Tag Archives: Beatles

December 18 Music et al

December 18 Music et al

Lion Sleeps Tonight

December 18, 1961 – January 12, 1962: a South African song from the 1920s, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens #1 Billboard Hot 100.

December 18 Music et al

Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin wrote the original song, “Mbube” (Zulu: lion) in the 1920s. Many, including the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Miriam Makeba and the Kingston Trio, covered the song before the Tokens’ success.

December 18 Music et al

Blue Hawaii

December 18, 1961 –  May 4, 1962 – Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii movie soundtrack the Billboard #1 album.

Blue Hawaii was the fourteenth album by Elvis. RCA had released it on October 20, 1961. It is a soundtrack for Presley’s film of the same name. The album spent 20 weeks at the number one slot and 39 weeks in the Top 10 on Billboards Top Pop LPs chart. (see April 21, 1962)

December 18 Music et al

I Want To Hold Your Hand

December 17, 1963: radio DJ Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, a U.K. copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio after a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him requesting Beatles music after seeing the CBS-news segment.  James Carroll became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. He had obtained the record from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. Due to listener demand, the song was played daily, every hour.

December 18 Music et al

The next day, Capitol Records threatened to sue WWDC to stop playing song, but then reversed itself and decided to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Capital had previously scheduled the release for  January 13, 1964.  Capital cancelled Christmas breaks and made sure that pressing plants and staff could do an earlier release.

Capital succeeded and released the  song on December 26!  (see Dec 23)

December 18 Music et al

Another Beatles Christmas Record

December 18, 1964, The Beatles: “Another Beatles Christmas Record” issued to UK fan club members.

They sing “Jingle Bells” which is followed by individual messages to the fans. John mocks the prepared statement.

When Paul asks John about it, John responds “No it’s somebody’s bad hand-wroter.” The conversation continues and the disc finishes with them briefly singing “Oh Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirt?”

American fans did not receive Another Beatles’ Christmas Record . They got an edited version of  the 1963 Beatle Christmas message. (see Dec 26)

December 18 Music et al

LSD

Acid Test

December 18, 1965: Big Beat Acid Test, The Big Beat Club, Palo Alto. The  poster/announcement for the event came in three colors: white, red, and yellow. The artists designed it to be cut in half (look at the “dotted” line down the middle) and the top of the right half attached to the bottom of the left.

December 18 Music et al

The recently re-named Grateful Dead were there. Tom Wolfe wrote about it in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , Owsley Stanley introduced manager Rock Scully to the Grateful Dead, and  Hugh Romney–known today as Wavy Gravy–first joined the festivities.

The Big Beat was the San Francisco Peninsula’s first “rock” club. Yvonne Modica owned it.

Timothy Leary

In 1966: Timothy Leary founded the League of Spiritual Development with LSD as the sacrament. (see Jan 8)

December 18 Music et al

The Family Way

December 18, 1966: with music by Paul McCartney, “The Family Way” movie premiered.

John Boulting produced the film. Roy Boulting directed it. John Mills and his daughter Hayley Mills starred. (NYT review) (next Beatles, see March 18, 1967; Family Way, see Jan 6, 1967)

December 18 Music et al
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Busy Beatles December 17

Busy Beatles December 17


On December 17, 1961 Brian Epstein contacted a local wedding photographer, Albert Marrion, to have him take professional pictures of the group for the first time.

DJ Carroll James

On December 17, 1963 radio DJ Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, a U.K. played copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” after a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him requesting Beatles music after she saw the CBS-news segment on December 10.

James Carroll became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. He had obtained the record from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. Due to listener demand, the song was played daily, every hour.

Capital Records had planned on releasing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on January 13, 1964 and the next day (Dec 18), the company threatened to sue WWDC to stop playing song. Capital then reversed itself and decided to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Capital cancelled Christmas leaves and pressing plants and staff geared up for rush release.

Busy Beatles December 17

Busy Beatles December 17

Third Christmas Record


December 17, 1965: “The Beatles Third Christmas Record” released. Several off-key, a cappella versions of “Yesterday” were dispersed throughout the record, alongside Lennon’s “Happy Christmas to Ya List’nas”, “Auld Lang Syne”, a one-and-a-half-line version of the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” (which they quickly stop before they violate the copyright) and an original poem titled “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”.

Members of the Beatles’ US fan-club did not receive this (or any) Christmas flexi-disc in 1965. Rather, they received a black and white postcard, with a photo of the Fab Four and the message “Season’s Greetings – Paul, Ringo, George, John.” The Beatle Bulletin, the publication of the US fan-club, explained in its April 1966 edition that the tape arrived too late to prepare the record in time for Christmas.

Busy Beatles December 17

Christmas Time Is Here Again

December 17, 1967:  mailing of the 1967 Christmas disc, Christmas Time Is Here Again to fan club members. Their fifth.

The Beatles created an elaborate production around the concept of several groups auditioning for a BBC radio show. The title song serves as a refrain throughout the record. The Beatles portray a multitude of characters, including game show contestants, aspiring musicians (“Plenty of Jam Jars”, by the Ravellers), and actors in a radio drama (“Theatre Hour”). At the end John reads a poem, “When Christmas Time Is Over.” This offering was likely a deliberate homage to/continuation of the broadly similar “Craig Torso” specials produced for BBC Radio 1 that same year by the Beatles’ friends and collaborators the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and also shares much in common with their then-unreleased track “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)”, recorded six months previously.

For those of you with the interest, the money,  and the space, you can order a newly released box set from Apple Corps that includes  each Beatles Christmas disc.

Busy Beatles December 17
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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. 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.

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
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