On this day in music history: October 17, 1963 – The Beatles record “I Want To Hold Your Hand” at Abbey Road Studios in London. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the fifth UK single release for “The Fab Four”. The song is written in the Fall of 1963 while Paul McCartney is living at the home of his girlfriend, actress Jane Asher and her family, with John and Paul writing it together on the piano. “Hand” is recorded during sessions for the band’s second album “With The Beatles”, and is completed in seventeen takes. It is the first Beatles song recorded on Abbey Road’s four track multi-track tape machine, with previous recordings by the band being recorded using a two track machine. When it is released in the UK on November 29, 1963, it is an immediate smash, receiving advance orders of over one million copies. The single enters the chart at #2, at first unable to dislodge their previous release “She Loves You” from the top, finally taking the top spot two weeks later on December 12, 1963, spending five weeks at number one. The UK single is backed with the ballad “This Boy” which is recorded during the same session as “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. “Hand” becomes one of the best selling singles in history, selling over twelve million copies worldwide.
On this day in music history: October 16, 1965 – The Beatles record “Day Tripper” at Abbey Road Studios in London. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is recorded early in the sessions for the “Rubber Soul” album with Lennon and McCartney under pressure to come up with a new single for release at Christmas. The pair write it at Lennon’s home in Weybridge, Surrey, with Lennon coming up with the initial idea for the title as being a word play on the term “day trip”, and a tongue in cheek reference to drugs. McCartney helps with the lyrics, with both shaping it into the final result. The recording takes place in Studio Two at Abbey Road and is completed in three takes (w/ additional overdubs). The song is recorded during the same session that also produces basic track for “If I Needed Someone” (written by George Harrison). It is released as a double A-sided single with “We Can Work It Out” on December 3, 1965. US release is on December 6, 1965, and peaks at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 22, 1966.
On this day in music history: October 12, 1969 – “The Paul Is Dead” urban myth is born. A student at Eastern Michigan University named Tom Zarski calls up DJ Russ Gibb at radio station WKNR, and tell him of a rumor that Beatle Paul McCartney had died in a car crash in November of 1966. He’ll say that there are clues in the “White Album” track “Revolution #9”, claiming that when a certain section is played backwards that it says “turn me on, dead man. Gibb goes on air with the rumor and it immediately snowballs from there. Fans also believe that there are further clues hidden in the album cover artwork to "Yesterday & Today”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “Magical Mystery Tour” and the then just released “Abbey Road” album. However, the rumors prove to be false. McCartney is found alive and well at his farm in rural Scotland when Life Magazine sends a correspondent and photographer to his home. McCartney is initially furious at the intrusion on his privacy, hurling expletives at the reporters and throwing a bucket of water at them. The photographer snaps pictures of the encounter and quickly take off. Paul chases them down and offers to be interviewed in exchange for the film taken of him during the angry confrontation. He sits down for an interview and poses for pictures with Linda step-daughter Heather and new baby daughter Mary, which appear in a cover story for Life published on November 7, 1969.
On this day in music history: October 9, 1965 – “Yesterday” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the tenth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The song is actually written entirely by Paul McCartney, but is credited to “Lennon/McCartney” as are all original Beatles compositions written by John or Paul. The melody comes to McCartney in a dream while he is living at his girlfriend Jane Asher’s family home in London. Waking up and quickly going to the piano, he begins playing the melody to avoid forgetting it. Initially dubbing the song “Scrambled Eggs”, he quickly improvises temporary lyrics to further embed it into his memory. They read “scrambled eggs, oh, my baby how I love your legs”. Then for the next couple of weeks, Paul plays the song for others asking them if they had ever heard it before when he thinks he may have subconsciously plagiarized it from another song. When he realizes he hasn’t he finishes writing it during the Spring of 1965. Playing the finished composition for producer George Martin, both agree that a traditional band arrangement does not work for the song. Martin suggests that McCartney record it by himself with just an acoustic guitar, scoring it with a string quartet. The track is recorded on June 14, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios in Studio Two, with the master version being completed in two takes. Three days later, the strings are overdubbed on to the track. Originally issued on the non-soundtrack side of “Help!” in the UK, Capitol Records in the US withholds the song from the album for a stand alone single release (b/w “Act Naturally”) releasing it on September 13, 1965. McCartney performs “Yesterday” on The Beatles fourth and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show airing on September 12, 1965 (though taped one month earlier on August 14, 1965). Entering the Hot 100 at #45 on September 25, 1965, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. However it is not issued in the UK on a 45 until 1976. “Yesterday” goes on to become one of the most covered pop songs in history with over 2,200 recorded versions, earning it a place in the Guinness World Book Of Records. Since its release in 1965, The Beatles version of yesterday has been broadcast on US radio over seven million times, putting it in third place behind The Association’s “Never My Love” and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. The Beatles recording is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1997. “Yesterday” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 25, 1965 – “The Beatles” animated cartoon series makes its debut on the ABC television network. Co-created and executive produced by Al Brodax through King Features Syndicate, the series features voice actors Paul Frees (as John and George) and Lance Percival (as Paul and Ringo). The show is an immediate hit, and thirty nine first run episodes of the series are produced through 1967. Two more seasons of reruns follow before the last broadcast on September 7, 1969. Other than The Beatles music being featured in the show, the band themselves have no involvement in its creation whatsoever. Initially, they have a generally negative opinion of the series, being unhappy with the cheap look of the animation and overly “cartoony” depiction of their personalities. When Broadax spearheads the making of the animated feature “Yellow Submarine” after production on the series ends, The Beatles have little to with it at first. Their feelings toward the film change when they see the work in progress, as does their opinion of the series over time. “The Beatles” are rebroadcast during the 80’s on MTV and the Disney Channel. The Beatles’ company Apple Corps, LTD. purchases the rights to the series in the 90’s. Though fans have expressed a desire for it to be restored and released on DVD, Apple currently do not have any plans for the series to be released on home video at this time.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1967 – The Beatles begin recording “I Am The Walrus” at Abbey Road Studios in London in Studio One. Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon – McCartney), the finished song is a combination of three others that Lennon had been working on. Inspired while tripping on acid, Lennon incorporates imagery from the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus And The Carpenter” (taken from the book “Through The Looking-Glass”), only later realizing the author was making a comment on capitalism and that the walrus is actually the villain of the story. When The Beatles begin work on the song, it is their first time back in the studio following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. The song becomes a centerpiece of the “Magical Mystery Tour” television film and album (initially released in the UK as a double 7” EP set). The band are accompanied on the track by an orchestra and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers) arranged by producer George Martin. When the song reaches the mixing stage, Lennon will come up with the idea of incorporating live radio feed from a BBC broadcast Shakepeare’s “King Lear” (Act IV, Scene VI). During one of the mono mixes, the broadcast is included in the mix. However, this causes a minor problem when it comes to the stereo mix. Since the mix with the King Lear dialogue was mixed only in mono, a “fake stereo” mix have to be fabricated from that portion of the mono mix. “I Am The Walrus” also appears on the B-side of “Hello Goodbye” when it is released as a single on November 24, 1967. The US 45 released by Capitol Records includes an extra instrumental passage between the third and fourth verses of the song. This part is edited out of all other released versions of the song. ”I Am The Walrus” peaks at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 23, 1967.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1965 – “Help!” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the ninth chart topping single in the US for the legendary rock band from Liverpool, UK. The song is the theme for the bands second film and soundtrack of the same name. The song is primarily written by John, with the lyrics reveal his feelings of insecurity and depression in The Beatles rise to fame. The films working title is “Eight Arms To Hold You” but is changed after the song is recorded. The band record the track in the number two studio at Abbey Road Studios on April 13, 1965, completing it in twelve takes. The vocals are re-recorded at CTS Studios in London six weeks later on May 24, 1965. The new vocal overdubs are mixed down into mono and used for the films opening title sequence. With these overdubs existing only on this mix, results in noticeable differences in the mono single and stereo LP mixes of the song. The single release of “Help!” is issued with the non-LP B-side “I’m Down”. Written primarily by Paul McCartney, the uptempo rocker is recorded at Abbey Road Studios on June 14, 1965. “Down” is recorded during the same session as the ballads “Yesterday” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, standing in stark contrast to that raucous rave up. Though “I’m Down” does not chart on the US singles charts (oddly being one of the few Beatles B-sides that does not during this period), it is performed on The Beatles final Ed Sullivan Show appearance in September of 1965, and on their last two world tours in 1965 and 1966. Released on July 19, 1965 (UK release date is on July 23, 1965), it follows up the bands previous chart topper “Ticket To Ride”, also featured in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #41 on August 7, 1965, it rockets to the top just four weeks later. “Help!” also receives a Grammy nomination in 1966 for Best Performance By Vocal Group. Infamously, The Beatles lose the award to the Anita Kerr Singers bland, middle of the road country pop album “We Dig Mancini”. Their win causes an uproar, due in part to Kerr being a charter member of the Grammy voting committee. It instigates a drive by NARAS to bring “younger and hipper” Grammy members into the voting pool to better reflect current tastes in popular music. In 2011, a replica of the original US 45 and picture sleeve is reissued in a limited edition box set (w/ a T-shirt), through the Target retail chain. “Help!” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 29, 1966 – The Beatles play their last live concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. The Beatles third world tour sees the band facing negative publicity and riots in the Philippines after they unintentionally snub the first lady Imelda Marcos. They face more problems when the tour reaches the US in August. When John Lennon’s comments about religion made in a interview originally published in the Evening Standard in March of 1966 are taken out of context, it leads to backlash in the south. Radio stations in that part of the country ban the bands records from airplay, and protests result the mass burning of Beatles records and other memorabilia. By the time the band reaches the end of the tour in San Francisco, they are bored with the grind of touring, and frustrated at playing to crowds who often cannot hear them above the massive wall of screaming. What turns out to be their final concert, is sponsored by local radio station KYA (w/ DJ “Emperor” Gene Nelson as the MC). The Beatles play to a crowd of over 25,000, and the show also features The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes as the opening acts. The bands’ set lasts less about 30 minutes and they earn about $90,000 for the performance. At the time, The Beatles do not publicly acknowledge that the concert is their last either prior to or after the show. The only existing audio documentation of the performance comes from a rough cassette recording, (capturing nearly the entire performance, except for the last minute of the closing number “Long Tall Sally”), and from film footage shot by local San Francisco and Sacramento news crews. Years later, black & white Super 8 film footage shot by a fifteen year old fan named Barry Hood surfaces and is seen two documentaries (“The Beatles Live In San Francisco” and “The Unseen Beatles”) about the concert. On August 14, 2014, Paul McCartney returns to play the last event at the legendary sports venue, before it is closed and demolished, two weeks shy of forty eight years after The Beatles had played there.
On this day in music history: August 27, 1967 – The Beatles manager Brian Epstein dies from an accidental overdose of the sleeping medication Carbitral mixed with alcohol. Epstein’s butler finds him in his bedroom, entering after there is no response. This incident occurs while the band are in Bangor, Wales attending a seminar on Transcendental Meditation by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Epstein was to have attended as well but never made it there. Brian Epstein is only 32 years old at the time of his death. Epstein is laid to rest at the Long Lane Jewish Cemetery, Aintree, Liverpool on August 29, 1967. The Beatles do not attend the funeral in order to allow the family privacy and not attract unwanted attention from fans and the media. They do attend a private memorial held for him on October 17, 1967.