John & Paul appeared on The Tonight Show in 1968: Wheeeeeere’s Johnny?

Several days ago, Joe Garagiola, a former major league baseball player who became much more famous as a broadcaster in his post-baseball career, passed away at age 90. Obituaries in major U.S. newspapers did not mention Garagiola’s very minor role in Beatles history. For instance, the New York Times obit of the baseball player-turned-broadcaster, “Joe Garagiola, a Cather Who Called the Game Better“, made no mention of the highly memorable Beatles incident.

Immediately after the formation of the band’s own label Apple Records in 1968, and shortly after the band members returned from their memorable trip to India to “visit” the Maharishi, John and Paul went to New York for a few days for issues relating to Apple Records. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, which was still based in New York and would make the switch to Los Angeles in 1972 after spending a decade in New York after Carson took over the show from former host Jack Paar in 1962, contacted the band’s management and asked if John and Paul would appear on the show on May 14, 1968 during their trip to New York. Since members of the Beatles had never appeared on the famous Tonight Show – either as a band or as individuals – John and Paul thought it would be a good thing to do both for the band and to get the word out about the new Apple Record Corps.

To make a long story short, the whole thing was a total disaster. Producers of The Tonight Show did not inform John or Paul or Neil Aspinall that Johnny Carson would be on vacation on May 14, and that Joe Garagiola, someone totally unknown to them, would be the host. Needless to say, John and Paul were not pleased upon learning this and contemplated canceling out, but decided to go through with it. In later years, both John and Paul described Joe Garagiola as being very nice, warm and gracious. However, it was obvious to John and Paul, and the American public, that Garagiola definitely was not the right person to interview John Lennon and Paul McCartney on their first and only appearance on the famous Tonight Show during the Beatle years. John and Paul deserve much credit for being good sports. Another part of the equation was that aging actress Tallulah Bankhead was also a guest; she was totally intoxicated and asked the two boys some stupid questions.

The NBC television network destroyed many tapes of various shows from that era due to storage limitations, a move which has been universally criticized since. No authentic tape of the infamous May 14, 1968 show exists. However, in the pre-VCR era, some industrious Beatles fans taped the audio of the show on a tape recorder and did a makeshift filming of the visuals on their television screen with a Super-8 home movie camera.

An excellent article about John and Paul appearing on The Tonight Show appeared last year on the website The article, “47 Years Ago: John Lennon and Paul McCartney Appear on the Tonight Show”, is most informative and includes a link to the dialogue of the infamous 1968 episode of the famous show. has a wealth of fascinating articles on The Beatles, in addition to countless informative articles on other rock bands that fall under the “classic rock” label.

The Tonight Show fiasco with Joe Garagiola is known among Beatles fans but has not been widely covered. For instance, two major books of the last decade, The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz (1968) and John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman (2008), make no mention of the incident.

In an indirect way, The Tonight Show has another connection to The Fab Four. Original host Steve Allen stayed from 1954-1957. He was succeeded by Jack Paar (1957-1962) who turned the 90 minute NBC daily weeknight late show into an absolute staple of American culture. Johnny Carson took over the show from Paar in 1962, as the American public was dismayed that the wildly famous Paar would give up the show after only five years. Johnny Carson’s reign lasted thirty years until his 1992 retirement, which brought Jay Leno as the new host. Leno retired in 2009 and was replaced as host by Conan O’Brien; Conan started in June 2009, but the network replaced him the following January by bringing back Jay Leno, who stayed on under an agreement from March 2010 until February 2014 when he was replaced by current host Jimmy Fallon.

After leaving NBC’s The Tonight Show in 1962, the network did not want to lose the popular Paar to another network, so they offered him a weekly one hour show on Friday nights. The Jack Paar Program, debuted in the fall of 1962 and ran until June 1965. Paar is a definite footnote in Beatles history as his weekly show was the first show in the U.S. to showcase The Beatles. Of course, The Ed Sullivan Show was famously the band’s first live appearance on American television, but one month beforehand The Jack Paar Program featured film footage of the group and told how they had taken their native England by storm. At the time, the group did not have any hit records in the U.S., but of course that would change in a matter of weeks. The January 3, 1964 recorded appearance on The Jack Paar Program has naturally been obliterated in history by the famous February 8, 1964 live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Actually, the first appearance of The Beatles on U.S. television was a straight news story. On November 18, 1963, the daily evening news program The Huntley Brinkley Report on NBC did a news segment on The Beatles and how the young group was creating hysteria in England. There was no video footage, as the segment was accompanied by only still photographs. There was an audio clip of “From Me to You” of one of their UK concerts, complete with the music being drowned out by the hysteria of the crowd.

The fact that the footage of John and Paul appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson with guest host Joe Garagiola was destroyed seems ironic. John and Paul totally wanted to forget the episode, and it is highly likely that Joe Garagiola did, too.

“Mull of Kintyre” is the top song in the history of the UK, but remains unknown in the U.S.

This posting was inspired by meeting a couple recently who hail from Leicester in England. We were talking about the scene in Britain in 1977 with Kevin Keegan being the top footballer in all of Europe, as well as Keegan sparking a national hairstyle craze among men.

In terms of ex-members of The Fab Four in 1977, a significant event happened. That August Paul McCartney and Wings’ guitarist Denny Laine co-wrote “Mull of Kintyre”, a song which has no significance to people in the U.S. It was recorded by Wings in September and appeared on their London Town album.

The song was inspired by the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll, Scotland where McCartney had a home and recording studio since the Beatle days.

The song was a hit before, during and after Christmas 1977, staying in the # 1 position on the British charts for nine weeks. The song overtook “She Loves You” as the biggest-selling single in British history. “Mull of Kintyre” held this distinction until 1984 when Band Aid scored big with their charity hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” However, “Mull of Kintyre” remains the biggest-selling non-charity single in British history. The 1977 hit was the first single in UK history to sell over two million copies.

Surprisingly, the song was invisible in the U.S., only reaching # 33 on the charts in 1977 and leaving the Top 40 portion of The Billboard Hot 100 after only one week. McCartney has specifically not played the song on concert dates in the U.S., while playing it in Canada and most other countries. For instance, he could do a concert in New York one night and not play the song, then do a concert two nights later in Toronto and play the song.

Almost forty years after its release, “Mull of Kintyre” remains totally unknown to the American general public. Unrelated to the famous song about this beautiful location in Scotland,, an October 8, 2013 article in the Daily Mail entitled “How Mull of Kintyre Lost Its Magic for Paul McCartney” paints an interesting scenario for the location of the Mull of Kintyre, where McCartney has owned his High Park Farm since 1966.

This blog profiled in syndicated column

Last Sunday had the great fortune of being profiled in a syndicated column in the U.S. “The Word Watch” column by Robert Kyff is one that has been around for 25 years and examines the world of words. Originating in the Hartford Courant, a newspaper in the Tribune Corporation family of publications, this column appears in many other newspapers in the U.S. as well. The article is entitled “Beatles Lyrics Gave Fans Brit Speak to Decipher” and addresses the usage of quirky British terms in lyrics.

In terms of the Americanisms in Beatles lyrics, there is the famous story of when John and Paul finished “She Loves You” in Paul’s house and played it to Paul’s father, Jim McCartney. Jim McCartney was not at all pleased with the refrain “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” and urged them to change it to the grammatically correct “Yes, Yes, Yes”. In a 2012 interview with National Public Radio, Paul repeated the famous story that his father boldly stated, “There are enough of these Americanisms around”.

Kudos to The Word Guy of “The Word Watch” column!

Two new novels feature John Lennon as a main character

In the last few months, there have been two novels in which members of The Beatles are central characters, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry and Get Back: Imagine Saving John Lennon by Donovan Day. Both of these 2015 novels have been reviewed many times.

The second novel from Irish writer Kevin Barry, Beatlebone covers a fictitious trip to the west coast of Ireland by John Lennon in 1978. In real life, John Lennon purchased a small island called Dorinish in Clew Bay, County Mayo in 1967 for the sum of 1,550 pounds. A November 22, 2015 review in the New York TimesIn Beatlebone, An Imagined Trip with John Lennon” gave interesting insight into the novel, “… about John Lennon. It follows him closely for around 200 pages, through a few comically calamitous days in 1978, as he travels through western Ireland to an island off its coast, bought on a lark 11 years earlier……a few days alone on his island, he hopes, will bring him the peace that marriage and fatherhood, though he loves them, haven’t. The poignant knowledge that this is an end-of-life crisis , not a middle-of-life one: that belongs to us not to him.”

An extremely interesting review of Beatlebone, “John Lennon, 1980 and me; an appreciation of Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone”, appeared on a blog in the online version of The Guardian on February 10, 2016. It is eye-opening to say the least.

The second novel that is a fictional work about The Beatles was also published in late 2015. Get Back: Imagine…..Saving John Lennon by first-time novelist Donovan Day has received equally positive reviews. The plot centers around 17 year-old Lenny Funk who uses time travel to go back to the 1960’s to befriend the Fab Four. One moment it is 2015 and he is listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on his iPod, and the same day he is in London, soon to befriend The Beatles at the height of their fame. The dialogue from 2015 New York to London in the 1960’s is right on target. Showing John Lennon his smartphone and all its features as something from the future, the Beatle is amazed. On the subject of the future, John quizzically asks Lenny, “What is going to happen to me?”

The passage about John being told what a selfie is conveys how successful Lenny is is transitioning from 2015 right back to London in 1964:

“Uh, how about we take a selfie?”
“What in God’s name is a selfie?”
“It’s a photo of us together that we take ourselves.”
He crosses his arms. “Show me.”
I toy with the settings a moment, reach out my arm, and move my head closer to John’s. “Okay, smile.”
Incredibly he does, looking at our image on screen as if mesmerized. I take the photo and show it to him – me and John Lennon side by side. I am ecstatic. This is real proof no one can deny.
………..He smiles proudly. “I don’t know if you are lying to me or if you are a lunatic, but you are different, I’ll say that much. This thing, this phone or camera, or whatever it is? If you invented this thing, you need to come work for us. Brian can set you up in his office.”

Lenny Funk’s travel back to save John Lennon from being murdered on the ill-fated day of December 8, 1980 becomes the focus of the plot and will have readers turning the pages of the book very quickly. The book review “Get Back: A Time-Travel Adventure to Save Lennon” by Shelley Germeaux gives a good appraisal of this young-adult novel.

The fact that John Lennon is a main character in both of the recent novels Beatlebone and Get Back: Imagine Saving John Lennon should be of interest to Beatles fans. Both novels are good reads.