Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 18, 1969

Rock Of All Ages was recorded on this day. McCartney co-produced the song with Mal Evans, and helped write it, although the latter gesture went uncredited. McCartney assisted in a number of sessions for Badfinger's album Magic Christian Music in 1968 and 1969, producing several songs and writing Come And Get It.

During the session McCartney played piano and sang a guide vocal alongside Badfinger's Tom Evans, which was later replaced by a second vocal part by Evans.

Two stereo mixes of Rock Of All Ages were released. The single version had McCartney's piano in the right channel, while the album version had it centred. The latter version of the song also faded 10 seconds earlier.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 17, 1969

Nothing much happening today.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 16, 1969

Today Maclen (Music) Limited began legal proceedings against Northern Songs, the company founded by music publisher Dick James, Brian Epstein, John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963 to publish Lennon-McCartney songs.

This legal notice was to request a re-audit of royalty statements from February 11, 1965 onwards. (Northern Songs was in the process of being sold). Maclen had been set up to publish Lennon and McCartney's songs in the US.

Company audits were Allen Klein's speciality, and he almost always managed to uncover misdeeds leading to compensation for his star clients. It was just one of many tough negotiations Klein entered into on The Beatles' behalf in 1969.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 15, 1969

Today John and Yoko gave an interview after returning from the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival. This was to a camera crew from ITV News and took place at Apple Corps in London. The following day it was brodcasted in the UK. It focused on the debut performance by the Plastic Ono Band in Toronto.

Lennon spoke about assembling the band quickly, and how rock musicians were eager to jam with one another whenever possible rather than being confined within bands. Asked whether it marked the beginning of a solo career, he said he would play it by ear.

The reporter asked the couple to define their "howling" sound. Ono described it as "an expression that's not so intellectualised as words", while Lennon said it was simply "pure sound". They then gave a vocal demonstration.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 14, 1969

After the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival, the Plastic Ono Band were taken to the private estate owned by wealthy Canadian businessman John David Eaton where they stayed for two nights. The day after the concert, they relaxed and toured the estate grounds in golf carts.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 13, 1969

The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival was a one-day festival held at the Varsity Stadium of Toronto University. The 20,000 ticket holders were unaware that Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band were to perform until the festival was underway.

However - John Lennon woke up regretting that he agreed to perform that evening. Eric Clapton, however, was eager to play, and convinced Lennon that it was too late to back out.

The festival was headlined by The Doors, and also featured Bo Diddley, Chicago Transit Authority, Tony Joe White, Alice Cooper, Jerry-Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys, Gene Vincent, Junior Walker & The All-Stars, Little Richard, Doug Kershaw, Screaming Lord Sutch, Nucleus, Milkwood, Tony Joe White, and Whiskey Howl.

Alice Cooper's group was the backing band for Gene Vincent, while local act Nucleus provided support for Chuck Berry. The Doors closed the festival. At approximately 10pm the Plastic Ono Band's black limousine arrived in the backstage area, while Cat Mother was onstage. The group was accompanied by festival promotor John Brower, and the car was escorted by 80 motorcycles from the Toronto Vagabonds.

As they arrived photographers scrambled to get a glimpse of the car. Police escorted the Lennons towards the musicians' dressing room, where they remained until midnight.

John just stood in the dressing room, which was admittedly rather tatty, beforehand saying, 'What am I doing here? I could have gone to Brighton!' After all, it was a long way to go for just one concert. He did a really great thing. He had all the lights in the stadium turned right down and then asked everyone to strike a match. It was a really unbelievable sight when thousands of little flickering lights suddenly shone all over the huge arena. Lennon later admitted he was addicted to heroin at the time of the performance.

Said John "We were full of junk too. I just threw up for hours till I went on. I nearly threw up in Cold Turkey – I had a review in Rolling Stone about the film of it – which I haven't seen yet, and they're saying, 'I was this and that.' And I was throwing up nearly in the number. I could hardly sing any of them, I was full of shit. "


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 12, 1969

Was today that John Lennon decided to leave the Beatles? First today, Live music promotor John Brower telephoned the Apple office and spoke to John inviting him and Yoko Ono to the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival taking place the following day. He offered eight first class tickets for the couple and their friends. At the time sales for the festival were slow, and he needed some high profile guests to boost its appeal. To his surprise, Lennon agreed on the condition that he could perform at the event. An astonished Brower accepted without hesitation.

Since The Beatles hadn't performed in a live concert since August 1966, and there was little enthusiasm within the group for a return to the stage, Lennon had to swiftly assemble a new group.

Lennon called Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and Alan White, each of whom agreed to fly to Canada the next day. Clapton wasn't Lennon's first choice as guitarist, however.

When the Plastic Ono Band went to Toronto in September John actually asked me to be in the band, but I didn't do it. I didn't really want to be in an avant-garde band, and I knew that was what it was going to be.

He said he'd get Klaus Voormann, and Alan White as the drummer. During the last few years of The Beatles we were all producing other records anyway, so we had a nucleus of friends in the studios: drummers and bass players and other musicians. So it was relatively simple to knock together a band. He asked me if I'd play guitar, and then he got Eric Clapton to go – they just rehearsed on the plane over there.

Brower arranged their visas and immigration papers, and Mal Evans was instructed to sort out the musical equipment for the new group's debut performance.

John said that it was very, very quick. "We didn't have a band then – we didn't even have a group that had played with us for more than half a minute. I called Eric and I got Klaus, and we got Alan White and they said, 'OK.' There was no big palaver – it wasn't like this set-format show that I'd been doing with The Beatles where you go on and do the same numbers – I Want To Hold Your Head – and the show lasts twenty minutes and nobody's listening, they're just screaming and the amps are as big as a peanut and it's more a spectacular rather than rock'n'roll."

The event was not just the live debut for the Plastic Ono Band; it also marked the point at which Lennon decided to leave The Beatles.

"We were in Apple and I knew before I went to Toronto, I told Allen [Klein] I was leaving. I told Eric Clapton and Klaus that I was leaving and I'd like to probably use them as a group. I hadn't decided how to do it, to have a permanent new group or what. And then later on I thought, 'Fuck it, I'm not going to get stuck with another set of people, whoever they are.' So I announced it to myself and to the people around me on the way to Toronto the few days before. On the plane Allen came with me, and I told him, 'It's over.'"


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 11, 1969

The Beatles' final recorded album, Abbey Road is completed and waiting for release. Now the Beatles turned to other projects.

What's The New Mary Jane had been recorded during the sessions for the White Album, but was left off at the last minute. Today, however, John Lennon oversaw the creation of new stereo mixes.

Three mixes were made, each of which ended with Lennon's closing comments: "Let's hear it, before we get taken away!" The session lasted from 2.30-5.30pm, at the end of which the mixes were copied onto a separate tape reel which were taken back to Apple by Malcolm Davies.

Lennon was considering releasing the song as a Plastic Ono Band single, although the song remained unreleased until 1996's Anthology 3. This day's mixes were never used, however, as further overdubs were added on 26 November 1969.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 10, 1969

Two films by John and Yoko were premiered today at the New Cinema Club at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The names of the films were Self-Portrait and John & Yoko's Honeymoon.

Mr & Mrs Lennon's Honeymoon was a documentary about the couple's honeymoon bed-in for peace in Amsterdam. Directed by Peter Goessens, it was filmed in colour and lasted 40 minutes. It begins with scenes from the city intercut with Lennon and Ono singing "Hair peace, bed peace", followed by scenes of the couple sleeping and reading newspapers. The second half contains interviews and footage of Lennon talking into the camera.

The event was billed with the words: "John and Yoko's evening of film events will end towards midnight. It will happen once. It will be what they want it to be." Two people sat in a white bag beneath the screen at the ICA throughout the evening, leading many to believe the couple was actually present.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: September 9, 1969

It's been a quiet week so far.......