Friday, February 24, 2012

When The Night Is Cloudy

The "Let It Be" single was finally released March 9th, 1970 in the UK, and two days later in the US. On the 11th, George Harrison sat down with BBC Radio's Johnny Moran for a lengthy and wide-ranging interview covering George's recent studio activity with Jackie Lomax, Billy Preston, Doris Troy, and the Radha Krishna Temple, as well as the Let It Be album and film, and the Beatles' future.

A short extract of the interview was aired on Scene And Heard March 15th, but the majority was aired March 30th as a special, The Beatles Today. Because Phil Spector was still mixing and overdubbing the Let It Be album, the BBC opted to air a couple of tracks ("Dig A Pony" and "Dig It") from Glyn Johns's unused version of the LP.

The Sentimental Journey album came out March 27th in the UK, and Ringo spent the last half of the month promoting it. On March 25th, he chatted with David Wigg for Radio 1's Scene And Heard, with the interview aired in two parts on the following two Sundays.

On the 29th, Ringo appeared live on LWT's Frost On Sunday to introduce a promo clip of the LP's title track. Two days later, he and DJ Pete Murray spun records live on Radio 2's Open House; Ringo also taped an open-ended interview discussing Sentimental Journey track-by-track for Radio Luxembourg, aired April 11th.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The second week of February, 1970, found all four Beatles busy with individual recording projects. George was in Trident Studios on the 7th producing and playing on a new Radha Krishna Temple single, "Govinda". Ringo was still occupied at EMI with sessions for Sentimental Journey, and from the 10th through the 20th, Paul was at Morgan Studios, supplementing his home recordings of the past few weeks with new material for his first solo LP, McCartney.

As ever, John was the busiest Beatle, promoting "Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)" while editing footage of the Montreal bed-in for a documentary feature scheduled (but not destined) to precede Let It Be in UK cinemas.

From February 8th through the 11th, Yoko's ex-husband Tony Cox was staying at Tittenhurst along with Kyoko, and was granted permission to videotape the couple's activities for yet another potential documentary. Although Yoko has held up any official release of the tapes, a sample of the February 9th video does circulate, albeit with tampered audio:

"Instant Karma" was promoted on Top Of The Pops February 5th with a hastily-assembled clip of footage mostly culled from the BBC's 24 Hours documentary of the previous December:

By February 11th, John and Yoko were in a BBC TV studio taping a performance (mimed apart from John's live vocal) of "Instant Karma" for use in future episodes of Top Of The Pops. Take 4 (in which Yoko holds up cue cards) was aired first, on the 12th, with take 3 (in which Yoko knits) following a week later.

A few days after it aired, John and Yoko fielded questions about their TV appearance, along with other listeners' queries, during an interview on Radio 1's Midday Spin, hosted by DJ "Emperor Rosko". The recording date is unknown, but it was most likely broadcast on the 21st of February.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Shining

In a burst of inspiration the day after his return to London, John wrote a new song, "Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)", gathered a new Plastic Ono Band at EMI Studios, and recorded the number, all on January 27th, 1970. Ten days later, the single went on sale in UK shops, and John and Yoko set out on another round of publicity (although all their promotional tours were blending into each other by this point).

Around the 30th of January, they were interviewed by David Bellan for the BBC World Service radio show Profile. On February 4th, they held a ceremony on the roof of London's Black Centre, where they donated their shorn hair to activist Michael X. Media reaction was sparse, but ITV News did send Peter Sissons to cover the latest "Lennon stunt".

February 6th saw the couple participating in another interview with David Wigg for Scene And Heard, broadcast on Radio 1 February 15th. And on the 7th, they joined Michael X in taping an appearance on London Weekend Television's Simon Dee Show, aired the following night.

Monday, February 20, 2012

We Have Got To Get It Together

On January 20th, 1970 in Denmark, John and Yoko traded in their lengthy tresses for close-cropped haircuts. During a stopover in Paris on the way back to London six days later, they were interviewed for a Reuters newsreel about the new look and the imminent "Let It Be" single.

The same day, Ringo took a break from recording Sentimental Journey to promote The Magic Christian in America. He and Maureen flew to Los Angeles on the 26th, where a press conference was held at the airport. The following day, Ringo taped a guest appearance on NBC-TV's hit show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

The movie premiered in Hollywood on January 29th, and Ringo made a quick trip to Las Vegas on the 30th to catch Elvis Presley's show at the International Hotel. At some point during his L. A. visit, Ringo filmed an interview with Sam Riddle for Get It Together, broadcast March 7th on ABC. He and Maureen flew to New York on February 1st, returning to London the next day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Year One A.P.

John and Yoko spent Christmas week, 1969, at home in Tittenhurst, ready to usher in Year One A.P. (After Peace). On the 26th or 27th of December, they recorded a message for Canadian radio, promoting the International Peace Festival and sending hope to listeners of the planned "peace network" of radio stations.

Around the same time, as a thank-you to Ronnie Hawkins, who had loaned them his house outside Toronto, John recorded a "Short Rap" and "Long Rap" plugging Ronnie's new single, "Down In The Alley". That Christmas, Canadian radio listeners were also treated to a sneak preview of "Let It Be", as heard on these airchecks from CKLW-AM in Windsor, Ontario.

By December 29th, John and Yoko were back at London Airport boarding a flight to Denmark. They would spend New Year's and most of January, 1970 visiting Yoko's daughter Kyoko at the Ålborg farmhouse where Yoko's ex-husband Tony Cox was staying. Recordings from this visit are covered in an earlier blog post.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Live Peace In Toronto, part 3

John and Yoko's advertising campaign for peace continued on December 20th, 1969 with a visit to the University of Toronto, where they were filmed by CBS-TV in a long conversation with author and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. The footage survives but does not yet circulate widely; however, a follow-up interview with a CBS News reporter does exist.

At 10:15 that evening, John and Yoko appeared live on CBC-TV's Weekend, broadcast from their Toronto studio. Host Lloyd Robertson talked with the couple and Rabbi Abraham Feinberg about the planned Peace Festival.

On December 22nd, the Lennon entourage boarded a train for Montreal, where a press conference was held at the Château Champlain hotel. From there it was on to the nation's capital, Ottawa, for a meeting with Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau on the morning of the 23rd. As John told the press afterwards, the hour-long summit was fruitful in terms of communication, if nothing else.

That night, John and Yoko flew back to Toronto, where they spoke with rock journalist Ritchie Yorke before returning home to London for Christmas.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Live Peace In Toronto, part 2

Day 2 in Canada (December 18th, 1969) was set aside for various reporters and journalists to visit John and Yoko at Ronnie Hawkins's farmhouse in Mississauga. They actually began the day by taping a message to fans in Japan, mostly spoken by Yoko in Japanese with John playing various riffs and songs on acoustic guitar in the background. This was released as one side of an extremely limited LP, Love And Peace, apparently issued by Yamaha.

CBC Television had a camera crew filming for several purposes. The first was an interview with Nick Steed and Ken Cavanaugh for the TV show CBC Weekday, aired that night. CBC was also producing a documentary, A Visit For Peace, which included another farmhouse interview along with footage of the previous day's press conference and John and Yoko riding a Motoski through the snow.

A reporter ("Bob") questioned John and Yoko the same day for an Associated Press newsreel, and yet another filmed interview at the farmhouse found John talking with a Canadian broadcaster about the promotional film for "Cold Turkey".

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Live Peace In Toronto, part 1

The Lennons' last great push for peace took place in Canada the week before Christmas, 1969. On December 16th, they flew from London to Toronto and were driven to the home of Canadian rocker Ronnie Hawkins, who lent them his farmhouse as a base for their operations during the week.

The first event was a press conference on the 17th at the Ontario Science Center, where John and Yoko announced vague but ambitious plans for a three-day Peace Festival to be held at Mosport Park (a racetrack) in July 1970. Arguments with the promoter, John Brower, meant that the festival never took place, but the couple were optimistic about the prospects for "Year One A.P. (After Peace)". Here is a 55-minute composite recording of the press conference, from several sources.

That evening, John and Yoko welcomed Village Voice reporter Howard Smith to the farmhouse for a dinner-time interview covering dozens of topics: the "War Is Over" posters and peace festival, their recent trips to Greece and India, prospects for future Beatle tours, the MBE return, the Hanratty case, and more. The recording was broadcast on WABC radio in New York; as it lasts nearly 90 minutes, here it is in nine pieces:

Monday, February 13, 2012

If You Want It

The Plastic Ono Band's LP Live Peace In Toronto hit UK and US shelves on December 12th, 1969. John and Yoko promoted the release with an interview for South African radio; most likely on the same day, they participated in a track-by-track examination of the album with Radio Luxembourg's Tony Macarthur.

The latest component in their year-long advertising campaign for peace was unveiled December 16th, when billboards and posters appeared in 11 cities worldwide declaring WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT - HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM JOHN & YOKO.

On the 15th, the couple explained the poster event to a Dutch reporter from AVRO-TV's Televiezer Magazine; the next day, they did likewise for a French newsreel crew.

The evening of the 15th, John & Yoko performed at a UNICEF benefit in the Lyceum Ballroom, backed by a Plastic Ono supergroup including George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, and most of the Delaney & Bonnie touring band. Their performances of "Cold Turkey" and "Don't Worry Kyoko" were professionally recorded and later released on Some Time In New York City, but here is a partial (and poor quality) audience recording of the concert.

Earlier on the 15th, Ringo had recorded a special appeal for the Wireless for the Blind Fund, to be aired Christmas morning on BBC 1's Kenny Everett's Christmas Show. For the second year running, Kenny had been given the thankless task of assembling a Beatles Fan Club Christmas Message from various tapes submitted independently by the now Fractured Four. Only John and Yoko seemed to put much effort into their contribution, and as a result, they dominate what would be the final such disc, shipped to fan club members on December 19th:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hey Bulldog

On November 26th, 1969 at EMI, John, Yoko and friends had gathered to overdub yet another layer of cacophony to their 1968 recording "What's The New Mary Jane". The new mix, coupled with another Beatles reject dating back to 1967, "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)", was scheduled for release on December 5th as a Plastic Ono Band single on Apple.

Whether John changed his mind or the other Beatles rejected the idea, the single was cancelled. Perhaps he was worried about a product glut, with "Cold Turkey", the Wedding Album, and Live Peace In Toronto all hitting the stores in an eight-week period. Also available as of December 12th was the long-delayed charity LP No One's Gonna Change Our World, featuring another Beatle leftover from 1968, "Across The Universe". Here is a December '69 aircheck of the song on WKBW in Buffalo (as the LP wasn't sold in the US, they were able to claim an "exclusive").

George spent the first half of December as guitarist on the Delaney & Bonnie & Friends tour across the UK and into Denmark. Several concerts were recorded professionally for release on an Atco LP, including the December 7th shows in Croydon. The MC's band introductions heard on the LP excises George's name, most likely for contractual reasons (he is credited on the sleeve as "Mysterioso"); here is the unedited introduction from the soundboard tape, including mention of George.

Meanwhile, Paul was keeping quiet at his home in London, contemplating his first solo LP, and Ringo was moving into a new house near Highgate. John and Yoko kept up their media blitz, calling for the reopening of the case of James Hanratty, hanged for murder in 1962. On December 10th, the Lennons posed for photos with Hanratty's parents and proselytized for peace in a filmed interview.

By far the most entertaining Lennon interview of 1969 was taped in early December for a radio documentary on the history of popular music, Pop Goes The Bulldog. John spoke at length and quite expertly with Don Chandler about the evolution of Beatle music, from skiffle, country, and R&B through Elvis and Little Richard, and up to John Cage and Stockhausen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The World Of John And Yoko

Although they had been rather overexposed in the last nine months, at the start of December, 1969, two British TV companies produced features on John and Yoko.

ATV's was specifically about John, who was anthropologist Desmond Morris's choice for Man Of The Decade in a special broadcast December 30th, just as the 1960's were winding down. Morris visited the couple at Tittenhurst, their Ascot estate, filming an interview there on December 2nd.

Meanwhile, the BBC had commissioned an episode of their series 24 Hours devoted to "The World Of John And Yoko", to air December 15th on BBC1. A camera crew followed the Lennons around for five days (belying the title of the series), beginning on the 2nd by filming the ATV crew as they filmed John and Desmond Morris.

On December 3rd, John and Yoko were filmed at home, noodling on his Mellotron, and en route to Apple. December 4th again followed them from home to work, where they were interviewed by various journalists; an unused clip from this day was released in 2007 by Yoko, who owns all the rushes from the shoot. That evening, they were filmed during a session at EMI Studio 2, taping "Item 1" and "Item 2", two conceptual tracks of laughing and whispering for a potential Unfinished Music album.

December 5th found John and Yoko traveling to Suffolk to film Apotheosis 2, a short film from the POV of an ascending balloon. The BBC's camera even followed the Lennons into their hotel room that night, where they played a verbal round of "Fortunately/Unfortunately"; again, an outtake from this sequence was included in the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon and on the Lennon Anthology boxed set.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sink The Magic Christian

With The Magic Christian set for a Royal World Premiere in London on December 11th, 1969, Ringo set out to do a bit of pre-promotion for the movie.

On December 1st, he was filmed in lengthy conversations with Tony Bilbow for the BBC2 series Line-Up, broadcast nine days later (the eve of the premiere). The interview began in the back of a limo which picked up Ringo from 3 Savile Row and transported him and Tony to the Thames, where they (and the camera/sound man) entered a boat and paddled down the river.

On the evening of December 6th, Ringo taped an appearance for airing the same night on LWT's Frost On Saturday. David Frost talked with Ringo and co-star Peter Sellers sensibly about the picture for a few minutes, but when Peter's Goon Show comrade Spike Milligan (who had a cameo role in The Magic Christian) joined the panel, all hell broke loose, although it's not easy to decipher from the horrendous quality off-line audio tape which survives.

There also exists an extremely rare one-sided promotional LP for The Magic Christian, containing an open-ended interview with Ringo. I've never seen a copy or heard the contents - does anyone out there have it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Hypocrite On The Make

In mid-November, 1969, John and Yoko spent a couple of weeks on holiday, flying to Athens, cruising the Mediterranean with "Magic" Alex, and then stopping by India. John's first action upon returning to London was to send his MBE back to Buckingham Palace (just the medal, the honour was non-refundable), along with this message:

"Your Majesty, I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria - Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag."

Reuters did send a newsreel crew to interview John at Apple on November 25th, but the novelty of his publicity stunts had begun to wear on the British press and public, and there was little outrage, comment, or reaction to the event.

With this in mind, John and Yoko decided to focus their December peace efforts on Canada (and by extension, the US, where John was still unable to visit). In the meantime, they were interviewed by reporter Ken Zelig on November 27th at their home in Ascot, discussing the MBE return, war in general, and the Christmas season. Around this time, they also chatted with Wolfgang Frank about their recent trip to Greece and a potential visit to West Germany.

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Can't Say Christ Was A Flop

At the end of October 1969, Paul and Linda McCartney were ensconced in their farmhouse in Scotland, trying to enjoy a vacation while dealing with the fallout from the "Paul is dead" rumors. Unscheduled visits from a camera crew (see below) and reporters from Life magazine made things difficult for a while, at least until the Life story hit the stands on November 7th.

Meanwhile, George Harrison was working at Trident and Apple studios with artists such as Billy Preston and Doris Troy, while Ringo had begun recording his own solo album, Starrdust (eventually retitled Sentimental Journey) at EMI.

John and Yoko were still plugging the "Cold Turkey" single and Wedding Album; an interview with Kenny Everett was aired November 8th on BBC Radio 1's Everett Is Here. Here is another interview from the same time frame, with John and Yoko talking about their first meeting and the recent Rock And Roll Revival concert in Toronto.

Friday, February 3, 2012

One He Die

The sublimely ridiculous rumor that Paul McCartney had died in 1966, only to be replaced by a double named William Campbell, had its genesis around the time of Abbey Road's release. The story was fuelled by "clues" on Beatles album sleeves and in song lyrics, uncovered by midwest American college students with too much time on their hands.

On October 12th, Detroit DJ Russ Gibb of WKNR was inundated with callers sharing their discoveries, and Gibb invented several new ones during the course of the broadcast. Two days later, a review of Abbey Road by Fred LaBour in the Michigan Daily college paper fleshed out the cover-up/doppelganger tale.

By the 21st, the story had broken nationwide, as this aircheck from Roby Yonge on New York's WABC proves. The following morning, Paul (or was it?) was headed for his farm in Campbeltown, Scotland for a family vacation. Reached there by Apple's Peter Brown, Paul dictated a quick statement declaring his existence, but it was too late.

WKNR put Russ Gibb on the case, and he talked with Apple spokesman Derek Taylor via transatlantic phone. John Lennon was also reached for comment (the tape played back on WKNR had John Small overdubbing the questions), and seemed to find the whole affair amusing, as well as irritating for stealing the spotlight from his own new releases.

WMCA in New York went one step further, sending Alex Bennett to London, where he caught up with Ringo on the 23rd. The drummer, just back from the USA where the whole tale had started, realizes the futility of trying to "prove" the fallaciousness of a fairy tale.

Finally, the BBC dispatched Chris Drake all the way out to Scotland in hopes of getting some comment from the deceased. His trek to Paul's remote farmhouse was rewarded with an exclusive interview on October 24th. Portions were aired in three different BBC Radio newscasts on the 26th and 27th; here is a composite of all known (off-air) recordings.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Strange Family

On John Lennon's 29th birthday, Yoko Ono checked in to King's College Hospital due to complications with her pregnancy. Sadly, she miscarried three days later, derailing the couple's second attempt at having a child.

After resting for a week or so, she and John were back at Apple plugging their newest batch of Plastic Ono Band releases: the "Cold Turkey" single was issued October 24th, 1969 in the UK, with the Live Peace In Toronto album scheduled for November 14th (but delayed until December). Also out was their Wedding Album, a deluxe package covering their Amsterdam honeymoon/Bed-In (released October 20th in the US and November 7th in the UK).

John and Yoko recorded a radio commercial to plug the LP, and then met with journalists to talk up all these projects. On October 21st, they chatted with David Wigg for Scene And Heard; here is a composite of the raw tape and the October 26th BBC Radio 1 broadcast. Most likely recorded the same day is this interview for Dutch radio, in which John mentions the budding "Paul Is Dead" rumor. A second low-quality off-air recording from Dutch radio may stem from the same broadcast.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beatle George

On October 8th, 1969, George Harrison sat down with David Wigg at Apple Corps for a lengthy chat. Topics included the "Hare Krishna Mantra" single, the Abbey Road LP, and John Lennon's recent complaints in the press about the difficulty of extricating his share of Apple's income.

The interview was broadcast in two parts on BBC Radio 1's Scene And Heard on the following Sundays (12th and 19th), and some of the raw tape was released on the 1976 LP The Beatles Tapes With David Wigg. Here is a 22-minute composite using all three sources.