In today’s Sunday edition of the New York Times there are ironically two Beatles-related people cited, one was an obituary article done by the Times and the other was a paid obituary notice by the family.
The whole world knows that two weeks ago Julian Lennon broke a lifelong pledge and publicly sang his father’s international hit “Imagine”. His reason for going back on his longstanding statement was to aid the people in crisis in Ukraine. Every penny of royalties from the making of the song will go to Ukrainian relief. Believe it or not, the massive hit “Imagine” never reached number one in either the UK or the U.S., It reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was popular in the UK at the time although it was not officially released as a single until 1975. It was not until 1975 that John Lennon had his first number one hit with “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, which was his only number one hit during his lifetime as “Starting Over” topped the charts immediately following his December 1980 death.
Everyone remembers Julian Lennon’s stunning 1984 debut album Valotte, which yielded three hit singles in the U.S. “Valotte” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100; “Much Too Late for Goodbyes” peaked at No. 5; “Say You’re Wrong” stalled at No. 21.
However, Julian’s half-brother, Sean Lennon, was responsible for a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1988 the teenage Sean Lennon was hanging out with Billy Joel and expressing to Joel his dismay over the state of the world. Sean then said to Joel, who was born in 1949, that he wished he had been born in the 1950’s because nothing happened then. Needless to say, Joel shot back at Lennon with all of the significant things that happened in the 1950’s.
After Lennon left, Joel started writing down a list of every significant thing t hat happened in the 1950’s. By the end of the day he was composing his future number one song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, which is famous for rattling off important parts of history and culture from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Reaching number one on, it was Joel’s third and final number one hit. His two were “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” (1980) and “Tell Her About It” (1983).
On another subject, Dickie Goodman was famous in the 1970’s for putting out novelty records in which he did mock interviews about current events or pop culture. The responses were in the form of snippets of pop songs of the day. In 1974 when the U.S. was engulfed in the famous energy crisis, Goodman put out “Energy Crisis ’74”. The song features songs from three ex-Beatles: “Helen Wheels” by Paul McCartney and Wings; “Mind Games” by John Lennon; “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr.
As interviewer, Goodman is pretending to interview President Richard M. Nixon and asks, “Who do you believe the gas shortage will affect the most?”. Then, the answer is the snippet of “Helen Wheels”.
The very next question is, “Mr. President, the crisis must be solved, what do you intend to do?” Then, Lennon sings, “Keep on playing those mind games.”
Then, in a phone conversation with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. He asks, “King Faisel, what are your thoughts when you look at oil those oil wells?”. Then, the snippet of Ringo singing “You’re mine, all mine” is inserted.
It is impressive that this silly song actually landed in the Billboard Hot 100 at number 33.
Actually Paul McCartney appears in another Dickie Goodman novelty hit, “Watergrate” in 1973. “Watergrate” of course was a spoof on the Watergate scandal surrounding the Nixon presidency at the time, and used Wings’ hit “My Love”.
Dickie Goodman scored a major hit in 1975 with his novelty song “Mr. Jaws”, which reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100. “Mr. Jaws” was in reaction to the movie Jaws, which was the box office smash for the summer of 1975 and is considered the first ever summer blockbuster, laying the ground for the movie industry ever since to release major movies in the summer.
Dickie Goodman died in 1989 at age 55 after a lifetime of making novelty records.
The holidays are almost here. There are many cool Beatles-related items that I find to be great gifts for people of all ages and for all occasions. The links to these items are displayed at the bottom of this blog post.
December 15, 2017 saw the release of the new CD box set Happy Christmas Beatles People!, a compilation of the special Christmas recordings that the Beatles sent each year to dues-paying members of the official Beatles Fan Club. This new box set encompasses the Christmas records from 1963 to 1969. This innovative special Christmas box set was reviewed in major publications throughout the world. Rolling Stone published a comprehensive article on December on the Christmas recordings to coincide with the release of the box set. The article is entitled “Beatles’ Rare Fan-Club Christmas Records: A Complete Guide“. This is the Amazon link to Happy Christmas Beatles People!
A great gift for Hanukkah is A Shabbat in Liverpool by Lenny Solomon and Schlock Rock.
In recent years, I have found that I cannot go wrong in terms of a baby gift with giving a Beatles CD for babies. The parents of the babies tell me it turns out to be a gift that they use over and over again. I have given the CDs for other occasions, too. The ones that I have given have been Beatles for Babies of the “For Babies” series, Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of The Beatles, and Rockabye Baby! More Lullaby Renditions of The Beatles. In addition, Baby Road: The Beatles Lovely Songs for Babies also seems to be popular.
Not only does ordering these CD’s online from Amazon.com save time in terms of going out to shop for a gift at store, but also you can be assured that no one else will be giving this kind of gift.
In the same regard, I have found success in giving a different kind of Beatles CD as a gift to my family and friends. Some of these people I know have many Beatles CDs in their collections, if not all of them. I surprise them with a unique gift of a different style of Beatles CD. There are numerous tribute CDs with an ethnic flavor. For example, people have loved The Beatles in Bossa Nova by The Brazilian Tropical Orchestra. Also, I get great feedback when I give another CD, Tribute In Bossa Nova To The Beatles.
Beatles music in the Cuban style is also a great novelty gift that people will enjoy. Here Comes … el son – Songs of The Beatles with a Cuban Twist is a CD that I listen to sometimes in the car.
The widest selection of Beatles CDs in different flavors can be found in reggae. There are no shortage of titles. The ones that I have given as gifts have been thoroughly enjoyed by the recipients. They are Here Comes The Sun: A Reggae Tribute to The Beatles, Tribute to The Beatles Reggae Style, and Vol. 1 – Reggae Tribute to Beatles.
Another genre that provides for neat gifts is classical music. The 2009 CD Classical Beatles is one that has worked out well, as has Beatles for Orchestra, and Blackbird: Beatles for Orchestra. Naturally, Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Play The Beatles, a digitally remastered CD released in 2000, is popular.
Two other titles that will intrigue your families and friends are Beatles in Classics: The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philarmonic, and The Beatles Arranged for a String Quartet by Wihan Quartet and various artists.
If you have friends who love The Beatles, giving gifts of this type will prove to be something that they not only will use, but also will remember for sure. The links to these CDs are below. Also, if you like this blog, please use our Amazon box when ordering from Amazon.com. Muchas gracias!
The Christmas season has officially begun! Last night (November 29) I was driving in my car and heard “Wonderful Christmastime” for the first time of the season.
As is the case each year during the holiday season, Paul’s Christmas song “Wonderful Christmastime” is in heavy rotation on the airwaves. This McCartney solo song was recorded in 1979 during the recording of McCartney II, with Paul laying down all the tracks himself at the home studio on his farm. Though not a Wings single, all of the members of the final configuration of Wings appeared in the video which was filmed at The Fountain Inn in Ashurst, West Sussex.
To say that it is a McCartney “solo” song is an understatement. He both wrote and produced the song in addition to providing vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, guitars, bass, and drums.
“Wonderful Christmastime” reached # 6 on the UK Singles Chart, but did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Since its debut during the 1979 holiday season, it was estimated by Forbes magazine that the song has earned Paul $20 million dollars. Each holiday season the song rakes him in excess of $500,000.
Beatles fans will remember that McCartney performed “Wonderful Christmastime” on Saturday Night Live on December 15, 2012.
In addition, Beatles fans will remember that there was never an official Christmas song released by the Fab Four. However, members of the official Beatles Fan Club received a record of Christmas song in 1967 that was not released commercially. “Christmas Time Is Here Again” lived on in bootleg records and became more accessible with the advent of YouTube.com.
Ironically, Paul can be heard on Side B of the monstrously successful 1984 charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. This song knocked out Wings’ “Mull of Kintyre” from having the distinction of being the biggest selling single in the history of the UK. It was on top of the UK Singles Charts in Christmas 1977. For whatever reason, “Mull of Kintyre” was a flop in the U.S., only reaching # 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and cracking the Top 40 for only that one week. “Mull of Kintyre” was a massive international hit that topped the charts in countless countries. Paul has never performed the song in a concert in the U.S. due to its bad performance there; however, there have been instances over the years in which he does a concert one night in the U.S. without performing “Mull of Kintyre” and then two nights later adds it to the playlist for a concert in Canada. “Mull of Kintyre” still remains the biggest selling non-charity single in UK history. In 1984 people were urged to buy multiple copies of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to support African famine relief, so “Mull of Kintyre” retains its unique place in history.
Jay Black, the famous lead singer of Jay and the Americans, died on October 22, 2021 in the New York City borough of Queens at the age of 82. Jay and the Americans began having hits one year before the arrival of The Beatles with “Only in America” reaching number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Few people know Jay Black’s entry on the radar screen of Beatles’ history. Two days after the Fab Four made their monumental debut on U.S. television with their famous performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9, 1964, the band had their first U.S. concert in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1964 at the Washington Coliseum. Two other bands opened for the Beatles, Jay and the Americans and the Righteous Brothers. Of course, when Jay and the Americans came on stage as the first act, the audience was screaming “We Want The Beatles!” as Jay and the Americans performed. Thinking quickly, he said to the audience,”Hey, man, I’m glad you all came to see us tonight”. The audience uniformly cracked up and that won them over. They listened to the full set of Jay Black and the Americans, and afterwards gave them a big round of applause.
In his controversial 1988 biography The Lives of John Lennon, author Albert Goldman wrote of the first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum:
“The Coliseum concert established the pattern, though not the standard, for all feature Beatles’ performances in America. Basically the event was a giant pep rally with salvational overtones. The emphasis was on the vast and frenzied audience rather than on the performers, who were dwarfed by the distance, drowned out by the noise, and overborne by the aggressiveness of a generation that would soon burst the old boundaries of public decorum and turn rock concerts into festivals of participatory culture. In this mad milieu the Beatles were reduced to marionettes, jouncing about on the distant stage. The Beatles’ songs, hanged out in the rough-and-ready style of such occasions, revealed their essential appeal as chants and shouts, the sort of thing to sing at a football game, a political convention, or a carnival ball. Ultimately the Beatles became America’s foremost cheerleaders.”
Jay & The Americans had ten entries into the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 from 1962 to 1970. Their first entry, “She Cried” which reached number 5 in March 1962, actually featured their first lead singer named Jay, John “Jay” Traynor”. A couple of months later Jay Traynor left the group and was replaced by David Blatt, who adopted the stage name “Jay Black” so the band could continue with the name Jay & The Americans. The band’s first single with Jay Black was “Only in America”, which reached number 25 in September 1963. That was followed with their smash hit “Come a Little Bit Closer”, which reached number three in September 1963 and had looked like it would reach number one; it was followed by “Let’s Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key”) which stalled at number 11 in February 1965.
In July 1965, “Cara, Mia”, which some consider to be the band’s signature song, reached number four. “Cara, Mia” was followed by “Some Enchanted Evening”, a song from the musical South Pacific which had been a big number one song for Perry Como in 1949, which reached number 13. “Sunday and Me” and “Crying” charted in the Top 40, and the next song would not chart for almost three years. “This Magic Moment” reached number six and was one of the major hits of 1969. The last entry for Jay & The Americans” was in January 1970 when “Walkin’ in the Rain”, a song penned by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, spent seven weeks in the Top 40 and reached number 19.
Jay Black will forever be remembered for winning over the crowd at The Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.
Jackie Lomax is definitely a footnote in Beatles history. George Harrison championed the guitarist/singer/songwriter who was around Liverpool in the early days with The Beatles. Lomax was touted as the person who was going to be the superstar of Apple Records, but his work with the Apple label proved to be a flop. His obituary in the September 19, 2013 edition of the New York Times carried the headline “Jackie Lomax Dies at 69; British Rock Singer recorded with Members of The Beatles”.
His band The Lomax Alliance had been signed to CBS Records before Brian Epstein’s death. After Epstein’s death and the formation of Apple Records, Apple took over responsibility for Lomax’s recording career. His first single was supposed to be a smash hit as it was penned by Harrison and featured three of the four Beatles as well as Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins. However, “Sour Milk Sea” did terribly on the charts. The rest of the Is This What You Want album was recorded in Los Angeles with Hal Blaine and other distinguished members of The Wrecking Crew. The album and another single released by Apple went unnoticed. With the 1970 breakup of The Beatles, Apple Records was in a tizzy and the some of the artists on the label were in limbo.
In his 2001 biography George Harrison, Alan Clayson wrote of Jackie Lomax:
“None of the records that he cut with George made Jackie rich. Still, they plodded on, with George sparing no expense. An artist of Jackie Lomax’s calibre deserved nothing less than publicity photos by Justin de Villanueve, a full orchestra if needed one and even the oscillations of one of these new-fangled Moog synthesizers. McCartney, Starr and Clapton were among the famous musicians namechecked on the sleeve of Lomax’s only Apple LP, dog-eared copies of which spoke to casual browsers of deletion racks through its title, Is This What You Want? Few did, however, despite Jackie’s most professional vocal projection and George’s competent – although occasionally cluttered – production.”
The British band Hot Chocolate is best known for their 1975 international hit “You Sexy Thing”, which reached # 3 on the charts in the U.S. Few people know that this multi-racial band has a unique Beatles connection.
Lead singer Errol Brown helped form the band and wanted to record “Give Peace a Chance” as their debut single. Wanting to alter the lyrics, they wrote to Apple for permission and included a demo tape. John Lennon met with them and liked them. He suggested they release the single on the Apple label. The band did not have a name yet, so Lennon recommended the name the Hot Chocolate Band. After the release of the single, they shortened it to simply Hot Chocolate. Their version of “Give Peace a Chance” failed to chart in both the UK and the U.S. Afterwards, the band singed with Mickie Most’s RAK Records and began their amazing string of hits. Hot Chocolate is the only group to have a hit in Britain in every year of the 1970’s decade.
The song was written by lead singer Errol Brown, and produced by Mickey Most, who is not known to U.S. audiences but who was the most successful producer in the UK in the 1970’s, producing acts such as Sweet, Arrows, Suzi Quatro, The Jeff Beck Group and others. In the 1960’s he produced acts such as Herman’s Hermits, The Animals, The Seekers, Lulu and Nancy Sinatra.
The song has been featured in countless films such as The Full Monty and Reservoir Dogs as well as television commercials for Burger King and Chevrolet.
In the U.S., Hot Chocolate had five songs in the Top 40 between 1975 and 1978. “Emma” reached # 8 and “Every 1’s a Winner” reached # 6. However, their most famous hit definitely is “You Sexy Thing”!
Fat shaming is an ugly part of our current culture. People who are deemed overweight – even if that is not the true and accurate case – can be targeted for their weight. Of course, many celebrities have been fat shamed in this era of social media, internet, and 24/7 cable news shows. These attacks can be vicious; some times they are unfounded and the celebrity is not overweight at all.
Recently, in the February 27, 2021 edition of the New York Daily News there was an article about Oscar-nominated actor Jonah Hill titled “Jonah Hill Says He’s Done Feeling Fat-Shamed in a Body Positive Post”. The article dealt with how the actor has had to deal with fat shaming during his career. Hill stated that it was until in his mid-30’s that he took off his shirt at the pool in front of family and friends. The actor stated, “It probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers.” Wow! That is a harsh statement. The abuse that Jonah Hill has faced in the media because of his body shape is just one example of countless celebrities viciously mocked.
It is likely that the first example of a modern day celebrity being fat shame and having it affect the celebrity was John Lennon in the early days of Beatlemania. In 1965, a music critic referred to Lennon as “the fat Beatle”, setting Lennon on a life journey of starvation and near-anerexia. In that period in 1965 Lennon did gain weight as he was disillusioned with the fast fame and fortune brought on by Beatlemania. Looking back on the making of the Help! album, Lennon later said, “I was fat and depressed, and I was crying out for help,” though he also masked his misery with the song’s chirpy tempo. Adds McCartney, “He didn’t say, ‘I’m now fat and I’m feeling miserable.’ He said, ‘When I was younger, so much younger than today.’ In other words, he blustered his way through. We all felt the same way. But looking back on it, John was always looking for help.
By 1966, it was obvious that the reporter’s comment had resonated as John had noticeably slimmed down, and would continue to do so. Ironically, the band stopped the use of marijuana, which drives one to eat more, as more sophisticated drugs were available to the band.
Can you believe that George Harrison played electric guitar on the novelty song “Basketball Jones”, the official title of which is “Basketball Jones (featuring Tyrone Shoelaces)”, by Cheech & Chong?
“Basketball Jones” first appeared on the 1973 Cheech & Chong album Los Cochinos. Written by Cheech and Chong themselves, it was recorded as a parody of the 1973 song “Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness, which reached # 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cheech Marin sings the song in falsetto. The song is about a young man’s love for basketball and the basketball he received. The song peaked at number # 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song, and the album, was produced by Lou Adler and the single featured a stellar cast of participants on “Basketball Jones”. George Harrison played electric guitar; Billy Preston on organ; Klaus Voorman on bass; Nicky Hopkins on piano; Jimmy Karstein on drums; Jim Keltner on percussion; Carole King on electric piano; Tom Scott on saxophone.
The impressive group of backing vocalists (dubbed “The Cheerleaders”) were Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector, Michelle Phillips and Jean King.
Where There’s Smoke There’s Cheech & Chong, the accompanying booklet to the album, gives notes on the recording of the track:
“Cheech sings, and Tommy plays piano – that’s all it was at first. In Cheech’s words, “George Harrison and those guys were in the next studio recording, and so Lou [Adler] just ran over there and played it for him. They made up the track right on the spot.” “That was a wild session,’ Lou Adler recalls, “I probably called Carole [King] and told her to come down, but with Harrison and [Klaus] Voorman- I didn’t call and say come in and play. Everyone happened to be in the A&M studios at that particular time, doing different projects. It was spilling out of the studio into the corridors.”
Also, there was an animated short film called “Basketball Jones” which was based on the song “Basketball Jones (featuring Tyrone Shoelaces)”, which was also released in 1973. The animated movie is about an African-American teenager named Tyrone Shoelaces and his love for basketball.
The ex-Beatle was credited under his own name for “Basketball Jones.” As is well known, George Harrison has appeared on many albums – sometimes not even having a credit given and other times using creative pseudonyms. This is a listing of Harrison’s fake names from Book of Rock Lists, the 1981 work by Dave Marsh. The chapter is titled “George Harrison’s Recording Pseudonyms”
1. L’Angelo Misterioso
“Badge,” CREAM, plays rhythm guitar, wrote song with Eric Clapton
“Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune”, JACK BRUCE; plays rhythm guitar
2. Son of Harry
“If You’ve Got Love”, DAVE MASON; plays guitar
3. Hari Georgeson
Many songs for SPLINTER, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, mandolin acoustic guitar
“That’s Life”, BILLY PRESTON plays guitar
4. George O’Hara Smith
“I’m Your Spiritual Breadman”, ASHTON, GARDNER, AND DYKE; plays electric swivel guitar
5. Jai Raj Harrison
Plays percussion on five SPLINTER songs
6. George Harrysong
“You’re Breaking My Heart”, HARRY NILSSON; plays slide guitar
7. George H.
“I Wrote a Simple Song”, BILLY PRESTON; plays guitar
“Costafine Town”, SPLINTER; plays harmonium
“Drink All Day”, SPLINTER; plays harmonium and jew’s harp
“Elly-May”, SPLINTER; plays Moog synthesizer
9. The George O’Hara-Smith Singers
All Things Must Pass, GEORGE HARRISON; overdubbed vocals
10. George O’Hara
“Banana Anna,” NICKY HOPKINS; plays guitar
“Edward”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays guitar
“Footprint”, GARY WRIGHT; plays guitar and slide guitar
“Speed On”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays lead guitar
“Waiting for the Band”, NICKY HOPKINS; plays slide guitar
In addition , this 1974 Cheech and Chong song, released one year after “Basketball Jones”, never fails to bring a smile ……….