Tag Archives: Pete Best

A TRIBUTE TO STU SUTCLIFFE: THE LOST BEATLE by Alan Chrisman

Stuart Sutcliffe was born on June 23, 1940.  He was one of the original 5 Beatles who went to Hamburg and was John Lennon’s close friend and a big artistic influence. There have been many myths built up over the years about Stu’s bass playing, as with Pete Best’s drumming, that they both weren’t that good and that’s one of the main reasons Stu left and Pete was later let go. But several Liverpool people who knew them and witnessed their playing, dispute these myths (including Bill Harry, Editor of Mersey Beat Newspaper, and who had introduced John to Stu at their Liverpool art school). Bill Harry says “the photo floating around in which Stu’s back is turned to the audience was taken during a tune up session. It’s pointed out that none of the Beatles were accomplished musicians at that time, that George Harrison wrote Stu after he left asking him to ‘please come back’, It is suggested that he actually was a good bass player, certainly not bad, and his reason for leaving the band was something other than his musical abilities.”  They and others have also said that there was competition between Paul and Stu for John’s friendship.  Pete Best says: “When we came back from Germany I was playing using my bass drum very loud and laying down a very solid beat. This was unheard of at the time in Liverpool as all the groups were playing the Shadows’ style. Even Ringo in Rory Storm’s group copied our beat and it wasn’t long before most drummers in Liverpool were playing the same style. This way of drumming had a great deal to do with the big sound we were producing.” This beat was referred to as “The Atom Beat”.  Pete was actually the most popular Beatle in Liverpool and called, “ Mean, Moody, Magnificent” Pete and when they played the Cavern with new drummer , Ringo, George got a black eye from some of the fans. Cynthia Lennon told me she  thought Pete just couldn’t compete with John and Paul’s egos: he was too nice. 

Stu was also a talented painter who left The Beatles right before their success to pursue art and stay with his German girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr. .Astrid, an art student and photographer, would also have a huge effect on The Beatles who posed for her iconic black and white photos and encouraged them to change to their later famous Beatles haircuts and helped create their whole image.  Stu would die soon after of a brain hemorrhage at only age 21.

I was fortunate to meet Stu sister, Pauline and to see some of Stu’s paintings and artwork at an exhibit in Toronto in ’95. I had actually talked on the phone to her before that, because when I met Cynthia Lennon and May Pang at the Conn. Beatles Convention the year before, when I returned there was a call from her (I assume Cynthia. had given her my number, because I had mentioned to her that I planned to put on my own more artistic Beatles Conventions), which I did.  I was also to meet several from their beginnings including one of the Quarrymen, who was there the day John met Paul on July 6, 1957, Allan Williams who had sent them to Hamburg, Tony Sheridan, who they backed up in Germany and first recorded with, Pete Best who was guest at my 1st Convention, Louise Harrison, George’s sister, guest at my 2nd. B. Wooler Epstein’s assistant, and others. When I met these and others who were there, since I was especially interested in this period, I would ask their opinions on these and other Beatles’ stories.  Pauline Sutcliffe would also co-write the book, Backbeat, which was the basis for the film of the same name, which told of their fascinating time in Hamburg and Stu’s short but productive life. Stu would pass away on April, 10, 1962. Ironically, The Beatles would officially break-up on April, 10, 1970, exactly 8 years later to the day.

“BACKBEAT FILM: HAMBURG BEATLES & INSIDE STORIES.” : https://beatlely.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/backbeat-film-hamburg-beatles-inside-stories/

Below documentary on Stu Sutcliffe: Including interviews with Pauline Sutcliffe, Tony Sheridan, Rod Murray, Allan Williams, etc.:

 

 

Stu Sutcliffe one of the original % Beatles in Hamburd and a promising painter.

Stu Sutcliffe was one of the 5 original Beatles in Hamburg

Neil Aspinall was one of The Beatles' longest and most trusted friends and laster head of their Apple Corp.

Tribute To Neil Aspinall: The Beatles’ Guardian Angel

Tribute to Neil Aspinall: The Beatles’ Guardian Angel

 By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them.)

This is in tribute to Neil Aspinall who died on Mar. 24, 2008.  No one was more trusted by The Beatles than Neil Aspinall.  He was the manager of their Apple Records for 30 years after Brian Epstein and Allan Klein. He had started out in Liverpool at their very beginnings, driving them around in his van to their early shows and was their road manager.  He had been in the same class as Paul McCartney and knew George Harrison at Liverpool Institute and met John Lennon attending his first term at the Liverpool College of Art next door.

He became very good friends with Pete Best, original Beatles’ drummer and stayed at his house, where the Beatles first played Pete’s mother’s club, The Casbah, before The Cavern.  And when The Beatles replaced Best with Ringo, Pete advised him to continue working with The Beatles, despite their close friendship.

Neil Aspinall's van with original Beatles, including his friend, Pete Best

Neil Aspinall’s van which he drove early Beatles to shows with original Beatles, including his friend, Pete Best

Aspinall traveled with them to America and when George became sick, he stood in for him at rehearsals for the Ed Sullivan Show.  He would also accompany them to promote the founding of their Apple Corp. in 1968. It was his idea to have a Sgt. Pepper as the narrator of their land-breaking album.  He also participated in  the recording of “For The Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “Within You, Without You”, on “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Yellow Submarine.”

Neil Aspinall’s Van in which he drove early Beatles (including above, Pete Best) to their shows, outside The Cavern.

But his main role besides being their personal assistant along with Mal Evans, was their confidant and protector.  When Klein tried to “clean house” to save money at Apple and even let go of Aspinall, all the Beatles came to his rescue.  After Klein and The Beatles parted ways, Aspinall, who was trained as an accountant, was asked by them to take over the running of Apple.  Even during this period when The Beatles had split up and were suing each other, he was always able to maintain an impartiality with each of them, which couldn’t have been easy at times.  He would be instrumental in fighting for several lawsuits for them against Apple Computers and their EMI Record Company.

It was Neil Aspinall’s idea for the later very successful Beatles’ Anthologies in the early 90’s.  He had started working on compiling their official history as early as 1970 under the original title, “The Long and Winding Road.”

Although he had many lucrative offers to reveal inside secrets about The Beatles, he never did, maintaining their loyalty and trust until his death of lung cancer in 2008 (like George Harrison, whom he had first met sharing smokes behind a schoolyard shed).

A couple things which some people may not know:  While Neil Aspinall was staying at Pete Best’s place, the 19 year-old had a relationship with Pete’s mother, who ran The Casbah.  The result was the birth of Roag Best, Pete’s half-brother .  Pete and his brother, Roag, were musical guests at 1st. first Ottawa Beatles Convention which I organized in 1995.  It was there where I learned of this, for a long time, little-known connection between the two and this was during the release of the 1st Beatles Anthology.  By the next year, when Pete came back to play during my second Convention week, Pete had become a millionaire “overnight” (30 years having been dismissed by The Beatles, with no explanation), because he was on several songs on the Anthology. I’ve always wondered if Neil Aspinall hadn’t had something to do with Pete finally getting his due, since it had been his idea, as I said, for The Anthologies. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit, as Aspinall seemed to always strive for fairness for everyone.

Pete Best Band, including Pete's half-brother, Roag( and Neil Aspinall's son), guest at 1st Ottawa Beatles Convention

Pete Best Band, including Pete’s half-brother, Roag, (and Neil Aspinall’s son)

Pete Best Band (Including Neil Aspinall’s son and Pete’s half-brother, Roag, left) were  musical guests at the 1st Ottawa Beatles Convention.

Another interesting story is that my friend, Yury Pelyushonok, actually got to know Neil Aspinall a bit.  Neil had taken a liking to my Russ. Cdn. friend, Yury Pelyushonok and Yury’s book, Strings for A Beatle Bass, about how The Beatles helped bring down communism and Yury had been to see Aspinall in London at Apple headquarters a few times. This is an excerpt from my previous blog about how that originally came about:  “Yury was going to London, in April, 2000, and I suggested he leave a copy of his book with the Beatles’ manager, Neil Aspinall (the BBC lady had given me his contact at the Connecticut convention in’94, because I had alerted her about a dealer that was trying to sell a rare BBC film, which she got back).  Yury did leave a book there and upon returning, he called me one morning and said he’d had a dream, that Neil Aspinall had called me.  I’d always wanted to meet Aspinall because he had been there since the beginning and was their closest confidant.  And the very next day Yury calls me back and says, “Guess who just called?” I said “Who?”  He says, “Paul McCartney’s personal assistant, Geoff Baker!”

The Beatles’ record company, Apple, would also later call back for more copies for George and Ringo.  Yury went back to the Beatles’ headquarters a couple more times to discuss the possibility they would publish his book.  Neil Aspinall told him in advance that Paul McCartney was to play in Red Square in May, 2003; it was to be a world event.  Yury had taken a lot of flak for suggesting that the Beatles could have helped bring down Communism.   But Yury was interviewed in N.Y. on ABC- TV “BEATLES REVOLUTION” in 2000 with several celebrities  who agreed,  including Czech  director Milos Forman and Keith Richards (“What brought it down, in the end,  was blues jeans and Rock N’ Roll”).  And there was soon to be growing evidence that what Yury had first said, was indeed true.

Yury Pelyushonok's book,

Yury Pelyushonok’s book, ” Strings For A Beatle Bass’, about how Beatles helped bring down communism

Yury Pelyushonok’s book above, about how Beatles helped bring down communism.

Yury’s book and experiences were to partly inspire BBC film director, Leslie Woodhead’s film, HOW THE BEATLES ROCKED THE KREMLIN  Finally in 2009, the film was completed and shown on PBS in the States and CBC in Canada, in conjunction with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89.  The film and idea got write-ups in the L.A. Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, etc.  Yury was interviewed again by the Ottawa Citizen.  And the film has since been repeated several times on both PBS and the CBC.  In 2013, Mr. Woodhead released a book of the same title, chronicling the making of his film, including a whole chapter on Yury and the visit to Ottawa in 2007 (including about the day we shot the video and both Tony Copple of The Ottawa Beatles Site and I, are described in it) to film an interview with Yury and the video shooting of his song, “Yeah Yeah Virus”. It is used as a theme throughout the film.  Yury had also told me about a call he received from Aspinall around the time of the premiere of The Beatles’ Love show and by Cirque du Soleil in 2006.  Aspinall put on the phone briefly an oriental woman (Yoko?), as Aspinall was still working on helping Yury get his book known up until close to his death.  As I said, he seemed to have taken a liking to my friend, Yury, and that was the kind of gentleman, Aspinall was.

My friend, Yury with Neil Aspinall at Beatles headquarters, London

My friend, Yury with Neil Aspinall at Beatles’ Apple Corp. , London

It was my friend, Yury, above with Neil Aspinall at The Beatles’ Apple Corp. London, which first described him as The Beatles’ earthly Guardian Angel.

Below video of those special few, including Neil Aspinall, who helped The Beatles, behind the scenes:

https://youtu.be/pBh47-WOk3Q

Tony Sheridan was big influence on early Beatles in Hamburg, Germany

TONY SHERIDAN: BEATLES’ HAMBURG INFLUENCE

Tony Sheridan: Beatles’ Hamburg Influence 

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

Tony Sheridan, who influenced The first Beatles in Hamburg, Germany  died on Feb. 16, 2013.  When the original Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best) first arrived in Hamburg in 1960, the most popular entertainer there was Tony Sheridan. He had a big musical and performing influence on them, and on George especially, with his guitar playing. George says Hamburg is where The Beatles learned to become The Beatles.

Sheridan was one of the first English musicians to go to  Germany, after showing promise as a guitarist backing several visiting American 50’s rock ‘n rollers to the U.K. like Gene Vincent (“Be Bop a Lula”) and Eddie Cochran (“Summertime Blues”). In fact, he just missed being in the car accident that killed Cochrane and seriously injured Vincent.  Sheridan was already performing at the Indra club in Hamburg when the still very young Beatles were sent there by their first Liverpool club owner/manager, Allan Williams in 1960.  And when the Beatles (this time with John’s friend, Stu Sutcliffe, on bass) returned to Hamburg for their second trip, they were moved to Kaiserkeller, the second club owned by the same German owner. The Beatles became even closer to Sheridan who was also performing there.  They would often share sets and back-up each other up on stage.

Tony Sheridan with John & Paul in Hamburg

Tony Sheridan with John & George in Hamburg

Tony Sheridan and original Hamburg Beatles

Tony Sheridan with original Hamburg Beatles

Sheridan was approached by Polydor Records producer, Bert Kaempfert, to record some songs from his set. This became the Beatles’ first real recordings, although they were mainly his back-up band for them and they were called the Beat Brothers. With Sheridan, they recorded “My Bonnie” and “The Saints” (Go Marching In) which became a #5 hit for Sheridan in Germany.  The Beatles themselves also recorded though, two songs, “Ain’t She Sweet”, with John on vocals and an early Lennon-Harrison instrumental, “Cry for a Shadow.” But their experience in playing with Sheridan was important in their development as performers and in being in a professional recording studio for the first time.

And according to legend anyway, these songs were the ones that first brought The Beatles to their later manager, Brian Epstein’s attention, when a customer came into his NEM’s Record Store in Liverpool and requested the recordings from this German group, The Beatles.

Tony Sheridan Cover Tony Sheridan back sleeve-sleeve-B

When The Beatles reached fame, Sheridan still continued on playing and recording in Germany. But he moved increasingly away from the early rock ’n’ roll music he had first done and more towards jazz and blues influences, deciding to remain out of the limelight, which his former students were now in.

In the late 60’s, he went to Vietnam and entertained the troops there. In the 80’s, Tony Sheridan came to Ottawa, Canada and played a small club called the Dill Pickle and I still have a poster from that event. Later I met an Ottawa musician, Joe Sunsari, who was Sheridan’s manager at the time and he let me read an advanced copy of an interesting biography of Sheridan he had written called, “Nobody’s Child”: The Tony Sheridan Story.”  But again, Sheridan shunned publicity and it was, as far as I know, never published. Also as I’ve said before, I’ve met Allan Williams, the man who had sent the early Beatles to Hamburg. And I met the sister Pauline, of Stu Sutcliffe, an original Beatle and promising painter, who would die of a brain hemorrhage shortly before The Beatles became known.  Pauline, co-authored the book on which the movie Backbeat, which tells the story of their Hamburg Days is based. And Pete Best, original Beatles’ drummer, was a guest at my first Ottawa Beatles Convention I organized in ‘95. All of the above played important roles in the fascinating Beatles’ saga.

Tony Sheridan with The Beatles ( Beat Bros.) backing, “My Bonnie”, 1961:

http://youtu.be/IgkAgyQgEH4

Original Hamburg Beatles: John, Paul, George, Pete Best, Stu Sutcliffe

BACKBEAT FILM: HAMBURG BEATLES & INSIDE STORIES

BACKBEAT FILM: BEATLES IN HAMBURG & INSIDE STORIES

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).

BACKBEAT is a film that tells the story of The Beatles first playing in Hamburg Germany, in the early 60’s, before they were well-known. But until the film came out in 1993, the general public didn’t know that much about this crucial period in their development. George Harrison said Hamburg was where they learned to become a band.

The Beatles were first sent there by Allan Williams, owner of what was basically a strip club, where the early Beatles first played in Liverpool, before they became regulars at the Cavern and met manager, Brian Epstein. The Beatles, at that time, consisted of besides John, Paul, and George, drummer Pete Best (whose mother, Mona, also owned one of the first places they played, The Casbah in the basement of her house), and John’s close friend, Stu Sutcliffe, on bass.

While in Hamburg The Beatles performed in seedy bars in the “sin” part of  Hamburg, with prostitutes and drugs all around them. They lived in squalid conditions, once even in a tiny room behind a movie screen.  They played for hours and hours a night, with few breaks, speeded-up on pep pills, to keep up the grueling schedule.

Thus, this is a far cry from the later image of The Beatles as the clean-cut pop group in tailored suits which Brian Epstein would present to the world and for Beatlemania.

And this is the story that BACKBEAT, the film, reveals.  But it is also a love story. Because The Beatles were to meet in one of those sleazy bars one night, some  German arts students, especially Astrid Kirchherr.   Astrid and her friends were in a group of art students who called themselves “Exi’s” (existentialists). They dressed in black and copied the then unusual French swept-forward hair style. These German arts students were to have a profound effect on the still quite-young and impressionable Beatles.  Astrid took the first artistic, black and white photos of the Beatles.  And it was her that first convinced Stu and then the others to try out this new hairstyle, which would later be called the distinctive Beatles haircut.

Stu, a talented, promising painter and big artistic influence on John, fell in love with Astrid, and decided to leave the band.  He wasn’t very good on bass anyway and would often attempt to play, with his back to the audience; his main asset to the band being his cool James Dean look, with his dark sunglasses.

The film, BackBeat, tells these two stories then, the creative beginnings of The Beatles and the poignant love story between Stu and Astrid.  Poignant even more because their romance was tragically short-lived because Stu was to die shortly after, of a brain hemorrhage,  at the age of only 21 in 1960.   When Stu left the band it also necessitated McCartney moving over to bass, which would have a deep effect on The Beatles’ music with his melodic bass lines. The Beatles would soon after be discovered by Brian Epstein at the Cavern and the rest is history

But I’ve always thought this is the real story of The Beatles and BACKBEAT does a pretty good job of telling it.  It’s a bit stereotyped with John as the angry, sarcastic one and Paul the more people-pleasing pop singer (McCartney disputed that he wasn’t shown much as an also-rocker).  But Paul said he was astonished by the portrayal of Stu by actor Stephen Dorff.  The actress, Sheryl Lee, who portrays Astrid, looks like and captures the artistic photographer perfectly.  The director, Ian Softley, spent ten years interviewing Astrid and several others (Astrid was a consultant on the film), before he finally got it made.  Interestingly, real Beatles’ recordings weren’t used on the soundtrack, but instead several well-respected musicians, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, etc., from alternative bands were used to re-create Beatles songs and it works. The movie captures the hyped-up energy and stamina required the forming Beatles learned in those trying circumstances, which would come in handy later for their screaming Beatlemania touring days.

As I said, I’ve always been most fascinated especially, with this early period of The Beatles. And I was to fortunately later meet several who were there at their beginnings.  For example I was with George Harrison’s sister, Louise, when she actually saw BACKBEAT film, for the first time. She was a guest at the 2nd Ottawa, Canada Beatles’ Convention I organized in ‘96.  I remember her saying as she sat next to me at the screening, “George would never have cussed like that”.  But of course,The Beatles did a lot more than cuss in Hamburg.  They were even “adopted” by some of the prostitutes and protected by some of the tough bouncers in the bars, where often thugs in the drunken audiences carried weapons.  As I say, a far cry from the cuddy Beatles-image later created.

I mentioned before in my recent blog (“Little-known Last Lennon and McCartney Recording Session in ’74) which  May Pang, Lennon’s girlfriend in L.A., recently revealed, that I met May and Cynthia Lennon as well as Paul McCartney’s step-mom at the Conn. Beatles Convention in ’94.

Well shortly after I returned from there, I received a call from Pauline Sutcliffe, sister of Stuart Sutcliffe, original Hamburg Beatle and painter and John’s friend,  described in the Backbeat film.  I’m not sure how she got my number, but suspect that it was given to her by Cynthia Lennon, whom I had just met at the Convention in ’94.  For there, I had presented Cynthia with what was then only a school fantasy-project for a proposal to put on a possibly more-artistic Beatles Convention.  Cynthia, an artist herself, evidently liked the idea and perhaps mentioned it to her friend, Pauline.   Anyway, I had hoped to bring some of Stu’s paintings over to Canada as part of our now hoped for 1st Ottawa Beatles Convention but alas, wasn’t able to because of insurance reasons.  But a few months later I found out, there would be an exhibition of Stu’s paintings at a gallery in Toronto. I arrived at the exhibit early and no one was there yet, when a woman came over and offered me a tea. This turned out to be Pauline Sutcliffe, the English woman I had talked to on the phone a few months earlier. She was kind and showed me some of Stu’s magnificent mainly-abstract paintings.  I also discovered some rare Beatles’ photos tucked away around the corner.

We did do our first Ottawa Beatles Convention in 1995, although I had hoped to have Cynthia as a guest, she couldn’t come, and we got original Beatles’ drummer, Pete Best.  He had been with them for two years in Hamburg and Liverpool, before being replaced by Ringo, who was also playing in Hamburg as part of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.  In fact, in keeping with Pete Best and his Liverpool band, as guests, we called our first Beatles’ Convention, “Cavern Days”.  Our poster for it featured a collage of images from photographer, Astrid Kirchherr of the original Hamburg Beatles, with Pete, and Stu Sutcliffe and even of Astrid.  I later wrote to Astrid in Germany and received a special signed postcard from her agent.

And in 1996, I was to meet some more from this period and the Beatles’ beginnings. I attended a Beatles’ dealer’s get-together in southern Ontario. The guests there included Allan Williams, the Beatles first “manager”, who had first booked them into Hamburg.  Williams had written one of the best books on the early Beatles books in 1975, The Man Who Gave Away the Beatles, called that because The Beatles, once in Germany, stiffed Williams of his booking fees and he dropped them.  Williams had advised future manager, Brian Epstein, “not to touch them with a F’ ing 10 foot barge pole!”

Williams was a real character, full of raunchy stories of the Beatles. In fact, he held up Paul McCartney’s actual leather pants (he said he had gotten from one of the other Liverpool groups as supposedly Paul had just left them at the Cavern) which Epstein had gotten them to change out of into the suits. He said he wanted to sell back to McCartney for $10,000!  That’s the kind of character he was:  I liked him and he signed my copy of his book.  With Williams was Beryl Wooler, Epstein’s assistant at his Liverpool record store, Nems, and later married to Bob Wooler, the Cavern D.J. who was one of their early supporters.   At that same get-together was a member of Lennon’s early Liverpool teenaged band, The Quarrymen, Len Garry.  He was very friendly and told of the story of the fated day John Lennon met Paul McCartney at a Liverpool church,  July 6, 1957. Garry knows because he was there.

He also described both Lennon and McCartney’s characters, when he said, Lennon didn’t want to share band leadership with Paul, but knew he needed him because Paul knew more chords and songs, but Lennon didn’t want to admit it.  Later, he had his childhood friend, Pete Shotten, approach McCartney.  And the way, Garry told it, the next time Shotten ran into Paul, he asked him to join the fledgling band, and Paul just nonchalantly replied, “OK”.  Also a part of that early Lennon-McCartney connection was that they had both lost their mothers as teens around the same time.  Lennon wrote about it for years after in several of his songs, but McCartney rarely did, except she’s the “ Mother Mary” in “Let It Be”, again revealing of their different characters.  Shotten, by the way, also wrote one of the best Beatles’ books, The Beatles, John Lennon and Me in ’84.  Pauline Sutcliffe with Alan Clayson, wrote Backbeat, Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle in ’94.

Pauline and Astrid both approved of the Backbeat film and I also recommend you seeing it and read the above books, from people who actually were there at the Beatles’ beginnings and I was privileged to meet several of them and hear their personal stories first hand.

 

HAMBURG BEATLES AND “STU MEETS ASTRID”, BACKBEAT FILM, 1993:

 

http://youtu.be/JhJBk9YNhwo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhJBk9YNhwo

Photographer& designer Beatles' haircut, Astrid Kirchherr, Stu Sutcliffe

Self-portrait: Photographer, Astrid Kirchherr & Stu Sutcliffe

1st Ottawa Beatles Convention poster with Astrid Kirchherr's Hamburg Beatles' images

Poster from 1st Ottawa Beatles’ Convention, using Astrid Kirchherr’s images of original Hamburg Beatles

Pauline Sutcliffes signed card from brother Stu's painting exhibit , Toronto & Astrid Kirchherr's postcard

Pauline Sutcliffe signed card from brother, Stu’s Sutcliffe’s painting exhibit & postcard from Astrid Kirchherr, Beatles’ photographer and creator of Beatles’ haircut

THE BEATLES’ BEGINNINGS/MEETING PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE

THE BEATLES’ BEGINNINGS/MEETING PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

I’ve always been most fascinated by the Beatles’ beginnings.  I was fortunate over the years to meet several whom were there before they were so well known. I’d read most of the books, seen the films, heard the legends, but I wanted to know what perhaps had really happened.  And the only way to do that was to meet some of the people who had known them first and ask them to describe the same incidents and people and places.  And if they described it basically the same ways, then probably there was truth to it.

It all started with meeting Cynthia Lennon, John‘s first wife, 1962-’68.   She had met John at art school in Liverpool.  They were quite opposites really; John the tough, sarcastic teen-age wannabe rocker, and she the more middle-class, nice girl.  What they had in common was their poor eyesight and artistic sensitivity.  But she also had the ability to ground him in those early years (especially after he had lost his mother, Julia, to a drunk driver, while being raised by his, more strict, Aunt Mimi). “Nowhere Boy” film (2010) captures the time. I had read her Twist of Lennon book (’78), and I wanted to meet her. So I attended my first Beatles’ Convention in Connecticut in ’94, where she was a guest. I met her and she signed my copy of her book and we talked a bit. She was lovely still and warm and artistic, as I’d hoped.  And meeting her inspired me to organize my own Beatles’ Conventions and pursue my goal of meeting others who had known The Beatles.

Also at that same convention, to my surprise, as she wasn’t supposed to be a guest, was May Pang.  She was John Lennon’s girlfriend, for 18 months, which Yoko had “assigned” to keep an eye on John and actually have a relationship with him, during his infamous “ Lost Weekend” in California, ’73-’74.  I was in the dealers room with very few people when an Oriental woman was talking to a author whom had written several Beatles’ books and he had a copy of his latest book for her and called her “May”.  I knew immediately, who she must be.  She signed my John Lennon ”Walls And Bridges” LP on the song lyrics for one of my favorite songs on it, “# 9 Dream”(where she whispers “John” in the background) and told me another song “Sweet Bird of Paradox” was about her. Again, I was surprised to see her there, because I didn’t know then if Cynthia and May would have gotten along.  I knew that Yoko and Cynthia didn’t and May had originally been Yoko’s assistant. Also along with May was Fred Seaman whom Yoko would later accuse of stealing John’s diaries, when he was their assistant at the Dakota.  But May was actually there to see Cynthia, because they were good friends, since May had encouraged John to re-connect with Cynthia’s son, Julian, when he was separated from Yoko in California.  May gave me her business card, and she was then married to Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s producer.  She wrote a book about her time with John called Loving John (’83).

My friend, Al Whyte, and I had taken a course about putting on events (for which we had created a fantasy Beatles’ Convention as a school project) and he was there with me. After the Conn. Convention, Al and I  discussed seriously for the first time, to put on our own Beatles Convention back in Ottawa.  After all, we now had several contact numbers for Cynthia, May, and several others around The Beatles, we had met that amazing weekend. I had even given Cynthia a copy of our fantasy Beatles Convention (but had changed the fantasy guest from Yoko to Cynthia and her son Julian who had had a big hit with his first album, Valotte.

Shortly after arriving back in Ottawa, I got a call on my answering machine from Pauline Sutcliffe from England (I don’t know for sure, but Cynthia Lennon must have given her my number). Stu Sutcliffe was with the early Beatles when they went to Hamburg, Germany in 1960.  He wasn’t very good on bass, but he was a promising painter and a big influence on and a close friend of John in Liverpool.  But Stu had fallen in love with Astrid Kirchherr in Hamburg and he had left them to pursue painting and be with her. Astrid had a big influence on them taking very artful black and white photographs and getting them to wear their distinctive haircuts. Unfortunately, Stu was to die in Germany, of a brain hemorrhage, shortly before they became known.

I discussed with Pauline the possibility of bringing in some of Stu’s paintings for our proposed Beatles Convention, but we couldn’t afford the insurance necessary.  But I was soon to meet her in person at an exhibition of his artwork in Toronto.  I arrived early at the exhibition, and this very nice British woman offered me a tea and tour of the exhibit and it was Pauline, whom I had communicated with earlier. She helped write the book, later made into the film, Backbeat (’94) that told the story of her brother, Stu, and Astrid and The Beatles in Hamburg. I had wanted to have Cynthia Lennon as our guest at our Convention, but it was her birthday, the weekend we planned to do it, and she wanted to be with her family.  We had timed it to be the anniversary of the first time The Beatles had played Canada in September, 1964.

We heard though that there was someone from Liverpool who lived in Ottawa and knew Pete Best and was his friend and agent.  His name was Barrie Naylor and had played The Cavern with his band, the very last time the Beatles had played there on August 3, 1963.  Barrie contacted Pete and he was interested.  He’d actually been to Ottawa with little fanfare before, as had Tony Sheridan, with whom they had played and had backed up on their first early recordings like “My Bonnie”. Legend goes that that was the song that a Liverpool teenager would request from Brian Epstein’s record store that would alert him to see them at the Cavern and become their manager (although more than likely, Epstein would have known about them before, because Brian prided himself on keeping up with his young customers).

Pete had been their first drummer in Liverpool and Hamburg.  Pete’s mother, Mona, ran one the first clubs, in her basement, The Casbah, they had played before The Cavern after they returned from Germany in 1961.  But right before The Beatles had signed their contract with George Martin and EMI, he had been replaced by Ringo (Pete had played with them for over two years).  Supposedly, Martin had said his drumming wasn’t up to par for recording.  In those days they often used professional session drummers in the recording studio (In fact, Ringo didn’t play drums on the The Beatles’ first single “Love Me Do”).  But other people like Cynthia Lennon had said, Pete just didn’t have the ego to compete with John and Paul’s, as George was later to find out when they ignored his own song writing for years.  But The Beatles never did tell Pete to his face why he had been cut out, right before they made it.  They left the dirty work to their manager, Epstein.

We held the first Ottawa Beatles Convention on September 7, 8 , 1995 (there’d only been one other one in Canada in Toronto), with Pete and his Liverpool band, as guests, signing autographs and performing.  Also drumming there with him was his half-brother, Roag ( who, not many people knew, was actually the son of Neil Aspinall, the Beatles old Liverpool friend and road manager and who later became the head of The Beatles’ own label, Apple Records).  Neil and Pete’s much older mother, Mona, had had an affair and Roag was the result.  Now we had purposely timed our first convention with the release, right at that time, of the first volume of The Beatles Anthologies.  The Anthologies had originally been Neil’s idea and he had been working on it since 1970.  And with the remaining Beatles also recording two songs by John and The Anthologies selling over 30 million copies and accompanying videos and TV specials, it helped make The Beatles popular with a whole new generation again.  It also helped us and with an original Beatle as a guest, made our first convention a success.   With Pete playing on several of the old songs (and perhaps his step–father, Neil Aspinall, had that in mind), Pete who had been ignored, received shortly after our Convention, a check from The Anthologies and, after 30 years of being teased as the Beatle who had just missed out, became a millionaire overnight.  As Cynthia Lennon had said, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

But now everybody wanted us to do a 2nd Ottawa Beatles Conventiion. So we went looking for possible guests. The next year, at a Beatles dealers show in Burlington, Ontario, I got to meet a few more from the Beatles’ early days,. First there was Len Garry, one of the original Quarrymen, John Lennon’s teen-aged band before The Beatles.  He told the story (he was there) of The Day John Met Paul, July 6, 1957 at a Liverpool church social.  A chubby Paul McCartney got up and played “20 Flight Rock” and John was impressed because John only knew a few banjo chords his often-absent mother had taught him.  And the way Len Garry told it, John, not wanting to admit he wanted Paul in the band, had his friend, Pete Shotten, who also wrote one of my favorite books on the early Beatles,  The Beatles, John Lennon, and Me (’83), to approach Paul later. Evidently. Paul rode his bike up and coolly replied, “Ok” and The Beatles were formed, as George was soon invited along by Paul to play guitar.

Also at that Ontario show was Beryl Wooler, who’d been Brian Epstein’s secretary and later married to Bob Wooler who’d been The Cavern D.J. and an early Beatles supporter.  But the next guest there was a real character; Allan Williams, who had run a strip joint in Liverpool called the Jacaranda the Beatles had played early on, and had been the one to actually send them to Hamburg. He had advised Epstein not to touch them with a “F’ 10 foot barge pole”, after they stiffed him on his  booking fees for Germany. And thus the title to his book, “The Man Who Gave Away The Beatles” (’75), also one of the best books about early Beatles.  He told outrageous stories; he even held up there McCartney’s leather pants they had worn at The Cavern, until Epstein had got them to change to the special Beatle suits. Williams said he was trying to get McCartney to buy back his leather outfit for $10,000!  I liked the guy, but I felt he’d be too wild for our family-friendly convention (for now young people were just as enthralled with the Beatles as we who had grown up with them).

Our 2nd Ottawa Beatles Convention, was again timed with the release of the next Beatles Anthologies in September,1996.  Our special guest. along with John Lennon’s Psychedelic Rolls Royce, was George’s  sister, Louise Harrison, at the Canadian Museum Of Science and Technology.  Louise told stories of growing up with George and accompanying The Beatles to Washington, D.C. on their first North American tour. And she revealed a little-known tale about how George had visited  her in a small town in Illinois,  where she was then living in ’63, and how unknown-in-America George got up and jammed with a local band there and someone had said, “ Keep it up and you might go somewhere”.  This was just a few months before everyone would know The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in Feb. 1964.  With her as a guest (we also had Indian dancers and music as a tribute to George) and Lennon’s car and The Anthologies, we tripled our attendance from the year before.  Also Pete Best agreed to come back to Ottawa and play a club, in conjunction with our convention. Even though he was now a millionaire, he was still the same down-to-earth guy.

Another person connected with the early Beatles I was to meet was BBC director, Leslie Woodhead.  He had filmed the only known footage of The Beatles at the Cavern in 1962. I met him because he came to Ottawa to interview and film my Russ/Cdn. friend, Yury Pelyushonok, about his book about growing up in the Soviet Union and trying to play banned Beatles’ music.  Yury had written of his personal experiences in his book, Strings for a Beatle Bass (’98 & 2004).  Mr. Woodhead used Yury’s song, “Yeah Yeah Virus” as a theme throughout for his 2009 film and 2013 book, How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin, which backed Yury’s claim that Beatles’ music helped bring down Communism.  Yury had gotten to know a bit, The Beatles’ friend and manager for the past 30 years, Neil Aspinall, because Yury had left a copy of his book at Apple headquarters in London, as I had suggested, in 2000.  Paul McCartney’s assistant had called back for more copies for George and Ringo!  Imagine Yury growing up in Russia, playing banned Beatles music,

Stu Sutcliffe's Paintings & Astrid Kirchherr Postcard

Stu Sutcliffe’s (original Beatle in Liverpool and Hamburg) Painting ,Toronto, where I met, Stu’s sister, Pauline. Postcard from Astrid Kirchherr, Hamburg photographer, and Beatle haircut designer.

Yury Pelyushonok's book, Strings for a Beatle Bass

Yury Pelyushonok’s book. “Strings for a Beatle Bass”(’98 and 2004 editions), about how Beatles’ music helped bring down communism!

and The Beatles being interested in your book!

As for me, as I had set out to do, I had met many who had known them, especially from their beginnings.  And by meeting and talking to them and others, I felt I really did have a better idea of their amazing journey and how they had changed my life and millions of others.

Alan L. Chrisman’s book, “It’s A Long Way Home” (& How Beatles’ Music Saved My Life)  Excerpts: more Beatles stories, etc.:  http://www.rockthistownproductions.com

Cynthia Lennon, May Pang

May Pang & Al Whyte at Conn. Beatles Convention’ 94,
Cynthia Lennon & Alan Chrisman, Conn. Beatles Convention ’94

Pete Best , original Beatles Drummer, guest, Ottawa Beatles Convention'95

Pete Best and brother Roag, signing autographs and playing Ottawa Beatles Convention’ 95.
The Casbah, Liverpool, owned by Pete Best’s mother, The Beatles played there first.

SONGS TO ACCOMPANY BOOK"IT"S A LONG WAY HOME"

“IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”( & HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir, Book Description

“CAVERN DAYS”, THE 1st. OTTAWA BEATLES CONVENTION Sept ’95, anniversary of THE BEATLES playing Canada

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK: “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”(& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

Alan Chrisman, grew up in the innocence of a small U.S. Midwestern town.  But that was soon to change with two world-shaking events, The Vietnam War and The Beatles.  The 60’s were a tumultuous time and their music was a large part of its soundtrack.

Propelled by both events, he moved to a cold but welcoming land and its capitol, Ottawa, Canada, a place with similarities and differences from where he was raised.  There, inspired especially by The Beatles’ founder and co-writer, John Lennon, he became involved in various aspects of music, setting up one of its first used record stores, ”IMAGINE”, organizing The Ottawa Beatles Conventions and meeting many whom were there from the Beatles’ beginnings.  Several of the chapters are named after Beatles’ and Lennon’s songs and parallel his own experiences.  Later, he would also learn of an intriguing story how this revolutionary music even helped change a repressive system half way around the world.  

It was to be a Long and Winding Road with many curves and he describes some of the characters he met along the way and their sometimes trying, but humorous stories.   He also writes about the joys and pains of relationships and how pop music and culture affects our views of them and with some of his own song lyrics.

Ottawa, which one of its well-respected musicians called the“Liverpool of the North”, had more direct connections to England and felt the British Invasion earlier than the U.S. and he includes its 60’s and 70’s scene as well as his own involvement with musicians for the next several years. 

So come along for the journey and see how Beatles’ music influenced him and millions of others and why it still resonates decades later.

                       

 “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME” (& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 
                                                  BOOK, CD, AUDIO CD, & ebook:  COVER BELOW

Picture

CONTENTS                     

Introduction                                                                                                                                                   

Chapter 1:  Crossing the Borderline (“Paul is Dead” rumour)


Chapter 2:   Midwestern Childhood (“Thank God For The Beatles” lyrics)
                                                    
Chapter 3:  University Days (“Woman the Muse”)
                                                                                     
Chapter 4:   Ottawa,Canada
Chapter 5:  “IMAGINE”, (John & Yoko in Ottawa)

Chapter 6:  Vancouver (J. Lennon shot, Dec, 8, 1980)
Chapter 7:  Back in Ottawa

Chapter 8:  Walls and Bridges
Chapter 9:  Rock This Town! Prods. (’85-’93)

Chapter10: Birthday and NY Dakota Visit (Strawberry Fields Memorial)
                                               
Chapter 11:  Connecticut Beatles Convention (Cynthia Lennon, May Pang)
Chapter 12; #9 Dream (Stu Sutcliffe Art, Astrid K.)

Chapter 13:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘95 ( Pete Best, Cavern, Liverpool)
Chapter 14:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘96( L. Harrison, Lennon car, Day John Met Paul)
                                       
Chapter 15:  Long Lost Weekend (“Real Good Woman” lyrics)
Chapter 16    Lady In Red ( P. Best Gets His Due)

Chapter 17:   ‘Get Back’ Records
Chapter 18:  Clean-up Time(Never Knew Who’d Drop In)



Chapter 19:   Lady in Red 2 ( “Annie Hall”)
Chapter 20:  Lister in L.A. ( “So You Want to be a R’ n ‘R Star”)

Chapter 21:  Time for a Change (G. Harrison passes)

                                                                                     
Chapter 22:  “Back in the U.S.S.R.”(The Beatles Help Bring Down Communism!)
Chapter 23:   Music Never Dies (“Al & THE G-MEN”, Still Rockin’)

Chapter 24: Long and Winding Road ( P. McCartney Plays Ottawa, 2013)
Chapter 25: “Liverpool of the North” (Ottawa music 60’s/70’s)

                                                  

   

(This book published by Alan L. Chrisman © 2013; All Alan Chrisman lyrics © 2012, 2013; Cover graphic by ‘G-Man’): eBook version c.2014
           
                         

 

FOR COMPLETE BOOK on CD(MSWord), AUDIO DVD(narrated), e book,(2014) or Original SONGS CD To Accompany Book, CONTACT: Alan L. Chrisman     www.rockthistownproductions.com  

Link To ebook(2014) version:

                                                                             ALAN L. CHRISMAN—BIOGRAPHY:

Alan L. Chrisman ( http://www.RockThisTownProductions.com) ran the used vinyl stores (Imagine, Get Back, Rock This Town!) for several years in Ottawa, Canada, and a coffeehouse, an alternative newspaper, promoted musicians, put on concerts and organized the two Ottawa Beatles Conventions ‘95 & ‘96. and met several in The Beatles’ circle.  He wrote a  memoir/book and an original songs CD, “It’s A Long Way Home”, about his life, and his influences, including “LIVERPOOL OF THE NORTH”: The Story Of Ottawa 60’s/70’s Music, in 2013.

Today, he continues to be involved in music: writing and recording songs (for AL & The G-Men), helping local musicians, shooting videos ( Youtube alanchrisman1), and organizing shows.   He also writes short stories, reviews and articles and blogs on a wide variety of subjects.  Several of his songs have been played on and he has been interviewed by CKCU-FM and CBC Radio.  And some of his artifacts have been on display at the “Ottawa Rocks” City Hall archives exhibit.