Thursday, 28 February 2013

From Me To You

It is rare to know the exact date when a song was written, but in the case of "From Me To You" (their third single, after Love Me Do and Please Please Me) we do know it: Thursday 28 February 1963.

On that day, The Beatles were in a bus to a concert with Helen Shapiro in Shrewsbury, and they were sitting in the back writing stuff. They took the title from a letters section in the New Musical Express (NME), called "From You to Us".

The song follows the same "gimmick" that proved so popular: using very direct words like "Me", 'You", "I". Just look at Love ME Do, Please Please ME, From Me to YOU etc...

Alan W. Pollack, the famous Beatles musical expert, has the following to say about this:

"The other pronoun-bound songs that come to mind are otherwise embroidered with details which, though they add context and color, also skew the focus and complicate the message. We find such things as the drama of pursuit — "Please Please Me" — or blind faith in its successful outcome — "I'll Get You")-- or a polite request — "I Want To Hold Your Hand") — or a raw pleading — "Love Me Do" — that love be requited; an expression of gratitude for love received — "Thank You Girl" — or a prayer that it be not harmed by absence or separation ("P.S. I Love You", "All My Loving", et al.) The list goes on. As usual, I haven't done my homework as exhaustively as I should, but I hope the point is made."

Copyright © 2001 by Alan W. Pollack. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.

John and Paul write From Me To You

On 28 February 1963, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote one of their biggest hits "From Me to You".

They were travelling by bus to Shrewsbury during the Helen Shapiro tour, and in the back of the bus they came up with the melody line. Before the day was done they had completed the lyrics as well.

In the evening Helen Shapiro (who had been ill) rejoined the tour and they played at the Granada Cinema in Shrewsbury.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Beatles at the Rialto Theatre in York

Helen Shapiro was still ill on 27 February 1963 and just like yesterday Danny Williams and Billie Davis fell in for her.

The Beatles liked the Rialto Theatre a lot, because they would come back three more times in 1963: 13 March, 29 May and 27 November.

Unfortunately the Rialto Theatre no longer exists. It was demolished to make place for a car park.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Beatles at the Gaumont Cinema in Taunton

On 26 February 1963 The Beatles rejoined the Helen Shapiro tour at the Gaumont Cinema in Taunton, Somerset...but there was no Helen Shapiro that night (she suffered from a heavy cold).

Her place was taken by Danny Williams and Billie Davis (who was currently enjoying a big success with his single "Tell Him".

The Beatles would return a second time to the Gaumont Cinema on 5 September 1963.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Happy Birthday George!

Today George would celebrate his 70th birthday. Unfortunately his physical body is no longer with us, but his spirit and memories are very much alive.

So Happy Birthday To You, George!

George Harrison was born on 25 February 1943 in 12 Arnold Grove.

The Beatles' Genesis

Curious just how The Beatles were formed? Do you think it was always just John, Paul, George & Ringo? Well, then read on and be amazed!

1. The Black Jacks (1956)

The first time we can really talk of a group, we should credit to The Black Jacks, a group formed in 1956 by kids studying at Quarry Bank High School. They played skiffle music (inspired by Lonnie Donegan) and the line-up conisted of:

- John Lennon: Guitar, Vocals
- Rod Davis: Banjo
- Eric Griffiths: Guitar
- Pete Shotton: Washboard
- Bill Smith: Bass (actually a tea chest!)

2. The Quarrymen (1957)

The name "The Black Jacks" was changed before they gave any real public appearances, and also the line-up was different:

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Rod Davis: Banjo
- Eric Griffiths: Guitar
- Pete Shotton: Washboard
- Ivan Vaughan, Bill Smith, Nigel Whalley, Len Garry: Tea chest bass
- Colin Hanton: Drums

3. The Quarrymen (October 1957)

From October 1957 Paul McCartney joined the band. The line-up was:

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Rod Davis:Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Guitar
- Eric Griffiths: Guitar
- Len Garry: Tea chest bass
- Colin Hanton: Drums

4. The Quarrymen (1958)

 From February 1958 George Harrison joined and the group started looking more like the band which would take on the world in 1963. Their line-up was:

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison :Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Guitar
- Eric Griffiths: Guitar
- Len Garry: Tea chest bass
- Colin Hanton: Drums

5. The Quarrymen (March 1958 - September 1958)

 A radical change with the introduction of a piano player

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison :Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Guitar
- John Charles Lowe: piano

- Colin Hanton: Drums

6. The Les Stewart Quartet (1959)

A little side project of George Harrison, a quartet that was composed of three members:

- George Harrison: Guitar
- Les Stewart: Bass
- Ken Brown: Drums

7. Johnny & The Moondogs (1959-1960)

 George came back to The Quarrymen, and brought The Les Stewart Quartet's drummer with him, who played...bass.

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison: Vocals, Guitar
- Ken Brown: Bass

8. The Beatals (1960)

John asked his friend Stuart Sutcliffe if he didn't want to play bass with them:

- John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison: Vocals, Guitar
- Stu Sutcliffe: Bass

9. The Nerk Twins (1960)

For a couple of days in 1960, John & Paul performed together in a pub in Berkshire as "The Nerk Twins". Lucky for us they didn't continue

10. The Silver Beetles/The Silver Beatles (1960)

Now again with a drummer like in the "old" days:

 - John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison: Vocals, Guitar
- Stu Sutcliffe, Chas Newby: Bass
- Tommy Moore, Norman Chapman, Pete Best: Drums

11. The Beatles (1961)

From 1961 onwards Stu dropped out (preferring to stay in Hamburg) and the final name (The Beatles) was adopted.

 - John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison: Vocals, Guitar
- Pete Best: Drums

And it would have stayed like this if Pete Best had not been fired on 16 August 1962, just at the treshold of eternal fame. Poor Pete, imagine how he must have felt.

12. The Beatles (1962)

 - John Lennon: Vocals, Guitar
- Paul McCartney: Vocals, Guitar
- George Harrison: Vocals, Guitar
- Ringo Starr: Drums

The Beatles in Leigh, Lancashire

On Monday 25 February 1963 The Beatles performed for the first and last time in Leigh, Lancashire.

The name of the venue was the Casino Ballroom, which later became a nightclub (demolished in 2007).

Remixing Please Please Me

On 11 February the Beatles recorded 10 of the 14 songs that would appear on their first LP Please Please Me, but work was far from over.

On Monday 25 February 1963 George Martin and Norman Smith spent the whole day remixing the songs:

-  Editing take 9 & 12 of "I Saw Her Standing There"
- Mono mixes of Anna (Go To Him), Boys, Chains, Misery, Do You Want To Know A Secret, There's A Place, I Saw Her Standing There, Twist and Shout, A Taste of Honey.
- Stero mixes of the same songs
- Editing take 16, 17 and 18 of "Please Please Me"
- Mono mixes of Ask Me Why, Misery, Baby It's You
- Stereo mixes of Ask Me Why, Please Please Me, Love Me Do, PS I Love You and Misery

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Northern Songs was founded 50 years ago

Today, 50 years ago, Northern Songs was founded, the company that would go on to publish songs written by John Lennon  and Paul McCartney (and later also those by George Harrison and Ringo Starr). The first song they published was From Me To You.

The directors of the company were music publisher Dick James, manager Brian Epstein and John & Paul, and the contract was signed on 24 February 1963.

After Brian Epstein's death the company was sold to ATV. Northern Songs later ended up in Michael Jackson's portfolio, and later in Sony's hands, but in 2006 Paul McCartney's MPL Communications finally acquired the vast catalogue.

Northern Songs was critically mentioned in George Harrison's song "It's Only a Northern Song".

The Beatles Live at Coventry Theatre

On 24 February 1963 played the second of three concerts in Coventry. The first time on 17 November 1962 at the Matrix Hall. The second was at Coventry Theatre and the last one also at CT on 17 November 1963.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Beatles Play Live at the Granada Cinema in Mansfield

The Beatles had left the Helen Shapiro tour to concentrate on the recording of Please Please Me and to honour some of the standalone concerts that they had arranged, but on 23 February 1963 they rejoined the tour. On this day they went into Helen Shapiro's dressing room because it had a television and the ABC network was transmitting their appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars. Appearing at the Granada Cinema in Mansfield were: - Helen Shapiro - Danny Williams - Kenny Lynch - Kestrels - The Glamorous Honeys - Red Price Band

Friday, 22 February 2013

Please Please me reaches nr. 1

50 years ago, the Beatles second single, Please Please Me, reached number one in the New Musical Express charts, the most recognized charts at that time. <p>
Even though some experts only recognize the Record Retailer chart as true benchmark to decide whether a song has reached number one, it was still a great feat by the band from Liverpool.

The Beatles in NME - 22 February 1963

The Beatles' name appeared on the cover of the New Musical Express of 22 February 1963 because they were part of the Helen Shapiro tour.

The cover ( a small clip can be found here below) promised:

Arthur Howes Presents: Stars From the Hit Parade
Frank Ifield, Helen Shapiro, The Beatles, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, Tommy Roe & Chris Montez

And the Beatles reached the first spot of the Top 30
Top Thirty
1.  Frank Ifield, "The Wayward Wind" (Columbia)
1.  Beatles, "Please Please Me" (Parlophone)
3.  Tony Meehan, "Diamonds" (Decca)
4.  Bobby Vee, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" (Liberty)
5.  Frankie Vaughan, "Loop De Loop" (Philips)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Live at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead

The Beatles appeared a total of 17 times at the Majestic Ballroom. On 21 February 1963 they played twice: once at 7.30pm and later at 11.30pm

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Beatles in Doncaster, Yorkshire

The Beatles appeared on a live radio sesssion on Wednesday 20 February 1963, before driving on to Doncaster for an evening concert. The name of the BBC programme was Parade of the Pops and The Beatles performed Love Me Do and Please Please me.

At the same time George Martin was busy recording overdubs for two songs: piano parts for Misery and Baby it's You.

In the evening they performed at St James Swimming Baths (some kind of Victorian Turkish baths) in Doncaster

First appearence on live radio

20 February 1963 was the day that The Beatles appeared for the first time LIVE on public radio.

They had finished an important concert at the Cavern, and drove down to London. In those days a normal car would have driven at least 7 or 8 hours to reach their destination.

Our Liverpudlian lads were invited to appear on Parade of the Pops and they first had a quick rehearsal at 11:15 am. The live transmission was scheduled for 12:30 on the BBC Light Programme. They played Love Me Do and Please Please Me.

The show was presented by Denny Piercy. Denny was a musician who also appeared as host of several music programmes, for example Thank Your Lucky Stars. He also had a double act with Dickie Valentine.

On 7 June 1965he would become the presenter of The Beatles Invite You to Take a Ticket to Ride" on BBC radio

After the show they jumped in their car and drove to a concert in Doncaster, more than 160 miles/250 km north of London

PLEASE PLEASE ME / ASK ME WHY is released in the USA

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Beatles single in the USA: PLEASE PLEASE ME / ASK ME WHY.

Recent research claims that Vee-Jay Records even released it a bit earlier, on February 7 1963, but as always with this kind of "legends" it is difficult to find out where the truth lies.

Fact is that Capitol Records turned down the right to release this, as did Atlantic. Vee-Jay Records had a tradition of releasing "rejected" singles (they had a big hit with Frank Ifield's I Remember You, and according to Wikipedia Dick Biondi, a Chicago DJ had the honour of being the first one to play a Beatles song on American radio.

The single, catalog number 498, is very much sought after, since the first pressing contains a typographical error: The Beattles (with double "t".

About 7,310 copies were sold, making this a very rare collector's item.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Baby It's You

The 10th song on Please Please Me was called Baby It's You and written by Mack David, Barney Williams and Burt Bacharach. Always a good question during a Beatles Quiz: what Burt Bacharach song did the Beatles record? :)

It was sung by John Lennon and also recorded by the Shirelles. Amazing how many songs of the Shirelles the Beatles recorded (or tried to in their style), maybe that's why some people referred to them as the "male Shirelles" at one time.

The song was part of The Beatles stage show from roughly 1961 till 1963, and can also be heard on many bootleg records and on the BBC radio shows.

The Pathfinders

On 19 February 1963 The Beatles returned to the Cavern after a 2-week absence and the club was booming with people since their single Please Please Me was doing so good in the charts.

One of the other bands that appeared on stage that day was The Pathfinders from Birkenhead. Around that time it was estimated (by Mersey Beat editor Bill Harry and Cavern DJ Bob Wooler) that there were approximately 300 active music groups in the Liverpool area (playing skiffle, jazz, beat or country & western).

The Pathfinders often played The Kraal Club in New Brighton but on this occassion they appeared at the Cavern.

The line-up of The Pathfinders changed often. Some members included:
- Tony Berry
- Tony Aldridge
- Tom Early
- Roy Brockhurst
- Pete Brockhurst
- Dave Stephenson
- Mike Allen
- Mike Jones
- Billy May
- Brendon McCormack
- Frank Bowen
- Richie Prescott
- Tom Bennet

P.S. I Love You

The second song on the B-side of Please Please Me was called P.S. I Love You, and written mostly by Paul McCartney.

It appeared for the first time on the B-side of the debut single of the Beatles, backed with Love Me Do. According to producer Ron Richards, Paul wanted this song to be the A-side, but Richards told the group that there was already another song with that title on an A-side, so he convinced them to take Love Me Do as their first A-side.

The song was written in Germany and session musician Andy White does the drumming (Ringo does the maracas!). No original master tape exists since it was common practice to erase the master tapes in 1962.

The Beatles at the Cavern

According to most music historians, the Beatles played the Cavern a total of 292 times. Amazing if you look at it by our modern standards, but also exceptional in the days of Beat music.

After their climb to the top of the charts (Please Please Me hit the first place on February 16, 1963) the demand for tickets to the Cavern gigs increased enormously.

On Tuesday 19 February 1963 (The Beatles had not been in the Cavern for almost two weeks), fans queued for  more than 2 days to be able to get in.

Cavern DJ Bob Wooler announced that Please Please Me had reached the top position, and the crowd went quiet. He read out the telegram that Brian Epstein had sent to the Cavern

At the same gig there were quite a lot of other bands performing: Lee Curtis and the All Stars, The Pathfinders, Freddie Starr and the Midnighters. Also on stage was Pete Best (with the All Stars).

After the performance, the Beatles drove to London

Monday, 18 February 2013

The connection between Kevin Ayers and The Beatles

Today, 18 February 2013, is the day that Kevin Ayers died. Kevin was an English singer-songwriter who was a major influence on the psychedelic rockscene. He used to be in the prolific band Soft Machine but was also succesful as a solo artist.

There is actually one point of common interest between The Beatles and Kevin Ayers: they both had one common song on their repertoire: Falling in Love (Can't Help It).

The Beatles played this German song at the Starclub in Hamburg, and Kevin Ayers played it on an album in 1975

Happy Birthday Yoko

Today, on Monday 18 February 2013, Yoko Ono Lennon turns 80.

To mark that anniversary, the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik will be lit.


Dear Friends,
On October 9th 2012, I relit IMAGINE PEACE TOWER
in Iceland in memory of my late husband John Lennon.
Please ask all your friends to join us by Tweeting wishes
to IMAGINE PEACE TOWER (@), which you can do right
here at (the Tweet box is top right).
You can also send wishes by postemail & Facebook.
Tell all your friends.
Spread the word!
I hope the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will give light to the
strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet
and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity
in a world now filled with fear and confusion.
Let us come together to realise a peaceful world.
Love is our energy.
Wisdom is our power.
It’s time to shed light to all corners of the world.
Enjoy the trip we make together.

The Beatles play the Queen's Hall in Widnes - Again

On Monday 18 February 1963 The Beatles played two shows at the Queen's Hall in Widnes, the last of a total of 5 performances.

Tickets for both venues were sold out in no time and it was clear that Brian Epstein's NEMS company was on a role.

The previous dates at Widnes were 3, 10, 17 September 1962 and 22 October 1962.

Unfortunately the Queen's Hall was scheduled for demolishing in January 2012.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Beatles appear on Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Star was a popular TV programme on ITV that ran from 1961 to 1966.

Popular bands could mime one or two songs, and the Beatles taped one song (Please Please Me) on 17 February 1963 for a scheduled broadcast on Saturday 23 February.

They were third in a 7-band line-up, with Billy Fury as the top act.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tony Sheridan has died aged 72

News is just coming in that Tony Sheridan died in Germany on 16 February 2013.
Tony Sheridan was born on May 21st 1940 in Norwich (Norfolk), England. This English guitarist and composer is best known for his collaborations with the Beatles. Tony's real name is Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity and he made his first successes when he toured with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent in early 1960. By luck or fate he was not on the tour bus on April 17, 1960 when Cochrane was killed and Vincent badly injured. Between 1960 & 1963 he frequently appeared in the Kaiserkeller and Indra Club in Hamburg, and it is there that he met the Beatles (John, Paul, George, Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe). Together they also recorded an LP (Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers) and it was the single "My Bonnie" that first attracted the attention of Brian Epstein to the Beatles.

The Beatles in Oxfordshire

It may seem strange, but the Beatles only played once in Oxfordshire. On 16 February 1963 they appeared at the Carfax Assembly Rooms in Oxford.

As you can see from the invitations, there was also a group called The Madisons on the bill.

After the show The Beatles met up with Jeffrey Archer, who would later become a famous novelist and politician who was a student at Brasenose college. Ringo made the famous comment that "Jeffrey seems a nice bloke but he is the kind of guy who would bottle your piss and sell it!"

Friday, 15 February 2013

Past Masters - a Review

One of my favourite Beatles' albums is actually a compilation double set that was released as a companion to the Beatles Boxed Set.

Mike Diver wrote a brilliant review of this album for the BBC, which was licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Though not an official album as such, Past Masters is a firm favourite amongst fans of the Fab Four, collecting an array of The Beatles’ non-LP tracks including evergreen classics Lady Madonna and Hey Jude, and early career highs Love Me Do and She Loves You.
It also contains 2 German-language songs that the Beatles recorded for the German market.

Initially released across two separate discs, this version – issued as part of the catalogue-wide remastered series – combines said compilations to present a neatly chronological package, replete with extensive notes written by Keith Howlett in February 2009. Listening as sequenced – from the original single version of Love Me Do through to Let It Be b side You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) – makes for an enlightening experience, and the four-piece’s studio evolution is absolutely apparent once the Revolver-era Paperback Writer and its flip-side, Rain, enter proceedings.
Many of the songs had also been released in 1980 in the LP "Rarities"

The na├»ve charm of enduring arrangements like I Feel Fine is replaced by a boldness that few early supporters of the band could have foreseen – and it’s this maverick element to The Beatles that has carried their popularity through to this day. Memorable though the simplest pieces from John Lennon and Paul McCartney are – only two George Harrison compositions feature here – it’s the multi-layered splendour of The Inner Light, The Ballad of John and Yoko and the World Wildlife Fund charity version of Across the Universe (later re-recorded for the Let It Be album) that ensured the group appealed to such a wide spectrum of music fans that few people in the world wouldn’t, in some way, be touched by their work.
The collection’s climactic You Know My Name…, while scratchy compared to a great many other pieces here, is buoyant with bonkers cheer, sitting counterpoint to the internal friction that would, just a month after its March 1970 release, lead to the band’s break-up – McCartney left in April, filing for dissolution in December. The track is the only one featured on Past Masters that wasn’t exclusively produced by long-term studio partner George Martin, indicative of the loyalty within the camp during The Beatles’ most productive, inspirational years. It is rare indeed to see such relationships today.

A special compilation rightly regarded as just as important in The Beatles’ long-play canon as Sgt. Peppers… and Rubber Soul, Past Masters might be a posthumous affair but it’s full of more life than a thousand brand-new releases filling store shelves. Investment is a no-brainer.

You can find his complete review on the BBC Radio 4 page

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you choose to use this review on your site please link back to this page.

Past Masters -Track list

Past Masters is a two-volume compilation album set by The Beatles which was released in 1988 as part of the issue of the band’s entire back catalogue on CD. Compiled by the noted Beatles authority Mark Lewisohn, this collection of many of the band's biggest hits as well as rarities includes every song released commercially by the band that was not available on The Beatles’ twelve original UK albums or the Magical Mystery Tour LP.

Track list

DISC ONE: Mono Masters, Vol. 1

1. Love Me Do (Original Single Version) (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. From Me To You (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Thank You Girl (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. She Loves You (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. I'll Get You (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. This Boy (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Sie Liebt Dich (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. Long Tall Sally (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. I Call Your Name (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. Slow Down (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Matchbox (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. I Feel Fine (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. She's A Woman (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
16. Bad Boy (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
17. Yes It Is (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
18. I'm Down (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)

DISC TWO: Mono Masters, Vol. 2

1. Day Tripper (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
2. We Can Work It Out (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
3. Paperback Writer (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
4. Rain (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
5. Lady Madonna (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
6. The Inner Light (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
7. Hey Jude (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
8. Revolution (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
9. Only A Northern Song (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
10. All Together Now (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
11. Hey Bulldog (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
12. It's All Too Much (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
13. Get Back (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
14. Don't Let Me Down (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
15. Across The Universe (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)
16. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) (Mono) (2009 Digital Remaster)  

Pop a la Mod - The Beatles in Boyfriend

Boyfriend was a British magazine that was aimed at young girls and that embraced the British pop music scene.

Somewhere at the end of February 1963, exactly 50 years ago, they run an article about the Beatles (the first of many).  It's a frightfully good read, as the anonymous reporter discloses her first impression of the not yet famous Beatles

"their sound, although novel, isn't exactly a revolution. But there's something about it, a strange compelling something.""They are almost frightening-looking young men," she continues, "even more modern than modern. The funny thing is that when they smile - not often - they look perfectly wholesome and nice. But the rest of the time they look wicked and dreadful and distinctly evil, in an 18th-century sort of way. You almost expect them to leap out of pictures and chant magic spells."
 Later, during the summer of 63, Boyfriend would issue a photo book called "Big New Beat" and that contained pictures of the Beatles among the rubble of Easton Road.

First National Exposure for The Beatles

In February 1963 the Evening Star published an article about The Beatles. This was the first time they received national exposure.

The article was written by Maureen Cleave who would become one of the most influential rock journalists, famous for her interviews with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and of course The Beatles.

It was Maureen Cleave who published in 1966 the interview with John Lennon where he claimed "the Beatles were bigger than Jesus".

Some people also think that Maureen Cleave was the inspiration for Norwegian Wood, although John Lennon says he doesn't remember about whom he wrote it.

Love Me Do

Love Me Do is the Beatles' first single which reached nr. 17 in the NME charts.

It is also track 8 (first track on the B-Side) of Please Please Me.

The song is an early Lennon-McCartney composition, mainly written by Paul McCartney at the age of 16, somewhere in 1958-59. There exist many version of this songs, with different drummers: Pete Best, Andy White and Ringo Starr. How to tell the difference between the Andy White version and the one with Ringo Starr? Easy: if you hear a tambourine, it is Andy White on drums and Ringo banging the tambourine.

Please Please Me (Song)

Please Please Me was the second single by the Beatles and the one that started the rollercoaster-ride for them. It also appears on their first LP as track number 7 (last track of the A-side).

Depending on who you talk to, Please Please Me was (or was not) the Beatles first nr. 1 hit. On 22 February it reached number one on the singles chart of New Musical Express and on Melody Maker. But it only reached number two on the Record Retailer.

After they recorded the song, George Martin spoke the legendary words "Gentlemen, you've just made your first number one"

Ask Me Why

Ask Me Why was released as the B-side of The Beatles' second single Please Please Me, and appeared also as track nr. 6 on their first LP Please Please Me.

The song was mainly written by John Lennon in 1962. It was recorded twice, once on June 6, 1962 and another time on 26 November 1962. So far the first recording session has not yet surfaced on any bootleg albums, and it is feared the original takes have been lost or more likely have been deleted as was common practice in those days to make space for new recordings.

The Beatles are Putting on the Ritz

On Friday 15 February 1963 the Beatles appeared for the first and last time at the Ritz Ballroom in Birmingham. Originally they were due to play there on 11 January 1963, but the bad weather (blizzards!) made it impossible for them to reach the concert hall.

One month later, they were a hot item (Please Please Me was storming up the charts and would be an "unofficial" number one in the NME charts. Still, The Beatles honoured their original contract and did not demand and additional fee because of their popularity. As you can imagine, the concert was sold out in no time.

Incidentally, the expression "putting on the Ritz" refers to the Ritz Hotel in London and means "to dress very fashionably"

The Beatles in NME - 15 February 1963

In the New Musical Expresss of 15 February 1963 The Beatles rose to number 3:

Top Thirty
 1.  "Diamonds," Jet Harris and Tony Meehan (Decca)
 2.  "The Wayward Wind," Frank Ifield (Columbia)
 3.  "Please Please Me," Beatles (Parlophone)
 4.  "Little Town Flirt," Del Shannon (London)
 5.  "Loop De Loop," Frankie Vaughn (Philips)
There was also an article about an upcoming Beatles tour:
Beatles-Eddy Package Starts Tour in May
And on page 9 there was a life-line list of the Beatles.

John Lennon lists his personal ambition as “to write a musical”; his professional ambition as “to be rich and famous”; his likes as “blondes, leather”; and his dislikes as “stupid people.”

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Beatles Live at the Locarno Ballroom

On February 14, 1963, you could find the Beatles at the Locarno Ballroom in Liverpool. The concert was scheduled as a "Valentine Day Dance" and even though the Locarno Ballroom was a very famous venue in Liverpool, it was the first and only time that the Beatles would play there.

According to some Beatles' historians, the Quarrymen might have played the Locarno during one of their regular skiffle contests that were held there in 1958 or 1959

The Locarno was built in 1905 as a theatre and indoor circus, and served many other purposes during its illustrious career. A cinema, a naval depot, a ballroom and now an events hall.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


The fifth song on Please Please Me was given to Ringo Starr. Ringo always had at least one song on almost every album:

- Boys on Please Please Me
- I Wanna Be Your Men on With the Beatles
-  Honey Don't on Beatles for Sale
- Act Naturally on Help
- What Goes On on Rubber Soul
- Yellow Submarine on Revolver
- With a Little Help From My Friends on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Don't Pass Me by and Goodnight on The White Album
- Octopus's Garden on Abbey Road

Boys was written by Luther Dixon/Wes Farrell and part of the Beatles' live set since 1961. In the early days it was Pete Best who took the spotlights on this song.


Chains is the fourth song on the Beatles' debut record Please Please Me and a cover version of Gerry Goffin & Carole King's song that was a hit for The Cookies.

The Beatles played this song briefly in their stage repertoire, and went on to play it regularly on BBC radio shows.

Anna (Go To Him)

The third song on the debut album of the Beatles (Please Please Me) was a cover of Anna (Go To Him), a soul number by Arthur Alexander and a favourite of John Lennon, who sings lead.

Funnily, the song is called Go TO him, but in the lyrics it is clearly Go WITH Him.


Misery was one of the 10 songs that were recorded by The Beatles during their marathon session on 11 February 1963.

They initially wanted Helen Shapiro to record it, but her agent turned it down. Another artist on the Helen Shapiro tour, Kenny Lynch, did release it as a single in 1963.

Misery was started backstage at the King's Hall in Stoke-on-Trent on 26 January 1963 and finished at Paul McCartney's house

I Saw Her Standing There

On February 11, 1963, The Beatles recorded I Saw Her Standing There in Studio 2 at Abbey Road.

It was recorded under the working title "Seventeen" and only later was the title changed for good.

It appeared on the first side of the first Beatles album (Please Please Me) and made it #139 in Rolling Stone's top 500 Greatest Songs of All Times

Paul McCartney wins his 17th Grammy Award

Congratulations to Sir Paul McCartney for winning his 17th Grammy Award.

He received the prestigious award for his solo album "Kisses on the Bottom" in the category Best Traditional Vocal Pop Album

The Beatles in Hull at the Majestic Ballroom

On February 13, 1963, the Beatles appeared on stage for the second time (out of a total of 4) at the Majestic Ballroom.

They had already played Hull on 20 October 1962 and would appear again in November 1963 and October 1964.

It was built in 1912, named the Holderness Hall Cinema,then the Gaumont in 1950, and finally the Majestic in 1959.It was demolished in 2004.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Stella McCartney designes Beatles T-shirts for Comic Relief

Readers from Great Britain need no introduction to Comic relief, the charity organisation that holds its annual "red nose day" to collect money for various charity projects.

And this year Stella McCartney has designed the official "Beatles" Red Nose T-shirt...which sports the four red-nosed Beatles.

The pictures of the T-shirts come from the penultimate photo shoot on 9 April 1969.

The Beatles at the Astoria Ballroom, Oldham

One day after recording their first LP Please, Please Me and with John Lennon's voice completely shattered after attempting two takes of Twist and Shout, the Beatles headed off to Oldham, Lancashire (Greater Manchester Area) for a concert at the Astoria Ballroom.

It was their first and only appearance here, and according to some sources they even played a gig in Sheffield/Gleadless at the Azena Ballroom. We have a copy of the poster to prove it.

Monday, 11 February 2013

No break for the Beatles

There is a very funny anecdote about the Beatles recording session on February 11, 1963.

When George Martin and Norman Smith took a break to pop into the Heroes of Alma for a pie and a pint, the Beatles wanted to continue rehearsing. The Abbey Road producers had never seen a group so eager to rehearse :)

But in the end we all know that their commitment really paid off, making their debut album a record-breaking LP

Please Please Me Recording Session

September 11 1963 will probably be remembered as the most productive recording session in musical history.

Because on that day The Beatles recorded 12 songs that would be included in their debut album Please Please Me. They started at 10 am in Studio 2 at Abbey Road and finished about 12 hours later around 10.45 pm.

Session 1 from 10 am till 1 pm:

- There's a place - Seventeen (later called "I saw her standing there")

Session 2 from 2.30 pm till 6pm

- A taste of honey - Do you want to know a secret - Misery

Session 3 from 7.30 pm till 10.45 pm

- Hold me tight - Anna - Boys - Chains - Baby it's you - Twist and Shout

Friday, 8 February 2013

On 8 February 1963, NME published number 839.

In it was the good news that The Beatles entered the top 5 for the first time (but definitely not for the last time)

Top Thirty
 1.  "Diamonds," Jet Harris/Tony Meehan (Decca) [#1 last week]
 2.  "The Wayward Wind," Frank Ifield (Columbia) [#8 last week]
 3.  "Globetrotter," Tornados (Decca) [#2 last week]
 4.  "Little Town Flirt," Del Shannon (London) [#7 last week]
 5.  "Please Please Me," The Beatles (Parlophone) [#17 last week]
 6.  "Bachelor Boy," Cliff Richard (Columbia) [#4 last week]
 7.  "Loop De Loop," Frankie Vaughan (Philips) [#19 last week]
 8.  "Don't You Think It's Time," Mike Berry (HMV) [#6 last week]
 9.  "Dance On," Shadows (Columbia) [#3 last week]
 10.  "Like I Do," Maureen Evans (Oriole) [#5 last week]
There was also an article called "Beatles Head Package Show". If anybody has a copy of it, we here at It Was 50 Years Ago would love to read it.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You - released in Canada

On February 4, 1963, Capitol of Canada released the first every Beatles single in North America.

Paul White who was a Capitol Canada record executive, decided that The Beatles sounded quite different, and so he had them released on a single in Canada. The single didn't enter the charts (or even failed to generate an interest), but at least it was a start.

Three weeks later the first "American" single was released: Please Please Me / Ask me Why, this time on the Vee-Jay Records label.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Evening Standard published the first national article about The Beatles

Is was Saturday February 2, 1963, exactly 50 years ago, when the Evening Standard published an article about the Beatles.

Written by Maureen Cleave, it was called "Why The Beatles Create All That Frenzy" and it tried to explain why a group from Liverpool was taking the nation by storm.

It was a well-written article that seemed to imply that The Beatles were big because of their loyal Liverpool fanbase, and because of the professional way Epstein was managing them.

I especially liked the way she described the different Beatles:
"John Lennon has an upper lip which is brutal in a devastating way. George Harrison is handsome, whimsical and untidy. Paul McCartney has a round baby face, while Ringo Starr is ugly but cute. (He’s called Ringo because he wears two on each hand.)"
 It's great to read about The Beatles in hindsight. But Maureen Cleave was right about one thing:
"It takes you back, doesn’t it? To the early days of rock ‘n’ roll."

Complete list of The Helen Shapiro and Beatles Tour

In February 1963 The Beatles toured together with Helen Shapiro.

2 February Gaumont, Bradford
5 February Gaumont, Doncaster
6 February Granada, Bedford
7 February Regal, Kirkgate
8 February ABC, Carlisle
9 February Empire, Sunderland
12 February Azena Ballroom, Sheffield
12 February Astoria Ballroom, Oldham
13 February Majestic Ballroom, Hull
14 February Locarno Ballroom, Liverpool
15 February Ritz, Birmingham
16 February Carfax Assembly, Oxford
18 February Queen’s Hall, Widness
19 February Cavern Club, Liverpool
20 February Swimming Baths, Docanster
21 February Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead
22 February Oasis Club, Manchester
23 February Granada, Mansfield
24 February Coventry Theatre, Coventry
26 February Gaumont, Taunton
27 February Rialto, York
28 February Granada, Shrewsbury
1 March Odeon, Southport
2 March City Hall, Sheffield
3 March Gaurnont, Hanley

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Beatles in NME - 1 February 1963

On 1 February 1963 number 838 of New Musical Express appeared.

On page 6 there was a story about The Beatles:
Big pop stars signed for summer shows [Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, The Beatles]
In the same magazine on page 9 was an interview with the Beatles:
 You've pleased-pleased us!—say The Beatles
 It proved to be a very interesting interview. Since it was published more than 50 years ago, I post some excerpts here below for your enjoyment

First the author talks about how The Beatles are climbing up the charts:

"Things are beginning to move for the Beatles, the R&B styled British group which crashed into the NME charts this week at No. 17. The disc -- 'Please Please Me' -- follows closely on the heels of their first hit 'Love Me Do,' written by group members John Lennon and Paul McCartney."
 Paul then goes on to talk how easy it is to write songs.:
 We also wrote 'Please Please Me,' but that hasn't exhausted our supply of compositions. We've got nearly a hundred up our sleeves, and we're writing all the time!
They also spoke of the upcoming Helen Shapiro tour, and how the boys wrote a song for her (which she never recorded):
The boys are rehearsing their act for the forthcoming Helen Shapiro tour when I met them in their hometown of Liverpool on Sunday. And at Norrie Paramor's request, they were composing a song for Helen to record when she goes to Nashville shortly.
Said Paul: "We've called it 'Misery,' but it isn't as slow as it sounds. It moves along at quite a steady pace, and we think Helen will make a pretty good job of it. We've also done a number for Duffy Power which he's going to record."
The interviewer goes on to talk about the Beatles' sound and the record they made with Tony Sheridan:
This isn't the Beatles' first taste of success. The clipped negro sound they achieve has brought them a fantastic following in Germany, where they had a Polydor single in the charts more than a year ago. They spent Christmas performing in Hamburg -- their fifth visit.
According to the magazine, Little Richard himself was a big fan of the Fab Four:
In the North of England, too, they've built up a reputation that takes some beating. In the past I've seen them billed with equal prominence alongside such names as Little Richard and Joe Brown!
Talking of Little Richard, the rock 'n' roll star became one of the Beatles' biggest fans during his recent visit. He told me: "I've never heard that sound from English musicians before. Honestly, if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I'd have thought they were a colored group from back home."
And then comes the nicest bit, where a prediction is made about their chances of making it big:
So far it seems that only Northern fans and visiting American stars have appreciated their talents (the Crickets went overboard when they heard them), but 'Please Please Me' will change everything. Already Southerners have been flocking to buy the disc since it was released two weeks ago.
Comments John: "We tried to make it as simple as possible. Some of the stuff we've written in the past has been a bit way-out, but we aimed this one straight at the hit parade."
Even in early 1962 it was clear that George Martin's influence and opinions were important for the success of the Beatles:
At the sessions at which 'Please Please Me' was recorded, shortly before Christmas, the boys' recording manager, George Martin, told me: "The thing I like about the Beatles is their great sense of humor as well as their talent."
It looks like a bright future for the Beatles, but knowing them, I don't think they'll let it go to their heads. It'll be a long time, for instance, before they forget the time they provided the music for Janice the Stripper in a Liverpool nightclub...!

Source: transcription of the original article of the New Musical Express of 1 February 1963 for historical purposes