February 09, 2012

British Rocks Invasion

The Beatles and the "British Invasion"

The arrival of The Beatles in the U.S., and subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, marked the start of the British Invasion.

The Beatles themselves were less influenced by blues music than the music of later American genres such as soul and Motown. Their popular success in Britain in the early 1960s was matched by their new and highly influential emphases on their own song writing, and on technical production values, some of which were shared by other British beat groups. On 7 February 1964, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite ran a story about The Beatles' United States arrival in which the correspondent said "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania". A few days later, they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy five percent of Americans watching television that night viewed their appearance thus "launching"the invasion with a massive wave of chart success that would continue until the Beatles broke up in 1970. On 4 April 1964, the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the only time to date that any act has accomplished this. During the next two years, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs, and Donovan would have one or more number one singles in the US. Other acts that were part of the "invasion" included The Who, The Kinks, and The Dave Clark Five these acts were also successful within the UK, although clearly the term "British Invasion" itself was not applied there except as a description of what was happening in the USA. So-called "British Invasion" acts influenced fashion, haircuts and manners of the 1960s of what was to be known as the "Counterculture". In particular, the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night and fashions from Carnaby Street led American media to proclaim England as the centre of the music and fashion world. The success of British acts of the time, particularly that of the Beatles themselves, has been seen as revitalising rock music in the US and influenced many American bands to develop their sound and style. The growth of the British music industry itself, and its increasingly prominent global role in the forefront of changing popular culture, also enabled it to discover and first establish the success of new rock artists from elsewhere in the world, notably Jimi Hendrix and, in the early 1970s, Bob Marley

Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic music is a style of music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of hallucinogenic drugs It particularly grew out of blues-rock and progressive folk music and drew on non-Western sources such as Indian music's ragas and sitars as well as studio effects and long instrumental passages and surreal lyrics. It emerged during the mid 1960s among progressive folk acts in Britain such as The Incredible String Band and Donovan, as well as in the United States, and rapidly moved into rock and pop music being taken up by acts including the Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, Small Faces, The Move, Traffic, Cream and Pink Floyd. Psychedelic rock bridged the transition from early blues-rock to progressive rock, art rock, experimental rock, hard rock and eventually heavy metal that would become major genres in the 1970.

Mainstream and global success

By the early 1970s, rock music had become more mainstream, and internationalised, with many British acts becoming massively successful in the United States and globally. Some of the most successful artists, such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Elton John, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart performed their own songs (and in some cases those written by others) in an eclectic variety of styles, in which the presentation of the performance itself became increasingly important.] By way of contrast,Status Quo became one of the most successful British rock acts by presenting an apparently unsophisticated style of boogie-based rock music; and Van Morrison gained international critical acclaim through a blend of rock, jazz and blues styles. Some well-established British bands that began their careers in the British Invasion, notably The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks, also developed their own particular styles and expanded their international fan base during that period, but would be joined by new acts in new styles and sub-genres.

New sub-genres in the 1970s
Electric folk

Electric folk is the name given to the kind of folk rock pioneered in England at the end of the 1960s, particularly by the band Fairport Convention. Rather than mixing electric music with forms of American influenced progressive folk, it used traditional English music as its basis. An early success was Fairport Convention's 1969 album Liege and Lief, but it became more significant in the 1970s, when it was taken up by groups such as Pentangle, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band It was rapidly adopted and developed in the surrounding Celtic cultures of Brittany, where it was pioneered by Alan Stivell and bands like Malicorne; in Ireland by groups such as Horslips; and also in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man and Cornwall, to produce Celtic rock and its derivatives. It was also influential in those parts of the world with close cultural connections to Britain, such as the USA and Canada and gave rise to the sub-genre of Medieval folk rock and the fusion genres of folk punk and folk metal By the end of the 1970s the genre was in steep decline in popularity, as other forms of music, including punk and electronic began to be established.

Progressive rock

Yes performing in Indianapolis in 1977.

Progressive or prog rock developed out of late 1960s blues-rock and psychedelic rock. Dominated by British bands, it was part of an attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility. Progressive rock bands attempted to push the technical and compositional boundaries of rock by going beyond the standard verse-chorus-based song structures. The arrangements often incorporated elements drawn from classical, jazz, and international sources later called "world music". Instrumentals were common, while songs with lyrics were sometimes conceptual, abstract, or based in fantasy. Progressive rock bands sometimes used concept albums that made unified statements, usually telling an epic story or tackling a grand overarching theme. King Crimson's 1969 début album, In the Court of the Crimson King, which mixed powerful guitar riffs and mellotron, with jazz and symphonic music, is often taken as the key recording in progressive rock, helping the widespread adoption of the genre in the early 1970s among existing blues-rock and psychedelic bands, as well as newly formed acts. The term was applied to the music of bands such as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Soft Machine, Electric Light Orchestra, Procol Harum, Hawkwind, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It reached its peak of popularity in the mid 1970s, but had mixed critical acclaim and the punk movement can be seen as a reaction against its musicality and perceived pomposit. Many bands broke up, but some, including Genesis, ELP, Yes, and Pink Floyd, regularly scored Top Ten albums with successful accompanying worldwide tours.

Glam rock
Glam or glitter rock developed in the UK in the post-hippie early 1970s. It was characterised by outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots. The flamboyant lyrics, costumes, and visual styles of glam performers were a campy, playing with categories of sexuality in a theatrical blend of nostalgic references to science fiction and old movies, all over a guitar-driven hard rock sound. Pioneers of the genre included David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Marc Bolan and T.Rex. These, and many other acts straddled the divide between pop and rock music, managing to maintain a level of respectability with rock audiences, while enjoying success in the UK singles chart, including Queen and Elton John. Other performers aimed much more directly for the popular music market, where they were the dominant groups of their era, including Slade, Wizzard, and Sweet. The glitter image was pushed to its limits by Gary Glitter and The Glitter Band. Largely confined to the British, glam rock peaked during the mid 1970s, before it disappeared in the face of punk rock and new wave trends.

Heavy metal
With roots in blues-rock, psychedelic rock and garage rock the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, powerful sound, characterised by overt rhythmic basslines, highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles often incorporated elements of fantasy and science fiction, and are generally associated with masculinity and machismo. The three pioneering heavy metal bands, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the other was Uriah Heep, although they include progressive genre, they are categorized Heavy Metal Fusion, were all British and, while gaining little critical acclaim, they and the next generation of metal groups, which included American, Australian and continental bands beside British acts Judas Priest, Motörhead and Rainbow, attracted large audiences and record sales.Rainbow moved heavy metal into stadium rock while Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. After a decline in popularity in the late 1970s Judas Priest discarded most of the genre's blues influences, particularly on their 1980 album British Steel, which opened the door for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal including Iron Maiden, Vardis, Saxon and Def Leppard, and a return to popularity in the 1980s.


Led Zeppelin

Deep Purple

Black Sabbath

February 04, 2012

a motion no confidence on the performance of Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame in assessing the progressive rock musicians

Prog rock gets ignored by the selection committee every year

EnlargeEthan Miller/Getty Images

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson (left) and singer/bassist Geddy Lee.
Pardon this blogger for a moment of venting.

We've heard today that the new inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the performers category are Guns N' Roses, the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Laura Nyro, Donovan and The Small Faces.
I don't have any problem with the honorees.

As usual, it's who still isn't in the hall that irks me.
Last year I went on about why KISS should be in. And about 86 percent of those who clicked on our "should KISS be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?" question said "yes" (you can still express your opinion on that critical question here).

This year, let's consider Rush. As Wired's GeekDad blog wrote in September, the Canadian trio has sold more than 40 million records and has "more consecutive gold and platinum records than everyone except the Beatles and the Rolling Stones."

Even the president and CEO of the Rock Hall concedes the band should be honored. "They simply haven't gotten enough votes to make the ballot," Terry Stewart told Cleveland's The Plain Dealer earlier this year. "I can't tell you why. Based on impact, influence, innovation, and excellence, they're worthy. I think it's just a matter of time before it happens."

So, we have to ask:

Should Rush be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? (Closed)

Yes 97.36% (21,647 Clicks)

No 2.64% (587 Clicks) 

Total: 22,234

We'll keep the question open until the end of Friday. And now we'll turn the rock 'n' roll coverage back over to our much savvier colleagues at The Record.

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame holds its annual induction ceremony April 4, there once again won’t be any progressive rock artists amongst its five honorees. The Rock Hall’s snubbing of the once-popular genre hasn’t gone unnoticed by its supporters.

In the past few years, fans of Yes and the Moody Blues have started online petitions to get those groups a nod.Blogs and Web sites question the Hall’s choices, as did Stephen Colbert when he interviewed Rush (who also have a campaign petition).

Decades ago, these groups packed thousands into stadiums and sold tons of vinyl by pushing the boundaries of rock. But evidence suggests their elaborate concept albums, impeccable musicianship and oblique lyrics might have pushed things too far for the Hall’s tastemakers.

The Hall began honoring performers in 1986, starting with pioneers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. More recently, pop acts like Billy Joel, the Bee Gees and Madonna have made the cut, but Rush, Yes, the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, the Electric Light Orchestra, Genesis, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Soft Machine have not. Beyond Pink Floyd, the closest the Hall gets to prog is Queen (who flirted with the genre) and Police drummer Stuart Copeland, who played in Curved Air.

Prog rock (as it’s colloquially known) will especially be conspicuous in its absence at this year’s induction. Jeff Beck was already inducted with the Yardbirds (the Rock Hall has honored over a dozen musicians twice), while Little Anthony and Bobby Womack are artists with limited influence. Metallica and Run-DMC have leapfrogged over the classic prog bands with their nominations, since members of both groups were still in school when progressive rock ruled.

The nomination situation 

So who picked Run-DMC over Rush? Well, it’s a secret. Sort of.

According to Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., the initial selections are made by a committee of 30 to 35 music business people — who Peresman won’t name (although Fox News purportedly revealed a few names in 2007).

Peresman does say, though, that the committee is made up of people from all different parts of the business: “There’s musicians, there’s writers, there’s critics, there’s people from the live end, (there’s) managers. (There’s) a wide selection of people who have all been selected because we feel that they have a good, solid connection to a wide variety of music. Everybody knows a lot about different things, which is what the idea is.”

When that committee gets together every September, all the members submit the names of three potential inductees. They then have to defend their choices, Peresman explains.

“It’s not really that this one sold this many albums or this many tickets,” explains Peresman. “It’s really ‘What’s the significance of that artist? And why should they be inducted?’”

After a lot of discussion, committee members take a vote and pick the top 20 favored artists. That list is then trimmed to nine — the names that get announced each year as nominees. From there the list gets sent out to a much larger group, which Peresman says is made up of “around 500 to 600 people,” including “past inductees and other people within the music business.” Their top five choices are the artists who are ultimately inducted.

That seems to be what’s happening with the Rock Hall. Have they noticed?Monster issues and critics 

Rock critics, who comprise a portion of the nominating committee, have historically held prog rock in low regard, as Chicago Sun-Times music critic and author Jim DeRogatis noted in a 1998 Guitar World essay. Critics used to complain that prog’s grand-scale flourishes and European influences were too far removed from early rock ’n’ roll’s immediacy. But as DeRogatis presciently notes, prog is now ignored instead of insulted.

Slideshow: Rock Hall 2009 class “That’s something that’s actually been addressed, especially at this past meeting,” Peresman admits. “We look at things and see where there are some areas that we feel were kind of blighted — things that should be addressed. Last year was the first year that they did something different. They actually created some subcommittees within the major committee to say ‘Come up with a recommendation of a progressive act. Come up with a recommendation of some of the older R&B groups.’

“Besides Pink Floyd, we really don’t have much (progressive rock) in the Hall of Fame,” Peresman continues. “We realize that. And we’re taking a look to try and address some of those holes that we have in our place. So we just have to take a look at are we doing something right, wrong or indifferent.”

The Rock Hall’s very first choices for inductees sent the message that they wanted to set the record straight about rock ’n’ roll; specifically, that it was a genre shaped and founded by African-American artists. But now the Hall is creating its own misconceptions about what rock evolved into, suggests Scott Rowley, the editor of the U.K.-based magazine Classic Rock.

“Rush and Yes and ELO are as good and as loved and as worthy as most of the acts in the Hall,” noted Rowley via e-mail. “I think it’s very damaging to the Hall of Fame’s credibility to continually ignore bands that they perceive to be on ‘the fringes,’ whether they’re prog, punk or metal acts. It makes you wonder if the selection committee is actually run by music fans.

“We’re at a weird place in rock history where things aren’t as compartmentalized as they used to be — where people used to define themselves as mods or rockers or punks or metalheads. Nowadays people have access to everything and pick what they like. The idea of ‘a canon of rock music’ — established and defined by a musical elite — seems more and more ridiculous and untenable.”

Rock Hall of Fame Stop Saying ‘No’ To Yes

Posted on 16 June 2011. 

Their third release elevated Yes into supergroup status

(No. 37 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

Many observers believe the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has an extreme bias against bands that fall into the Progressive Rock category. Especially Progressive Rock fans.

Truth or illusion?

Well, there are approximately 260 inductees currently listed in the Rock Hall. Three are considered Progressive Rock bands…Pink Floyd, Genesis and Traffic. That’s about one percent.

Genesis was a Progressive Rock band under the wing of Peter Gabriel, then became a hit making machine when Gabriel left and Phil Collins took over lead vocals. I never thought of Traffic as a Progressive Rock band, but they are listed on several Progressive Rock websites, so what do I know? Pink Floyd certainly makes the grade.

But several Progressive Rock mammoths – the already profiled Moody Blues, Rush and Jethro Tull, for instance – have received the coldest of shoulders from the Rock Hall’s nominating committee, thus far. As has the band atop many Progressive Rock band lists…Yes.

To make the prejudice against this genre even more obvious, Yes was on Atlantic Records most of its heyday. And almost everyone on the Atlantic Records’ roster has been inducted, deserved or not.

Ernesto Lechner, writing in “The New Rolling Stone Album Guide,” points out, “You can say a lot of nasty things about progressive rock, and many people have – most frequently, that the genre emphasizes musical chops over soulful expression.”

To Lechner’s credit, he doesn’t seem to agree with that viewpoint, adding, “…in the case of Yes, the British band’s often overbearing pretentiousness resulted in moments of rare grace and beauty…“

But even the compliments are tinged with disparagement. Anything progressive seems to carry the same label from most critics…pretentious, bombastic etc. If Lou Reed had been around in the 1700s or 1800s, today’s critics probably would have favored him over Beethoven and Bach.

But that we’ll save for a future discussion. For now, let’s get back to Yes – and why this super group belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

First off, Progressive bands don’t usually have hit singles. After all, 10- to 20-minute pieces don’t lend themselves to top 40 radio. Still, Yes has managed several, including the startling “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” startling because it climbed all the way to No. 1 in 1983, and 1972’s “Roundabout,” which peaked at No. 13. 1971’s “Your Move,” 1984’s “Leave It” and 1987’s “Love Will Find A Way” and “Rhythm Of Love” all also hit the top 40. Only “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” reached the top 40 in their homeland, but that stopped at No. 28 there. However, “Wonderous Stories” climbed to No. 7 in 1977 and “Going For the One” made it to No. 24 later the same year. The next year, “Don’t Kill The Whale” made it No. 36.

On the album charts, where progressive bands shine best, Yes placed 24 entries in the United States, 12 reaching the top 20 with seven entering the top 10, making Yes one of the highest charting album bands in Billboard history. In the U.K., Yes was even bigger, reaching the top 20 with 14 long-players, 11 climbing into the top 10. In addition, 1973‘s “Tales From Topographic Oceans,” probably the band’s most controversial release, topped the UK charts as did “Going For The One” four years later.

“Topographic Oceans” is a two-record set, each of the four sides consisting of one long piece. I bought it when it came out, but didn’t play it much. A few years back, I tried it again on CD, figuring I now had more time and patience to enjoy it. But, the years didn't make much difference. It has its moments, but often I find myself anxiously waiting for Elvis or Bo Diddley to interrupt.

Lechner noted, “depending on your point of view, ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is either prog rock’s absolute nadir or its dreamy masterpiece” and Bruce Eder, writing in allmusicguide.com, agrees, saying, “No album has more divided both fans and critics of Yes alike. At the time of its release, critics called ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ excessive, representing the height of progressive rock’s self-indulgent nature. Originally inspired by Jon Anderson’s reaction to a set of Shastric scriptures, the album displayed a sublime beauty in many parts, and immense, mesmerizing stretches of high-energy virtuosity for most of its length.”

Anderson, of course, served as the group’s distinctive lead vocalist from its formation until just recently when ill health forced him to step down. He was replaced by Canadian Benoit David, who sings lead on the group’s upcoming release “Fly From Here.” Though Yes has survived a ton of personnel changes over the years, replacing its figurehead may prove the group’s final gasp, no matter how good David is.

The classic lineup remains the group that gave us “The Yes Album,” “Fragile” and “Close To The Edge” classics in 1971 and 1972. The key was the addition of guitarist Steve Howe, who can play rings around almost any other rock guitarist. Howe joined Anderson, keyboardist Tony Kaye, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Bill Bruford for “The Yes Album,” which helped the band turn the corner after two so-so LPs.

The next change came for “Fragile,” when keyboard whiz and showman extraordinaire Rick Wakeman took over for Kaye and that five also gave us “Close To The Edge.” Alan White replaced Bruford for “Tales From Topographic Oceans” with only Anderson and Squire remaining constants over the years. But even Anderson stepped aside for “Drama,” on which Trevor Horn served as vocalist.

Basically, the inductees should include Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman, Bruford, White, Kaye and Trevor Rabin, who contributed guitar and keyboards on various albums.

One thing I find with Progressive Rock recordings – and particularly those of Yes – is that no matter how many times I’ve listened previously, each hearing brings something new thanks to the virtuosity of the players.

The players in Yes are great musicians and this should not be held against them. Great musicians often put their heart and, yes, their soul into their playing. I won’t be around to have the last laugh, but I would almost guarantee that 50 years from now, the music of Yes will have endured while the recordings of several of the artists already inducted into the Hall of Fame will have been long forgotten.

Related Posts:

Responses to “Rock Hall of Fame Stop Saying ‘No’ To Yes”

Jill says:
June 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I can’t agree that all progressive rock bands (nebulous as that term can be) were pretentious and bombastic mostly due to many long songs. One could put Led Zeppelin’s long songs in that category. If they were so pretentious then I at 10/11 years-old oddly loved ‘Fragile’ to death, listening to it continuously over and over for years. I was even much younger liking the Moody Blues’ ‘On A Threshold Of A Dream’.

Clearly YES’s music has endured, no less the musicianship was great and still is. They were also able to make a successful transition into the ’80s with their 90125 album which many ’70s bands couldn’t quite do. It doesn’t make sense to me when there are ’60s bands such as Cream, Buffalo Springfield, etc. were together for only a few years. I agree with those but YES lasted much longer. Doesn’t seem right. Thank you, I agree.

conrad stinnett says:
June 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Genesis got in, which was an essential step the movement to get more prog groups in the Hall. I’d look for King Crimson next, then Yes.

Phill says:
June 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

King Crimson may show up in this series one of these weeks…if I can ever figure out all the guys who have been in the group besides Robert Fripp…just listing the group members may require a two-part series !!

Ian Joyner says:
June 18, 2011 at 8:05 am

Don’t really follow who’s in the HoF, but I assume the Beatles are. They are one of the biggest prog groups. Whenever some bore tells me how they hate ‘prog’ (as a derogatory term – ‘progressive’ should not be derogatory), I ask if they like the Beatles. Usually it’s ‘yes’ and I can point out that the Beatles were very progressive with George Martin, lush orchestrations, themed albums, electronic sounds reminiscent of Stockhausen (hey, I finally got a copy of Kontakte the other day, must visit HMV London more often!).

As for TfTO, one should read the Bagavad Gita, Upanishads, Vedas and general Indian philosophy. Jon’s lyrics do have an underlying theme to them. I think only Rick’s criticism of TfTO can be allowed – that there was too much filler, whereas CttE they thought about every note.

Still, if not being admitted to the HoF is a mark of uniqueness in the rock world, maybe Yes should never get in!

Tyler says:
June 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Like the series Phil. You really show why these bands deserve induction. Can’t wait to hear what you say about Styx, Pat Benatar, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Supertramp, Meat Loaf, Cheap Trick, Judas Priest, ELP, Boston, and so many other deserving acts.

Phill says:
June 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Tyler -

Thanks…I hope I live that long !

Matt says:
June 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm

The so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke, and not a funny one. It celebrates record sales and notoriety; considerations such as musicianship, artisitc integrity and influence are, at best, utterly secondary. All former and current members of Yes should take great pride in the fact they haven’t been chosen to receive this “honor.”

Adrian says:
June 29, 2011 at 1:25 am

If some yahoo came along and invented an author’s hall of fame and decided to leave out, say, Hemingway, does that mean Hemingway’s writing is bad compared to those who have been inducted into the “hall of fame”? Of course not! I don’t know why people seem to think that just because Jann Wenner created a museum for his favorite bands and called it a “hall of fame,” being invited into the museum imparts some kind of magical validation on the inductee. The point being, getting into Jann Wenner’s little club doesn’t validate your favorite band; it just means Jann Wenner likes them.

So who cares who’s in the RRHoF? If Yes someday gets in, fine. If they don’t, it won’t make me love their music any less than I do.

I just don’t get why their non-inclusion seems to bother people so much. The notion that you can have a hall of fame for an artistic pursuit is ridiculous anyway.

For the record, this isn’t just sour grapes — my second favorite band, Pink Floyd, is in the RRHoF, and I couldn’t care less.

Yesspaz says:
July 1, 2011 at 4:39 am

I’ve long held that the RnR HoF should be ignored and superceded by a new Rock Hall of Fame. Unless there’s some law disallowing a competitor, then a monopoly exists. I used to gripe about my favorite band not being in there, but after they started putting rap in, it stopped being a Rock and Roll Hall to me.

I say someone starts a “Rock Hall” or “The Pantheon of Rock” and do it right. Let the RnR HoF devolve into the joke it is becoming.

John Chivers says:
July 1, 2011 at 7:23 am

“Pink Floyd certainly makes the grade.”

I never got why Pink Floyd are classed as Progressive Rock. They seem more regressive to me. OK, I expect a barrage of insults for that comment, so let’s just take them as read. I’m not saying that they’re not great musicians/writers/people, but please point me in the direction of some of their work you would consider Progressive. My overriding impression of them is lots of slow 4/4 rock songs. I can see why the stoners liked them so much. I just feel that I must be missing an album by them somewhere!

Phill says:
July 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

Classifications of any type to me are unnecessary. To me, music is music.

Phill says:
July 1, 2011 at 10:48 am

Yesspaz -

I’ve been trying to convince editor Pat Prince that Goldmine should start its own Hall of Fame…He’s been trying to convince me to keep quiet…As you can see, neither of us is having much success !!

Malcolm says:
July 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Who gives a rat’s %$^? Yes should wear this like “a badge of honor”, which is what Alex Lifeson once said when asked how he felt that Rush—who made, like, 30 gold and platinum albums— had never graced the cover of ROLLING STONE. The RRHF, like ROLLING STONE, is more of a political and cultural institution than a musical one. All this crap—halls of fame, ROLLING STONE, award shows, etc. mean NOTHING. They are commercial enterprises run by people looking to make a buck and they will go with whomever has the widest commercial appeal. Yes is still selling records and playing arenas 40 years on. Their music will leave a lasting legacy and continuing to inspire people who love music more than fashion and “attitude.” All the other stuff is just so much bs. Don’t get sucked into believing it actually means *anything*. It’s a corporate version of a high school popularity contest, and we all know how meaningful those are.

Phill says:
July 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Malcolm -

I do believe if the HOF went with whoever has the most commercial appeal, Yes & Rush would already be in. After all, your comment points out how popular both bands are. Certainly, they have a lot more commercial appeal than inductees such as Dr. John and more I’ll name in future weeks. Seems to me, the choices are made based on the personal preferences of a select few and not on commercial appeal (read who the public likes). To me, that’s the problem. And rather than throwing up my hands in surrender, I’m going to keep yelling about it whether anyone’s listening or not.

Damon says:
July 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I’m surprised that no comment has yet mentioned the fact that, in essence, if Jann Wenner and his buddies don’t like a band, it ain’t getting in. That’s why a one hit wonder like Percy “When a Man Loves a Woman” Sledge gets in (he didn’t even write the song!) and all the other bands and artists you mention don’t. A more accurate name for the organization/museum is The Hall of Music That Jann Likes.

The Sex Pistols have the right idea – refusing to attend their own 2006 induction, calling the museum “a piss stain”.

Steven Sullivan says:
July 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm

It’s interesting that critics slag on ‘Tales’ so much for ‘overindulgence’, when both Soft Machine and Tangerine Dream had already release 4 side/4 tracks albums before them?

(and neither “Third” nor “Zeit’, both fine albums in their own rights, reached the top ten in any sales charts.)

jon says:
July 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Yes also pioneered techniques in recording and live presentation that are used still. Truly, Yes is too hip for the RRHOF. People will be listening to “Close To The Edge” for years to come. People won’t be listening to Jann Wenner for much longer.My “hall of fame” is my music collection, of which Yes reigns supreme!

Wendell R. Wiggins says:
July 2, 2011 at 12:47 am

This is simply silly and ridiculous. YES should been admitted 30 years even though I don’t feel the the RRHOF deserves to have a band as great as YES but to make sure their amazing legacy stays alive in the future, I must demand that the RRHOF get their stupid act together and include one of the greatest modern bands of all time, finally!

PeterG says:
July 2, 2011 at 4:28 am

RRHOF is a farce and run by a bunch of arse&%$£* who decide who get’s accepted based on popularity, record sales and public exposure through live shows, media etc. You can also add the ‘committees’ own choice and preference. If it was based purely upon musicianship, music, length of time (years) producing albums etc. you would literary have thousands of names and groups up there.
Getting back to ‘Yes’…yes, they should have been up there a long time ago but who gives a frig about that! There are many other progressive bands that should also have their name included but RRHOF means zilch to me…they’re all in my own ‘hall of fame’ and that’s all that matters.
Watch RRHOF’s space…soon you’ll see the likes of Britney Tears and Justin Pieper up there!

Phill says:
July 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Peter -

You forgot Pariah Carey and Clay Bacon. And what about Lady GooGoo (she’s a real doll).

12-string Frank says:
July 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

The people who do the inductions into the RnR Hall of Shame often cite whether or not a band or artist was “influential”. It’s not always about albums sales. But idiots like Jann Wenner should realize that YES not only sold lots of albums and charted well over years, they also were definitely influential to so many bands that perform progressive rock today. If you have guitarist friends, I’d bet $$ that that person has wanted to learn “Mood For a Day”.

Another concern is who would actually get the award if YES is inducted. We know that Anderson, Wakeman, Squire, Howe, and White would receive it. What about Bruford, Peter Banks, Tony Kaye, Patrick Moraz? YES had only 2 drummers in its career, but way too many keyboardists.

gmuny2002 says:
July 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I gave up on the R&RHOF years ago when they started inducting Rap and hip-hop acts! Since when is rap and hip-hop considered rock & roll? Let them have their own HOF for crying out loud! Note to all you trolls out there, call me racist all you want cause sticka and stones……..

Charles says:
July 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

As “gmuny2002″ implied, the R&RHOF inducted Rap-Crap and “**it-slop” instead of talented musicians like Yes and others who should have been inducted. I agree with many of you who said it depends on Jann “Weiner” likes, whether they have talent or not. I believe there hasn’t been any talent in the studios (rap-crap or girl singers who have to be “sweetened up” technically) for many years. There probably is talent out there, but it isn’t being recorded by the major labels. Online, there is a movie called “Before the Music Ends” I think it is documenting the demise of good, talented people, and promoting rap-crap, lousy “singers” and those who have to have their voices “electronicized.” ELO and The Alan Parsons Project did a better version of that with the Vocoder back in the ’70′s than that plastic crap which is out there now.

Roberta says:
July 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Procol Harum not in? What a joke the HOF is!

Dangle says:
July 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I know these dudes aren’t “Progressive”, but anybody out there have any pious words to say about my Herefordshire heroes, Mott the Hoople? Just wonderin’…

Marc says:
July 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm

The Hall of Fame is a joke. Imaging ignoring T.Rex all these years.
But yeah, Yes has definitely a right to be there! Love ‘em…

Kevin says:
July 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm

This is my thoughts on the RnR HoF … Madonna is in – why would any self-respecting RnR band want to be there? It’s a joke. The list of bands (Yes, Moody Blues, etc) and people (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dick Dale, etc …) show it for what it is – a PR outlet for the music industry. I’m surprised they haven’t pressed for a change in the 25 year rule, so they can stuff it full of American Idol “winners.”

“I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” – Groucho Marx

John says:
August 6, 2011 at 4:14 am

From the RRHoF website:


“To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.

We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”

So why aren’t Yes, Rush et al not in yet?

Ross Garside says:
August 16, 2011 at 1:22 am

Or make another just for Prog:

Phill says:
August 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

Check out the Prog Hall of Fame website at the above link. You’ll love it !!

Mike44 says:
October 8, 2011 at 4:55 am

Didn’t think Alice Cooper would ever get in, but he finally did. After all, look at all the “shock rock” bands that have gotten in under the influence of the first shock rocker.

Now, a quick list of those deserving to get in, but are being held back by a small pompous group of “deciders”, who have a hand-crafted agenda of how “their” RRHOF should be….

The Moody Blues, Yes , Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rush, Jethro Tull. I could name a few more, but it’s late and I gotta go to work in the morning.

elfe22 says:
October 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

King Crimson, even Yes supreme to pink floyd, Emerson Lake& palmer, also like mike comentend Jethro Tull and I don’t have the time to name more.

Go back to go forward: the resurgence of prog rock

After its 1970s heyday, prog rock receded in on itself, but now a new wave of bands are embracing long, difficult songs and fantastical lyrics – and finding fans for it, too

By Alexis Petridis
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 July 2010 23.00 BST

Prog rock - the music that refused to die. Illustration by Jiro Bevis.

At the end of 2008, the journalist Jerry Ewing pitched an idea for a new magazine to a publishing company. His idea was a magazine dedicated entirely to progressive rock, long reviled in the critical mainstream as the apotheosis of the musical excess of the pre-punk 70s, a largely forgotten realm of concept albums, difficult time signatures and extraordinary instrumental virtuosity. Ewing says he wasn't surprised when his publishers agreed to the idea – "there was a tidal shift in favour of prog; the BBC had done that Prog Britannia documentary, which seemed a kind of acceptance" – but even he seems taken aback by the success of Classic Rock: Prog. It currently sells around 22,000 copies an issue, half the circulation of the NME: not bad, given that Ewing is surely the first editor in four decades to utter the sentence: "Our best-selling issue had Jethro Tull on the cover."

There seems little doubt Ewing is right about the tidal shift. Not every new band tarred with the prog brush seems overjoyed about the label – when I mention it to Mike Vennart, of Manchester's Oceansize, he responds with a groan about "musical masturbation" – but you can see prog rock's influence on mainstream rock in Coheed & Cambria's concept albums topping the US chart; in Muse and Pendulum, who collaborated with nu-prog stalwarts Porcupine Tree on their current album Immersion. This weekend, the High Voltage festival in east London will not only boast a headlining performance by Emerson Lake & Palmer – whose first British live show in 15 years seems to have been greeted with widespread delight, rather than the yell of horror it would once have provoked – but a dedicated prog stage, playing host to Marillion, Asia, Pendragon and Transatlantic. The latter, a latterday prog supergroup featuring members of Marillion, Spock's Beard and Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, are what you might call the full Roger Dean-designed triple gatefold sleeve; in contrast, Muse look like the Dead Kennedys. Transatlantic's current album, The Whirlwind, features just one song, which runs to 78 minutes. "The sound of Transatlantic is very purposefully stuck in the 70s," says Portnoy, proudly. "All of us in Transatlantic are huge fans of [the Yes double album] Tales from Topographic Oceans and all the excesses that prog was infamous for. That stuff appeals to us! We miss that! Tremendously long, challenging pieces of music! We have no problem embracing that!"

Elsewhere, the digital radio station Planet Rock – on which Rick Wakeman hosts a Saturday morning programme, and former Marillion frontman Fish once fronted a Sony Award -winning prog show – now boasts more listeners than BBC 6 Music. You can currently see a TV advert for a 33-track compilation album named after the Yes track Wondrous Stories – "Two CDs chock-full of prog! The cream of prog rock! The cream that never went sour!" bellows the voiceover, defiantly – and one for Nike sportswear improbably soundtracked with Hocus Pocus, Focus's cheeringly ridiculous 1973 collision of heavy riffing and yodelling. Meanwhile, Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary about the deathless Canadian prog trio Rush, deservedly won the audience award at this years' Tribeca film festival. If it can't make a non-believer like their music, it does a brilliant job of explaining why people do. Rather surprisingly, drummer Neal Peart emerges from the film as a kind of Morrissey for the Dungeons and Dragons set: aloof, mysterious, considered a poet by his fans and a rightwing crank by his detractors (he's famously a fan of the conservative's novelist of choice, Ayn Rand), he is given to writing songs about misfits getting a rough time from the cool kids in school.

One hesitates to say prog is back in fashion only because prog was never really in fashion in the first place. There was a brief period in the late 60s – between Jethro Tull upstaging everyone but the Who on the Rolling Stones' scrapped Rock and Roll Circus TV show and the release of King Crimson's debut album In the Court of the Crimson King – when it must have seemed like the coming thing, but its critical honeymoon period was probably drawn to a swift conclusion by Emerson Lake & Palmer's performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, famously decried by John Peel as "a waste of electricity". Ever since, prog has existed apart from fashion, perhaps even apart from the rest of rock music. "It grew out of rock music and that's why it was written about in the rock press, but it's a shame it ever became regarded as part of rock'n'roll, because it's not, the ethos is completely different," novelist and prog fan Jonathan Coe memorably told the Prog Britannia programme. "If you judge it by the criteria of rock'n'roll, then it fails."

Accordingly, there's a sense that prog has always been with us. The perceived wisdom is that it was utterly swept away by punk, but that doesn't account for the string of British prog bands signed by major labels in the early 80s – not just Marillion, but IQ, Pendragon and Pallas – nor for the continued chart success of Yes, Rush and Genesis, although whether those bands' 80s oeuvres could truly be considered prog is a matter of some debate: "They were all doing poppy, keyboard, kind of shorter-song music," sniffs Portnoy, with the unmistakable air of a man who thinks that sort of thing isn't really on. Nor does it account for the way prog hung over vast tranches of 80s pop. You can hear its influence in the long, serpentine songs found on David Sylvian's Brilliant Trees, Thomas Dolby's The Flat Earth and Talk Talk's The Colour of Spring, or in Ultravox's penchant for writing side-long tracks split into sections. Classic Rock: Prog runs a monthly feature called It's Prog Jim, But Not As We Know it, which picks out "albums that are very obviously prog by bands you would never have associated with the word". Its most recent candidate was Frankie Goes to Hollywood's debut, Welcome to the Pleasuredome, which, Jerry Ewing points out, not unreasonably, was a double concept album in a gatefold sleeve, featuring an 18-minute-long title track inspired by Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan, produced by an ex-member of Yes and featuring Steve Howe on guitar. Another feature in the magazine encourages unlikely musicians to reveal their love of prog: you apparently can't move for 80s pop stars desperate to fess up to a secret passion for the likes of Gnidrolog. "We've had Nik Kershaw, who was a massive Gentle Giant fan," says Ewing. "Morten Harket from a-ha, he was in there raving about Uriah Heep. Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama – huge Pink Floyd fan."

But if it didn't happen quite when the history books suggest, prog definitely had its doldrums. In the mid-90s, Mojo magazine published a prog special: alongside the feature on Yes and the reminiscences of someone who'd had the misfortune to start a prog band called Gypp in 1977, confident that "punk would blow over" ("Was I a prat? I fear so"), it ran a piece on new prog bands. The author was sympathetic, but there was no getting around the fact that the bands in question were having a thin time of it. None were able to make a living from their music. One had lost its drummer "because he couldn't bear living at subsistence level any longer". All were slogging around a tiny scene that had become dementedly insular: "We're influenced by everything from Genesis to Marillion," explained one musician, entirely without irony.

"In the early 80s, there was a new prog boom, but most of those bands managed one or maybe two albums on a major label before it was all over," says Ewing. "The late 80s, early 90s was a period when it battened down the hatches, became a cottage industry just pandering to itself."

Bryan Josh remembers that era only too well. He formed Mostly Autumn in 1995. With respect to the members of Gypp – clomping around the Marquee stage in their clogs on the nights said venue wasn't being headlined by the Jam or 999 – the height of Britpop may have been the worst point in musical history to launch a prog band with Celtic folk overtones and a fondness for releasing albums inspired by The Lord of the Rings. "People enjoyed what we were doing from the off," Josh says. "But we were just playing in pubs. For a while, there was a lot of dreadful progressive music out there. People ripping off the wrong bits of Genesis. The thing about Genesis, they wrote songs, they had spirit, but people watered it down, they missed the point, it got a bad name and it almost disappeared. They'd take the bit where Genesis maybe went off on a tangent which was relevant to the song itself, but forget the song. You'd get the tangent without having the spirit and the body of a song to work from. People were just emulating riffs, thinking they were clever because they were doing a 9/8 time change, noodling around on a load of classic Moogs or whatever. It bores a lot of people to tears. I heard a lot of that."

The question of what changed to revive prog's popularity is an intriguing one. Josh just thinks the music got better, and that his band slowly built a following to its current level – next year, they're headlining the 2,000-capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire in London – by the simple expedient of gigging hard. Ewing suggests the rise of the internet helped propagate and spread the prog scene and that attitudes softened as a result of the passing of time: "The journalists who naturally despised the whole genre because it completely went against the grain of punk, something they inherently believed in, had moved on out of that area into different forms of journalism and other media, or else they just didn't have that sort of attitude any more, so the hangover had gone."

And, a few months after the massed ranks of nu-proggers poured out their woes to Mojo, Radiohead released OK Computer. The kind of prog fan that prefers their bands influenced by everything from Genesis to Marillion may recoil a little at the very mention of its name; indeed, Mike Portnoy points out that "in those days, Radiohead would totally put down the term prog", and thinks its success had little impact on how Transatlantic were received "because we're doing something that's more pure, retro prog: we're trying to take those classic prog sounds and make new music with it, but not necessarily make a new sound". Even so, it's hard to see how its multi-platinum success can have done the prog scene anything but good by reawakening a public interest in long, episodic songs, retooling the gloomy mein of Dark Side of the Moon for a new decade. Around the same time, metal – traditionally progressive rock's best mate, with its emphasis on musicianship, partiality for excess and inability to resist a bit of lyrical sword and sorcery – began to rekindle its friendship with prog in the aftermath of grunge. Opeth, Coheed & Cambria, then later Mastodon and the Mars Volta emerged, recording – yes – concept albums packed full of – yes, again – difficult time signatures and extraordinary instrumental virtuosity. Their rise, Ewing claims, changed prog's traditionally male fanbase: "Loads of girls like heavy metal.".

Quite aside from the music, prog's enduring appeal may lie in its very awkwardness. At a time when indie music has become mainstream, prog still repels major labels, because it resists commodification and they don't know how to market it – Mike Portnoy points out that even when Dream Theater were selling half a million albums a year, they were constantly locked in battles with their label, which demanded shorter, radio-friendly songs. Nike's dalliance with Focus notwithstanding, you hardly ever hear it on adverts or film soundtracks: the songs are just too long, too uncommercial. Ewing doesn't see any punk-style backlash in the immediate future. "It's forever evolving. Progressive bands constantly change their sound." Furthermore, he asserts, "the current new prog bands have learnt from the excesses of the past". But one looks at Muse's preposterously overblown live shows, or Transatlantic's hour-long songs and thinks: no, they haven't. They haven't at all. People just don't seem bothered any more.

February 02, 2012

The Pros and Cons from the Fabs Four

Top Ten Beatles Mistakes

Yes I know, lists are easy and tired, but it is with good reason that I have decided to list what I see as the ten biggest mistakes The Beatles made. For it is 43 years ago, this very day, that they were recording guitar overdubs for 'Your Mother Should Know', which is well worth celebrating, I’m sure you’ll agree. And just to clarify, by mistake I am meaning a ‘musical’ mistake, so I’m not to include silly things like getting Magic Alex to build a studio or the whole Apple Corp enterprise. It’s also worth noting that almost everything here relates to the second half of their career. This isn’t due to some preference for their earlier material – I am very much a ‘Blue Album’ person; it’s just that having made their mistakes early on, learning on the way, the expectation was so much higher 1965 onwards. I’m not here to criticise mistakes made due to lack of experience or naivety; more those that were pure misjudgement and often led the path towards, or exemplified, their ultimate demise. But criticism cannot be that harsh, for it was often their ‘mistakes’ that brought out their character (s) in the most effective style.

1.‘Her Majesty’

How to conclude the final album by the greatest band in the history of forever? How about a song called ‘The End’ featuring Ringo’s first ever drum solo, and 3 electrifying guitar solos featuring Lennon, McCartney and Harrisons differing styles? And a final lyric that declares ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make’?

And so it should have been, ‘Abbey Road’ closing with an exciting, positive and collaborative final effort. But, with the album pretty much put to bed, Second Technician John Curlander decided to tag on ‘Her Majesty’, a left over segment from the albums ‘Long Medley’ idea, to the end of ‘The End’ and, unbelievably, The Beatles allowed it. As such, the ‘final thought’ we are left with from their unmatched series of albums and singles is a throw away ditty, featuring just Paul McCartney and his acoustic guitar making bland and meaningless sentiments about the Queen. Perhaps more a sign of their complete disregard for The Beatles as a band at that time, its still a disappointing mistake to have made, and always annoys me when I forget to quickly turn the album off after ‘The End’.

2. Eric Clapton

Getting Eric Clapton to join the band in recording ‘While My Guitar gently Weeps’ wasn’t a disastrous decision for The Beatles. But, come on, Eric Clapton? Not very cool is it. One of only two professional musicians to collaborate on a Beatles record (the other being Billy Preston), it unfortunately places his turgid, showy, ‘muso’ guitar playing on a much higher pedestal that it deserves. Harrison was struggling for a long time with the solo passages to this song (including trying to record it all backwards to sound like ‘weeping’) and recruited his good friend to help out. How did Clapton repay him? Nicked his wife, naturally. Poor George. Should never have got Clapton involved.

3. Just Let it Be

The majority of what became the ‘Let It Be’ album was recorded between The White Album and their swansong, ‘Abbey Road’. Yet it didn’t see release until after the latter. The idea behind the album was for the band to get back to its ‘roots’, that is, a more rock and roll, less experimental approach that focussed on the band working, and playing together as a four piece. After the disjointed approach to recording The White Album, this certainly made sense. However, in the end, it only served to stretch the already strained relationships between the group and the resulting recordings where left on the shelf.

The songs were later given to Phil Spector to pick through, and he ended up producing the album ‘Let it be’. With his signature production techniques all over, it flew in the face of the ‘warts and all’, ‘no overdubs’ approach of the original idea. McCartney in particular was upset with the treatment his ‘The Long and Winding Road’ had received. But since the band had just split, no one seemed to care, and history came to see ‘Abbey Road’ as the bands actual swansong, so its place as a failed experiment (that at least produced the legendary rooftop concert) was secured, no one really minding either way.

Except McCartney couldn’t let it go. And as such, 33 years after its initial release, it was made available in its ‘intended’ form as ‘Let It Be…Naked’. Gone are the swirling choirs and over the top orchestration and instead we are left with some simple and direct run thru’s of the same set of songs (plus Lennon’s fantastic ‘Don’t Let me Down’). So what’s the problem?

Well, the initial sessions were a mess. Utter misery, and probably the low point of inter Beatle relations. The hours and hours of tape betrayed the fact they had completely lost their focus and direction, and that at least 50% of the band weren’t interested anymore. The second attempt by Spector to rectify it was a hit and miss affair, and completely disregarded the ‘honest’ approach they had attempted, though he had chosen to leave in various false starts, between song ad-libs and conversations, which at least gave an impression of what it was meant to be.

But now, the third attempt at ‘getting it right’ was just as flawed. The between song banter was removed and placed on a bonus disc (22 minutes of random conversation – why?) and instead we are left with the bare bones of the songs. Admittedly, the remastered tracks sound fresh…but by meddling with history McCartney has taken the soul out of the music, the character. Even the original premise of it being ‘as was’ in the room was betrayed - an out of tune Lennon note was corrected digitally. What was this meant to be? Not to mention the album is now suspiciously McCartney heavy. At least the original album and accompanying film were interesting documents, showing the decline and dissolution of a great band. ‘…Naked’ added nothing to this, only took away from it.

But the big thing McCartney has missed is that, well, the songs just aren’t very good. It’s not a good album in the first place, and no amount of remastering and altering the order of the tracks is going to change that. ‘Get Back’, ‘Let it Be’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’ withstanding (but I cant really stand the last 2 in that list) there’s nothing here that approaches The Beatles best, by some stretch. After THREE botched attempts to get something worthwhile out of the sessions, you cant help but feel that perhaps the whole thing would have been best left in the vaults, earning a reputation as being the ‘great lost tracks’. If McCartney’s interfering had revealed a real gem, then fine, but it doesn’t. It was all there in the title, all along. Why didn’t you just ‘Let it Be’ Paul?

4. ‘Wild honey pie’

Its well known that a large amount of The White Album was written during their stay in Rishikesh, and, as such, many songs were either acoustic based (at least in origin) and / or throw away in-jokes. And whilst I will discuss this in further detail later, special attention must be drawn to the track ‘Wild Honey Pie’, which is quite possibly the worst song they ever released. Perhaps (though only ‘perhaps’) other songs were more trite, more disposable, more careless, more ill thought-out, more misguided, but was ever a song so bloody annoying? Mercifully not much longer than a minute, its inclusion as track 5 on The White Album is utterly befuddling. From the nauseating group vocal to the horrible wobbly guitar, it simply recreates the feeling of being very, very ill.

On a wider level, it showed The Beatles instincts had been well and truly blunted. The belief, formed with their discovery of LSD, that ‘random’ elements and ideas were as equally valid as those well thought out ones had brought them some amazing success: ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘I am the Walrus’ etc but had also led to more self indulgent, less focussed work such as ‘All Together Now’ and ‘You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)’. Though ‘clean’ during their trip to India, this belief had clearly stuck around, hence the release of utterly inferior work like ‘Wild Honey Pie’.

5. Run For Your Life (little girl!)

A constant theme running through The Beatles work was ‘Love’; from the simplistic teenage infatuations’ of ‘She Loves You’ et al, to the more universal, hippy messaging of ‘All You Need Is Love’ it was the one constant in a diverse career. So fitting the lyric ‘I’d rather see you dead, little girl, then be with another man’ into this theory is a little difficult…

But worse than the nasty bitterness of this Lennon penned number is the pure hypocrisy. By the time it was released on ‘Rubber Soul’ in 1965, Lennon had long tired of his loveless marriage to Cynthia, and was openly engaging in affairs and one night stands with a vast amount of ladies. ‘Norwegian Wood (this bird has flown)’, also from ‘Rubber Soul’ tackled this very subject, but its ambivalent ending was due to some late lyrical changes, to avoid Cynthia finding out. Not that she wasn’t at least partly aware; Lennon would often brag openly in her company of his various conquests. It was his feeble way of rebelling against the gentle bourgeois hole he had found himself in. But how could he sing ‘If I find you with another man, it’s the end – little girl’ with any sincerity what so ever?

‘Rubber Soul’ saw the band developing greatly as songwriters, and the aforementioned ‘Norwegian Wood’ shows a more thoughtful and complex approach to dealing with personal issues. ‘Nowhere Man’ deals with a similar feeling of isolation and ‘In My Life’ is a beautiful and mature expression of love and melancholy. All Lennon numbers, and all fantastic.

Which makes it all the more surprising that ‘Run for Your Life’ sits along side them, as the albums closing number, no less. Later, older and wiser, and under the influence of Yoko Ono, he expressed utter regret at the song and its misogynist views. It’s hard to think of a bigger misstep in The Beatles catalogue, purely in terms of mood and intent and its bizarre that no-one, especially Brian Epstein or George Martin thought to point out the bitter taste it leaves. For The Beatles themselves, it would be the last bit of ‘filler’ they committed to tape until the LSD come down of Magical Mystery tour and the passing of tracks of this inferior calibre would see the onset of their imperial phase: Revolver and Sgt Pepper.

6. Quality Control, and The White Album

Now, let’s be clear; The White Album (some weeks) is my favourite Beatles album. Not because it has the best songs. Far from it. But because it has a unique atmosphere, a seemingly relaxed approach, once described as the ‘lazy afternoon’ of their career. The fact that most of the band were working in different studios on their own songs, mean it is incredibly diverse, and sways wildly from straight on ‘rock’ to twinkly folk, to mesmerising 9 minute soundscapes, each of the composers letting their personalities shine – even Ringo, with his first ever self penned composition. The 30 tracks show a huge range, and though there is a self indulgent element to it, it’s utterly fascinating if given the time.

That said, and as mentioned previously, it does contain some duff tracks. It’s an interesting exercise to try break the two discs down to one album, especially if you throw ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution (single version)’, recorded at the same time, into the pot.

The aforementioned ‘Wild Honey Pie’, whilst atrocious, does at least fit in with the Rishikesh sing-a-long starting point for the album. But the decision to release a 30 track double album resulted in crap like ‘Savoy Truffle’ and ‘Honey Pie’ being forced upon the world. And these weren’t quickly recorded throw away tracks – they were planned, thought out pieces that simply showed their authors to be, in the first instance, out of ideas and inspiration (a song about Eric Clapton eating chocolates – him again!) and in the second, literally going through the paces of recreating some awful dance hall pastiche, which can only leave the question – why? ‘Honey Pie’ in particular was an early sign of McCartney turning into the insufferable smug ‘entertainer’ role he later seemed to relish in.

A slight bit of trimming could have left us with an exceptional 26 track double album, or even, with a bit more work could have seen the inclusion of later solo tracks (Lennon’s ‘Child of Nature’, McCartney’s ‘Junk’ or Harrison’s ‘Not Guilty’) or even the wonderful ‘Hey Bulldog’, still at that time in the vaults, seeing eventual release on the ‘Yellow Submarine’ soundtrack a year later. But the problem was the egos, and the disintegrating relationships, no one writer willing to give up his space on the album. And whilst the track listing itself is a pretty awesome effort in creating a flow throughout its hour plus, the ‘kitchen sink and all’ approach sadly leaves some pretty big cracks. Some of these ‘cracks’ in the façade are fascinating. But some are beyond redemption.

7. Never toured past ‘65

When Beatles Manager Brian Esptein died in 1967, the band effectively lost their ‘rudder’, the man who had guided them through the turbulence of ‘Beatlemania’ and beyond. Since they had ceased touring in 1966, his role had become more perfunctory, yet his death still had a huge effect on the band. After the high of Sgt Pepper, McCartney stepped up to suggest a film project in order to keep them focussed, which became ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. The band then went on their Indian adventure, resulting in another album. But at the dawn of 1969, with Lennon and Harrison pulling in different, non-Beatle directions, McCartney dreamt up another idea, one that, he hoped, would bring them all closer together.

Sadly, and as already discussed, it pretty much tore them apart. The ‘Get Back / Let it Be’ project was, however, a good idea in principle; to re-engage the band by playing live, rehearsing carefully as a four piece after the separation of The White Album sessions.

Its yet another symptom of The Beatles malaise at this time that, after brainstorming ideas for the location of the ‘one-off’ gig to conclude the ‘Get Back’ sessions, which included an Atlantic Sealiner and a Tunisian Ampitheatre, they eventually settled on the roof of the apple building where they ‘worked’. Similarly, their final album was to be called ‘Everest’, until they realised that involved them all flying to said mountain for a photoshoot. They promptly changed it to ‘Abbey Road’ meaning they could step outside the door and be done in 20 minutes.

The result of all this being that we will never be able to hear The Beatles greatest songs performed live by the band themselves. Giving up live performance was undoubtedly one of the finest (and bravest) decisions they made. It allowed them to explore and experiment beyond the limits of sound and pop in the mid sixties. But, with the exception of ‘Revolution 9’ which isn’t ‘pop’ anyway, their last ‘pushing of the boundaries piece’ was probably ‘I am the Walrus’ in 1967. The trick they missed was performing all that 65-68 material in concert. Instead they pushed forth with the performance angle but instead tried to ‘get back’ to their Hamburg roots, a final attempt to reinvent themselves that ultimately failed

Sadly, after the split, Lennon only ever performed 3 of his Beatles songs live (Come Together, Yer Blues and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) and McCartney’s modern day touring band unfortunately polish the essence out of what were quirky as well as seminal recordings (I can barely listen to Hey Jude or Back in the USSR without seeing his wrinkled face backed by 20 plus session musicians)

Common belief is that it just wasn’t possible to create the sounds of their Pshycedelic peaks, but existing demos and alternate versions of ‘Strawberry Fields’, 'Tomorrow Never Knows', ‘I am The Walrus’ et al would suggest otherwise. Stripped back, with different elements to the fore, certainly, but how exciting would a live album have been, seeing all these classics reinterpreted by the band themselves? Live albums are often the nadir of any bands back catalogue; in this instance The Beatles could have revolutionised that concept too.

8. ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’

Forget ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘Eleanor Rigby’, this has to be the most ‘un-Beatles’ single the band ever released. For one, it only features Lennon and McCartney, Paul only really agreeing to the whole enterprise in a doomed attempt to keep Lennon interested in being a Beatle. But Lennon’s mind was elsewhere, and in many ways, this could be argued to be his first ‘solo’ single.

Describing his recent run ins with the law, his bed in for peace and the medias treatment of Yoko, it is an interesting document of what was happening at the time, without being a great song. Its hard to tell whether its chorus refrain of ‘Christ, you know it aint easy, you know how hard it can be / The way things are going, they’re gonna crucify me’, is a tongue in cheek reference to his early (misquoted) suggestion that ‘The Beatles are bigger than Jesus’ or the onset of a messianic complex. Likely, it was a bit of both. Either way, as a song and a proposition, it raised questions about what a Beatles song could, and should be; the problem was it raised it in a way that only really offered one answer…

And so, featuring a lyric that no one in the world could relate to, bar Yoko Ono, ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ was Lennon at his most self obsessed, and self interested and further signalled the end for the band. Musically it is pleasant enough, in the style of the ‘Get Back’ sessions around which it was recorded, but is certainly no classic, and had any other band recorded it, it would have been long forgotten.

9. Anthology of disinterest

Anthology was a big deal. An opening of the vaults, a chance to hear unreleased Beatles material, all those lost classics that had been the subject of speculation for decades. A chance to tell a different story, reveal the secret history behind the worlds biggest band. But they kind of bottled it.
Whilst relations between the surviving members and Yoko had certainly improved by the mid nineties, in that they could at least talk fairly reasonably about things, the unsteady peace resulted in any member being able to veto any inclusions, for whatever reason. It wasn’t a case of majority vote, if someone wasn’t happy they could just walk away. They were a Beatle, they didn’t need this stress. They certainly didn’t need the money.

And so, what could have been an essential purchase, became a bloated run of backing tracks and uninteresting alternate takes. Yes, some tracks were excellent insights, but at 3 double disc sets,why no legendary 28 minute take of ‘Helter Skelter’? Or more of the White Album demos recorded at George Harrison’s house? Or what about ‘Carnival of Light’, a free form 20 minutes SGT Pepper era experiment that bridges the gap between ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ‘Revolution 9’? Nah, an instrumental version of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is what we get. Cheers Beatles.

10. Come Together / Fall Apart

From 1965 to 1970 The Beatles output of singles and albums was phenomenal. Up until the release of ‘Come Together / Something’ in 1970, the only singles they released from albums were ‘Help!’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby / Yellow Submarine’. They tended to usher in new albums and directions with standalone singles; ‘Paperback Writer / Rain’ for ‘Revolver’, ‘Strawberry Fields / Penny Lane’ for Sgt Pepper, ‘Hey Jude’ for The White Album. It’s an astounding record, both from the perspective that whilst pioneering the idea of what an album could be, they were still producing ‘hit’ singles, that were equally pioneering and that so many of their well known tracks are simply really good album tracks. This consistent high quality is part of what makes them a great band; buying their albums is never a case of getting 4 hit singles and 8 fillers.

Which is why it’s sad, and symptomatic of their falling apart, that they released the split ‘Come Together / Something’ single from ‘Abbey Road’ AFTER the album was released. Not only were they both album tracks (and tracks 1 and 2 at that) but it was the only time they released a single after the album. That might not sound odd now, as that is generally common practice these days, but back in 1970 it was lazy and showed utter disinterest. Lennon’s typically dismissive comment was that they’d released it so people could hear the 2 decent songs off the album, without having to bother with the rest. Whilst clearly not true, to show such contempt for his own work spoke volumes and not long after The Beatles were no more.

One positive upshot was that the release of this single saw Harrison get his first Beatles A-Side and may well have been a goodwill gesture from Lennon / McCartney, both of whom praised ‘Something’ highly. But, regardless, the release of this single ended an unparalleled run of singles and albums that went: ‘I Feel Fine’, ‘Ticket To Ride’, ‘Help!’, ‘Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out’, ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Paperback Writer’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Revolver’, ‘Strawberry Fields’, ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘All You Need Is Love’, ‘Hello, Goodbye’, ‘Lady Madonna’, ‘Hey Jude’, ‘The Beatles (White Album)’, ‘Get Back’, ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’, ‘Abbey Road’.

by Liscio
What Stuart Sutcliffe fan hasn’t wished to learn as much as possible about the fascinating young artist and Beatle?  His time with us was short yet incredibly creative; every surfacing artwork, picture, letter or anecdote is pored over with relish by admirers. But some things Sutcliffe-lovers were sadly certain they would never get to know: for instance—his voice.
That’s why the digital release of “Love Me Tender“, sung by Stuart himself, is an astonishing event generating stunned excitement and questions about the song’s origin and authenticity.
“Love Me Tender” was Stuart’s signature song; a ballad he performed so well in Hamburg it received the best applause during the Beatles’ sets at the Kaiserkeller and Star Club. Sutcliffe also performed Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” and Elvis Presley’s “Wooden Heart”.  But “Love Me Tender” is the song most associated with his name.
His newly-released song, now available to the public for the first time in 50 years,  is compelling listening: Stu’s voice strains just slightly ending the first refrain, and he gives us a very sexy exhale at the end of another. In between, the notes are confident, strong, on pitch and melodic. Sutcliffe has made this version of Presley’s tune unabashedly his own.
In fact the track is so good, some listeners maintain they don’t even care if it is Stuart (though they hope it is) and skeptics are accusing the Sutcliffe family of overdubbing the voice of a professional singer. (One might point out that as a paid member of a hard-working rock band, Stuart was a professional singer).
Another quick discrediting attempt claimed the song originated from a 1979 American movie—that version has none of the soft nasality indicative of Liverpool accents, clearly evident in Stuart’s singing.  Noting this, listeners say Stuart sounds like John or George.  David Bedford, author of “Liddypool: Birthplace of the Beatles”—and a life-long Liverpudlian—confirms, “Yes, nasal talking is a scouse thing for sure.  As Stuart’s parents were Scottish, his accent was different to John’s and would sound different too – it differs on where in Liverpool you are from.”
So—where has such a sensational piece of musical history been hiding for the past 50 years?
Stuart’s sister Pauline says, “I never expected to receive this recording of Stuart singing ‘Love Me Tender’ because I was told the only recording which existed was locked away forever by a private collector.”
But quite unexpectedly in 2009, Stuart’s Estate became aware that a copy was available through another source. Once they’d obtained it, a substantial effort of time and money was spent trying to trace its provenance. “As far as we know for certain, Stuart’s ‘Love Me Tender’ track was recorded in Hamburg, probably 1961—after Stuart officially left the Beatles to pursue his art, ” says Pauline. “On one occasion we were told that it was a one-sided German Polydor acetate. Another source tells us that we have a copy from a reel-to-reel recording. We’ve also been advised that new instrumentation has been overdubbed.”
Though gaps in the history remain, one thing is unequivocally certain: it is Stuart. Says Pauline, “The family do know Stuart’s voice when they hear it – and this is Stuart’s voice.”
Those who are surprised that Sutcliffe could sing suffer from the same myopic misconception that had them believing he couldn’t play bass guitar. David Bedford  reminds us that as a young lad in Liverpool, Stuart was head chorister for St. Gabriel’s church in Huyton, leading the singing for Sunday services and weddings. The former choirboy still sounds youthful and earnest—some say his voice on “Love Me Tender” is “angelic”—some say “haunting”—while others are reminded of Phil and Don Everly’s sweet harmonies.
In a recent phone conversation, Pauline revealed that once the Estate possessed the recording, they were just “trying to get comfortable with it”.  One can only wonder what it was like for a sister to hold in her hands an object containing a special voice from so very long ago . A missing piece had at last come home.
In time, those responsible for overseeing Stuart’s Estate were curious to know whether the tape could be cleaned up. Help came in the form of Dan Whitelock-Wainwright, Pauline’s techno-expert great-nephew, currently at University and a member of the rock band Groan. Dan’s cousin Alex Whitelock-Wainwright (at University in Liverpool) also possessed a copy of the original tape and he wrote in his blog: “The original I have has a constant hiss throughout; that’s all that has been modified with the released version and the sound levels are higher. Talking to my cousin, who first tried to clean the track up, (he) believes that the noise frequencies have been totally cleaned out which has removed some instruments and they have been overdubbed back onto the track.”
It was the 24/7 division of IODA that finished the mastering, leaving Stuart’s voice unmanipulated, only louder. [Correction (11/3/2011): "24 Hour Service Station Distribution" and not "24/7 division of IODA" handled the cleaning up of the track. Marshall Dickson contacted us and explained: "I personally coordinated the sonic recovery, and also have strong reason to believe the original recording comes from an acetate, since the source file we possess has the sound of a needle sliding across a record after the music ends."]
There was never any doubt that the voice was Stuart’s. But the Estate has another reason to know the tape is genuine: they know Stuart.
The young bohemian led an accelerated life, traveling incredibly far in a very short time.  And his time in Hamburg was likely his most innovative.  Eduardo Paolozzi, Stuart’s art instructor at the School of Fine Arts in Germany, wrote: “He (Stuart) had so much energy and was so very inventive.”(1)  Musician and  artist Klaus Voorman said, “Every second of Stuart’s short time he was doing something.  His imagination was fantastic.”(2)  Everybody was aware of and amazed by Stu’s energy and the ease with which he was able to work in a variety of artistic areas.  It was completely in character for Stuart to have made this recording.
And the family’s got it in Stuart’s own writing that he planned to do just that.
Copyright: Stuart Sutcliffe Estate
Copyright: Stuart Sutcliffe Estate
Some of his Hamburg letters, reproduced here, reveal Sutcliffe’s interest in a new art project: his desire to make a movie with an accompanying soundtrack. The text reads:
Yes! Tomorrow comes Paolozzi and Tuesday we go once
more to that ship-breaking yard which we visited last semester. I
will have with me a film camera I borrowed of Theo, Astrid’s
cousin. I’m very quickly trying to learn the technique as I’m
enthralled by the possibilities but it’s so expensive. He has many
films including some of Astrid from a few years ago, very sweet
as you can imagine. I’ll have to take advantage of the few days
I’ll have it; I’ll probably tire of it all the more quickly because of
the complete inaccessibility of all the equipment required.”
‘I made a film last week when I was at the ship-breaking yard
and I have really caught a feeling for filming, the desire that is.
I made another today and wish to make a long film accompanied
by a tape-recording.
“Thank you for your letter and the catalogues. I should have
written before but have been busy with various odds and ends.
We started the week very tired after working all weekend making
photos, or rather Astrid worked while I grew tired looking on. She
was working on a commission for Polydor making photos of this
singer Sheridan and made some marvelous ones in black and
white and color.”
Stuart was well acquainted with Tony Sheridan.  While performing in Hamburg between 1960 and 1963, Sheridan employed various backup bands, most of which were really “pickup bands”, or simply an amalgam of various musicians, rather than a group proper.(3)   It was Polydor’s A&R (Artists and Repertoire) man, Bert Kaempfert, who arranged in 1961 for the Beatles to back Sheridan for an LP called “My Bonnie”. The standard (and decidedly incomplete) story is that Stuart was present during this session, but did not participate. But both John Lennon and Tony Sheridan swore that there were several other Beatle tracks that were recorded during the two-day session, and that either they were not preserved OR something else happened to them.(3)
Tony Sheridan (left) and Stuart Sutcliffe
Copyright Astrid Kirchherr; Pauline Sutcliffe private collection
Another group recording for Polydor was a German band called The Bats. “They (the Bats) went through the usual Star Club routine…(they) recorded mainly for Polydor. Drummer Toni Cavanaugh came from the circle of musicians connected with Tony Sheridan (and) also played drums for Sheridan’s Beat Brothers/Star combo. The band’s crew changed…once in a while ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe joined in.”(4)
Hamburg’s music scene in ’61 was open and inclusive, with musicians intermingling on stage and in the studio. Astrid was there with her camera, recording visual tracks while the bands made musical ones. Stuart was right in the midst of it. He’d been to the studio, played with the bands, knew Kaempfert, had all the right connections.  It’s not implausible to think that at some time during that year his voice was captured on “a German Polydor acetate”.
Or perhaps Stu recorded his own voice, and instruments were tracked in later. The fact is that Sutcliffe intended to make a recording. Since “Love Me Tender” was the cool bassist’s spotlight song, one he’d sung a hundred times or more and was the ballad he’d dedicated to his darling Astrid, it was the natural choice.
Those free Hamburg days were unparalleled—a pivitol time for art and music.  Timing can be so deadly crucial—why did Stuart’s Estate choose to release “Love Me Tender” now?
It wasn’t a decision made lightly. Pauline has balanced two missions for nearly 50 years: working determinedly to ensure her talented brother’s legacy, and striving to protect his image from harm.  In the documentary “The Lost Beatle” she reminisces that Stuart “used to be my elder brother. But now he’s my kid brother…I want to take care of him…to protect him.” Regarding “Love Me Tender”, she was wisely aware of those who would cry foul even if the Sutcliffes presented a recording contract with Stuart’s signature at the bottom.
But recent events: a partnership with promotional agency CMG Worldwide; the successful stage production of Backbeat, now showing in London’s West End; the launch of Stuart’s Official Fan Club (www.stuartsutcliffefanclub.com); and next year’s world tour art exhibition “Conversation With Stuart Stucliffe”, convinced the Estate there was no better time to release Stuart’s song than now.
There has been a shift in perspective regarding the Beatle who left the band because he loved art and Astrid Kirchherr. The media is now far less likely to depict Sutcliffe shoved aside in his shades to an obscure corner…the reluctant, incapable bassist. Commentaries adhering to that badly-sketched-in picture show their inaccuracy and age. With every unexpected and exciting new event, the remarkably talented Sutcliffe is now receiving the worldwide accolade he deserves.
Some things are worth waiting for—even if it takes 50 years.  “Love Me Tender” was definitely worth the wait. Thanks, Stu, for making certain we’d hear your voice.
[Editor's Note: Those in Beatles history who knew Stuart at the time this song was believed to be recorded, (i.e., Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr) have not yet commented on their personal knowledge of the existence of this recording. ]
© 2011 Daytrippin’ – This article including photos/images may not be reproduced without permission from the author and Daytrippin.com. A brief excerpt may be reprinted with a link to the article and proper credit.
Update: More in-depth analysis on this recording has been done by David Bedford, author of Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles. You can read his article here:

Update (Nov. 4, 2011): The Beatles Examiner has obtained quotes from Klaus Voormann, Tony Sheridan and Bill Harry concerning their opinions on the recording.
(1) John Willett 1967 “Art In The City”
(2) The Beatles In Hamburg/Bill Hillman Tracks (hillmanweb.com)
(3) Tony Sheridan Wikipedia
(4)  Discogs/The Bats (discogs.com)

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by Liscio
Shy and withdrawn, hardly able to play a chord, so unsure of his ability he hid behind dark glasses and turned his back to the audience—if this is your portrait of Stuart Sutcliffe, you’ve got the wrong rock bass guitarist.
Stu has been described as gentle, delicate, a boy of beautiful heart.  But he was funny enough to be on par with Lennon.  He was an original thinker, highly intelligent, responsible and mature beyond his young years, “vulnerable on the surface but extremely strong underneath”.  He was innovative (painting in Hamburg with metallic car paint and charcoal) and daring—art master Arthur Ballard remembered in the Beatles biography, Shout, that against college rules, Stuart painted on massive canvasses and was a sartorial trendsetter even before Hamburg.  Klaus Voorman said Stu could “see 10 times more than other people”—he was “miles ahead of everybody”, especially regarding the intensity of his life, his art, and his cutting-edge perception of style and imagery.  An amazing profile for a kid barely out of his teens.
But could he play the guitar?
The contention that Stu was “a bad bass player” is a piece of historical hokum that has no substantiation– meaning no factual evidence backs it up.  Stuart had basically only two detractors: the statements of one have been shown to be blatantly false—the remarks of the other are inconsistent and less than impartial.  Yet years of media repetition from these two sources have been accepted as truth.
Let’s start at the end of 1959 when teenaged Lennon, McCartney and Harrison were actively searching for a bass guitarist.  As is well known, they persuaded 19-year-old art student Sutcliffe to purchase a Hofner electric bass. George Harrison said it was “better to have a bass player that couldn’t play than to not have a bass player at all.” (1) Stuart straightaway recruited Dave May of the local Silhouettes to teach him Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”.
The Forthlin Road rehearsals at Paul’s house, some of which were taped on Rod Murray’s (Stu’s flatmate) tape recorder, took place that March.  In a 2007 article, Murray said, “Stu would borrow the recorder and go to Paul’s house to record…but he had to buy his own tapes as they were so expensive.”  The audio quality is poor, but listening to these tapes makes clear that the entire band at this point was very rudimentary.  (Note: Of the 16 songs known to have been recorded at the Forthlin Road rehearsals, three were released on 1995’s Anthology 1: “Cayenne”, “Hallelujah” and “I Love Her So”.  You can hear these on Youtube).
Finding gigs in Liverpool was tough and everybody was still going to school; not having played much together “for months”, on May 10 the group found themselves before London musical scout Larry Parnes, who was looking for a group to back one of his stars, Billy Fury.  Photos of this audition do show Stuart playing with his back turned, perhaps attempting to hide his fledgling ability.  Paul McCartney said, “If anyone had been taking notice, they would have seen that when we were all in A, Stu would be in another key.  But he soon caught up and we passed that audition to go on tour.” (2)
These photos are the only ones of Stuart playing turned around—and this is where one of the sources of the “bad bass playing” got its start.
The idea sprang from the lips of one Allan Williams, a colorful man of dubious veracity who called himself the Beatles manager when he was, in fact, a booking agent for various bands in Liverpool.
Bill Harry, art school classmate of Sutcliffe and Lennon and creator of Mersey Beatmagazine, sets the record absolutely straight: “Allan Williams always comes out with the story that Stuart Sutcliffe played with his back to Larry Parnes at the Wyvern Club audition because he couldn’t play the bass, and that Parnes said he would take the group as Billy Fury’s backing group if they got rid of Stuart.  This story first appeared in Williams’ book, ‘The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away’.  Williams’ allegation is untrue. Parnes himself was to say that he had no problem with Stuart, that his objection was to drummer Tommy Moore, who turned up late for the audition, was dressed differently than the other members and was a lot older than them.  When we used to book the group for the art school dances there seemed to be no problem with Stuart’s performance.  In fact I never heard any criticism of Stuart as a musician until the publication of Williams’ book (which came out in 1977).” (3)
After returning home from their tour, the band played some twenty-odd venues around Liverpool before August 1960.  At this time, one of Liverpool’s best, established groups was Derry and the Seniors.  Seniors’ Howie Casey remarked for the ‘Beatles Anthology’, “they were a nothing little band.”  When he heard the Beatles were soon to play in Germany, Casey complained, “They might destroy the [emerging German rock] scene.  I said send a band like Rory Storm or the Big Three.  When they did turn up, they were vastly improved…the improvement was like night and day.”
Arriving in Hamburg, the Beatles (whose current playlist of songs could barely fill an hour) were shocked to learn they were expected to play close to eight hours nearly every night. They had to expand  their repertoire, and fast.
George:  “We had to learn millions of songs. We’d be on for hours…Saturday would start at three or four in the afternoon and go on until five or six in the morning.”
John:  “We got better and got more confidence.  We couldn’t help it, with all the experience, playing all night long.”
Paul:  “We got better and better and other groups started coming to watch us.”
Is it credible to think that all this learning, experience, confidence and improvement affected every Beatle except Sutcliffe—the others were roaring along, but Stu was still just plunking?   Stuart himself wrote home:   “We have improved a thousand-fold since our arrival.”
These “savage young Beatles” were now playing loud, thrashing, primeval and pumping proto-punk rock—a throbbing nightly musical orgy.  Lennon would say these Hamburg performances were the Beatles at their rock and roll best.
“Backbeat” director Ian Softley, after researching extensively and talking to bands and others who attended the German clubs, told the Los Angeles Times: “he (Stu) was very punk, very insistent.  He would turn up his bass really loud… it was dominant and driving.”
Howie Casey said in the same Times piece that Stu “had a great live style”.  He would know…while the recently-arrived Beatles were still playing the Indra, Bruno Koschmider (owner of both clubs) wanted continual music at the Kaiserkeller.  So he split up the Seniors and the Beatles–in effect, creating a third band.  Says Casey, “I was given Stuart Sutcliffe along with Derry and Stan Foster and we had a German drummer.”   If Stuart couldn’t play, a professional like Casey certainly wouldn’t have tolerated him very long. Casey never complained about Stu’s ability.  And this temporary split actually made Sutcliffe the first Beatle to play the sought-after Kaiserkeller gig.
In ‘The Beatles History’, Rick Hardy of the Jets confirmed: “Stu never turned his back on stage.  He certainly played to the audience and he certainly played bass.  If you have someone who can’t play the instrument properly, you have no bass sound.  There were two rhythm guitarists with the Beatles and if one of them couldn’t play, you wouldn’t have noticed it—but it’s different with a bass guitar.  I was there and I can say quite definitely Stuart never did a show in which he wasn’t facing the audience.”
Renowned artist and bassist Klaus Voorman says, “Stu was a really good rock and roll bass player, a very basic bass player, completely different.  He was, at the time, my favorite bass player…and he had that cool look.”  In a 2006 documentary, Voorman’s opinion was, “The Beatles were best when Stuart was still in the band.  To me it had more balls, it was even more rock and roll when Stuart was playing the bass and Paul was playing piano or another guitar.  The band was, somehow, as a rock and roll band, more complete.”
Interviewed on radio, Beatles drummer Pete Best revealed “what a good bass player Stuart was.”  Pete has said, “I’ve read so many people putting him down for his bass playing.  I’d like to set that one straight.  His bass playing was a lot better than people give him credit for.  He knew what his limits were…what he did was accept that and he gave 200%.  He was the smallest Beatle with the biggest heart.”
Stu, who had stayed in Hamburg after the others had gone back to Liverpool, received a letter from George that read in part: “Come home sooner, as if we get a new bass player for the time being, it will be crumby as he will have to learn everything.  It’s no good with Paul playing bass, we’d decided, that is, if he had some kind of bass to play on!”
And not long before his death, after he’d left the Beatles, Stuart was asked to play with a German group, the Bats.  He borrowed back his bass from Voorman (to whom he’d sold it), and played the Hamburg Art School Carnival and the Kaiserkeller.  The “James Dean of Hamburg” was obviously respected for his bass work.
There is no record of anyone commenting negatively about Stuart’s playing the entire time the Beatles were actually performing in Liverpool or in Hamburg…except for one.  At last we come to Stuart’s other detractor: Paul McCartney.
Paul has knocked Stu’s bass playing– remarks he made while working with Stu were perhaps spawned by their “dead rivalry” (at least that’s how Paul saw it), and are therefore open to question.  But many of Paul’s negative comments have been in retrospect.  In 1964, much closer to when he’d actually been playing with Sutcliffe, Paul said in a Beat Instrumental interview: “Not that I’m suggesting that every bass player should learn on an ordinary guitar.  Stuart Sutcliffe certainly didn’t, and he was a great bass man.”
Stuart was clear-eyed and candid about his musicianship.  He put it all out there and made no apologies.  He had the nerve to audition when he’d barely begun to play—that took guts.  He worked hard and grew in expertise along with the rest of the band in Liverpool.  Having to quickly master new material in Germany, Stu could rely, if not on deep innate talent, then on his very high IQ to memorize the “millions” of new songs.  Voorman gets the last word on the result: “It sounded amazing, fantastic.  I loved it from the first moment.  The other bands that played in the clubs were good, but none were as good as them.”
By all reliable accounts, Sutcliffe’s bass put down a hard-driving, rock and roll sound.  It wasn’t fancy…his attack was pretty basic.  But when it came to playing raw, exciting, sex-drenched rock and roll that hit you in the chest, electrified your limbs, made you want to dance all night and kept you coming back to the Top Ten Club for more, the band to see was Stuart Sutcliffe and The Beatles.
(1) ‘A Brief History of the Beatles’ online
(2) ‘The Beatles Bible’ online
(3) ‘The Beatles History’ online
Note: Additional references for this article include: The Life of John Lennon and Shout by Philip Norman; quotes by Astrid Kirchherr for Boston 90.9 WBUR and How Stuff WorksLiddypool: Birthplace of the Beatles by David Bedford; The Beatles in Hamburg by Hillman; Art by Lennon, McCartney, Sutcliffe and Starr; interviews by Garry James; British Youth Culture-Shapers of the 80’s; The Quarrymen Through Rubber Soul by Everett; Pete Best interview/terrascope; Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand by Knublauch, Korinth and Muller; Stuart Sutcliffe letters; Voorman/tripod.com Quotes; and John, Paul, George, Ringo and Stu-Los Angeles Times/Movies
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An in-depth exploration of how John Lennon’s love for Yoko
filled the void left by Astrid and Stu
by Josh Kennedy
It split the Beatles, this affair of the heart. She was an artist from an upper class family. She came from a foreign country that the previous generation in Britain had fought an all-out war to defeat. One Beatle was besotted with her, ready and willing to forsake the band for his new romance. She was always at his side; the intense couple even began dressing and wearing their hair alike. Paul McCartney was jealous, venting his frustration in petty ways that boiled over into the group’s professional work. The name of this lady was… Astrid Kirchherr.
It would happen again, and eerily so, when Yoko Ono appeared on the scene six years later. The personalities involved were different, but a similar stew of forces was present in both situations. When the Beatles story is examined as a whole, Yoko can be seen as an amalgam, combining the earlier roles of Astrid – the influential, foreign artistic woman – and of Stuart Sutcliffe – the brilliant but musically limited force who occupied much of John’s attention at the group’s expense. These striking parallels are worth exploring for any light they may shed on the eventual breakup of the Beatles.
When the Beatles met Astrid in Hamburg, there is no doubt they were impressed. As Cynthia Lennon wrote in her 1978 memoir, “John’s letters were full of Astrid… particularly her way of dress, her avant-garde way of life, and her marvelous photography.” John even went so far as to call her the “German Brigitte Bardot.” This comparison is illuminating. Bardot was the icon of John’s adolescent fantasies, to the point where he encouraged Cynthia to dye her own hair blonde in emulation. Very shortly before taking up with Yoko in 1968, Lennon would meet the real Bardot in person. He showed up stoned for the appointment, and had what he later described as a “fucking terrible evening – even worse than meeting Elvis.” Any illusions he still harbored about Bardot as the ideal woman were then shattered, and with them, perhaps, some regard for his own wife’s dyed-blonde image.
Yet Bardot was not John’s only ideal. As he recalled in a posthumously published reminiscence, “I’d always had a fantasy about a woman who would be a beautiful, intelligent, high-cheek-boned, free-spirited artist a la Juliette Greco.”  He went on to say that this ideal morphed slightly during a Beatles visit to Asia, becoming an artisticoriental woman. But back in Hamburg, “oriental” was not yet part of the idea. Astrid was not only a “beautiful, intelligent, high-cheek-boned, free-spirited artist” but was also, like Greco, a continental European.
As Kirchherr later told BBC radio:
“We got inspired by all the French artists and writers, because that was the closest we could get. England was so far away, and America was out of the question. So France was the nearest. So we got all the information from France, and we tried to dress like the French existentialists. … We wanted to be free, we wanted to be different, and tried to be cool, as we call it now.”
Small wonder that Cynthia felt intimidated about meeting her.
Of course, Astrid fell in love with Stuart Sutcliffe, the most bohemian Beatle, with his dark sunglasses and brooding James Dean image. “I fell in love with Stuart that very first night,” Astrid told author Philip Norman. “So pale, but very, very beautiful. He was like a character from a story by Edgar Allan Poe.” ‘They were the big love,” Paul McCartney says of this period, and Pete Best remembers the couple as being “like one of those fairy stories.”
Before long, according to Norman, Astrid was employing her own artistic talents “to model him (Stuart) into an appearance echoing and complementing her own.” Much has been made of Astrid’s visual influence on the Beatles’ haircut and fashion, and as an early band photographer. More overlooked is the impact all of this had on John’s ideal of a relationship. John may have joined his band mates in ridiculing Stuart at times, but as he later admitted to biographer Hunter Davies, “I used to explain afterwards to him that we didn’t dislike him.” Privately John admired his friend, and the intense partnership of Stu and Astrid might be seen as something of a model for John’s later, all-encompassing infatuation with Yoko.
Certainly the two situations produced some similar outcomes, for in both cases, Paul McCartney reacted badly. Lennon noted the cause of an onstage fistfight between McCartney and Sutcliffe:  “Paul was saying something about Stu’s girl, and he was jealous because she was a great girl, and Stu hit him on stage.” Later, when John found his own soul mate in Yoko, Paul tried to accept it, even inviting the couple to live in his house during the summer of 1968. This was a time when Paul was in a fragile state, having recently broken with his fiancée Jane Asher. As reported by Paul’s summer girlfriend Francie Schwartz, Paul’s true feelings of envy slipped out in a cruel jest. A note left on the mantle warned John: “You and your Jap tart think you’re hot shit.” Paul admitted leaving the note as a joke, but the dark underpinnings of this incident were crystal clear.
Indeed, jealousy was at the heart of the other Beatles’ relationships with both Stuart and Yoko. Stuart was a formidable presence in his own right.
Cynthia Lennon recalled:
“It was a very beautiful friendship John had with Stu. John, even though he’d gone into the music end of the art world and left his art behind, he still desperately wanted to be a painter, and Stuart was a fantastic and dedicated artist. They totally understood each other and gave to each other what they knew, what they had to offer.”
Stuart was hardly a musician, but joined the group because John liked having him around. “When he came into the band… we were a little jealous of him; it was something I didn’t deal with very well,” Paul admitted years later in The Beatles Anthology. “We were always slightly jealous of John’s other friendships… when Stuart came in it felt as if he was taking the position away from George and me. We had to take a bit of a back seat.”
George agreed, saying “..with all the stress we were under, a little bitching went on and Paul and he (Stu) used to punch each other out a bit.”
“We’d had a few ding-dongs, partly out of jealousy for John’s friendship, and Stuart, being his mate from art school, had a lot of his time and we were jealous of that,” Paul continued. “Also, I was keen to see the group be as good as it could be, so I would make the odd remark. Oh, you don’t play that right.” Here was evidence of the strict perfectionism which Paul would later direct towards George and Ringo in the studio.
Curiously, John would never lose his taste for inviting musically limited friends to join his band simply because he liked them. This trend had begun with John’s boyhood friend Pete Shotton scraping a washboard in the Quarrymen.
Of Stuart joining the Beatles, Shotton wrote:
“Thus continued the pattern that had begun with me in 1956, and would once again manifest itself with Yoko Ono in the late sixties. Since music came so naturally to John, it simply never occurred to him that anyone to whom he felt especially close could not also participate.”
Philip Norman’s 2008 biography Lennonshrewdly probes John’s decision to bring Yoko to Beatles recording sessions in 1968:
“Whatever John’s inner thoughts, he remained a fully paid-up Beatle, subject to the remorseless manufacturing cycle, which, in late May, had summoned them back to Abbey Road Studios… at the back-to-school session on May 30, his initial intention became clear: not to break up the old gang, but to augment it. ‘He wanted me to be part of the group,’ Yoko says. ‘He created the group, so he thought the others should accept that. I didn’t particularly want to be part of them… I couldn’t see how I would fit in, but John was certain I would. He kept saying, ‘They’re very sensitive … Paul is into Stockhausen… They can do your thing…’ He thought the other Beatles would go for it; he was trying to persuade me.’”
Lennon confirmed this remarkable notion himself, in his 1970 Rolling Stone interview:
“Yoko played me tapes I understood. I know it was very strange and avant-garde music is very tough to assimilate… but I’ve heard the Beatles playing avant-garde music when nobody was looking for years. But they’re artists, and all artists have fuckin’ big egos… and when a new artist came into the group, they were never allowed. Sometimes George and I would like to bring somebody in like Billy Preston, that was exciting, we might have had him in the group. We were fed up with the same old shit… and I would have expanded the Beatles… she came in and she would expect to perform with them like you would with any group…”
In his 2006 memoir, recording engineer Geoff Emerick noted a shift in Yoko’s role as the White Album sessions dragged on:  “I could see that she (Yoko) was gaining confidence. She seemed to feel she was part of the group now. In her mind, and in John’s mind, she had become the fifth Beatle.” Lennon later expressed indignation when scenes of Yoko vocalizing to a Beatles jam were cut from the Let it Be movie. Clearly, he took Yoko’s presence as a quasi-band member seriously.
Furthermore, John sought to enforce these wishes at a time when he was trying to reassert himself as leader of the Beatles. It was a role John had occupied during the early days, when Stuart had joined the group. By contrast, many Beatles ideas in 1967 had originated with Paul. Privately, Lennon simmered, as he told Rolling Stone: “When Paul felt like it, he would come in with about twenty good songs… and I suddenly had to write a fucking stack of songs. Pepper was like that. And Magical Mystery Tour was another.”  Perhaps, following the critical panning which greeted the Magical Mystery Tour film, John felt it was time for a change. Or perhaps, being with Yoko simply gave him renewed confidence.
John further told Rolling Stone:
“Bit by bit over a two-year period, I had destroyed me ego. I didn’t believe I could do anything. I just was nothing. I was shit… and she (Yoko) made me realize that I was me and that it’s all right. That was it; I started fighting again, being a loudmouth again and saying, “I can do this. Fuck it. This is what I want,” you know. “I want it, and don’t put me down.”
With Yoko, John felt he had reawakened his own crucial sense of personal authenticity. Years later, he gave this assessment of the Beatles’ split:
“…That’s how the Beatles ended. Not because Yoko split the Beatles, but because she showed me what it was to be Elvis Beatle and to be surrounded by sycophants and slaves who were only interested in keeping the situation as it was. She said to me, you’ve got no clothes on. Nobody had dared tell me that before.”
Nobody, perhaps, except for Stuart Sutcliffe.  In the early sixties, John wrote long, honest letters to Sutcliffe, sharing John’s inner thoughts, as he would later do with Yoko. Tellingly, in 1967, John remembered Stu with these words: “I looked up to Stu. I depended on him to tell me the truth.”
Feeling he was once more being true to himself, John was furious when Paul got the credit for announcing the Beatles’ split to the press in 1970. Lennon would continue to try to set the record straight for the rest of his life. It seems ironic that John’s wife has been lambasted for years for supposedly splitting the group up, an act for which John himself publicly sought credit. Those who blame Yoko Ono for breaking up the Beatles may have a hard time facing the truth: that John Lennon broke up the Beatles. As he confidently wrote in the late seventies, “I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that.”
John elaborated on his decision to leave in a 1980 interview with Playboy: “What I did… in my own cowardly way was use Yoko… it was like now I have the strength to leave because I know there is another side to life.” This other side to life included a host of different artistic projects, many of them employing John’s latent art school talents. He collaborated with Yoko on a whirlwind of films, lithographs, and art shows, just as Stu had resumed his dedication to painting once the distraction of the rock band was removed. Yoko, then, became the escape from the Beatles that John had already been looking for. The template for this particular kind of escape had been established years before. We must remember that John was barely 29 years old when he told the other Beatles he was quitting the group in September 1969. For John, the best example of an appealing alternate life had been seen a mere eight years before, in the bohemian path of art and love chosen by his close friend Stu.
Pete Shotton remembers John describing his new romance with Yoko: “It’s just like how we used to fall in love when we were kids.”
John certainly remembered “when we were kids.”
He remembered Stu and Astrid.
Copyright Daytrippin’ – This article may not be reproduced without the permission of the author
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By Shelley Germeaux, Daytrippin’ West Coast Correspondent
[Editor's note: This article, originally published on Daytrippin's site in 2006, is one of our most popular articles on John Lennon. We decided to re-post it today in remembrance of John Lennon on the anniversary of his death.]
Now that the pay-per-view show entitled The Spirit of John Lennon has made its television debut, grossing over $8 million in one night, my in-box has been full of emails dismissing the show outright for its sensationalist production.
The show claims to have contacted John’s spirit during seances, psychic readings, EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) and through channeled music by an Indian guru. The manner in which this show was produced, through scary background music and a narrator who sounds like the guy from the Twilight Zone, shot down any chance of the show being taken seriously. The best part of the show was the Indian guru who channeled a beautiful song from John on a sitar. When translated into an American style, it did sound like something John might have written. But most of the show reminded me of an over-produced magic show.
This tells me it is a good time to talk about the serious side of John’s spirit communications, for those having a penchant for the “other side.”  To be honest, I’m a closet spiritualist myself and am definitely a believer in the paranormal because of my own experiences. Many years ago I began having profound dreams, strange coincidences and paranormal occurrences about John Lennon and I couldn‚Äôt deny his presence in my personal life.
I haven’t really talked about it openly as of yet.  But one thing I can say for sure is that the feeling of his presence with me caused me to do the writing and research I have done about his life and the Beatles, which led me to Daytrippin’ Magazine. So to that end, if I’ve done something positive for his memory, then perhaps I’m fulfilling a worthwhile purpose on his behalf.
There are other people braver than I, who have published their experiences with John Lennon’s spirit, and this is the subject of this article.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a friend of mine, Linda Keen, asking ifDaytrippin’ readers would be interested in a review of her book, Across the Universe With John Lennon. First published in 1994, I had loved the book, and the similarity in my experiences inspired me to write to Linda and form a friendship that has lasted over 10 years.  I remember reading it at that time with rapt interest, shocked into realizing that I had not been imagining John’s presence after all. There was a lot more going on here than any of us understood. It changed my life and helped me to accept the profound spiritual guidance that John seemed to be offering. But would fans take the information seriously?
The same week that Linda wrote me, I had, coincidentally, just finished reading  Jewelle St. James’ book called All You Need Is Love, about her discovery of a past life with John in England in the 1700s. I had assumed that this book would simply be a discussion of her dreams, past life regressions, and things like that, that wouldn’t necessarily prove anything. Imagine my surprise when I could not put the book down, reading into the wee hours of the morning until I had reached the very last word.
She had actually backed up her dreams and psychic readings with genealogical type research, including traveling to England, finally uncovering documents that proved the existence of the lifetime in question.  It provided an element of proof of reincarnation that was stunning.
Later that week, the advertisement for the John Lennon seance on TV appeared, and I thought, well it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Here is a discussion of the books that have already been out there, hiding on bookshelves and on Amazon all these years, without too much excitement or publicity. These authors have really compelling, truthful and loving stories to tell, without giving a hoot about their own fame. They just want to get their stories out there, and have had to go to considerable personal expense to do it. The courage to do this, as I have myself discovered, is hard to come by. One has to go beyond the fear of ridicule from others, but also their own doubts.
Here are the books that are available should you want to pursue this subject:
Peace At Last: The After-Death Experiences of John Lennon
by Jason Leen, (Illumination Arts Publishing Company, 1982, 1989)
This was the first book that was published, from all I can tell, about John’s afterlife. Jason is a clairaudient who wrote The Death of the Prophet in 1979, the channeled works of Kahlil Gibran, who died in 1931. John came to Jason three nights after he died, only to say he was being kept strongly on the earth plane because of all the people who were grieving for him. He says he has a lot of adjustments to make to his new form, and that he needs to heal, but that he would be in contact.
Throughout 1981, John related what he experienced when he died, and what he was seeing and feeling. Jason describes John’s reaction at seeing his mother Julia waiting for him, and all she tells him.
After explaining the seven different heavenly realms, she explains that since John was such a powerful spokesman for the world, he is being asked to continue his work with humanity. She assures him that the world will listen. He learns that the earth is about to awaken, but that first, humanity must awaken and arise. He will be one of the spirit beings to interact with people on earth to get this message across.
He describes the various dimensions he is introduced to, and the realization that his thought alone can take him to a different place. He learns that Heaven is what you imagine it to be, and is as good as you can allow it. He talks about his wish to stay on the earth plane to help humanity. That he will be here as the planet goes through immense shifts and changes in the coming years.
The transmissions include many metaphysical terms about frequency changes, heightened awareness, and electromagnetic changes within our DNA that must occur in order to successfully accommodate the required growth.
More information about Jason is at www.kahlil.org, and www.kryon.com/inspiritmag/
Across the Universe with John Lennon
by Linda Keen
(Hampton Roads, 1999)
First self-published under the name John Lennon in Heaven in 1994, it was reissued in 1999 under the new title, along with her 2nd book, Intuition Magic. Linda and her husband owned and operated an Intuition school in Holland, and before John came along, Linda was teaching many techniques to help people develop their psychic and intuition skills to better their own lives.
When John suddenly appeared in a profound dream in 1986, her life began to change. Quoting from the introduction, where Linda describes the dream, she says, “I am visiting a woman who is planning to write a book entitled John Lennon in Heaven. She is going to converse with John about what it is like to exist after death, and apparently, he is very eager to participate–in fact, he has organized the whole thing himself . . .as I awaken, the quality of it lingers in my whole body and mind, leaving me inspired yet perplexed.”
Despite her efforts to dismiss the dream, John began popping up in her mind regularly; laughing at something she said, or giving her some advice. She couldn’t get him out of her mind, and she began searching for anything having to do with John Lennon and the Beatles. She became a Beatle fan all over again. The dreams began to increase. One night she dreamt that she was lifting John out of a grave, whereupon he got up on his feet and put her jeans on. In March of 1987 she made the decision to try and contact him directly.
From there on, the book describes her conversations with him, the spiritual lessons he taught her, the realizations about God, and the lessons he learned about his life. She helped him through his own grief, and he helped her through her doubts. He finally convinces her to get a computer (remember it was the early 90’s!) and begin writing a book, so she could communicate what he was teaching her to the world. It was a friendship based on spiritual guidance that grew and continues to this day.
It is a fantastic journey through the soul’s growth and through spiritual teachings. As John always believed during his lifetime, he teaches her that reality extends way beyond what we can see. There is much more to the ultimate truth.
Since the publication of her book in 1994, many people have contacted Linda to tell her about their own connection to John. Linda has a website at www.keenintuition.com .
All You Need is Love (second edition; May 2009)
by Jewelle St. James
(St. James Publishing, 2003)
Published in 1995 as Imagine: A Past Life with John Lennon, this edition continues the story and adds photos. Jewelle was a Canadian housewife and begins her story with the morning after John was murdered, December 9, 1980. She had not been a Beatle fan at all. She hadn’t even listened to the album, Imagine. But for some reason unknown to her, news on the television of his death caused a tidal wave of grief she could not recover from or explain.
Over the coming weeks, her embarrassment at the torrent of sadness and uncontrollable tears caused her to employ extreme efforts to get over it, to save face in front of her concerned family and friends, but it was futile. She would get in the car with the kids only to hear Starting Over on the radio, and suddenly burst into sobs. No one understood why she was obsessing over a dead rock star that she had never really cared for while he was alive. Neither did she. And now she was becoming a Beatle fan, collecting everything she could on John’s life.
She had the luck of being born into a psychic family, and after about three years of struggling emotionally, she approached her mother and sister, at separate times, with her problem.  She wanted an explanation that perhaps transcended current day reality. They told her such specific information about a lifetime that her and John shared, down to the names, that she began a search to discover whether any of it was true.
From there Jewelle discovers that her grief in this lifetime was a result of unhealed grief from the prior lifetime. John, in a prior life as the love of her life, John Baron, had died suddenly of illness, and she herself had died of a broken heart soon after.
She travels to England, where she eventually discovers records that actually document the existence of the two people she and John were. Soon she understands the unhealed emotions that needed to now be allowed expression. This is a story of karmic healing that is inspiring and fascinating, especially when it is realized that healing a prior lifetime also heals the current lifetime, and the soul for the rest of eternity.
Jewelle has a website at www.pastlifewithjohnlennon.com
Crossing Over: The Stories Behind the Stories
By John Edward
(Princess Books, 2002)
John Edward is internationally acclaimed as a psychic medium. He has hosted his own television show Crossing Over with John Edward, been a frequent guest on Larry King Live and many other shows. He also was featured in the HBO documentary Life After Life.
When John Edward was in Seattle a few years ago, tickets to his show were selling like hotcakes so I decided to go see what he was all about. Coincidentally, the day I bought the tickets, I happened to see this book prominently displayed as I was walking through a discount bookstore.
I immediately bought the book, and as I read through it I discovered a chapter called “Legends of Rock”. I turned to it instantly and began to read about how Carl Perkins’ daughter had wanted to have a reading with John Edward in 1998 after her dad died. A friend set the reading up, only saying what the daughter’s first name was. The reading was significant because John did not know who her father was, until, befuddled, he said “Elvis is with your dad..who was your dad?” Amazed, the daughter then admitted that Carl Perkins was her father and that he was the one who wrote Blue Suede Shoes.
Following the full description of this reading, which is fully outlined in the book, to my surprise Mr. Edward then recounts a story about John Lennon that I had been familiar with in part, from the 1998 video (VHS) called Paul McCartney and Carl Perkins: My Old Friend. I had no idea the story was in the book, and I learned some details that had not been on the video.
In 1981, just after John Lennon died, Paul and Linda invited Carl to stay with them in Montserrat. Paul wanted Carl’s help recording a song called Get It for his new album, Tug Of War. Carl spent eight days with them, and George and Ringo had been there to help out as well. It was a great time between old friends who had shared such a legendary musical past.
The night before he left, a song came to Carl that summed up his warm feelings about the visit, and he couldn’t get it out of his mind. It was so strong that Carl didn’t even write it down, which was strange for him.  He usually always wrote his songs down immediately.
In the morning, Carl Perkins sang the song, which he named My Old Friend, for Linda and Paul, saying it was his gift for having him as a guest. Half way through the song, after singing “if we never meet again this side of life, in a little while, over yonder, where there’s peace and quiet, my old friend, won’t you think about me every now and then?” tears streamed down Paul’s face and he stood up and stepped outside.
Not knowing what the matter was, Carl stopped and Linda put her arms around him, thanking him for helping Paul to connect with his grief over John Lennon’s death. Now this next part was not in the video, but according to the book, Linda explained that the last time Paul talked to John, he had said the same line to Paul, “think of me every now and then, my old friend.”
Carl had no doubt that the song was from John Lennon, as a gift to Paul.
The story doesn’t end there. The only reason this story is known publicly is because Carl told the story while being filmed in 1997 for what would later become part of the video I mentioned above. When he got done telling the story on camera, sitting in his studio, and sang the refrain, his wife buzzed in on the intercom, and said, “Carl, Paul McCartney just called.” Carl was so stunned at the coincidence he turned to the camera, speechless, and said “you tell me this boy has not got a connection to the spirit world!”
Carl Perkins coincidentally died exactly one year to the day later, after suffering two strokes. If he had not been inspired to do a video in 1997 on his musical career, and recounted this experience, we would never have known the story.
Shelley Germeaux is a John Lennon expert in her own right. She has done extensive research on Lennon including interviews with May Pang and Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird. Shelley is also an independent publishing consultant with Heritage Makers. Visit her website atwww.shelleys-memory-books.com