Tag Archives: Ringo Starr

“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

THE DAY THAT CHANGED MUSIC: JOHN LENNON MEETS PAUL McCARTNEY, JULY6, 1957

THE DAY THAT CHANGED MUSIC: JOHN LENNON MEETS PAUL McCARTNEY, JULY 6, 1957

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:

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

Klaus Voorman played on many Beatles' albums and designed some of their iconic album covers

KLAUS VOORMAN: ANOTHER 5th BEATLE

KLAUS VOORMAN:  ANOTHER 5TH BEATLE- (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015.( a Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them,)

There are several people who could be called the 5th Beatle: George Martin, Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall, Pete Best, etc. and I’ve written about some of these. But Klaus Voorman was also there at their beginnings and throughout their whole Beatles period and later played bass on several of their solo albums and as well as designed some of their iconic album covers.

Klaus Voorman drew the iconic Beatles' Revolver album

Klaus Voorman drew the Beatles’ Revolver album cover

Klaus Voorman also designed Ringo's 1973 album cover

Klaus Voorman also designed Ringo’s 1973 album cover

It was Klaus who first discovered the band in a tough Hamburg bar and told his roommate, Astrid Kirchherr, about them and she would create their whole look, which would soon conquer the world. It was Klaus who drew the distinctive Revolver cover.  It was Klaus Voorman who was part of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band when they played Live Peace in Toronto in 1969.  It was Klaus who played on and designed the cover for Ringo’s solo album of the same name.  He played on “Instant Karma”, and Lennon’s Imagine and Walls and Bridges, and Rock ‘n’ Roll albums, and was on George’s All Things, Material World, Bangladesh, and Dark Horse albums.

He was in Manfred Mann from’66-‘69 and played bass and flute on their hit,”The Mighty Quinn.” He was also a session musician for James Taylor, Carly Simon, Lou Reed, and Harry Nilsson and others. In 1979, he produced the German band, Trio, who had a hit with “Da Da Da.” And full-circle, he was asked by the remaining Beatles to design the covers for the 3 Beatles’ Anthologies covers in the mid-90’s. He also designed Bee Gees and others’ album covers as well.

Klaus Voorman also created THe Beatles' Anthologies covers

Klaus Voorman also created The Beatles’ Anthologies covers

In 2009, Voorman released his own solo album, A Sideman’s Journey with guests, Paul, Ringo, Cat Stevens, Joe Walsh,  Dr. John, Van Dyke Parks, The Manfreds, etc. In 2010, a documentary on him was made, All You Need Is Klaus.

This very talented, but unassuming musician and graphic artist too, was always a loyal Beatles’ sideman and lifelong friend.  As George said at The Bangladesh Concert, “ There’s somebody on bass who many people have probably heard about, but they’ve never actually seen him- Klaus Voorman.” A true 5th but unspoken Beatle too.

Klaus Voorman recording with Paul & Ringo, 2008:

https://youtu.be/YhZZiMOy334

The Making of Klaus “Voormann & Friends”:  Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yusuf aka Cat Stevens, Dr. John, The Manfreds (members of Manfred Mann), Bonnie Bramlett, Jim Keltner, Max Buskohl, Van Dyke Parks, Albert Lee, Joe Walsh, Don Nix and many others, 2009:

https://youtu.be/ELwfVR7yKCg

Freda Kelly was RThe Beatles' secretary and Fan Club head

Freda Kelly: The Beatles’ Secretary & Fan Club Head

FREDA KELLY: THE BEATLES’ SECRETARY & FAN CLUB HEAD

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 just saw a documentary on Freda Kelly, The Beatles’ secretary and who was in charge of their official fan club.  The film is named “Good Ol’ Freda” after a shout-out The Beatles’ make about her in their 1962 Xmas’ message.

I thought it would be interesting, as she was one of the few who were there at their very beginnings.  And it is, as she relates many everyday stories about them. She worked with them for 11 years, from 1961 on.  She had been working in a typing pool and was a regular at The Cavern.  Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, approached the seventeen-year-old to come help him deal with the growing workload at his NEMS Liverpool record store and help with his new band, The Beatles.

Besides her regular office work for Brian, a lot of her duties consisted of answering the, at first, a few letters a day to later thousands in big mailbags, from their increasing numbers of fans.  Out of that grew her starting their first official Beatles’ Fan Club and newsletter and Beatles’ Monthly Magazine.  She saw The Beatles’ often as they would drop in to Epstein’s office and got to know each well. They would have cups of tea and autograph the rising pile of fan letters requesting signed photos, snippets of hair and clothing.  Freda also often had to go around and visit the Beatles’ homes after her already long hours at work to get them to sign more photos or papers, and she got to know all their families well.  Ringo’s mom, she became especially close to, as her own mother had died when she was only 18 months old and was raised by a father, who saw no future in her working for a pop group.

Beatles Offical Fan Club Membership card

Beatles’ Fan Club membership signed by Freda Kelly

The Beatles' Monthly Magazine, run by The Beatles' secretary, Freda Kelly

The Beatles’ Monthly Mag. run by The Beatles’ secretary, Freda Kelly

All these stories and descriptions of The Beatles and the people around them are fascinating enough, but what really makes the film is Freda herself.  She’s a very interesting person.  While many others around the Beatles have exploited their connections to them, she never did.  She calls herself a very private person and always wanted to respect their privacy too. She had even told little of her Beatles’ involvement to her own family and friends.  She had given away most of the leftover Fan Club photos, magazines, etc. to fans with whom she identified and felt committed to, as she had been originally just a fan herself.   At one point in the film, she goes into her attic and rummages through the last few boxes of Beatles’ material she has kept.  She still feels a fierce loyalty to them and their story.  After The Beatles broke up in 1970, she got another job as a private secretary and she is still working and living in Liverpool.  She only agreed to tell her story (for the one and only time, she says) when her daughter finally persuaded her and for her grandchild, when approached by the filmmaker nephew of another Liverpool friend and band at the time, The Merseybeats.  That’s the kind of person, Freda Kelly is, still not anxious to tell secrets on her old friends and bosses.

Freda Kelly, The Beatles' secretary and George Harrison

Freda Kelly and George Harrison

I, as I’ve said, have been fortunate to meet several people who knew The Beatles. I’ve written about several of these and others around them, as well as a series of recent tributes to Neil Aspinall, Tony Sheridan, and Cynthia Lennon (who passed away, Apr. 1st).  Some have written books, appeared at Beatles’ Conventions, and been in documentaries. The Beatles are, of course, Rock Royalty now, but some behind-the scenes people, like Freda Kelly, haven’t gotten much recognition.  Few around them became became rich or famous.  Some have even preferred to remain mainly private: Astrid Kirchherr (who created their “look”), Bob Wooler (Cavern DJ), Tony Sheridan).  I have found very interesting stories about The Beatles through theirs and others’  eyes and stories like Pete Shotten’s (Quarrymen  and Lennon’s childhood friend), Derek Taylor and Tony Barrow Beatles’ publicists), etc.   But as Freda Kelly breaks down near the end of the film and says, not many of them are still here anymore.  What struck me about most, if not all, the people whom I met who knew The Beatles’ at their beginnings, is their reverence for The Beatles and what they experienced.   That and their remarkable down–to-earthness, which must reflect their often Liverpool humble roots.  Freda Kelly comes across like you could just drop in for a cup of tea, as she often had with The Beatles.

Trailor for film, “Good Ol’ Freda”:

https://youtu.be/LqO3DIaKTXM

Complete film Dvd available:

http://www.magpictures.com/goodolfreda/

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.