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LEGENDARY LABEL EXECUTIVE JOE SMITH DEAD AT 91

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Joe Smith, a former label boss with Warner Bros., Elektra and Capitol Records, has died at the age of 91.

He was head of Warners during the period of signing Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, the Doobie Brothers and others. Later, as head of Capitol, he wrote the 1988 book Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music, which featured interviews with Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel and others he was associated with. He also worked directly with first George Harrison and later Paul McCartney.

As a young jazz fan, Smith got his start in the music industry as a DJ before joining Warner Bros. in 1960 as a promotions executive. He became president 12 years later, before moving to sister company Elektra in 1975. He announced his retirement in 1983 but became boss of Capitol in 1987, before retiring for good in 1993.

“I’m so fortunate to have gotten out when I got out of it because there’s no fun anymore,” Smith told Variety in 2015. “We were there during a great time, and [then] it hit a wall. … I loved what I was doing, then it was time to hang it up. … The record business fell apart when you could get music for nothing.”

He recalled that the “best time was building Warner Bros. It was dumbfoundingly dull when we got there. … We bought Reprise, and Mo [Ostin] came aboard and the two of us had this magic run.”

Smith noted that the Grateful Dead were his “most important signing” because “we were changing from the Petula Clark-Frank Sinatra company to what was happening in music.”


PAUL MCCARTNEY EXPLAINS HOW HE IS A “PRETTY NORMAL” GRANDFATHER

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Paul McCartney has said he sometimes picks up his grandchildren from school, and that it is a “joy”.

Paul said that he is “pretty normal” when it comes to his relationship with his eight grandchildren despite his fame, and that they often go on holiday together.

Paul told Chris Evans on his Virgin Radio Breakfast Show that he is a “terrific” grandparent, adding: “You know, I love them and I love being a granddad.
“And we spend quite a good bit of time together. We don’t live near each other, but we go on holiday together, like Christmas. And in the summer we’ll see each other. And then sometimes me and (my wife) Nancy pick them up from school. So that’s nice.”

He said: “It’s great fun you know, because you don’t know how to do it like parenting. It’s ad lib, it’s the biggest ad lib. So when grand-parenthood comes around, it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do here?’ And so I say that joy is like picking them up at school and they love it.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s just us, I think it’s also the ice cream that’s got something to do with it! So you do all those things, you know, and you can play with them and stuff.

“And then as everyone always says there’s the hand-off factor. ‘He has just pooped his pants love, here. Over to you.’”

He said that he does what other “Grandudes do”, referring to his debut children’s picture book Hey Grandude! that was released earlier this year.

The singer-songwriter also told of a time he had his grandchildren in fits of giggles while reading them a “dirty” poem by EE Cummings.

He told Evans: “We’re out in America and they were staying with us. (Nancy) said, well, let’s have a sleepover. So four of them came over and I said, well, we’re going to do this.”

He said the children slept in their bedroom, and that “we’ve got mattresses on the floor with them and they’re all ready to go to bed”.
“I’m thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m going to keep up with my snoring anyway. I think I’ll read them a bedtime story.’

“So I’m just looking around. And of course I haven’t got many kids books, but I found a little poetry book, I think, ‘OK, this looks pretty good.’

“I just flicked through it quickly and it looked alright on the page. Like a little interesting, amusing poem. So I started to read it to them and it got dirty.”

He said that the children “loved it”.

“It’s a famous poem (by) EE Cummings. So you get the idea… it’s like, can I touch? Said he. How much? Said she. It goes on like that, what’s too far? Where you are?

“Yes, the kids are giggling away, and I’m looking, thinking, ‘God I really got myself into a corner. How I’m going to get out of this?!’”

Sir Paul has four grandchildren from his daughter Stella – Miller, Bailey, Beckett and Reiley, who are between the ages of nine and 14.

He has four grandchildren from his daughter Mary between the ages of eight and 20 – Arthur, Elliot, Sid and Sam.

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JOHN LENNON WAS PLANNING A FAMILY REUNION IN WIRRAL

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‘We were all waiting for him to come home’, reveals the Beatle’s sister Julia Baird

For Julia Baird, one of John Lennon’s younger sisters, hearing Yesterday or She Loves You on the radio in a faraway place has extra poignancy.
She was once in the Himalayas, having handed over her passport in return to access to the Dalai Lama’s library, and there was a monk wearing trainers and playing Yellow Submarine on an old cassette.
She was in a tiny French cafe with a basket of torn-up baguette on the table and All You Need is Love started up.

Julia said: “There is nothing private about John.
“There is no escape. It’s easier to be inside than to try to pretend it didn’t happen.”
This is why, when she learned that Cavern Club was looking for investors, she decided overnight to sign herself up.
She said: “I just said to Bill (Heckle – Cavern director) ‘I could do that’. He said, ‘Go and sleep on it’.
“We have the biggest fun. It’s a business, a serious business, but we laugh a lot. The fans are fantastic.”
Julia was too young to see the Beatles perform in the Cavern but she did get to their gigs at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre as well as a particularly memorable concert in London’s Finsbury Park Astoria.
She said: “The Rolling Stones were in the dressing room so we knew they were really famous.
“Everyone was drinking Coca Cola – so we thought. Theirs was laced, ours wasn’t.
“We went on the stage and I wanted to go down to the four rows at the front that were completely empty.”
But when she asked John, he at first said no before reluctantly agreeing.
“So Jackie, and I jumped off the side of the stage. The curtains closed. They were all behind getting ready.
“We’re sitting there and the curtain comes up and John’s doing his She Love’s You bit, bouncing up and down. And everyone from the back appeared at the front.”
Security arrived and John said “Get the girls”.
Julia adds: “We were hauled ignominiously back onto the stage and under the curtain, and John’s still singing. He said, ‘I told you so’.”
Many younger sisters look up to their big brothers, but Julia particularly looked forward to John’s visits to her family home because he lived elsewhere – with his Aunt Mimi in Mendips on Menlove Avenue.
Her earliest memories include “leaping about to Elvis” with John, their little sister Jackie, their cousin Stan – and of course their beloved mother Julia.
Julia said: “She was a dynamo. She was lively and active and musical.
“I’ve called her a woman out of time. I’ve also called John, a man out of his time. They were very, very alike in their talent.
“My father taught her to play the banjo. He came back from sea with a monkey and a banjo. I didn’t meet the monkey, I met the banjo. And he taught my mother to play by ear.
“I remember her leaning over John – he’d have his hands on the frets, and she’d be doing the strumming or the picking, and then they turn it around so that John would be doing the strumming.
“She also played the piano, the ukulele and the piano accordion, which was so big – it was one of the old fashioned ones.
“The great big thick straps crisscrossed and she used to sit down in an armchair and strap herself into it. Remember she was only small. And she put her arms on the arm of the chair and heave herself up to standing and sort of planted her feet.
“You could see it was heavy, but the music was heavenly.”
Life changed irrevocably when their mother was knocked down and killed by a car while crossing the road in 1958.
Julia says they all got on with coping with the shock and grief because they simply had no alternative.
She said: “You have to deal with it. You haven’t got a choice. Carry on, carry on. Either that or jump in the Mersey.
“He was 17. I was 11 and Jackie was eight –  so there’s no doubt whatsoever that Jackie was the one that was hit worst.
“John was able to go out and about and express himself in other ways. Paul said in something he wrote that John was on a bus and would go backwards and forwards and not get off it. I suppose it was the only place he could be entirely by himself.”
Later, when The Beatles’ success had exploded and John had built a new life in America, Julia rarely heard from her brother – “We didn’t realise as a family that John was as spaced out as he was.”
But one day in 1974, she was living in Wirral, when her aunt phoned from Edinburgh.
“She said, ‘Julia, stay up till midnight’. I had two children and was tired. ‘John’s going to phone you.”

In the end, Julia was asked to phone her brother, but first she had to answer a list of questions proving her identity. Just as she was losing patience, the final one came – ‘What’s your father’s middle name?’.
“I said, ‘Albert, after Prince Albert’ and he came straight on the phone and said, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry’. And we talked for four hours about everything.
“We talked many, many times after that. We got letters when Sean was born. And the last time I spoke to him, actually, was on November 17, just before he died.”
John had talked of coming home to Merseyside – and was even planning a reunion in Rock Ferry at Ardmore, a large house that had been in the family for many years.

Julia said: “Obviously, we were all waiting for him to come home. And John said in November, ‘There are so many of you we will all have to get together at Ardmore. So we were going to meet in that house.”
Instead, one of the most shocking murders in musical history happened and John was shot dead outside the Dakota Building in New York on December 8, 1980.

His family reunion never took place but Julia’s memories, his inescapable musical legacy and her involvement with The Cavern has kept the siblings close.
During meetings in the organisation’s offices close to Mathew Street, she looks at one of Astrid Kirchherr’s photographs of her brother during The Beatles’ Hamburg days, which hangs on the wall of the boardroom.

Julia said: “That is so the John of my childhood that I feel as if John’s in the room with us.
“I don’t imagine him here. I just think, to me, John is an integral part of the Cavern.
“I don’t believe in ghosts or anything so for me he’s imbued in it, rather than walking around in it. And that’s the picture that reminds me this place is as much John’s as it is ours.”

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PAUL MCCARTNEY WINS PERMISSION TO PRUNE PROTECT TREES AFTER A LONG COUNCIL BATTLE

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Paul has won a battle with council bosses to prune protected trees in the back garden – even after his team submitted child-like drawings to the council.
Paul lodged an application five months ago to cut back four trees at his £10million three-storey Regency townhouse.

Paul put in the plans after realising that his back garden was too dark and not getting enough light.
These included cutting back a thin crown of a Birch tree, a Hornbeam and two Sycamores.
However, in a revised application submitted last month, he asked to chop an additional four down which included an evergreen Magnolia, a Chinese privet, a yew and a holm oak.
Rough, hand-drawn sketches showing the trees were submitted to his local council.

Westminster Council have given the go-ahead to the plans for the garden of his pad in St John’s Wood, west London.
In the initial application, planning chiefs hit back at the star telling him that he was not giving the council enough detail about what he intended to do with the trees and he withdraw it.

In a letter sent to the 76-year-old, planning officer Rosalie Dobson, said in August: ‘I refer to your application of proposed tree works at the above location.

‘I am writing to inform you that your application is incomplete for the following reason(s): 1 You have not provided a clear statement of reasons for the proposed work to each of the trees in your application.
‘Statements such as ‘good arboricultural practice’ or ‘maintenance’ are too vague.
‘Instead try to address the specific issues with each tree.’
‘Please forward this information within 28 days of the date of this letter. Your application will only be progressed when all requested information has been received.
‘If we do not receive the required information within this time, we shall take no further action on your application.’

However, in a final decision notice issued last month, Westminster Council officer Deirdra Armsby, said: ‘The specification was amended and agreed by email.
‘This work should be completed no later than two years from the date of this decision.’

A separate application to prune three lime trees was also approved earlier this summer.
A neighbour said: ‘A lot of trees here are protected because the area is in a specially protected conservation area where development is carefully controlled.
‘It’s good news that McCartney has got permission, it’s not nice having a dark garden especially in the Summer when you want to enjoy the warm weather.’

Paul bought the property in 1966, paying £40,000 to its previous owner, physician Desmond O’Neill.

According to previous reports, shortly after McCartney moved into the property, Beatles fans kept a vigil outside it 24 hours a day and on occasion found their way inside.

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