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FIRST LOOK AT STRAWBERRY FIELD AS IT OPENS FOR FIRST TIME IN 70 YEARS

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The world-famous Strawberry Field will open to the public for the first time this weekend, from Saturday, September 14.

Immortalised by The Beatles in John Lennon’s song Strawberry Fields Forever, the site has been derelict for 70 years, but The Salvation Army has brought it back to life.

Now a visitor attraction, the site commemorates John Lennon’s link with Strawberry Field with an exhibition, cafe and peaceful gardens.

The original red gates, that have not been on site since 2010, are also now on display.

he site will be open every day and it’s free to see the original gates, visit the café and explore the grounds.

The interactive ‘Strawberry Fields Nothing is Real’ visitor exhibition costs £12.95 (£8.00 concessions).

Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and Honorary President of the Strawberry Field project, said:  “I’ve been really impressed by The Salvation Army’s vision and now there is huge potential to make a real change in the lives of young people who will grow in the precious soil of Strawberry Field.”

 

The new Strawberry Field site includes:

  • The original red gates that have not been on site since 2010.
  • An interactive visitor exhibition, ‘Strawberry Fields Nothing is Real’, where visitors can explore stories with help from characters including Elvis and John’s school friend Mike Hill.
  • A virtual Mellotron where visitors can recreate the famous opening chords from ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.
  • A community café stocked with local produce.
  • A  garden space
  • A gift shop

liverpoolecho


THE BEATLES’ STRAWBERRY FIELDS OPENS FOREVER

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Fans will no longer have to peer through the gates – the Salvation Army garden immortalised by John Lennon is opening for the first time, with an interactive exhibition

“Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields” urged John Lennon in 1967. Now, for the first time, everyone will be able to walk in his footsteps, when the gardens immortalised in the classic Beatles song are opened to the public on 14 September, alongside a new visitors’ centre, cafe and shop.

Housed in a sleek, modern, light-filled building, it is a stark contrast to the original Gothic mansion that stood there when Lennon was a young boy and would bunk over the wall to climb trees and play hide-and-seek in its garden. Built in 1878 for a shipping magnate in the wealthy Liverpool suburb of Woolton (the family of prime minister William Gladstone lived nearby, in another long-gone pile) it was bought by the Salvation Army in 1934 and turned into a children’s home.

Lennon lived round the corner with his Uncle George and Aunt Mimi, and as well as sneaking into the garden with friends, he loved the summer fete held at Strawberry Field (in the singular, Lennon added the “s”). His aunt once recalled: “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late!’”

Years later, Lennon took this nostalgic post-war memory of summer tea parties and brass bands and, through the prism of psychedelia and LSD, used it as the inspiration for one of the most groundbreaking songs of the 1960s. The Beatles spent a then unheard-of 55 hours of studio time on the record, creating what Time magazine called a song of “astonishing inventiveness”, adding, the band “have bridged the heretofore impassable gap between rock and classical, mixing elements of Bach, Oriental and electronic music with vintage twang to achieve the most compellingly original sounds ever heard in pop music.”

The old house was demolished six years after the song’s release, and replaced by a smaller children’s home, which closed for good in 2005. But the locked gates didn’t deter Beatles fans turning up to peek through at the overgrown Strawberry Field – the Liverpool tourist board estimated that about 60,000 visitors did so last year.

Owned and run by the Salvation Army, the attraction gives fans access to the last major missing piece in the Beatles jigsaw: the band has been so forensically analysed – with books chronicling every day of their existence and every note of music. Income generated from the exhibition will fund the charity’s Steps to Work programme, which helps young people with learning disabilities find employment through training, mentoring and work experience.

The interactive exhibition (adults £12.95, concessions £8, family of 3+2 £35) explores the history of both the Salvation Army and Lennon’s life, focusing on his childhood and the writing and recording of Strawberry Fields through archival footage, multimedia and interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin and Julia Baird, his younger half-sister and president of the project. The most fun feature is the virtual Mellotron that teaches visitors to play the song’s unmistakable opening notes. Another star attraction is the set of iconic wrought-iron red gates – or rather, both sets. The originals were stolen in 2000 but when the crime made the news the thieves realised what they had on their hands and dumped the gates at a local scrap metal merchant, who returned them the following day. Kept in storage ever since, they will now sit in a quiet corner of the garden, while the heavily-graffitied replicas – the site of a million selfies – will remain in place on the road at the former entrance.

The smart red-and-white cafe and landscaped gardens are free to enter, the latter designed to encourage meditation and spiritual reflection. The trees Lennon may once have climbed are still here, and in a clever touch, sections of the original mansion walls and steps (made from the same local red sandstone as Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral) are scattered around the garden, to be used as benches.

Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, 72, who is honorary president of the Strawberry Field project, said the grounds of the home had been a “sanctuary” for the musician as a youngster.She said: “I suppose as children we all have somewhere that’s a bit ours, a bit special. It might be a little hidey-hole under the stairs or it might be up an oak tree but it’s somewhere we take ourselves. It seems from the song that this was John’s special place.”“The first time I visited John in New York I was struck just how closely his gothic Dakota Apartment building resembled the old Strawberry Field mansion. Perhaps he was searching for another sanctuary.”

theguardian


THE 50 MOST VALUABLE VINYL RECORDS ON EARTH

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The mid-year 2019 report from the Recording Industry Association of America concluded that vinyl is on track to outsell CDs, with a 13% increase in sales compared to the previous year. Amidst the burgeoning vinyl boom, NobleOak, an Australian life insurance company, worked with Ian Shirley, the editor of Record Collector magazine’s Rare Record Price Guide, to determine the 50 most valuable vinyl records worldwide.

The Quarrymen, (Pre-Beatles) consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as well as pianist John Lowe and drummer Colin Hanton, topped the list. Their 1958 demo recording of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day,” and an original song penned by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, “In Spite of All the Danger,” is valued at $354,000. There is only one copy of the record in existence, which McCartney purchased from Lowe for an undisclosed sum back in 1981.

The Beatles make a number of appearances on the list:
01. The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day / In Spite Of All The Danger ($354,000)
02. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ($123,900)
07. The Beatles – The Beatles (White Album) ($17,700)
09. The Beatles – Yesterday And Today ($14,160)
12. The Beatles – Introducing The Beatles ($12,390)
13. The Beatles – Please Please Me ($10,620)
29. John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Unfinished Music No. 1. Two Virgins ($5,310)

Asked what makes a record collectible, Shirley explains that the key factors are “scarcity, condition and the desire of someone to own it.” Several of the records on the list were quickly pulled because of controversial cover art, making them highly sought-after for their rarity.

Other in-demand records range from “psychedelic single[s] from the ‘60s that no one was interested in at the time” to mint, unplayed copies of records that sold in the millions.

 

 


THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STATUE PROJECT

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The Brian Epstein Statue Project is being officially launched to create a lasting legacy to the man fondly known as the Fifth Beatle, Brian Epstein.

The statue will be revealed at the launch by the team behind the campaign on Thursday 19 September 2019 – which would have marked Brian Epstein’s 85th Birthday.

The Beatles’ former manager, Liverpool-born Brian Epstein, is credited with catapulting the Fab Four to global success. Yet there is no lasting tribute to recognise his role in history.
The Brian Epstein Statue Project team have wealth of experience and expertise across public art, publishing, theatre production, and the local Beatles industry. They are passionate that a lasting tribute symbol to Brian and all he achieved should be created and displayed in Liverpool.

Sculptor Andy Edwards is best known for his statues of The Beatles at Pier Head Liverpool. Andy has been commissioned to create a lasting legacy to Brian Epstein. He has produced a clay bust and maquette, which will be revealed at the launch.
There will be speeches from project manager, cultural campaigner and activist Tom Calderbank from The Brian Epstein Statue Project, and Sculptor Andy Edwards.


MARK LEWISOHN: “THE BEATLES HAD BEEN TALKING ABOUT THE PLAN TO MAKE ANOTHER ALBUM FOR CHRISTMAS”

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Mark Lewisohn knows the Fab Four, the expert’s tapes of their tense final meetings shed new light on Abbey Road – and inspired a new stage show

The Beatles weren’t a group much given to squabbling, says Mark Lewisohn, who probably knows more about them than they knew about themselves. But then he plays me the tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this month – on 8 September 1969 – containing a disagreement that sheds new light on their breakup.
They’ve wrapped up the recording of Abbey Road, which would turn out to be their last studio album, and are awaiting its release in two weeks’ time. Ringo Starr is in hospital, undergoing tests for an intestinal complaint. In his absence, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison convene at Apple’s HQ in Savile Row. John has brought a portable tape recorder. He puts it on the table, switches it on and says: “Ringo – you can’t be here, but this is so you can hear what we’re discussing.”
What they talk about is the plan to make another album – and perhaps a single for release in time for Christmas, a commercial strategy going back to the earliest days of Beatlemania. “It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn says. “The books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”

Lewisohn turns the tape back on, and we hear John suggesting that each of them should bring in songs as candidates for the single. He also proposes a new formula for assembling their next album: four songs apiece from Paul, George and himself, and two from Ringo – “If he wants them.” John refers to “the Lennon-and-McCartney myth”, clearly indicating that the authorship of their songs, hitherto presented to the public as a sacrosanct partnership, should at last be individually credited.
Then Paul – sounding, shall we say, relaxed – responds to the news that George now has equal standing as a composer with John and himself by muttering something mildly provocative. “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,” he says, which is a pretty double-edged compliment since the earlier compositions he’s implicitly disparaging include Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. There’s a nettled rejoinder from George: “That’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs.”
John reacts by telling Paul that nobody else in the group “dug” his Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, a song they’ve just recorded for Abbey Road, and that it might be a good idea if he gave songs of that kind – which, John suggests, he probably didn’t even dig himself – to outside artists in whom he had an interest, such as Mary Hopkin, the Welsh folk singer. “I recorded it,” a drowsy Paul says, “because I liked it.”

A mapping of the tensions that would lead to the dissolution of the most famous and influential pop group in history is part of Hornsey Road, a teasingly titled stage show in which Lewisohn uses tape, film, photographs, new audio mixes of the music and his own matchless fund of anecdotes and memorabilia to tell the story of Abbey Road, that final burst of collective invention.
The album is now so mythologised that the humdrum zebra crossing featured on its celebrated cover picture is now officially listed as site of special historic interest: “It’s a story of the people, the art, the people around them, the lives they were leading, and the break-up,” Lewisohn says. The show comes midway through his writing of The Beatles: All These Years, a magnum opus aiming to tell the whole story in its definitive version. The first volume, Tune In, was published six years ago, its mammoth 390,000-word narrative ending just before their first hit.
Constant demands to know when Turn On (covering 1963-66) and Drop Out (1967-69) might appear are met with a sigh: “I’m 61, and I’ve got 14 or 15 years left on these books. I’ll be in my mid-70s when I finish.” Time is of the essence, he adds, perhaps thinking of the late John Richardson’s uncompleted multi-volume Picasso biography. This two-hour show is a way of buying the time for him to dive back into the project.

For 30 years, Lewisohn has been the man to call when you needed to know what any of the Fab Four was doing on almost any day of their lives, and with whom they were doing it. His books include a history of their sessions at what were then known as the EMI Recording Studios in Abbey Road, and he worked on the vast Anthology project in the 90s.
The idea for a stage show was inspired by an invitation from a university in New Jersey to be the keynote speaker at a three-day symposium on the Beatles’ White Album, then celebrating its golden jubilee. His presentation, called Double Lives, juxtaposed the making of the album and the lives they were leading as individuals outside the studio. “It took several weeks to put together, and I thought, ‘This is mad – I should be doing this more than once to get more people to see it.’”

The next anniversary to present itself was that of Abbey Road, which took place during a crowded year in which Paul married Linda Eastman, John and Yoko went off on their bed-ins for peace, George’s marriage to Pattie Boyd was breaking up, and they were all involved in side projects. John had released Give Peace a Chance as the Plastic Ono Band and George had been spending time in Woodstock with Bob Dylan.

John also took Yoko and their two children, Kyoko and Julian, on a sentimental road trip to childhood haunts in Liverpool, Wales and the north of Scotland, ending when he drove their Austin Maxi into a ditch while trying to avoid another car. Brian Epstein, their manager, had died the previous year and the idealism that had fuelled the founding of their Apple company – “It’s like a top,” John said. “We set it going and hope for the best” – was starting to fray badly. Other business concerns – such as their song-publishing copyrights, which had been sold without their knowledge – led to a war between Allen Klein, the hard-boiled New York record industry veteran invited by John to sort it out, and John Eastman, Linda’s father, a top lawyer brought in by Paul to safeguard his interests.

Lewisohn has the minutes of another business meeting, this time at Olympic Studios, where the decision to ratify Klein’s appointment was approved by three votes to one (Paul), the first time the Beatles had not spoken with unanimity. “It was the crack in the Liberty Bell,” Paul said. “It never came back together after that one. Ringo and George just said, whatever John does, we’re going with. I was actually trying, in my mind, to save our future.”
And yet Lewisohn challenges the conventional wisdom that 1969 was the year in which they were at each other’s throats, storming out of the recording sessions filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for the verité-style movie Let It Be, and barely on speaking terms. During the making of Abbey Road, says Lewisohn, “they were in an almost entirely positive frame of mind. They had this uncanny ability to leave their problems at the studio door – not entirely, but almost.”
In fact, Abbey Road was not the only recording location for the album: earlier sessions were held at Olympic in Barnes and Trident in Soho. And Lewisohn’s creation is called Hornsey Road because that, in other circumstances, is what the album might have been titled, had EMI not abandoned its plans to turn a converted cinema in that rather grittier part of north London into its venue for pop recording.
The show, Lewisohn believes, is the first time an album has been treated to this format. “People will be able to listen with more layers and levels of understanding,” he says. “When you go to an art gallery, you hope that someone, an expert, will tell you what was happening when the artist painted a particular picture. With these songs, I’m going to show the stories behind them and the people who made them, and what they were going through at the time. Certainly, no one who sees this show will ever hear Abbey Road in the same way again.”

theguardian


THE ORIGINAL STRAWBERRY FIELD GATES ON MATHEW STREET

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The original Strawberry Field gates will be doing a tour of Liverpool before returning back to Strawberry Field where they will remain.

Photo: Mike McCartney

In 1967, Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane was released as a double A-side by The Beatles and ever since, the two separate locations in Liverpool have been immortalised.

Photo: Cavern Club Liverpool

On Penny Lane itself you will find the Penny Lane Development Trust, a hub for the local community and tourists alike. An incredible project with a fantastic gift shop, beautiful grounds and visitors from around the world or simply down the street.

Strawberry Field will open on Saturday 14th September to the public as it becomes a training centre for young adults with mild to moderate learning difficulties, a community centre, cafe and exhibition.