Buy George Harrison’s ‘Rocky’ Fender Guitar

Fender Guitars has a custom shop that replicates some of their old and most famous models exactly.

One of their latest projects is George Harrison’s legendary hand-painted Fender Stratocaster called ‘Rocky’:

The original ‘Rocky’ was a pale blue 1961 Strat that, sometime in 1967, was creatively decorated by George using dayglo poster paints and nail polish.

You can find out more about ‘Rocky’ here.

Can’t see any prices mentioned on the Fender website, but I guess if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it!

This replica certainly looks amazing, and because it is strictly limited it is a guitar that will definitely be an investment as it will only go up in value. And it is a beautiful work of art to boot.

Back in January Fender displayed a couple of early versions of these replicas as a teaser. They are now for sale. Turns out there are just 100 available……

Beatle Music Collecting in the age of COVID

Does anyone remember when Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie – the Archive Collection Edition – was officially released?

Oh yeah, it was back on Friday, July 31. Seems like such a long time ago now.

It was officially announced on June 12:Back then, just after that first announcement, we posted this article on some of the items the forthcoming deluxe box set would contain, some of the rarities that’ve previously been released only as B-sides, etc.

It was an exiting time, expectation was building and we dutifully pre-ordered from the Paul McCartney official store site.

Well, it’s now September 3 and we are still waiting for our box set and LP’s to be delivered here in Australia. I know these are weird times and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but patience is running a little thin.

Things were looking really good early on. The day after the official release, August 1, we got this hopeful email:

It’s on its way! But the helpful tracking info soon revealed that it didn’t get very far.

When you think about Paul McCartney and his “store”, you tend to think it might be in Britain. But no, our box was coming from the USA. By August 11 the package had been “received by the partner carrier” and, from what we can tell, was taken to a loading facitlity in New York. We guess this was somewhere near one of the big airports, either John F. Kennedy or La Guardia. And there it sat. And sat.   

The package didn’t move from this spot for so long we wrote to Customer Service at the McCartney store. To their credit they responded immediately saying it had “….probably missed a scan somewhere”, and assured us that our Flaming Pie goodies were indeed making progress.

It took until August 22 for the tracking site to register that the package had finally “Departed Terminal Location”. Woo hoo! Progress.

On August 29 we got a note it had in fact arrived in Australia.

In Perth.

On the other side of the country.

Australia is a lot bigger than most people realise. We’re talking 3,280 kilometers or 2038 miles away by air.And as of today, five days later, that’s where it remains. So close, yet so far.

I know. First World Problems. It’s only music, and in the scheme of things a tiny inconvenience. Everyone is trying their hardest, trying to keep things as normal as possible. And the number of flights between the USA and Australia is now severely curtailed, while the number of people seeking home delivery for just about everything has risen exponentially. Times are tough.

But is anyone else in the same boat as us and still waiting for their Flaming Pie to be delivered? Let us know in the comments box below.

New John Lennon Compilations – Gimme Some Truth

Just officially announced: it’s Gimme Some Truth. Again………..but different.

10 years ago we got a four CD compilation box set called Gimme Some Truth.

Today comes the announcement that, as part of the celebrations for John Lennon’s 80th birthday, a new selection of his solo recordings have been completely re-mixed from scratch for a new collection called (you guessed it), Gimme Some Truth:  Huh? What’s this all about, and why?

This is yet another “Best Of” selection, this time around chosen by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, and in physical format it will be issued in a plethora of ways:

1 CD (19 tracks); 2 LP (19 tracks); 2 CD’s (36 tracks); 4 LP Box Set (36 tracks); and a Deluxe Box Set with 2 CD’s + Blu-Ray (audio only with High Definition 24-96 Stereo,
5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos mixes) + 124 page book, poster, postcards and sticker (36 tracks).

Of the 36 tracks on offer here, 30 of them were already included on the 2010 Gimme Some Truth box.

However, the Lennon official site says that what differentiates this 2020 Gimme Some Truth is that all the tracks have now (quote) “…been completely remixed…using brand new transfers of the original multi-tracks, cleaned up to the highest possible sonic quality…radically upgrading their sonic quality, presenting them as a never-before-heard Ultimate Listening Experience.”

This new box set has been mixed and engineered by multi GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks.

It was Hicks who did the mixes for Imagine – The Ultimate Collection in 2018 and, it has to be said, he did an exceptional job so it’ll be interesting to hear the improvements to these 36 tracks.

“After weeks of painstaking preparation, the final mixes and effects were completed using only vintage analogue equipment and effects at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles (formerly A&M Studios, where John had recorded some of the Rock ‘n’ Roll album), and then mastered in analogue at Abbey Road Studios in order to ensure the most beautiful and authentic sound quality possible.”

Have a listen and make up your own mind on this preview track on YouTube:

So, there will be the inevitable claims of another cash grab and that this is another go at selling us music we already have. Personally, I’m looking forward to these tracks being presented in the best possible audio. But that’s just me. What do you reckon? Let us know in the comment section below.

The question a lot of collectors are now asking is does this mean we won’t be getting the rumoured big re-issue campaign for Plastic Ono Band, John’s 1970 masterpiece which has its 50th anniversary later this year? It seems we won’t.

Meeting The Beatles In India – Film Release

Meeting The Beatles In India, the film we told you was in production way back in 2018, is finally set for its world premiere next month.

Meeting The Beatles In India is a documentary about The Beatles‘ historic 1968 trip to study Transcendental Meditation (TM) at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram retreat in Rishikesh. It was here the band immersed themselves further in the Maharishi’s teachings, and where they wrote so many of the songs that would appear on their next LP, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).

The film tells the story of a young man named Paul Saltzman, an American photographer on his own journey toward spiritual enlightenment who just happened to arrive at the ashram at the very same time as The Beatles.

Saltzman interacted with the band, watched as they composed, and took many of the now-famous photos from the time, including this iconic image featuring the band, their wives and girlfriends, Beach Boy Mike Love, Donovan, Mia Farrow, her sister Prudence, and others:

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Meeting The Beatles In India features more than 40 previously unseen photos from Saltzman’s stay in India. There are interviews with others who were at the retreat too, including Pattie Boyd (former wife of George Harrison), her sister Jenny Boyd, and the man about whom John Lennon wrote the song ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’.

The movie also sees Saltzman discussing Transcendental Meditation with Twin Peaks director David Lynch (a huge advocate for TM), and footage of Saltzman paying a present-day visit to the now-abandoned ashram. He’s accompanied by the highly respected  Beatle historian Mark Lewisohn.

Meeting The Beatles In India has its virtual world premiere online on September 9 via the Gathr Films website.

Harrison on Harrison – A New Book

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is a new anthology of the words of George Harrison by Grammy Award winning author Ashley Kahn.

Being a Beatle (and an ex-Beatle) meant that Harrison was interviewed literally thousands of times over the course of his life. This carefully curated and chronologically arranged anthology pulls together some of his most revealing and illuminating interviews, personal correspondences and writings. It spans the years 1962 to 2001 and provides a remarkable insight into the man he really was. You come away from this book with evidence that George Harrison was way more than just “the quiet Beatle“. He was an articulate, funny, candid and deeply spiritual human being.

In many cases Kahn has uncovered interview tapes that have never been shared publicly in full before, and he includes them here unfiltered, without bias or interpretation.

Some of the stand-outs for us are the interviews by David Wigg, Anthony DeCurtis and Maureen Cleave. Cleave wrote a fascinating piece on Harrison for the London Evening Standard in 1966 entitled “How a Beatle Lives. Part 3: George Harrison—Avocado with Everything . . . ”.  Now, remember, he’s just 23 years old at this point in time but in the second paragraph of Cleave’s article she states that Harrison is: “…a strong-willed and uncompromising character with a strict regard for what he considers to be the truth, and an even stricter regard for his own rights.” This is a trait that stayed with him throughout his life.

Three years later, David Wigg asks Harrison how he comes to terms with fame and being a Beatle:

George Harrison: All I’m doing, I’m acting out the part of Beatle George, and, you know, we’re all acting out our own parts. The world is a stage and the people are the players. Shakespeare said that. And he’s right, you know.

David Wigg: Do you expect another part, later?

Harrison: Oh, many parts. Yes.

Wigg: Is that why you’ve come to terms with it?

Harrison: Yes, because you just do whatever you can do. I mean, even if it’s being a Beatle for the rest of my life, it’s still only a temporary thing. And, I mean really, all we did was get born and live so many years and this is what happened. I got born seemingly to become Beatle George. But it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you are, because that’s only a temporary sort of tag for a limited sort of period of years.

That approach to life (in this temporal world and beyond) were to remain a constant.

Nearly twenty years later, in an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for Rolling Stone magazine around the time of the release of the album Cloud Nine, Harrison was still looking to keep the same even keel to his life, to keep things in perspective:

DeCurtis: One of the things about it, in mentioning that, you’ve always been a person who’s taken such care to keep a private life, to maintain that kind of thing. Does it feel sort of strange to be back in the record company office, sitting down, interviews, tapings? All this business?

Harrison: Not really, not really. I feel it’s like, sort of, say, somebody who is a fireman, or something, and he doesn’t sit around in his fireman suit all of his life. But when he goes to work he puts it on and he goes and gets on his fire engine. It’s sort of like that. Once I’ve done all this bit, I’ll walk away and I’m still . . . I mean it’s only the moment I’m in Warner Brothers office, or, somebody comes up to me and says, “Hey, will you sign this record,” or something, that I’m conscious of being an ex-Beatle and being George Harrison. I don’t live my life thinking that I’m this sort of . . . pop person. And so I think, now even more so, it’s just much easier for me to talk to people. I just talk to them like one human to another. And although that’s all superimposed on top of my being, all this past and present, but I just walk away from these interviews and just carry on as if nothing happened.

Of course being based in Australia we were pleased to see included a 1988 interview by the respected Australian journalist, Ray Martin, who got another perspective on how Harrison counteracted that “Beatle George Harrison” expectation that accompanied him wherever he went:

Martin: There is a quote….of you saying that “I have to be more ordinary than ordinary people are.” Why do you have to be more ordinary?

Harrison: [Chuckles.] Well, because, um, people have—we all have concepts of each other, you know? And the concept is, somebody see[s] me on a plane or in the streets or something, and they immediately remember all this Beatle stuff, and they have this concept of me as that person. But in reality, I don’t go around thinking of myself as “George Harrison the Beatle,” or whatever. I do now because I’m on the television, but normally I’m just like you, you know, just like everybody else; I’m just a human, and sometimes you have to, rather than just be ordinary, you have to make an effort to be more ordinary, in as much as that they will calm down and try to see that there’s actually a person in here [gestures toward himself]—other than this big myth about the Beatles. That’s all.

This is just one of many themes running through the content painstakingly gathered together for this book. George’s words reveal the complexity of his character: wise but at times naïve, sensitive but also self-deprecating, and always refreshingly, unabashedly human. As editor Ashley Kahn writes in his preface: “Read his words and know the man. Read, and know a life well-lived.

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is published by Chicago Review Press.

As a side note, Chicago Review Press has an extensive number of titles done in the same style as this book. They are part of a ‘Musicians In Their Own Words’ series, and the list of artists is lengthy including Dylan, Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Bowie and Miles Davis – to name but a few. One you might also want to seek out is Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon.

The Famous Q Magazine Comes to an End

It was sad to read last week that after 34 years the influential and very readable Q magazine has shut up shop for good. Here’s the cover of the last-ever edition:. Editor Ted Kessler said in a tweet: “The pandemic did for us, and there was nothing more to it than that.” In an editor’s letter in the final issue he writes: “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure, employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. Covid-19 wiped all that out. I must apologise profusely for my failure to keep Q afloat.”

The magazine’s circulation had fallen to 28,000 per month from a peak of 200,000 in 2001.

Q was founded in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. It arrived at the same time as the CD revolution took off – and its glossy, aspirational format chimed perfectly with the times.

Over those 34 years Q, like many other music magazines, has had its fair share of Beatles on the cover. They are, and remain, a way to sell more copies – just take the latest edition of British GQ magazine that has Paul McCartney front and centre – including an extensive new interview:

In a trip down memory lane, here are a few favourite Q magazine Beatle-inspired covers from over the years. Turns out McCartney graced the very first Q :

He became a fairly frequent visitor:

As was John Lennon on many an occasion: As they did above, sometimes Q would produce multiple versions of a cover to make a particular commemorative edition more collectable – like this series for Lennon’s 70th birthdate:

The Beatles as a band were not all that frequently seen, though certainly written about often:

This image of John and Paul is memorable:

As are these two of Paul, firstly with his Hofner bass: And then as a mystery man:
So, fare-thee-well Q mag. You’ll be missed. It’s been mighty real over the last 34 years. Sad to see yet another casualty of COVID-19. The shockwaves of this thing continue to ripple outwards.

McCartney Flaming Pie – Unboxing

As usual, the Super Deluxe Edition site has provided one of the most comprehensive unboxing videos of Flaming Pie, the new Paul McCartney Archive Collection release.

It is shown in all its variations and in all its glory, from the humble 2 CD through to the mammoth (and expensive) Collector’s Edition.

Check it out here:

McCartney Flaming Pie – Rare Tracks For Download [UPDATE]

As he’s done a number of times in the past Paul McCartney, in the lead-up to the deluxe Archive Collection box set re-issues of Flaming Pie next week, has begun to release a few ‘teaser’ rare tracks.

These are tracks that won’t be included in the forthcoming box sets. The only way to get them is to sign up and download them from his official site.

Today sees the release of three free songs on the download site: ‘Somedays [Without Orchestra]’, ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ – which is in its original 1986 mix version, and ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’.

‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ will be on the Deluxe Box Set and the Collector’s Edition of Flaming Pie, but it will be embedded in a longer track called ‘Oobu Joobu – Part 5’. (‘Oobu Joobu’ is a series of short radio-like shows made in 1997 to promote Flaming Pie. These were included on maxi CD’s that came out featuring singles from the record). All six episodes of ‘Oobu Joobu’ are included on the bigger box sets, but on the McCartney site you can now download all 6 minutes and 10 seconds of ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ as a stand-alone track.

The download-only version of ‘Somedays’ is minus the beautiful 14-piece string ensemble orchestration by Sir George Martin but it’s great to hear it in this more embryonic form. This version won’t be included on any of the forthcoming box sets.

Nor will ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’, which is an alternative acoustic version of ‘Calico Skies’, part of which is featured during the In The World Tonight documentary.

Moving away from the official McCartney download site, if you visit Rolling Stone magazine they’ve been given an exclusive instrumental version of a song from the Flaming Pie sessions called ‘Broomstick’. The original with vocal (also a rarity) was previously only available on the B-side to the ‘Young Boy’ single. This one, which does not appear in the new box set, is an all-acoustic instrumental backing track jam that features just McCartney and Steve Miller, who plays guitar. This instrumental version also lacks the sound effects that closed out the vocal version.

Finally, according to those who have received their Flaming Pie Deluxe Box sets (ours is still to arrive so we can’t confirm), there are at least two “Easter Eggs” or hidden tracks on a couple of the discs.

On CD 2 – the Home Recordings disc – after the final track ‘Great Day’ make sure you don’t stop your CD player. Let it keep playing and an additional 30-second instrumental of the song will play.

Likewise, on CD 3 – the In The Studio disc – after the “rude cassette” version of ‘Heaven On a Sunday’ there’s a period of silence followed by about a minute and a half of Paul and Ringo vamping on the track ‘Beautiful Night’.

50 Years Since Let It Be – Podcast

Time for the final podcast instalment in what has been a long and winding Beatle road.

Back in 2014 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) began a series celebrating the 50th anniversary release of each British Beatle LP.

As each album anniversary came around ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn spoke to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert, Jude Southerland Kessler.

Jude is the author of the ambitious nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest book in the series is Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details for this volume scroll down after clicking through).

In May the pair finally made it to Let It Be, the final LP released by the band.

You can find it online here, or just click on the red US Let It Be Apple label below:

Previous broadcasts/podcasts in the series are Please Please MeWith the BeatlesA Hard Day’s NightBeatles For Sale and of course, Help! – which is in two parts: Side One here, and Side Two here.

You can hear Rod and Jude talk about Rubber SoulRevolver; and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by clicking here.

And they tackle Yellow SubmarineThe Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), and The Esher Demos disc here.

The Abbey Road podcast is here.

Wings Greatest – Strange Bulgarian Pressing

There’s nothing we love more than discovering a strange or different pressing of a very well-known album – and this one, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings Greatest, fits the bill perfectly.

It’s the official Bulgarian release on the Balkanton label, and we were alerted to it by old friend Andrey – who helps maintain the fantasticly comprehensive The Beatles Get Back in the USSR site.

This copy of Wings Greatest is not only distinguished by its unusual labels (see below), but also the fact that it comes with one less song than every version we can find released anywhere else in the world. You can see that Side 1 is missing the track ‘Live and Let Die’. In every other market Side 1 has six tracks. In Bulgaria they got just five:Just to refresh your memory, here’s the US Capitol version of this 1978 compilation LP:

If you were browsing in a second-hand bin (and this LP comes up for sale a lot), you could very easily flip straight past the Bulgarian version without noticing that it’s actually quite rare.

We wonder if there was some sort of a licencing issue in Bulgaria with the song ‘Live and Let Die’ because it is from the soundtrack of the James Bond film of the same name? It would be part-owned by United Artists. Maybe that was it?

Now you can see on the rear cover in the place ‘Live and Let Die’ should be the words “Manufactured under licence by Balkanton in Bulgaria”.

(As usual, click on the images above to see larger versions)