Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 16, 1969

In today’s edition of Disc and Music Echo, John Lennon is quoted as saying that Apple is losing vast quantities of money, and that The Beatles are in danger of going bankrupt unless the situation is reversed.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 15, 1969

The Beatles held a meeting today, and agreed to Harrison's demands to move the sessions from Twickenham to Apple's headquarters in Savile Row, London. These began a week later, on the 21st, in higher spirits and willing to continue with the Let It Be project.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 14, 1969

The Get Back/Let It Be sessions on day nine was the second full one without George, who had walked out of Twickenham Film Studios 4 days before.

It was clear by this stage that The Beatles were unable to function in any meaningful way as a trio, and motivation and inspiration hit a low mark on this day. As with other Twickenham rehearsals, it began with Paul McCartney working alone at a piano, although there is little of the energetic enthusiasm which he brought to the earlier days.

Once John Lennon and Ringo Starr had arrived, they performed a mix of improvised songs, golden oldies and original compositions, as had become customary in these sessions. One of the songs was Woman, the McCartney song given in 1966 to Peter & Gordon, which had the only known Beatles performance on this day. Another was The Back Seat Of My Car, later to be one of the highlights of McCartney's 1971 album Ram.

The day ended with McCartney alone at the piano, performing Oh! Darling and a brief version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, for Glyn Johns to test the audio equipment. On this day Lennon and Ono were also interviewed by a reporter from Canada's CBC-TV. It took place around midday and lasted for 30 minutes, and has since become known as the Two Junkies interview.

Lennon was clearly high on heroin during the interview, growing paler and more restless as it progressed. Eventually he said "Excuse me, I feel a bit sick" and the camera was turned off. The second half of the conversation was noticeably livelier, and Lennon discussed live performances, inspiration, and the couple's future plans.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicles

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 13, 1969

The soundtrack LP for The Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine was released in the United States on this day, with six songs by the group and seven orchestral pieces by George Martin.

There was no mono version of Yellow Submarine released.

Originally, the four new Beatles songs on the album – Only A Northern Song, All Together Now, Hey Bulldog and It's All Too Much – were to have been issued as an EP. This was deemed unsuitable for the US market, however, and so the full-length album was created.

Yellow Submarine peaked at number two in the US charts. It was prevented from reaching the top by the White Album, which had been issued two months previously. Sales were lower than normal, however, and The Beatles came under criticism for not giving their usual value for money.

The artwork of the US and UK albums were slightly different. In the UK the words 'Nothing is real' appeared in green below the title on the cover. This was removed from the US version.

The tracklisting for the US LP listed six tracks on side two: Sea Of Time and Sea Of Holes were combined into one track, listed as Medley: Sea of Time & Sea of Holes.

The back cover of the UK edition featured a review of the White Album written by The Observer newspaper journalist Tony Palmer, along with introductory notes by Derek Taylor. The US version, meanwhile, contained a fictional account of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band credited to Dan Davis.



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 12, 1969

The feud between Harrison and John Lennon remained unresolved, so a meeting was scheduled, but not a success and George Harrison left early without agreeing to rejoin The Beatles.-

Meanwhile, the London premiere of the motion picture "Wonderwall," happened this night which featured George Harrison's musical score.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 11, 1969

Today was the 11th day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions at The Beatles' Apple Studios in London.

Billy Preston was present (invited to Apple by George Harrison). Preston had first met The Beatles in Hamburg in the early 1960s, and was in London playing with Ray Charles.

His presence on piano and keyboards helped flesh out the sound considerably, which was helpful given the 'no overdubs' rule of the sessions. The mood within the sessions was greatly improved, with greater focus on the songs they intended to perform in the live special, and fewer displacement activities such as cover versions and improvisations.

Three songs in particular received the bulk of The Beatles' attentions on this day: Don't Let Me Down, I've Got A Feeling and Dig A Pony. Versions of I've Got A Feeling and Dig A Pony from the session were included on 1996's Anthology 3.

This version of I've Got A Feeling, plus different ones of Dig A Pony and Don't Let Me Down, were selected for Glyn Johns' first Get Back album, which was rejected for release by The Beatles. Also included were Rocker, a Beatles jam in the style of Chuck Berry, and a cover version of The Drifters' Save The Last Dance For Me.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 10, 1969

George Harrison walked out of the studio today, unable to tolerate any longer the tensions within the group - just as Ringo Starr had temporarily quit The Beatles in August 1968,

The Beatles were at Twickenham Film Studios, where their rehearsals were being captured on camera. The day began with Paul McCartney working alone at a piano, playing through a number of songs that the group had been working on during the previous week. These included solo versions of I've Got A Feeling and Get Back, which were usually performed with guitars.

The Beatles, still as a group, worked hard on Get Back during the morning. McCartney still hadn't finalised the lyrics, but Tucson, Arizona was emerging as a setting. For one run-through John Lennon took the lead vocals.

Following several attempts at working Get Back into shape, The Beatles moved onto Two Of Us. After breaking for lunch, however, George Harrison walked out of the studio.

Everybody had gone through that. Ringo had left at one point. I know John wanted out. It was a very, very difficult, stressful time, and being filmed having a row as well was terrible. I got up and I thought, 'I'm not doing this any more. I'm out of here.' So I got my guitar and went home and that afternoon wrote Wah-Wah.

It became stifling, so that although this new album was supposed to break away from that type of recording (we were going back to playing live) it was still very much that kind of situation where he already had in his mind what he wanted. Paul wanted nobody to play on his songs until he decided how it should go. For me it was like: 'What am I doing here? This is painful!'

Then superimposed on top of that was Yoko, and there were negative vibes at that time. John and Yoko were out on a limb. I don't think he wanted much to be hanging out with us, and I think Yoko was pushing him out of the band, inasmuch as she didn't want him hanging out with us.

It's important to state that a lot of water has gone under the bridge and that, as we talk now, everybody's good friends and we have a better understanding of the past. But talking about what was happening at that time, you can see it was strange.

Source: Mark Lewisohn/The Beatles Complete Chronicles

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 9, 1969

The Get Back/Let It Be sessions began with Paul McCartney working alone on a number of songs on Day 6.

McCartney arrived first at Twickenham Film Studios, and he used the time to perform several songs at the piano. Making their debuts on this day were Her Majesty and Another Day, the latter becoming his first solo single in 1971.

Once the other Beatles arrived, work continued on several key songs, among them I've Got A Feeling, One After 909 and Two Of Us.  George Harrison played For You Blue. Less serious were performances of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Across The Universe, which featured The Beatles trying various non-serious arrangements and making several jokey lyrical changes and asides.

Let It Be was given more focused attention, and was played a total of 16 times. These performances were led by McCartney, who called out suggestions as the others played. John Lennon was on bass guitar for this part of the day, as the group were intending to record no overdubs and McCartney was at the piano.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 8, 1969

The Beatles' Get Back/Let It Be sessions were on Day 5 and the group continued to work. Early in the day, were rehearsals of Two Of Us, Don't Let Me Down, I've Got A Feeling and On . The Beatles were in reasonably high spirits at this point, playing through the songs with enthusiasm which was sadly lacking elsewhere for much of January 1969.

The group performed George Harrison's All Things Must Pass which the other Beatles remained unenthusiastic towards. Equally aimless were versions of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Maxwell's Silver Hammer, songs which The Beatles would return to with greater focus later in 1969.

Another Abbey Road song making its debut on this day was Mean Mr Mustard. John Lennon had recorded a demo of the song in May 1968, but it was not considered for the White Album. On this day The Beatles performed a rough version which wasn't much different from the final release, although in the lyrics Pam was known as Shirley.

Another Harrisong, I Me Mine, received more attention, with the group playing a total of 41 versions, although more often than not these were incomplete. This was the only day in January 1969 that The Beatles played it; although it was discussed in subsequent days, there was little inclination to return to it after this.

George Harrison had written I Me Mine the night before, and it began as a plain acoustic song. The Let It Be film showed some footage of The Beatles working on the song on this day, but the album version was a re-recording made in January 1970.

Two songs by Paul McCartney, Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road, had by this stage been established as proper contenders deserving sustained work. McCartney had by now completed writing both songs, so much of his efforts were devoted to helping the rest of the group learn the chord changes and arrangements.

Of the cover versions and improvisations, there was little from this day that was noteworthy, most of them being brief renditions in between proper rehearsals. Two early Lennon-McCartney compositions – Too Bad About Sorrows and Just Fun – were performed, but each lasted just seconds.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 7, 1969

The Get Back/Let It Be sessions were a typical blend of original song rehearsals and jam sessions on this 4th day of recording.

Get Back was lacking most of its final lyrics in the verses. Although it was later held over for the Abbey Road album, Maxwell's Silver Hammer also made an appearance on this day.

They also performed early versions of Golden Slumbers and She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, and Lennon led the group through three versions of Gimme Some Truth, a song which he'd later record for 1971's Imagine album.

John Lennon tried to get the group interested in Across The Universe, which they had recorded in February 1968. Nearly a year on, and Lennon struggled to remember the words, and the performance lacked the elegantly light touch that the earlier recording had.

The day was spent on I've Got A Feeling and Don't Let Me Down, which had been earmarked early on during the Twickenham sessions as contenders for the mooted live performance. At this stage the songs weren't developing significantly, but were instead being rehearsed multiple times until The Beatles were happy they were familiar with the structure.