Strange/Unusual Find of the Month

“If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” – Paul McCartney, 1999

Again, this is not rare or expensive, but quite an unexpected find during a visit to the city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.

It’s The Fifth Beatle – The Brian Epstein Story, an amazing graphic novel-style book by Vivek Tiwary (with illustrations by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker):

We were visiting and had to go to the ubiquitous IKEA store for a few bits and pieces and called into a large shopping centre complex in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. It’s always hard to resist the opportunity to stop by local bookshops too, and when we spied one in this complex (it was part of the Dymocks national chain) we ducked inside and headed straight to the “Music” section.

Now, The Fifth Beatle isn’t exactly a common book, especially in the wilds of Richmond, and even more so to be stocked by a large national chain of bookstores. You’d be more likely find something like this (maybe) in an independent or specialty store – but there it was on the shelf.

(Click on images for larger versions)

As you can see above, this is a very clever telling of the story of the rise of The Beatles, under the direction and tutelage of their clever, ambitious, talented and visionary manager, Brian Epstein. The Fifth Beatle reveals a man who took his charges to the very top of the world and attained what could be regarded as the ultimate in success, but who died painfully young – and tragically alone.

Written in 2013 and originally published in that same year, there have been a number of iterations of the book in the ensuing years. This is the 2016 softcover edition with an expanded sketchbook detailing the development of the project and a Beatles memorabilia section at the rear.

This site has a “Look Inside” feature if you’d like to see more of the story and the sophisticated, often elegant artwork. The official site also has a preview function available.

The Fifth Beatle has been in (and back out) of production for the big screen on more than one occasion. The latest news is that a deal has been cut with Bravo for a TV series based on the book. Let’s wait and see what happens.

This is a book we’d been keen on owning for some time and if you don’t have a copy it is well worth seeking out. It’s great to have it as part of the collection.

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Some Sgt. Pepper’s Holiday Listening

With the holidays upon us, and to celebrate the release of the 2017 remix of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (on 180 gram vinyl) in single LP form – plus the Sgt. Pepper vinyl picture disc, here are a couple of Pepper-related items for your listening pleasure.

They all come from the Australian Radio National program, The Music Show – hosted by Andrew Ford.

For the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper earlier this year The Music Show spoke to singer Barb Junger (whom you’ll hear has a record of Beatle covers out) and writer Joyce Morgan about their memories of first hearing the album back when it was first released in the Summer of Love:

The Music Show also spoke to Beatle biographer extraordinaire, Mark Lewisohn:

The program’s final Pepper installment came from Joanne Petersen, Brian Epstein’s personal assistant. Petersen, who now lives in Australia, recalls the time she heard a test pressing of Sgt. Pepper’s; details some of the launch activities (including John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce); and George Harrison refusing to cuddle British DJ Kenny Everett:

Their Pepper special also came with a special bonus. It’s a link to a fantastic mini documentary on the background to the people (and horses!) mentioned in the poster John Lennon used to inspire his song, ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’. And, believe it or not, there’s another Australian connection:

All audio is ex ABC Radio National. Visit The Music Show website for more of their great programs.

 

Beatles Record Sold for £77,500 at Auction

The BBC is reporting that one of the Beatles’ rarest records ever has sold for £77,500 (that’s US$111,721 or AU$147,115) at auction. That was more than seven times the estimated selling price.

Beatles Rare Record

The record, a 10″ 78rpm single with “Hello Little Girl” on one side and “Till There Was You” on the other, was made at the HMV store in London and is a one-off.

It was sold at auction after being locked away for more than fifty years at the home of Les Maguire, the former keyboardist with Gerry and The Pacemakers. He was given the disc in 1963 by the Beatles’ then manager Brian Epstein. Maguire put it away and never thought about it again. Until now.

Let’s hope his granddaughter is able to buy a house with the proceeds.

The record was purchased by “an anonymous British collector”. Wonder if it was Sir Paul McCartney?

Beatles sale. File photo dated 21/02/16 of an 78RPM Beatles acetate, considered to be the record that launched the Beatles, and one of the rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records, which was sold by Omega Auctions to a UK collector for £77500 against an estimate of £10000. Issue date: Tuesday March 22, 2016. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire URN:25895790

Beatles sale. File photo dated 21/02/16 of an 78RPM Beatles acetate, considered to be the record that launched the Beatles, and one of the rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records, which was sold by Omega Auctions to a UK collector for £77500 against an estimate of £10000. Issue date: Tuesday March 22, 2016. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire URN:25895790

Beatles’ First Recording Contract Sells for US$93,750

The Beatles’ first recording contract, part of a just-concluded New York auction of items from the Uwe Blaschke Collection, has sold for an impressive US$93,750. It went to an unknown internet bidder, but fell short of the predicted US$150,000 target.

The 1961 contract, signed by all four members of the group at that time (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best), was for a recording session with the Polydor company in Germany and produced the single ‘My Bonnie’. It was credited on the label to “Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers” because there was a stipulation in the contract allowing Polydor to use a different group name. They felt the name “Beatles” wouldn’t be readily accepted in the German market. Never-the-less, the group was making it’s very first professional recording for commercial release by an actual record label.

While ‘My Bonnie’ achieved only modest success in Germany, back home in Liverpool Beatle fans who knew about the recording began asking for it in record shops, including the store owned and managed by Brian Epstein. When he learned that the requests were for a local group, he paid a visit to the Cavern club to see what the fuss was about, and the rest is history….

Also in this auction was the 45 single ‘P.S. I Love You’ (the B-side to ‘Love Me Do’) – signed by all four Beatles and which we wrote about last month. This was the next most expensive item to go under the hammer yesterday. It fetched a substantial US$25,000 from a bidder in the room at the New York auction. This was well above the expected US$10,000: PS I Love You Signed

The third most expensive item on the day was a framed, signed Beatle fan card photo from 1962. On the back is printed “With Best Wishes from Paul, Pete, John, and George. The Beatles. April 5th 1962”. Around that text are a number of signatures: “für Christa von George Harrison”, “für Christa von Paul McCartney”, “Roy Young” (a British Rock singer and pianist), “für Christa von John Lennon”, “Best Wishes from Pete Best”, and “Best Wishes from Bernard Boyle” (the founder of the Beatles Fan Club). These fan cards were given out at a Cavern Club concert on April 5 honoring the Official Fan Club. This sold for US$12,500: Beatle Fancard Photo 2

 

Vale Cilla Black

News is just coming in that Cilla Black has died at the age of 72.

Cilla was a great mate of the Beatles and was a central part of their manager Brian Epstein’s bevy of talented Liverpool artists. Because of those close relationships Cilla Black was the recipient of unique songs composed by Lennon and McCartney (for example her debut single ‘Love of the Loved’, as well as ‘It’s For You’ and ‘Step Inside Love’ – which became the theme song for one of her TV shows).

And of course she was signed to the Parlophone label. Her many hits were produced by the great George Martin.

Cilla Black leaves behind a fifty-year career in the entertainment business. Following her singing successes of the 1960s Cilla entered the world of British television and became a household name and much-loved icon.

Last year there was a terrific 3-part television docu-drama simply called Cilla (starring Sheridan Smith) covering her life in Liverpool, early career, and rise to fame. Well worth seeing.Cilla - Best Of

Fab Gear – The Beatles and Fashion

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Earlier this week we scored a pristine copy of this Beatle book from one of our favourite discount bookstores – Basement Books in central Sydney. In fact it was still sealed in heat-shrink and so it is absolutely a mint copy.

The title of this large, coffee-table style book says exactly what its content is all about: Fab Gear – The Beatles and Fashion, and author Paolo Hewitt (his blog is here) focusses on that topic exclusively. DSC03487

This book contains a wealth of photographs, like the one above, which are included because they show the variety of fashion over the years, the fine cut, or the design details of what the group were wearing at particular times. Look at those jackets John and Paul are wearing. This photo was taken at the London Palladium in February, 1965. John’s is a particularly stylish, four-button cut, while with Paul it’s the detail of the doubled-up buttons and cuffs, and the buttoned down shirt with no tie which are interesting.

As you browse through Fab Gear Hewitt gives information about where the Beatles purchased their clothing (or where they had it made), and who they knew and followed in the industry. It becomes clear that the Beatles indeed were style gurus very interested in clothing, fashion, and the design of what they wore – both as a group and as individuals. In the photos below Ringo is dressed very much in a Mod style, with his three button suit and button-down polka-dot shirt. John sports a look that Van Morrison would appropriate years later. The pair’s stylish but casual look is in contrast to the smaller, earlier picture where the band is dressed far more formally:DSC03486From the earliest stages of being a band the Beatles had a keen sense of themselves as being more than just musicians. They were a force for change and what they wore was another way of pushing the boundaries. Hewitt’s book is divided up into five main themes to examine this thesis: the early years and influences from the late1950s in Liverpool and Hamburg; the early 1960s in London and Brian Epstein’s influence on their look and style; the mid-to-late1960s and Swinging London; the Beatles and their affect on hairstyles; and a chapter dedicated to the Beatles’ venture into creating and selling their own fashion designs at the Apple clothing boutique:

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In fact this book has one of the best chapters we’ve seen on the ill-fated Apple shop set up to sell Apple clothing and which the Beatles opened on December 7, 1967 at 94 Baker Street in London. It closed its doors just seven months later. Not only do we get the back-story to it’s inception and speedy downfall, we get images of hand-drawn designs, fabric samples and prices:DSC03483

This clip, from the movie Hot Millions, provides one of the few filmed glimpses inside the Apple shop:

There was also a separate Apple Tailoring shop (at 161 King’s Road) which included an Apple Hair salon in the basement! It is at Apple Tailoring we discover an Australian connection in the form one John Crittle. Crittle was a fashion innovator whose designs the Beatles had been taken with since the Sgt Pepper days. When they wanted to start their own tailoring company they turned to him. He’s pictured below – and if you don’t think you know his work, think again. Crittle designed the suits worn by three of the band (John, Ringo and Paul) as they walked across that famous pedestrian crossing outside the EMI studios on Abbey Road:DSC03481We are very much enjoying dipping into Fab Gear. There are so many interesting stories and you’ll never look at a Beatle album cover, publicity shot, promotional film, or magazine/newspaper image the same way again. For a quick spin through the history and influence the band had on fashion (and that fashion had on them) it’s an indispensable book. We guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know about the Beatles:DSC03485DSC03490DSC03488DSC03491DSC03480

Beatles With Records – Part Twenty One

When we started way back with Part One of the Beatles With Records series it was based on the premise that (quote): “Despite selling multi, multi-millions of the things, it’s kind of strange that you hardly ever see photographs of the Beatles themselves with, or listening to, records”.

Well, through lots of help from Beatles Blog readers we’ve actually amassed quite a lot of photographs to disprove that theory.

And here are some more….

Back in that first post we showed this great photo of John Lennon surrounded by guitars, amplifiers, speakers and 45 singles, listening intently to music:john-with-singles

Here is another angle from that same day:Aug 2013 15248

John is a bit of a running theme throughout this post. In this next photograph he seems to be holding either a big reel-to-reel tape box, or some sort of record box from the classic Epic Records company:Lennon Epic Records

You can clearly see the company’s old logo on the front. In the 1960s EMI, the Beatles’ record company, had a distribution deal with Epic to release their titles in the UK – so maybe it was a box of sample records from them for him to listen to?epic-records-older-logoEpic is still going strong of course. Here’s another of John seeking out a track to play on a great-looking jukebox. It’d be interesting to know which song he chose to listen to….
Aug 2013 853389

There are no recognisable discs in this next one of John and Yoko rehearsing, but there’s a shelf full of records behind them none-the-less:Aug 2013 1989920

This next photograph shows the couple on the promotion trail for Imagine:Aug 2013 2041046imagine

Not sure which LP John is listening to here:Aug 2013 1784786

Back in Part 5 we showed this photo of Beatle manager Brian Epstein holding a UK copy of Help!:

epstein-help

Another photo has come in which gives the close-up shot above a great deal more context. Brian was actually studying the cover of Help! amidst the hubbub of the Beatles getting ready to make some sort of an appearance, or about to go on stage:  Aug 2013 970032beatles-helpThis next one is associated with the same Beatle film-related project. It’s pretty easy to guess that the band is at a press conference in the United States, only this time associated with the US version of the LP from the film Help!  It came with a different cover:Aug 2013 - 1965 29 Aug 1786515-3help_us_version_capitol_records_semaphore_NVUJ

Here’s another photograph of Brian Epstein, this time with a much earlier album, Please Please Me:Uncut Beatles 2aThe Beatles - Please Please Me

Meanwhile, back to John Lennon, and two photograph taken around the time of the release of Double Fantasy. Check what looks to be a sample image of the cover stuck on the noticeboard:Aug 2013 2035709And, in the same office, signing the back covers of promotional copies of Double Fantasy to go out to reviewers at radio stations, magazines and newspapers:Aug 2013 1971789double-fantasyDouble fantasy rear

We’ve previously featured Paul McCartney besieged by fans when trying to move between a building and his car. The fans are thrusting out albums to be signed. You can see a couple of good examples in the Beatles With Records Part Twenty, and also in Part Fourteen. Sometimes, from the look on his face, you get the feeling that Paul must be thinking “Will this ever stop?”Aug 2013 2023012Aug 2013 2061267Most times though he seems very willing to smile and help fans out where he can:Aug 2013 2057180Aug 2013 2057183And to finish, a couple of earlier Paul photos with records from his Beatle days:Aug 2013 909287

And from the Wings days:Aug 2013 2062430You can see the entire Beatles With Records series here: 12345678910111213141516,17,18,19 and 20.