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Beatles 50th Blog posts of '2018' 'May'

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 30, 1968

Paul McCartney records Thingumybob by Black Dyke Mills Band

The Black Dyke Mills Band, a brass band from Yorkshire, England, was one of Apple Records' first signings. On this day Paul McCartney recorded them performing the Lennon-McCartney composition Thingumybob, which became their first single for the label.

The recording took place in Saltaire near Bradford, with McCartney producing the session. As well as Thingumybob, the group recorded Yellow Submarine for the single's b-side. While in Yorkshire McCartney was interviewed by Tony Cliff for the BBC Television programme Look North.

Thingumybob was written as the theme tune to the Yorkshire Television comedy of the same name, which was transmitted from August 1968. The single, credited to John Foster & Sons Ltd Black Dyke Mills Band, was released as Apple 1800 in the US on 26 August, and in the UK as Apple 4 on 6 September.

McCartney was accompanied to Yorkshire by Apple employees Derek Taylor, Peter Asher and Tony Bramwell, and New Musical Express reporter Alan Smith.

On their return to London they sought to break their journey, and after consulting a map decided to take a detour off the M1 motorway to Harrold, a small village in Bedfordshire which they liked the name of. They visited two pubs in the village – the Oakley Arms and the Magpie – where McCartney premiered The Beatles' Hey Jude.

While walking through the village they encountered Gordon Mitchell, a resident who was in his garden at Mulberry Lodge in the High Street. They asked Mitchell the way to the river but, having received directions, saw a sign for the Magpie pub and went there instead.

We wound through Bedfordshire checking off the signs steadily until we reached the village sign. Harrold. Oh it was a joyful sight.

It was the village we were supposed to have fought the world wars to defend, for which we would be expected to fight the third when told to, but won't. It was a Miniver hamlet on the Ouse and there were notices telling of the fete next Saturday and a war memorial which made me weep.

Thrushes and blackbirds sang and swallows dived into thatches and a little old mower wheezed as we walked down the only street there was past the inn which was closed and the church which was open nodding to a sandy man with 1930s moustache and khaki shorts as he clipped his hedge and stared at these city people with funny hair and clothes.

Having recognised McCartney, Mitchell and his wife Pat decided to also pay a visit to the pub. There they were greeted warmly by the Apple group, and fell into conversation.

After a while, thoughts were on something to eat. In those days few pubs served food. Pat suggested that she could provide something, so we trooped back to Mulberry Lodge, where she managed to produce a sumptuous meal. Paul showed his humanity by visiting Pat's father, at that time an invalid in bed, and had a long chat with him. He also played a pink piano which was in the room, commenting that he had never seen one which was pink before!

We had a lovely evening of conversation and music and food and wine. Our younger daughter, Shuna, produced a child-size guitar, which Paul tuned by putting two coins under the bridge and then proceeded to play in his normal left-handed manner. He played and sang throughout the evening and then told us he had a new song – not yet recorded – called Hey Jude, which he sang several times. Shayne, our other daughter, was so unfazed by what was happening that she retired to bed to read a book!

We had long chats about his life as a pop star and what it was like to be so famous and so well off so early in one's life, and he related some of the difficulties it was creating for him.

They all were the nicest people one could wish to meet, and great fun, and it was a very special evening. Pat, in particular, always felt great respect and affection for Paul and took great interest in his career and life, until her death in 2002.
It was after midnight when the group decided to return to London. Not knowing where their chauffeur had parked their Rolls-Royce, however, they wandered up the High Street, where the car was parked outside the Oakley Arms.

After many hours, and well after midnight, they suggested that perhaps they should think of returning to London, so, not having any idea where their Rolls Royce and chauffeur were, we walked back up the High Street and there outside the Oakley Arms was their car.

The landlord of the Oakley, Frank Evans, had been told by the chauffeur who the travellers were, and the pub was kept open for their return. Sure enough, the party did decide to call in for drinks, and while there McCartney took to the piano to sing a number of Beatles songs. They stayed until around three o'clock in the morning before beginning the final leg of their journey to London.

A few days later, we received a letter of thanks signed by them all (except Alan Smith) and also received a gift of two bottles of champagne for the bottle stall at our Playing Fields Association fair on the following Saturday, which were duly raffled.

The weekend was reported by Alan Smith in two issues of the NME, published on 6 July and 10 August 1968. It was also mentioned in memoirs by Smith, Derek Taylor and Tony Bramwell.

It was also the best drink-up and general night out I've had since sliced bread, and my heartfelt thanks for a nice piece of living go out to Paul, Derek Taylor and Co (for the lift), the villagers of Harrold (for being real people) and to Gordon, the Irish dentist and his wife, Pat (for feeding us all at 3am with such pleasant meat and rice).

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 29, 1968

The Beatles in-between recording

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 28, 1968

The Beatles began work on Good Night, the White Album's final track, on this day.

The session began at 7pm and finished at 4.30am the following morning. It began with a number of rehearsals which were committed to tape.

One of the rehearsals was included on 1996's Anthology 3. It features Ringo Starr on vocals, John Lennon playing piano, and George Harrison keeping time on a shaker.

The Beatles recorded five proper takes of Good Night during this session, featuring just Starr's vocals and Lennon's acoustic guitar. Lead and backing vocals were added onto the last of these on 2 July 1968.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 27, 1968

The Beatles are in-between recording

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 26, 1968

George Harrison produced a third session on this day for fellow Liverpudlian musician Jackie Lomax, recording Harrison's song Sour Milk Sea.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road over three days, on 24-26 June 1968, as well as a Lomax song, The Eagle Laughs At You.

Harrison produced the songs and played acoustic guitar, with McCartney on bass, Starr on drums, Eric Clapton on guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano. The Eagle Laughs At You featured Harrison and Clapton playing rhythm and lead guitar alongside Lomax, but no other Beatles.

For the first two of the days McCartney was out of the country, but added his bass part to Sour Milk Sea on this day. It is likely that the backing track for another Lomax song, You've Got Me Thinking, was also recorded during these sessions. McCartney also busked the song on 21 January 1969 during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

Jackie Lomax was the first artist to sign to The Beatles' Apple label. Sour Milk Sea was released as a single in August 1968, with the catalogue number Apple 3. It was part of Apple's "Our first four" set of singles, which also included The Beatles' Hey Jude, Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days and the Black Dyke Mills Band's Thingumybob.

The song also appeared on Lomax's debut album, Is This What You Want?, released by Apple in March 1969.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 25, 1968

George Harrison produces Jackie Lomax’s Sour Milk Sea

George Harrison produced the second session on this day for fellow Liverpudlian musician Jackie Lomax, recording Harrison's song Sour Milk Sea.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road over three days, on 24-26 June 1968, as well as a Lomax song, The Eagle Laughs At You.

Harrison produced the songs and played acoustic guitar, with McCartney on bass, Starr on drums, Eric Clapton on guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano. The Eagle Laughs At You featured Harrison and Clapton playing rhythm and lead guitar alongside Lomax, but no other Beatles.

For the first two of the days McCartney was out of the country, but added his bass part to Sour Milk Sea on 26 June. It is likely that the backing track for another Lomax song, You've Got Me Thinking, was also recorded during these sessions. McCartney also busked the song on 21 January 1969 during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

Jackie Lomax was the first artist to sign to The Beatles' Apple label. Sour Milk Sea was released as a single in August 1968, with the catalogue number Apple 3. It was part of Apple's "Our first four" set of singles, which also included The Beatles' Hey Jude, Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days and the Black Dyke Mills Band's Thingumybob.

The song also appeared on Lomax's debut album, Is This What You Want?, released by Apple in March 1969.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 24, 1968

Paul McCartney sails to Santa Catalina Island, California

On 21 June 1968, Paul McCartney had arrived in Los Angeles with other representatives of Apple Records to promote their label to Capitol Records executives. On this day, however, they had a day off, allowing McCartney to spend time with his new girlfriend Linda Eastman.

In addition to McCartney, the Apple party included label boss Ron Kass and employee Tony Bramwell, as well as McCartney's childhood friend Ivan Vaughan. On this day they were invited to sail on a yacht belonging to Warner Bros executive John Calley.

Paul knew that if Linda went with him on the boat, the news [of their relationship] would get out very quickly. He was torn between going, or keeping her a secret for a little longer by hiding her back in the bungalow. In the end he decided they would both go, and Linda could always say she was just taking pictures.

As we left the hotel to get into the limo, [actress] Peggy Lipton suddenly appeared, bikini and towel packed in her beach bag, ready to spend the day with us. Somebody must have told her we were going sailing. 'Oh my God,' said Paul when he spotted her. 'She can't come.'

I had to tell her in the nicest possible way that it was a private party, while Linda stood quietly to one side pretending she wasn't with us. Peggy was very upset and got very argumentative. I realised that she needed the publicity for her career and had been told to make sure she got it, but Paul was tired of girls who used him. We drove off fast, leaving Peggy standing on the hotel steps in tears.

It was one of those perfect days, though not for Peggy, of course. We sailed to Catalina, feeling like Bogart and Bacall for whom the island was a favourite destination, along with the Flynns and the Fairbanks. We dived off the sides of the sailboat into the clear blue sea where dolphins swam, sunbathed on the decks, ate bacon sandwiches and drank champagne. It was a wonderful day, an antidote to the months of madness in London.

Some brief colour footage of Paul and Linda exists from this time, on the boat and around the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was shot using a home film camera, and lasts little over 30 seconds.

This was the final day of the Apple promotional trip. In the evening the party flew from Los Angeles to New York, where they caught a connecting flight to London.

Late that afternoon, we checked out of the hotel to return to London. Paul and Linda were like Siamese twins, holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes all the way to the airport. In the VIP lounge, they sat apart from us on a small group of seats in a central aisle, the kind of seats that are back to back with another row. Suddenly, the doors burst open, like the sheriff and his men at the big bad saloon.

'FBI!' one of them barked, flashing a badge. 'There's a bomb warning on your flight. Do you know of any Caucasian male with a grudge against you?'

Paul looked surprised. This was years before stars were assassinated and needed bodyguards. He said, 'No, nobody.'

'Do you mind if we search your baggage?' they asked.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Linda very swiftly aiming a neat little backward kick with her heel. Her square vanity case, which she had placed on the floor beneath her seat, skidded to the row of empty seats and, fortunately, came to rest exactly underneath one of them. Casually, she stood up. 'Well, guys, I guess this is good-bye,' Linda said. 'I'd better check on my flight.'

'What flight are you on?' one of the agents asked.

'New York,' Linda said. I'm not traveling in Mr McCartney's party.' She smiled at us all and sauntered off through the door of the VIP lounge as if she had all the time in the world, and as if there wasn't enough marijuana packed into her vanity case to get a herd of elephants stoned.

We all wondered if Linda had managed to sneak back for her vanity case, or if it remained there. Who knows? I never asked

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 23, 1968

Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman spend time together in Los Angeles

The day after they fell in love in Los Angeles, Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman spent much of the day together at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he was staying as part of an Apple promotional trip.

The previous evening they had visited the Whiskey-A-Go-Go club, before returning to the hotel in the small hours.

The next day, evening more fans turned up and mobbed the hotel. Crowds of fans were milling in and around the main entrance, lobby and grounds, while Paul and Linda were still in bed making love. Finally, to thank them all for coming, Paul got up and sat on the steps of the bungalow, playing his guitar and singing to them – I think it was Blackbird

– while Linda kept quietly in the background, not wanting to be seen. (Tony Bramwell - Magical Mystery Tours)

At lunchtime the Apple party – which included McCartney, label boss Ron Kass, and McCartney's childhood friend Ivan Vaughan and Apple employee Tony Bramwell – visited Capitol Records president Alan Livingston at his home in Beverly Hills, before spending the afternoon at the home of Capitol executive Ken Fritz.

On returning to the bungalow, Linda passed around a Victorian cloth drawstring bag stuffed full of grass. In London this bag became her trademark, the legendary 'spice-bag' that [Ronnie] Plonk Lane of the Faces wrote about in a song. All kinds of music people started to drop by, like Roger McGuinn from the Byrds. Boyce and Hart, the songwriters for the Monkees, telephoned to invite us to one of their notorious toga parties, a Hollywood version of a Roman orgy. Paul asked me to turn down all invitations so he could spend time alone with Linda. I did, but a leggy young starlet named Peggy Lipton, who had met Paul during their last America tour and still had designs on him, kept calling all through the night. (Tony Bramwell - Magical Mystery Tours)

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 22, 1968

Paul McCartney addresses Capitol Records conference

On this day Paul McCartney addressed a sales conference attended by executives from Capitol Records, where he announced that all future Beatles records would be released through the group's Apple Records label.

The conference took place at the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel. McCartney gave a brief address before playing a promotional film which had been made on 11 June.

Paul delivered a short speech to announce that EMI/Capitol would distribute Apple Records and, from now on, The Beatles were on the Apple label. That was a cue for me to show the film. Paul spent time doing the old meet-and-greet and being photographed with top Capitol executives, Alan Livingston, Stanley Gortikov and Ken Fritz. It was a PR masterpiece. (Tony Bramwell)
Magical Mystery Tours

Following the event, McCartney and his companions – Apple's Ron Kass and Tony Bramwell, plus childhood friend Ivan Vaughan – returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they were staying for the duration of their US trip.

Relieved at how well it had gone we were ready to return to the hotel and leap into the swimming pool again. When we went into the bungalow to change, followed by the trail of girls, we were rather surprised to find Linda

[Eastman] sitting there radiantly, totally spaced out, waiting for Paul. She had a joint in one hand and a beatific smile on her face. Paul immediately detached himself from the circus surrounding him and took Linda aside. As I looked across the room, I suddenly saw something happen. Right before my eyes, they fell in love. It was like the thunderbolt that Sicilians speak of, the coup-de-foudre

that the French speak of in hushed tones, that once-in-a-lifetime feeling. Paul was struck almost dumb as he and Linda gazed at each other. (Tony Bramwell, Magical Mystery Tours)

In the evening the party – now including Linda Eastman – went to LA's Whiskey-A-Go-Go, where they watched BB King and the Chicago Transit Authority (later Chicago) perform.

The club was hot, dark and crowded. Paul and Linda sat in a corner both while we acted as a kind of hedge. By a strange coincidence, both Eric Burdon and Georgie Fame were in the booth next to us, a fact not missed by Linda or Paul in their state of heightened awareness. Eric and Georgie had been at the Bag O'Nails on the night they had met some thirteen months ago. Now here they were on the night they had fallen in love. It was a sign.

Tony Bramwell
Magical Mystery Tours

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 21, 1968

Paul McCartney flies from New York to Los Angeles

The previous day, Paul McCartney had flown from London to New York, for the first stop on a promotional trip for Apple. On this day he arrived at his final destination: Los Angeles, California.

The purpose of the trip was to show a promotional film at the Capitol Convention in Los Angeles, where record company executives would be able to see The Beatles' intentions for their business. He was accompanied on the trip by head of Apple Ron Kass, employee Tony Bramwell and Ivan Vaughan, McCartney's childhood friend who had introduced him to John Lennon on 6 July 1957.

At the luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel we were given a bungalow beside the pool. It seemed like heaven! The first thing we did was change and go for a swim. Cliché as it might be, but, this is the life

, I thought, as Paul and I floated side by side on lilos, drinks in hand and gazing at the blue sky as the heavy scent of jasmine and orange blossom wafted in the air.

That afternoon, we decided to shop on Sunset Strip. To me, everything was wildly expensive, but Paul didn't care.

'Sign for anything you want,' he told me. It was a bizarre situation. Here was a young man worth many millions who didn't have a penny on him. A bit like royalty, I suppose. At any rate, everyone was more than happy to have our signatures.

'Make the bill out to Apple,' Ivan and I said grandly, collapsing into giggles around the corner on Rodeo Drive. It seemed unreal. Even Paul said that after several years he still couldn't get used to this way of life...

On our shopping trip, Paul and I bought Nehru jackets. Paul's was red velvet and mine was white silk. We also bought several pairs of exotic sunglasses with pink lenses at a psychedelic optique, which we clowned around in. One pair would have done, but we couldn't make up our minds which we liked and in the end Paul said, 'To hell with it. Let's have 'em all.' Once again, as we signed the outrageous bill, we found it wildly funny and ran into the street, laughing like people who had done a runner from the Chinese restaurant without paying.

Tony Bramwell
Magical Mystery Tours

In the evening they enjoyed the Los Angeles nightlife, visiting restaurants and clubs.

That night, after another dip in the warm silky water of the swimming pool, we dressed in our new gear, put the psychedelic glasses on, and swanned off in a limo with tinted windows, ten miles long. This was the sixties and in the accepted parameters of cool, we were the coolest of the cool...

As the news that Paul was in town spread like wildfire, the girls began to appear in their droves again. Our first stop was Romanoff's, Frank Sinatra's favourite restaurant, run by a sort of Russian prince. Then we were off clubbing. The Factory was next on the agenda. Located in the middle of a large industrial warehouse, the members were mostly Hollywood elite, people like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Paul Wasserman, 'Wasso,' the top Hollywood press agent, sat with us, greeting and introducing, pointing names out. Sammy Davis Jr was there and came over to our table for a chat.

'Hi, Paul, how're you doing, man? Glad to see ya.' I was fascinated by the amount of gold jewelry this very short man could drape on his wiry little body and still dance. Ringo would have been impressed. Ringo loved gold, loved to dance, and he was good at it, too. Meanwhile, models and starlets were throwing themselves at us. If they couldn't grab Paul's attention, then Ron, Ivan or myself would do. The Scotch and Cokes didn't stop flowing until the early hours, all of us on such a natural high that we didn't feel any ill effects. We tipped out of the club, still accompanied by Wasso and several girls. I think I ended up with an air-hostess, but it was hard to tell. Dozens of girls were mobbing around and came back to the hotel with us. Traveling back down Sunset Strip to the hotel with a carload of girls, Wasso took great delight in bumping our car from behind with his equally gigantic Cadillac before he overtook us, waved, and roared off home.

Tony Bramwell
Magical Mystery Tours