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51 YEARS AGO: INSIDE THE BEATLES’ FINAL LIVE PERFORMANCE

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On a blustery, bitterly cold day in London 50 years ago, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr clambered to the roof of their record company, Apple Corp., for an impromptu lunchtime concert — stunning passers-by with the band’s first live performance in two and a half years.

It was also the last time The Beatles played in public.

Their 42-minute jam session, broken up by police over noise complaints, was filmed by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg as the capper to an intended TV special called “Get Back,” documenting the group recording an album.
“The original idea we had was to do a TV special, a version of [the Beatles TV movie] ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ but not as conceptual,” Lindsay-Hogg, 78, tells The Post.
“We all wanted to shoot it in different places, but George wasn’t keen on it and wanted to keep recording.
“The idea for what became ‘Let It Be’ was that it was going to be a half-hour trailer before the TV special.”

Instead, it indeed did morph into the documentary “Let It Be,” released in May 1970, one month after The Beatles broke up. It included both the rooftop concert (cut to 21 minutes in the movie) and emotionally dark footage of the bandmates plus Lennon’s then-girlfriend, Yoko Ono, at turns bickering with — and ignoring — each other in the recording studio while creating their next album.

That album, “Let It Be,” was recorded before “Abbey Road” but was released in 1970 as the band’s final record.
The movie’s highlight was the concert, an iconic pop culture moment that came to signal the end of the world’s most famous rock ’n’ roll band and the turbulent decade they’d helped to define. The Beatles were loose and enthusiastic — despite the internal backstabbing and the cold weather — and ran through nine songs, starting with “Get Back” and including “Two of Us” and “Don’t Let Me Down.” They even polished off an old chestnut, “The One After 909” (highlight: a blistering guitar solo by Harrison), one of the first songs written by Lennon and McCartney in the late ’50s.

Lennon closed the concert after a reprise of “Get Back” with a dash of humor: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves — and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”“What became ‘Let It Be’ was really an auxiliary documentary, which was all we had, then the famous rooftop concert, because there was no ending for it,” Lindsay-Hogg says. “There were fascinating shots of the Beatles playing, talking and interacting in the studio. Paul wanted to shoot the ending in the Cavern Club [in Liverpool] and I wanted to shoot it in an amphitheater on the coast of Tunisia. “One day at lunch, about a week before, they didn’t want to do this or that so I said, ‘Why not do it on the roof?’ I was the only one who was thinking of the film. They’re all great musicians, but they were thinking of the second chorus in ‘The Long and Winding Road’ or whatever. I wanted to assemble a documentary with interesting footage but also with some high to end it on.

“There was no one else to have the idea [to film a rooftop concert] except me,” he says. “One day after lunch, which was served in the conference room at Apple cooked by nice girls in the kitchen — red and white wine, chicken, macrobiotics for John and Yoko — Paul, Ringo, myself and a few camera guys went up and looked at the roof. That was the embryonic idea on the Saturday before we filmed [the rooftop concert].
“As the week went on, The Beatles sort of pawed at the idea. If you gave them an idea, it was like throwing meat into a lion’s cage — they’d sniff and paw at it and throw it at each other, then that piece of meat came back in the end, but was different from what you put in the cage.“We were going to film it the day before, but the weather was too cloudy and too murky. This was London in January,” Lindsay-Hogg recalls.“Then we decided for the next day, Thursday. We wanted to hit 12 or 12:30 p.m. for the lunchtime crowds. We were standing in a little room at the bottom of the ladder which went up to the roof. George didn’t want to do it, he didn’t want to perform in public. He was more comfortable recording and getting it just right. And Ringo said, quite rightly, ‘It’s cold up there!’ Paul, who had been the most closely allied with me, said, ‘Let’s do it. It’ll be fun.’ The one voice we hadn’t heard from was John, who finally said, ‘Ah, let’s do it.’ ”

Lindsay-Hogg had set up a two-way mirror in the lobby of the Apple building to monitor any police presence.

“I knew there would be issues with the police,” he says.
“The firm next door [to Apple], which sold cloth or fabric, had complaints about the noise; the guys who managed it were traditional in the way people looked before rock ’n’ roll — one of the guys had a bowler hat and a big warm overcoat. “We were all working and I was also trying to deal with not only what was going on up on the roof and in the street and the cops coming up, but all the funny things on the roof. “There was a very proper Englishman wearing a coat and hat and smoking a pipe climbing up a pole to see them. For me, it was like, ‘I hope we pull this off,’ since it wasn’t a slam-dunk to get up there and do it. I was on the roof, not in a van with walkie-talkies and earphones, and I was trying to work out with the camera guys on the roof . . . how not to have the same shots. I had some signals . . . If I spread my hands at a wider angle, it meant go wider, if my hands were closer, it meant go closer. I also knew that was it. “There weren’t going to be any retakes.”

Lindsay-Hogg says the original, longer movie was screened for The Beatles on July 20, 1969.
“When we showed the rough cut, it was the same day that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon,” he recalls. “There was more John and Yoko in the longer cut, then I got a call from [senior Beatles assistant] Peter Brown early the next day. He said he thought it was good but a bit long and said, ‘I think some of the John and Yoko stuff should come out. Let me put it this way — I’ve had three calls [from the others] this morning.’
“I think they thought that John and Yoko had more to do in the first act [of the movie] and it was taking away a little bit from The Beatles as an entity,” Lindsay-Hogg says. “So we cut some of that. United Artists wanted more of a musical picture than a documentary, so they came in late in the day and I had to angle it a bit more to music and less toward a documentary. Those were the kinds of changes we made. The Beatles were also the producers, not only the stars, and when things were going sour between them, they weren’t as interested.”

After its big-screen premiere, “Let It Be” largely disappeared from view. It was briefly released on home video in the early ’80s and, notwithstanding bootleg copies, hasn’t been widely seen since. Why? According to one theory, McCartney and Starr blocked its release, unhappy with how the band came across. Yet McCartney, who fought noticeably with Lennon and Harrison during “Let It Be,” told Rolling Stone in 2016 that he doesn’t object to it being released. “I keep bringing it up, and everyone goes, ‘Yeah, we should do that,’ ” he said. “The objection should be me. I don’t come off well [in the movie].”

Lindsay-Hogg says, “I think it was [pulled] partly because it showed aspects of them which maybe they were reluctant to see again. You had a sense in the movie that they were going to break up, which they eventually did. Even though they were still very close — John, Paul and George had been together since they were teenagers — by this time, they were men of 27, 28 and had other considerations.

George was very sure he could go out on his own, which he did, and I think Paul wanted to keep the group together — he thought it was still his band. John and Yoko wanted to go off and do their own thing, [to be] much more bohemian. Ringo was partly this, partly that. It was a different time in their lives as a group and I think George, particularly, didn’t like revisiting that. I think he was the one less in favor of it coming out.

“After George died [in 2001], things sort of turned around a little bit. They’re all very strong personalities — certainly Paul, and Ringo in his own way, and Yoko representing John, and Olivia [Harrison] representing George. It’s kind of like turning an ocean liner around to get cohesion [between them]. You have to be respectful of that. They’re very sold in their opinions.
“But opinions also change, and what they think was negative 32 years ago might have become positive. It’s been a long time between the release of ‘Let It Be’ and now.”
Lindsay-Hogg hints that “Let It Be” will indeed be re-released in the near future. “You’d have to ask Apple about that, but I’m pretty sure something will be happening for a variety of reasons I can’t go into at the moment,” he says. “It’s kind of something we’ve all been talking about for quite a while and has gone through several iterations, but I think probably in the next 18 months, it will come out again in some form, or altered form, because people have weirdly been calling for it [to be re-released] for some time.”
Lindsay-Hogg is asked why there’s so much interest in the movie.
“Once they got on the roof, as cold as it was, they were that band that played together as teenagers in Hamburg,” he replies. “They loved playing, even if they couldn’t see the live audience. They would go over to look over the roof at the people below. They were very happy on the roof and doing the best they could.
“One of the things I like about ‘Let It Be’ is the happiness it shows between those four comrades.
“I didn’t know they were going to break up and this would be the last time, and really last time they would play live.
“I didn’t know when they walked off the roof that would be it: the end of the public Beatles.”

SONGS:

‘Get Back’ (2 versions); ‘Don’t Let Me Down’; ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’; ‘The One After 909’; ‘Dig A Pony’; ‘God Save The Queen’; ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’; ‘Don’t Let Me Down’; ‘Get Back’.

Producer: George Martin; Engineer: Glyn Johns; 2nd Engineer: Alan Parsons.
‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’, ‘Dig A Pony’, John’s and Paul’s comments at the end of 3rd version of ‘Get Back’: versions for ‘Let It Be’ LP. Version of ‘The One After 909’ for ‘Get Back’ LP.


JOHN LENNON’S PSYCHEDELIC ROLLS-ROYCE ON DISPLAY AT VICTORIA’S ROYAL BC MUSEUM

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Staff from the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) wore white cotton gloves as they gently manoeuvred a massive, three-tonne vehicle into their lobby.

The 1965 Phantom V Rolls-Royce belonged to none other than John Lennon, making it one of the most popular – and certainly the most expensive – items to ever come into the museum’s collection.

“The car always generates a lot of excitement, enthusiasm and inspiration,” said Paul Ferguson, collections manager for the history division of the RBCM. “For some, apart from the music, this is as close as you can get to John Lennon in British Columbia.”

Lennon ordered the car in 1964, and received it in 1965 as an all-black vehicle. To celebrate The Beatles’ release of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, he had it custom-painted bright yellow with Romany-inspired designs.

B.C. businessman Jimmy Pattison bought the car in 1985 for more than $2 million, and donated it to the province in 1987, allowing it to make regular visits to the museum ever since.

The paint, while dazzling, has been tricky for museum conservators.

“It’s one of our most challenging items in the collection,” said Kasey Lee, conservator at the RBCM. “It was painted by an artist and not a vehicle detailer using a paint that’s not necessarily going to last in the winter.”

This means staff need to be exceptionally careful with the exterior, avoiding polishing cloths or any contact with the body except on the chrome bumpers. It also means the use of minuscule paint brushes to maintain any details.

On the mechanical side, the car needed some loving.

“It was poorly maintained, it sat for a long time and with the fuel from sitting, carburetors were jammed,” said Tom Munro, a mechanic with Coachwerks Restoration. “It needed some electric work and we looked at brakes, but it purrs like a kitten in a creamery now.”

Al Carter, another mechanic with Coachwerks said it was special to be able to work on the car.

“I find it a bit of a thrill… I was in England and I remember the car being done like this, back in the day,” Carter said. When asked if he ever thought he’d work on the car he laughed. “Oh absolutely not. That’s the thrill of it, it’s such an iconic car that you feel a little bit of love for it.”

The Rolls-Royce will be on display for free at the Royal BC Museum at 675 Belleville St. until the end of February.

DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON PREVIEWED A FEW MINUTES OF HIS UPCOMING LET IT BE FILM OVER THE WEEKEND

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Director Peter Jackson previewed a few minutes of his upcoming documentary based on the Beatles’ Let It Be movie over the weekend.

Variety reports the screening took place at Universal Music’s annual showcase that coincides with the Grammy Awards. Jeff Jones of Apple Records said because of the perception that the 1970 movie was a depressing look at the Beatles coming apart, Jackson was brought in to digitally clean up old footage, removing what reporter Jem Aswad described as the “murky, shadowy atmosphere” of the original. It’s a process similar to what the director did when colorizing the World War I footage in They Shall Not Grow Old.

“We have created a brand new film that will attempt to bust the myth that the Let It Be sessions were the final nail in the Beatles’ coffin,” Jones said.

According to Aswad, Jackson succeeded based on what was shown. “An amazing counter-narrative to [the] Let It Be film has ensued,” he wrote. “It’s brighter both visually and spiritually, with many, many shots of the Beatles joking around, making fun of each other, singing in silly accents and generally indulging in vintage mop-top hijinks. It also features many scenes of the group rehearsing songs from the Abbey Road album — their true swan song, which would be recorded over the following summer — and even rough versions of songs that would appear on solo records. On the basis of this clip, Beatles fans will lose their minds over this film.”

Jackson’s film was announced almost exactly one year ago, saying he was given access to 55 hours of video and 140 hours of audio in order to create the “ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience” about the sessions. He called it an “amazing historical treasure trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.” He added that the material was “funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate.”

While the title and release date of Jackson’s project haven’t been announced yet, it’s believed it will be called Get Back — the album’s original title — and coming out in October, based on an pre-order listing for a companion book that showed up on Amazon earlier this month.

PRE-ORDER BOOK , HERE:

USA .. H E R E .

UK …  H E R E .

FRANCE… HERE.

GERMANY.. HERE.

CANADA… HERE.

SPAIN …  HERE.

 

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THE BEATLES THEMED PUB IN BLACKPOOL

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Plans for Hamish Howitt’s Scots Bar, Rigby Road which will undergo a conversion into a Beatles themed pub
Hamish Howitt says it has been a long-time dream to dedicate his pub of 23 years to his all-time favourite band, The Beatles.

Now, in a first for Blackpool, and as part of a major renovation project, Hamish and the extended Howitt family are working to make the publican’s grand vision a reality, opening the Beatles-themed Yellow Submarine Pub Ltd at the Scot’s Bar in Rigby Road, South Shore.
The ambitious plans will see the bar, sited at the former Royal Pavilion Theatre, transformed in a kaleidoscope of colour, taking visitors on a journey back to the 60s.

The landlord, who has lived in the town since 1967 after hitchhiking a ride home from London, said he was passionate about the project which will mark a new era for the bar.
“I’ve been all over the world and no other band in history has made the cultural impact of the Beatles,” he said. “The North West was their home but I’ve been sat in a bar in Indonesia, where the wall was covered in Beatles pictures and tracks playing, also in Singapore, Dubai, Cairns in Australia… They were a global phenomenon. It seemed crazy there were bars all over the world yet not in Blackpool. I’d toyed with the idea eight years ago, it’s been niggling and niggling at me.I’m nearly 68 so I said it’s going to be now or never. My boys are huge fans of the band too and it’s a family project, it’s going to look amazing, I’m totally immersed in it.”

The build, which will see the frontage of the bar transformed with a montage of colour and fibre glass figures, huge musical claves and memorable images, quotes as well as a 32ft yellow submarine is expected to take around 12 weeks with a grand opening set for Easter weekend.

Renowned Liverpool band The Cavernites, who recreate the vibrant sounds of The Beatles during their touring years 1962-1966, will play on the opening evening on Friday, April 10.
Hamish added: “We want to create something special, not just a pub to drink in this is an experience from the moment you walk in the front via the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.
“It will be a magical mystery tour from start to finish, even down to the staff wearing Sgt Pepper inspired uniforms. This is a real work of the imagination
“We’re installing state-of-the-art lighting and visuals for the front – plasma screen TVs, the works. It is going to be a real spectacle and that’s what I want it to be – somewhere people want to come back to time and time again. It’s going to be fun, vibrant and endearing to the young, right through to the old. Only live bands and singers at peak times, no backing tracks by singers, all live. Our cinema-theatre is one of the oldest purpose-built buildings in the UK – if I don’t do something now, I never will.”