Wednesday, 7 December 2016

What was the first Beatles album released in the US?

In 1962 Capitol Records, the sister company of EMI, were offered the opportunity to release the first Beatles singles in the USA. But because British acts typically had little success in the American market Capitol turned the opportunity down. 

It was two small  companies Vee-Jay Records and Swan who saw some potential for American sales. 

Vee-Jay Records?

Vee-Jay Records were a small Chicago label, specialising in soul records. They signed The Beatles in order to secure a bigger star: Frank Ifield. As part of the deal Vee-Jay released Please Please Me in February 1963. 

With promotion on local radio stations Please, Please Me crept up to number 35 in the Chicago chart. But the song did not register nationally

Cold Feet

Despite this Vee-Jay scheduled the release of the first album ('Please Please Me' in the UK) for July 1963. With Beatlemania building in Britain, This seemed a very shrewd move until the release was suddenly cancelled without warning. It transpired that the company president had a gambling problem and Vee-Jay Records was in serious financial trouble. The July release was cancelled.

In the early Autumn, Brian Epstein asked Lennon and McCartney to write a song aimed at the US market. They came up with 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' - which was to be the biggest selling single of their career. But at that point no US record company had the right to release it.

America Waits

American audiences see news reports of ‘Beatles madness’ in the UK. But they do not hear their records.

Then a Washington DJ gets a copy of I Want to Hold Your Hand’ via his air-stewardess girlfriend. He plays it to a US radio audience for the first time on December 17.

The audience loves it. Soon he is playing I Want to Hold Your Hand’ every hour.

Capitol Rethinks

Capitol Records finally realise what they were missing. They began arranging for the release of the first Beatles LP. At the same time Vee-Jay saw the answer to their financial problems - they rush released Introducing the Beatles - minus the two singles which were subject to legal challenges - on January 10 1963. 

The record sold one million copies in the ten days before Capitol released their 'debut' Beatles album.

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Thursday, 6 October 2016

What was The Beatles first hit single?

 'Love Me Do' is Paul's song. He wrote it when he was a teenager. Let me think. I might have helped on the middle eight, but I couldn't swear to it. I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters". (John Lennon in David Sheff's : All We Are Saying).[8]
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Saturday, 24 September 2016

What was early Beatlemania like?

The first time Scottish concert promoter Andi Lothian booked the Beatles, in the frozen January of 1963, only 15 people showed up. The next time he brought them north of the border, to Glasgow Odeon on 5 October, they had scored a No 1 album and three No 1 singles, and it was as if a hurricane had blown into town.
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Friday, 23 September 2016

Why did the Beatles stop performing live?

The Beatles play Shea Stadium in biggest concert ever, 1965
We were the best live band in the world before we were famous. Nobody could touch us  John Lennon. 

In the cinema, we’re actually going to hear ourselves for the first time. We couldn’t hear ourselves when we were live, as there was so much screaming going on.  Paul McCartney before the premiere of Eight Days A Week, September 2016
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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Most recorded song of all time?

Wimpole Street 
“I woke up with a lovely tune in my head.  I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder what that is?’  There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. 
 I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th – and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E.  It all leads forward logically.  I liked the melody a lot but because I’d dreamed it I couldn’t believe I’d written it. 

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Why did The Beatles sack Pete Best?

'We were cowards when we sacked him'  John Lennon

There are a number of theories as to why The Beatles replaced their drummer, Pete Best, with Ringo Starr in August 1962.

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When do we first hear an Indian influence on a Beatles record?

In June 1966 the great Indian musician Ravi Shankar visited George Harrison at his Surrey home - and played for the assembled Beatles. Two months later they recorded George's composition I WANT TO TELL YOU. 

Harrison later explained that the song expressed 'an avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say' and Ian Macdonald spots the 'underlying Hindi outlook in the lyric - a karmic reference to time in the final lines ... confirmed by a descending melisma in the fade out'. 

Neil Innes - who later collaborated with George Harrison on the celebrated Beatles spoof mockumentary The Rutles  - happened to be in Abbey Road Studio as they were recording. He tells the story here:

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