Little Bits of History

The Beatles

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2015
The Beatles

The Beatles

November 22, 1968: The Beatles release The Beatles. The double album was released in a sleeve which was white and contained only the name of the band/title embossed on the front cover. They were also numbered. Because of the appearance of the album, it is also called the White Album. Their prior album cover had been vividly (possibly garishly) colored in 1967 when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band debuted. Most of the songs on The Beatles were written in March and April of 1968 and it was recorded between May 30 and October 14 of that year. No singles were released from the double album set but it reached the number one slot in both their homeland and in the US. At the time of its release, it was met with mixed reviews and cited as being non-responsive to the turbulent issues of the late 1960s.

Most of the songs included were written during the men’s stay in India. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh had hosted The Beatles for a Transcendental Meditation course which included long periods of meditation and self-reflection. While the trip was conceived as an escape from the troubles of the world, instead John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both revitalized and resumed their songwriting, often in met in secret to share what they had accomplished separately. While Sgt. Pepper was written in an LSD fog, the men took no hard drugs with them to India. All they had at their disposal was some marijuana. Their cleared minds have been said to allow them to reconnect with their music and Lennon stated he thought he wrote some of his best songs while on retreat.

The album included work from four increasingly independent artists rather from a group effort. The men were becoming more differentiated and more at odds with each other. Some of the recordings do not even include all four members of the band working together. They sometimes worked in different studios using different engineers and then combining sounds. The animosity between the band and managers, editors, engineers, and others became intense and caused disruptions during much of the recording. Things got so intense, Ringo Starr left and had to be begged to return. Of the 30 tracks included, only 16 have all four band members included.

The Beatles was released on this date in Britain and three days later in the US. It was originally to be called A Doll’s House, but the title was scrapped after another British band released Music in a Doll’s House earlier in the year. It was the first album by the band to be released by Apple Records and the only original double album. There was much contention around the double album itself with many, including the producer, feeling it should have been a single album. The cover design was by Richard Hamilton with input from McCartney. In 2008, an original pressing of the album cover with serial number 0000005 sold for £19,201 on eBay.

When you think about rock at its origin, and you think of the Beatles and millions of kids screaming as loud as they can and running as fast as they can towards the Beatles, there’s no one who is that kind of lightning rod, who commands that kind of power and has that kind of creative magma. – Jack Black

My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. – Steve Jobs

The Beatles’ story is all of our stories. It is about how the youth culture emerged, the drug culture emerged, how politics rose to the fore as a universal debate. It’s about rebellion, it’s about the growth of the British entertainment system, the growth of the rock n’ roll entertainment system. – Bob Spitz

You’re not a baby boomer if you don’t have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles breakup, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate. – P. J. O’Rourke

Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.
Humane – In 1954, the Humane Society was founded.

Abbey Road

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 8, 2014
Abbey Road cover

Abbey Road cover

August 8, 1969: Iain Macmillan takes some pictures. Iain was born in 1938 in Dundee, Scotland. He moved to London in 1958 to study Photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic. His first job after completing his studies was as a cruise photographer. He returned to Scotland and began to photograph street scenes. Both The Sunday Times and the Illustrated London News commissioned work from him in the early 1960s. He went on to create a book entitled The Book of London (1966). In this book, a picture of Yoko Ono appeared. On page 181, she and three others appeared in a picture called the “Handkerchief Piece” where all of them were wearing the cloths over their mouths. She went on to commission him to photograph her exhibit at the Indica Gallery in St. James’s, London.

On November 9, 1966 John Lennon met Yoko One at the Gallery and she later introduced him to Iain. In 1969, Lennon invited the photographer to shoot some pictures for an upcoming album cover. The Beatles had recorded most of their music at the EMI Studios on Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood, London. They agreed to meet outside the studio around 11:30 AM on this day. Paul McCartney had given the photographer an idea of what was wanted. The four men would cross the street. In the background was an abandoned Volkswagen Beetle which had been left there while the owner was on holiday. Iain stood on a stepladder placed in the middle of the road while a policeman blocked traffic. He took six pictures.

In the first picture, John was in the lead and followed by Ringo Starr, Paul, and George Harrison. They would remain in this order for all six pictures. In this first picture, they were heading from left to right. They turned around and walked back, from right to left. In this picture, the spacing was good, but only John had a full step. In the third picture, they were again left to right but there was a traffic jam; Paul lost the sandals he had worn in the first two pictures and was barefoot. The fourth photo was again right to left and John was the only one not in mid step. The fifth photo, they are in perfect step going from left to right. It is the only picture in which Paul was smoking. It was the one chosen for the cover of the album. The sixth picture was again out of step.

After getting these six pictures, Iain went to photograph a road sign for the back cover. He found the sign he was looking for on the corner of Alexandra Road. While taking a picture, a girl in a blue dress walked past, photo bombing it. Although upset at the time, it was the picture chosen for the back of the cover. Before the album was released, John had unofficially quit the group. Paul left, officially, the next year. Iain went on to work with Yoko and John on several more projects. He continued to work with photography and in 1993 was back at the same street taking a picture of Paul and an Old English Sheepdog which was used as the cover on McCartney’s album, Paul is Live. Iain died in 2006 from lung cancer.

Abbey Road was like a freak. It was an effort trying to produce something that we used to produce, because it was already disintegrating on the White Album because there was so much material. – John Lennon

The second side of Abbey Road is incredible! The White Album, ninety-nine percent of it is very good. If I had Desert Island Discs, I’d take the White one or Abbey Road, I think. I like the boys playing together, you know. I like a group. – Ringo Starr

I don’t like people explaining albums. The only way you can explain it is to hear it. You can’t really use words about music, otherwise we’d do a talking album. The album is the explanation, and it’s up to you to make sure what you want of it. There is no theme to Abbey Road. – Paul McCartney

It all fits together, but it’s a bit like it’s something else. It doesn’t feel like it’s us. We spent hours doing it, but I still don’t see it like us. It’s more like somebody else. It’s a very good album. – George Harrison

Also on this day: Great Train Robbery – Another One – In 1963, another train is robbed.
Around the World – In 1929, the first Zeppelin began a trip around the world.
Inhumanity – In 1938, construction began on Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
High Up – In 1786, Mont Blanc was first climbed.

Toast of the Town

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 9, 2013
Ed Sullivan

Ed Sullivan

February 9, 1964: The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr were a rock and roll band out of Liverpool, England. They were major players in the British Invasion, as the media termed the influx of UK musicians entertaining the eager listeners spread across the US. Dusty Springfield was one of the first to cross the ocean to amuse American teens. Many solo artists and bands crossed the Atlantic and conquered the US musical landscape.

The Ed Sullivan Show aired on Sunday evenings. The variety show brought both new and time-tested acts into America’s living rooms from June 20, 1948 until June 6, 1971. The hour long program also had recurring characters such as Topo Gigio – a little Italian mouse. Even though Ed began his show during a time of segregation, he freely opened the venue to African-American entertainers. Some southern-based sponsors suggested he rethink his scheduling plans. Viewers were treated to a panoply of black entertainers such as Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, and The Jackson 5.

Edward Vincent Sullivan was born in New York City in 1901. His first career was in boxing and he then moved to writing about sports for a newspaper. He next moved into a spot vacated by Walter Winchell and wrote theater reviews as well as local gossip items. Sullivan began doing spots on radio and with that position became a star maker. In 1948, he was offered a chance to do his show on television. Originally called Toast of the Town, the show became a CBS hit. Sullivan himself had little acting ability and his stone-faced, deadpan delivery was often ridiculed.

The most frequent guests on the show were a Canadian comedy duo, Wayne and Shuster, who made 67 appearances. When music groups performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, they were required to perform live rather than the usual lip-syncing of their recordings. Sullivan refused to host Elvis Presley in early 1956. Ed regretted being scooped even though Elvis eventually did perform on the show. The next really big thing was going to be Ed’s scoop. So he hosted The Beatles and more than 73 million Americans (about half the population) tuned in to watch the Fab Four perform five numbers – live.

“Ed Sullivan will be around as long as someone else has talent.” – Fred Allen

“These are women who, when I was growing up, made a difference for me, … The first time I saw Diana Ross and the Supremes on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ it changed my life.” – Oprah Winfrey

“See, I was nine years old when I saw Elvis on ‘Ed Sullivan’, and I had to get a guitar the next day. I stood in front of my mirror with that guitar on. . . and I knew then that’s what had been missing.” – Bruce Springsteen

“The most important thing [during the first ten years of the program] is that we’ve put on everything but bigotry. When the show first started in ’48, I had a meeting with the sponsors. There were some Southern dealers present and they asked if I intended to put on Negroes. I said yes. They said I shouldn’t, but I convinced them I wasn’t going to change my mind. And you know something? We’ve gone over very well in the South. Never had a bit of trouble.” – Ed Sullivan

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Wayne and Shuster (You Tube’s page for them) were from Canada. Johnny Wayne (1918 – 1990) and Frank Shuster (1916 – 2002) were a comedy team who worked from the 1940s through the 1980s. They met in high school and both studied at the University of Toronto. They made their radio debut in 1941 and were so popular they were given their own comedy show. They enlisted in the Canadian army and entertained troops in Europe during the war. They also performed for troops in the Korean War. They were offered permanent American residency, but they refused preferring to remain living in Toronto. Their act combined “literate” comedy and slapstick and often used Shakespeare as a starting point for their sketches.

Also on this day: Time Savers – In 1942, Daylight Savings Time went into effect.
Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Hail – In  1870, the US Weather Bureau was created.
Sports Enthusiast – In 1895, Mintonette was invented.

Day Tripper

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2012

August 29, 1966: The Beatles give their last paid full concert. The performance was held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. They performed eleven songs in front of an appreciative audience. A rough recording of the concert was not released, however much of the audio has found its way online. The audio cuts out during the last few minutes, leaving “Long Tall Sally” a little short. Film of the concert was taken by a 15-year-old in attendance and has been seen in a documentary called The Unseen Beatles. Other official footage from news teams from San Francisco and Sacramento are also included.

The Beatles were a British rock band made up of four people. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) became one of the most popular rock bands in history. The band was formed with five members early on and through shifting personnel changes, came to us in America as the Fab Four and led the second British Invasion. They began to gain popularity in 1962 with the release in the UK of their first single, “Love Me Do”. By the time they got to the US shores in 1964, Beatlemania was an international phenomenon.

The Beatles are the best-selling band in history with record sales of over 1 billion units. They also hold the record for #1 album spots in the UK and have held that spot for the longest time. They have won numerous awards both during their tenure and after their breakup in 1970. They were listed as the #1 artists in Billboard’s 2008 listing. As a group, they were listed as one of the top 100 most influential people of the last century. John was murdered in 1980 and George died in 2001. Paul continues to perform and is one of the wealthiest people in England. Ringo also continues to perform, both musically and as an actor.

Candlestick Park is in the Bayview Heights area of San Francisco. Ground breaking took place on August 12, 1958 and the stadium opened two years later. Construction costs ran to $15 million ($111 million in today’s dollars). The name has changed over time and now is once again back to being Candlestick Park. It is the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers, a National Football League team. It has also been home to the San Francisco Giants, a Major League Baseball team and for one year (1961) was home to the Oakland Raiders, another NFL team. Owned and operated by the city and county, it seats 69,732 fans today.

Gene Autry was the most. It may sound like a joke – Go and have a look in my bedroom, It’s covered with Gene Autry posters. He was my first musical influence. – Ringo Starr

I wanted to be successful, not famous. – George Harrison

Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard. – Paul McCartney

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace. – John Lennon

Also on this day:

Have You Hugged Your Hog Today? – In 1885, Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler patents the motorcycle.
Last Man Standing – In 1911, Ishi was found.
The Ashes – In 1882, The Ashes rivalry begins.

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The Beatles

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 2, 2010

Album cover

March 2, 1963: The Beatles release their first album, Please Please Me, in the UK. The Beatles were a four-member British band comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey a.k.a. Ringo Starr. They were a pop music group and the leaders of the British Invasion of the 1960s. This first album was followed by eleven more studio albums, special albums released in the US, as well as a few movies.

The Beatles have had over forty number one singles, albums, or extended play recordings. It is estimated that by 1985, this group had sold over one billion records worldwide.

By February of 1958, the three guitarists, John, Paul, and George, were playing in a band together with other members weaving in and out of the group. In August of 1962, the band finally added Ringo Starr as their drummer after firing Pete Best.

The Beatles made their US debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Nearly 40% of the US population tuned in. The week of April 4, 1964 was a different sort of record. The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 list, an unbroken record to this day.

Due to creative differences, the pressures of fame, the loss of their business manager to a drug overdose, and personality clashes, the group finally dissolved in 1970. Each member of the Fab Four followed the split with private careers. Lennon was assassinated on December 8, 1980. Harrison died of cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr continue to record music.

“The Beatles exist apart from my Self. I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.” – George Harrison

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” – John Lennon

“We didn’t all get into music for a job! We got into music to avoid a job, in truth – and get lots of girls.” – Paul McCartney

“So this is America. They must be out of their minds.” – Ringo Starr circa 1964, arriving in America for the first time.

Also on this day, in 1925 the US numbered highway system got its start.

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