Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Well, that's it. I'm no longer a Beatle."

The night of August 29th, I watched all the footage available from the Beatles' last days as a touring group. I also listened to the audio from the concert two times in a row. It was certainly one of their best performances from the '66 tour--very energetic, their voices were in fine form, their musicianship top notch. (Not like the Japan concerts!) The first caps of Ringo (and Paul's hand!) are from footage of The Beatles taking a short bus ride from the airport to Candlestick Park.

John introduced "Day Tripper" as a song about a "naughty lady", and George introduced "I Feel Fine" as an oldie written in 1959! Paul trumps them both with his dedication of "I Wanna Be Your Man" to "all the wonderful backroom boys on this tour." (!) (For more humor, you must watch the L.A. Capitol Records press conference--I'll post caps and quotes from it at a later date.) Jim Marshall's beautiful photos from the concert indicate the lads were certainly having a good time that night.

I loved that they did "Long Tall Sally" as the closer with Paul really wailing, sounding like the proto-punk of their early Star-Club gigs. If only Tony Barrow had thought to turn that tape over...we could have heard LTS in its entirety, and also those first few notes of "In My Life" that John played. I wish they would have performed "In My Life" even if it couldn't have been preserved on tape; at least those in attendance would have gotten something extra special that evening.

The Fabs then took a timed self-portrait of their last moments on stage together and then jetted from the stage into an awaiting armored van. The last captures are from their arrival back home. An era came to an end, and a new one soon began.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Screen Captures: A 1966 North American Tour Retrospective

Screen captures from some available footage from The Beatles' last tour...the first segment of captures are from a press conference held in a locker room of the DC Stadium in Washington, DC, on August 15th. A press member pointed out that the Vatican had defended John's infamous "Jesus" remark, to which John replied, "If it makes other people feel better, it'll make me feel better." He also became angry when it was suggested that the whole incident was a publicity stunt.

The section of photos which reveals John's shorter haircut and large round glasses are taken from a TV interview conduced backstage at the Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, on August 19th. During this interview, John stated that people are entitled to have their own opinions about the group, and they are in turn entitled to have nothing to do with those people. Paul chimes in that it is a good thing that they are saying the war in Vietnam is wrong. John adds that it's difficult to keep quiet about what is going on in the world unless you're a monk. John quickly adds, "Sorry, monks, I didn't mean it!" with a large gesture of his arms.

(Descriptions of the conferences taken from viewing the footage and also from John C. Winn's That Magic Feeling.)

The concert captures are from different stops along the way, including Seattle and Memphis.

Coming up next--screen captures from their last concert at Candlestick Park. Soon to follow--an overview of their last press conference as a touring group.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Little Something To Tide You Over...

I am planning a large post of screen captures from various press conferences and concerts on the '66 tour, as well as a post about one of my favorite garage bands (who also opened for The Beatles on this tour). As I get all this together, here are some pictures to enjoy.

The first photos were taken backstage at Bournemouth. In the other photos, John is looking at pictures of himself taken by Leslie Bryce, including those same backstage photos. I've also thrown some others in for good measure---I can't let my regular visitors down now, can I? (I see that I need to do a better scan of the first photo, so that is now on my "to do" list.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More For Your Viewing Pleasure

Here are some of my high quality scans of the lovely Johnny (and the lovely Paul as well), again from the pages of the Beatles Monthly Book. I particularly like the fan snap shots from the Beatles' August 1963 holiday. (I also really love the one from the Miami rehearsals where John is sitting on the amp.) Of course, there are many more to come in future updates, so do check back in from time to time... (Click pictures to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"If he wants one...he can have it"

August 11, 1966: Astor Towers Hotel, Chicago

Dogged with controversy throughout the year, the Beatles faced their greatest challenge yet upon reaching the United States for the North American leg of their 1966 tour. The story surrounding what has been termed the "Bigger than Jesus" controversy is well known. The southern U.S. states' seething, intolerant reaction to Lennon's statement is reminiscent of the outrage Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks faced in recent years regarding a small statement made about Bush. How little things have changed. As Paul astutely observed during the conference, "I thought everyone here (the U.S.) believed in freedom of speech." If only that were the case...

Watching this footage, and other press conferences from this time, shows John in a light rarely seen before. I think this horrible incident deeply affected him for years to come--though he never retreated from speaking his mind in even in the face of ridicule and FBI surveillance! Something in his eyes reveals his resilience, his determination, and his pain as well. His face seems weary, yet a little hardened during the conference. He knows his attempts to explain his statement will fall on many deaf ears. It seems like that chip on his shoulder became larger. (Listen to the words of "Isolation", one of his stark, moving tracks from POB, for an illustration.)

In an ideal world, every person would open his or her hearts and minds to debate and discussion without resorting to hatred. Watching those bonfires, hearing the grand wizard of the KKK spew his venom---John must have been completely horrified. As he stated, he never meant to create another pocket of hatred in the world. In my mind, those people were exemplifying the hypocrisy John was pointing out in his criticism of organized religion. His "apology" was more of a clarification than a retraction.

John was the first outspoken pop star to express his thoughts in an articulate fashion, regardless of the fall-out he would face later. He used his fame, money, and influence to bring awareness to issues of peace, social justice and freedom world-wide. And that's just another reason why I love John Lennon now and forever....

Coming up: More scans of random Beautiful Johnny photos...