This letter has turned up in an auction of some of Joe Flannery’s things following his death. Joe was an integral member of Brian Epstein’s circle around The Beatles. You can read more about the auction here.
There are some interesting points which need clarification. When researching the supposed “sacking” of Pete Best for my book, “Finding the Fourth Beatle”, I uncovered a number of key points:
1. Pete Best was never sacked by Brian Epstein. He couldn’t be! The Beatles employed Brian as their manager. They could sack him, but Brian had no authority or power to sack Pete or any of The Beatles.
2. To achieve the removal of Pete Best, Brian had to convince Pete that he was being sacked, without saying the words!
3. As Brian didn’t sign the management contract with The Beatles in February 1962, he could not enforce the contract on The Beatles. However, John, Paul, George and Pete could enforce the contractual obligations on Brian!
4. Because of this fact, Brian was still legally tied to Pete and responsible for finding work for him, Brian was assisted by Joe Flannery by Flannery offering Pete the drummer’s position in Lee Curtis and the All Stars (Lee Curtis was Joe’s brother). By doing this, Pete effectively quit The Beatles.
5. It was for this reason that Brian wrote to ” release him from his obligations under contract to myself”. Brian was finally free.
Today is John Lennon’s 80th birthday. There were some wonderful memorabilia items made in the US from 1964-66. They were whimsical, weird, wacky, and just plain cool! Many represented his amazing personality and characteristics that helped fuel the Fab Four craze worldwide. We salute John on his birthday, and join the world in this celebration.
Debbie’s publisher, Peter Stansill, has his own incredible story about spending time with John Lennon.
“I met John in person for the first time in 1970 when he was still 29. He and Yoko had just returned from a six-week retreat in Northern Jutland, Denmark, where I had helped set up accommodation for them through friends. My family had lived next door to Yoko’s flat by Regent’s Park in London, where her first husband, Tony Cox, and daughter Kyoko were now staying. Six-year-old Kyoko quickly became our new daughter’s first babysitter.
Yoko had moved to the Lennon estate near Ascot, while Tony travelled to Spain with their daughter. We joined them in Ibiza for a few weeks before I had to return to London. Tony asked me to call Yoko and reassure her that all was well with her daughter. I phoned Tittenhurst Park, and Yoko’s personal assistant said Yoko wanted to see me urgently, so I should plan to stay with the Lennons for a few days. Their driver picked me up in the Rolls that afternoon.
There was something surreal about the scene at Tittenhurst Park, the vast 72-acre estate near Ascot. For my first two days as their guest I saw no sign of John and Yoko. The manor was well-staffed – cook, gardener, driver, groundskeeper, and so on. Between them the staff had around 10 children who ran wild in this magic kingdom. It was easy to see how John and Yoko felt the daily pain of their childlessness.
I began to wonder what I was doing there, waiting for an audience to discuss a high-profile child custody dispute over which I had no influence. Finally one afternoon I was admitted to the inner sanctum, the Lennons’ bedroom, where they were lounging in their nightclothes on a huge circular bed.
As uncomfortable as I could possibly be, I answered Yoko’s questions about Kyoko. She was eager to know all the details about her living situation, her daily activities and schooling. What did she do all day? Who did she play with? Was she happy? I told Yoko everything I could about the months we had spent with Kyoko, including what a wonderful companion she had been to my baby daughter. It all made her pleased, sad and agitated. Meanwhile, John glared silently, smoking his Gitanes, peeved and impatient.
However, I was invited to accompany the whole entourage to Abbey Road studios the next day to record a new song. On Monday, March 8, I found myself alone with John and Yoko in the Rolls, at the head of a convoy heading for London. I hadn’t exchanged a single word with John and he still eyed me with his doleful, untrusting scowl. Not sure how to break the ice, I put on my best Yorkshire accent and kidded him about looking so serious: ‘What’s up wi’ thee, maungy bugger?’ He cracked up and relaxed, passed a huge pre-rolled joint around, and we giggled all the way to St. John’s Wood.
The track they were working on was ‘Power to the People,’ which struck me as unusually insipid and tedious. Even John later described it as ‘another piece of rubbish.’ The high point for me was chatting with Maureen Starkey in the control booth, while her husband Ringo stood by looking sullen and hung-over and Phil Spector cavorted around the sound stage below.”
In the early days in the Cavern, 1957/1958, John would upset Alan Sytner by playing the odd rock’n’roll number in amongst the skiffle. Alan Sytner who owned the Cavern wanted it to remain purely as a Jazz club. In 1959, Ray McFall bought the Cavern from Alan Sytner and he was also a Jazz fanatic. The Beatles returned from Hamburg from their first trip and had their debut at the Cavern on 9th February 1961 and there was no stopping the rock’n’roll after that.
Every Beatles performance at the Cavern was like being part of a private party. John and Paul would bounce off each other with funny quips. John could be quite cutting at times but he had a great sense of humour. We got used to his abrasiveness. It was just John’s way. He would hold his guitar high up on his chest, a posture that he had copied from watching Tony Sheridan whilst they were in Hamburg. John was very short sighted and wasn’t able to see much of the audience at all as he would never wear his spectacles on stage.
A few years after The Beatles had hit the ‘big time,’ A film crew travelled slowly, followed by George, driving a convertible car, with John seated in the back. He drove past Ringo’s house in Admiral Grove and down North Hill Street. They came past our butchers’ shop, and I was on the pavement in my butcher’s coat and apron. Even though they were driving very slowly, it was over in a flash.
Read more of Debbie’s memories of growing up in the Dingle, following the Beatles, before he father bought the Cavern Club, in her book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story.
In the week when we are celebrating what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday, our new book of the week is one of the most important books about John Lennon ever written. We have read so many stories over the years from people who knew John at different stages of his life.
Michael Hill became John’s friend at the age of 5 at Dovedale Primary School, and accompanied John to Quarry Bank when they reached 11.
The foursome of John Lennon and his best mate, Pete Shotton, stand next to Don Beattie and his best friend, Michael Hill. On many occasions, the four of them would head out of Quarry Bank school at lunchtime and go to Michael’s house on Dovedale Road, a short bike-ride away. They would have fish and chips and listen to some records, of which Michael was the primary supplier.
It was here that John Lennon’s life was to change forever, when Michael played John a record he had picked up on a school trip to Amsterdam: “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard.
As John said:
“Little Richard was one of the all-time greats. The first time I heard him, a friend of mine (Mike Hill) had been to Holland and brought back a 78 with ‘Long Tall Sally’. That’s the music that brought me from the provinces of England to the world. That’s what made me what I am.”
Today is Brian Epstein’s birthday. When Brian’s name comes up in the context of merchandising, everyone comments about the ‘agreement’ surrounding merchandise – 10% to Brian and the Beatles, and 90% to the management company. This always reminds me of a simple mantra – hindsight makes us all brilliant by giving us perfect 20/20 vision after the fact.
What makes it interesting is that Brian had no guide book to follow, no playbook to help, no experiences of other marketing campaigns before of this size to learn from…they were writing the rules as they went along. There had never been mass merchandising of an entity on this scale before anywhere, including Disney, Marvel, Superman, Elvis, etc. So I cut Brian a break.
He could have easily thought, “let me get this straight…we get 10% of monies, and we don’t have to do anything? We just loan you our name and a couple of photos and likenesses, and you hand us a check? This is the greatest gig ever!” And the precedent had been set…they had been doing UK deals in late ’63 at the 10%, so this wasn’t such a stretch.
Now it didn’t take long for him to change his mind. When they handed him the first royalty check in early 1964 for $9000, he thought it was great…until they reminded him that was his 10%. He did the quick math, realized they kept about $80,000 and immediately had the lawyers work to change it to more of a 50-50 split. That took six months, but by then, things had changed.
So Brian did his best with what was the current knowledge at hand, and we toast him on his birthday. Mark it ‘faB!’
As the Beatles’ career progressed, George Harrison gradually developed into a first-class songwriter on a par with the formidable John Lennon/Paul McCartney partnership. One of Harrison’s more unusual compositions, “I Want to Tell You,” fits in perfectly with Revolver’s experimental vibe. The pounding piano, pervasive dissonance, and a subtle reference to Harrison’s increasing interest in Indian music and culture add up to a classic and offbeat track.
In 1980, Harrison described the lyrics as addressing “the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.” Indeed, the verses paint a picture of someone constantly struggling with language. He laments that he has many thoughts to express, but lacks the words to communicate them. In addition, he fears offending the person he’s having the conversation with, explaining that he may appear “unkind,” but it’s not intentional his mind is clear and pure, but the body cannot move as quickly as the mind.
For me, the best lines in the song concern his frustration with his inability to communicate, yet he ultimately surrenders to his imperfection. He can wait for his thoughts to unravel he has the time. That sentiment fits in well with other songs on the album, as Lennon also advocates a laid-back lifestyles without worries in tracks like “Tomorrow Never Knows” (telling us to relax and float downstream” and “surrender to the void”) and “I’m Only Sleeping.” (“taking my time”).
Galloping Piano Accents
While Harrison’s lyrics are clever, the instrumentation further distinguishes “I Want to Tell You” from other rock songs of the time. The galloping piano accents the rhythm through dissonant harmonies, and Ringo Starr’s drumming easily navigates through some offbeat tempos. According to Alan Pollack, author of the “Notes On” series, Starr re-energizes the track with his driving percussion. “If you feel the momentum beginning to sag toward the end of this section, dig how that sudden burst of rapid triplets at the very end of the bridge helps to rejump-start your momentum for the verse that follows,” writes Pollack. Other percussion can be heard, including tambourine and handclaps.
As usual, the Lennon/McCartney/Harrison vocal harmonies sound tight, often singing entire lines instead of emphasizing certain words. As with many Beatles songs, the group experiments with beginnings and endings. Similar to “Eight Days A Week,” the track gradually fades in, this time over the distinctive guitar riff. Even more interesting, the ending fades out over the repeated phrase “I’ve got time,” and McCartney adds an unusual touch. As the sound fades, McCartney breaks into, as Pollack states, “free Indian-flavored melisma.” In other words, he sang the word “time” while oscillating among various notes. The move adds a touch of sophistication and world-music influence to the rock track.
Harrison often found it difficult to title his songs; according to Mark Lewisohn’s seminal work The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, the cut’s working titles included “Granny Smith,” “Laxton’s Superb” (another type of apple, foreshadowing later years) and “I Don’t Know.” On June 2, 1966, the Beatles entered the studio to lay down virtually all the track’s elements; they put the finishing touches on “I Want to Tell You” the following day. Mixing was completed on June 6.
“I Want to Tell You” was never released as a single, and lingered in relative album track obscurity until years later. While touring in Japan with Eric Clapton in 1992, Harrison resurrected the song to the delight of audiences. That version, which features extended guitar solos, appeared on the Live in Japan album chronicling the brief tour. Appropriately, ELO founder and frequent Harrison collaborator Jeff Lynne performed the track at the Concert for George ten years later. It may have taken over four decades, but “I Want to Tell You” is finally receiving deserved recognition for its sophisticated arrangement and Harrison’s creativity in manipulating language.
What a smashing little book! The author Debbie Greenberg was an addicted cave dweller in the 1960’s in the world’s most famous club – The Cavern in Liverpool.
She witnessed all 292 performances of The Beatles and gives a vivid insight eloquently expressed, the conditions; the sweat, smell, and memories inside the Cavern.
When the Cavern Club closed in 1966 her father Alf Geoghegan became the new owner and Debbie was thrust into a new family business resurrecting the legacy of this iconic shrine of the Mersey Beat era.
The book is a very easy read with loads of interesting photos, posters and press clips. The book includes some interesting encounters with many celebrities, especially a surprise visit by ‘Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman. Life in the fast lane isn’t always a bed of roses and Debbie gives an account of many problems and turmoil the family had to overcome.
The book contains a wealth of inside information not only about the Cavern, but also a concise remarkable autobiography, which I found so interesting and honestly expressed.
Although Brian Epstein promised that The Beatles would return to The Cavern, they never did. 3rd August 1963 would the last of their almost 300 appearances at the Mathew Street club that had become their home since 1961.
Debbie Greenberg, a Cavernite at the time, would go on to be more involved with The Cavern when her father became the owner of the legendary club. Debbie’s story with the Cavern is detailed in her incredible book, “Cavern: The Inside Story“.
In this excerpt, she shares some of her memories and feelings of seeing The Beatles at The Cavern for the last time.
From Debbie Greenberg’s book:
I was about to leave our house on the afternoon of 3rd August 1963 when I spotted the Beatles arriving at the Harrison’s house in Macketts Lane. George’s car, a racing green Jaguar with the license plate 28 PXX. In their pink shirts. Brown suede waistcoats and dark trousers, they leapt out of the car and ran into the house.
I couldn’t wait to get down to the Cavern to see them play again and I made sure I was there well before the Cavern opened at 7pm. I met Sue in town at 5p.m. and we joined the queue outside the Cavern. It was wide to get there early, because by the time the doors finally opened the queue stretched all the way down Mathew Street. Little did we know this would be the last time we would see the Beatles at the Cavern.
The club was overflowing, we stood packed like sardines, but still managed to drum a beat with our feet and hands. From the back of the crowd we could see the Beatles on stage in the same outfits I had seen them in a few hours earlier.
It was the most incredible experience to hear them playing their number one hit, “Please Please Me”, after following them on their journey to stardom.
The memorable night was edged with tears. We had mixed feelings about the Beatles moving on. We were thrilled they had found fame but at the same time couldn’t help feeling sad that we had lost them to the rest of the world. After all, they were our Beatles.