The Ballad Of John And Yoko, The Beatles' second UK single of 1969, was released on this day. The b-side was George Harrison's Old Brown Shoe.
The Ballad Of John And Yoko was recorded by John Lennon and Paul McCartney at Abbey Road's studio three on April 14, 1969, without the other two Beatles present. It was released six weeks after it was recorded, while Get Back was still at number one in the UK charts. The Ballad Of John And Yoko was released as Apple R 5786, and was The Beatles' first single in Britain and Europe to be released in stereo.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Montreal Bed-In For Peace continues. Unable to enter America in person, John Lennon bombards the nation with phone interviews. The Bed-In coincides with an anti-war demonstration in what has become known as “Peoples’ Park” in Berkeley, California. Unable to travel to the event, Lennon phones through his support to radio station KPFA in Berkeley, advocating a policy of passive resistance (which was Ghandi’s method of protest).
Today's session involved the creation of a stereo mix for the song Let It Be, and the compilation of the master tape for Glyn Johns' unreleased Get Back album.
Johns had worked for a number of days on the album, without much involvement from The Beatles, and this day saw the completion of his work.
Beatles star John Lennon and his newlywed wife, Yoko Ono, spent a famous week in bed at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel to promote peace, love and pyjama power.
The couple welcomed scores of friends, fans, fellow musicians, reporters, photographers and others into suite 1742 during their seven-day retreat, which took place two months after their honeymoon bed-in at the Amsterdam Hilton.
The highlight of their bed-in was the composition and recording of Lennon’s antiwar anthem Give Peace a Chance. A piece of paper bearing the hand-written lyrics to the song, given by Lennon to star-struck Montreal teenager Gail Renard after the recording session, was sold for $800,000 at a Christie’s auction in 2008. In 2009, another Lennon placard that had adorned the hotel room — this one with the hand-written message “L’Amour et la Paix” (Love and Peace) — sold for $140,000 at a Christie’s sale in London.
John and Yoko Ono had flown to the Bahamas from London the day before and wanted to recreate their second bed-in for peace at the Sheraton Oceanus Hotel in Freeport.
However, after one night there, they realized that they were further from the United States than they thought, so wouldn't attract as much publicity as hoped for. Also, the sweltering heat and humidity didn't seem like a good idea for the bed-in.
John was attempting to arrange a hotel stay in Toronto, Canada. Derek Taylor, Apple Corps' press officer, then announces that he has booked a direct flight from Freeport to Toronto at 5pm. Lennon strums his acoustic guitar and sings "Good old Air Canada!"
Despite being held at Toronto airport for over two hours by immigration authorities, they were eventually allowed to enter the country. They spent the night at the King Edward Sheraton Hotel, Toronto, and the following day flew to Montreal.
The Beatles' single, Get Back, reaches #1 in the US charts.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono (with Yoko's daughter, Kyoko) fly to Freeport, Bermuda, with the intention of holding another Bed-In for Peace, but leave when John realizes how far from the US they are. Plus, the heat and humidity are too high for comfortably staying in bed for seven days.
Today, Ringo Starr, his wife Maureen and Peter Sellers, director Joe McGrath, producer Denis O'Dell, and Apple's press officer Derek Taylor set sail for New York on board the Queen Elizabeth 2 luxury liner. They docked in New York.
With principal photography on the film recently completed, the holiday laid on by Commonwealth United by way of thanks to the cast and crew for finishing on time and on budget.
The party then flew to the Bahamas, where they spent two weeks in the sun.
And...Get Back by The Beatles with Billy Preston was the #1 song on May 22, 1969.
Life as a Beatle for John Lennon was never as fab or gear in the days of Beatlemania as most people believed. Nor is life as a Beatle today all that pleasant for Lennon.
In fact, he said in interviews to the British pop press, a Beatle split-up is a possibility. “It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it.”
John, talking to the New Musical Express, explained the problem: “In the old days, when we needed an album, Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it. Nowadays, there’s three of us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all into one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.
1. Get Back - The Beatles with Billy Preston
2. Atlantis - Donovan
3. Oh Happy Day - The Edwin Hawkins Singers featuring Dorothy Combs Morrison
4. The River is Wide - The Grass Roots
5. These Eyes - The Guess Who
6. Good Morning Starshine - Oliver
7. Love (Can Make You Happy) - Mercy
8. Grazing in the Grass - The Friends of Distinction
9. The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel
10. Hair - The Cowsills
11. In the Ghetto - Elvis Presley
12. More Today Than Yesterday - Spiral Scarecase
13. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
14. Goodbye - Mary Hopkin
15. Sweet Cherry Wine - Tommy James & The Shondells
16. Pinball Wizard - The Who
17. Gitarzan - Ray Stevens
18. Heather Honey - Tommy Roe
19. Time is Tight - Booker T & The MG's
20. Nothing but a Heartache - The Flirtations
Ringo Starr boards the “Queen Elizabeth II” to sail to the US for the filming of “The Magic Christian.” He travels with his wife, Maureen and their two children, Peter Sellers, and George and Pattie Harrison. John Lennon and Yoko Ono are scheduled to join Ringo and the others on the trip, but had to cancel at the last moment, because John does not get his visa.
John Lennon is refused a visa by the US Embassy in London; they cite his 1968 drug conviction as the reason. John's plans for a Bed-In in New York will have to be scrapped. Instead, Lennon and Ono were left on the dock at Southampton. The experience echoed their failed attempt to marry on a ferry to France in March 1969, which found its way into the opening lines of The Ballad Of John And Yoko.
The trip was laid on by Commonwealth United, the company which funded the film The Magic Christian, which Starr had a lead role in. With principal photography recently completed, the holiday was by way of thanks to the cast and crew for finishing on time and on budget.
The luxury cruise ship arrived in New York on 22 May 1969, and from there the party flew to the Bahamas for a two-week holiday.
Starr gave an interview to the Associated Press agency before the ship set sail. In it he discussed a previous job as a waiter on board a steam ship that sailed between Liverpool and north Wales while he was a teenager.
In early May 1969, photographer Angus McBean and the Beatles returned to EMI House to recreate the cover photo from the "Please Please Me" LP for their upcoming LP, "Get Back". However Angus found that EMI had constructed a new porch which prevented him from photographing the Beatles from the exact same perspective as he had done in 1963. Pictures from this day feature John and George wearing different jacket.
When EMI House heard that the exact photo angle could not be replicated, they agreed to have the new porch taken down temporarily. The Beatles and Angus then returned on May 13 1969 at 6pm for another attempt. Pictures from this day feature John and George wearing pin stripe suits (their 1966 tour suits).
Today George Harrison accepted an invitation to perform on singer and bassist Jack Bruce's debut solo album. He arrived early for the session, and recorded a rhythm guitar part for the song Never Tell Your Mother She's Out Of Tune.
The album was Songs For A Tailor, which was released later in 1969. Harrison's guitar part became largely buried in the mix, but performed some distorted chords as part of the backing track.
For contractual reasons Harrison's name didn't appear on the album credits. Instead, the pseudonym he had used for the recording of Badge, L'Angelo Misterioso, made a reappearance.
The Beatles launch their new Zapple label, reserved for avant-garde and spoken-word recordings. This day marks the UK release of LPs by John Lennon and George Harrison. The first release on the Zapple label is John Lennon / Yoko Ono’s Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions. Tracks: Cambridge 1969, No Bed For Beatle John, Baby's Heartbeat, Two Minutes Silence, and Radio Play. The second album released on the Zapple label is George Harrison’s Electronic Sound. Tracks: Under the Mersey Wall and No Time or Space. Despite the plans for a series of poetry LPs and similar literary ventures, notably an album of Allen Ginsberg performing the works of William Blake, Zapple never releases another record.
Paul McCartney, using the pseudonym Paul Ramon, assists Steve Miller in the recording of the song My Dark Hour. Paul plays bass and drums, and sings backing vocals.
-The battle for control of The Beatles' Northern Songs continues. Late last month, the Beatles made a $5.1 million counter offer to Northern Songs stockholders in an attempt to thwart ATV's bid to win control of the company. Today, representatives of Warner Brothers-Seven Arts are expected in London to discuss the purchase of 15% of the company.
In UK Get Back by Beatles With Billy Preston was in the top 5 hits.
Today, Paul McCartney's new song, You Never Give Me Your Money was recorded.
The first takes ended abruptly where the song eventually went into the "one two three four five six seven/All good children go do heaven" refrain. The Beatles recorded 36 takes, filling three reels of tape in the process, before the session ended at 4am.
The backing was recorded live onto eight-track tape. Track one featured George Harrison's guitar, fed through a Leslie speaker; track two had McCartney's piano; Ringo Starr's drums were on the third; McCartney's guide vocals were on track four; and John Lennon's rhythm guitar filled track six.
Abbey Road was not recorded until July 1, 1969 while each of The Beatles went on holiday.
A party to celebrate the completion of principal photography for The Magic Christian was held on this evening.
Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney (along with their wives, Maureen, Yoko and Linda) attend a party celebrating the completion of the primary shooting for the film "The Magic Christian," in which Ringo co-stars with Peter Sellers.
Ringo Starr appeared in the film, co-starring alongside Peter Sellers. The party took place at the London nightclub Les Ambassadeurs.
Other guests included actors Richard Harris, Sean Connery, Stanley Baker, George Peppard, Roger Moore and Christopher Lee.
The party was filmed by the producers of The Magic Christian. Footage from the occasion later appeared in a BBC documentary titled Will The Real Mr Sellers..., which was narrated by Spike Milligan and broadcast in December 1969.
Just 41 seconds of footage from the party was used in the documentary. Peter Sellers can be seen talking to Lennon, and in a brief interview McCartney denies his wife Linda is pregnant. Their daughter Mary was born four months later.
In late April of 1969, NME's Alan Smith sat down with John Lennon to discuss the release of the Beatles' next album. While the recording for the 'Let It Be' album had already been completed and work on 'Abbey Road' had just begun, John mistakenly states that the next LP should be released "in about eight weeks." What could not be known at the time was that 'Let It Be' would remain shelved until its much-delayed release on May 8th 1970, long after 'Abbey Road' had enjoyed a lengthy stay at number one.
This interview, entitled 'Beatles Music Straightforward On Next Album,' was originally published in the May 3rd 1969 issue of the New Musical Express. It would later be reprinted in the December 1969 issue of Hit Parader magazine in the States.
At the time of this chat, the Beatles had recently released the hit single 'Get Back / Don't Let Me Down,' and their upcoming single 'Ballad Of John And Yoko / Old Brown Shoe' would be released on May 30th.
In the interiview, John tells how Beatles' friend Magic Alex "wrote half" of the song 'What A Shame Mary Jane,' which would not be officially released until decades later on the Beatles Anthology CD set.
Alan Smith removes himself from the printed interview and lets John do the talking.
- Jay Spangler, www.beatlesinterviews.org
"If I could only get the time to myself right now, instead of all this Monopoly and financial business with Northern Songs, I think I could probably write about 30 songs a day. As it is, I probably average about 12 a night. Paul too... He's mad on it. It's something that gets in your blood. I've got things going around in my head right now, and as soon as I leave here I'm going around to Paul's place and start work.
"The way we're writing at the moment, it's straightforward and there's nothing weird. Songs like 'Get Back,' things like that. We recorded that one on the Apple roof but I'm not sure if that's the version that went out. We always record about ten versions. You get lost in the end.
"I'm not really interested in the production of our records. In fact, I wish I didn't have to go through that whole thing, going through the production and balancing the bass and all that.
"For me, the satisfaction of writing a song is in the performing of it. The production bit is a bore. If some guy would invent a robot to do it, then it would be great. But all that 'get the bass right, get the drums right,' that's a drag to me. All I want to do is get my guitar out and sing songs.
"I quite fancy giving some live shows, but Ringo doesn't because he says, you know, it'll just be the same when we get on, nothing different.
"I can't give you any definite plans for a live show when we're not even agreed on it. We've got to come to an agreement. For a start, there's too much going on now for us to even talk realisitically about going on tour.
"In a way, that's why it's unfortunate that all the publicity came out about doing live shows when it did. We were only thinking about it vaguely, but it kind of got out of hand. I suppose the next great Beatle Event will be the next LP, in about eight weeks.
"A lot of the tracks will be like 'Get Back,' and a lot that we did in one take, kind of thing. We've done about 12 tracks, some of them still to be remixed.
"Paul and I are now working on a kind of song montage that we might do as one piece on one side. We've got two weeks to finish the whole thing so we're really working at it.
"All the songs we're doing sound normal to me, but probably they might sound unusual to you. There's no 'Revolution #9' there, but there's a few heavy sounds. I couldn't pin us down to being on a heavy scene, or a commercial pop scene, or a straight tuneful scene. We're just on whatever's going. Just rockin' along.
"The follow-up to 'Get Back' is 'Ballad Of John And Yoko.' It's something I wrote, and it's like an old-time ballad. It's the story of us going along getting married, going to Paris, going to Amsterdam, all that. It's 'Johnny B. Paperback Writer.'
"As I say, we don't want to release it straight away because it might kill the sales, and I suppose we're cowards that way. I don't regard it as a separate record scene. It's the Beatles' next single, simple as that.
"The story came out that only Paul and I were on the record, but I wouldn't have bothered publicizing that. It doesn't mean anything. It just so happened that there were only two of us there -- George was abroad and Ringo was on the film and he couldn't come that night.
"Because of that, it was a choice of either re-mixing or doing a new song -- and you always go for doing a new one instead of fiddling about with an old one. So we did and it turned out well.
"As for all this financial business that's going on, it does get in the way of the writing, but I don't find it that much of a drag. It is. It is that much of a drag. It's like Monopoly, what with all these bankers -- and played around a big table with all these heavies. You know the bit... 'Then I'll give you The Strand or Old Kent Road,' and you say 'No, you give me two houses.' It's just like that.
"Really the outcome of this whole financial business doesn't matter. We'll still be making records and somebody will be copping some money, and we'll be copping some money, and that'll be that.
"I don't have any involvement in Mary Hopkins records, it's pure Paul. But there is one discovery I'd like to promote.
"I think I'm going to make a pop record with Yoko. I've got this other song we were singing last night, and I think it will be quite a laugh for her to do a pop record. It's one I've written myself, and it's about Yoko, but I'll just change the word Yoko to John, and she can sing it about me.
"This TV film 'Rape' we did for Austrian TV -- so, it didn't get fantastic reviews, but then neither does every record the Beatles make. Hell, do you remember the reviews of 'Hey Jude?' I remember Stuart Henry saying 'Och weel, y' either like it orr y' don't.' The critics are the same with 'Rape.' It's a good film, and we stand by it. THere's a few people understand it, and the rest have no idea. They don't know the difference between Jean Luc Godard and Walt Disney.
"It's funny. The critics can accept it from Luc Godard but they can't accept it from us two -- because their so hung up on who Yoko and I are and what we do, they can't see the product.
"But that'll die, and Yoko and I will just have to overcome our image, and people'll have to judge us on our art and not the way we look.
"You can't say Paul and I are writing separately these days. We do both. When it comes to needing 500 songs by Friday, you gotta get together. I definitely find I work better when I've got a deadline to meet. It really frightens you and you've got to churn them out. All the time I'm sort of arranging things in my mind.
"The film that the Beatles made recently, of us recording and working, somebody's editing that at this moment. It's 68 hours, and they're trying to get it down to 5 for several TV specials.
"Or then, it might be a movie. I don't know.
"This image thing that people are always on about with the Beatles -- image is something in Joe Public's eye. That's why it's a drag when people talk about fresh-faced Beatles, like it was five years ago. I mean, we're always changing, like the TV clip of 'Get Back.' Now I've got the beard, Paul is clean shaven, and George is the one with the mustache. Even I can't keep up with our own image. I come into Apple one day, and there's George got a new head on him.
"So if that's the way it is with us, I tell you, the public doesn't stand a chance of keeping up with how we look. And anyway, who we are is up to ourselves personally. Music is what's important.
"As far as that's concerned in my case, Yoko and I stimulate each other like crazy. For instance, did you know she'd trained as a classical musician. I didn't know that until this morning. In college she majored in classical composition.
"I've just written a song called 'Because.' Yoko was playing some classical bit, and I said 'Play that backwards,' and we had a tune. We'll probably write a lot more in the future.
"I've written with other people as well. For instance, there was a mad thing I wrote half with our electronics genius, Alex. It was called 'What A Shame Mary Jane Had A Pain At The Party,' and it was meant for the last Beatles album. It was real madness, but we never released it. I'd like to do it again.
"There was another song I wrote around 'Pepper' time that's still in the can, called 'You Know My Name Look Up The Number.' That's the only words to it. It just goes on all the way like that, and we did these mad backings. But I never finished it, and I must.
"Why did we spring 'Get Back' on the public so suddenly? Well, we'd been talking about it since we recorded it, and we kept saying 'That's a single.' Eventually we got so fed up talking about it we suddenly said 'Okay, that's it. Get it out tomorrow.'"
The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Three, EMI Studios, London). The Beatles, with Billy Preston, record a re-make of George Harrison's song Something. They record 36 takes, with Paul McCartney playing bass, Ringo Starr on drums, John Lennon and George on guitars, and Preston on piano. Chris Thomas is producer.