Tag Archives: George Harrison

The Last Beatles Concert ► Monday Musical Appreciation

It was 48 years ago today when The Beatles gave their last live performance, although no one knew that at the time. It’s come down through history known as The Rooftop Concert.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo — at that point the most famous musicians in the world — had been filming the recording of their ‘back to basics’ LP, that was supposed to do away with overdubs and studio trickery. The idea of a movie started out as a tee vee documentary ending with a live concert, before it morphed into a major motion picture.

Originally the album was to have been called “Get Back,” but was eventually released as “Let It Be,” the same name as the eventual movie and the biggest hit on the soundtrack.

The recording sessions were fraught with tension, with the Beatles bickering with each other.  Even the level-headed and Transcendental Meditationizer Harrison had enough. He also quit the band for a period. When he returned he did so with Billy Preston to play keyboards, correctly guessing that the presence of a musician they all respected would cut down on the fighting.

According to the WikiWackyWoo:

Harrison recalled that when Preston joined them, “straight away there was 100% improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we’d created among ourselves.”[14]

While most of the bickering was left on the cutting room floor, this clip was left in the final cut of the movie:

They were stumped for a location for the ending of the movie. The documentary was always going to end with a live show, but they were stumped where to hold it. Suggestions ranged from an ocean liner, to the pyramids, to Pompeii. However, logistically those shows would have been difficult. At almost the last minute, as time was ticking away before Ringo had to start filming The Magic Christian, the decision was made to perform on the rooftop of Apple Corps, the Beatles’ own building on tony Savile Row.

The 42 minute concert was the last time The Beatles played for an audience. However, they would go on to record one more LP, Abbey Road, actually released before the movie and Let It Be album. By the time the movie was release, The Beatles were history.

The songs performed on the roof that day were Get Back (five versions), I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Don’t Let Me Down (two versions), I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909, Danny Boy, Dig A Pony (two versions), and God Save The Queen.

Also cut out of the movie was all of the genesis for the song that eventually became Get Back. It started off much differently than the song you hear now and could NEVER have been released in this form:

The Beatles have been criticized for these 2 songs once bootlegs started to appear, but it’s clearly a protest song of sorts, condemning the racism that they had been seeing at home. It’s just not a very subtle character study, like Elanor Rigby, f’rinstance.

Ironically, the session tapes of Let It Be were eventually given to Phil Spector, who laid all kinds of overdubs on the songs. This appalled Paul McCartney, who had been outvoted. Eventually, in 2003, Let It Be… Naked was released, without all the sweetening in a form that McCartney could live with.

The movie Let It Be was briefly available to purchase on VHS, Betamax, or LaserDisc, however the 1981 release was the first and last time it was available legally. There are reports that the entire movie was remastered by Apple in 1992. Apparently there was another remastering in 2003, including outtakes and bonus material, that was to have been released with the Naked CD, but that never happened either.

“Some people say” it’s Paul who has held off release of the movie because he comes off looking like a dick. The Wiki has something to say about that, too:

In February 2007, Apple CorpsNeil Aspinall said, “The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realised: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues.”[43]

An anonymous industry source told the Daily Express in July 2008 that, according to Apple insiders, McCartney and Starr blocked the release of the film on DVD. The two were concerned about the effect on the band’s “global brand … if the public sees the darker side of the story. Neither Paul nor Ringo would feel comfortable publicising a film showing the Beatles getting on each other’s nerves … There’s all sorts of extra footage showing more squabbles but it’s questionable if the film will ever see a reissue during Paul and Ringo’s lifetime.”[44] However, in 2016, McCartney stated he doesn’t oppose an official release, stating, “I keep bringing it up, and everyone goes, ‘Yeah, we should do that.’ The objection should be me. I don’t come off well.”[45]

Maybe one day we’ll finally get to see this movie again. Until then, enjoy some bootleg recordings of the Rooftop Concert while they’re still on the YouTubery.


It’s Only A Northern Song ► Monday Musical Appreciation

On this day in 1963 The Beatles formed the music publishing company Northern Songs —  with Dick James owning 51% — which is how Michael Jackson eventually came to own their back catalog of songs. Follow the bouncing ball:

Brian Epstein made a number of bad deals for The Beatles. For example, there’s Seltaeb — “Beatles” spelled backwards — a company created to merchandise Beatles’ products. Epstein didn’t have the time, or inclination, to decide on all the merchandise requests that were rolling in, from Beatles wigs to drum sticks to plastic guitars. He decided to outsource this job and signed a contract which gave The Beatles a mere 10% of the royalties. Normally up to 75% would go to the artists on such a deal. It’s estimated that The Beatles lost at least $100,000,000 on that deal, which could have been more lucrative than the worldwide royalties on their music.

However, of all the deals that Brian Epstein got the Beatles involved in, Northern Songs is the one that had the most-lasting effect, biting them in the ass to this very day.

George Harrison was so irritated, he wrote a song about it:

Dick James had been kicking around the music industry since his teens in the ’40s, as a musician and singer. In fact, it’s James’ voice heard on the theme song to the tee vee show The Adventures of Robin Hood. As the WikiWackyWoo explains:

James entered the music publishing
business as his singing career tapered off. In 1958 he joined Sidney
Bron Music as a song-plugger but decided to leave and open Dick James
Music in 1961. In early 1963, he was contacted by Brian Epstein who was looking for a publisher for the second Beatles single, “Please Please Me“. James called Philip Jones, producer of the TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, played the record down the phone to him and secured the band’s first nationwide television appearance.[3] The pair subsequently established Northern Songs Ltd., with Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to publish Lennon and McCartney’s original songs.[4] (Fellow Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr were also signed to Northern Songs as songwriters, but did not renew their contracts in 1968). James’s company, Dick James Music, administered Northern Songs.[5]

What initially began as an amicable working relationship between the
Beatles and James disintegrated by the late 1960s: the Beatles
considered that James had betrayed and taken advantage of them when he
sold Northern Songs in 1969 without offering the band an opportunity to
buy control of the publishing company. James profited handsomely from
the sale of Northern Songs, but the Beatles never again had the rights
to their own songs.[6]

In later years, The Beatles groused about this deal, but was it really that bad? According to Did the Beatles Get Screwed, at Slate:

Decades later, McCartney would refer to the agreement that created their publishing company, Northern Songs, as a “slave contract.” Harrison would mock its terms in an outtake from Sgt. Pepper’s,
singing “it doesn’t really matter what chords I play… as it’s only a
Northern Song.” Lennon would say with some bitterness that the bald and
bespectacled man who proposed the deal, Dick James, had “carved Brian [Epstein] up.”

In fact, by the standards of the day, Dick James made the Beatles—a
band with one hit record and zero leverage in the industry—a pretty good

Keep in mind that when Chuck Berry recorded his first 45 for Chess Records
in the mid-’50s, the Chess brothers made him share songwriting
credit—right on the label—with a prominent disk jockey, as well as with
the company’s landlord. The publishing rights to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti
were purchased by his label bosses for all of 50 dollars. This kind of
wholesale theft was commonplace; in the early rock era, the ethics of
the average music publisher could make a mob capo blanch.

After Epstein died The Beatles unsuccessfully tried to renegotiate the deal with Dick James, but in 1969 he sold the publishing catalog (which by then included many other songwriters) to Lew Grade‘s ATV without even telling The Beatles. Then they tried to buy back Northern Songs. Unfortunately, it came as The Beatles were in the process of (secretly) breaking up and John Lennon and Paul McCartney couldn’t come to terms. Each had their own advisers by then — Allan Klein for Lennon and Lee Epstein (no relation) for McCartney — and no one could agree on terms. Eventually, the negotiations fell apart and the songs stayed with ATV, with Lennon and McCartney receiving a healthy buy-out for their shares in the company.

After Lennon’s death McCartney again tried to buy the tunes back. According to the Wiki:

In 1981, with Yoko Ono, McCartney attempted to make a joint purchase of the ATV music catalogue.[33] At a 1990 press conference, McCartney stated, “I was offered the songs to buy for 20 million pounds”,[34] but did not want to be perceived as being “grabby” for “owning John Lennon’s bit of the songs”.[35][36] So he asked Ono if she would make a joint purchase with him, sharing the cost equally.[35][36]
According to McCartney, Ono thought they could buy it for half the
price being offered and he agreed to see what could be done about that.[35] McCartney then let the deal fall through when they were not able to make a joint acquisition.[33][35][36]

A few years later, McCartney recorded with Michael Jackson. As always, the Wiki knows all:

During their collaboration on the song, “Say, Say, Say“, McCartney informed Jackson about the financial value of music publishing.[37] According to McCartney, this was his response to Jackson asking him for business advice.[1] McCartney showed Jackson a thick booklet displaying all the song and publishing rights he owned,[37] from which he was then reportedly earning £24.4 million from songs by other artists.[36] Jackson became quite interested and enquired about the process of acquiring songs and how the songs were used.[37]
According to McCartney, Jackson said, “I’m going to get yours [Beatles’
songs]”, which McCartney thought was a joke, replying, “Ho ho, you,
you’re good”.[1]

And, that’s how the songs ended up at Sony Music.

McCartney and Yoko Ono were given first right of refusal, but both passed when they couldn’t strike a deal. Michael Jackson stepped in and bought the catalog, including Northern Songs. Once he owned the songs, he started licensing them out for
tee vee commercials, something The Beatles had always resisted. This outraged
Beatles’ fans around the world.

When Jackson started to experience some cash flow problems, he eventually sold the rights to half of his publishing company to Sony, where they have stayed ever since.

Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be ► The Beatles’ Last Concert

Dateline – August 29, 1966 – Candlestick Park, San Francisco – After an estimated 1,400 live shows and 9 years as a Band on the Run, John, Paul, George and Ringo, collectively known as The Beatles, perform their last concert for paying customers.

The Beatles arriving in San Francisco for the last concert

It had been a Long and Winding Road. From Hamburg to Liverpool. Then all around England, at first. Then the entire world. It seemed Beatlemania would never end. It got crazier and uglier and more dangerous as time went on. By the time The Beatles reached Candlestick Park in 1966, they knew it would be their last show. Even Paul was ready to throw in the towel and he was the Beatle who always wanted to tour and record.

“On our last tour people kept bringing blind, crippled and deformed children into our dressing room and this boy’s mother would say, ‘Go on, kiss him, maybe you’ll bring back his sight.’ We’re not cruel. We’ve seen enough tragedy in Merseyside, but when a mother shrieks, ‘Just touch him and maybe he’ll walk again,’ we want to run, cry, empty our pockets. We’re going to remain normal if it kills us.”

~~~~~John Lennon

“There was a big talk at Candlestick Park that this had got to end. At
that San Francisco gig it seemed that this could possibly be the last
time, but I never felt 100% certain till we got back to London.

John wanted to give up more than the others. He said that he’d had enough.”

~~~~~Ringo Starr

“Thank you very much everybody. Everybody, wonderful. Frisco, butchered.
We’d like to say that, erm, it’s been wonderful being here, in this
wonderful sea air. Sorry about the weather. And we’d like to ask you to
join in and, er, clap, sing, talk, do anything. Anyway, the song is…
good night.”

~~~~~Paul McCartney, introducing the last song at Candlestick Park

“That’s it, then. I’m not a Beatle anymore.”

~~~~~George Harrison, on the plane after the show
The Beatles taking the stage at Candlestick Park

According to Mitch McGeary’s Beatles website:

  • The Beatles took 65% of the gross, the city of San Francisco took 15% of paid admissions and 50 free tickets. This, along with lukewarm ticket sales and other unexpected expenses resulted in a financial loss for Tempo Productions;
  • The oversize tickets were to [sic] large to fit the counting machines at Candlestick and had to be counted by hand;
  • The performance was taped by Tony Barrow at Paul McCartney’s request and is available in bootleg format. The last song was truncated because the recorder ran out of tape;
  • Just before leaving the stage, John teasingly strummed the opening guitar notes of “In My Life”;
  • Wes Wilson designed the concert poster for the show. Wes later on to become one of the most influential artists of the psychedelic movement and designed many important posters for Bill Graham.

Although Candlestick Park had 42,500 seats, unbelievably the ticket sales were sluggish and just over half were sold. Only 25,000 people were on hand to witness the final official concert by the greatest Rock and Roll band to ever come down the pike.

Knowing it could be their last show The Beatles took some commemorative pictures:

“Before one of the last numbers, we actually set up this camera, I think it had a fisheye, a wide-angle lens. We set it up on the amplifier and Ringo came off the drums, and we stood with our backs to the audience and posed for a photograph, because we knew that was the last show.”

~~~~~George Harrison

The 33 minute show had a slightly altered setlist from the other shows on the tour:

  1. Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry cover)
  2. She’s a Woman
  3. If I Needed Someone
  4. Day Tripper
  5. Baby’s in Black
  6. I Feel Fine
  7. Yesterday
  8. I Wanna Be Your Man
  9. Nowhere Man
  10. Paperback Writer
  11. Long Tall Sally (Little Richard cover) (with ‘In My Life’ snippet at the end)

One other thing The Beatles did to commemorate the occasion was to ask press officer Tony Barrow to record the show: According to The Beatles Bible:

“At San Francisco airport, as our plane prepared to take off, Paul’s head came over the top of my seat from the row behind: ‘Did you get anything on tape?’ I passed the cassette recorder back to him: ‘I got the lot, except that the tape ran out in the middle of Long Tall Sally.’ He asked if I had left the machine running between numbers to get all the announcements and the boys’ ad lib remarks. I said: ‘It’s all there from the guitar feedback before the first number.’ Paul was clearly chuffed to have such a unique souvenir of what would prove to be an historic evening – the farewell stage show from the Fab Four.

Back in London I kept the concert cassette under lock and key in a drawer of my office desk, making a single copy for my personal collection and passing the original to Paul for him to keep. Years later my Candlestick Park recording re-appeared in public as a bootleg album. If you hear a bootleg version of the final concert that finishes during Long Tall Sally it must have come either from Paul’s copy or mine, but we never did identify the music thief!”

~~~~~Tony Barrow; “John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me”

Beatles fans (and completists like myself) are lucky there was a music thief. That’s why 46 years later we can still listen to the last concert The Beatles ever performed for a ticketed audience. Sadly the tape ran out part way through the last song. However, we still have this record of The Beatles at the height of their live performances.

From this moment through to Abbey Road, The Beatles were a recording band, save for their one brief appearance on the roof of Apple for the Let It Be film (which has still not been released on DVD. Get on that, Sir Paul.)



Day In History ► John and Yoko Bed-In in Montreal ► May 26

Dateline: 1969 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono begin their second Bed-In, this time in Montreal, Quebec. They had wanted to do it in New York City, but Lennon was still barred from entering ‘Merka. The Bahamas, which Lennon had visited during the making of “Help,” was considered too far away to bring the press. Finally they settled on Montreal. Here’s how the Canadian Broadcasting Company covered some of it:

However, not everyone was enthralled. Al Capp, the cartoonist best known for L’il Abner — Yeah, THAT AL Capp — was invited to the hotel suite for what turned out to be a very contentious debate:

On June 1st a gathering recorded Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” in the same hotel room. Included were with Dick Gregory, Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary, Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musician Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple. It’s a sing-a-long:

Here are John & Yoko talking to some of those people:

On the 30th Apple Records released “The Ballad of John and Yoko” in the U.K. and 5 days later in ‘Merka, on June 4th. The only Beatles on this recording are John Lennon, and Paul McCartney, who recorded in a hurry one evening while Ringo was filming “The Magic Christian” and George was on holiday. Christ, you know it ain’t easy:

This was The Beatles last #1 U.K. single.

Mark Koldys-Johnny Dollar Comment of the Day

This one’s almost too easy, folks. If this isn’t the most supremely hypocritical thing Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys has ever said, you’ll have to prove it to me.

Ain’t that rich? Proving that J$ is a fucking hypocrite is like shooting fish in a barrel.

When I wrote “Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person”  I made the point:

However, why is Johnny Dollar dangerous?  Under the guise of his rubric of “CABLE NEWS TRUTH” he published GrayHammy’s long character assassination on his website, which exposed my alternative lifestyle.  Reprehensible.  Disgusting.  Beyond the pale.  And, we must ask: Why was this done?  Simply because I write for NewsHounds.  If it’s something that could potentially hurt NewsHounds, then why not destroy Headly Westerfield personally by all means necessary?  I’m merely the collateral damage in the years long war J$ has dishonestly fought against NewsHounds.  There was no other reason to expose things about me that have no relevance to my writing for NewHounds and there is nothing in that article that has any relevance to NewsHounds.  Johnny Dollar has proven himself to be a very dangerous person.  

Not only was I collateral damage, but in the Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys tradition, he will stop at NOTHING to defend Fox News, because he’s a Cable News Truther. What my sex life had to do with Cable News Truth is a question you’ll have to ask of him.

While you’re at it, please ask him why he is now contacting other people from my past to ask whether they know me or not. Seriously. This MoFo is psychotic. Next thing you know he’ll be asking Ted Nugent if he remembers this goofy kid on Gilchrist Avenue 45 years ago standing at the end of the driveway.

Neither Bob Marley nor George Harrison are alive. Therefore, Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys will just have to take my word that I spent time with both. Or, in the case of Harrison, plenty of video footage exists. I can let J$ know how he can order up B-Roll. Marley? Plenty of people saw us together. Pictures? Probably. I can point him at people who were there. I just want to be helpful.

Oh, maybe this’ll help: John Sinclair still visits Detroit. Maybe Johnny Two Cents will want to interview him next. There’s a very public story on the innertubes about me and my friend John Sinclair and Dr. John.

Johnny Dollar? Mark Koldys? GreyHammy? Ashley Graham? Go fetch!!! You sick fucks!!!

Day In History ► May 7 ► The Beatles’ Last U.S. Single

Dateline 1970 – The Beatles released “The Long and Winding Road” on
this day. It would turn out to be the last single The Beatles ever released in ‘Merka.
A month earlier, on April 10th, Paul McCartney, citing “personal,
business and musical differences” announced he was leaving The Beatles. Ten
days later he released his first solo LP “McCartney” (recently re-released with
bonus tracks) and four days after that Ringo Starr released his first solo LP, “Sentimental
Journey.” Therefore, “The Long and Winding
Road” had to compete with other Beatles on the ‘Merkin

The backstory to “The Long and Winding Road” is worth repeating. When
The Beatles set out to record “Let It Be,” Paul’s big idea was to do a Back to
Basics album and “Making of…” documentary, without all the lush orchestrations
and overdubs used on their previous LPs. It was also a way, McCartney hoped, to
bring the band back together. It was clear during the recording of “The Beatles”
(aka The White Album) that tempers were flaring. Maybe a return to the basics,
the way they did it in the old day, would prevent the band from fragmenting.
It didn’t work. The fights that occurred during the making
of “Let It Be” are legendary. George Harrison even quit the band at one point.
Later, when he agreed to come back he brought in friend Billy Preston,
hoping that might calm the waters. By the time the project was finished, no one
had the patience to deal with the hundreds of hours of tapes resultant. A
couple of test pressings and mixes were prepared by Glyn Johns, but no one was
ever happy with them. Eventually, after sitting around for a year, all the
tapes were turned over to Phil “Wall of Sound” Spector to do something with them
for release.
Meanwhile, The Beatles went into the studio one last time
and recorded “Abbey Road,”
a fitting swansong to the extraordinary—but short—recording career of The
Beatles. “Abbey Road”
was released before “Let It Be,” which became the final Beatles LP. It was
released in conjunction with the making of documentary of the same name.
When “Let It Be” was finally released it was as far from
Paul’s original concept as possible. Instead of a stripped-down, back to basics
record, Spector had smothered the tracks under strings and other overdubs. Paul
was especially derisive of his composition “The Long and Winding Road.” He was, rightfully, proud
of the song and felt Spector’s treatment ruined it.  Paul eventually had the last laugh, 33 years
later, when Let It Be…Naked, a stripped-down version like Paul had always
intended, was released. According to the WickiWackyWoo:
For “The Long
and Winding Road”, the Naked producers used the final take, recorded five
days after the rough run-through Phil Spector had selected for the original
album.[1] As per all songs on Let It Be… Naked, this version is devoid of any
orchestral or choral overdubs. (The unadorned take from Let It Be is featured
on Anthology 3.) Finally, there is a slight lyrical difference: whereas the
original album version’s lyric reads, “anyway, you’ll never know the many
ways I’ve tried,” on this version it reads, “anyway, you’ve always
known the many ways I’ve tried.” Electric guitar and electric piano are
also present in this version, played respectively by Harrison and Billy
Here’s the original version as released by Phil Spector,
followed by the way it was always meant to be.

Sadly Let It Be has not been available for home video since
forever. Are you listening, Paul? Imagine the bonus features with all that film
and audio. I already own all of it on bootleg audio, but I’d pay for an
official release.
Bonus Beatles – “The Long And Winding Road” from the movie “Let
It Be.”