Category Archives: Beatles

John Yoko Two Virgins

John Yoko Two Virgins

Released November 11, 1968

John Yoko Two Virgins

Two Virgins

Whenever musicians release a record album, whatever the format, it is the album’s content that critics use to determine their review. Though it is making a comeback, vinyl record collectors bemoan the passing of the Vinyl Age both because they feel the sound quality digital formats fall below that of vinyl and album art needs more than the 5″ x 5″ that a CD allows or no album art at all when streaming to say nothing about the nothing one gets when downloading music.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Not the Beatles

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins album  was the exception. Most fans found the recording unlistenable, but had even more to say about the cover art: a black and white photo of John and Yoko standing casually naked against a plain white background.

John Yoko Two Virgins

John and Yoko had recorded the album on May 19, 1968 at Kenwood, Lennon’s former home in Weybridge. It featured the following tracks: Two Virgins No. 1; Together; Two Virgins (numbers 2-6); Two Virgins; Hushabye Hushabye; Two Virgins (numbers 7-10).

John Yoko Two Virgins

Album cover controversy

Capitol Records refused to release it not because of the avant garde sound, but the company feared negative reaction to the cover.

Tetragrammaton released Two Virgins in a brown paper sleeve on November 11, 1968.  The sleeve had a small opening through which Lennon and Ono’s faces peeked.

Quantities of the album were seized in several US jurisdictions, including 30,000 copies in New Jersey. Nonetheless, it managed to reach number 124 on the US charts.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Lennon’s views

Lennon described the picture of Ono and him as “two slightly overweight ex-junkies.” He spoke of the album’s recording in Jann S Wenner’s Rolling Stone magazine 1970 interview, Lennon Remembers:

When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her [Ono] over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn  [Cynthia Lennon} was away, and I thought, ‘Well, now’s the time if I’m going to get to know her any more.’ She came to the house and I didn’t know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I’d made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, ‘Well, let’s make one ourselves,’ so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.

They took the self-portrait later in the year at Ringo Starr’s basement apartment in London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living. In the notes that came with the Anthology collection, Lennon said:

We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.

What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren’t that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Yoko vs Beatle fans

It is a shibboleth among many Beatle fans to excoriate Yoko Ono as the cause of the Beatles demise. In my view, John was a powder keg looking for a liaght. Yoko was that spark.

If it wasn’t Yoko, it would have been someone else. Yoko brought forth even more artistic freedom than Bob Dylan had three years earlier.

Here is side one of Two Virgins. I suppose many of you are familiar with the first minute because that’s all you could get through the first (and last) time you listened.

It certainly is a long way from “Love Me Do” to “Two Virgins.” Those of us who stuck it out for at least the first side may have kept waiting for the song to start. Compared to side 1, the white album’s “Number 9” seems pop.

And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Stretch the boundaries of familiarity so that what is unapproachable today becomes familiar tomorrow…or next year.

John Yoko Two Virgins

British Beatlemania Born

British Beatlemania Born

British Beatlemania

November 2, 1963

British Beatlemania

British Beatlemania Born

1963

When we Americans think Beatlemania we typically think of their arrival, the 3 straight Ed Sullivan Show appearances, and the resulting cultural explosion.

It is important to keep in mind that the British Boomers were a bit ahead of us. Easily so, of course, since their media were playing and reporting about The Beatles before we had a hint.

By November 2, 1963, The Beatles had finally had the break out kind of success that any struggling band always hopes will happen, but no band could have foretold the success that descended upon them.

Despite their Cavern popularity, the Beatles began 1963 as they had ended 1962: touring as an opening band for higher billed musicians. With Brian Epstein as their manager and George Martin producing their music, success found them with the release of “Please Please Me” hitting #1 on the British charts on February 22.

Having said that, even on  March 3, 1963, they were still at the bottom of the bill  supporting a Helen Shapiro tour. Other acts ahead of them included The Kestrels, The Honeys, Dave Allen, Kenny Lynch and Danny Williams.

I know. Who were they? I don’t know either.

British Beatlemania Born

Slowly but surely

Also in March, they released their first album: Please Please Me.

In April, John became a father for the first time.

Quietly.

Brian Epstein realized that the group’s youthful carefree image needed single good-looking young men.

In May, “From Me To You” their second US release also charted poorly.

With continued British success, on August 3, 1963 they performed at The Cavern Club for the last time.

On September 16, 1963, “She Loves You,” their third US release, went nowhere.

British Beatlemania Born

The London Palladium

British Beatlemania Born

In October, the British youth aren’t just listening, they are screaming. Like any successful venture, being seen is a way of increasing that success and on  October 13, their appearance on Sunday Night At The London Palladium  as the top group in front of a TV audience of up to 15 million viewers lighted the very short fuse.

Brian Epstein arranged a Christmas show with the Beatles headlining. The show sells out in October.

More recording. A tour to Sweden.

On November 1, back in the UK, their third EP, The Beatles #1, is released using singles from their Please Please Me album. Side one contained I Saw Her Standing There and Misery. The second side featured Anna (Go To Him) and Chains.

British Beatlemania Born

It’s Official

That night their fourth British tour of 1963 opened at the Odeon Cinema in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

This was the group’s first series of concerts as unchallenged headliners. The Beatles topped a bill featuring five other acts: The Rhythm & Blues Quartet, The Vernons Girls, The Brook Brothers, Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers, and The Kestrels with MD Frank Berry.

The next day the Daily Mirror newspaper carried the headline: “Beatlemania! It’s happening everywhere.. even in sedate Cheltenham.

British Beatlemania Born

Richard Ruskin

According to Beatle expert Richard Ruskin’s Buskin with the Beatles Facebook page: 

This date [November 1] in 1963 saw the start of The Beatles’ fourth UK tour, with two shows at the Odeon Cinema in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (‘Gloss-ter-sheer’).
Headlining a bill that also featured The Rhythm & Blues Quartet, The Vernons Girls, The Brook Brothers, Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers and The Kestrels, the Fab Four performed ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘From Me to You’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Boys’, ‘Till There Was You’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ and ‘Twist and Shout’.
Contrary to popular assertion, the following morning’s ‘Daily Mirror’ did NOT coin the term ‘Beatlemania’, but certainly helped introduce it to the general public – describing how, after “the with-it bug” had “swept Sweden” earlier in the week, it had now “hit sedate Cheltenham, traditional home of retired brigadiers, colonels… and the Ladies’ College.”
Buskin also provided this link with the boys at Cheltenham:

 

And you can follow this link for a 2013 Daily Beast take on the roots of Beatlemania.

British Beatlemania Born

John Lennon Can Stay

John Lennon Can Stay

October 7,  1975

Ballad of John and Yoko

John Lennon Can Stay

     John Lennon summed up Yoko and his life when he sang “Christ you know it ain’t easy…” in “Ballad of John and Yoko.

Their May/June 1969 bed-in which included recording “Give Peace A Chance” again put them on the front pages and in a light that the US government, particularly President Richard Nixon hated.

The oft-asked question as to why the Beatles were not at Woodstock may even have an answer related to Nixon as Lennon and Ono might well have had a difficult time getting a visa to perform had Woodstock Ventures actually invited them–which is uncertain. [Plus the fact that the Beatles were still not performing live, hadn’t been, and weren’t looking to.]

John Lennon Can Stay

War Is Over!

     At the end of 1969 John and Yoko continued to demand peace by placing “The War is Over” posters in major cities.

John Yoko Can Stay

John Lennon Can Stay

FBI Takes Notes

     On June 6, 1971  John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared on stage for the first time since 1969 [Toronto Rock and Roll Revival] when they joined Frank Zappa for a show at the Fillmore East.

     By August Lennon and Ono moved into a Greenwich Village apartment.

On December 11, Lennon headlined The John Sinclair Freedom Rally, a protest and concert in response the imprisonment of John Sinclair who was given ten years in prison for the possession of two marijuana cigarettes. The concert was held in Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. [It was Sinclair whom Abbie Hoffman wanted to talk about when Hoffman charged the stage at Woodstock during the Who’s performance.]

The FBI was taking notes at the rally when Lennon sang and in January 1972 opened a file on him. Why?

The 1972 presidential election was going to be the first time that 18-year-olds could vote in such an election and Nixon was worried that Lennon could influence that youth vote against him. [Nixon’s worries, of course, extended to his authorizing the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters in Washington, DC’s Watergate Hotel, but that’s another story!]

John Lennon Can Stay

Nixon: “You’re out!”

On February 4, 1972, after reading FBI surveillance reports, US Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) told Attorney General John Mitchell that Lennon should be deported because he consorted with known radicals such as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman.

On March 1, the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] delivered a letter to the Lennon requesting that he leave the country within two weeks or face deportation hearings. They used Lennon’s 1968 conviction for marijuana possession – a misdemeanor – as the reason for the deportation.

Thus began John’s four year struggle to stay in the US. They hired Leon Wildes, a Yeshiva University law professor, to appeal the order.

On May 1, 1972, Judge Bernard J. Lasker signed a temporary order in Federal Court restraining the Immigration and Naturalization Service from holding a deportation hearing. Judge Lasker ruled that the Government must first hold a hearing on a motion made by Lennon before it takes up the matter of deportation. Lennon’s motion asked that he be classified as “aliens of distinguished merit and ability.”

John Lennon Can Stay

Long and windy road

John had planned on participating in demonstrations outside the Republican convention August 21  – 23 in Miami, but realized such an activity would hurt his chances of winning the deportation appeal.

On August 30, 1972, a memo was sent to FBI director L. Patrick Gray that the FBI was ending its surveillance of Lennon. “All advised that during the month of July 1972, that the subject has fallen out of favor of activists Jerry Rubin, Stewart Albert and Rennie Davis, due to subject’s lack of interest in committing himself to involvement in anti-war and new left activities. In view of this information, the New York division is placing this case in a pending inactive status.”

Despite Nixon’s landslide victory, the INS continued to send letters to Lennon that he must leave the country.

Many artists wrote letters of support for Lennon and Ono. Bob Dylan (“John and Yoko inspire and transcend and stimulate and help put an end to this mild dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as artist art by the overpowering mass media. Let John and Yoko stay!”), Joan Baez, beat poet Gregory Corso, John Updike, Leonard Bernstein, and Joseph Heller. NYC Mayor John Lindsey wrote a letter of support.

In 1973 Yoko Ono, a Japanese citizen, was granted permanent‐resident status.

Despite the situation, Lennon remained Lennon. On April Fools Day 1973 he and Yoko held a press conference to announce that they had formed Nutopia, a “conceptual country” with “no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.” Citizenship was granted by “declaration of your awareness to Nutopia,” and all citizens were granted ambassadorship. Therefore, they were entitled to diplomatic immunity.

John Lennon Can Stay

Leon Wildes

Leon Wildes was more pragmatic. He counter-sued and his investigation revealed Nixon’s political motives were the actual motives behind the deportation.

By 1974, Nixon was in the middle of his own possible impeachment and his administration’s energies lay there.

On October 7, 1975, in a 2 – 1 decision, a three-judge federal panel ruled in Lennon’s favor. Judge Irving R Kaufman wrote in part, “The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds. We have always found a place for those committed to the spirit of liberty and willing to help implement it. He added “Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in the American dream.”

John Lennon Can Stay

Official

Although the Appeals court had ruled in his favor, it was not until July 27, 1976 that immigration judge Ira Fieldsteel formally approved John Lennon’s application.

The Immigration Service lawyer said the Government no longer objected to Lennon’s presence. Judge Fieldsteel approved application for permanent residency number A17‐597‐321.

John Lennon Can Stay

John Lennon Can Stay