Category: the beatles

On this day in music history: June 14, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: June 14, 1965 – “Beatles VI”, the seventh US album by The Beatles is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from September 29 – 30, 1964, October 6 -18 and 26, 1964, February 16 – 18, 1965, and May 10, 1965. The album is a US compilation assembled by Capitol Records, featuring seven tracks taken from the UK album “Beatles For Sale”, the non LP B-side “Yes It Is” (flip side of “Ticket To Ride”), three tracks from the UK version of the as yet to be released “Help!” soundtrack (“Tell Me What You See”, “You Like Me Too Much”, and “Dizzy Miss Lizzie”) and a cover of the Larry Williams classic “Bad Boy” recorded specifically for the US market. That song is not released in the UK until December 1966 when it is included on the bands’ hits compilation “A Collection Of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies!)”. The album remains in print until 1987 when it is deleted after the band’s original UK albums are reissued on CD. “Beatles VI” is released on CD for the first time in 2006 as part of the CD box set “The Capitol Albums Volume 2” featuring the original mono and stereo mixes. It is reissued again in January of 2014 both individually and as part of the box set “The Beatles – The US Albums”. “Beatles VI” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 13, 1970 – …

On this day in music history: June 13, 1970 – “Let It Be”, the twelfth studio album by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks. Produced by George Martin and Phil Spector, it is recorded at Apple Studios, Abbey Road, and Twickenham Film Studios in London from February 1968, January – February 1969, January and March – April 1970. Following the often acrimonious sessions for “The White Album” in 1968, the album is originally conceived as a project that documents the band working in the studio, recording in as basic of a way as possible, without overdubbing, and outside musicians. With the ultimate goal of The Beatles performing live again in front of an audience. Unfortunately the bad feelings and arguing that started during the previous album intensifies, with George Harrison walking out eight days into the sessions. Eventually he does return, but things are still tense between the four. The album and accompanying film shot during the recording sessions are shelved for nearly a year before the decision is made to release them. Producer Phil Spector is given carte blanche to work with the hours and hours tapes to shape them into a releasable album. However, it strays far from its original concept. In the UK and Canada, the album is also issued as a lavish limited edition box set featuring a full color picture book with photos by photographer Ethan Russell. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2009, and as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2012. “Let It Be” is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 13, 1970 – …

On this day in music history: June 13, 1970 – “The Long And Winding Road” / “For You Blue” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney/George Harrison, it is the twentieth and final US chart topper for the legendary rock band from Liverpool, UK. The final master version of “Road” is recorded on January 26 and 31, 1969 at Apple Studios in London, the ballad originally features just The Beatles and keyboardist Billy Preston playing on the track. When producer Phil Spector is hired to remix and compile the songs from the January 1969 sessions into a cohesive album, he takes numerous liberties with the raw tapes. Written by Paul (but credited to Lennon and McCartney), “The Long And Winding Road” is subjected to this treatment when Spector overdubs an orchestra and a choir on to the track. The extraneous post production angers McCartney, but is too late to prevent it from being released. In 2003, a remixed version of the song (without Spector’s post production) is released on the album “Let It Be… Naked”. The singles’ B-side “For You Blue”, written by George Harrison is recorded on January 25, 1969 at Apple Studios, with additional overdubs recorded on January 8, 1970 at Olympic Studios in London. The track features John Lennon playing a lap steel guitar. “Blue” receives significant airplay along side “Winding Road” and is given equal billing on the charts. The two songs are the second single to be issued from the album and film “Let It Be” on May 11, 1970, and quickly rise up the chart. Entering the Hot 100 at #35 on May 23, 1970, it will bolt to the top of the chart three weeks later. The last of The Beatles US chart toppers, like the previous single “Let It Be”, Capitol issues some copies of the single in a picture sleeve. Featuring a similar layout and design as the previous single “Let It Be”, “The Long And Winding Road” sleeve uses four different individual photos of the band and black text, against a stark white background. Many of the sleeves develop ring wear or an impression of the 45 even during shipping from the pressing plants. This makes pristine copies of the sleeve without imprint wear a prized and sought after item by Beatles collectors. East coast manufactured sleeves (printed by Queens Litho) featuring a straight cut across both sides, are more common than the rarer west coast made sleeves (printed by Bert-Co), with a thumb notch cut on the “For You Blue” side. Near mint copies of either sleeve often command on the average between $100-150 on the collector’s market. “The Long And Winding Road” / “For You Blue” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.  

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On this day in music history: June 6, 1962 – T…

On this day in music history: June 6, 1962 – The Beatles audition for producer George Martin at Abbey Road Studios in London. The band play songs from their on stage repertoire including early Lennon/McCartney originals “Love Me Do”, “PS I Love You” and “Ask Me Why” and the pop standard “Besame Mucho”. Initially Martin is not very impressed with them until George Harrison famously quips that he doesn’t like the producer’s tie, when he asks the band if there’s something they don’t like after critiquing their performance. Harrison’s remark breaks the tension and Martin is so charmed by their wit that he signs them. Now officially signed to EMI Records’ Parlophone imprint, The Beatles return for their first recording date on September 4, 1962. In the interim, original drummer Pete Best is fired from the band in August, and is replaced by Ringo Starr. Thought to have been destroyed years before, the bands original audition recordings of “Love Me Do” and “Besame Mucho” surfaces on tapes found in private collections during the 80’s and 90’s and both are released for the first time on the compilation album “Anthology 1” in 1995.

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On this day in music history: June 1, 1967 – &…

On this day in music history: June 1, 1967 – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the eighth studio album by The Beatles is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Regent Sound Studios in London from December 6, 1966 – April 21, 1967. Following the innovative and successful “Revolver”, The Beatles further push the boundaries of popular music, with the aid of producer Martin. Mid way through the sessions, Paul McCartney comes up with the concept of The Beatles taking on the guise of “Sgt. Pepper” as being an alter ego for themselves, giving them more freedom to be experimental musically and visually. The recording takes over 400 hours of studio time to complete. The iconic cover art is designed by artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth (photographed by Michael Cooper) features The Beatles dressed in military style uniforms, backed by a collage of life sized cardboard cutouts of famous people. Original LP pressings come with a custom psychedelic inner sleeve designed and painted by Dutch design collective The Fool (Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger). It is released to unanimous praise, and regarded as one of the most influential albums of all time. “Pepper” is nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning four including Album Of The Year in 1968. First released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued on CD in 2009. The mono version, regarded by many including The Beatles themselves to be the superior mix, is finally released on CD in 2009. The stereo version is remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in 2012, with the mono following in 2014. Both vinyl releases replicate the original UK LP packaging. For its fiftieth anniversary, it receives new stereo and 5.1 surround remixes, reconstructing the multi-tracks digitally from the session work tapes stored in the Abbey Road tape archive. As the four track masters were composited from previous submasters, many songs required as many as four tape to tape pre-mixdowns before the final mixes were made. As a result of the multiple bounces, the clarity and presence of many overdubs were diminished, particularly the drum tracks. The new stereo, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround remixes by Giles Martin, reveal a fuller and more natural balance in stereo, rather than the hard left/right panning of the original stereo mixes. “Pepper” is reissued on May 26, 2017 in three configurations, as a two CD, double vinyl and a four CD + DVD and Blu-ray deluxe edition box set. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” spends fifteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 11x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1993, and is selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry Of The Library Of Congress in 2003.

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On this day in music history: May 30, 1969 – &…

On this day in music history: May 30, 1969 – “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” by The Beatles is released (US release is on June 4, 1969). Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the twenty first (thirty third US) single release for the rock band from Liverpool, UK. With many of his songs inspired by events in his life, John Lennon would refer to himself as “a singing reporter”. Lennon writes the “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”, following his whirlwind marriage to Yoko Ono in March of 1969. Returning home to England, Lennon plays the song for Paul McCartney, suggesting that they record it right away. The refrain “Christ, you know it ain’t easy” and the end line “they’re gonna crucify me…”, causes McCartney some concern, but agrees to help John with it. On April 14, 1969, they go into Abbey Road Studios to cut the track. Joined by engineer Geoff Emerick, it is his first Beatles session since quitting during the “The White Album” sessions. Absent from the session are George Harrison, who is away on holiday, and Ringo Starr who is off filming “The Magic Christian”. With their band mates unavailable, Lennon and McCartney fill in George and Ringo’s parts by playing guitar and drums. Acknowledging Harrison and Starr’s absence, during one take John jokingly tells Paul “go a bit faster, Ringo…”, with Paul replying “OK, George…”. Recorded in just ten takes, “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” is completed and mixed in only eight and a half hours. On April 16, 1969, George and Ringo return to the studio with John and Paul, to record George’s song “Old Brown Shoe” for the B-side. Using Harrison’s solo demo as a guide, the basic track for “Shoe” is recorded in four takes. It’s completed on April 18th, with John Lennon’s original lead guitar being wiped, and replaced by new leads played by George. With “Get Back” still sitting at number one in the US and the UK, the new single is rush released, with test pressings being distributed to radio. As predicted, many American radio stations are up in arms about the lyrics of “John And Yoko”. Some major stations like WLS in Chicago and WABC in New York refuse to chart or play the record. Other stations play it, but censor “the offending phrase”, or limit when the song is aired. Some US copies come packaged with a picture sleeve, featuring photos of The Beatles posing with Yoko Ono. They’re taken by Linda McCartney, at the McCartney’s London home. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on June 14, 1969, it peaks at #8 four weeks later on July 12, 1969. It is the first time that the A-side of a new Beatles single has missed the top five on the US Hot 100. The opposite is true in the UK, when it rockets to #1, becoming their seventeenth and final chart topper. “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 30, 1966 – &…

On this day in music history: May 30, 1966 – “Paperback Writer” / “Rain” by The Beatles is released (UK release is on June 10, 1966). Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the first track to emerge from the recording sessions that produce the “Revolver” album. McCartney comes up with the idea for the song after having a conversation with one of his aunts, asking him if he can write something that wasn’t about love or romantic involvement. During a writing session at Kenwood, John Lennon’s home in Weybridge, McCartney sees an article in the newspaper The Daily Mail about an aspiring author. The pair write the lyrics in the form of a letter to a publisher, with the author asking that they consider publishing it. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios on April 13 – 14, 1966, the basic track of the song is perfected in two takes, with the first take breaking down before complete. The single marks McCartney’s first use of his recently acquired Rickenbacker 4001 bass on a Beatles single, producing a clearer and more defined tone than his venerable Hofner bass. The band having complained about the lack of bass on their records (compared to American R&B records), recording engineer Geoff Emerick devises a way of getting a louder bass sound by using another loudspeaker as a microphone, also using a piece of outboard gear created by EMI’s technical engineers called “Automatic Transient Overload Control” during the mastering process.“Rain” (written primarily by John) is inspired when the band are on tour in Australia in 1965, when they arrive in Melbourne in poor weather. Recorded between April 14 – 16, 1966 at Abbey Road, the song is recorded with the four track machine running at a slightly slower speed with the band playing the rhythm track at a faster pace, so that the track and vocals take on a different texture on playback at normal speed. Lennon also hits upon the idea of having part of his vocal playing back backwards when he takes a work tape home and accidentally puts the tape on upside down. He likes how it sounds so much, that he has George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick to take part of his vocal from the master, copy it and insert the backward vocal into the final master. “Paperback Writer” becomes The Beatles thirteenth US number one single on June 25, 1966 (2 weeks non-consecutive). The B-side “Rain” (written by John Lennon, also credited to Lennon – McCartney), peaking at #23 on the Hot 100 on July 9, 1966.

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On this day in music history: May 30, 1964 – &…

On this day in music history: May 30, 1964 – “Love Me Do” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the fourth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The song is the bands first single released in the UK and is first recorded on September 4, 1962. Not feeling that the song has been perfected, it is re-recorded a week later on September 11, 1962. Unlike the original UK 45 release (#17 UK) which features Ringo Starr on drums, version two features session drummer Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine. It is this take that become the common version of “Love Me Do” after EMI destroys the master and session tapes from the September 4th session that features Ringo on drums. The US 45 (belatedly issued as a single in the US on Vee Jay subsidiary Tollie Records in March 1964) uses the second version. The single’s B-side “P.S. I Love You” also charts, peaking at #10 on June 6, 1964. Vee Jay Records will only have the rights to The Beatles recordings it has released until the end of 1964. Capitol Records claim exclusive rights to release the band’s music in the US, filing suit against Vee Jay Records. Having unsuccessfully blocked Vee Jay from releasing the “Introducing… The Beatles” album and a handful of singles, the Chicago based label continues to recycle the material on a number of releases until its licenses run out. Experiencing financial problems (for various reasons) since 1963, Vee Jay Records files for bankruptcy in August of 1966. “Love Me Do” is reissued in UK in 1982 as a standard 7", picture disc and 12" single to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original British release. Capitol Records in the US also follows suit, reissuing the 45 with a picture sleeve. It is reissued again in October of 2012 to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary. Though it replicates the original UK Parlophone 45 and company sleeve, it is mastered using the Andy White version of the track, rather than the initial release that features Ringo on drums. It is quickly replaced by the correct version two weeks later.

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On this day in music history: May 24, 1969 – &…

On this day in music history: May 24, 1969 – “Get Back” by The Beatles With Billy Preston hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the seventeenth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The single is the first music to emerge from the recording sessions that produce the “Let It Be” album and documentary film. The “hit single version” of the track is recorded at Apple Studios in London on January 27, 1969, after weeks of rehearsing and recording various takes of the song. At the invitation of George Harrison, musician Billy Preston will play keyboards (mainly electric piano and organ) during the sessions for two weeks. The Beatles enjoy his playing and affable personality so much that they give him co-billing on the single when it is released (the only time another musician is credited along side the band). “Get Back” is also The Beatles first single to be issued in stereo in the US (mono in the UK). An alternate, shorter take of the song appears on the “Let It Be” album when it is released a year later in May 1970. It is released the UK the Friday before Easter Sunday on April 11, 1969, with the US release date being on May 5, 1969. The delay being caused by Paul McCartney deciding to remix the track again days before its scheduled release in the UK, with US release date also being pushed back. In spite of this, the single is an immediate smash. The Beatles tie their own previous record for the highest ever chart debut on the Hot 100 (set by “Hey Jude” eight months earlier) when “Get Back” enters the chart at #10 on May 10, 1969, leapfrogging to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Get Back” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the eighth number one single in the US for “The Fab Four”. Written primarily by John Lennon, the song carries a dual meaning. In part, it is a play on the phrase “ticket to Ryde”, meaning a British Railways ticket to the town of Ryde on the Isle Of Wight in England. Lennon also makes it a sly reference to The Beatles days of performing in Hamburg, Germany. In this case, the “tickets” being cards carried by prostitutes indicating they had been given a clean bill of health, with “ride or riding” being a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The track is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London on February 15, 1965, and features Paul McCartney playing lead guitar on a Beatles single for the first time. McCartney is also instrumental in arranging the songs unique rhythm pattern, suggesting it to Ringo Starr. Released on April 9, 1965, it is the first release from the bands second film “Help!”, set to be released in July. However, when the record is released in the US, Capitol Records erroneously lists on the label that the song is from the film “Eight Arms To Hold You” which is the original working title of the film while it is in production. The single is also backed with the initially non-LP B-side “Yes It Is”, recorded the day after “Ride” on February 16, 1965. The song is added to the US album “Beatles VI” in June of 1965, though in the UK it does not surface on an album until the release of the compilation “Love Songs” in 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on April 24, 1965, “Ticket To Ride” streaks to the top of the chart four weeks later. “Ticket To Ride” is covered by The Carpenters on their 1969 debut album “Offering”, and becomes their first chart single.  The album is re-titled “Ticket To Ride” in late 1970 after the group makes their breakthrough with the single “(They Long To Be) Close To You”. The original Capitol US 45 release is reissued in 2011 as part of a promotion through retail chain Target, in tandem with the remastered reissue of the compilation “Beatles 1”. The limited edition box contains a replica of the 45 and picture sleeve, and a T-shirt.

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