Steve Harnell (Editor) – Vintage Rock The Beatles – The Early Years

FrontCoverHere´s an illustrated 132-page bookazine pays tribute to the early years of The Beatles.

Liverpool’s finest were quite simply the most important pop-cultural phenomenon that the 20th century and beyond has ever seen – wildly ambitious, successful, influential and groundbreaking. And all this sprang from that most British of institutions – a parish church fête, where John Lennon met Paul McCartney, 60 years ago on 6 July 1957.

In this latest Collectors Edition of Vintage Rock, we trace the band’s roots as fledgling skifflers The Quarrymen playing local gigs in Liverpool through to their hothouse development as they became The Beatles at the Cavern and in Hamburg, before moving on to inventing the mega-gig at Shea Stadium.

Inbetween, we serve up some fascinating insights into the life of their manager Brian Epstein, the astonishing rise of Beatlemania in the UK, Europe and the United States, put the band’s first five studio albums under the microscope and also go behind the scenes on their two big-screen outings, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!

It all adds up to a must-read magazine for fans of the Fab Four. The greatest that ever was and the greatest that ever will be…

The Beatles – Last Night In Hamburg(Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany; 1962) (1977/1999)

LastNightFrontCover1Last Night In Hamburg (Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962) waa a double album featuring live performances by the English rock group The Beatles, recorded in late December 1962 at the Star-Club during their final Hamburg residency. The album was released in 1977 in two different versions, comprising a total of 30 songs by The Beatles.
The performances were recorded on a home tape machine using a single microphone, resulting in a low fidelity recording. Ted “Kingsize” Taylor began to investigate possible marketing of the tapes in 1973. The tapes were eventually bought by Paul Murphy and subjected to extensive audio processing to improve the sound, leading to the 1977 album.
Although the poor sound quality limits its commercial appeal, the album provides historic insight into the group’s club act in the period after Ringo Starr joined but before the emergence of Beatlemania. The Beatles were unsuccessful in legally blocking the initial release of the album; the recordings were reissued in many forms until 1998, when The Beatles were awarded full rights to the performances.

The Beatles’ five residencies in Hamburg during 1960 to 1962 allowed the Liverpool band to develop their performance skills and widen their reputation. Drummer Pete Best was added to the band in August 1960 to secure their first Hamburg booking, where they played for 48 nights at the Indra Club and then 58 nights at the Kaiserkeller. The Beatles returned to Hamburg in April 1961 to play at the Top Ten Club for three months.
A new Hamburg music venue, the Star-Club, opened on 13 April 1962, with The Beatles booked for the first seven weeks. The Beatles returned to Hamburg in November and December 1962 for their fourth and fifth engagements there, which had been booked for the Star-Club many months in advance. Unlike their previous three trips to Hamburg, their drummer was Starr, having replaced Best in August. The Beatles were reluctant to return for their final two-week booking, which started 18 December, as they were gaining popularity in Britain and had just achieved their first charted single with “Love Me Do”.

Portions of The Beatles’ final Star-Club performances (along with other acts) were recorded by the club’s stage manager, Adrian Barber, for Ted “Kingsize” Taylor. Barber used a Grundig home reel-to-reel recorder at a tape speed of 3¾ inches per second, with a single microphone placed in front of the stage. Taylor, leader of The Dominoes (who were also playing at the club), said that John Lennon verbally agreed to the group being recorded in exchange for Taylor providing the beer during their performances.

The tapes were originally described as having been recorded in the spring of 1962, an attempt to pre-date The Beatles’ June 1962 contract signing with Parlophone. However, song arrangements and dialogue from the tapes pointed to late December 1962, and a recording date of 31 December 1962 (the group’s last day in Hamburg) was commonly cited. Later researchers have proposed that the tapes are from multiple days during the last week of December; Allan Williams (The Beatles’ booking agent at the time) recalled that a total of about three hours was recorded over three or four sessions between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The tapes captured The Beatles performing at least 33 different titles, plus some repeated songs. Of the 30 songs that were commercially released from the tapes, only two were Lennon–McCartney compositions. The others were an assortment of cover versions, seventeen of which would be re-made by The Beatles and appear on their various studio albums or Live at the BBC. The arrangements played at the Star-Club are similar to the versions recorded later, albeit less refined, although there are a few cases with distinct differences. For example, “Mr. Moonlight” has a much quicker tempo, a guitar-based instrumental break, and an intentionally altered lyric with Lennon proclaiming he is on his “nose” instead of his “knees”; “Roll Over Beethoven” was described as “never taken at a more breakneck pace”.

50 Jahre Star-Club in Hamburg Der Star-Club
The recording equipment and method resulted in the tapes being unmistakably low fidelity. The vocals, even in the best cases, sound “somewhat muffled and distant”. The vocals on a few songs are so indistinct that labelling and liner notes on early releases gave incorrect information about who was singing and the exact song being performed. Much of The Beatles’ dialogue between songs is audible, which includes addressing the audience in both English and German, as well as repartee among themselves. The banter is irreverent and coarse at times, an aspect of their stage act that would soon cease under the influence of manager Brian Epstein.

Taylor said he had offered to sell the tapes to Epstein in the mid-1960s, but that Epstein did not consider them to be of commercial value and offered only £20. Taylor said he kept the tapes at home, largely forgotten until 1973 when he decided to look into their marketability. Williams related a different history than Taylor, stating that after Taylor returned to Liverpool, he left the tapes with a recording engineer for editing into a potential album. The project was never finished and the engineer later relocated, with the tapes being among many items left behind. In 1972, Williams, Taylor, and the engineer gained access to the abandoned office and recovered the tapes “from beneath a pile of rubble on the floor.”
When the existence of the tapes was first publicly reported in July 1973, Williams was planning to ask Apple for at least £100,000. Williams said he later met with George Harrison and Starr to offer the tapes for £5000, but they declined, citing financial difficulties at the time. Williams and Taylor teamed up with Paul Murphy, head of Buk Records, to find an outlet for the tapes.

Booklet from the original double album from 1977

Murphy eventually bought the tapes himself and formed a new company, Lingasong, specifically for the project. He sold the worldwide distribution rights to Double H Licensing, which spent more than $100,000 on elaborate audio processing and mixing of the songs under the direction of Larry Grossberg. The sequence of songs was rearranged, and some of the individual songs were edited to bypass flawed tape sections or make up for an incomplete recording.
After an unsuccessful attempt by The Beatles to block it, the 26-song Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 was released by Lingasong. The album first appeared in Germany in April 1977 in association with Bellaphon Records, and was released in the UK the following month.[16] For the album’s June 1977 US release (in association with Atlantic Records), four songs were removed and replaced with four different songs from the tapes.

Over the next two decades, the recordings were licensed to several record companies, resulting in numerous releases with varying track selections. In 1979, Pickwick Records performed some additional audio filtering and equalisation of the songs on the Lingasong US version, and released it over two volumes as First Live Recordings; the set included the song “Hully Gully” that was mistakenly credited to The Beatles,but was actually performed by Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, another act on the Star-Club bill. In 1981, Audio Fidelity Enterprises released Historic Sessions in the UK, the first single package with all 30 Beatles tracks from the original Star-Club releases.[20] Several additional songs from the Star-Club tapes have appeared on Beatles bootleg records over the years.

In 1985, a bootlegger known as “Richard”, who had already found infamy by issuing several titles with controversial covers and content, issued his own bootleg version of the Star Club tapes without any of the editing found on the official releases, entitled The Beatles vs. the Third Reich—directly parodying The Beatles vs. the Four Seasons in both name and cover.
Another alternate front+backcover

The release of the recordings on two CDs by industry giant Sony Music in 1991 sparked renewed legal attention by The Beatles (as represented by Paul McCartney, Harrison, Starr, and Yoko Ono). Sony also produced a version specifically for their Columbia House music club, but Sony withdrew the titles in 1992 as a lawsuit was progressing. Lingasong’s CD release of the original set prompted another lawsuit from The Beatles in 1996; the case was decided in 1998 in favour of The Beatles, who were granted ownership of the tapes and exclusive rights to their use. Harrison appeared in person to provide evidence in the case, and his testimony was cited as an important factor in the judge’s decision. Harrison characterised the claim that Lennon gave Taylor permission for the recording as “a load of rubbish”, and added: “One drunken person recording another bunch of drunks does not constitute business deals.”

The album had limited commercial success, reaching a peak position of No. 111 during a seven-week run on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Assessments of the album often weigh the poor sound quality against the historic importance and insight provided into The Beatles’ early stage act. Rolling Stone reviewer John Swenson called the album “poorly recorded but fascinating” and commented that it showed The Beatles as “raw but extremely powerful.” Allmusic, commenting on a reissue, wrote: “The results were very low-fidelity, and despite The Beatles’ enormous success, it took Taylor fifteen years to find someone greedy and shameless enough to release them as a record”. Q Magazine described the recordings as having “certain historical interest” and remarked: “The show seems like a riot but the sound itself is terrible – like one hell of a great party going on next door.” George Harrison gave the assessment: “The Star-Club recording was the crummiest recording ever made in our name!” (by wikipedia)
George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
John Lennon (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Paul McCartney (bass, vocals)
Ringo Starr (drums)
Fred Fascher (Star-Club waiter) (vocals on 19.)
Horst Fascher (Star-Club Manager) (vocals on 20.)

01. Introduction/I Saw Her Standing There (Lennon/McCartney)/I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You) (Thomas/Biggs) 5.18
02, Roll Over Beethoven (Berry) 2.14
03. Hippy Hippy Shake (Romero) 1.43
04. Sweet Little Sixteen (Berry) 2.46
05. Lend Me Your Comb (Kay Twomey/Wise/Weisman) 1.49
06. Your Feet’s Too Big (Benson/Fisher) 2.20
07. Where Have You Been (All My Life) (Mann/Weil) 1.45
08. Twist And Shout (Medley/Russell) 2.09
09. Mr. Moonlight (Johnson) 2.09
10. A Taste Of Honey (Scott/Marlow) 1.41
11. Bésame Mucho (Velázquez/Skylar) 2.02
12. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (Perkins) 2.22
13. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey (Leiber/Stpller/Penniman) 2.12
14. Nothin’ Shakin’ (But The Leaves On The Trees) (Fontaine/Colacrai/Lampert/Gluck) 1.21
15. To Know Her Is to Love Her (Spector) 3.03
16. Little Queenie (Berry) 3.55
17. Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It) (Hollander/Lerner) 1.59
18. Sheila (Roe) 1.57
19. Be-Bop-A-Lula (Vincent/Davis) 2.29
20. Hallelujah I Love Her So (Charles) 2.09
21. Ask Me Why (Lennon/McCartney) 2.26
22. Red Sails In The Sunset (Kennedy/Williams) 2.02
23. Matchbox (Perkins) 2.34
24. I’m Talking About You (Berry) 1.50
25. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Piron/Smith/Goldsmith) 2.19
26. Long Tall Sally (Johnson/Blackwell/Penniman) 1.45
27. I Remember You (Mercer/Schertzinger) 1.55´
28. Complete show (uncut) 1.05.041


John Pizzarelli – John Pizzarelli meets The Beatles (1998)

FrontCover1Beatles fans love to explain that the key to the successful partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney was their contrasting songwriting personalities — Lennon was the tongue in cheek sardonic wit, McCartney the earnest balladeer. On John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles, a sharply conceived tribute which sets the duo’s classics in a jazz trio with big-band arrangements, the singer/guitarist hits the mark more often when he’s taking on the Lennon persona. He approaches “Cant’ Buy Me Love,” “When I’m 64,” and “Get Back” with a playful wink, jumping off his speedy melody lines and the rising brass sections for extended improvisational tradeoffs with pianist Ray Kennedy, and adding colorful touches like scatting and even ad libbing his own lyrical verses based on the originals. Likewise, he attacks the all-instrumental “Eleanor Rigby” with a jumpy, swinging aggression. Pizzarelli, however, becomes overly schmaltzy in presenting ballads like “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Long and Winding Road” too seriously, with maudlin, straightforward arrangements that grind the party to a halt. The one exception is the more percussive “Oh Darling,” where his intense vocal helps the tune rise above the hotel lounge mentality. (by Jonathan Widran)

John Pizarelli

This is probably the most talked about CD I have made. The idea was to place the songs into a different time as if someone else had performed them first. For instance, “Can’t Buy Me Love” was a Woody Herman tune (hence, the Woodchopper’s Ball references), “Things We Said Today” was in the Moondance groove, “Here Comes The Sun” was a Jobim/Getz tribute, and so on. It is really a CD I am proud of, from Don Sebesky’s great arrangements (once again) to the terrific performances from the string players, big band members, soloists and trio. This CD was also #1 on the Swing Journal jazz charts in Japan and was released with two different songs in Canada. The Canadian version features the songs “You Can’t Do That” and “Got To Get You Into My Life.” They were nixed from the American release in favor of “Eleanor Rigby” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.” We also did a terrific concert for Canadian TV of the Beatle CD live entitled John Pizzarelli Chante Les Beatles. It has run on the BET on Jazz channel and features a Canadian big band and strings conducted by Don Sebesky. (John Pizzarelli)

Beatles fans love to explain that one key to the successful partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney was their contrasting songwriting personalities: Lennon was the tongue-in-cheek, sardonic wit, McCartney, the earnest balladeer. On john pizzarelli’s John Pizzarelli Meets the Beatles (RCA Victor), a well-conceived tribute that sets the duo’s classics in jazz-trio and big-band arrangements, the singer/guitarist hits the mark most often when taking on McCartney’s tunes. He approaches “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “When I’m 64,” and “Get Back” with a playful wink, jumping off his speedy melody lines and the rising brass sections for extended improvisational tradeoffs with pianist Ray Kennedy. Pizzarelli adds colorful touches like scatting and even ad-libs his own lyrical verses based on the originals. Likewise, he treats an instrumental version of “Eleanor Rigby” with an aggressive sense of swing. And his intense vocal on a percussive “Oh, Darling” helps the tune rise above mere cover-band fare. However, when Pizzarelli presents ballads like “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Long and Winding Road” with maudlin arrangements, he pretty well grinds the party to a halt. (by Jazziz Maganzine, 2000)
John Pizarelli2

Harry Allen (saxophone)
Sanford Allen (violin)
Wayne Andre (trombone)
Kenny Berger (saxophone)
Joseph Bongiorno (bass)
Alfred Brown (violin)
Avril Brown (violin)
Kenneth Burward-Hoy (viola)
Stephanie Cummins (cello)
Rick Dolan (violin)
Max Ellen (violin)
Sammy Figueroa (percussion)
Barry Finclair (violin)
Andy Fusco  (saxophone)
Peter Gordon (french horn)
Adam Grabois (cello)
Juliet Haffner (viola)
Evan Johnson (violin)
Karen Karlsrud (violin)
Tony Kadleck (trumpet)
Gary Keller (saxophone)
Chungsun Kim (cello)
Jeanne LeBlanc (cello)
Jesse Levy (cello)
Lisa Matricardi (violin)
Melissa Meel (cello)
John Miller (bass)
John Mosca (trombone)
Laura Oatts (violin)
Jim O’Connor (rrumpet)
Ken Peplowski (clarinet)
Joel Pitchon (violin)
John Pizzarelli (guitar, vocals)
Martin Pizzarelli (bass)
Jim Pugh (trombone)
Allen Ralph (trombone)
Barry Ries (trumpet)
Maxine Roach (viola)
Douglas Romoff (bass)
Laura Seaton (violin)
Don Sebesky  (accordion, flute)
Richard Sortomme (violin)
Mitsue Takayama (viola)
Tony Tedesco (drums)
Liuh-Wen Ting (viola)
Leslie Tomkins (viola)
Ron Tooley (trumpet)
Belinda Whitney-Barratt (violin)
Chuck Wilson (saxophone)
Xin Zhao (violin)

Orchestra conducted by Don Sebesky


01. Can’t Buy Me Love 3.37
02. I’ve Just Seen A Face 2.49
03. Here Comes The Sun 5.05
04. Things We Said Today 4.16
05. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away 3.26
06. Eleanor Rigby 5.03
07. And I Love Her 3.57
08. When I’m 64 2.46
09. Oh Darling 4.04
10. Get Back 4.03
11. Long And Winding Road 3.46
12. For No One 3.11

All songw written by John Lennon + Paul McCartney, except 03. which was written by George Harrison






Alternate front + back cover

The Beatles – Germany 66 (1966)

FrontCover1The Beatles’ brief 1966 tour of West Germany, Japan and the Philippines began on this day, with two concerts at the Circus-Krone-Bau in Munich, Germany.

The shows took place at 5.15pm and 9pm. The second show was filmed by German television network Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), and followed a brief afternoon rehearsal set for the cameras. The footage was shown as Die Beatles on channel two on Tuesday 5 July, from 8-8.45pm.

Also appearing on the bill were Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers, The Rattles and Peter and Gordon. The German leg of the tour was known as the “Bravo Blitztournee”, and was sponsored by the entertainment magazine Bravo.

BeatlesCircusKroneMunich1966The Beatles’ set throughout the tour consisted of 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She’s A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby’s In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and I’m Down.

BravoFrontCover01For these first dates, the group’s recent absence from live performance was apparent. George Harrison introduced Yesterday as being from Beatles For Sale, and I’m Down was briefly delayed by an on-stage conference between John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Harrison about lyrics in the opening verse. In spite of this, McCartney managed to get each verse wrong. (by

On this album you can hear the fully “Remastered Soundboard Captured Audio” of their 2nd set from the show at the Circus Krone, Munich (evening show) !  Includes their Complete Hamburg Press Conference.

These recordings are for Beatles fans only … because the quality of these recordings are not really good … but those where the days my friends …

I include some material from this tour (pics from the Bravo magazine and another script from their press conference in Essen)

TourPoster1An extremely rare original tour poster for the 1966 Beatles “Bravo Blitztournee” tour of Germany.  The Beatles by all accounts came of age in Hamburg, Germany.  John Lennon said “I might have been born in Liverpool – but I grew up in Hamburg.”  After leaving Hamburg’s Star-Club for the last time on, January 1, 1963, the Beatles returned to Germany only once; in June 1966,  for a five day, six concert tour, playing shows in Munich, Essen and Hamburg. This poster was printed to promote their “Bravo Blitztournee” tour, organized by promoter Karl Buchmann and sponsored by the German teen magazine Bravo.  As the tour was a short one, no posters were made for individual dates–only this one for the tour.  Opening acts included Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, German beat group The Rattles, and Peter & Gordon.

George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
John Lennon (guitar, vocals)
Paul McCartney (bass, vocals)
Ringo Starr (drums)

01. Rock And Roll Music (Berry) 2.33
02. Babys In Black (Lennon/McCartney) 2.33
03. I Feel Fine (Lennon/McCartney) 2.33
04. Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney) 2.36
05. Nowhere Man (Lennon/McCartney) 2.44
06. I´m Down (Lennon/McCartney) 1.53
07. Hamburg Press Conference 14.22



The Beatles – Christmas Album

FrontCover1From 1963 to 1969, The Beatles were very busy creating a host of songs that forever changed the structure and landscape of the world of popular recorded music. Classic albums such as “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Help!”, “Rubber Soul”, Revolver”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bnad”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, “The Beatles” and “Abbey Road” all helped to shape music in new sound dimensions. For the holidays toward the end of each year, The Beatles recorded a series of unique flexi-discs containing specially-created Christmas messages that were distributed only to members of their fan club. Each of these recordings reflect what was going on within the group at the time. The 1963 and 1964 messages had the boys reading from a prepared script by Tony barrow. Even with this dialogue, their charm still shines through. For 1965, they decided to improvise their own material, which has an out-of-tune rendition of “Yesterday” as part of the proceedings. The discs for 1966 and 1967 are a series of cleverly pantomimed sketches, with a different recurring theme song for each one. By the time the 1968 and 1969 discs were issued, it was clear that the boys were going in different directions, as they had messages from the guys recorded seperately. After The Beatles break up in 1970, the fan club issued a long-playing album containing all 7 Christsmas messages together. This was later issued on CD, with the best sound quality available. It is a special Beatles album, one that belongs in every fan’s CD library. Everywhere it’s Christmas, especially when you’ve got “The Beatles’ Christmas Album” as part of your holiday festivities! (by Timothy Swan)

SingleSleeves63+64Each year from 1963 through 1969, the Beatles recorded a special Christmas greeting for their fans. The Official Beatles Fan Club in England sent flexi-discs containing the Christmas messages to its members each holiday season.

The American fan club, Beatles (U.S.A.) Ltd., was established in 1964, and for their first Christmas, the American fan club sent fans the 1963 Christmas message on a soundcard, which is like a flexi-disc, but is “printed” on the post card that is mailed. No message was sent to the American fans in 1965 because the tape was not received on time.

The Beatles Christmas flexis are very rare, and sell, in excellent condition, anywhere from $200 to $500.

SingleSleeves65+66These recordings offer a unique time-capsule glimpse into the personalities and evolution of the Beatles from 1963 through 1969. In the early years, like their appearances in A Hard Day’s Night, even though these messages were scripted by “somebody’s bad hand-wroter” (their Press Agent Tony Barrow), the Beatle’s geniune wit and humor shines through, for example, in 1963, when as John mentions taking part in the Royal Variety show, the boys extemporaneously launch into a whistling version of God Save The Queen, or in 1964, when Paul mentions that they don’t really know where they’d be without the fans, John says, off-handedly, “In the Army, perhaps…”

SingleSleeves67+68For older Beatles fans who remember hearing these messages over the years, “these little bits of plastic” are a fond holiday tradition, while for younger Beatles fans they offer a whole new insight into a pop music phenomenon which might never be repeated.

George Harrison – John Lennon – Paul McCartney – Ringo Starr

01. Beatles Xmas Flexi 1963 / 5.02
02. Another Beatles Xmas Flexi 1964 / 4.02
03. Beatles Third Xmas Flexi 1965 / 6.23
04. Beatles Fourth Xmas Flexi 1966 / 6.39
05. Christmas Time Is Here Again 1967 / 6.10
06. Beatles 1968 Xmas Flexi / 7.53
07. Beatles Seventh Xmas Flexi 1969 / 7.42
08. Outtake Xmas Messages From 1964 / 4.41
09. Christmas Time Is Here Again (Full Version) / 5.42
10. Crimble Medley / 0.31
11. Messages / 0.33


Various Artists – Beatles vs. Stones – British Pop Hits Go Groovy (2010)

FrontCover1Part of Verve’s Jazz Club series, Beatles vs. Stones collects 18 songs (nine apiece) from the two British Invasion icons, all of which arrive in the form of covers performed by the likes of Count Basie (“Michelle”), Shake Keane with the Ivor Raymonde Orchestra (“As Tears Go By”), Oscar Peterson (“Yesterday”), and Caetano Veloso (“Let It Bleed”).

Appropriately budget-priced, the concept is pure novelty, but hearing the jazz elite interpret some of the most famous rock & roll songs in history is almost worth the small change. (by James Christopher Monger)

Booklet12010 collection of cover versions of Beatles and Stones classics performed by the Jazz elite. The JAZZ CLUB series is an attractive addition to the Verve catalogue. With its modern design and popular choice of repertoire, the JAZZ CLUB is not only opened for Jazz fans, but for everyone that loves good music. This collection includes tracks performed by Count Basie, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson, Sergio Mendes and many others. (by



01. Count Basie: Michelle (1966) 2.46
02. Wes Montgomery: Eleanor Rigby (1967) 3.07
03. Wills Jackson: A Hard Days Night (1965) 5.37
04. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66: With A Little Help From My Friends (1970) 2.33
05. Monty Alexander: Let It Be (1970) 3.42
06. Oscar Peterson: Yesterday (1970) 4.04
07. Gerry Mulligan: Can t Buy Me Love (1965) 3.38
08. Ella Fitzgerald: Hey Jude (1969) 3.52
09. George Benson: Because/Come Together (1969) 7.26

All songs written by John Lennon + Paul McCartney

10. The Andrew Oldham Orchestra: Blue Turns To Grey (1966) 2.55
11. Kai Winding: Time Is On My Side (1963) 3.12
12. Shake Keane w. The Ivor Raymonde Orchestra: As Tears Go By (1968) 3.09
13. Ted Heath & His Music: Honky Tonk Women (1969) 3.23
14. Rotary Connection feat. Minnie Ripperton: The Salt Of The Earth (1969) 4.59
15. Barbara Dennerlein: Satisfaction (1999) 5.21
16. Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Jumpin Jack Flash (1968) 2.32
17. Cal Tjader: Gimme Shelter (1995) 2.55
18. Caetano Veloso: Let It Bleed (1968) 3.22

All songs written by Mick Hagger + Keith Richards

CD1* (coming soon)

Tony Barrow – Meet The Beatles (Magazine) (1963)

TitelAt the height of Beatlemania in the 1960s, a reporter asked John Lennon the secret of the group’s success. His reply? ‘We have a press agent.’

Lennon’s answer may have illustrated his famously dry wit, but it also contained more than a grain of truth. Tony Barrow, the Beatles’ press officer from 1962 to 1968, undoubtedly maximised the impact of a group who, when Brian Epstein first came to him for help, were an unknown Liverpool act still seeking a record contract. He carefully courted the British media during their rise then, once their home country had been conquered, shrewdly orchestrated the press and publicity campaigns which helped to ensure the Beatles became a worldwide phenomenon.

As a member of the Beatles’ inner circle, he also witnessed history in the making, and his memoir John, Paul, George, Ringo And Me (a new edition of which was recently published) is full of revealing stories and perceptive insights. He was there when the Beatles met a socially awkward Elvis Presley, saw John Lennon’s fear and panic when his remark that the Beatles were now more popular than Jesus threatened to alienate their American fanbase, and observed at first hand Brian Epstein’s tragic personal disintegration.

As Tony tells me, the origins of his remarkable career go right back to a school magazine he produced as a pupil at Merchant Taylors school in Crosby. ‘Without that, none of the rest might have happened. The official school magazine was pretty dull so I produced an alternative, “The IVa Flash”, named after the class I was in at the time. It was full of gossip and cartoons and sold like hot cakes. Even the teachers came to me for copies, mainly to see if they were in it.’ More formal recognition of Tony’s writing talent came when the school awarded him an essay prize. ‘I told them I wanted a journalism manual and when they said it was too expensive I paid them the difference and they got me the book.’

Emboldened by the success of his first journalistic venture, Tony approached the Liverpool Echo with a proposal for a record review column. ‘From an early age my two main interests were writing and popular music, especially jazz. I sent the Echo a sample column and was thrilled when they said they’d like to see me. I was 17 and still at school, so had to arrange my first meetings with them for the late afternoon. I used to stuff my school cap in my pocket and hope they wouldn’t realise I was just a schoolboy. I suspect they probably did know, because when they agreed to the column they asked me to think of a pseudonym. So the column appeared as Off The Record, by Disker. It started in April 1954 and continued until well into the Sixties.’

Tony’s youthful energy and entrepreneurial spirit also led to the promotion of gigs in and around Crosby. ‘While the members of the Beatles – then completely unknown to me – were gradually getting themselves together in various line-ups on one side of Liverpool, I was running jazz gigs and skiffle contests on the other side. I used local venues like St Luke’s Hall and Alexandra Hall. We called St Luke’s Hall the Hive of Jive, and Ringo Starr was actually in a group that entered one of the skiffle contests there – they came second. Another time I arranged for Lonnie Donegan, who was appearing at the Liverpool Empire, to come and draw the raffle. He was fine with the audience but in the car from the Empire kept complaining that he wasn’t getting paid anything.’

01After he left school Tony went to Durham University, then after national service he wrote to several record companies in pursuit of a job, citing his Liverpool Echo column as proof of his credentials. ‘Decca responded and I moved to London to become what I believe was Britain’s only full-time sleevenote writer. I was still writing the Echo column, and between the two of them these experiences really broadened my taste in music. I was writing about everybody from Duke Ellington to Gracie Fields for Decca, and listening to a huge range of records for the column.’

It’s at this point that Brian Epstein enters the story. In December 1961 he wrote to ‘Disker’ at the Liverpool Echo, asking if he would feature the Beatles in his column. ‘He had no idea who I was, so must have been surprised when he got a reply from London.’ Epstein had not yet finalised a management deal with the Beatles, and Tony thinks he was trying to demonstrate to the group that he could raise their profile. Tony told him he couldn’t write about the Beatles until they released a record, but Epstein didn’t give up and arranged a meeting at Tony’s London office.

02Tony has vivid memories of this first encounter. ‘He was very different from the kind of managers and show business agents I was used to dealing with. He was immaculately dressed, with a refined Oxbridge accent – you would never have dreamt that he was from Liverpool. I remember he had a dark blue, white spotted silk scarf; he carried on wearing that, or scarves very much like it, for years. He had a recording of the Beatles that he said had been made at the Cavern by Granada TV, though I think he’d actually made it himself. The sound quality was very poor and while it captured some of the excitement of the Cavern it really told you nothing about the musical talent of the Beatles. But I helped him get an audition for the group at Decca, who sat up when I told them he ran NEMS in Liverpool. As one of the most important record retailers in the north west, NEMS was important to them. Unfortunately the audition was a disaster, partly because Brian in his wisdom (or lack of it) saw Decca as a prestigious, upmarket record label and told the Beatles – I think these were almost his exact words – “None of those 03rock’n’roll ravers you play at the Cavern”. So the choice of material didn’t really help them to show what they were capable of. It’s not really surprising that other record companies subsequently followed Decca’s example and turned the Beatles down, because they were judging them on this audition tape.’

The breakthrough came when Brian Epstein met EMI’s George Martin, whose interest in the group led eventually to the release of their first single, Love Me Do, in October 1962. Epstein contacted Tony for advice on promoting the single, and after hearing his ideas asked him to put together a press kit for a one-off fee of £20. He also offered him a full-time job as the Beatles’ PR man, arranging for Tony and the Beatles to meet for a drink in a London pub, giving each party the chance to check the other out. They clicked; as Tony observes in his book, ‘Liverpudlians in exile tend to stick together. Like Masons, it’s a survival thing.’ Nevertheless, Tony was hesitant. He had a steady, secure job at Decca, had recently married his fiancée Corinne (also from Crosby) and had no experience as a press and publicity agent. But he was also warming to both the personalities and the music of the Beatles, and when Epstein said he’d double his Decca salary he agreed to join him.

As Love Me Do was followed at the beginning of 1963 by Please, Please Me (the Beatles’ first number one), Tony worked diligently to secure maximum media exposure for the group. He had several interesting strategies, including for example careful cultivation of the regional press. ‘I knew the power of the Liverpool Echo locally, and thought that other provincial papers probably had a similar influence. A lot of London-based PR people were dismissive of the regional press, but I always thought they were very important. I took the view that where press releases, photos and review copies were concerned, you were better off sending out too many than too few. I also arranged for the Beatles to do a lot of telephone interviews. In those early months they’d sit in my office for four or five hours at a time, talking to provincial journalists. Again it was something I’d picked up from my work with the Echo. Very few of the top recording stars of the time would bother to speak to me, but when they did I really appreciated it. Even at the height of Beatlemania we attempted to make the Beatles more accessible than many other big names were. We adopted the same approach 04when the Beatles were touring abroad: we’d have a massive press conference every day, at every new city we arrived in, and local journalists would be invited. Of course we had strong relationships with national newspapers and the music press as well. On the big American tours we’d have parties of British and American journalists and disc jockeys travelling on the plane with us.’

Looking back at this period, Tony is careful not to exaggerate his role in the Beatles’ meteoric rise. ‘It was the Beatles who made themselves big, by virtue of their personalities and their great records. It was the same when they took off in America: everyone from Ed Sullivan to [concert promoter] Sid Bernstein and a multitude of others have sought credit for breaking the Beatles in the States, but ultimately it was all down to the Beatles’ own talent.’

Nevertheless, Tony’s assiduous efforts behind the scenes clearly helped. Along with much else, during his time with the Beatles he coined the phrase “the Fab Four”, wrote 05numerous LP and EP sleevenotes, was the ghostwriter for many magazine pieces attributed to individual members of the Beatles and compiled the strip cartoon for the Magical Mystery Tour album package. The famous Beatles Christmas records (flexidiscs distributed to fan club members) were also his idea. This was actually a damage limitation exercise, a goodwill gesture intended to compensate for the fact that the small team running the fan club were struggling to cope with huge quantities of mail.

During his six years with the Beatles, Tony spent a lot of time in their company, though he was careful to avoid too much mixing of business and pleasure. ‘Inevitably there were occasions when the two overlapped – often enjoyably – but I thought it was important to keep a degree of professional distance. I never went out of my way to become intimate friends with them, and it’s interesting that those who did often came off worse in the end. I was probably closest to John, which is ironic because he was initially very hostile towards me. I think essentially he was afraid of everybody, and considered everyone an enemy until they’d proved themselves a friend. He had this surface bravado but underneath was very unsure of himself. The rather cruel sense of humour he had was one of the ways he coped with this, and in the early days he certainly directed it at me. Our relationship turned the corner when we had a late night drink together at the Speakeasy, a London nightclub. We chatted about things outside of show business. I remember us talking about mortgages – needless to say, his was rather more substantial than mine. Anyway, that night really broke the ice and after that we got on well.’

Paul was more welcoming from the off. ‘I got to know Paul fastest, because he had a flair for public relations himself, and always had a co-operative attitude. He was the showman within the group and he’s still a showman, from his bone marrow to his fingertips.’ Tony remembers George as good-natured and easy-going, but also as the Beatle who kept a close eye on the money, regularly asking Brian Epstein for updates on their financial situation. As for Ringo, Tony thinks he never fully recovered from being the last to join the group. ‘When Ringo became a Beatle the others had already been playing together for several years, and he always struck me as a little bit of an outsider. There were other factors as well – he’d missed out on quite a lot of schooling through ill health, and I think that gave him something of an inferiority complex. He tended to be 06quiet at press conferences, and in the dressing room as well, but he could be the master of saying it all in a very few words and came out with some great one-liners.’ The Beatles’ songs A Hard Day’s Night and Eight Days A Week are both said to have been inspired by phrases originally used by Ringo.

Within the space of a few years, Tony saw the Beatles’ enthusiasm for touring wane, and in August 1966 they performed their last public concert, in San Francisco (Paul McCartney asked Tony to make a cassette recording of the show). A year later Brian Epstein was dead, the victim of an accidental drug overdose. Tony continued working with the Beatles, but the individual members were now beginning to go their separate ways, and as a group they were seeking increasing control over their own affairs. In 1968 Tony felt it was time to bow out and he left to set up his own PR company.

Through the Seventies Tony represented many British acts, including Cilla Black, Helen Shapiro and the Kinks, as well as handling the publicity for numerous American stars on their European tours. In 1980 he returned to what he describes as his ‘first love’, freelance journalism. This included working as the editor of a group of magazines linked to annual trade events in Cannes – a task which enviably involved six trips a year to the south of France. He’s also written books, notably a very successful guide to working in the music industry and, of course, his Beatles memoir John, Paul, George, Ringo And Me – unquestionably one of the most accurate and authoritative books on the Beatles, as well as an absorbing, entertaining read.

Tony now lives with his wife Corinne in Morecambe. ‘It’s a perfect spot,’ he says. ‘Five minutes from the sea in one direction, and five minutes from the M6 in the other.’ A journey which took him from Crosby to London, and around the world with the most successful music act ever, has now brought him back to the north west, not too far from where a young teenager once thought it would be a good idea if his school had a more interesting magazine. (taqken from The Merseysider Magazine, Vol. 3; 2012)

07And here is the reprint of this old Beatles-fanzine: