The Beatles intensely disliked entertainment mogul Robert Stigwood

Robert Stigwood is an Australian-born and British-based entertainment mogul who managed rock acts in Britain. The British entertainment establishment was shocked on January 13, 1967 when Brian Epstein merged his entertainment management company, NEMS Enterprises, with Robert Stigwood’s company. People are still uncertain as to why Epstein made this move. He obviously wanted to reduce his involvement in NEMS Enterprises, but this merger was considered a bold move.

Stigwood agreed to transfer all of his company’s assets into NEMS. As a result, he received major shareholding in NEMS, in addition to a handsome salary and many other perks as could only be expected.

The four Beatles were absolutely livid. They definitely had no fondness for Stigwood. In 2000, Paul told interviewer Greil Marcus:

“We said, ‘In fact, if you do, if you somehow manage to pull this off, we can promise you one thing. We will record ‘God Save the Queen’ for every single record we make from now on and we’ll sing out of tune. That’s a promise. So if this guy buys us, that’s what he’s buying.”

Brian Epstein read the writing on the wall and stayed on solely as the manager of The Beatles and turned over all of his other acts to Stigwood. Obviously, after Epstein’s death later that year, The Beatles waved goodbye to Stigwood and NEMS, en route to forming their own company, Apple Corps.

Stigwood would go on to have absolutely phenomenal success in music, movies and television. He represented such acts as The Bee Gees, Cream, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Blind Faith, and many more.

After seeing John Travolta in the 1976 movie Carrie and seeing that he could also sing because of his 1976 Top Ten hit “Let Her In”, Stigwood immediately signed the actor from the hit show “Welcome Back Kotter” to a three film deal. The first two Stigwood films with Travolta, Saturday Night Fever and Grease, were both international smash successes that catapulted Travolta into superstardom. However, the third film, Moment by Moment in 1978, starred Travolta and Lily Tomlin; it was an absolute and laughable bomb and many feel that it did irreparable damage to Travolta’s career.

Stigwood decided to make Saturday Night Fever after reading an article in the June 7, 1976 issue of New York magazine by British rock journalist Nik Cohn entitled “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.” Cohn had recently arrived in America and was fascinated by the new disco culture. He wrote a compelling article about an Italian-American kid who worked in a hardware store by day, but on the weekends had a whole new life as a star on the dance floor at discos. The article touched upon how this person and his group of blue-collar friends from the same Brooklyn neighborhood were the pioneers of a new dance craze and subculture that would soon sweep the nation.

Robert Stigwood was enthralled by the article and paid Cohn the hefty sum of $90,000 for the film rights. Stigwood hired veteran screenwriter Norman Wexler to write the screenplay for Saturday Night Fever. Cohn talked about this 1976 magazine article in 1997 for the making of the twentieth anniversary DVD of the famous 1977 film. About a year later, Cohn went public and said that he totally fabricated everything in the article and that the likable Italian-American young adult disco star and his friends had never even existed. Don’t you think Cohn was laughing all the way to the bank in 1976 when he cashed that $90,000 check?

Happy 75th Birthday, Ringo !!!!

On July 7, 2015 Ringo Starr became the first Beatle to reach the milestone of having a 75th birthday. He will not be the last as Paul McCartney will hit 75 on June 18, 2017. Sadly, John Lennon would have reached 75 this coming October 9, 2015.

If he were alive, George Harrison, who was born at home, would be able to celebrate two 75th birthdays – he was reportedly born in his family home on February 24, 1943 at 11:50 PM, but his birth was registered with the City of Liverpool as February 25, 1943, which is his official birthday. In later years George began to embrace February 24th as his birthday.

Being the first Beatle to hit 75 is just one of the many firsts for Ringo. His song “Photograph”, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of November 24, 1973, represents the first time that two ex-Beatles collaborated to release a song. “Photograph” was co-written by Ringo and George Harrison on a luxury yacht in the South of France in 1971. It was an international hit, also reaching number one on the charts in Canada and Australia. With all the countless worldwide number one hits credited to Lennon/McCartney, it was refreshing to Beatles fans at the time that a Starr/Harrison composition topped the charts.

On Ringo’s two previous hit singles, “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo”, it was reported that these were also Starr/Harrison collaborations though Harrison went uncredited; Harrison also produced these two singles. George provided Ringo with help on the melodies of these two songs.

The original recording was done during the recording of George’s Living in the Material World album, but the official recording was done in Los Angeles as part of the wildly successful 1973 album Ringo, which also yielded the number one single “You’re Sixteen” and the top ten hit “Oh My My”.

Recorded in March 1973 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, it was produced by Richard Perry who incorporated a Phil Spectator-type “Wall of Sound” with multiple drums and acoustic guitars. Famed pianist Nicky Hopkins handled piano chores, Klaus Voormann played bass, Bobby Keys played saxophone, Jim Keltner was the main drummer, Lon Van Eaton and brother Derreck Van Eaton on percussion, Vini Poncia on acoustic guitar, and George Harrison on acoustic guitar and providing harmony vocals.

On January 26, 2014 at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Beatles received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and surviving Beatles Ringo and Paul represented the band. Ringo sang “Photograph” at the event.