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‘JOHN LENNON: FINAL YEAR’ DOCUMENTARY COMING

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The final year of John Lennon’s life will be the subject of a new documentary timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the music legend’s death. John Lennon: The Final Year, from Reda Films, will include never-before-seen material and interviews with those who spent time with the slain Beatle during the last year of his life. Lennon died December 8, 1980, as a result of a fatal gunshot wound, while standing with his wife, Yoko Ono, in front of his apartment building on New York’s Upper West Side.

The film’s producer is noted Beatles author, Ken Womack of Wonderwall Communications. Womack’s forthcoming book, John Lennon 1980: The Final Days in the Life of Beatle John, will be published on Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9. His most recent book was Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles, published in 2019 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road.

The film’s production company executives, Scott Reda and Mark Reda, are executive producers.

Lilla Hurst, co-managing director of the film’s distributor, Drive, said, “This ground-breaking film gives exclusive access to people who were part of John Lennon’s life during his final year and sheds light on a part of his life that hasn’t been previously revealed. We were fascinated by this story as soon as it was brought to us and we look forward to launching the film to the content industry.”

Lennon and Ono, recorded the album, Double Fantasy, in 1980.

It was released on Nov. 17. Three weeks later, John was dead.

The production company, Reda Films, has over 600 hours of programming and has amassed the largest privately owned film archive – Reda Archives, LLC – in the United States. The company has received numerous awards including a People’s Choice Award, Peabody Award, and Primetime Emmy Award (including nine nominations).

Reda earned the Peabody Award for its 1990 documentary John Hammond: From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen, about the legendary Columbia Records talent scout.

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GRAHAM GOULDMAN RECRUITS RINGO STARR FOR NEW ALBUM

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Ringo Starr is the drummer for Graham Gouldman’s – 10cc founder and songwriter –  next album. Nashville singer songwriter Beth Nielson Chapman also makes an appearance.

“I’ve got a new solo album coming out in March. Its called ‘Modesty Forbids’,” Graham Gouldman said.
About the title he says, “It’s a phrase that always struck me, like a contradiction. If you asked me all the hits I’ve had I’d say “well, I’ve had this and that” and then I’d go “but I could continue but modesty forbids”. In other words, I’ve got lots of things I could tell you. I was telling it to the people who designed the cover and they really loved it and they designed a great cover as well”.

Ringo Starr plays drums on the album because Graham asked him to. “I toured with him in 2018. I did two tours with him. When I was writing songs for the album I was writing about that experience and I was thinking ‘who could I get to play drums’ and thought ‘oh well, its pretty obvious really’. He very kindly did it. He played great”.

Considering the legendary past of both Graham and Ringo, they had met for the very first time only a few years back. “I had never met him before the time I did the tours with him. I met him at the beginning of 2018. Our paths never crossed,” Graham said.

Nashville’s Beth Neilson Chapman is also on the album. “Beth Neilson Chapman, she and I have written before,” says Graham. “I put an EP out on 2017. One of the songs was co-written with her. There is a song on the new album ‘All Around The World’ I wrote with her and another Nashville musician Gordon Kennedy, who co-wrote Eric Clapton’s ‘Change The World’”.

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HOW JOHN LENNON LOOKED TO HIS FUTURE WITH THE PLASTIC ONO BAND

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John Lennon Plastic Ono Band” was recorded over at both Abbey Road and Ascot Sound Studios, the studio that John Lennon and Yoko Ono had built at Tittenhurst Park
In April 1970 when The Beatles had officially ‘broken up’ John Lennon was 29 years old and was finding his own ‘voice’ – his very personal sense of musical-being.

The Beatles break-up was viewed by just about everyone around the world as a catastrophe, which no one could, or should, put asunder. Most fans could not comprehend what life was like, within the Beatles-bubble and it was impossible to understand the kind of life, and work, it was… being a Beatle.

“I don’t believe in Beatles; I just believe in me – Yoko and me.” – John’s lyrics from ‘God’

There was no hope of keeping the (Beatles) dream alive, but John was full of creative energy. In the year from November 1968, John and Yoko released three fascinating sonic experiments, along with the Live Peace LP that was recorded on stage in Toronto in September 1969 and released three months later. One of which, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band that was released on 11 December 1970 and entered the UK charts on 16 January 1971.

John felt passionately about the albums he and Yoko made – Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions and the Wedding Album. Aside from their experimental nature all three are radical, avant-garde and innovative; like audio documentaries they are, above all else, visceral, raw and honest. In this respect, they are the musical antecedents of both John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. The controversy surrounding the cover of Two Virgins was enormous at the time.

John had also had three hit singles with ‘Give Peace A Chance’, ‘Cold Turkey’ and ‘Instant Karma!’ By July 1970 his mind was once again turning to music. John and Yoko were in Los Angeles having gone there to continue Primal Therapy sessions that had begun at the couple’s Tittenhurst Park home early in 1970 and then continued in London with Dr. Arthur Janov, an American psychotherapist.

John and Yoko returned home from California on 24 September 1970 and two days later they once again walked through the familiar front door of Abbey Road Studios, ready to record John’s songs; some of which had been started in England and then worked on in California.

At Abbey Road were John’s old friend from the Beatles’ time in Hamburg, Klaus Voormann who played bass and Ringo Starr on drums. Later, they were joined by keyboard player Billy Preston, who had worked on the sessions for Let It Be, and also Phil Spector who played some piano and co-produced the album with John and Yoko. As Yoko explained, “Phil Spector came in much later: we made most of it by ourselves. If he, Phil, had done it from the beginning I am sure it would have been a totally different album.”

The album was recorded over a four-week period at both Abbey Road and Ascot Sound Studios, the studio that John and Yoko had built at Tittenhurst Park. The songs on this album are about as far removed from the sound of the Beatles as it’s possible to get. Yes, there’s John’s distinctive voice and there is the odd sonic-nod to the sound of latter-day Fab Four, but this is music that is as personal as it gets.

Recorded at the same time as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, an insight into how John viewed the totality of his relationship with Yoko. As he sings in ‘God’, “I just believe in me, Yoko and me,” and he also sings about his wife in ‘Hold On’, ‘Isolation’ and ‘Love’, the latter song has Yoko’s songwriting fingerprints all over it. The inseparability of their love was also reflected in the cover artwork that was virtually the same. Sonically with John, Klaus and Ringo providing the music for Yoko’s album it further shows the oneness of the two albums.

The album’s opening song, ‘Mother,’ includes the searing observation “Mother, you had me, but I never had you,” and it didn’t stop there as John wails “Mama don’t go/Daddy come home” in the closing coda. Fans buying the album upon its release were shocked by what they heard, but in a good way, and this shock has turned to awe over the decades as this album has come to be regarded as one of the boldest artistic statements by a rock artist.

There’s also the tenderness of ‘Hold On’, a song that was a rough mix done at the end of the sessions that John felt was good enough to include…and so good he did – it’s a perfect record. Phil Spector plays a beautiful piano part on ‘Love’ and it is a song that supports the notion of beauty in simplicity as well as any Lennon composition throughout his career.

‘God’ for many people is the highlight of this album, with Billy Preston’s gospel-influenced piano that adds immeasurably to the vibe of the song. But it is John’s lyrics that make this a statement of an intensely personal nature. “I don’t believe in Beatles”? This was a statement of both hurt and of intent, John Lennon was a solo artist. As he told Jann Wenner shortly after its release, “The dream’s over. I’m not just talking about The Beatles is over, I’m talking about the generation thing. The dream’s over, and I have personally got to get down to so-called reality.”

There’s not a traditional hit single among the songs on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, but this was not written with the view to releasing singles, this is a body of work, an artistic as well as personal statement. This is why the long-playing record was invented. It is music that should be listened to in a single sitting, considered, relished and revered.

Despite this there was one single released from the album, and that was Mother, backed with Yoko’s song ‘Why’, that peaked at No.43 on the US Hot 100. The album reached No.8 in the UK and No.6 in the States, after critics had lined up to praise its sometimes painful honesty. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band has continued to fare well in all-time polls in later years. In 1987 Rolling Stone named it as the fourth best album of the previous 20 years, and their top 500 chart in 2003 placed it at No. 22.
This album work on an entirely different level from so many records, is personal, artistic, and quite simply brilliant.

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TERRY JONES, LIFE OF BRIAN DIRECTOR AND MONTY PYTHON FOUNDER, DIES, AGED 77

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Terry Jones, founder member of Monty Python and director of three of Python’s celebrated feature films, has died aged 77, his family have announced. In a statement they said: “Terry passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.”

“Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in North London. We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humour has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades.”

After huge success with Python in the 1970s and early 80s, including the feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian ( as a solo director, with Gilliam opting to concentrate on the film’s design. Backed by George Harrison’s HandMade films and released in 1979, the religious satire proved a major commercial hit as well as sparking global controversy, and The Meaning of Life, Jones went on to work on a huge variety of projects. With Palin, he created the successful TV series Ripping Yarns and forged a post-Python directorial career with Personal Services, Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. He made a series of TV documentaries (specialising in medieval history), wrote nearly 20 children’s books, and contributed a string of comment pieces for the Guardian and Observer denouncing the “war on terror”.

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