once they had been "mixed down" to the (usually monaural) master tape used to press records.
This was the fate of two Beatles singles (four songs): Love Me Do, P.S. I Love You, She Loves You, and I'll Get You. These tracks only exist as a mono master, although several mock-stereo remixes have been made by EMI affiliates worldwide, including a few made in 1966 by Abbey Road engineer Geoff Emerick.
The German division of EMI (the parent of The Beatles' British record label, Parlophone Records) decided that the only way to sell Beatles records in Germany would be to re-record them in German. The Beatles thought it unnecessary, but were asked by George Martin to comply, recording Sie Liebt Dich on January 29, 1964, along with Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris. The Beatles recorded new vocals over the original backing track to I Want to Hold Your Hand but She Loves You required them to record a new rhythm track as the original two track recording had been scrapped.
The Beatles then embarked on a new song, Can't Buy Me Love. Other than the earlier sessions backing Tony Sheridan (recorded in Hamburg), Can't Buy Me love (recorded in Paris), Free as a Bird and Real Love (recorded at McCartney's Sussex studio over demos recorded by Lennon in New York City) -- it was the only time in their career that The Beatles recorded outside London.
The track was a big hit in Germany, but today the English versions are much better known in Germany (The Beatles' Red and Blue albums still feature the English hits on the German pressings).
On August 23, 1963, the She Loves You single was released in the United Kingdom with I'll Get You as the B-Side.
The single set several British sales records, starting with becoming the biggest-selling single, up to that point. It entered the charts on August 31 and remained in the charts for 31 consecutive weeks, eighteen of those weeks in the top three. During that period, it claimed the ranking of number one on September 14, stayed number one for four weeks, dropped back to the top three, then regained the top spot for two weeks starting on November 30. It made its way back into the charts for two weeks on April 11, 1964, peaking at 42.
It was the best-selling single of 1963, and remains the best-selling Beatles single in Britain today.
It was the best-selling single in the United Kingdom for 14 years until it was surpassed by Mull of Kintyre by Wings.
The song's gigantic success posed an ever-bigger puzzlement for The Beatles' producer, George Martin, and manager, Brian Epstein: why were The Beatles running up hit after hit in Britain, but utterly flopping on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Martin, who was angered by Capitol Records' stubbornness in turning down The Beatles, and a chance to become their record label in America, later recalled: "I said, for God's sake, do something about this. These boys are breaking it, and they're going to be fantastic throughout the world. So for heaven's sake latch onto them." This did not take long for Capitol of Canada, for She Loves You was a chart-topping hit there.
Before Capitol came along, The Beatles had been with Vee-Jay Records, until Vee-Jay failed to pay the royalties on time. Transglobal Music, an affiliate of EMI, held the licenses to The Beatles' output in America, and promptly ordered Vee-Jay to halt their manufacturing and distribution of Beatles records. Epstein, who needed a record label to release She Loves You in the United States, asked Transglobal to find another record label for him, and Transglobal came up with Swan Records. To avoid potential disagreements and lawsuits, the contract signed with Swan licensed to them only She Loves You and I'll Get You, enough only for the A- and B-Sides of a single -- and only for two years. Even four songs would be enough to abuse the contract in 1964, Vee-Jay released an album in America entitled Jolly What! England's Greatest Recording Stars: The Beatles & Frank Ifield on Stage, which in reality consisted of the only four Beatles songs that had been licensed to them, the rest of the album made up of performances by Frank Ifield.
When She Loves You came out as a single in America on September 16, 1963, nobody paid attention to it. Three months later, The Beatles released I Want to Hold Your Hand, which climbed all the way to number one, launching the British invasion of the American music scene, paving the way for more Beatles records, and releases by other British artists. Swan re-released the She Loves You single, which began a 15-week run on the American charts on January 24 1964, two of those weeks at number one. On March 21, Beatlemania had landed in America, spurred by The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in February, where they performed, among other songs, She Loves You. During its 15-week run in the American charts, She Loves You was joined by four other Beatles songs at the top five in the American charts.
New York City deejay Murray the K later recounted: "In late '63 they brought a record to me and mentioned the possibility that The Beatles might be coming to America, so I said, 'Okay,' and I put it on air. I had a record review contest on WINS at the time, where I'd play five new records each day. The audience would then vote on which records they liked best, and the winners of each week would be played next Saturday. And when I ran The Beatles in a contest with their record She Loves You, it came third out of five. But I still continued to play it for two or three weeks. But nothing happened. I mean, really no reaction. Absolutely nothing! Two months later I received an urgent call from my station manager in New York telling me 'The Beatles are coming!' 'Fine,' I said, 'Get an exterminator.'"
When Beatlemania reached the US, the record labels holding rights to Beatle songs rereleased them in various combinations. Swan claimed to own the rights to Sie liebt dich, the German version of She Loves You, although they did not. After buying and playing a copy of the German single, on May 21, 1964, Sie liebt dich was released by Swan in America, featuring I'll Get You on the B-Side, just like the English-sung single. American consumers bought the single as well, leading to a one-week run in the charts at 97th on June 21.
She Loves You was included on the US album, The Beatles' Second Album, which overtook Meet the Beatles! on 2 May 1964, reaching the top spot in the album charts. It was the first time an artist had taken over from themselves in the American album charts, and provided a hint of the successes The Beatles would continue to achieve.
The Beatles sang the chorus of She Loves You in the long fade-out of All You Need Is Love.
She Loves You avoids the use of a bridge, instead using a refrain to join the various verses. The chords tend to change every two measures, and the harmonic scheme is mostly static.
The lyrics were largely unconventional, again contrasting with the simplicity of I Want to Hold Your Hand. Critics panned the song, dismissing the "yeah, yeah, yeah," as an uncouth slang from a fad band. The "yeah"s were to have a great effect on The Beatles' image — in some parts of Europe, they became known as the Yeah-Yeahs.
John Lennon - voice, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney - voice, bass
George Harrison - vocal harmony, lead guitar
Ringo Starr - drums
George Martin - producer
Norman Smith - engineer
I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Want to Hold Your Hand was recorded in October 1963, it was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment. McCartney and Lennon did not have any particular inspiration for the song. Instead, they had received specific instructions from manager Brian Epstein to write a song with the American market in mind.
I Want to Hold Your Hand was the band's first number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, starting the British Invasion of the United States music charts. The song entered the chart on January 18 1964 at number 45 before it became the number one single for seven weeks and went onto last a total of 15 weeks in the chart.
It also held the top spot in the United Kingdom charts. A million copies of the single had already been ordered on its release. I Want to Hold Your Hand became The Beatles' best-selling single worldwide.
Manager Brian Epstein was getting worried about the Beatles' lack of commercial success in America -- their earlier singles had flopped there -- and so he encouraged Lennon and McCartney to write a song that would appeal to American listeners.
McCartney had recently moved into 57 Wimpole Street, London W1, where he was living as a guest of Dr. Richard and Margaret Asher, whose daughter, actress Jane Asher, had become McCartney’s steady girlfriend after meeting him earlier in the year. This location briefly became Lennon and McCartney’s new writing base, taking over from McCartney’s Forthlin Road home in Liverpool.
Margaret Asher taught the oboe in a "small, rather stuffy music room" in the basement and it was here that Lennon and McCartney sat at the piano and composed I Want to Hold Your Hand.
In September 1980, Lennon told Playboy magazine:
“We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in I Want to Hold Your Hand, I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, 'Oh you-u-u/ got that something...' And Paul hits this chord [E minor] and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that—both playing into each other's noses.”
In 1994, McCartney agreed with Lennon's description of the circumstances surrounding the composition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" saying:
“'Eyeball to eyeball' is a very good description of it. That's exactly how it was. I Want to Hold Your Hand was very co-written. It was our big number one; the one that would eventually break us in America.”
The Beatles started recording I Want to Hold Your Hand at EMI Studios in Studio 2 on 17 October 1963. This song, along with the single's flip side This Boy, was the first Beatles song to be recorded with four-track technology. The two songs were recorded on the same day, and each needed 17 takes to complete.
Also the Beatles were experimenting with organ-sounding guitars which was achieved by extreme compression on John Lennon's rhythm guitar.
Mono and stereo mixing was done by George Martin on 21 October 1963, and further stereo mixes were done on June 8 1965, for compilations released by EMI affiliates in Australia and the Netherlands, and on November 7, 1966.
In the UK, She Loves You (released in August) had shot back to the number one position in November following blanket media coverage of the Beatles (described as Beatlemania). Mark Lewisohn later wrote: “She Loves You had already sold an industry-boggling three quarters of a million before these fresh converts were pushing it into seven figures. And at this very moment, just four weeks before Christmas, with everyone connected to the music and relevant retail industries already lying prone in paroxysms of unimaginable delight, EMI pulled the trigger and released I Want To Hold Your Hand. And then it was bloody pandemonium."
On 29 November 1963, Parlophone Records released I Want to Hold Your Hand in the United Kingdom, with This Boy joining it on the single's B-side. Demand had been building for quite a while, as evidenced by the one million advance orders for the single. When it was finally released, the response was phenomenal. A week after it entered the British charts, on 14 December 1963, it knocked She Loves You, another Beatles song, off the top spot, the first such instance of the same act taking over from itself at number one in British history, clinging to the top spot for five full weeks. It stayed in the charts for another 15 weeks afterwards, and incredibly made a one-week return to the charts on May 16 1964. Beatlemania was peaking at that time; during the same period, the Beatles set a record by occupying the top two positions on both the album and single charts in the United Kingdom.
EMI and Brian Epstein finally convinced American label Capitol Records, a subsidiary of EMI, that the Beatles could make an impact in the United States, leading to the release of I Want to Hold Your Hand with I Saw Her Standing There on the B-Side as a single on December 26 1963. Capitol had previously resisted issuing Beatle recordings in the U.S. This resulted in the relatively modest Vee-Jay and Swan labels releasing the group's earlier Parlophone counterparts in the U.S. Seizing the opportunity, Epstein demanded US$40,000 from Capitol to promote the single (the most the Beatles had ever previously spent on an advertising campaign was US$5,000). The single had actually been intended for release in mid-January 1964, coinciding with the planned appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, a 14-year old fan of the Beatles, Marsha Albert, was determined to get hold of the single earlier.
Later she said:
“It wasn't so much what I had seen, it's what I had heard. They had a scene where they played a clip of She Loves You and I thought it was a great song ... I wrote that I thought the Beatles would be really popular here, and if [deejay Carroll James] could get one of their records, that would really be great.”
James was the deejay for WWDC, a radio station in Washington, D.C. Eventually he decided to pursue Albert's suggestion to him and asked the station's promotion director to get British Overseas Airways Corporation to ship in a copy of I Want to Hold Your Hand from Britain.
Albert related what happened next: "Carroll James called me up the day he got the record and said 'If you can get down here by 5 o'clock, we'll let you introduce it.'" Albert managed to get to the station in time, and introduced the record with: "Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time on the air in the United States, here are the Beatles singing I Want to Hold Your Hand."
The song proved to be a huge hit, a surprise for the station, as they catered mainly to a more staid audience, which would normally be expecting songs from singers such as Andy Williams or Bobby Vinton instead of rock and roll. James took to playing the song repeatedly on the station, often turning down the song in the middle to make the declaration, "This is a Carroll James exclusive," to avoid theft of the song by other stations.
Capitol threatened to seek a court order banning airplay of I Want to Hold Your Hand, which was already being spread by James to a couple of deejays in Chicago and St. Louis. James and WWDC ignored the threat, and Capitol came to the conclusion that they could well take advantage of the publicity, releasing the single two weeks ahead of schedule on December 26.
The demand was insatiable; in the first three days alone, a quarter million copies had already been sold (10,000 copies In New York City every hour). Capitol was so overloaded by the demand, it contracted part of the job of pressing copies off to Columbia Records and RCA. By January 18, the song had started its 15-week chart run, and on February 1, the Beatles finally achieved their first number-one in America, emulating the success of another British group, the Tornados with Telstar, which was number one on the Billboard charts for three weeks over Christmas and New Year 1962-1963. The Beatles finally relinquished the number one spot after seven weeks, passing the baton to the very song they had knocked off the top in Britain: She Loves You. Hunter Davies's biography of the band states that I Want to Hold Your Hand received certification for sales of 5 million copies in the US alone. The replacement of themselves at the summit of the U.S. charts was the first time since Elvis Presley in 1956, with Love Me Tender beating out Don't Be Cruel, that an act had dropped off the top of the American charts only to be replaced by another of their releases.
With that, the "British Invasion" of America had been launched. Throughout 1964, only British artists flew high at the top of the American charts; including The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Hollies, and Herman's Hermits.
The American single's front and back sleeves featured a photograph of the Beatles with Paul McCartney holding a cigarette. In 1984, Capitol Records airbrushed out the cigarette for the re-release of the single.
I Want to Hold Your Hand was also released in America on Meet the Beatles!, which ground-breakingly altered the American charts by actually outselling the single.
Beforehand, the American markets were more in favour of hit singles instead of whole albums; however, two months after the album's release, it had shipped more than three-and-a-half million copies, a little over a hundred thousand ahead of the I Want to Hold Your Hand single.
The song was greeted by raving fans on both sides of the Atlantic but was dismissed by some critics as nothing more than another fad song that would not hold up to the test of time. Cynthia Lowery of the Associated Press expressed her exasperation with Beatlemania by saying of the Beatles: "Heaven knows we've heard them enough. It has been impossible to get a radio weather bulletin or time signal without running into I Want to Hold Your Hand."
Bob Dylan was impressed by the Beatles' innovation, saying, "They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid."
For a time Dylan thought the Beatles were singing "I get high" instead of "I can't hide." He was surprised when he met them and found out that none of them had actually smoked marijuana.
The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, but the award went to Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz for The Girl from Ipanema. However, in 1998, the song won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award. It has also made the list in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Starting at the song's final week at #1 on the American charts, the Beatles had a whopping record of seven #1 songs in one year. In order, these were I Want to Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Can't Buy Me Love, Love Me Do (a somewhat out-of-place 1962 re-release),
[From the film, A Hard Day's Night (1964)]
A Hard Day's Night, I Feel Fine, and ending with
Eight Days a Week one year later.
Reminiscent of Tin Pan Alley and Brill Building techniques and an example of modified thirty-two-bar form, the song is written on a two-bridge model, with only an intervening verse to connect them. The song has no real "lead" singer, as Lennon and McCartney sing in harmony with each other. Lennon's vocals are more prominent on the recording; however, when the Beatles performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, McCartney's vocals could be heard more clearly (although this may have been due to the audio mix, as their microphones weren't turned to the same sound level).
John Lennon – vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
Paul McCartney – vocal, bass guitar, handclaps
George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps
She Loves You did eventually hit #1 in January 1964, after Capitol Records finally released I Want To Hold Your Hand in America. Following the historic Ed Sullivan Show appearances, The Beatles would embark on a two-year non-stop period of productivity: constant international tours, making movies, and writing hit songs. Lennon wrote two books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works, while The Beatles achieved recognition from the British Establishment when they were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Lennon complained that nobody heard them play for all the screaming, and their musicianship was beginning to erode.
By the time he wrote his 1965 song Help!, he said he was subconsciously crying out for help and seeking change.
Help! is the title of the fifth British and ninth American album by The Beatles, and the soundtrack from their film of the same name. Produced by George Martin for EMI's Parlophone Records, it contains fourteen songs in its original British form, of which seven appeared in the film Help! These songs took up the first side of the vinyl album and included the singles
Ticket to Ride. The second side contained seven other releases including the most covered 20th-century popular song ever written, Yesterday.
The American release was a true soundtrack album, mixing the first seven songs with orchestral material from the film. Of the other seven songs, two were released on the US version of the next Beatles album, Rubber Soul, two were back-to-back on the next US single and then appeared on Yesterday and Today and three had already been on Beatles VI.
The album features Paul McCartney's Yesterday, arranged for guitar and string quartet and recorded without the other group members. John Lennon's You've Got to Hide Your Love Away indicates the influence of Bob Dylan and includes classical flutes. While several compositions on 1964's Beatles for Sale, as well as I'll Cry Instead from A Hard Day's Night, had leaned in a country and western direction, McCartney's I've Just Seen a Face was almost pure country, taken at such a fast tempo that it might have been bluegrass if not for the absence of banjo and fiddle.
Ticket to Ride, also released as a single, was felt by Lennon to be "heavy" in its sound compared to the group's previous output and daring in its reference to a boy and girl living together.
McCartney called the arrangement "quite radical."
George Harrison contributed I Need You and You Like Me Too Much, his first compositions to be included on a Beatles album since Don't Bother Me, from 1963's With The Beatles.
The record contained two cover versions and a few tracks more closely related to the group's previous pop output, yet still marked a decisive step forward towards forthcoming achievements.
The record sleeve-note shows Lennon and McCartney made more extensive and prominent use of keyboards, previously played unobtrusively by Martin, which would alter the group's future sound and the way they, particularly McCartney, went about the recording process. Four-track overdubbing technology encouraged this. Lennon, for his part, made much greater use of acoustic guitar, forsaking his famous Rickenbacker. All these developments can be traced on the previous Beatles for Sale, but were less obvious as this had been recorded more hastily, lacked chart hits and contained many old favourite cover versions.
The original LP's format of featuring songs from the soundtrack on side one and non-soundtrack songs on side two follows the format of the album A Hard Day's Night.
In later years, Lennon said that the title track of the album was a sincere cry for help, as the pressures of The Beatles' fame and his own unhappiness began to build, and that he regretted turning it from a downbeat song in the style of Roy Orbison's Only the Lonely to an upbeat pop song as a result of commercial pressures.
All songs written and composed by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted.
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. "Help!" Lennon 2:18
2. "The Night Before" McCartney 2:33
3. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" Lennon 2:08
4. "I Need You" (George Harrison) Harrison 2:28
5. "Another Girl" McCartney 2:05
6. "You're Going to Lose That Girl" Lennon 2:17
7. "Ticket to Ride" Lennon 3:10
No. Title Lead Vocals Length
1. "Act Naturally" (Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison) Starr 2:29
2. "It's Only Love" Lennon 1:54
3. "You Like Me Too Much" (Harrison) Harrison 2:35
4. "Tell Me What You See" McCartney 2:36
5. "I've Just Seen a Face" McCartney 2:04
6. "Yesterday" McCartney 2:03
7. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams) Lennon 2:53
Day Tripper is a song by The Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was released as a double A-side single with We Can Work It Out.
Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the Rubber Soul album. Day Tripper topped the UK Singles Chart and the song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100.
Under the pressure of needing a new single for the Christmas market, Lennon wrote most of the lyrics and the famous guitar hook, while McCartney worked on the verses. Day Tripper was a typical play on words by Lennon: "Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But [the song] was kind of . . . you're just a weekend hippie. Get it?"
In the same interview Lennon said, "That's mine. Including the lick, the guitar break and the whole bit."
In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, however, he used Day Tripper as one example of their collaboration, where one partner had the main idea but the other took up the cause and completed it.
For his part, McCartney claimed it was very much a collaboration based on Lennon's original idea.
In Many Years From Now, McCartney said that Day Tripper was about drugs, and "a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was ... committed only in part to the idea."
The line recorded as "she's a big teaser" was originally written as "she's a prick teaser."
According to music critic Ian MacDonald, the song "starts as a twelve-bar blues in E, which makes a feint at turning into a twelve-bar in the relative minor (i.e. the chorus) before doubling back to the expected B -- another joke from a group which had clearly decided that wit was to be their new gimmick."
Indeed, in 1966 McCartney said in Melody Maker that Day Tripper and Drive My Car (recorded three days prior) were "funny songs, songs with jokes in." McCartney provides the lead vocal for the verses and Lennon the harmony, in contrast to the Beatles' usual practice of a song's principal composer singing lead, although Lennon sings lead in the chorus, with McCartney on harmony.
The song was recorded on October 16, 1965. The Beatles recorded the basic rhythm track for If I Needed Someone after completing Day Tripper.
The released master contains one of the most noticeable mistakes of any Beatles song, a drop out at 1:58 (1:49 in the version on 1962–1966) in which the rhythm guitar part momentarily disappears. Bootleg releases of an early mix (which present an extended breakdown as opposed to a polished fadeout) feature a technical glitch on the session tape itself, with characteristics of an accidental recording over the original take as the recorder comes up to speed. This was later fixed on the 2000 compilation 1 and on the remastered Past Masters. Though not released on any album in the United Kingdom (until A Collection of Beatles Oldies, in 1966, and later on 1962–1966, aka the Red Album, released in 1973), it was released in the US on the album Yesterday and Today.
John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocal, backing vocal, rhythm/lead guitar
Paul McCartney – double-tracked lead vocal, backing vocal, bass
George Harrison – lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album by The Beatles, released in December 1965. Produced by George Martin, Rubber Soul had been recorded in just over four weeks to make the Christmas market. Unlike the five albums that preceded it, Rubber Soul was the first Beatles album recorded during a specific period, the sessions not dashed off in between either tour dates or during filming projects.
After this, every Beatles album would be made without the need to pay attention to other commitments, except for the production of short promotional films or principal photography and editing to Magical Mystery Tour. The album was described as a major artistic achievement, attaining widespread critical and commercial success, with reviewers taking note of the Beatles' developing musical vision.
The original United Kingdom release shows the "soul" influence of the album's title. Track list changes to the United States release, including two acoustic songs held over from the previous UK album, Help!, gave the US version a folk rock feel that critics attributed to The Byrds and Bob Dylan.
Rubber Soul is often cited as one of the greatest rock albums in music history.
Except for the UK album A Hard Day's Night (all songs attributed to Lennon-McCartney), this is the first Beatles album (both UK and US) to have only songs exclusively composed by members of the group.
According to Richie Unterberger, "[The Beatles] and George Martin were beginning to expand the conventional instrumental parameters of the rock group, using a sitar on Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), French-like guitar lines on Michelle and Girl, fuzz bass on Think for Yourself, and a piano made to sound like a harpsichord on the instrumental break of In My Life."
Musically, the Beatles broadened their sound, most notably with influences drawn from the contemporary folk-rock of the Byrds and Bob Dylan.
The album also saw the Beatles broadening rock and roll's instrumental resources, most notably on Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Although innovations of the kind had been made before -- British rock group The Kinks, after a visit to India, recorded the influential See My Friends, which utilised droning guitars (mimicking the sitar, an Indian stringed instrument) and a circular, hypnotic rhythm -- Norwegian Wood is generally credited as being the first pop recording to use an actual sitar.
The track sparked a musical craze for the sound of the novel-to-pop-western-ears instrument in the mid-1960s -- a trend which would later branch out into the raga rock and Indian rock genres.
The song was a major landmark in the trend towards incorporating non-Western musical influences into Western popular music. George Harrison had been introduced to Indian classical music and the sitar earlier that year, that interest later being fuelled by fellow Indian music fan David Crosby of the Byrds, whom Harrison met and befriended in August 1965.
Harrison soon became fanatically interested in the genre and began taking sitar lessons from renowned Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.
A broadening use of percussive arrangements, led by Ringo Starr's backbeats and frequently augmented by maracas and tambourine, can also be heard throughout the album, showcased in tracks such as Wait and Think for Yourself. Perhaps Starr's most unusual percussion source on the album, which was revealed by him to Barry Tashian of the Remains in the book Ticket To Ride, is created by his tapping a pack of matches with his finger. This "tapping" sound can be heard in the background of I'm Looking Through You.
Recording innovations were also made during the recording of the album -- for instance, the keyboard solo in In My Life sounds like a harpsichord, but was actually played on a piano.
George Martin found he could not match the tempo of the song while playing in this baroque style, so he tried recording with the tape running at half-speed. When played back at normal speed during the mixdown, the sped-up sound gave the illusion of a harpsichord.
Other production innovations included the use of electronic sound processing on many instruments, notably the heavily compressed and equalised piano sound on The Word; this distinctive effect soon became extremely popular in the genre of psychedelic music.
As well as the sitar on Norwegian Wood and The Word, they voiced the drug-influenced peace-and-love sentiments that would colour many psychedelic lyrics.
The song Wait was initially recorded for, and then left off, the album Help!. The reason the song was released on Rubber Soul was that the album was one song short, and with the Christmas deadline looming, the Beatles chose to release Wait instead of recording a new composition.
Lyrically, the album was a major progression. Though a smattering of earlier Beatles songs had expressed romantic doubt and negativity, the songs on Rubber Soul represented a pronounced development in sophistication, thoughtfulness, and ambiguity.
In particular, the relationships between the sexes moved from simpler boy-girl love songs to more nuanced, even negative portrayals. Norwegian Wood, one of the most famous examples and often cited as the Beatles' first conscious assimilation of the lyrical innovations of Bob Dylan, sketches a failed relationship between the singer and a mysterious girl, where she goes to bed and he sleeps in the bath.
Drive My Car serves as a satirical piece of sexism.
Songs like I'm Looking Through You, You Won't See Me, and Girl express more emotionally complex, even bitter and downbeat portrayals of romance, and
[Nowhere Man, as found in Yellow Submarine (1968)]
Nowhere Man was arguably the first Beatles song to move beyond a romantic subject.
Until very late in their career, the "primary" version of the Beatles' albums was always the monophonic mix. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, producer George Martin and the Abbey Road engineers devoted most of their time and attention to the mono mixdowns, and the band were not usually present for the stereo mixing sessions. Even with their landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, the stereo mixdowns were considered less important than the mono version and were completed in far less time.
While the stereo version of the original release of Rubber Soul was similar to that of their earliest albums, featuring mainly vocals on the right channel and instruments on the left, it was not produced in the same manner. The early albums were recorded on twin-track tape, and they were intended only for production of monaural records, so they kept vocals and instruments separated allowing the two parts to later be mixed in proper proportion. By this time, however, the Beatles were recording on four-track tape, which allowed a stereo master to be produced with vocals in the centre and instruments on both sides, as evidenced in their prior albums Beatles for Sale and Help! But Martin was looking for a way to easily produce a stereo album which sounded good on a monaural record player. In what he admits was some experimentation, he mixed down the four-track master tape to stereo with vocals on the right, instruments on the left, and nothing in the middle, even though in What Goes On, Ringo's vocal is mixed on the left instead of the right, with McCartney's harmony vocal on the right.
What Goes On is the first song which has Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) as co-composer beside Lennon/McCartney. The end of the song is different on the mono and stereo versions.
After completing the album and the accompanying single We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper, the Beatles were exhausted from years of virtually non-stop touring, recording, and film work. They subsequently took a three-month break during the first part of 1966, and used this free time exploring new directions that would color their subsequent musical work. These became immediately apparent in the next album, Revolver.
The photo of the Beatles on the Rubber Soul cover appears stretched. McCartney relates the story behind this in Volume 5 of the documentary film Anthology. Photographer Bob Freeman had taken some pictures of the Beatles at Lennon's house. Freeman showed the photos to the group by projecting them onto an album-sized piece of cardboard to simulate how they would appear on an album cover. The unusual Rubber Soul album cover came to be when the slide card fell slightly backwards, elongating the projected image of the photograph and stretching it. Excited by the effect, they shouted, "Ah! Can we have that? Can you do it like that?" Freeman said he could.
The distinctive lettering was created by Charles Front, and the original artwork was later auctioned at Bonhams, accompanied by an authenticating letter from Robert Freeman.
Capitol Records used a different colour saturation for the US version, causing the orange lettering used by Parlophone Records to show up as different colours. On some Capitol LPs, the title looks rich chocolate brown; others, more like gold. Yet on the official 1987 CD of the British version, the Capitol logo is visible, and the letters are not brown, nor the official orange, but a distinct green. The 2009 CD reissue uses the original UK cover design with the Parlophone logo.
The Rubber Soul cover was the first by the Beatles to not have the group's name on it. Though this wasn't the first time in rock/pop history this had been done (Elvis Presley, Them, and the Rolling Stones had done it previously), releasing an album without the artist's name on the cover was uncommon in 1965. Future Beatles albums, including Revolver, Abbey Road, Let It Be and the American compilation Hey Jude also have covers without the words 'The Beatles' on them. By contrast, The Beatles, commonly called the White Album, contained only the words 'The Beatles' on the cover.
McCartney conceived the album's title after overhearing a musician's description of Mick Jagger's singing style as "plastic soul." Lennon confirmed this in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, stating, "That was Paul's title... meaning English soul. Just a pun."
McCartney said a similar phrase, "Plastic soul, man. Plastic soul...", at the end of "I'm Down" take 1, on Anthology 2.
There were two different stereo versions released on vinyl in the US: the standard US stereo mix, and the "Dexter Stereo" version (also known as the "East Coast" version), which has a layer of reverb added to the entire album. The standard US stereo mix and the original mono mix are available on CD as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 box set.
Rubber Soul, the ninth Capitol Records album and eleventh official US release (ST-2442), came out in the United States three days after the British release, and began its 59-week long chart run on Christmas Day. It topped the charts for six weeks from 8 January 1966, before dropping back. The album sold 1.2 million copies within nine days of its release, and to date has sold over six million copies in America.
Like other pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles albums, Rubber Soul differed markedly in its US and UK configurations; indeed, through peculiarities of sequencing, the US Rubber Soul was deliberately reconfigured to appear a "folk rock" album to angle the Beatles into that emerging and lucrative American genre during 1965.
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) first appeared on the 1965 album Rubber Soul. While credited to Lennon/McCartney, it was primarily written by Lennon, though McCartney contributed to the middle section. It is notable as one of the first Western pop songs with an Indian musical instrument -- John Lennon's guitar is accompanied by George Harrison on the sitar. The song is a lilting 6/8 acoustic ballad featuring Lennon's lead vocal and typical Beatles harmonies in the middle.
During an American tour in 1965, Harrison's friend David Crosby of the Byrds introduced him to Indian classical music and the work of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
Harrison became fascinated with the instrument, immersed himself in Indian music and played an important role in popularizing the sitar in particular and Indian music in general in the West.
Buying a sitar himself as the Beatles came back from a Far East tour, he became the first Western popular musician to play one on a pop record, on the Rubber Soul track Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). He championed Shankar with Western audiences and was largely responsible for having him included on the bill at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. After a few initial lessons with Pandit Ravi Shankar, Harrison was placed under the tutelage of Shambhu Das.
Norwegian Wood was one of several songs on Rubber Soul in which the singer faces an antagonistic relationship with a woman. In direct contrast to earlier Beatles songs such as She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand, the songs on Rubber Soul were considerably darker in their outlook towards romantic relationships.
The instrumentation and oblique lyric represented one of the first indications of the groups expanding musical consciousness and relatively experimental approach for popular music.
On March 4, 1966, Lennon was interviewed for the London Evening Standard by Maureen Cleave, and talked about Christianity by saying:
"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I do not know what will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity. We're more popular than Jesus now. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary."
Five months later, an American teen magazine called Datebook reprinted part of the quote on its front cover.
The American Bible Belt protested in the South and Midwest, and conservative groups staged public burnings of Beatles' records and memorabilia.
Many radio stations banned The Beatles' music, and some concert venues cancelled performances. At a press conference in Chicago, on 11 August 1966, Lennon addressed the growing controversy:
“ I was not saying whatever they're saying I was saying. I'm sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologise if that will make you happy. I still do not know quite what I've done. I've tried to tell you what I did do, but if you want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry.”
The Vatican accepted Lennon's apology.
Lennon later wrote, "I always remember to thank Jesus for the end of my touring days; if I hadn't said that The Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus' and upset the very Christian Ku Klux Klan, well, Lord, I might still be up there with all the other performing fleas! God bless America. Thank you, Jesus."
Revolver is the seventh album by English rock group The Beatles, released on 5 August 1966.
Many of the tracks on Revolver are marked by an electric guitar-rock sound, in contrast with their previous, folk rock inspired Rubber Soul. It reached number one on both the British chart and American chart and stayed at the top spot for seven weeks and six weeks, respectively.
The album was released before their last tour in August 1966, but they did not perform songs from the album live. Their reasoning for this was that many of the tracks on the album, such as Tomorrow Never Knows, were too complex to perform with live instruments.
They toured with Paperback Writer as their only new song from 1966, which was not on the album.
The album is often regarded as one of the greatest achievements in rock music history, and one of the Beatles' greatest studio achievements.
Eleanor Rigby combines Paul McCartney's brand of lyrical imagery with a string octet (a conventional string quartet, doubled) arranged by George Martin under McCartney's direction. Both the lyrics and arrangement are a major departure from the Beatles' prior output.
Although Martin once pointed to Bernard Herrmann's score for Fahrenheit 451 as inspiration for the string arrangement, the film was not released until several months after the recording; Martin later claims he was thinking of Herrmann's score for Psycho.
The compression and lack of reverberation given to the strings provides a stark, urgent sound that complements Martin's arrangement.
McCartney originated the song and the name, rejecting his initial choice, Daisy Hawkins, in favour of a name derived from the Beatles' Help! costar Eleanor Bron and by Rigby & Evens, a wine shop McCartney noticed in Bristol. The fact that an actual person named Eleanor Rigby is buried in Liverpool's Woolton Cemetery is a bizarre coincidence. McCartney initially named the clergyman Father McCartney, but picked the name MacKenzie out of a phone book, out of concern that the character could be misinterpreted as being the writer's father.
Eleanor Rigby is one of the few songs with lyric contributions from all four Beatles. John Lennon laid claim to "40 percent" of the lyrics, including the line "Wearing a face that she keeps in the jar by the door," though those present at the writing dispute Lennon's claim. Ringo Starr contributed the line "Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no-one will hear," and George Harrison provided the "Ah, look at all the lonely people" hook.
Eleanor Rigby was released as a double A-side (with Yellow Submarine) concurrently with the album.
The Beatles' unfolding innovation in the recording studio reaches its apex with the album's final track. Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows was one of the first songs in the emerging genre of psychedelic music, and included such groundbreaking techniques as reverse guitar, processed vocals and looped tape effects. Musically, it is drone-like, with a strongly syncopated, repetitive drum-beat. The lyrics were inspired by Timothy Leary's book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, although the title itself was inspired by a Ringo Starr malapropism.
Much of the backing track consists of a series of prepared tape loops, stemming from Lennon's and McCartney's interest in and experiments with magnetic tape and musique concrète techniques at that time. According to Beatles session chronicler Mark Lewisohn, Lennon and McCartney prepared a series of loops at home, and these then were added to the pre-recorded backing track. This was reportedly done live in a single take, with multiple tape recorders running simultaneously, some of the longer loops extending out of the control room and down the corridor.
Lennon's processed lead vocal was another innovation. Always in search of ways to enhance or alter the sound of his voice, he gave a directive to EMI engineer Geoff Emerick that he wanted to sound like he was singing from the top of a high mountain. Emerick solved the problem by routing a signal from the recording console into the studio's Leslie speaker, giving Lennon's vocal its ethereal, filtered quality (he was later reprimanded by the studio's management for doing this).
A key production technique used for the first time on this album was automatic double tracking (ADT), invented by EMI engineer Ken Townsend on 6 April 1966. This technique used two linked tape recorders to automatically create a doubled vocal track. The standard method was to double the vocal by singing the same piece twice onto a multitrack tape, a task Lennon particularly disliked. The Beatles were reportedly delighted with the invention, and used it extensively on Revolver. ADT quickly became a standard pop production technique, and led to related developments, including the artificial chorus effect.
“ In many respects, Revolver is one of the very first psychedelic LPs -- not only in its numerous shifts in mood and production texture, but in its innovative manipulation of amplification and electronics to produce new sounds on guitars and other instruments.
In 1972, Lennon offered some context for the influence of drugs on the Beatles' creativity (quoted in The Beatles Anthology):
“ It's like saying, 'Did Dylan Thomas write Under Milk Wood on beer?' What does that have to do with it? The beer is to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you. The drugs are to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you. They don't make you write any better. I never wrote any better stuff because I was on acid or not on acid. ”
The cover illustration was created by German-born bassist and artist Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles' oldest friends from their days at the Star Club in Hamburg. Voormann's illustration, part line drawing and part collage, included photographs by Robert Whitaker, who also took the back cover photographs and many other images of the group between 1964 and 1966, such as the infamous "butcher cover" for Yesterday and Today. Voormann's own photo as well as his name (Klaus O. W. Voormann) is worked into Harrison's hair on the right-hand side of the cover. In the Revolver cover appearing in his artwork for Anthology 3, he replaced this image with a more recent photo. Harrison's Revolver image was seen again on his single release of When We Was Fab along with an updated version of the same image.
The title Revolver, like Rubber Soul before it, is a pun, referring both to a kind of handgun as well as the "revolving" motion of the record as it is played on a turntable. The Beatles had a difficult time coming up with this title. According to Barry Miles in his book Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now, the title that the four had originally wanted was Abracadabra, until they discovered that another band had already used it. After that, opinion split: Lennon wanted to call it Four Sides of the Eternal Triangle and Starr jokingly suggested After Geography, playing on The Rolling Stones' recently released Aftermath LP. Other suggestions included Magical Circles, Beatles on Safari, Pendulum, and, finally, Revolver, whose wordplay was the one that all four agreed upon. The title was chosen while the band were on tour in Japan in June-July 1966. Due to security measures, they spent much of their time in their Tokyo Hilton hotel room; the name Revolver was selected as all four collaborated on a large psychedelic painting.
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Taxman" (George Harrison) Harrison 2:39
2. "Eleanor Rigby" McCartney 2:08
3. "I'm Only Sleeping" Lennon 3:02
4. "Love You To" (Harrison) Harrison 3:01
5. "Here, There and Everywhere" McCartney 2:26
6. "Yellow Submarine" Starr 2:40
7. "She Said She Said" Lennon 2:37
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Good Day Sunshine" McCartney 2:10
2. "And Your Bird Can Sing" Lennon 2:02
3. "For No One" McCartney 2:01
4. "Doctor Robert" Lennon 2:15
5. "I Want to Tell You" (Harrison) Harrison 2:30
6. "Got to Get You into My Life" McCartney 2:31
7. "Tomorrow Never Knows" Lennon 2:57
John Lennon: lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; lead, harmony and background vocals; piano, Hammond organ and harmonium; tape loops and sound effects; cowbell, tambourine, maracas, handclaps and finger snaps.
Paul McCartney: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead, acoustic and bass guitars; piano and clavichord; tape loops and sound effects; handclaps and finger snaps.
George Harrison: lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; lead, harmony and background vocals; sitar; sound effects; maracas, tambourine, handclaps and finger snaps.
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, maracas, handclaps and finger snaps; lead and background vocals.
Additional musicians and production staff
Anil Bhagwat – tabla on "Love You To"
Alan Civil – French horn on "For No One"
Brian Jones – background vocals on "Yellow Submarine" (uncredited)
Donovan – background vocals on "Yellow Submarine" (uncredited)
Geoff Emerick – recording and mixing engineer; tape-loops of the marching band on "Yellow Submarine"
George Martin – producer; piano on "Good Day Sunshine" and "Tomorrow Never Knows"; Hammond organ on "Got to Get You into My Life"; tape-loops of the marching band on "Yellow Submarine"
Mal Evans – bass drum and background vocals on "Yellow Submarine"
Marianne Faithfull – background vocals on "Yellow Submarine" (uncredited)
Neil Aspinall – background vocals on "Yellow Submarine" (uncredited)
Pattie Boyd – background vocals on "Yellow Submarine" (uncredited)
Tony Gilbert, Sidney Sax, John Sharpe, Jurgen Hess - violins; Stephen Shingles, John Underwood - violas; Derek Simpson, Norman Jones - cellos: string octet on "Eleanor Rigby", orchestrated and conducted by George Martin (uncredited, with Paul McCartney)
Eddie Thornton, Ian Hamer, Les Condon - trumpet; Peter Coe, Alan Branscombe - tenor saxophone: horn section on "Got To Get You Into My Life" orchestrated and conducted by George Martin (uncredited, with Paul McCartney)
Produced by George Martin
Engineered by Geoff Emerick
Mixed by George Martin and Geoff Emerick
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the eighth studio album by The Beatles. Recorded over a 129-day period beginning on December 6, 1966, the album was released on June 1, 1967 in the United Kingdom and the following day in the United States. Sgt. Pepper is often described as The Beatles' magnum opus, and is perhaps the most influential rock album to date.
When Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was being recorded, "Beatlemania" was waning.
The Beatles had grown tired of touring and had quit the road on August 29, 1966, at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA. After one particular concert, while being driven away in the back of a small van, the four of them -- even Paul McCartney, who was perhaps the most in favor of continuing to tour -- decided that enough was enough.
From that point on the Beatles became an entirely studio-based band. For the first time in their careers, the band had more than ample time with which to prepare their next record. As EMI's premier act and Britain's most successful pop group they had almost unlimited access to the lastest technology of Abbey Road Studios. All four band members had already developed a preference for long late night sessions, although they were still extremely efficient and highly disciplined in their studio habits.
Two songs dropped from Sgt. Pepper, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, were both recorded in late 1966 and early 1967. Brian Epstein decided that a new single was needed; the two songs were issued as a double-A-sided single in February 1967.
In keeping with the group's usual practice, the single tracks were not included on the LP (a decision George Martin maintains he regrets to this day).
They were released only as a single in the UK at the time, but were included as part of the American LP version of Magical Mystery Tour (which was issued as a 6-track Extended Play in Britain). The Harrison composition Only a Northern Song was also recorded during the Pepper sessions but did not see release until January 1969 when the soundtrack album for the animated feature Yellow Submarine was issued.
With Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles wanted to create a record that could, in effect, tour for them -- an idea they had already explored with the promotional film-clips made over the previous years, intended to promote them in the United States when they were not touring there.
McCartney decided that he should create fictitious characters for each band member and record an album that would be a performance by that fictitious band. This "alter-ego group" gave the Beatles the freedom to experiment with songs.
The Beatles' fame motivated them to grow moustaches and beards and even longer hair, and was an inspiration for the disguise of their flamboyant Sgt. Pepper costumes. McCartney was well known for going out in public in disguise and all four had used aliases for travel bookings and hotel reservations.
Thus, the album starts with the title song, which introduces Sgt. Pepper's band itself; this song segues seamlessly into a sung introduction for bandleader "Billy Shears" (Starr), who performs With a Little Help from My Friends. A reprise version of the title song was also recorded, and appears on side 2 of the original album (just prior to the climactic A Day in the Life), creating a ternary structure.
However, the Beatles effectively abandoned the concept after recording the first two songs and the reprise. Lennon was unequivocal in stating that the songs he wrote for the album had nothing to do with the Sgt. Pepper concept. Since the other songs on the album are actually unrelated, one might be tempted to conclude that the album does not express an overarching theme. However, the cohesive structure and careful sequencing of and transitioning between songs on the album, as well as the use of the Sgt. Pepper framing device, have led the album to be widely acknowledged as an early example of the concept album, part of the continuing evolution of the song cycle.
Before beginning work on Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles had begun a series of songs that were to form an album thematically linked to childhood and everyday life.
The first fruits of this exercise - Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever were released as a double-A single after EMI and Epstein pressured George Martin for a released single.
Once the singles were released the concept was abandoned in favour of Pepper.
However, traces of this initial idea survive in the lyrics to several songs on the album (A Day in the Life; Lovely Rita; Good Morning, Good Morning; She's Leaving Home; Getting Better; When I'm Sixty-Four), and it could be argued that the earlier concept provides more of a unifying theme for the album than that of the Pepper idea.
Since the introduction of magnetic recording tape in 1949, multitrack recording had been developed. By 1967 all of the Sgt. Pepper tracks could be recorded at Abbey Road using mono, stereo, and four-track recorders. Although eight-track tape recorders were already available in the U.S., they were not operational in commercial studios in London until late 1967, shortly after Sgt. Pepper was released.
Like its predecessors, the recording made extensive use of the technique known as bouncing, in which a number of tracks were recorded across the four tracks of one recorder, which were then mixed and dubbed down onto one track of the master four-track machine. This enabled the Abbey Road engineers to give the Beatles a virtual multi-track studio.
Magnetic tape had also led to innovative use of instruments and production effects, notably the tape-based keyboard sampler, the Mellotron, effects like flanging (an effect used as early as 1959) and phasing, as well as a greatly improved system for creating echo and reverberation.
The Beatles also used new modular effects units like the wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox, which they augmented with their own experimental ideas, such as running voices and instruments through a Leslie speaker. Another important sonic innovation was McCartney's discovery of the direct input (DI) technique, in which he could record his bass by plugging it directly into an amplifying circuit in the recording console. While the still often-used technique of recording through an amplifier with a microphone sounds more natural, this setup provided a radically different presence in bass guitar sound versus the old method. But the most frequently used method was to record the bass last, after all the other recording was done, by placing the amplifier in the centre of the studio and placing the microphone six feet from the source.
Several then-new production effects feature extensively on the recordings. One of the most important was automatic double tracking (ADT), a system that used tape recorders to create an instant and simultaneous doubling of a sound. Although it had long been recognized that using multitrack tape to record 'doubled' lead vocals produced a greatly enhanced sound (especially with weaker singers), it had always been necessary to record such vocal tracks twice, a task which was both tedious and exacting.
ADT was invented specially for the Beatles by EMI engineer Ken Townsend in 1966, mainly at the behest of Lennon, who hated tracking sessions and regularly expressed a desire for a technical solution to the problem. ADT quickly became a near-universal recording practice in popular music. Producer George Martin, having a bit of fun at John Lennon's expense, described the new technique to an inquisitive Lennon as a "double-bifurcated sploshing flange." The anecdote explains one variation of how the term "flanging" came to be for this recording effect.
Also important was varispeeding, the technique of recording various tracks on a multi-track tape at slightly different tape speeds. The Beatles use this effect extensively on their vocals in this period. The speeding up of vocals ("tweaking") also became a widespread technique in pop production. The Beatles also used the effect on portions of their backing tracks (as on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) to give them a thicker and more diffuse sound.
In another innovation, non-U.S. pressings of the album (in its original LP form that was later released on CD) end in an unusual way, beginning with a 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone (put on the album at Lennon's suggestion and said to be "especially intended to annoy your dog"), followed by an endless loop of laughter and gibberish made by the runout groove looping back into itself. The loop (but not the tone) made its U.S. debut on the 1980 Rarities compilation, titled Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove. However, it is only featured as a 2-second fragment at the end of side 2 rather than an actual loop in the runout groove. The CD version of Inner Groove is actually a bit shorter than that one found on the original UK vinyl pressing.
One of the few moments of discord came during the recording of She's Leaving Home, when an impatient McCartney, frustrated by Martin's unavailability, hired freelance arranger Mike Leander to arrange the string section -- the first of only two occasions during the group's entire career that he worked with another arranger (the other was in connection with some backing orchestration used in the Magical Mystery Tour film (12 October 1967 session), which were also arranged by Leander.
The Beatles were present during the mixing of the album in mono and the LP was originally released as such alongside a stereo mix prepared by Abbey Road engineers led by Geoff Emerick; the Beatles themselves did not attend the mixing of the stereo version. (The mono version is now out of print on vinyl and was not officially released on CD.) The two mixes are fundamentally different. For example, the stereo mix of She's Leaving Home was mixed at a slower speed than the original recording and therefore plays at a slower tempo and at a lower pitch than the original recording. Conversely, the mono version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is considerably slower than the stereo version and features much heavier gating and reverb effects.
McCartney's yelling voice in the coda section of Sgt. Pepper (Reprise) (just before the segue into A Day in the Life) can plainly be heard in the mono version, but is nearly inaudible in the stereo version. The mono version of the song also features drums that open with much more presence and force, as they are turned well up in the mix. Also in the stereo mix, the famous segue at the end of Good Morning, Good Morning (the chicken-clucking sound which becomes a guitar noise) is timed differently and a crowd noise tape comes in later during the intro to Sgt. Pepper (Reprise).
Other variations between the two mixes include louder laughter at the end of the mono mix of Within You Without You, as well as a gush of laughter between the coda of the title track and the beginning of With a Little Help From My Friends, and a colder, echoless ending on the mono version of Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!.
Sgt. Pepper features elaborate orchestrations -- for example, the clarinet ensemble on When I'm Sixty-Four" and extensive use of studio effects including echo, reverberation, and reverse tape effects. Many of these effects were devised in collaboration with producer George Martin and his team of engineers.
By the time the Beatles recorded the album their musical interests had grown from their simple rhythm & blues, pop, and rock-and-roll beginnings to incorporate a variety of new influences.
They had become familiar with a wide range of instruments such as the Hammond organ and electric piano; their instrumentation now covered a wider range including strings, brass, woodwind, percussion, and world instruments such as the sitar. McCartney, although unable to read music, had scored a recent British film The Family Way with the assistance of producer/arranger George Martin, which earned him a prestigious Ivor Novello award.
McCartney came to be greatly influenced by the avant garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, whom he wanted to include on the cover.
Another example of the album's unusual production is John Lennon's song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, which closes side 1 of the album. The lyrics were adapted almost word for word from an old circus poster which Lennon had bought at an antique shop in Kent the day the Beatles had been filming the promotional clip for Strawberry Fields Forever there. The flowing sound collage that gives the song its distinctive character was created by Martin and his engineers, who collected recordings of calliopes and fairground organs, which were then cut into strips of various lengths, thrown into a box, mixed up and edited together in random order, creating a long loop which was mixed in during final production.
The opening track of side two, Within You Without You, is unusually long for popular music recording of the day, and features only George Harrison, on vocals, sitar and acoustic guitar, with all other instruments being played by a group of London-based Indian musicians. These deviations from the traditional rock-and-roll band formula were facilitated by the Beatles' decision not to tour, by their ability to hire top-rate session musicians, and by Harrison's burgeoning interest in India and Indian music, which led him to take lessons from sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Harrison's fascination with Indian music is further evidenced by the use of a tamboura on several tracks, including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as well as Getting Better.
This album also makes heavy use of keyboard instruments. Grand piano is used on tracks such as A Day in the Life, along with Lowrey organ on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. A harpsichord can be heard on Fixing a Hole, and a harmonium was played by George Martin on Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Electric piano, upright piano, Hammond organ, glockenspiel and Mellotron are all heard on the record.
The thunderous piano chord that dramatically concludes A Day in the Life, and the album, was produced by assembling three grand pianos in the studio and playing an E chord on each simultaneously. Together on cue Lennon, Starr, George Martin and assistant Mal Evans hammered the keys on the assembled pianos and held the chord. The sound from the pianos was then mixed up with compression and increasing gain on the volume to draw out the sound to maximum sustain.
Concerns that lyrics in Sgt. Pepper referred to recreational drug use led to several songs from the album being banned by the BBC and criticized in other quarters.
The album's closing track, A Day in the Life, includes the phrase "I'd love to turn you on." The BBC banned the song from airplay on the basis of this line, claiming it could "encourage a permissive attitude toward drug-taking." Both Lennon and McCartney denied any drug-related interpretation of the song.
The song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds also became the subject of speculation regarding its meaning, as many believed that the words of the chorus were code for LSD. The BBC used this as their basis for banning the song from British radio. Again, John Lennon consistently denied this interpretation of the song, maintaining that the song describes a surreal dreamscape inspired by a picture drawn by his son Julian.
However, during a newspaper interview in 2004, McCartney was quoted as saying, "Lucy In The Sky, that's pretty obvious. . . . but the writing was too important for us to mess it up by getting off our heads all the time."
Debate continues among critics and fans about the meaning, extent, and depth of the drug references. Some interpretations of the album have focused on the use of drugs as central to the meaning of the entire album. Some critics, such as Sheila Whiteley, have claimed that the experience of LSD use is fundamental and infused into the album. Most critics acknowledge some drug references, but believe that the album cannot be simply reduced to these references. George Melly, for example, pointed out that many songs, such as A Day in the Life, could easily be interpreted as rejections of drug culture, and that the culture is portrayed in a "desperate light."
The award-winning album packaging was created by art director Robert Fraser, mostly in collaboration with McCartney, designed by Peter Blake, his wife Jann Haworth, and photographed by Michael Cooper. It featured a colorful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people on the front of the album cover and lyrics printed on the back cover, the first time this had been done on an English pop LP.
The Beatles themselves, in the guise of the Sgt. Pepper band, were dressed in custom-made military-style outfits made of satin dyed in day-glo colours. The suits were designed by Manuel Cuevas.
Among the insignia on their uniforms are:
MBE medals on McCartney's and Harrison's jackets. MBEs had been awarded to all four Beatles.
The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom, on Lennon's right sleeve
Ontario Provincial Police flash on McCartney's sleeve
Art director Robert Fraser was a prominent London art dealer who ran the Indica Gallery. He had become a close friend of McCartney's and it was at his strong urging that the group abandoned their original cover design, a psychedelic painting by The Fool. The Fool's design for the inner sleeve was, however, used for the first few pressings.
The Fool was a Dutch design collective and band who were influential in the psychedelic style of art in British popular music in the late 1960's. The colorful art draws on many fantastical and mystical themes. The name is a reference to The Fool tarot card.
Fraser was one of the leading champions of modern art in Britain in the 1960's and after. He argued strongly that the Fool artwork was not well-executed and that the design would soon be dated. He convinced McCartney to abandon it, and offered to art-direct the cover; it was Fraser's suggestion to use an established fine artist and he introduced the band to a client, noted British pop artist Peter Blake, who, in collaboration with his wife, created the famous cover collage, known as "People We Like."
According to Blake, the original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt. Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows the Beatles, as the Sgt. Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, rendered as life-sized cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of the Beatles as they appeared in the early 60's, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. The wax figures appear to be looking down on the word "Beatles" spelled out in flowers as if it were a grave, and it has been speculated that this symbolises that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone.
At their feet were several affectations from the Beatles' homes including small statues belonging to Lennon and Harrison, a small portable TV set and a trophy. A young delivery boy who provided the flowers for the photo session was allowed to contribute a guitar made of yellow hyacinths. Although it has long been rumored that some of the plants in the arrangement were cannabis plants, this is untrue. Also included is a Shirley Temple doll wearing a sweater in homage to the Rolling Stones (who would return the tribute by having the Beatles hidden in the cover of their own Their Satanic Majesties Request LP later that year).
The collage depicted more than 70 famous people, including writers, musicians, film stars, and (at Harrison's request) a number of Indian gurus. Starr reportedly made no contribution to the design. The final grouping included Marlene Dietrich, Carl Gustav Jung, W.C. Fields, Diana Dors, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer-associate of Pierre Boulez and John Cage), Sigmund Freud, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, William S. Burroughs, Marlon Brando, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and controversial comedian Lenny Bruce. Also included was the image of the original Beatles bass player, the late Stuart Sutcliffe. Pete Best said in a later NPR interview that Lennon borrowed family medals from his mother Mona for the shoot, on condition he not lose them. Adolf Hitler was requested by Lennon, but ultimately he was left out.
A photo also exists of a rejected cardboard printout with a cloth draped over its head; its identity is unknown, but may possibly be Elvis Presley. Even now, co-creator Jann Haworth regrets that so few women were included.
The package was a "gatefold" album cover, that is, the album could be opened like a book to reveal a large picture of the group in costume against a yellow background. The reason for the gatefold was that the Beatles originally planned to fill two LP's for the release. The designs had already been approved and sent to be printed when they realized they would only have enough material for one LP.
Originally the group wanted the album to include a package with pins, pencils and other small Sgt. Pepper goodies but this proved far too cost-prohibitive. Instead, the album came with a page of cut-outs, with a description in the top left corner:
Picture card of Sgt. Pepper
Stand-up of the band
The special inner sleeve, included in the early pressings of the LP, featured a multi-colored psychedelic pattern designed by the Fool.
The collage created legal worries for EMI's legal department, which had to contact the people who were still living to obtain their permission. Mae West initially refused -- famously asking "What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?" -- but she relented after the Beatles sent her a personal letter. Actor Leo Gorcey requested payment for inclusion on the cover, so his image was removed. An image of Mohandas Gandhi was also removed at the request of EMI (it was actually just obscured by a palm tree), who had a branch in India and were fearful that it might cause offence there. Lennon had, perhaps facetiously, asked to include images of Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler, but these were rejected because they would almost certainly have generated enormous controversy. Most of the suggestions for names to be included came from McCartney, Lennon and Harrison, with additional suggestions from Blake and Fraser (Starr demurred and let the others choose). Beatles manager Brian Epstein had serious misgivings, stemming from the scandalous U.S. Butcher Cover controversy the previous year, going so far as to give a note reading “Brown paper bags for Sgt. Pepper” to Nat Weiss as his last wish.
Brian Samuel Epstein (September 19, 1934 - August 27, 1967) was the manager of The Beatles. Through his family's company, NEMS (North End Music Stores) he also managed several other musical artists such as Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and Cilla Black.
The Beatles recorded a demo in Decca's studios -- paid for by Epstein -- which he later persuaded George Martin to listen to, as Decca were not interested in signing The Beatles.
Epstein was then offered a contract (after Martin had auditioned the group) by EMI's small Parlophone label, even though they had previously been rejected by almost every other British record company.
Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose at his home in London in August 1967. The Beatles' early success has been attributed to Epstein's management and sense of style. Paul McCartney said of Epstein: "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian."
The Sgt. Pepper's collage was assembled by Blake and his wife during the last two weeks of March 1967 at the London studio of photographer Michael Cooper, who took the cover shots on March 30, 1967 in a three-hour evening session. The final bill for the cover was £2,868 5s/3d, a staggering sum for the time -- it has been estimated that this was 100 times the average cost for an album cover in those days.
There were also variations of the cover for different countries. On the Soviet Union cover, the writing on the bass drum was translated into cyrillic, Karl Marx was replaced by Rasputin and a photo of the director of the record company was added in the back row between Edgar Allan Poe and Fred Astaire. Some countries had colored vinyl such as a yellow LP in the Netherlands and a red one in Japan.
Upon release, Sgt. Pepper received both popular and critical acclaim. Various reviews appearing in the mainstream press and trade publications throughout June 1967, immediately after the album's release, were generally positive.
One notable critic who did not like the album was Richard Goldstein, a critic for The New York Times, who wrote, "Like an over-attended child, Sergeant Pepper is spoiled. It reeks of horns and harps, harmonica quartets, assorted animal noises, and a 41-piece orchestra," and added that it was an "album of special effects, dazzling but ultimately fraudulent."
On the other hand, Goldstein called A Day in the Life "a deadly earnest excursion in emotive music with a chilling lyric," and that "it stands as one of the most important Lennon-McCartney compositions, and it is a historic Pop event."
One rock musician who apparently did not like the album was Frank Zappa, who accused the Beatles of co-opting the flower power aesthetic for monetary gain, saying in a Rolling Stone article that he felt "they were only in it for the money." That criticism later became the title of the Mothers of Invention album, which mocked Sgt. Pepper with a similar album cover. The original cover, featuring Zappa and his group in drag against a yellow background, was a spoof of the inside cover of Sgt. Pepper's; the original outer cover of the album, featuring Zappa and his band standing before a Sgt. Pepper-like collage and fronted by a flowerbed lettered "MOTHERS," was withdrawn by MGM Records used as the inside gatefold. The original LP issue nevertheless included a "cut-outs" card featuring facsimiles of Zappa's trademark moustache and of a button with a nipple on it.) Ironically, when recording of Sgt. Pepper was completed, McCartney said, "This is going to be our Freak Out!," referring to Zappa's 1966 debut album, which is considered by many as the first rock concept album.
Within days of its release, Jimi Hendrix was performing the title track in concert, first for an audience that included Harrison and McCartney, who were greatly impressed by his unique version of their song. Also, Australian band the Twilights -- who had obtained an advance copy of the LP in London -- wowed audiences in Australia with note-perfect live renditions of the entire album, weeks before it was even released there.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first Beatles album to be released with identical track listings in the United Kingdom and the United States (although the American release did not contain the side two runout groove and inner groove sound effects).
All songs written by Lennon-McCartney, except for Within You, Without You (George Harrison)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With a Little Help from My Friends
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Fixing a Hole
She's Leaving Home
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Within You Without You
When I'm Sixty-Four
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
A Day in the Life
The orchestral part was recorded on February 10, 1967, with Paul McCartney and George Martin conducting a 40-piece orchestra. The recording session was completed at a total cost of £367 for the players, an extravagance at the time.
Martin later described explaining his improvised score to the puzzled orchestra:
What I did there was to write ... the lowest possible note for each of the instruments in the orchestra. At the end of the twenty-four bars, I wrote the highest note...near a chord of E major. Then I put a squiggly line right through the twenty-four bars, with reference points to tell them roughly what note they should have reached during each bar ... Of course, they all looked at me as though I were completely mad.
McCartney noted that the strings were able to keep themselves in the designated time, while the trumpets were "much wilder."
McCartney had originally wanted a 90-piece orchestra, but this proved impossible; the difference was made up, as the semi-improvised segment was recorded multiple times and eventually four different recordings were overdubbed into a single massive crescendo.
The results were successful; in the final edit of the song, the orchestral bridge is reprised after the final verse. It was arranged for the session to be filmed by NEMS Enterprises for use in a planned television special.
The film was never released in its entirety, although portions of it can be seen in the A Day in the Life promotional film, which includes shots of studio guests Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Donovan, Pattie Boyd, and Michael Nesmith.
Reflecting the Beatles' taste for experimentation and the avant garde at this point in their careers, the orchestra players were asked to wear or were given a costume piece on top of their formal dress. This resulted in different players wearing anything from fake noses to fake stick-on nipples. Martin recalled that the lead violinist performed wearing a gorilla paw, while a bassoon player placed a balloon on the end of his instrument.
Due to the multiple takes required to perfect the orchestral cacophony and the final chord, as well as their considerable procrastination in composing the song, the total duration of time spent recording A Day in the Life was 34 hours.
In contrast, the Beatles' earliest work, their first album Please Please Me, was recorded in its entirety in only 10 hours.
Following the final orchestral crescendo, the song ends with one of the more famous final chords in music.
Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Evans shared three different pianos, with Martin on the harmonium, and all played an E-major chord simultaneously. The final chord was made to ring out for over 40 seconds by increasing the recording sound level as the vibration faded out. Towards the end of the chord the recording level was so high that listeners can hear the sounds of the studio, including rustling papers and a squeaking chair.
The piano chord was a replacement for a failed vocal experiment: on the evening following the orchestra recording session, the four Beatles had recorded an ending of their voices humming the chord, but after multiple overdubs they wanted something with more impact.
Personnel for A Day in the Life
John Lennon - lead vocals (verses), acoustic guitar, maracas, piano (final chord)
Paul McCartney – piano, lead vocals (middle-eight), bass guitar
George Harrison – maracas
Ringo Starr – drums, congas, piano (final chord)
George Martin – harmonium (final chord) and producer
Mal Evans – alarm clock, counting, piano (final chord)
Geoff Emerick – engineering and mixing
Orchestrated by George Martin, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Conducted by George Martin and Paul McCartney
Clifford Seville, David Sandeman – flute
Roger Lord – oboe
Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – clarinet
N. Fawcett, Alfred Waters – bassoon
David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – trumpet
Alan Civil, Neil Sanders – horn
Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T. Moore – trombone
Michael Barnes – tuba
John Marston – harp
Tristan Fry – timpani
Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess,
Hans Geiger, D. Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner,
Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – violin
John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – viola
Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Delziel, Alex Nifosi – cello
Cyril Mac Arther, Gordon Pearce – bass
Following the last track on the album is an extremely high-pitched tone (15 kHz), too high-pitched for many adults to hear, but audible to dogs, other animals, and most younger listeners. The high tone was inserted, as was John Lennon’s intention, to irritate listeners' dogs. The tone was only inserted on the first 5000 copies of the LP (save for the American Capitol Records pressing), but was included on all copies of the later CD release.
The 15 kHz tone is followed by a loop of incomprehensible Beatles studio chatter, spliced together apparently at random and with sections playing both normally and in reverse. This lasts for two seconds and the final three syllables were mastered into the final "run-out" groove of vinyl LP record, creating a loop of gibberish that is repeated ‘endlessly’ on manual turntables until the listener lifts the tonearm. This coda to the Sgt. Pepper LP was included in British pressings but not originally in American pressings; it was included on the 1980 Rarities compilation LP, as Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove. The 1987 CD re-release simulates this effect, although since an infinite loop cannot be created on compact discs, the Beatle chatter is looped eight or nine times before fading slowly out.
Personnel for the album
John Lennon: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars; Hammond organ and piano; bass; handclaps, harmonica, tape loops, sound effects and kazoo; tambourine and maracas.
Paul McCartney: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead electric and acoustic guitars; bass; piano and Hammond organ; handclaps, vocalizations, tape loops, sound effects and kazoo
George Harrison: lead, rhythm, acoustic and bass guitars; lead, harmony and background vocals; tamboura; harmonica and kazoo; handclaps; maracas
Ringo Starr: drums, congas, tambourine, maracas, handclaps and tubular bells; lead vocals; harmonica and kazoo; final piano E chord
George Martin: producer and mixer; tape loops and sound effects; harpsichord, Hammond organ and piano strings; final harmonium chord.
Geoff Emerick: recording and mixing engineer; tape loops and sound effects.
Neil Aspinall: tamboura and harmonica.
Mal Evans: counting, alarm clock and final piano E chord.
Four French horns on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, orchestrated and conducted by Martin and McCartney.
String section and harp on She's Leaving Home, orchestrated by Mike Leander and conducted by Martin.
Harmonium, tabla, sitar, dilruba, 8 violins and 4 cellos on Within You, Without You, orchestrated and conducted by Harrison and Martin.
Clarinet trio on When I'm Sixty Four, orchestrated and conducted by Martin and McCartney.
Saxophone sextet on Good Morning, Good Morning, arranged and conducted by Martin and Lennon.
40 piece orchestra (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings) on A Day in the Life, orchestrated by Martin, Lennon, and McCartney, and conducted by Martin and McCartney.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
The verses of the song are in 6/8 with a 4/4 chorus. The piece also shifts among keys: A major for the verse, B♭ transition, and G major for the chorus. It consists of a very simple melody (reminiscent of a nursery song -- Mi Mi Mi Mi Re Do), sung by Lennon over an accompaniment featuring tamboura, played by George Harrison, and a Lowrey organ performed by Paul McCartney being taped with a special organ stop to give it a sound like a celesta.
John Lennon: double-tracked lead vocals and harmony vocals; rhythm and acoustic guitar and piano.
Paul McCartney: Lowrey organ, bass and harmony vocals.
George Harrison: lead guitar and tamboura.
Ringo Starr: drums and tambourine.
Session tapes from the initial 1 March 1967 recording of this song reveal that Lennon originally sang the line "Cellophane flowers of yellow and green" as a broken phrase, but McCartney suggested that he sing it more fluidly to improve the song.
According to the Beatles, one day in 1966 Lennon's son, Julian, came home from nursery school with a drawing he said was of his classmate, a girl named Lucy. Showing the artwork to his father, young Julian described the picture as "Lucy -- in the sky with diamonds."
Julian later said, "I don't know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show dad everything I'd built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea for a song."
His son's artwork appears to have inspired Lennon to draw heavily on his own childhood affection for Lewis Carroll's "Wool and Water" chapter from Through the Looking-Glass. At least one lyric was influenced by both Carroll and skits on a popular British radio comedy programme (The Goon Show) making references to "plasticine ties," which showed up in the song as "Plasticine porters with looking glass ties." A parody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, recited by the Mad Hatter, appears in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Carroll's work has also been cited as having influenced Lennon's I Am the Walrus which refers to a character from Through the Looking-Glass and his two books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works.
The Lucy referred to in the song was probably a classmate of Julian's at Heath House School named Lucy O'Donnell, born in Weybridge in 1963.
She has met up with him on a few occasions in the last few years, and occasionally appears on daytime shows for the anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper's album. She is featured in the book A Hard Day's Night. She now lives in Surbiton in Surrey, and owned a nanny agency for children with special needs until she was taken ill with psoriatic arthritis and lupus some years ago.
There is another candidate for the original Lucy: British comedian Peter Cook's daughter, Lucy. Lennon and Cook were seeing quite a bit of each other at the time (Lennon made a guest appearance on Cook's TV show Not Only... But Also as a doorman). According to Cook's biographer, Harry Thompson, Lennon told Cook's then wife, Wendy, that the song was inspired by Lucy Cook.
According to documentary film shown on Russian TV station, the title may refer to Lyudmila Zykina (or "Lucy") who met the Beatles in a restaurant and sang a Russian folk song for them.
Paul McCartney recounted trading lyric ideas with Lennon in an interview, saying, "We never noticed the LSD initial until it was pointed out later, by which point people didn't believe us."
This is confirmed by a 1971 interview of Lennon, where he described searching for acronyms in other song titles only to find "they didn't spell out anything." George Martin also denied the song was about LSD in the book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. However, Lewisohn goes on to say "there can be little doubt that this was the very substance that provoked such colourful word imagery to flow out of Lennon's head and onto paper."
McCartney agrees in a 2004 interview, where he noted that Julian's painting had inspired the song, but that it was "pretty obvious" that the song was also inspired by LSD.
For his part, Lennon attributed the colourful prose not to the drug, but to the writings of Lewis Carroll. George Martin also accredits the influence of Carroll and Dylan Thomas on Lennon.
The Beatles was the group's ninth official album, a double released in 1968. It is more commonly known as The White Album as it has no text other than the band's name (and, on the early LP and CD releases, a serial number) on its plain white sleeve, which was designed by pop artist Richard Hamilton. The album was the first The Beatles undertook following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. Originally planned to be A Doll's House, the title was changed when the British progressive band Family released an album earlier that year bearing a similar title.
Many interpret this album as actually having no title, the words “The BEATLES” only being intended to indicate the group, as all Beatles albums contain this identification.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Beatles is The Beatles' best-selling album at 19-times platinum and the tenth-best-selling album of all time in the United States.
Most of the songs that would end up on The Beatles had been conceived during the group's visit to Rishikesh, India in the spring of 1968. There, they had undertaken a transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Although the retreat, which had required long periods of meditation, was initially conceived by the band as a spiritual respite from all worldly endeavours – a chance, in Lennon's words, to "get away from everything" -- both Lennon and McCartney had quickly found themselves in songwriting mode, often meeting "clandestinely in the afternoons in each other's rooms" to review the new work. "Regardless of what I was supposed to be doing," Lennon would later recall, "I did write some of my best songs there."
Close to forty new compositions had emerged in Rishikesh, a little more than half of which would be laid down in very rough form at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s home in Esher.
The Beatles left Rishikesh before the end of the course, with Ringo Starr and then Paul McCartney departing first, and Lennon and George Harrison departing together later. According to some reports, Lennon left Rishikesh because he felt personally betrayed by rumors that Maharishi had made sexual advances toward Mia Farrow, who had accompanied The Beatles on their trip. Shortly after he decided to leave, Lennon wrote a song called "Maharishi" which included the lyrics, "Maharishi/You little twat"; the song became "Sexy Sadie". According to several authors, Alexis Mardas (aka "Magic Alex") deliberately engineered these rumours because he was bent on undermining the Maharishi's influence over each Beatle.
Lennon himself, in a 1980 interview, acknowledged that the Maharishi was the inspiration for the song. "I just called him 'Sexy Sadie'."
In May 1968, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison assembled at Kinfauns, and demo'ed 23 songs that they composed at Rishikesh.
The Beatles was recorded between 30 May 1968 and 14 October 1968, largely at Abbey Road Studios, with some sessions at Trident Studios. Although productive, the sessions were reportedly undisciplined and sometimes fractious, and they took place at a time when tensions were growing within the group. Concurrent with the recording of this album, The Beatles were launching their new multimedia business corporation Apple Corps, an enterprise that proved to be a source of significant stress for the band.
The sessions for The Beatles marked the first appearance in the studio of Lennon's new girlfriend and artistic partner Yoko Ono, who would thereafter be a more or less constant presence at all Beatles' sessions. Prior to Ono's appearance on the scene, the individual Beatles had been very insular during recording sessions, with influence from outsiders strictly limited.
However, McCartney's girlfriend at the time, Francie Schwartz, whom he referred to as Franny, was also present at most of the recording sessions.
Author Mark Lewisohn reports that The Beatles held their first and only 24-hour recording/producing session near the end of the creation of The Beatles, during which occurred the final mixing and sequencing for the album. The session was attended by Lennon, McCartney, and producer George Martin.
Despite the album's official title, which emphasized group identity, studio efforts on The Beatles captured the work of four increasingly individualized artists who frequently found themselves at odds. The band's work pattern changed dramatically with this project, and by most accounts the extraordinary synergy of The Beatles' previous studio sessions was harder to come by during this period. Sometimes McCartney would record in one studio for prolonged periods of time, while Lennon would record in another, each man using different engineers.
At one point in the sessions, George Martin, whose authority over the band in the studio had waned, spontaneously left to go on holiday, leaving Chris Thomas in charge of producing.
During one of these sessions, while recording Helter Skelter, Harrison reportedly ran around the studio while holding a flaming ashtray above his head.
Long after the recording of The Beatles was complete, George Martin mentioned in interviews that his working relationship with The Beatles changed during this period, and that many of the band's efforts seemed unfocused, often yielding prolonged jam sessions that sounded uninspired.
On 16 July recording engineer Geoff Emerick, who had worked with the group since Revolver, announced he was no longer willing to work with the group out of disgust with the deteriorating work environment.
The sudden departures were not limited to EMI personnel. On 22 August, drummer Ringo Starr abruptly left the studio, explaining later that he felt his role was minimized compared to that of the other members, and that he was tired of waiting through the long and contentious recording sessions.
Lennon, McCartney and Harrison pleaded with Starr to return, and after two weeks he did.
According to Mark Lewisohn's book The Complete Beatles Chronicle, Paul McCartney played drums on Back in the U.S.S.R., and, in the case of Dear Prudence, the three remaining Beatles each took a shot at bass and drums, with the result that those parts may be composite tracks played by Lennon, McCartney and/or Harrison. As of 2008, the actual musician/instrument lineup is still undetermined. Upon Starr's return, he found his drum kit decorated with red, white and blue flowers, a welcome-back gesture from Harrison.
The reconciliation was, however, only temporary, and Starr's exit served as a precursor of future "months and years of misery," in Starr's words.
Indeed, after The Beatles was completed, both Harrison and Lennon would stage similar unpublicized departures from the band.
McCartney, whose public departure in 1970 would mark the formal end of the band's ensemble, described the sessions for The Beatles as a turning point for the group. Up to this point, he observed, "the world was a problem, but we weren't. You know, that was the best thing about The Beatles, until we started to break up, like during the White Album and stuff. Even the studio got a bit tense then."
Eric Clapton, at Harrison's invitation, provided lead guitar for Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The Beatle soon reciprocated by collaborating on the song Badge for Cream's last album Goodbye. Harrison explained in The Beatles Anthology that Clapton's presence temporarily alleviated the studio tension and that all band members were on their best behavior during his time with the band in the studio.
Clapton was not the only outside musician to sit in on the sessions. Nicky Hopkins provided piano for Revolution and a few others; several horns were also recorded on the album version of Revolution. Orchestral players and background singers ended up being important contributors to Good Night. Despite these contributions, and the presence and influence of Yoko Ono, no external contributors to The Beatles are listed in the album notes.
The sessions for The Beatles were notable for the band's formal transition from 4-track to 8-track recording. As work on this album began, Abbey Road Studios possessed, but had yet to install, an 8-track machine that had supposedly been sitting in a storage room for months. This was in accordance with EMI's policy of testing and customizing new gear, sometimes for months, before putting it into use in the studios. The Beatles recorded Hey Jude and Dear Prudence at Trident Studios in central London, which had an 8-track recorder.
When they found out about EMI's 8-track recorder they insisted on using it, and engineers Ken Scott and Dave Harries took the machine (without authorization from the studio chiefs) into the Number 2 recording studio for the group to use.
Although most of the songs on any given Beatles album are usually credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team, that description is often misleading, and rarely more so than on The Beatles. With this album, each of the four band members began to showcase the range and depth of his individual songwriting talents, and to display styles that would be carried over to his eventual solo career. Indeed, some songs that the individual Beatles were working on during this period eventually were released on solo albums.
Many of the songs on the album display experimentation with unlikely musical genres, borrowing directly from such sources as 1930's dance-hall music (in Honey Pie), the avant-garde sensibilities of Edgar Varese, John Cage, Yoko Ono, and Terry Riley (in Revolution 9), and the overproduced sentimentality of Muzak (in Good Night). Such diversity was quite unprecedented in pop music in 1968 (even surpassing their own Sgt Pepper's of the year previous), and the album's sprawling approach provoked (and continues to provoke) both praise and criticism,
Revolution 9, in particular, a densely layered eight-minute-and-thirteen-second sound collage, has attracted prasie and disapproval over the years.
The only western instrument available to the group during their Indian visit was the acoustic guitar, and thus most of the songs on The Beatles were written and first performed on that instrument. Some of these songs remained acoustic on The Beatles (notably Rocky Raccoon, Julia, Blackbird, and Mother Nature's Son) and were recorded in the studio either solo, or by only part of the group.
Lennon's contributions to the album are generally more hard-edged lyrically than his previous output, a trend which carried over to his solo career. Examples include his pleas for death on Yer Blues, his parodic Glass Onion, which mocks fans who read too much into The Beatles' lyrics, and what may be references to drug addiction in Happiness Is a Warm Gun ("I need a fix...").
Lennon's intensely personal Julia may be seen as foreshadowing his later song Mother from his first solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band; the political Revolution 1 begins a pattern of overtly political songs; Revolution 9 reflects extensive contribution and influence from Yoko Ono, another feature of much of Lennon's solo output. Lennon's songs on The Beatles embrace a wide array of styles, including blues (Yer Blues), acoustic ballads (Julia and Cry Baby Cry), and rock (Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey). Lennon would later describe his contributions to the White Album as among his favorite songs recorded with The Beatles.
The album is the first by the group not to feature any genuine Lennon-McCartney collaborations -- in fact there would only be one more co-write from the pair in the remainder of the band's career (I've Got a Feeling from the Let It Be album). This new lack of co-operation and focus is reflected in several fragmental, incomplete song ideas that were recorded and released on the album (including Why Don't We Do It in the Road? and Wild Honey Pie. On previous albums, such undertakings might have been either abandoned or collaboratively developed before release, but here again, The Beatles represented a change of course for the band. The trend continued for the rest of the band's recording career: such song fragments were presented by joining them together as a long suite of songs on side two of Abbey Road.
Many of the songs are personal and self-referencing; for example, Dear Prudence was written about actress Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, who attended the transcendental meditation course with The Beatles in Rishikesh. Often she stayed in her room, engaged in Transcendental Meditation. Julia was the name of Lennon's beloved but frequently absent mother, who died during his youth.
Some of the songs on The Beatles mark important changes in the band's recording style.
Previously, no female voices were to be heard on a Beatles album, but Yoko Ono made her first vocal appearance on this record, adding backing vocals in Birthday (along with Pattie Harrison); Yoko also sang backing vocals and a solo line on The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and, as noted earlier, was a strong influence on Lennon's musique concrète piece, Revolution 9, an avant-garde sound collage that McCartney initially did not want to include on the album.
The Beatles was the first Beatles' album released by Apple Records, as well as their only original double album. Producer George Martin has said that he was against the idea of a double album at the time and suggested to the group that they reduce the number of songs in order to form a single album featuring their stronger work, but that the band decided against this.
Interviewed for The Beatles Anthology, Starr said he now felt it should have been released as two separate albums. Harrison felt on reflection that some of the tracks could have been released as B sides, but "there was a lot of ego in that band." He also supported the idea of the double album, to clear out the backlog of songs the group had at the time. McCartney, by contrast, said it was fine as it was and that its wide variety of songs was a major part of the album's appeal.
The Beatles (1968) shares the same November 22 release date as The Beatles' second album, With the Beatles (1963).
Although Hey Jude was not intended to be included on any LP release, it was recorded during the White Album sessions and was released as a stand-alone single before the release of The Beatles. Hey Jude's B-side, Revolution, was an alternate version of the album's Revolution 1.
Lennon had wanted the original version of Revolution to be released as a single, but the other three Beatles objected on the grounds that it was too slow.
A new, faster version, with heavily distorted guitar and a high-energy keyboard solo from Nicky Hopkins was recorded, and was relegated to the flip side of Hey Jude. The resulting release emerged as the first on the Beatles' new Apple Records label. It went on to become the best selling of all Beatles' singles in the US.
The album's sleeve was designed by Richard Hamilton, a notable pop artist who had organized a Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Tate Gallery the previous year. Hamilton's design was in stark contrast to Peter Blake's vivid cover art for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and consisted of a plain white sleeve. The band's name was discreetly embossed slightly below the middle of the album's right side, and the cover also featured a unique stamped serial number, "to create," in Hamilton's words, "the ironic situation of a numbered edition of something like five million copies."
Indeed, the artist intended the cover to resemble the "look" of conceptual art, an emerging movement in contemporary art at the time. Later vinyl record releases in the U.S. showed the title in grey printed (rather than embossed) letters. Early copies on compact disc were also numbered. Later CD releases rendered the album's title in black or gray. The 30th-anniversary CD release was done to look like the original album sleeve, with an embossed title and serial number, including a small reproduction of the poster and pictures.
The album's inside packaging included a poster, the lyrics to the songs, and a set of photographs taken by John Kelley during the autumn of 1968 that have themselves become iconic. This is the only sleeve of a Beatles studio album not to show the members of the band on the front.
The Beatles were at the peak of their global influence and visibility in late 1968. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released the previous year, had enjoyed a combination of commercial success, critical acclaim, and immense cultural influence that had previously seemed inconceivable for a pop release. Time magazine, for instance, had written in 1967 that Pepper constituted a "historic departure in the progress of music -- any music," while Timothy Leary, in a widely quoted assessment of the same period, declared that the band were prototypes of "evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious powers to create a new human species."
After creating an album that had delivered such critical, commercial, and generational shockwaves, The Beatles faced the inevitable question of what they could possibly do to top it.
The next full-length album, whatever it was, was destined to draw considerable scrutiny. The intervening release of Magical Mystery Tour notwithstanding (released as a double-EP package in the UK), The Beatles represented the group's first major musical statement since Pepper, and thus was a highly anticipated event for both the mainstream press and the youth-oriented counterculture movement with which the band had by this time become strongly associated. Expectations, to say the least, were high. The reviews were mixed.
Tony Palmer, in The Observer, wrote shortly after the album's release: "If there is still any doubt that Lennon and McCartney are the greatest songwriters since Schubert, then . . . [the album The Beatles] . . . should surely see the last vestiges of cultural snobbery and bourgeois prejudice swept away in a deluge of joyful music making. . . ."
Richard Goldstein, writing in The New York Times on December 8, 1968, described the album as a "major success."
Another review in The New York Times, this one by Nik Cohn, considered the album "boring beyond belief" and described "more than half the songs" as "profound mediocrities."
Alan Smith, in an NME review entitled "The Brilliant, the Bad, and the Ugly," derided Revolution #9 as a "pretentious" example of "idiot immaturity" and, in the following sentence, assigned the benediction "God Bless You, Beatles!" to "most of the rest" of the album.
Smith's review established a pattern that has endured for much of the critical assessment that followed. Many of the reviews since 1968 -- and The Beatles surely ranks among the most-reviewed releases in rock history -- have tempered rapturous enthusiasm with a consistent note of criticism about the album's seemingly undisciplined structure and perceived excesses.
Unlike such albums as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Revolver, The Beatles is a release that, four decades on, tends to provoke heated discussions of such topics as continuity, style, and integrity.
The New Rolling Stone Album Guide praises the album but maintains that it has "loads of self-indulgent filler."
Some contemporary critics say the album's inclusion of supposedly extraneous material is a part of its appeal. The allmusic.com review contends that:
"Each song on the sprawling double album The Beatles is an entity to itself, as the band touches on anything and everything they can. This makes for a frustratingly scattershot record or a singularly gripping musical experience, depending on your view, but what makes the White Album interesting is its mess."
The search for hidden meanings within the songs reached its low point when cult leader Charles Manson used the record, and generous helpings of hallucinogens, to persuade members of his "family" that the album was in fact an apocalyptic message predicting a prolonged race war and justifying the murder of wealthy people. The album's strange association with a high-profile mass murder was one of many factors that helped to deepen the accelerating divide between those who were profoundly skeptical of the "youth culture" movement that had unfolded in the middle and late 1960s in England, the United States, and elsewhere, and those who admired the openness and spontaneity of that movement. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote a best-selling book about the Manson "family" that explicated, among other things, the cult's fixation with identifying hidden messages within The Beatles; Bugliosi's book was entitled Helter Skelter, the term Manson took from the album's song of that name and construed as the conflict he thought impending.
Cultural responses to the album persisted for decades, and even offer a glimpse into the process of collective myth-making. In October 1969, a Detroit radio program began to promote theories based on "clues" supposedly left on The Beatles and other Beatles albums that Paul McCartney had died and been replaced by a lookalike. The ensuing hunt for "clues" to a "coverup" The Beatles presumably wanted to suppress (and simultaneously publicise) became one of the classic examples of the development and persistence of urban legends.
All songs written and composed by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted.
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison)
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired
Don't Pass Me By (Starr)
Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
Long, Long, Long" (Harrison)
Cry Baby Cry
John Lennon: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, 4 and 6-string bass; pianos (electric and acoustic), Hammond organ, harmonium, mellotron; assorted percussion (tambourine, maracas, thumping on the back of an acoustic guitar, handclaps and vocal percussion); harmonica, saxophone and whistling; tapes, tape loops and sound effects (electronic and home-made).
Paul McCartney: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, 4 and 6-string bass; pianos (electric and acoustic), Hammond organ, drums, timpani and assorted percussion (tambourine, handclaps and vocal percussion; drums on "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence"); recorder and flügelhorn and sound effects.
George Harrison: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, 4 and 6-string bass; Hammond organ and assorted percussion (tambourine, hand-shake bell, handclaps and vocal percussion) and sound effects.
Ringo Starr: drums and assorted percussion (tambourine, bongos, cymbals, maracas, vocal percussion); lead vocals, electric piano and sleigh bell (on "Don't Pass Me By") , lead vocals (on "Don't Pass Me By" and "Good Night") and backing vocals ("The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill").
George Martin: record producer and mixer; string, brass, clarinet, orchestral arrangements and conducting; piano on "Rocky Raccoon".
Chris Thomas: producer; mellotron on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", harpsichord on "Piggies" and piano on "Long, Long, Long".
Geoff Emerick: engineer, vocal on "Revolution #1" ("Take 2!").
Eric Clapton: lead guitar on "While my Guitar Gently Weeps".
Jack Fallon: violin on "Don't Pass Me By".
Jimmy Scott: congas on "Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da".
Mal Evans: backing vocals and handclaps on "Dear Prudence" and "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", saxophone and sound effects on "Helter Skelter".
Jackie Lomax: backing vocals and handclaps on "Dear Prudence".
Yoko Ono: backing vocals and handclaps on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and tapes and sound effects on "Revolution 9", backing vocals on "Birthday"
Linda McCartney: backing vocals on "Birthday"
Maureen Starkey: backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill".
Pattie Harrison: backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill".
Henry Datyner, Eric Bowie, Norman Lederman, Ronald Thomas (all on "Glass Onion"), Bernard Miller, Dennis McConnell, Lou Soufier and Les Maddox (all on "Martha My Dear"): violins.
John Underwood, Keith Cummings (all on "Glass Onion"), Leo Birnbaum and Henry Myerscough (all on "Martha My Dear"): violas.
Reginald Kilby (on "Glass Onion" and "Martha My Dear"), Eldon Fox (on "Glass Onion") and Frederick Alexander (on "Martha My Dear"): cellos.
Leon Calvert: trumpet and flügelhorn on "Martha My Dear".
Stanley Reynolds and Ronnie Hughes: trumpet (all on "Martha My Dear").
Tony Tunstall: french horn on "Martha My Dear".
Ted Barker: trombone on "Martha My Dear".
Alf Reece: tuba on "Martha My Dear".
Harry Klein: clarinet on "Honey Pie", saxophone on "Savoy Truffle".
The Mike Sammes Singers: backing vocals on "Good Night".
Lennon apparently intended the song as a friendly parody of British blues.
He said in a Rolling Stone interview that he used the humorous title as something of a defense mechanism, so that if anyone criticized the song, he could write it off as a parody. Aside from that, he claimed to be serious about the content of the song.
The lyrics are extremely suicidal, and include references to Bob Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man as well as cosmology, and were possibly reflective of Lennon's well-documented battles with his psychological demons. The claustrophobic sound of the recording is attributable, according to Mark Lewisohn's The Beatles Recording Sessions, to the fact that the band recorded the song in Abbey Road Studio Two's "annex", which was actually a large closet in the control room. In interviews for the Beatles Anthology series, Ringo Starr affectionately recalls recording this song in the stripped-down conditions, saying it was like the old days of Beatles live performances.
This may have been influential on the Beatles' approach to their next album project, Get Back.
The stripped-down, bluesy nature of the song bears similarity to much of Lennon's early solo output, including "Cold Turkey" and his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and marks a retreat from Lennon's concern with studio experimentation.
Just after the White Album came out in late 1968, Lennon performed Yer Blues at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus with a supergroup dubbed the Dirty Mac, consisting of himself, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.
At the end of 1968, Lennon performed as part of the group Dirty Mac, in The Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus film. The supergroup, made up of Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell, also backed Ono's performance.
Lennon also released "Two Virgins" with Ono, an album known more for its cover than the musical content. Lennon and Ono were married on March 20, 1969, and he soon released a series of fourteen lithographs called "Bag One" depicting scenes from their honeymoon, eight of which were deemed indecent and most were banned and confiscated.
Lennon left The Beatles in September 1969 (Starr had previously left and then returned during 1968, and Harrison had left on January 10, 1969, during the filming for Let It Be, but returned after a Beatles' meeting at Starr's house two days later).
Lennon agreed not to make an announcement while the band renegotiated their recording contract, but McCartney released a question-and-answer interview that he had written himself in April 1970, declaring that he was no longer a member of The Beatles.
Lennon's reaction when told was, "Jesus Christ! He [McCartney] gets all the credit for it!"
Lennon later told Rolling Stone: "I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record," (McCartney's first solo album) and later wrote, "I started the band. I finished it."
In 1970, Jann Wenner recorded an interview with Lennon that was played on BBC radio in 2005. The interview reveals Lennon's bitterness towards McCartney and the hostility he felt that the other members had for Ono. Lennon said: "One of the main reasons The Beatles ended is because we got fed up with being sidemen for Paul. After Brian Epstein died we collapsed.
Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went round in circles?"
Lennon later expressed his displeasure with the scant credit he was given as an influence on George Harrison in his autobiography, I Me Mine, and unhappy that McCartney's songs, such as "Yesterday," "Hey Jude," and "Let It Be" were more covered than his own contributions, but Lennon also stated his true feelings about his former band members by saying: "I still love those guys. The Beatles are over, but John, Paul, George and Ringo go on."
His first "solo" album was Live Peace in Toronto 1969—recorded prior to the breakup of The Beatles -- recorded at a Rock 'n' Roll Festival in Toronto with The Plastic Ono Band. He also recorded three solo singles: the anti-war anthem, "Give Peace a Chance," "Cold Turkey," and "Instant Karma!" Following The Beatles' split in 1970, Lennon released the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. It included "Working Class Hero," which was banned by BBC Radio for its use of the word "fucking."
His album Imagine followed in 1971, and the title song would later become an anthem for anti-war movements. The song "How Do You Sleep?" was widely perceived as having been written as a personal attack against McCartney, although Lennon later claimed the song was about himself.
On August 13, 1971, Lennon left England for New York, and released the "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" single in December of 1971.
To advertise the single, Lennon and Ono paid for a billboard in Times Square, New York, which read, "WAR IS OVER" in large text with "if you want it" in much smaller text underneath.
In 1972, Lennon released "Woman Is the Nigger of the World". Many radio stations refused to broadcast the song, although Lennon was allowed to perform it on The Dick Cavett Show.
On August 30, 1972 Lennon and Elephant's Memory gave two benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York to benefit the patients at the Willowbrook State School mental facility on Staten Island.
These were to be Lennon's last full-length concert appearances.
In November 1973, Lennon released Mind Games, which was credited to "the Plastic U.F.Ono Band". He also wrote "I'm the Greatest" for Ringo Starr's album Ringo (his own demo version of the song appears on the John Lennon Anthology) and produced "Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup)" for Mick Jagger. In September 1974, Lennon released Walls and Bridges and the single "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" (a #1 duet with Elton John). A second single from the album, "#9 Dream," was released in December. He wrote "Goodnight Vienna" for Starr, and played piano on the recording.
On November 28, Lennon made a surprise guest appearance at Elton John's Thanksgiving concert at Madison Square Garden after he lost a bet with Elton that "Whatever Gets You" would reach #1.
Lennon performed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," and "I Saw Her Standing Ther." Lennon rush-released his album of cover songs in February 1975 -- with Phil Spector as producer -- before Roots: John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits was released (issued by Morris Levy on the Adam VIII label).
Lennon's last stage appearance was on ATV's April 18, 1975, special called A Salute to Lew Grade performing "Imagine," "Stand By Me" (cut from the televised edition), and "Slippin' and Slidin'" from his Rock 'n' Roll LP.
Lennon emerged from retirement in November 1980, releasing Double Fantasy, which also featured Ono.
Lennon was asked whether the group were dreaded enemies or the best of friends in 1980. He replied that they were neither, but had not seen any of them for a long time. Lennon said that the last time McCartney had visited Lennon they had watched the episode of Saturday Night Live, in which Lorne Michaels made a $3,000 cash offer to get The Beatles to reunite on the show.
They had considered going to the studio to appear as a joke, but were too tired.
In one of his last major interviews, in September 1980, Lennon said that he had never questioned his chauvinistic attitudes towards women until he met Ono. Lennon was always distant with his first son, but was close to his second son, calling him, "My pride." Near the end of Lennon's life, he said that he accepted the role of househusband, after taking on the role of a wife and mother in his relationship with Ono.
On the night of 8 December 1980, Lennon was shot four times in the back (the fifth shot missed) in the entrance hallway of the Dakota by Mark David Chapman. Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman earlier that same night.
Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival in the Emergency Room at the Roosevelt Hospital at 11:15 p.m. On the following day, December 9, 1980, Ono issued a statement: "There is no funeral for John. John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love, Yoko and Sean."
Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life. He is still in prison, 27 years since his arrest, having been denied parole four times.
Two days after his death, Lennon's body was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, and his ashes were kept by Ono.
The Royal Guardsmen are a rock band from Ocala, Florida, a sextet originally composed of Bill Balough (bass), John Burdett (drums), Chris Nunley (vocals), Tom Richards (guitar), Billy Taylor (organ), and Barry Winslow (vocals/guitar). Rick Cosner replaced John Burdett on drums in 2006. The current band performs regularly around the United States. Originally known as the Posmen, the band adopted their anglophile moniker during the British Invasion, led by The Beatles and other British artists. They achieved fame with their second (vinyl) single, "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" in 1966, which was also the title of their first album the same year. It soon reached #2 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the bestsellers for 12 weeks, with an eventual one million sale in early 1967 and a gold record from the R.I.A.A. in February 1967.
Snoopy, the Red Baron, and aircraft became a recurring theme in their songs, though they did have some chart singles without those themes, including Any Wednesday, I Say Love, and the Top 40 hit Baby Let's Wait, a re-release of their first single.
The original group split in 1969, but a band with some replacement players continued for another year. Two compilation albums and the original albums (doubled up) have been released on compact disc.
The Royal Guardsmen are currently making a comeback; in December 2006 they released a new Snoopy song, Snoopy vs. Osama, which has become a hit on The Dr. Demento Show.
David Gates (born December 11, 1940, in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the lead singer of the group Bread, which during the 1970s peaked the music charts with numerous well known songs. The band is now in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Bread was a rock band from Los Angeles, California. They placed 13 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1970 and 1977 and were a primary example of what later was labeled soft rock, releasing a string of well-crafted, melodic soft rock singles.
The band consisted of David Gates (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, viola, percussion), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Robb Royer (bass, guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, recorder, backing vocals), Mike Botts (drums; joined in 1970), and Larry Knechtel (bass, guitar, keyboards, harmonica; replaced Royer in 1971).
Date Title Billboard Hot 100 Peak
June 13, 1970
"Make It with You" (Gold single)
March 27, 1971
October 23, 1971
"Baby I'm-a Want You" (Gold single)
If is a song written by American singer-songwriter David Gates in 1971. Originally popularized by his group Bread, the song charted at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 when released as a single in 1971. It was quickly covered by other singers (including Petula Clark, Cleo Laine, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Telly Savalas, Shirley Bassey, Westlife and Frankmusik). It was also covered by Damien Leith on his album Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation, which was released in 2008. The Telly Savalas version reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in March 1975, and has the shortest title of any song to reach number one.
"If" has been a perennial favorite at weddings (for example, as a first-dance song) ever since it was released.
It was also recorded, as an album track, by Scott Walker in his early 1970s MOR period.
This song is often of interest to guitarists because of the unique tremolo/wah-wah effect on the electric guitar in the intro. One San Diego, California radio station in the early 1970s reported that the effect took months to produce. However, Bread used that effect live when playing the song in their concerts.
[8940 Zappa / 8940 Lennon / 8940 Smokey Robinson]