Julian Lennon has been in the news in the last year on account of his new children’s book and environmental activism. People may not realize that the Liverpool-born son of John Lennon is actually named John Charles Julian Lennon. A previous post on this blog entitled “Julian Lennon? Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney Names Their Sons after Themselves!” details how John Lennon named both of his sons after himself and Paul McCartney named his only son after himself.
Of course, Julian Lennon has received much media attention upon the release of his book Touch the Earth (A Julian Lennon White Feather Flower Adventure), which was released on April 11, 2017. The second volume in this trilogy, Heal the Earth, will be released in late April 2018. On April 3, 2018, it was announced that Lennon signed a deal with Gaumont to turn the trilogy into an animated tv series.
Julian Lennon came to the attention of the public with his highly successful 1984 debut album Valotte. The album was first certified gold, then platinum early in the New Year. The title track “Valotte” received massive airplay and reached number nine on the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album reached # 17 in the U.S. and # 20 in the UK.
In September 1983 Julian’s demo tape was given to Charisma Records head Tony Stratton-Smith. Mogul Ahmet Ertegun was impressed with Lennon’s songwriting. Then, in October 1983, Julian began a three month stay at the French chateau Valotte. He had the luxury of having four recording studios. He named the title track and the album after the chateau Manor de Valotte, but the term “Valotte” does not appear in the song, which was written at the chateau.
The Liverpudlian said after the song was released, “The place where that was written, which was actually a beautiful little run-down chateau in the middle of France, which is where the label at the time decided was a good place to send their artists to work out their writing skills. I know that Thomas Dolby had been down there and a few other high-end acts at that point in time. It was just a really tranquil, beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere, where one could get a little lonely I guess. The song initially came from that idea of just being in this beautiful landscape and dreaming of the idea that if you found that love of your life, this is something you’d aspire to. It’s as simple as that, really.”
“Valotte”, the title track from the album, was the first single from the album released in the U.S. and the second single released in the UK. Written by Lennon, Justin Clayton, and Carlton Morales, the song was recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Lennon was inspired by the surroundings of the Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals and in the opening line of the chorus incorporated the line, “Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar”, as well as other references in the lyrics to the Tennessee Valley.
Ironically, the song was mixed at The Hit Factory recording studio in New York City on the very same console John Lennon used to record the album Double Fantasy.
So many people who heard the song “Valotte” for the first time thought it was actually John Lennon singing and were surprised that it was his son. The similarity in vocals was glaring. However, at the time Julian was adamant in letting people know that he received his records deal as a result of his talent and not his family name. When he sent the demo tape to Charisma Records, it was sent anonymously. With the exception of one song on the album, Julian either wrote or co-wrote every song, in addition to providing lead vocals and keyboard chores on every single. The album peaked at number 17 in the U.S. and number 20 in the UK.
The musical Beautiful: The Carole King Story has been on Broadway for four years, opening in January 2014. The hit musical won six Tony awards in 2014 and is still going strong. The play tells the life of singer/songwriter Carole King, featuring the song catalog of King and her husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, as well as the song catalog of fellow Brill Building husband-and-wife songwriting team Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The January 14, 2014 New York Times article “A Songwriter Who Found Her Voice” gives good a insight into the play.
A song that is featured in the play is one that represents the only Goffin-King song ever recorded by The Beatles. The four members of The Beatles were well aware of the many hits written by the Queens-based songwriting duo that worked at the famed Brill Building located at 1619 Broadway in Manhattan. In 1963 when The Beatles were having hits in England and were a year away from their famous landing in the U.S., John Lennon was quoted in the British press as saying that he and Paul McCartney wanted to become “the Goffin-King of England”.
The song “Chains” was not a big hit like other songs penned by Goffin-King, but was a hit nonetheless. Both the version by The Cookies and the later version by The Beatles each have a unique history. The Cookies were the back-up singers for Little Eva, the babysitter for King and Goffin. As legend has it, King saw babysitter Eva Boyd doing a wild dance that inspired the husband and wife to write the song “The Loco-Motion”. They already had faith in Eva’s vocal abilities. Little Eva topped the charts with “The Loco-Motion” for one week on August 25, 1962.
The Cookies version of “Chains” was the band’s first song in the Top 40, reaching number 17 in late December 1962. Three months later, The Cookies would have their biggest hit as “Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby)”, another Goffin-King composition, reached number seven on the charts.
“The Loco-Motion” and the Goffin-King songwriting duo has a unique and most ironic place in U.S. chart history. The Goffin-King song “Go Away Little Girl”, a number one hit for Steve Lawrence in January 1963, became the first song in Billboard Hot 100 history to reach number one by two different artists when Donny Osmond topped the charts with “Go Away Little Girl” for three weeks in September 1971. Surprisingly, the second instance in which a song reached number one by two different artists was also a Goffin-King composition; Grand Funk reached the top slot with their version of “The Loco-Motion” for two weeks in May 1974, some twelve years after Little Eva’s chart-topper with the song.
The musical Beautiful also features two quick appearances by Neil Sedaka, who took Carole King on one date when she 16 and used it as the basis for the song “Oh! Carol”, which reached number nine on the charts in 1959. Of course, Neil Sedaka was a great friend of John Lennon and wrote and performed the 1975 hit “The Immigrant” about Lennon’s immigration problems. A previous blog post, “Neil Sedaka Wrote a Hit Song About John Lennon’s Immigration Problems”, covers in detail how Sedaka was moved by his friend John Lennon’s immigration troubles and wrote “The Immigrant”.
The Beatles’ version of “Chains” was recorded on February 11, 1963 and released in the UK on March 22, 1963. It appeared on thePlease Please Me album in the UK, and The Early Beatlesalbum in the U.S. John did the harmonica intro and George provided lead vocals. It would represent the first time that Beatles fans would hear George’s voice on a commercially released single. Some critics in England had criticisms of the song, which was recorded in four takes, the first of which was chosen for the single release.
We are currently at the 35th anniversary of “The Girl Is Mine”, the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney hit song, being in the number two position on the Billboard Hot 100. The duet of these two superstars stayed in the number two slot for three weeks but could not make the jump to the top position on the charts. It did, however, top the Adult Contemporary charts for four weeks and the R&B charts for three weeks.
The song was recorded at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, the site of the recording for the entire Thriller album, from April 14th to April 16th in 1982. It was released on October 18, 1982 and was the first single released on what would become the top-selling album in history.
“The Girl Is Mine” cracked the Top 40 on November 13, 1982 and stayed in the Top 40 for 14 weeks. By 1985 it had sold 1.3 million copies. The song was largely forgotten in the wake of the amazing success of the other songs released from the Thriller album. The next song released from the album,“Billie Jean”, would top the charts for seven weeks, followed by “Beat It” which stayed at number one for three weeks. Then, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” peaked at the number five position. “Human Nature” reached number seven. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) scored number ten on the charts, and finally “Thriller” stalled at number four on the charts. Of course, Thriller ranks as the bestselling album of all-time. After its November 30, 1982 release, it sold an astounding 66 million copies in a little over a year. Representatives for both Sony and Jackson’s estate say that Thriller has sold close to 110 million copies globally. Prior to the album’s release, Jackson negotiated an unprecedented deal with Sony in which he himself received an astounding two dollars for every album sold.
Ironically, Jackson’s 1979 album Off the Wall was the first album by a solo artist to chart four Top Ten singles (“Rock with You”, “Off the Wall”, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, and “She’s Out of My Life”). On the strength of Thriller’s whopping seven Top Ten singles and highly popular videos to three of them, Thriller quickly set records on a quick ride to becoming the top-selling album of all-time, dethroning Carole King’s long-reigning 1971 magnus opus Tapestry.
Jackson’s follow-up to Thriller, Bad, set a record as the album with the most number one hits at five (“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror”, and “Dirty Diana”).
It is small wonder that people were not expecting much of a punch from Thriller in light of the fact that “The Girl Is Mine” was the first single released. The strength of the rest of the album proved them wrong.
In the 2010 book Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson, author Nelson George wrote, “’The Girl’ was the first song off Thriller and released in October 1982, was a pop hit, but it was met with a lot off grumbling by African Americans unimpressed by the song’s perceived advocacy of interracial dating and its apparent retreat from Off the Wall’s great dance music.”
Nelson posits that the most significant aspect of this collaboration between Jackson and the ex-Beatle was not “The Girl Is Mine”, but rather a conversation in which McCartney told Jackson about the financial benefits of music publishing and song catalogs. This piece of casual advice ironically was the catalyst that inspired Jackson to purchase controlling interest in the Beatles song catalog four years later.
J. Randy Taraborrelli’s #1 bestselling 1991 biography Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness had an interesting take on the song:
“It’s ironic, considering the eventual impact Thriller would have on the record industry, that when CBS released the album’s first single (in October 1982, a little over a month before issuing the album to the marketplace), most observers thought the Thriller album would be a huge disappointment. The auspicious pairing of Michael Jackson with Paul McCartney for the mid-tempo “The Girl Is Mine” (which the singers co-wrote while watching cartoons together) appeared to be of greater interest than the song itself, which is more cute than good, and lacking in substance. Many in both the black and white communities felt that Michael and producer Quincy Jones had gone too far in consciously tailoring a record for a white, pop audience, and if this first single was any indication of what Thriller was to be like, then Michael Jackson seemed to be in big trouble.”
In the 1988 Yesterday: The Unauthorized Biography of Paul McCartney, Chet Flippo wrote on the McCartney/Jackson collaboration, “That same year Paul recorded “The Girl Is Mine” with Michael Jackson and in a way came to regret it. Because of that session, Paul forever lost the chance to own his own songs: the 159 Lennon-McCartney jewels in the Northern Songs catalog. Out of the blue Michael Jackson bought Northern in 1985 for $47.5 million.”
Surprisingly, “The Girl is Mine” was the third collaboration of McCartney and Jackson. A year earlier, the pair had recorded the songs “Say, Say, Say” and “The Man” which would be released months after “The Girl Is Mine” on McCartney’s 1983 album Pipes of Peace. “Say, Say, Say” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks in late 1983/ early 1984 and would be McCartney’s final number one hit. Four years earlier McCartney wrote the song “Girlfriend” in the hopes that Jackson would record it; McCartney recorded “Girlfriend” on the 1978 Wings album “London Town” while Jackson would record the song on his 1979 album Off the Wall.
Members of the band Toto were the backing musicians for “The Girl Is Mine” with Dave Paich (acoustic piano), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Steve Lukather (drums), and Steve Porcaro (synthesizer programming). These members of Toto were used as backing musicians on several songs on Thriller. For instance, on the # 1 hit “Beat It”, the brilliant work of Jeff Porcaro on drums and Steve Lukather on both bass and lead guitar, as well as Steve Porcaro on synthesizers, gave the song the needed edge to transcend from pop stations onto mainstream rock stations around the country. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on the track definitely created a buzz. As a result of working on “The Girl Is Mine”, two years later Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather would work with McCartney again on the Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack album. Steve Porcaro also wrote the song “Human Nature”.
On February 23, 1983, Toto swept the 25th Annual Grammy Awards with Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Producer of the Year for their Toto IV album. What is ironic is that one year later in 1984 Michael Jackson and Thriller dominated the Grammys in light of the fact that members of Toto were so prominent in the making of Thriller. Thriller’s main competition at the 1984 Grammys was Lionel Ritchie’s album Can’t Slow Down, which featured Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather on the # 7 hit “Running with the Night”.
As all Beatles fans know, ten days ago on 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!
The release of this long overdue box set will compete with a popular Christmas song by an ex- Beatle. 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 Founatin Inn in Ashurst, West Sussex.
“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 $15 million dollars. Each holiday season the song rakes him in excess of $400,000.
Beatles fans will remember that McCartney performed “Wonderful Christmastime” on SaturdayNight 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, as the public knows now in 2017, from 1963 to 1963 members of the official Beatles Fan Club received Christmas records that were never released to the public. One such Christmas song, “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., 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.
The 1977 Wings single “Mull of Kintyre” still remains the biggest selling non-charity single in UK history.
Needless to say, there was ample coverage around the globe last summer concerning the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. There was a highly praised special on PBS entitled Sgt. Peppers Musical Revolution , in addition to countless articles in major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Daily Mail. However, what was not addressed in the media coverage of the 50th anniversary was the fact that some songs on this groundbreaking album were “ripped from the headlines”. The songs “She’s Leaving Home”, “A Day in the Life” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” were inspired by news articles or announcements.
The term “ripped from the headlines” was thrown at some high-profile American television shows which based their scripts around actual news events. The first such show, Lou Grant, which ran weekly from 1977-1982 on, saw actor Ed Asner reprise the character Lou Grant from the seven year run of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) though not in a comedic role. In the show Lou Grant, the character Lou Grant had shifted from television news in Minnesota back to print news and was the city editor of the fictitious daily newspaper the Los Angeles Tribune. Some of the show’s episodes were based on actual situations that had faced newspapers in the U.S. However, the term ‘ripped from the headlines” is most heavily identified with the show Law & Order, which ran on NBC from 1990-2010 and spawned a franchise of other similar Law & Order type shows. Episodes of Law & Order many times were based on high-profile news stories that appeared on the front page of the New York City tabloid newspapers the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
Similarly, the song “She’s Leaving Home” was taken directly from a newspaper article that Paul McCartney read. Paul said the following of the song:
“John and I wrote ‘She’s Leaving Home’ together. It was my inspiration. We’d seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who’d left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up … It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It’s a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.
While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there’s the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in “Yellow Submarine”, they weren’t real people.”
The front page newspaper article in question was in the Daily Mail about a teenaged girl named Melanie Coe who had run away from her parents. Coe subsequently said that the song was fairly accurate though she did not meet “a man from the motor trade.”
What was ironic was that McCartney had actually met a young Melanie Coe three years earlier in 1963 when he served as a judge on ITV’s Ready Steady Go! and proclaimed her the winner of a dance contest.
The final track on the classic 1967 album, “A Day in the Life”, written primarily by John with Paul adding the midsection, was similarly based on newspaper articles, mainly reports on the death of Tara Browne, the 21 year-old heir to the Guinness fortune. A friend of both Paul and John, Browne died when he crashed his Lotus Elon. Of course, the song starts off with the opening lyric, “I read the news today, oh boy”.
The main article on Browne’s death which inspired the song was a 17 January 1967 article in the Daily Mail which centered on a ruling on custody of Browne’s two small children.
“I didn’t copy the accident,” Lennon said in a BBC interview. “Tara didn’t blow his mind out, but it was in my mind when I was writing that verse. The details of the accident in the song—not noticing traffic lights and a crowd forming at the scene—were similarly part of the fiction.” McCartney expounded on the subject: “The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.”
“He got the germ of it when he picked up the Daily Mail on December 19. John knew one story he would find. The previous day a good friend of the Beatles named Tara Browne had been killed when his Lotus Elan hit a truck at high speed in South Kensington. He was twenty-one years old, an heir to the Guinness fortune, and now he was dead in a car wreck. The subject stayed with John. On January 17, 1967, he settled down on his settee with the Daily Mail and read the following short item: ‘There are 4,000 holes in the road in Blackburn, Lancashire, or one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey.’
“John started writing, combining the two items and adding a reference to his recent war movie. It was still not a complete song, so John took what he had to Paul. In what was undoubtedly the last time they would sit down and work on a song together, Paul produced his own unfinished song that he thought would fit with John’s unfinished piece of the puzzle. Paul’s portion was, he said, about his memories of ‘what it was like to run up the road and catch the bus to school, having a smoke and going to class. We decided, ‘Bugger this. We’re going to write a turn-on song.’ This would become ‘A Day in the Life.’”
While “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” was not ripped from a news story, the lyrics were lifted almost word-for-word from a circus poster. There were a collection of unusual things at John’s Kenwood estate in the London suburb of Weybridge that he had collected. One was a 19th century circus poster for Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal appearance in Rochdale.
While Paul has claimed over the years that he aided a small bit in the writing of the song, John always maintained that it was entirely his. The poster’s second headline was “Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite”; William Kite worked for Fanque. Mr. J. Henderson was a wire-walker, equestrian, trampoline artist, and clown; he performed with his wife, Agnes Henderson, thus the invocation of “The Hendersons”. A brilliant article on the subject appeared a 24 May 2017 Rolling Stone article entitled “Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ at 50: How an Old Circus Poster Led to ‘…Mr. Kite”
There is an old saying “If you dream long and hard enough, your dream will come true.” Jeff Lynne was always a Beatles fanatic, so it seems natural that fate would bring him so close to The Beatles.
Born in Birmingham on December 30, 1947, Jeff Lynne gained worldwide fame with his band Electric Light Orchestra, which had countless worldwide hits during the ten year period of 1975-1985. However, during that time period, in 1976 Lynne recorded two solo songs, covers of “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Nowhere Man”. He had definitely planted the seeds for what would come a decade later.
Electric Light Orchestra did phenomenally well on the UK singles and albums charts. In the U.S., the band scored a total of 20 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1975 to 1986. The band saw a successful stretch of hits on the U.S. charts from January 1975 to August 1979. Chronologically, these songs were: “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” # 9, “Evil Woman” # 10, “Strange Magic” # 14, “Livin’ Thing” # 13, “Do Ya” # 24, “Telephone Line” # 7, “Turn to Stone” # 13, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” # 17, “Mr. Blue Sky” # 35, “Shine a Little Love” # 8, “Don’t Bring Me Down” # 4.
In 1986 George Harrison wanted to record a solo album but was uncertain of a producer. His friend Dave Edmunds recommended ELO frontman Jeff Lynne. George was familiar with Lynne’s work and was open to meeting him. A dinner was scheduled at Harrison’s home and it went great.
According to the 2002 biography Behind Sad Eyes: The Life of George Harrison by Marc Shapiro, Harrison said of his meeting with Lynne, “We hung out a bit. The more we got to know each other, it just evolved into this thing. Jeff was the perfect choice. The best thing about Jeff was that he wanted to help me make my record.”
The project turned into the highly successful 1987 comeback album Cloud Nine, which both had hit singles and received critical acclaim. “I Got My Mind Set on You” hit number one, while “When We Was Fab” received major airplay and was a hit; Lynne can be seen playing violin in the video for “When We Was Fab”. Another song released as a single was “This Is Love”, which was one of three tracks on the album that Lynne co-wrote with Harrison.
The following year saw the Harrison/Lynne creative collaboration continue as the two formed the studio supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. They released their first album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 to widespread commercial and critical success.
However, nothing cemented Lynne’s legacy in Beatles history as much as producing the two new singles that were released as part of The Beatles Anthology in 1995. George Martin opted not to produce these two singles. First, in his heart he did not think it was a great idea to use old Lennon demo tapes to make a new single. Also, Martin felt that the hearing loss he had recently suffered would not allow him to do an adequate job at the difficult task of digitally processing the 1977 Lennon demos and overdubbing new sound of the reunited Beatles, so he bowed out. The three remaining Beatles were grateful to have Jeff Lynne produce their two new singles “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love”. “Free As a Bird” entered the Top 40 on December 30, 1995 and spent four weeks in Top 40, peaking at number six. “Real Love” cracked the Top 40 on March 23, 1996 and reached number 11 in its short three weeks in the Top 40.
Since The Beatles Anthology, Jeff Lynne has done further work with members of the group. He has produced records for Ringo Starr, while also helping to produce the 1997 McCartney album Flaming Pie, along with George Martin.
In April 2014, I wrote a post entitled “The Revenge of Manchester!”. With this week’s absolutely tragic events in Manchester, I thought I would re-post it. The world continues to remember the victims of the horrific Manchester tragedy. In this sense, the word “revenge” is used in that it shows to the world that Manchester perennially has been a city of greatness in so many ways.
After almost two years of hits in England and dominating the music scene in their home country with the frenzy of Beatlemania, the four boys took the U.S. by storm in 1964. They transplanted Beatlemania to a foreign shore and launched what we know as “The British Invasion”. Needless to say, Liverpool was the focus of The British Invasion in the U.S. on account of being the Beatles’ home city.
Julian Lennon has been in the news over the last few weeks on account of his new children’s book about the environment. Did you know that while Paul McCartney and John Lennon had a healthy rivalry in which they at times tried to highlight their differences, both Beatles named their sons after themselves? And John Lennon did so twice! Even Julian Lennon was named after his Beatle father.
Julian Lennon, John’s son from his first marriage to the former Cynthia Powell, was born April 8, 1963. However, his real name is John Charles Julian Lennon and was called “Julian” to both differentiate from his father as well as to honor his maternal grandmother, John’s late mother Julia.
John’s second son, Sean Lennon, with Yoko Ono, received the name “Sean” because it was the Irish Gaelic version of “John”. Sean was born on October 9, 1975, which was John’s thirty-fifth birthday. At that point in the ex-Beatle’s life he was obsessed with his Irish heritage (his father, Alfred Lennon, was totally of Irish descent). He would refer to himself as “Irish”, rather than British or Welsh (his mother’s family, the Stanley’s, were of Welsh origin). During that period, John and Yoko took part in IRA marches in Manhattan and John designated the royalties of his song “The Luck of the Irish” to Irish Northern Aid, an organization which gave economic assistance to the families of imprisoned IRA people.
Paul McCartney named his only son after himself. James Paul McCartney, the future Beatle, was always referred to as “Paul” to differentiate from his father James McCartney, a Liverpool cotton salesman. The ex-Beatle gave the name “James” to his only son, James Louis McCartney, known as “Jimmy”, who was born September 12, 1977. Paul’s father, James “Jim” McCartney, came from a long line of generations named “James McCartney”.
“Silly Love Songs” by Wings has a lot of history, not to mention accomplishments. First, it is one of the few number singles in Billboard chart history to reach number one, then be dethroned only to return to the top slot. It reached number one on May 29, 1976 but the following week Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” claimed the top spot for two weeks. Then, “Silly Love Songs” topped the charts again for four consecutive weeks.
Over twelve years after The Beatles started the British Invasion in 1964, Paul McCartney and his fellow Brits in Wings had the number one song in the U.S. on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of the United States declaring independence from Great Britain.
Apart from The Beatles, “Silly Love Songs” is ranked as McCartney’s all-time biggest Billboard Hot 100 single. It also topped the charts in Canada and the Republic of Ireland, but stalled at # 2 in the UK. Ironically, “Combine Harvester” by The Wurzels, a most forgettable song, kept “Silly Love Songs” out of the number one position on the UK pop charts.
Off of the Wings at the Speed of Sound album, the song cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 on April 17, 1976 and spent 15 weeks in the Top 40. Billboard ranked “Silly Love Songs” as the # 1 single of the year for 1976, making Paul McCartney the only artist to be part of the # 1 singles of the year, including “She Loves You” (1964) and “Hey Jude” (1968).
“Silly Love Songs” was written in reaction to both the critics and former bandmate John Lennon who said that Paul’s songs were lightweight. In fact, on one occasion John said publicly accused Paul of sounding like Engelbert Humperdinck. One British critic wrote that all Paul McCartney was capable of writing was silly love songs.
At the time, Stephen Holden wrote in Rolling Stone that the song “seems like a mysterious, somewhat defensive oddity by a great pop producer who used to be a great pop writer”.
The often criticized “George Harrison and Friends” world tour began on November 2, 1974 in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a warm-up act, the tour featured a sixteen piece Indian orchestra lead by Ravi Shankar.
To cover the many criticisms of this tour obviously cannot be done in a sing;e post on this blog. Instead, here is a transcript of a portion of the press conference that George held in Los Angeles on October 24, 1974 to discuss the upcoming tour with reporters from all over the world.
REPORTER: Why did you decide to return to America?
GEORGE: I’ve been back here many times. This is the first time I’ve been back to work, though. It’s also the first time I’ve had an H-1 visa since ’71.
REPORTER: What was the reason for you not having the H-1?
GEORGE: I had the same problem as John Lennon. I was busted for marijuana way back in ’67.
REPORTER: Would you ever consider touring Mexico?
GEORGE: I wouldn’t mind. I mean, I would go anywhere. This is really a test. I either finish this tour ecstatically happy and want to go on tour everywhere, or I’ll end up just going back to my cave for another five years.
REPORTER: Could you tell us your feelings and expectations for the upcoming tour?
GEORGE: I think if I had more time I’d be panic-stricken, but I don’t really have the time to get worried about it.
REPORTER: Are you getting divorced from Pattie?
GEORGE: No, I mean, that’s as silly as marriage.
REPORTER: Can you foresee a time when you’ll give up your musical objectives?
GEORGE: I can see a time when I’d give up this sort of madness, but music – I mean everything is based upon music. I’ll never stop my music.
REPORTER: What direction is your music going in now?
GEORGE: Haven’t got a clue. I mean it’s getting a bit funkier, especially with Willy Weeks and all them.
REPORTER: What’s your attitude about drugs now?
GEORGE: Drugs? What drugs? Aspirins or what are you talking about? I mean, I think it’s awful when it ruins people. What do you define as a drug? Like whisky? I don’t want to advocate anything because it’s so difficult to get into America these days.