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Beatles News

The Beatles succeeded for countless reasons, but their chemistry as four instrumentalists had a lot to do with it. For the vast majority of their songs, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, with some production expertise from George Martin, made the magic in the studio without any outside help.

On occasion, they looked for guest performers who could augment their sound. Some of these folks were relatively unknown outside their fellow musicians, while others were stars in their own right. Here are five special guests who made a big difference on specific songs of the Fab Four. (Listed in chronological order.)


Alan Civil wasn’t the first guest to appear on a Beatles record, but his part on “For No One” made an impact that seemed to open the doors for the group to try it again. The song features McCartney singing about a guy whose relationship is crumbling before him, even though he’s too far in denial to see it. If McCartney’s vocals can’t get through to him, Civil’s lovely, melancholy horn part should do the trick. McCartney and Martin forced him to hit a high note that the instrument doesn’t normally reach, but Civil came through in spectacular fashion.

Source: Jim Beviglia/americansongwriter.com

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John Lennon's Last Interview 21 April, 2024 - 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: Former radio executive Laurie Kaye is the author of Confessions of A Rock ‘N Roll Name-Dropper: My Life Leading Up to Lennon’s Last Interview.She was part of the RKO radio team that interviewed John Lennon before his death on that same day of Dec. 8, 1980, and shared this excerpt with us from her book.

On December 8, 1980, I was overflowing with excitement, anticipation, and disbelief as I approached the Dakota Apartments on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I was there to play my part in John Lennon’s one and only US radio interview following the release of his and Yoko Ono’s brand-new album, Double Fantasy, and the voices in my head were telling me that this was without a doubt about to become the best day of my life that I could ever even begin to imagine, and that I was truly the luckiest person on the planet.

Visions of thousands of screaming Beatles fans packed into Dodger Stadium so many years earlier swirled through my brain like milkshake in a blender, and I could barely keep myself from swaggering down the sidewalk as my associates and I approached the security booth area right outside the Dakota’s entrance.

I’d flown out one day earlier from the West Coast as part of our three-member RKO Radio team along with an executive from Warner Bros./Geffen Records, and although our RKO trio had already worked together on a number of attention-getting network radio rock specials and interviews over the past few years, including heading off to London just the year before to hang out with Paul McCartney and Wings, this would be an entirely different ball game…after all, we were on the verge of meeting up with someone who’d literally disappeared from the music business for the previous five years—JOHN LENNON!

Source: Laurie Kaye/culturesonar.com

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Peter Brown, 87, worked for the Beatles, introduced Paul McCartney to his wife, Linda Eastman, was best man at John and Yoko’s wedding and was immortalized in John Lennon’s lyric, “Peter Brown called to say you can make it OK, you can get married in Gibraltar.” But the McCartneys reportedly ceremonially burned his 1983 book with coauthor Steven Gaines, The Love You Make, a warts-and-all Beatles bestseller many have called “The Muck You Rake.”

Brown and Gaines, who conducted hundreds of interviews with the Fab Four, their spouses, friends, families and business associates in the early 1980s for the book, had a lot more material than what made it into The Love You Make. Now Brown and Gaines present All You Need is Love: The Beatles in Their Own Words — Unpublished, Unvarnished, and Told by The Beatles and Their Inner Circle, an oral history created from those original transcripts. Though light on musical insights, the book is heavy on personal drama and a piercing look inside the band. Here are 10 juicy takeaways.

Source: Tim Appelo/AARP

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Ringo Starr has announced new tour dates for his All Star Band. Spring concerts were previously announced; the new run of shows will take place in the fall.

The nine new dates start on Sept. 12 in Omaha and run through Sept. 25 with a show at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.

Starr will also release a new EP, Crooked Boy, on Saturday for Record Store Day; a digital edition will arrive on April 26. "February Sky," the first single from the EP, was released last week. You can hear it below.

In other news, Starr's old band the Beatles will see their long-shelved 1970 film Let It Be receive a proper release. Disney+ will air a remastered version of the movie, about the making of the band's last-released album, on May 8.

Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band features Steve Lukather, Edgar Winter, Colin Hay, Warren Ham, Hamish Stuart and Gregg Bissonette. They will launch a spring tour on May 22 in Las Vegas; that run will wrap up on June 9 in Austin.

Source: Michael Gallucci/ultimateclassicrock.com

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Paul McCartney is known as one of the most talented and successful songwriters of all time. He’s penned–or co-penned–countless smashes and beloved tunes throughout his many decades as a superstar. But even the greats borrow from others, and that doesn’t exclude the former Beatle.

In the latest episode of his podcast Paul McCartney: A Life in Lyrics (co-produced by iHeartPodcasts and Pushkin), the rocker admitted that even he has been influenced by other songwriters. Only, in one specific instance, he wasn’t so much influenced or inspired, but rather, he simply lifted lyrics from someone else and used them for his own purpose.

“That chorus that I've used as a chorus, literally, is the lyrics to an old Victorian song,” McCartney shared in the podcast. He was referring to the tune “Golden Slumbers,” which the Beatles released in September 1969.

McCartney’s podcast co-host, his friend and poet Paul Muldoon, tried to soften the comment the songwriter had just made. “Is this what we call sampling?” he asked, but McCartney wasn’t trying to sugarcoat things.

“Well, it's called stealing,” McCartney said. It’s good of the celebrated musician to not try to cover up his past questionable behavior, or to try to find another way to describe it that doesn’t sound so harsh. McCartney knows he stole lyrics, and he’s open to talking about it–something other creatives shouldn’t be afraid of.

Source: Hugh McIntyre/forbes.com

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As two of the biggest stars in the planet, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder had to know that any collaboration between them would invite major scrutiny. They overcame those worries by keeping it simple with “Ebony and Ivory,” a straightforward plea for racial unity that struck a major chord with audiences when released in 1982.

How did the song develop? And how did a little tardiness almost throw a wrench into everyone’s plans? Why don’t we get all the details on this hugely successful chart-topping song? A Duet, but with Whom?

Paul McCartney took a break from Wings with his 1980 album McCartney II, but it wasn’t meant to be a permanent break. He intended to reassemble the group for his following album, which would be recorded with George Martin as producer. In October 1980, Wings did demos of a batch of songs McCartney had recently written, songs that would end up on albums like Tug of War (1982) and Pipes of Peace (1983).

One of the songs that the band demoed was “Ebony and Ivory.” McCartney envisioned the song as a duet, and he had Denny Laine, Wings’ longtime guitarist, sing it with him on the demo. Alas, those sessions were Wings’ last, as McCartney found that he didn’t like how the songs were sounding, and also that he had lost his enthusiasm for being a bandleader.

Once he knew he was moving forward as a solo artist, he decided that, since “Ebony and Ivory” was all about race relations, he should find a Black singer to do it with him. Since he had known Stevie Wonder since they met in the ’60s when McCartney was a Beatle and Wonder was already scoring hits in his teens, he immediately thought it would be a good match.

Source: Jim Beviglia/americansongwriter.com

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The Beatles and their music were an enormous part of my teenage years.

You usually chose between The Rolling Stones or The Beatles as to who were your favourite music icons. For me, it was always The Beatles, unfortunately I didn’t succeed in seeing them live but I did marry a Liverpool man who went to art school with John Lennon and who used to listen to the group play in the Cavern Club in Liverpool long before they became famous – so that was quite something to talk about!

They were amazing pioneers of sound, John, Paul, George and Ringo, four working class lads from Liverpool who were music rebels. They ignored the old way of recording music and together with producer George Martin, they opened up new horizons, again and again, experimental, avant-garde, rock, jazz, pop. They had a special sound using new techniques. Their albums were innovative to not only the sound but the incredible album cover designs. They were real works of art and they displayed the songs’ lyrics too.

The 1960s youth culture was born, a sort of protest against the adult world. I remember the feeling well, a change of lifestyle and freedom to experiment with art, fashion, morality, female liberation – The Beatles were a catalyst for all of that.

Lennon and McCartney were amazing songwriters creating music that lasts. They were very brave in reinventing themselves and creating the first rock videos, you didn’t know what to expect from them next. They promoted love and peace, their messages are still important today, in fact they loved what they were doing.

Hearing Beyoncé recently releasing a version of McCartney’s song Blackbird , made me think about the Beatles and their huge influence on our lives in the 60s. McCartney says that the song Blackbird is not about a bird but is a symbol of black women and the civil rights movement in the USA at that time. He had heard about the problems in Little Rock, Arkansas where 9 black students were faced with segregation, the 9 students finally helped to desegregate schools. Paul McCartney says he is delighted that Beyoncé and her female singing friends have decided to perform Blackbird . He says it reinforces the civil rights message.

Source: La Montagne/lamontagne.fr

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On April 9, All You Need Is Love: The Beatles in Their Own Words was released worldwide. The book is written by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, who have both worked with The Beatles and written about them for years.

The book features unreleased interviews with The Beetles and their significant others, including Yoko Ono. This is not the first time Yoko Ono and John's relationship has been in the spotlight.

Their relationship started in an art gallery and took many forms in the 14 years they were together. It continues to be one of the most famous love stories. A look into their relationship timeline shows that Yoko continues to carry on John's legacy and accept awards on his behalf.

"Love can sometimes be hell", Yoko Ono says about her relationship with John Lennon

Yoko Ono and John Lennon's relationship began at a gallery where Yoko presented her artwork at the Indica Valley. The Beatles visited the gallery, and John was intrigued by Yoko's work. John later recalled to Playboy about his first meet and reported,

"That's when we locked eyes, and she got it, and I got it and, as they say in all the interviews we do, the rest is history."

John, at that time, was married to Cynthia Lennon and also had a son with her, but he found a new connection with Yoko, and they fell in love.

November 11, 1968: The first collaboration

Lennon and Ono joined for their first musical collaboration, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. While it marked the beginning of their relationship, it led to John's subsequent divorce from Cynthia.

March 20, 1969: The Gibraltar summer dream

Shortly after Ono and Lennon married on March 20, 1969, in Gibraltar. The Beatles split in the subsequent year.

Source:Janvi Kapur/sportskeeda.com

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George Harrison had temporarily quit The Beatles in January 1969, disillusioned with their fraught sessions after witnessing the domestic bliss of The Band and their home studio set-up in Woodstock the previous November. What he saw in New York suggested a cooler, more democratic process was possible. The tensions in which he was mired at that time bore a handful of songs that were at once spiteful yet contemplative, including “I Me Mine” and “Wah Wah.”

“Run Of The Mill” is similarly probing; ironically, its lyrics were first scrawled across an envelope from Apple, the company that would irrevocably tear the group apart over differences of opinion regarding its management. A few weeks after Paul McCartney announced to the world in April 1970 that The Beatles had split, Harrison was in New York to discuss starting work on a solo album with Phil Spector, playing the producer “Run Of The Mill” and a selection of songs he’d earmarked for it. While the majority of “Run Of The Mill”’s ire is purportedly aimed at McCartney, the song also serves as a cautionary tale of owning one’s actions: “No one around you will carry the blame for you,” George sings. “No one around you will love you today/And throw it all away.”

Source: Simon Harper/udiscovermusic.com

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When The Beatles first released “Happiness is a Warm Gun” in 1968, many assumed the track was about sex, drugs, or both. But in reality, the inspiration came from something far less illicit: an American Rifleman magazine cover.

Of course, in typical John Lennon fashion, there were multiple sources of inspiration for the track that closed Side One of the Beatles’ eponymous album (known as the “White Album”). Those sources included a shoplifter, a peeping Tom, Lennon’s sexual relationship with Yoko Ono, and rampant public defecation.

The Magazine Cover That Inspired “Happiness is a Warm Gun”

“Happiness is a Warm Gun” is a psychedelic, rambling track that switches subject matter almost as much as it changes time signature. The second half of the song builds anticipatory tension that explodes into the song’s main hook: Happiness is a warm gun, bang, bang, shoot, shoot. As Lennon later explained, he picked up the line from a cover of the U.S. National Rifle Association’s monthly publication, The American Rifleman.

Source: Melanie Davis/americansongwriter.com

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