Tag Archives: England

“EIGHT DAYS A WEEK”; Impressions of Ron Howard’s Beatles Film

I just saw the new Beatles film, “Eight Days a Week” and these are some of my impressions. I didn’t think I would actually like it that much. The Beatlemania years, frankly, don’t interest me as much as their more interesting Liverpool and Hamburg beginnings or their more creative period in the studio. The usual story is that, most of the time, they were just going through the motions, unable to hear themselves play, with all the screaming fans’ madness (especially near the end of their “Touring Years”, as the movie’s subtitle is called).

I thought director Ron (“Happy Days”) Howard might only cover the nice parts of Beatlemania. He does in the first half of the film and captures the pure energy of their early performances. He has assembled some not usually-seen footage and photos of their early concerts and appearances in Liverpool and Europe. These sometimes black and white images give it an almost old newsreel and historical feel. The film does seem primarily aimed at the North American market though.  There were only a couple Liverpool interviewees included in the theatre version, except for some trusted Beatles-insiders like roadie and later Apple director, Neil Aspinall (although I understand the later-to-be-released Deluxe 2 DVD version will  include more of these and lots more).

Howard also puts the Beatles Invasion into context with the tumultuous events the U.S.A. was going through in the mid-60’s with the Vietman War, Civil Rights demonstrations, and the assassination of JFK, which had only happened a few months before. The American people, especially its teenagers, were certainly ready for something to lift them out of their depression.  Along come these 4 English lads with the funny Liverpool accents and humor and it’s just the right medicine.  The Fab Four did so with its own version of the, ironically, America’s export, rock and roll, and the simple but catchy words and rhythms of their early original songs.  But what struck me again, upon seeing the film, is just how young and mainly female so many of their fans were.  For by this time, The Beatles themselves were already grown men in their early 20’s, playing to some only half their age.  Some of the most interesting and humorous moments for the movie audience, I was with anyway, was seeing again the complete hysteria they created in their fans (remember early attendees to their performances in the Cavern and Hamburg, evidently, didn’t originally scream).

But by ’66 and for most of the rest of the film, the whole atmosphere begins to change around The Beatles and they themselves could do little to contain it. Of course, there was the infamous “we’re more popular than Jesus” Lennon remark and the reaction it caused.  But it wasn’t only in America that they began to feel a backlash; there were death threats in Japan and, in the Philippines, they barely escaped when its First Lady Imelda Marcos felt snubbed. Howard has said in interviews promoting the film, that he didn’t want to go intodark corners.  But I have to give him credit for also not shying away from this part of their story too. For it seemed the once innocent teen hysteria had indeed turned into a far more dangerous form of madness. Howard includes excerpts from John and George’s recorded comments and also present day interviews with Paul and Ringo on both, the good and bad, aspects of this period.

The pall of these later more disturbing times toward the end of their touring years, which somewhat descends on the last half of the movie, is fortunately broken by his choice to also include their famous last public appearance on their Apple company’s rooftop in 1969.  What this reveals once again, is that even to the end (which they would also demonstrate on their last recorded album, Abbey Road) these were first and foremost musicians and original songwriters. Once they decided to finally get off the road because of the mounting pressures they were feeling, it would also allow them more time to spend in the studio and become more and more creative artists and not just entertainers.

Also shown in the movie theater after, was a half-hour film of their ’65 Shea Stadium concert. With improved color footage and remixed sound for this project by George Martin’s son, Gilles (although some in the particular theater I was in, said the sound wasn’t that good-but it may be fine in the movie and DVD itself), it shows just how good of performers they could be, even in often chaotic conditions. Ringo says that they really did try to always give their best-all four of them.  You can tell by their on-stage jokes that they are still having fun-most of the time. In the Shae Stadium show, Paul does one of his best, but perhaps underrated  rockers, “I’m Down”, with which they often ended their concerts, but for some reason was never released on a regular Beatles album(it was the B-side of the “Help” single).  John seems to be his old self, mugging and delivering gobbledigook asides and Paul is always the consummate showman. George is the musician, making sure he doesn’t miss a single guitar note and Ringo is driving the beat and shaking his hair. They alone were in the eye of the hurricane, but the film does seem to capture what it must have been like.  Howard’s title for his film is appropriate, for it really was “8 Days a Week.” As I said, the DVD will be released later this fall with some interesting extras.  But I would recommend, if you can, going to see this film still in the movie theater, and getting that feeling of enjoying it with other fans, which is what the best of Beatlemania was all about.

The Quarry men, July6, 1957: the day john Lennon met Paul McCartney



By Alan Chrisman

Paul McCartney met John Lennon for the 1st time on July 6, 1957. Lennon and his teenage skiffle band, The Quarrymen, were playing a Liverpool church social. After Paul’s friend introduced him to the band. The 15-year old McCartney was able to show John guitar chords (John had only learned banjo chords from his mother.) Later, the band discussed if they should let this new kid join. But it wasn’t until two weeks later when Pete Shotten, John’s best friend, and Quarryman, ran into McCartney on his bike and approached him. The way Len Garry (another original Quarryman who was at their original meeting and I met) described it to me: Paul replied, ”Well, all right”, and then just nonchalantly rode away. Neither John nor Paul wanted to admit to the other directly, they liked and needed each other. And that was the beginning of one of the most fruitful songwriting and musical partnerships in history and would go on to change popular music and  the whole culture.

The Quarrymen on truck in parade the fateful day John met Paul

The Quarrymen on truck in parade on fateful day John Met Paul

Paul MccArtney would later join and perform with John's teenage band, The Quarrymen

Paul McCartney would soon join and perform with John’s teenage band, The Quarrymen

Below:John & Paul both describe that day they met:

!963-'69, The Beatles created special funny messages for only their fan Club members



By Alan Chrisman, copyright. 

(Part of Xmas music series)

The Beatles recorded short Xmas messages especially for their Fan Club members. They were originally only available on flexi-discs and only in the U.K.  They were a mixture of skits, fractured holiday songs, and a few brief snippets of some original compositions.  Their statements were usually written by their press officer, Tony Barrow, but the boys would often make fun of the written script, and just mess around for their loyal fans, with the Beatles’ characteristic off-the-wall humour.

The first one was recorded in 1963 and the last one was in ’69.  They also used them to plug their latest single or album or film, but did so in a self-deprecating way, sometimes singing little parts of their latest songs, as well as made-up Xmas tunes.  In the 1965 message, they sing an off-key, “Yesterday” and in ’66, they sing a short original, “Everywhere It’s Christmas” and perform a Beatles’ pantomime skit. Tiny Tim sings “Nowhere Man” with a ukulele in 1968.  But by the final one in ‘69, with The Beatles basically falling apart, it was mainly John & Yoko, with Ringo promoting his Magic Christian film.  Most of the earlier years’ recordings weren’t available in the U.S., even to U.S. Fan Club members.

THe Beattles' early Xmas Fan Club messages were only released on flexi-discs

The original Beatles early ‘Xmas messages were only released on a flexi-disc to U.K. Fan Club members only

Finally in 1970, all the individual years’ messages were compiled on one vinyl record (From Then to You in the U.K. and called The Beatles’ Xmas Album in the U.S.) and other fans could finally get their own copy.  There were only a couple semi-completed original songs, such as “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” and “ Everywhere It’s Xmas”, from the 1966 and ‘67 messages, and “Christmas Time” was later added to the other side of the “Free as a Bird” single and was on The Beatles’ Anthology in ’95.  They were really just The Beatles having fun and using inventive word play and making up things in the studio, but well worth listening to, if you haven’t heard them, especially for the holidays.

THe Beatles Offical Fan ClubXmas messages finally released on LP in 1970

Finally, in 1970, The Beatles’ Fan Club in the U.K. compiled all the messages and released them all together on a regular vinyl LP

The Beatles doing, “Christmas Time (Is Here Again”), from Beatles’ Xmas message, 1967:



The Beatles doing, “Everywhere It’s Xmas”, from the 1966 message:


RINGO STARR 'acting naturally' in THE DAY film, 1973



By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

That’ll be the Day is a 1973 British film starring Ringo Starr and actor/singer David Essex (“Rock On”).  It takes place in England in the late 50’s and early 60’s and captures what it must have been like growing up there, right before The Beatles were to take over.  Ringo almost steals the movie, although Essex does strong acting too.

In fact, it’s partly based on the times of the early Liverpool days of the pre-Beatles and their teenage band, The Quarrymen.  Essex’s Jim MacLaine, the main character, is a cross between Paul McCartney and John Lennon.  Like Lennon, he comes from a fatherless home, but he manages to land a job at a sea-side Holiday camp, where British working-class families would escape to for their summer holidays. There, Essex, meets Ringo’s character, Mike, an old hand at working the carnival circuit, and takes the handsome, but innocent at first, Jim, under his wing and shows him the ropes, the scams, and how to pick up “birds”, in dealing with the crowds.

The whole movie just looks and feels authentic (it was shot partly on the Isle of Wight.)  Ringo especially, just fits the role, playing someone he could have actually been.  Before The Beatles, Ringo was in a band called Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and until The Beatles, they were the most popular band in Liverpool.  In fact, one of the characters, Stormy Tempest is a play on the name Rory Storm and is played by British singer Billy Fury and The Who’s Keith Moon  is also in the film.  Ringo actually played similar holiday camps when he was with Rory Storm.

The film was written by Ray Connolly, from Liverpool and later a London journalist, who knew The Beatles well and their story.  He would later write the respected book, John Lennon 1940-80.  As I said, his screenplay and the movie evokes the era and characters perfectly.   And Ringo especially, dressed up in his stove-pipe “drainies” and slicked back hair-do, looks and acts the part.  Essex expresses the growing ambition to become a rocker by the end of the picture.  The soundtrack is made up of some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs of the 50’s and early 60’s.

That’ll be The Day did so well in England, especially, that it led to a follow-up film in ’74 called Stardust.   Essex’s character, carries on to become the rock star he yearned to be in the first film, but he also gets caught up in its trappings.  Stardust, the sequel also has more British rock musicians playing roles in it, like Adam Faith and Dave Edmunds (but not Ringo).   David Essex, besides his big worldwide hit, “Rock On” in 1973 would go on to remain popular in the U.K., both as a singer and actor.

That’ll be the Day and Stardust are considered by some to be among the best films about the dream to become a rocker and especially that fertile time in pop music, when The Beatles were about to shake up the world.  

I recommend you seeing these films, if you haven’t.

See Ringo & David Essex in That’ll Be the Day film, 1973:


POster for film,

POSTER FOR “THAT’LL BE THE DAY” film with Ringo and David Essex, 1973

David Essex's worldwide hit,

David Essex ‘s worldwide hit, “Rock On”, 1973

Poster for STARDUST, 1974 sequel to

STARDUST, 1974,sequel to “That’ll be The Day” film, with David Essex, Keith Moon, Dave Edmunds

Photo from, STARDUST, w/David Essex, dave Edmunds, Keith Moon

Photo from STARDUST band, David Essex, Dave Edmunds, Keith Moon

PREFAB FOUR, fake Beatles band with imposter McCartney, "D"



By Alan Chrisman copyright.

By Prof. Alan L. Chrisman, Beatles’ Archivist, PHD in Rock ’n’ Roll Studies

In October 1969, a rumor went around the world that Paul McCartney had died and been replaced by an impostor.  Despite the presence of certain “clues” at the time, which have not all been fully explained, it has been dismissed since, by many scholars as an example of mass hysteria. I actually was in on its early beginnings and have written extensively about it (see my previous academic paper: Inside Story: “The Paul is Dead Rumor and its sociological Implications).

But I have just learned, after all this time and years of study, that there may have been truth to it, because I recently actually met the Paul McCartney impostor and interviewed him with the real story, which is being revealed here, exclusively, for the first time. The impostor, who didn’t want his real name revealed, goes by the initial, “D”.

And what a story “D” has to tell!  He maintains that yes, McCartney, was killed in a car crash in 1966.   But the Beatles’ management and record company, at the time, did not want to have The Beatles’ career and commercial power to be threatened.  A look-alike contest was held in England for all four Beatles in late 1966 (this has been confirmed from newspapers of the time), but The Beatles’ management had said this had been only for a publicity stunt.  But “D” maintains, that it was, in fact, a cover so the new replacement for McCartney would not be suspicious.

“D” says, they were able to keep the truth hidden for a long time, but The Beatles themselves, became tired of the cover-up and secretly began to hide “clues” in their songs and albums, starting with Sgt. Peppers in 1967.  John Lennon, especially, never a lover of the corporate establishment that actually controlled them, hated having to deceive their loyal fans.  Finally, in late ’69, enough discerning fans had picked up on the hidden clues that the corporate controllers had to respond to what had now become a world-wide phenomenon they couldn’t ignore.  The record company and its backers hired the best PR men to answer the mounting controversy.  “D” maintains that the other Beatles, were now even under personal threat by the British intelligence agency, MI 5 (The Beatles were one of Britain’s chief commercial assets), if they revealed the truth.  The PR men scrambled to nip the rumors in the bud.  And “D” was given a million dollars, himself, to keep quiet.  “D” says the famous cover of Life Magazine, Nov. 7, 1969, with McCartney on the cover at his farm in Scotland, where McCartney said, quoting Mark Twain, “my death is greatly exaggerated” (curiously McCartney never directly denied the rumors)  was actually “D” posing as McCartney.

So why is “D’ finally coming clean after all these years? Well, it’s haunted him all this time and he sees that The Beatles are just as popular and with even new generations, now a half century later and he feels with two of the Beatles, John and George gone, he can finally reveal the truth and get it off his conscience while he is still alive.

What is even more amazing is that ”D” was actually in a band, a few years after the Beatles break-up in 1970, and he and his bandmates had some commercial success, under a different name, but Beatles’ fans at the time didn’t know it, under their cover name.  “D” says that this Beatles’ cover band actually released an album in 1978.  But that Beatles’ fans didn’t suspect anything because they posed as a satire cover band, thus hiding their real purpose.  In fact, the remaining Beatles, still fed up with what had happened to them, purposely broke up in in ’70 and secretly supported this new band, especially George and John.

And the other bombshell about this whole mystery is that this secret new Beatles’ cover band, continued to put their own clues in their own songs and records, for years to come, but nobody caught on, instead laughing at the satire, and missing the hidden clues.

For the first time, after all these many years, the real truth can finally be exposed. Here exclusively for the first time anywhere, “D” is revealing his real identity and the band’s and some of their clues. Finally, Beatles’ fans and scholars will learn the whole story.  Included in this article is the band’s rare and now collectors’ album of 1978 and people can look for the clues themselves, and which substantiates everything  “ D”  has said.

McCartney imposter,

Rare 1978 album by fake Beatles band with McCartney impostor, ” D”, with several clues listed below:

Collage of McCartney impostor,

Collage of albums by McCartney impostor”D”s satire cover band (and mystery band’s actual name, if you look hard you can see name and clues).

Mystery Beatles band 's name finally revealed , Sgt. Rutles Dart's Club Band with impostor

The mystery band to the “Paul is Dead” rumor finally revealed. with impostor” D”:  SGT. RUTLES!

Life Magazine, Nov.7, 1969, with McCartney lookalike,

Paul McCartney says his death “greatly exaggerated”, LIfe Magazine, Nov., 1969 (but some say there could have been a double?)

Just some of the many clues:

Cover of their 1978 album: 

“Meet The” picture on the top of the cover with four heads: Paul (“D”), one farthest to left: has Spock-like ears, meaning the real Paul has left Earth.

Sgt. Darts’s Club Band Cover:  Paul (“D”) has a fake moustache and is holding a clarinet (the real Paul’s father was in a dance band, thus a secret message to Paul’s father).

“History Tour” cover: Paul (“D’) is the “PIG” (we thought it was George, because of Harrison’s song, “Piggies”, on the White Album.

“Let It Riot” cover:  George (right lower picture) looks more like Attila the Hun, which means The Beatles’ corporate controllers (and coverers-up of the truth are barbarians).

Songs with hidden clues from their 1978 album:

“Cheese and Onions”- Paul’s favorite food.  “D” said he had to eat them for years to keep up the charade.  One wife left him because of their smell on his breath.

“Ouch” when spelled backwards is “hcuo”, which means death in Mexican.

“Lets be Natural” originally a John Lennon song stolen by “D’ , one night in the studio- on  which, if you listen carefully, you can hear Yoko breathing, clue that Paul no longer can.

“Number One” in which it’s exposed that the record company was willing to go to any lengths to have  another Beatles’ “Number One”,  even if they had to use a fake McCartney and kept it from their fans.

So the irrefutable proof is finally provided by the very imposter himself, ”D”!

If you can somehow get your hands on this rare album from 1978, you can actually find the full name of  “D” on the inside cover, where “D” is shown, third from the left, holding a fake Paul McCartney Hofner bass guitar(another fake- another clue). The other members of this mysterious band are also listed with their own real names: Ron Nasty, Stig O’Hara, and Barrington Womble.

So Beatles fans, the clues and truth have been there right before our eyes and ears since 1978!  This band would go on to make occasional appearances, release movies (they made a film in1978 too, All You Need Is Cash (another clue to the greedy record company’s motive behind all this).  In 1996, this band also released Archaeology, (once again a clue that there were buried secrets), timed with the massively popular Beatles’ Anthologies.

So the clues were always there and now, we as fans, have no more excuses to ignore them any longer.  Check them out yourselves and tell your friends.

In this modern era of social media, the truth can no longer be repressed-spread the word!  It’s what The Beatles had been secretly telling us all along and this band had been hinting at too, but this time the powers that be, can’t dismiss us as a bunch on rumour mongers or put it down to mass hysteria.

Rise up and Come Together!

“D” still doesn’t want his real name revealed, he’s somewhat-retired now and living on an island off of Iceland, but I hear he still occasionally posts on the internet under an assumed name, “Eric the Read”.  The irony is that, ”D” ( “E”), is still one of The Beatles’ biggest fans and still remembers them very fondly.  And in a strange way, he’s glad to have been a part of their amazing story.

See Beatles’ Impostor “D”s band below doing their : “Get UP and Go” from their record company, Banana’s, roof:




ERIC IDLE’S  REPLY: (Monty Python member & Beatles/George Harrison friend)-reply to A. Chrisman’s article, “Paul is Dead” Rumor:

“That was damn good! You have very intelligent wit going on all in it. Really good.”

Nov. 10, 2014

The Zombies had haunting 60's hits: Season of the Wich", She's Not There", Tell Her No"



By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

THE ZOMBIES were a British group who had several hits during The British Invasion of the ‘60’s:  “Time of the Season”, “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No”. They had a very haunting organ/keyboard sound, played by leader and songwriter, Rod Argent, with breathy

THe Zombies' classic 1968 album, Odyssey & Oracle

The Zombies’ 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle, was underappreciated at the time, now considered a classic.

vocals by Colin Blunstone, a kind of more jazzy feel more than traditional British rock. They had their first hit, “She’s Not There”, in 1964 and followed up with “Tell Her No” in ’65. Their first British album, Begin Here, contained those, plus some R&B covers.

But it wasn’t until they recorded their 2nd album, Odessy and Oracle, that they finally had another big hit with “Time of the Season”.  Actually, the album wasn’t popular at first, until Al Kooper (keyboard player on Dylan’s Hiway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, founder of Blood, Sweat & Tears, and session player on many other albums), put pressure on their record company, Columbia, that it was finally released in the States in ’69 and the song became a #3 hit.  The Zombies had recorded Odessey and Oracle at Abbey Road studio and had used a Studor four-track recorder, similar to the one used on The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers, and like them, had used a Mellotron and cello.  As I say, the album didn’t sell well, but it’s now considered one of the best albums released in the 60’s with its psychedelic production (it’s ranked # 100 out of the top 500 albums of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine).

By but by this time, The Zombies had broken up.   Leader, Rod Argent, would go on to co-write songs with former Zombies bassist, Chris White, with vocals by Russ Ballard, in his new band, Argent, again with that strong keyboard sound on a Hammond B3 organ and have a big hit, “ Hold Your Head Up” on their album, All Together Now, in 1972.  The song would also be a hit for the band, 20/Twenty in 1987.

So the Zombies were an interesting band with their haunting, jazz-tinged minor key organ backing and captivating vocals and songs. Their underappreciated 2nd album, Odessey and Oracle, is now considered a classic; they can “Hold Their Head Up”.

See The Zombies’ “Time of the Season”, Jimmy Fallon Show, 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjf8F3v18DY

LONG JOHN BALDRY"S Classic album, "It Ain't Easy", Produced by Rod Stewart & Elton John


(This is part of a series of blogs I’ve been doing on some of the groups and on some of the perhaps lesser-known songwriters and players behind some of rock’s classic artists and songs. So far: Tony Joe White, Harry Nilsson, Glen Campbell, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Johnny Rivers, The Rascals, Rick Nelson, Del Shannon, Badfinger, Bob Marley, etc.)


By Alan Chrisman bY ALAN CHRISMAN, copyright.

Long John Baldry was one of the first to sing blues in British clubs. His bands contained many musicians who would go on to great success; he discovered Rod Stewart and Elton John is named after him. Baldry was 6’7”, and thus his nickname, was  “Long John”.   In the early 60’s, while singing with Alex Korner’s Blues Incorporated, they recorded the 1st English blues album”, Live at The Marquee, at the club where the future Rolling Stones and Cream’s, Jack Bruce, were some of the musicians sharing the stage with him.

In 63’, he was with the Cyril Davis All Stars, which included pianist, Nicky Hopkins, who would later play on Stones’ and Beatles’ albums. Baldry had befriended the Beatles at the Cavern and appeared on their 1964 TV special, Around the Beatles.

Baldry discovered Rod Stewart, one night busking at a train stop after one of Baldry’s shows, and made him part of his band, The Hoochie Coochie Men. He creates an almost-7 minute opus song about this, “Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie on The King of Rock ’n ’Roll”, for his album, It Ain’t Easy.  In 1965, the band became known as Steampacket, with Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger (later to form Trinity).  Also in the band was a piano player named Reg Dwight, who changed his name to Elton John, after “Long John” and after Elton Dean (later of Soft Machine) who was in it too. The It Ain’t Easy album, in 1971, was produced, one side each, by Rod Stewart and Elton John, and is a real classic blues-rock record, with Ron Wood, Doris Troy and Madeline Bell also on it.  Stewart and Elton John would also co-produce Baldry’s album, Everything Stops for Tea in ’72.

Baldry had a big hit in England with “Let the Heartaches Begin” in ‘67. The Elton John song “ Somebody Saved my Life Today” was about when Elton almost tried to commit suicide, after his failed relationship with a woman, and Baldry had helped talk him out of it(them both coming to grips with being gay), at a time when in England it was still illegal. Baldry was also supposedly the last person to see Marc Bolan of T-Rex alive, before he was killed in an accident in 1977.

In 1968, Long John Baldry moved to Vancouver and became a Canadian citizen. He continued to put out Canadian Juno Award-winning albums and toured and did voice/acting roles. He had another hit with in 1979 with American vocalist, Kathi McDonald, with a re-make of the Righteous Bros., “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”.  Baldry died in Vancouver in 1995 at the age of 64.

But he left behind a record of being one of the very first to do blues on the British scene and he had a big influence on a whole generation of later well-known English musicians and recorded some classic songs like his signature, ”Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie on The King of Rock ’n’ Roll”.

In that sense, as a bandleader, he was like another adopted-Canadian, Ronnie Hawkins from Arkansas, who discovered and trained the Hawks (who would later be known as Dylan’s The Band) and also The Sparrows (later Steppenwolf), and several others. Leaders, like Baldry and Hawkins, didn’t always achieve the fame of their once-recruits, but they recognized their potential talents and nurtured them.