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Which Beatle came from the most musical family?

None of The Beatles came from families where early piano or recorder lessons were then norm. Music came into their lives via  he radio and records played on primitive players. Classical music was consciously avoided - the radio would be switched over or off when it came on in the McCartney home.  Musical instruments were around, but not learned in a systematic way. Julia Lennon played banjo and occasionally sang in local pubs.  A lodger did provide John with a harmonica, which he intermittently played when he was young. Ringo had to make do with a toy drum proveded by a kindly hospital visitor. Generally, music was seen as a diversion, rather than a potential source of income. The major exception was Paul’s father, Jim.,  Jim McCartney sang and gigged in local ragtime groups and  his work’s brass band.  He had taught himself various instruments including the piano, double bass and the E-flat tuba.  This musical curiosity was passed down to his two sons. They grew up watching their dad

What Paul McCartney 's first instrument?

Jim bought Paul his first instrument  for his fourteenth birthday. It was intended to help distract him after the recent death of his mother.  The trumpet was accompanied by some lessons - which Paul was unkeen on continuing. It seems they introduced him to at least some basic musical theory I persevered with the trumpet for a while. I learnt ‘The Saints’, which I can still play in C. I learnt my C scale, and a couple of things. Though Paul ‘loved’ trumpet, there were practical problems. ...I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to sing with this thing stuck in my mouth, so I asked my dad if he’d mind if I swapped it for a guitar, which also fascinated me. He didn’t, and I traded my trumpet in for an acoustic guitar, a Zenith, which I still have. How The Beatles learned to play

How did George Martin improve Please, Please Me?

  In his later years, George Martin expressed a robust opinion about the early Lennon and McCartney originals. The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap. This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad. Paul McCartney has a slightly different take, emphasising that Martin rejected the tempo rather than the song itself  Origin PLEASE PLEASE ME was a John Lennon original and a calculated attempt to emulate the Big O, then a rising star I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing Only The Lonely, or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby. George Martin was not initially impressed. He gave  PLEASE PLEASE ME a resounding thumbs down: I listened to it and I said: 'Do you know that's too boring for words? It's

Why did John & Yoko get married in Gibraltar?

The famous image of John & Yoko standing in front of the Rock of Gibraltar was very much on brand. What greater symbol of the eternity of their love? It was, however, a wedding location chosen out of necessity rather than a carefully thought out mission statement. The decision to marry was taken spontaneously, though it did occur on the day following the wedding of Paul and Linda. Not that the future Lennon-Onos attended - none of The Beatles did. But on the way home from Mimi's they decided to follow suit - immediately.  There were a few hurdles to overcome. They wanted to marry abroad but did not have their passports with them. Other proposed venues - like Paris - had boring rules and paperwork.  Gibraltar, very much in the UK. It was, perhaps, un poco provocative to describe it as  'near Spain' but legally that was pretty much the case. So the Rock rocked as far the bride and bridegroom were concerned. Among those less thrilled were Cynthia Lennon and General Franc

How many records have The Beatles sold?

Before they broke-up, The Beatles sold far more singles that LPs. The album, as it became known, was a luxury item - well beyond the financial  reach of the core teenage market. Singles generally outsold albums until the early seventies. The Beatles released a total of 63 singles worldwide By 2014, the official figure for US single sales was an astonishing 1.6 billion . Estimated world sales were over 2 billion .  Studio Albums The Beatles officially released 13 albums, plus three anthologies They had a total of 21 Number 1 albums in the US.  Total US album sales are estimated at around 177 million Album sales outside of the US are in excess of 600 million .  The Beatles  (The White Album) is the biggest selling studio album. It has sold over 24 million copies. Later acts, like Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Michael Jackson, all  benefited from the increasing availability of affordable stereo systems. Older fans were now buying Beatles albums in large numbers but these

Which classical composers influenced The Beatles?

None of The Beatles had a background in classical music. Paul McCartney's (jazz musician) father would turn the radio off if a classical record came on.  George did, however, learn one classical 'party-piece' in his early teens, which he taught to Paul. Neither boy the title but they had the vague idea that it was by Bach. They would later learn that it was Bourrée from the E Minor Lute Suite — and that they had been playing it inaccurately. A decade later the Bourree would directly inspire one of Paul McCartney’s most famous compositions. Full article (4 minutes) free here

Which four Beatles songs mention Queen Elizabeth II?

The Beatles with Princess Margaret. Paul McCartney has often expressed his admiration for Queen Elizabeth, who came to power five years before he joined The Quarrymen.  We all kind of liked the Queen. It’s an age thing. We were kids when she was crowned, so to us she was like a glamorous film star. We identified with her. She’s ours. She’s the Queen.   Interview with the Radio Times, September 2019 There are  four Beatles tracks which mention Queen Elizabeth II:  Penny Lane, For You Blue, Mean Mr Mustard   and Her Majesty . Read more  (free) Free Beatles Teaching Materials

How were The Beatles introduced to marijuana?

The Beatles first met Dylan during their second visit to the US in August 1964. He came to visit them  in their suite at the Delmonoco Hotel in New York, accompanied by his friend Al Aronowitz.  Eager to please their super-hip guests, The Beatles offered Dylan and champagne and amphetamines. Dylan said that he only drank cheap wine and suggested that they ‘smoke some grass’ Brian and the Beatles looked at each other apprehensively. “We’ve never smoked marijuana before,” Brian finally admitted. Dylan looked disbelievingly from face to face. “But what about your song?” he asked. The one about getting high?” The Beatles were stupefied. “Which song?” John managed to ask. Dylan said, “You know…” and then he sang, “and when I touch you I get high, I get high…” John flushed with embarrassment. “Those aren’t the words,” he admitted. “The words are, ‘I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide…'”    From The Love You Make Peter Brown Let's not Twist again In fact,  according to George Harr

Best Beatle Cover Versions? With a Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8063909 The best known interpretation of a Beatles song, performed in sensational fashion at Woodstock in 1969. On Sergeant Pepper With a Little Help From My Friends is a charming sing-along, ideally suited to Ringo's vocal range. Joe Cocker takes it to a different place.  Paying tribute to the late Sheffield singer Paul McCartney said:   I remember him and [producer] Denny Cordell coming round to the studio and Saville Row and playing me what they recorded. It was just mind-blowing. He totally turned the song into a soul anthem, and I was forever grateful to him for doing that."

Best Beatles cover versions? Golden Slumbers by George Benson

There have several thousand covers of Beatles songs but a short list of those which work well. Twist my arm and I’d go for George Benson’s interpretation of Golden Slumbers   from his extraordinary The Other Side of Abbey Road (1971) Benson was a young jazz guitar prodigy at a time when the form appeared to have hit the buffers. To purists, his attempt to take on The Beatles was the first in long series of contemptible sellouts. His musical peers saw it differently, with Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, and Sonny Fortune all contributing to what was essentially a new take on the a tradition pioneered by the Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks. Golden Slumbers is a highlight that draws on the unusual genesis of the original. This was famously inspired by  Paul McCartney coming across his step-sister's sheet music for a piece called Cradle Music left on the piano at his father's house in Liverpool. Intrigued, but unable to read the 'black dots on the page' Paul invented a melody an

How did John meet Paul?

On Saturday the 6th July, 1957 St Peter's Church held it a annual summer fete in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton. After the usual stalls and games for children in the afternoon, a new skiffle group played in the church hall in the evening. They were named The Quarrymen, after the school the band-leader attended. His name was John Lennon. John with the Quarrymen a few hours before meeting Paul Paul McCartney was only just fifteen, eighteen months younger than Lennon. He lived a bus ride away and went to a different school. But he and Lennon shared a mutual friend, Ivan Vaughan. Vaughan invited McCartney to the fete, promising that there would be girls there. “You can meet my mate John, too,” he added. “He plays guitar like you…” Read full piece free on on Medium    3 min read with video The Beatles Teaching Pack  free download during pandemic BBC Witness (audio): The Band That Made The Beatles

What is the most recorded song of all time?

YESTERDAY was never released as a single in the UK In recent years, a strong case has been made for George Gershwin's aria SUMMERTIME, a cabaret and musical theatre staple. Some estimates suggest that there are up to 30,000 cover version, though this has not been verified. The official winner, at least according to The Guinness Book of Records (1986) began life in Wimpole Street, London    As he has recently confirmed , the melody for YESTERDAY came to Paul McCartney fully formed in a dream. It seemed so familiar that for several days that Paul remained convinced that he had subconsciously plagiarized it. Eventually, a combination of George Martin, singer Alma Colgan and John Lennon convinced him otherwise. Finding words proved a lot trickier. Worried that he would forget the tune, he created a dummy lyric with the working title ‘Scrambled Eggs’. The opening couplet was  unpromising : 'Scrambled eggs/Oh how I love your legs.'  Even with a workable lyric, YESTERDAY, posed ch

Why was the sound quality so poor at Beatles concerts?

In February 1962 The Beatles played at a youth club in Liverpool, using the church hall. The venue was modest but fit for purpose. With its low ceiling and wooden floors it provided excellent acoustics for the local fans who managed to squeeze in. Two years later they travelled to Washington DC in the immediate wake of their triumph on the Ed Sullivan Show. A concert was hastily arranged in a venue used for basketball and boxing, It set the template for all the live shows that were to come: An 8000-voice choir performed last night at Washington Coliseum in the premiere of what is likely to become an American classic. Call it in B for want of a better name. The choir was accompanied, incidentally, by four young British artists who call themselves the Beatles. Their part was almost completely obscured by the larger choral group, The 'thin voices' of the visiting group could not compete with the thousands of screaming teenagers.  This problem would plague The Beatles for their rem

Where did the title Tomorrow Never Knows come from?

Tomorrow Never Knows took The Beatles into previously unexplored musical territory. Its use of tape loops, a mellotron, Tibetan chants and various Musique Concrete techniques were startling innovations for a mainstream pop record.  The title, however,  was inspired by a more homely source: I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics. Where did this  'heavy' philosophy come from? The Tibetan Book of the Dead via  The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (1964). Leary notoriously promoted the use of LSD as the key to what Huxley had termed the Doors of Perception.  Lennon discovered the  The Psychedelic Experience when browsing the shelves at the Indica Bookshop in London:  John began to scan the shelves. His eyes soon alighted upon a copy of The Psychedelic Experience, Dr Timothy Leary's psychedelic version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  John was delighted and settled down

When did George Harrison stop taking LSD? Why?

The Beatles famously brought LSD to public attention. Less well known is that George Harrison became rapidly disillusioned about the effects of the drug on young people exposed to it. On 7 August 1967, George Harrison flew with his then wife Patti, Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor to San Francisco.   They were there to visit George's sister, Jenny but also wanted to visit the  increasingly famous 'Hippy Heaven' area of Haight Ashbury.   Not so many flowers Are you going to  San Francisco/Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair Scott McKenzie released his single in May 1967. A huge hit, it acted as a siren call to those attracted by the ideas of the counter culture.  Young runaways began arriving in large numbers. Drug dealing petty criminals moved in to exploit them.  By August the situation in Haight Ashbury was spiralling out of control.  The atmosphere was especially tense during the weekend of their arrival. Four days earlier two dealers had been murdered in horrific

Which Beatles song was directly influenced by Bach?

During their early musical education, The Beatles steered clear of classical music. Paul tells how his father 'a jazzer' would pointedly turn off the radio when a classical piece was broadcast. His son metaphorically followed suit, as did his bandmates. It was not for them. Bach - but not as he wrote it George had, however, learned one classical 'party-piece' at an early age. He did not know the title but had the vague idea that it was by Bach. George then taught this partial, inaccurate version of  Bourrée from the E Minor Lute Suite, to Paul. Here it is played according to original score: In 1968 McCartney used the Bourrée as a starting point for what would become one of his most admired compositions. Would Bach have been due a Chiffons-style copyright infringement payday if he had had hung around for another 240 years? It seems very unlikely. McCartney acknowledges that Bach provided the 'original inspiration' for Blackbird - but argues that musically he took

Why did John Lennon stop driving in 1969?

  He was a terrible driver…with bad eyesight’. John Lennon's cousin, Stan. John Lennon's Austin Maxi, the last car he ever drove Unlike most of his rockstar peers, Lennon had little interest cars. He learned to drive comparatively late, only passing his test in 1965, when he was twenty-four.  Even when he got his licence, he showed little enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel, rarely doing so for the next four years. In 1969, however, he decided 'on the spur of the moment' to drive his family to the Scottish Highlands. It did not go well. Full Story here  (five minute read)

Which Beatle had the most difficult childhood?

Aunt Mimi’s house — Copyright Pernille Eriksen — reprinted here with permission —  prints available John Lennon's childhood traumas are documented in series of songs he wrote in the late 60s and early 70s: Julia, Mother, Working Class Hero. In fact the whole of his first solo album is an extended therapy session aimed at healing his troubled psyche. Yet in the early days of their friendship what struck Paul was not John's emotional  pain. It was his posh house. Paul For Paul,  Mendips  was a different social world - one in which an auntie was an aunt and the shelves were filled with books and artwork. Until this point all he had known were council houses.  In his own home their had been a fairly recent tragedy - his adored mother had died from a cancer that consumed her with brutal rapidity. In an age before grief counselling Paul and his brother were encouraged not to dwell on this misfortune The McCartney home — Copyright Pernille Eriksen — reprinted here with permiss

What did John Lennon want to sound 'like the end of the world'?

Many of the best Beatles songs start and/or finish with a bang: the opening chord or A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, for example. The opening of A DAY IN THE LIFE is unusually muted in this respect, perhaps indicating shift into more subtle musical territory.  Where A DAY IN THE LIFE delivers its knockout blow is in its finale. Originally recorded as a modest  hummed  E Major vocal chord, it evolved into what Jonathan Gould describes as:  "a forty-second meditation on finality that leaves each member of the audience listening with a new kind of attention and awareness to the sound of nothing at all". [66] ByTom Swain www.tomswain.com CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11750716 This was achieved using absurdly primitive technology in today's term. Lennon, McCartney, Evans and Martin played the chord on three pianos. Each was then multi-tracked four times. For the final chord of  A DAY IN THE LIFE  Lennon had asked George Martin for a  'a sound like t

What is The Beatles best selling studio album?

Releasing a double album was considered commercially foolhardy in 1968. LPs, as they were then called, were much more expensive than they are today. A double album seemed to price out the teenagers, still considered The Beatles main market. There were other seemingly quixotic features. Officially called The Beatles it was immediately dubbed The White Album because of its distinctive Richard Hamilton designed cover. This went down a storm with art students but marketing executives were less impressed. They reasonably concluded that there were not enough art students to create the sales need for a gold record. 'What has happened to the Yeah-Yeahs? Nor did  The White Album     attempt to reach out to those not yet bitten by the Beatle bug. There were no singles to entice the casual record buyer. All the material was new to most listeners. Even trend-setting disc jockeys were wrong-footed by the sheer scale of the musical experimentation.  And the number of tracks - an unheard of twen

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