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Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton is my eighth rock biography since Shout! The True Story of the Beatles in 1981. It left me feeling more than ever that writing books about such people is no job for a grownup and determined never to be talked into another one.

I had intended Shout! to stand alone, but it started a chain reaction that has kept me chained ever since, with only temporary breaks for novels, short stories, plays, TV documentaries, musicals and journalism.

Researching the Beatles provided an irresistible flying start to a biography of the Rolling Stones, whose story was so closely bound up with theirs. Afterwards, it was almost obligatory to “do” Buddy Holly, who established the rock band concept with the Crickets, and first inspired John Lennon and Paul McCartney to try songwriting, as they in turn inspired Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and hundreds of other musically unschooled young Brits. Then there was no escaping Elton John, who was discovered by the Beatles’ music publisher, Dick James, and took to wearing outsize spectacles like Holly although his eyesight was normal.

Source: Philip Norman/


The White Album 'slaps you in the face' - Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Beatles are celebrating the 50th birthday of their 1968 double album - dubbed The White Album - with a deluxe edition that delves into the record's exhaustive recording sessions. An interview with producer Giles Martin, who oversaw the anniversary project, reveals some of the box set's secrets and surprises.
presentational grey line

The Beatles' ninth album has confounded, delighted and divided fans ever since its release in 1968. To some, it's their masterpiece: a vibrant explosion of ideas from a band no longer bound by format, genre or style. To others, it's a mess: a quixotic, fractured collection of songs that fails as often as it soars.

"You are either hip to it, or you ain't," opined Rolling Stone in its original review.

Simply called The Beatles, the 30-track double LP became known as The White Album thanks to its plain white, subtly embossed sleeve - and the contrast to the colourful explosion of their previous album, Sgt Pepper, was deliberate.

The White Album is turbulent, raw, and challenging - partly in reaction to the political upheaval at the end of the 1960s, as the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King crushed the idealism of the Summer Of Love.


On Nov. 8, 1968, John and Cynthia Lennon's divorce became official. It brought to an end a tumultuous romance that included courtship, marriage, childbirth and infidelity -- all within the growing shadow of Beatlemania.

Lennon met Cynthia Powell in 1958 while both were attending the Liverpool College of Art. “He was a real scruff, a real teddy boy. He looked as if he would punch you as soon as look at you,” Cynthia remembered during an interview with journalist Alex Belfield. “He ended up in my calligraphy class and he didn’t want to be there.”

Even though she initially dismissed Lennon as some kind of troubled rebel, Powell was won over by his musical talent. “Everyone else had gone for lunch and I was trying to gather my pens,” she reminisced about one of their school days. “He sat and played ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ right through, and I looked at him and I thought, ‘That’s for me.’"

The two began dating. Even in the early days, there were warning signs. Lennon had a notorious temper, a characteristic that many have attributed to an estranged relationship with his father. During one particular argument while in college, Lennon details

Reissues have been dominating news about The Beatles and John Lennon lately, and fortunately for fans, this also means new things, like videos to enjoy.

Both The Beatles and Lennon camps have released new lyric videos in correlation with their respective reissues. Below you’ll find the lyric videos for “Back In The U.S.S.R” off the 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles (aka: The White Album) and “Gimme Some Truth” off the mega reissue of John Lennon’s Imagine.

The Beatles 50th anniversary reissue comes out November 9 and will be available in multiple formats, all of which can be pre-ordered right now at Imagine, meanwhile, is now available in multiple formats at

Source: by Erica Banas/


In a recent interview with Ultimate-Guitar, Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme explained why The Beatles’ Paul McCartney is important about evolution of bass guitar.

He said that ‘McCartney was probably the master at really making the bass an incredibly melodic instrument’. Here’s the statement:

“I think Paul McCartney was probably the master at really making the bass an incredibly melodic instrument. I think he’s one of the rare bass players where you can actually sing the bass lines.

There’s not many people you can say that about. Although Paul McCartney probably wasn’t the most technically gifted bass player, he was certainly one of the most important at making the bass a really melodic instrument. I don’t think a lot of people were doing that back then.

He also revealed the story of how he got his first bass guitar and said:

There was a girl who was friends with Matt and Dom because they were a school year ahead of me. There was a girl who was in their school year and she had a bass. I can’t even really remember what it was called. It was cheap and a piece of shit.



It took a remarkable effort to sound so casual. That’s one lesson of the hugely expanded 50th anniversary reissue of “The Beatles,” the double album that has been known as the White Album since its release in November 1968.

On the surface, the White Album marked a shift from the orchestral formality and sonic experimentation of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Its core approach returned to the four Beatles strumming and picking guitar and bass, pounding a piano and socking the drums. There are giggles and hoots and wisecracks scattered through the album, as if making the music was a lark.

But as Beatlephiles have long known and the reissue documents, the White Album was by no means back to basics. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr worked painstakingly, using start-to-finish live-studio performances as a foundation but then building around them. In the studio, the Beatles ran through songs again and again, often in all-night sessions that ended up wearing down their producers and engineers. The new White Album package peers deeply into their labors; it includes, for instance, Take 102 of George Harrison’s “Not Guilty,” a song details

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr created what would be the longest Beatles album (around 93 minutes) between May 30 and October 14, 1968.

Released a month later as simply The Beatles, it became, for obvious reasons, better known as The White Album. Produced by George Martin, the album ambitiously merged rock, blues, folk, country, music hall and avant-garde music; its scaled-down production and monochromatic cover were intended as a dramatic departure from the trailblazing psychedelia of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Upon release, some critics found the approach scattershot, the quality of songs dramatically uneven. But most raved. The Observer’s Tony Palmer called Lennon and McCartney the greatest songwriters since Schubert. Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote, "Musically, there is beauty, horror, surprise, chaos, order. And that is the world; and that is what the Beatles are on about.” And it has continued to thrill. In 2009, Chuck Klosterman called the album "almost beyond an A+."

Source: Zach Schonfeld /

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Paul McCartney is offering one lucky fan the chance to duet with him on stage in his hometown, Liverpool.

The former The Beatles rocker, 76, has teamed up with fundraising platform Omaze to give one person the opportunity to perform with him at the Echo Arena in the British city. All they have to do to be in with a chance of winning is donate to his family's vegetarian charity Meat Free Monday.

Fans can enter the contest by donating $10 (£7.80) or more to his cause, with the winner then chosen at random from those who have helped his non-profit - which aims to persuade people to eat less meat. The more fans donate, the more chances they have to win.

The sold-out gig on December 12 kicks off the U.K. leg of Paul's latest world trek, and is sure to be an emotional return to the city he grew up in.

The concert will be his third in his hometown this year as he played two intimate surprise shows there over the summer.




It’s 55 years since the Fab Four came to Dublin. Imagine.

Way back in 1963, The Irish Times wasn’t really what you’d call rock and roll. Nevertheless our photographer Dermot O’Shea was despatched to the boardroom of the Adelphi cinema - which, to be fair, wasn’t all that rock and roll either - to capture a shot of the Liverpool lads.

Five years ago, Eanna Brophy - one of just a handful of journalists who got in on the action - penned a wonderful Irishman’s Diary recalling the big day. “They trooped upstairs to the mezzanine floor, dressed and coiffed as few others in Dublin were then,” he wrote.

“It was immediately clear that these new Beatle chaps were sharp, witty and totally clued in to how publicity worked. You wanted a four-column photo? They obliged with a a wide-armed, leg-kicking ‘ta-dahh!’ pose. Single column? They somehow put their heads atop each other on an adjacent table.”

The cynical snappers, he added, were utterly charmed. Our photographer went for the “single-column stack” and his shot has languished, unused and unloved, in the archives ever since.



Rock legend, animal rights activist, and longtime vegan Sir Paul McCartney has launched a contest that supports his non-profit Meat Free Monday campaign. The 18-time Grammy Award-winning musician took to Instagram today to announce the opportunity for one fan and a friend to join him and sing onstage at his forthcoming show at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

“Hi there! It’s Paul McCartney, and I’m gonna invite you to come and sing with me on stage. We’ll fly you and a friend out to the concert in Liverpool. The lucky winner will come on stage and sing a song with us,” McCartney said.

He continued: “I’m teaming up with Omaze to support Meat Free Mondays. Great charity and it gets you and a friend to come and be my guest in Liverpool, the place where it all began.”

A Liverpool native himself, McCartney and his fellow Beatles band members got their start performing in local clubs. His return to the maritime city as part of his Freshen Up tour takes him to the Echo Arena on 12 December. The arena has the capacity to seat 11,000 and according to multiple sources, concert tickets have already sold out.

Source: Tim Peacock/


In celebration of the ‘White Album’ anniversary, The Beatles have shared two previously-unreleased versions of their track ‘Glass Onion’. The song originally appeared on ‘The White album’, which was released on November 22, 1968.

The new edition of the iconic double LP will be available in a series of “lavishly presented” packages with new mixes of its 30 tracks.

The reissue will also include 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session tracks – most of which have never been officially released – and much more.

“We had left Sgt. Pepper’s band to play in his sunny Elysian Fields and were now striding out in new directions without a map,” says Paul McCartney in his written introduction for the new ‘White Album’ releases.

“In remixing ‘The White Album,’ we’ve tried to bring you as close as possible to The Beatles in the studio,” explains Giles Martin in his written introduction for the new edition. “We’ve peeled back the layers of the ‘Glass Onion’ with the hope of immersing old and new listeners into one of the most diverse and inspiring albums ever made.”< details

Times pop music writer Randy Lewis takes fans behind the scenes at Abbey Road Studios in London to preview the new 50th anniversary box set reissue of the Beatles' 1968 double album, "The Beatles," aka "The White Album."

A telephone rings in a corner of Giles Martin’s private mixing room at Abbey Road Studios, catching the latter-day producer of Beatles recordings by surprise.

“That never rings,” he says, reaching over to pick up the receiver. It’s his wife, Melanie, calling from their 23-acre farm about 80 miles away with happily urgent news: Eggs laid by one of the ducks they keep — alongside sheep, horses and other farm creatures — were starting to hatch. By the next morning, all seven eggs will yield ducklings.

Martin, 49, is visibly relieved at the farm report, which may well be a good omen for another septuplet delivery he’s shepherding into the world: a seven-disc 50th-anniversary box set revisiting the Beatles’ 1968 double album “The Beatles,” colloquially known as the White Album.

Source: Randy Lewis/


The Beatles’ “White Album” 50th anniversary editions including the six disc version reviewed here will be released Nov. 9

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” are better albums in terms of cohesive musical statements but as for a collection of great songs, the 1968 self-titled double LP might just the Fab Four’s finest. Best known as “The White Album,” it features John Lennon and Paul McCartney largely contributing their own distinctive compositions, although still credited on each song as “Lennon-McCartney.”

Lennon offers the beautiful ballads “Dear Prudence” and “Julia” and rocks the self-referential highlight “Glass Onion.” McCartney has fun with the country-ish “Rocky Raccoon,” the ska-inspired “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and crushes with the pioneering heavy metal masterstroke “Helter Skelter.”

George Harrison gets two originals on each LP, per his norm, with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” as good as anything on the album and one of the most timeless songs in The Beatles catalog. Ring details

Co-directed, produced by and starring John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the 1972 film “Imagine” has returned to movie theaters around the country.

Recently screening in Asbury Park at the Showroom Cinema, the film has been remastered with additional content restored from its original version.

The film, which is a collection of music videos created by Lennon and Ono, features songs from Lennon’s “Imagine” LP and Yoko Ono’s “Fly” album. The music videos are some of the first of their kind, predating MTV’s August 1981 debut.

Each song throughout the film has a unique twist of different archive footage Lennon and Ono took together. Most of the footage collected was shot at the home in Ascot, England, in 1971.

Each song follows Lennon and Ono as they make their way through their recording sessions for the “Imagine” LP throughout the United Kingdom and New York with the album’s co-producer, Phil Spector.

“The people who all worked on ‘Imagine’ were Peace People and it was so enlightening and exciting all the way through to be one of them,” said Ono. “Remember, each one of us has the power to change the details

'Yer Blues': The Story Behind The Song - Thursday, November 01, 2018

“While we were recording ‘The White Album’, we ended up being more of a band again,” Ringo Starr would reflect, “and that’s what I always love. I love being in a band.” Increasingly over the previous few albums, The Beatles’ recordings had been crafted, layer upon layer of sound painstakingly assembled, rather than performed live in the studio as their earliest records had been. But for “The White Album”, they consciously set out to return to playing the songs as a band, getting closer and closer musically – and, in the case of John Lennon’s ‘Yer Blues’, physically.

By their own admission, The Beatles had started out playing heavy rock. “But when it was put down on the early records, there was never enough bass in it, the guitar solo never came through, because we didn’t know about recording then,” John explained shortly after “The White Album”’s release. “We sounded more like us on this record. We rid ourselves of the self-consciousness bit, so we were doing what we were doing earlier on, but with a better knowledge of the technique of recording. Quite a few of the tracks are just straight takes details

Yoko Ono is to open next year’s Manchester International Festival with a message of peace to the world, it has been announced.

The artist, singer and peace activist’s work Bells for Peace will feature around 8,000 members of the public forming an orchestra of bells in Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens to welcome visitors to the biennial festival.

It follows the success of What Is the City but the People? which gave the people of Manchester a chance to present a self-portrait of themselves and the place where they live.

Idris Elba and Skepta have also been announced as part of next year’s festival.

Yoko Ono said: “The beauty of this piece will break the sky and more. One of the reasons this is very different is the fact that all of us will be making the sound together. More than ever, we must come together to heal each other and the world. Peace is power.”

The project comes following Ono’s newly recorded version of peace anthem Imagine, written by her husband John Lennon and inspired by Ono’s poetry, releeased earlier this month on her new album, Warzone.

Source: Dean Kirby/


He's about to embark on his Freshen Up tour, which kicks off in Toyko this week.

And Sir Paul McCartney, 76, was supported by his wife Nancy Shevell, 58, as he touched down in Japan on Monday, causing a stir as they landed at Haneda airport.

The couple - who tied the knot in 2011 - were sporting matching kimonos, embracing the local customs.

Stepping out: Sir Paul McCartney, 76, was supported by his wife Nancy Shevell, 58, as he touched down in Japan on Monday, causing a stir as they landed at Haneda airport

Paul and Nancy opted for comfort for their long-haul flight, both dressed down in jeans and trainers.

The pair were in high spirits as they made their way thought the airport in their eye-catching attire.

The Beatles legend's first stop on his world tour will be the Tokyo Dome on October 31st.




Amongst the large, deservedly legendary, and oddly expanding pile of officially released Beatles material, there is probably nothing as off the radar as “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).”

The song that was released as the B-side of “Let It Be” in March of 1970 and has largely been under-appreciated ever since.

Recorded over a two-year period, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” is a strange cocktail jazz/ska/comedy mantra, and it is unlike anything else in the Beatles’ canon. (Well, aside from their often wonderful Christmas fan club records.)

On the surface, it’s a throwaway tune, and many students of the Beatles have regarded the song in that fashion for half a century.

But the Beatles did not throw away songs, and “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” is absolutely no exception. It is not only a deeply intentional composition, but also a Rosetta Stone, an object that tells us a great deal about the Beatles.

A prime indication that we should take “You Know My Name” seriously is the fact that it is one of the only recordings that the Beatles worked on during one era, set aside, and completed in another er details

A short chapter in Dublin’s musical history will be commemorated next month when a plaque marking The Beatles’ first, and only, appearance in Ireland is unveiled at Arnotts.

The band played two shows at what was then the Adelphi Cinema, Middle Abbey Street, on November 7th, 1963. Their debut album Please Please Me came out earlier that year and by November the newspapers were already reporting on the first flushes of Beatlemania: “It’s happening everywhere” declared the Daily Mirror.

If The Irish Times of the day failed to recognise the musical significance of the band, it succeeded in providing extensive coverage of Ireland’s only exposure to Beatlemania.

“Many arrested as city crowds riot” ran the front page headline on November 8th, accompanied by a photograph of a crowd of young people breaking through a police cordon on O’Connell Street. The paper referred to them throughout as “Beatle ‘fans’ ” , with the word fans usually in quotation marks.


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It’s been a hard day’s fight, but a group of Japanese Beatles fans have lost their bid to get police to hand over historic footage of the band’s 1966 Japan visit.

The superfans took their battle for the film — recorded by police as a security measure — all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing it was a “historical document.”

Police had offered to release the footage, reportedly about 35 minutes long, but only after blurring the faces of everyone in the film except the Beatles, citing privacy reasons.

Two lower courts backed the police against a group of citizens from Nagoya who wanted the entire film released uncensored, saying it would be almost impossible to identify people in the footage more than 50 years later.

But the long and winding legal battle ended last week when the Supreme Court rejected their argument, the group announced.




Stormzy has revealed what it was like getting a piano lesson from Sir Paul McCartney.

The British grime star met the Beatles icon after an intimate show McCartney played at Abbey Road, where Stormzy apparently sought advice to help advance the sound of his music.

“He’s (Stormzy) looking to advance his music,” Paul told The Sunday Times in September. “As a rapper, I thought he’d have words down, but there was a piano, so I showed him basic stuff – how you get middle C, make a chord, a triad and, just by moving that, get D minor, E minor, F, G, A minor, and how that’s enough for anyone.”
I was just so compelled, in the presence of someone that great, to get advice — anything for my career an OG [original gangster] like him can give me,” Stormzy told the publication, in a new interview. “But I know the stigma that comes with being a rapper, so I introduced myself as a songwriter: ‘Can you teach me something?’

Source: Roisin O'Connor/

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A short chapter in Dublin’s musical history will be commemorated next month when a plaque marking The Beatles’ first, and only, appearance in Ireland is unveiled at Arnotts.

The band played two shows at what was then the Adelphi Cinema, Middle Abbey Street, on November 7th, 1963. Their debut album Please Please Me came out earlier that year and by November the newspapers were already reporting on the first flushes of Beatlemania: “It’s happening everywhere” declared the Daily Mirror.

If The Irish Times of the day failed to recognise the musical significance of the band, it succeeded in providing extensive coverage of Ireland’s only exposure to Beatlemania.

“Many arrested as city crowds riot” ran the front page headline on November 8th, accompanied by a photograph of a crowd of young people breaking through a police cordon on O’Connell Street. The paper referred to them throughout as “Beatle ‘fans’ ” , with the word fans usually in quotation marks.


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Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball, in collaboration with Ka-Pow Pinball, proudly announced today the availability of the one-of-a-kind Beatles pinball machine. Only 1964 units will be produced in recognition of the year in which the world forever changed when Ed Sullivan introduced America to four young mop-topped musicians from Liverpool, England. The deal was brokered by Bravado Merchandising, the Beatles North American licensing agent.

The game is available in three models named for the recording industry's sales award levels. The Diamond Edition, the highest level and most difficult to attain, is limited to only 100 units. The Platinum Edition is limited to only 250 units. The Gold Edition is limited to 1614 units.

The Beatles pinball machine will immerse players in 1960's Beatlemania and feature eight timeless hit songs from that era:




Ringo Starr fondly recalled The Beatles' historic 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on Thursday night, as he and Michael Jackson were honored at The Paley Honors: A Gala Tribute to Music on Television.

The Paley Center event, which featured packaged salutes to musical performances and themes over nearly 70 years on television, took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“The Ed Sullivan Show. Yeah, we did that,” Starr said, garnering a laugh from the audience. “We came to America, and you don’t know where things are going in life. I was in a factory and I left there to play drums. I had a three-month gig, and after that, I was on my own, and then I was introduced to the other three lads. I’m here because we are celebrating the four of us. I well up a little bit because two of us aren’t here.”

Source: Melinda Thomas/Billboard



The Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney thinks the 'White Album' sounds like a record by a "modern band", according to the producer's son Giles Martin

Sir Paul McCartney thinks the 'White Album' sounds like a record by a "modern band".

The legendary musician listened back to The Beatles' iconic album while preparing for the new reissue, and he told the son of the famed 'fifth Beatle' Sir George Martin how contemporary it still feels.

Speaking to The Sun newspaper at the Abbey Road studio, Giles Martin revealed: "The last person to sit right there with me was Paul McCartney.

"We listened to The White Album mix and Paul said, 'I never realised how modern this record sounds. This could be a band today.' "

The new project has seen the record's 30 tracks becoming a staggering 107 tracks for the latest collection, and it sounded like Paul, 76, took the chance to reflect while he was going through the original LP.



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