It was 30 years ago today! (Ferris Bueller took that famous day off)

This weekend in 1986, the biggest movie at the box office was the classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a John Hughes teen comedy that appealed to a cross-section of all moviegoers. For young people, it was definitely “the movie to see” in the summer of 1986. The movie has a historical role in Beatles lore as its use of “Twist and Shout” in the most memorable scene of the movie spawned the single’s re-release and entry into the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, which naturally cultivated new found Beatles fans among the younger generation.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was written, produced and directed by John Hughes and takes place in his childhood stomping grounds of both suburban Winetka, Illinois and downtown Chicago. It starred Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, a high school senior who decides to skip school one day and have with with his two friends, Sloane Peterson and Cameron Frye, played respectively by Mia Sara and Alan Ruck.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was made on $5.8 million budget and grossed $70.1 million, ranking as one of the top-grossing movies of 1986.

The scene with “Twist and Shout” occurs when the trio stumbles upon the Von Stueben Day Parade in Chicago. It took much choreographic preparation and several days of shooting to pull of these famous scenes. First, Ferris gets up onto a German float and lip synchs the 1963 hit “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newtown; the 21 year-old singer Wayne Newton had placed the Bert Kaempfert classic at number 13 on the charts.

Then, the famous scene with “Twist and Shout” made the movie. John Hughes was a major Beatles fan and stated that every day during the 56 days of shooting the movie he listened to the White Album in its entirety. Because the song was featured prominently in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Twist and Shout” was re-released as a single, reaching number 23 and staying in the Top 40 for seven weeks. In 1964, “Twist and Shout” stalled for an amazing four weeks at the number two position but never made the jump up to the top slot. It spent 16 weeks in the Top 40 in 1964. The combined 1964 and 1986 total of 23 weeks in the Top 40 give the single the distinction of being the Beatles single with the most weeks in the Top 40 at 23.

The song received an additional boost when the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School, which was released a week after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, featured the comedian singing the Beatles version of “Twist and Shout”.

A previous blog post from January 2015 about “Got To Get You Into My Life” covers another Beatles hit that was released after the break-up of the Fab Four and fared well on the charts ten years after it was recorded.

Wings guitarist Henry McCullough dies at age 72

It is obvious that has been “off the grid” for a whole month! In that time, original Wings guitarist Henry McCullough died on June 14 at age 72.

This is the New York Times obituary for McCullough. Billboard published the article “Paul McCartney reacts to death of Wings guitarist Henry McCullough”.

A native of Derry in Northern Ireland, McCartney was the only Irish person to perform at Woodstock, playing in Joe Cocker’s band. He was chosen as the first lead guitarist for McCartney’s new band Wings in 1972.

McCullough therefore played lead guitarist on Wings’ first released single, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”, which was written in response to the infamous 1972 “Bloody Sunday” incident in Derry in Northern Ireland in which British troops opened fire on unarmed civilian Catholic protesters, killing 14 and wounding an additional 14. The song topped the pop charts in the Republic of Ireland and reached number 21 in the U.S. However, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was immediately banned by the BBC and thus did not receive airplay on UK stations. This banning was a major coup for McCartney as Lennon had always been considered the more political of the two; ironically, Lennon’s song on the infamous 1972 incident in Northern Ireland, “The Luck of the Irish”, went largely unnoticed. The controversy over “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” resulted in Henry McCullough’s brother being jumped by a group of thugs after leaving a bar in Derry. In addition, Wings concerts were picketed in the UK.

Two other good articles are McCullough’s native Ireland from Irish newspapers, the Irish Times “Henry McCullough: Irish Guitarist Who Played at Woodstock and With Wings” and the Belfast TelegraphMourners Say Goodbye to Henry McCullough with Music and Songs”.