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REBUILDING ON THE BEATLES, AN ASHRAM IN INDIA HOPES FOR REVIVAL

By Posted on 0 9

In 1968, The Beatles and a crew of hangers-on traded hip London threads for kurtas and wreaths of marigold, trudging through dense forest to an ashram in Rishikesh, India, where they spent weeks writing songs.

There was George, a devoted follower of Transcendental Meditation; John and Paul, who had started to feud over the band’s direction; and Ringo, who was so perturbed by India’s famously spicy food that he packed a reserve of beans for his stay at the ashram. He lasted 10 days.

“Scan all the photographs of Ringo in Rishikesh, and you’ll find few in which he’s smiling,” said Raju Gusain, a local journalist who has become something of an expert on the band’s trip to India. These days, the forest has swallowed up the ashram’s crumbling buildings, obscuring traces of celebrity from their halls. But the complex is set for a revival, with renovations planned for many of the structures, long unused and only recently reopened to the public.

A new museum on the grounds will showcase the legacy of The Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the late guru whom band members abruptly fell out with toward the end of their stay in Rishikesh. Across the world in Liverpool, England, The Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the band, is opening an exhibit next month to mark 50 years since their trip to India.

Over the years, as more spiritual seekers from the West traveled to India looking for enlightenment, Rishikesh ballooned in size. But when The Beatles arrived, the place was a sleepy town straddling the banks of the Ganges.

Bob Spitz, a biographer, characterized the trip as a spectacularly creative time for the band, and as an escape from the “rat’s nest of fame” that consumed their lives in London.With noise from the big city far behind them, Mr. Lennon and Mr. McCartney wrote many of the songs that would later appear on the album “The Beatles” (the White Album), including “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence.” Of note, Mr. Spitz said, was a brief thaw in the deteriorating relationship between the men.

“The pressure of being The Beatles had driven a wedge between them individually and that had all percolated in the months leading up to their visit to Rishikesh,” he said. “Once they got there, and they unburdened themselves from all of that, they reconnected with their songwriting and their creativity. It just flowed forth.”

A few months before the trip, George Harrison, who had discovered the sitar and Hinduism, brokered a meeting in England between the band and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the progenitor of Transcendental Meditation, which involves sitting and repeating a mantra silently.

Eventually, the rest of the band agreed to a trip in February 1968 to visit the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh, recruiting their wives, girlfriends and an entourage that included Mia Farrow, Donovan and Mike Love of The Beach Boys, among many others. The band, Mr. Harrison said, was “looking to reestablish that which was within.”

Though most days at the ashram were spent engaged in simple pursuits like meditating and writing, the grounds were not exactly spartan. The Maharishi’s cliffside bungalow, where the band would gather for lectures (and the occasional argument) had a nearby helicopter pad, and living quarters were equipped with electric fireplaces.

In the evenings, the group would sometimes break the ashram’s no-alcohol rule with “a glass of hooch” smuggled in from a nearby town, Cynthia Lennon,wrote in her memoir. “Giggling like naughty schoolchildren, we’d pass the bottle around, each taking a swig, then contorting as it scorched its way down our throats,” she said.

Today, many of the original buildings have been demolished, but a few unmarked structures from 1968 still stand, said Anand Srivastava, the Maharishi’s nephew, who had helped manage the ashram for many years. These buildings include the post office where John waited for letters from Yoko Ono and the Maharishi’s crypt-like sleeping quarters, now inhabited by bats. A set of 84 blackened meditation caves also survived. The ashram remained operational for many decades after the band left, housing dozens of straight-backed sadhus, or holy men, in small domed huts. But in the early 2000s, the land was taken over by the Indian government, leading to its abandonment, except for wandering leopards and elephants from a nearby nature reserve. In 2008, the Maharishi, who had moved to Europe, died.

By the time the ashram was reopened to the public in 2015, part of a campaign to draw tourists to the area, most of the buildings had been vandalized by young lovers, who had hobbled over broken security walls to scrawl sweet nothings, and the occasional phallus, on the mildewed walls of remaining structures.

An industrial, open-air building nicknamed “The Beatles Cathedral Gallery” was also co-opted by an artist’s collective and filled with hundreds of quotes from the band’s songs.

Tourist numbers are still low, with around 13,000 people, mostly Indians, visiting the ashram last year. But Macarena Arraez, 30, from Spain, brightened when asked about the planned renovations, saying the ashram had great potential for raves and fashion photo shoots. Relaxing outside the meditation caves, Ms. Arraez had spent part of the morning meditating, and the experience had left her overwhelmed. “I was looking for the most spiritual place in the world and that’s what I found,” she said.

Down below the ashram, yoga institutes have mushroomed along the Ganges, where visitors from across the world thumb through books by Osho, smear vermilion on their foreheads and shop for chunks of crystal.

A gluten-free cafe devoted to The Beatles’ music, which overlooks a slab of hills blanketed with mist, also draws steady business. But longtime Indian visitors said the Rishikesh that existed around the time The Beatles arrived and the one today are hard to reconcile.

Bhuvneshwari Makharia, from Mumbai, who has visited Rishikesh for years, said the rigor of the ashrams and yoga programs have been gradually diluted to meet the expectations of foreigners looking for a quick cosmic fix.

“If they come, they should come for our culture, not for it to be westernized,” she said. “We are designing ourselves as per their demands.” For The Beatles, the connection to Rishikesh puttered out. By April 1968, only two band members, George and John, were still at the ashram.

A few weeks before they were set to depart, Magic Alex, one of the band’s business associates, spread rumors that the Maharishi had made sexual advances toward a female student, warning them of “black magic” if they stayed at the ashram. The band members abruptly packed their bags and left the “madman’s camp,” Mr. Lennon said. “We sort of feel that Maharishi for us was a mistake, really,” he told an interviewer. “We thought he was something other than he was. Paul added, “There were we, waiting for someone, the great magic man to come.”

In an interview, Mr. Srivastava, the Maharishi’s nephew, denied that his uncle had made any sexual passes, describing him as warm, humble and fiercely committed to his work.

After the band left Rishikesh, different impressions of their time there also surfaced, with George saying there were “a lot of flakes” at the ashram, including members of the band, and Cynthia Lennon questioning the truth of the rumors and the motives of Magic Alex, “whom I had never once seen meditating.” “I hated leaving on a note of discord and mistrust, when we had enjoyed so much kindness and good will from the Maharishi and his followers,” she wrote in her memoir.

But John was less convinced at the time, writing his last song in India, “Sexy Sadie,” originally titled “Maharishi,” as a thorny tribute to the guru and the chapter of his life he was leaving behind.

“Sexy Sadie, you’ll get yours yet

however big you think you are”

source:nytimes


NEW EXHIBITION PRESENTING RINGO´S PHOTOGRAPHS

By Posted on 0 22
New Exhibition Presenting Ringo Starr's Photographs

This spring marks five years since the publication of PHOTOGRAPH by Ringo Starr, the fastest-selling book Genesis has published, and the PHOTOGRAPH Portfolio 2013. The Portfolio introduced Ringo’s photographs as a series of museum-quality prints that were exhibited worldwide from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Now, Genesis is opening its doors to present the entire collection in full, marking the official unveiling of the PHOTOGRAPH Portfolio 2018. Visitors will see the prints displayed together for the first time, and be able to acquire rarities from previous years, as well as discovering Ringo’s latest photography. Only one or two copy numbers remain available from Ringo’s early editions, offering a last chance to obtain highly collectible artworks.

This show will open at Genesis House in February 2018.The exhibit will be open to view by appointment, weekdays from Monday February 5th onwards.

 

You can order from the PHOTOGRAPH …   H E R E .

 

 

 

STATUE OF PAUL INSTALLED IN CUBAN RESTAURANT

By Posted on 0 25

The statue has been set up at a restaurant where Paul ate 18 years ago in the restaurant El Morro, on the outskirts of the popular tourist attraction of Santiago; where Paul had lunch on January 14, 2000 with his two eldest sons, apparently attracted by the privileged view of the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Maestra, and it has been especially designed to attract photo-conscious tourists by artist Mariano Frómeta Stivens,  son of sculptor Luis Mariano Frómeta.

Paul is represented full-bodied and seated at the very same table where he sat with his two sons.  The restaurant has preserved the furniture and tableware used by McCartney, along with a napkin signed by him.  A metal replica of the napkin is screwed to the table.
The napkin reads:  “Gracias! Paul McCartney, muy bueno 14/1/00″
No details available on the funding for this monumental piece.


 

SGT.PEPPER´S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND ALBUM IS TO GO INTO THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORD

By Posted on 0 6

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is to go into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest gap between stints at No. 1 in the UK.

The LP first topped the bestsellers in the group’s home country on the chart dated 10 June 1967, when it began an unbroken run of 23 weeks at the summit. It had four further, non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 from November 1967 to February 1968. Its last appearance in the top ten in its first iteration came in March that year, some nine months after its release; a 20th anniversary reissue in 1987 took the album back to No. 3 in the UK.

Reissued to mark its 50th anniversary last year in deluxe CD and vinyl editions, Sgt. Pepper returned to No. 1 on the Official Charts Company’s survey dated the week of 8 June 2017, a total of 49 years and 363 days since it first hit the top. By another method of measuring the longevity, the time between its last week at No. 1 in its original run, 3 February 1968, and the recent reissue is 49 years and 125 days.

By either measurement, the achievement comfortably outdoes the Rolling Stones’ feat in returning to No. 1 in the UK with a deluxe reissue of Exile On Main St. That album debuted at the top of the bestsellers on 10 June 1972 and return there in deluxe formats on 29 May 2010, representing a gap of 37 years and 353 days.

Sgt. Pepper returned to the summit in its 255th week in the UK top 100, a total that currently stands at 271 weeks, of which 49 have been in the top ten, 64 in the top 20 and 114 in the top 40. The album has sold 5. 1 million copies in the UK, according to the Official Charts Company, which makes it the biggest-selling studio album in UK chart history and third overall, behind Queen’s Greatest Hits and ABBA’s Gold compilations.

source:udiscovermusic

LENNON’S BANJO AT EPSTEIN THEATRE LIVERPOOL

By Posted on 0 18

Pete Best will also make a special appearance for three performances during run

A further three actors have been confirmed to join the cast of Lennon’s Banjo, which makes its world stage premiere at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre in April. Mark Moraghan, Stephanie Dooley and Alan Stocks join fellow actors Eric Potts, Jake Abraham, Lynn Francis and Roy Carruthers in a comedy play that is already making headlines around the world. The cast includes former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best, who will play himself during three special performances of the show’s two-week run. Produced by Pulse Records Ltd in association with Bill Elms, Lennon’s Banjo opens at the Epstein Theatre on Tuesday 24 April, continuing through until Saturday 5 May.

Lennon’s Banjo is written by Rob Fennah, who will also co-produce the show.The show is about a quest to find the holy grail of pop memorabilia – the first instrument John Lennon learned to play, which has been missing for 60 years and is now worth millions to whoever finds it. Set in present day Liverpool, Lennon’s Banjo is based on the 2012 novel Julia’s Banjo written by Rob Fennah and Helen A Jones. The production will be directed by Mark Heller.

Pete Best was The Beatles’ drummer between 1960 and 1962, playing more than 1,000 live performances including nightclubs and dance halls in both Liverpool and Hamburg. He recorded 27 songs as a Beatle, and he also played The Beatles’ very first show in Liverpool at the Casbah Coffee Club. The ex-Beatle will appear as himself in Lennon’s Banjo in three performances – the 2.30pm and 7.30pm shows on Wednesday 25 April, and the 7.30pm show on Saturday 5 May.

It was John Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, who introduced him to the world of pop music, teaching him to play rock and roll on a banjo, given to her by John’s grandfather. Lennon often recounted how he would sneak off to visit his mum, who lived only a few miles away. There, he would learn to play songs like ‘That’ll Be The Day’. He has been quoted as saying: “Mum would sit there with endless patience until I managed to work out all the chords.”

On 9 October 1957, a young John Lennon turned 17. It was the last birthday he would spend with his mother, Julia, who was killed the following summer in a road traffic accident. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Julia’s death and the banjo’s disappearance. Mysteriously, the banjo went missing shortly after Julia’s death and no-one has set eyes on it since. One thing is certain though, if it did resurface it is estimated to be worth in the region of five million pounds.

Co-Producer Bill Elms commented: “We are very excited to announce a further three cast members to join the already strong line-up. Together, the cast along with special guest appearances from former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best, is going to make Lennon’s Banjo the show of 2018 you will not want to miss.” So where do the facts end and the fiction begin? Everything will be revealed in this intriguing, colourful and fast-paced comic caper.