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Tag Archives THE BEATLES


By Posted on 0 5

Alliance Beatles fans are invited to reminisce about the legendary band’s visits to Cleveland during a visit by author Dave Schwensen to Rodman public Library.

Schwensen, author of “The Beatles in Cleveland,” will share insider stories, rare concert films and never-before-published photos and memorabilia during the talk, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the library’s auditorium.
The program’s highlights will include films of the concerts at Cleveland Public Auditorium in 1964 and Municipal Stadium in 1966. During the Sept. 15, 1964, concert, police stopped the show in mid-performance and ordered the band off the stage.





By Posted on 0 7

On a February morning in 1967, George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, sat at her kitchen table and lamented to a girlfriend how she longed for something spiritual in her life. With that, the legendary party girl ripped a tiny newspaper advertisement for Transcendental Meditation classes out of the paper and, in that instant, began a ripple that would affect generations of young people across the world. A year later, the Beatles would go to India. Out of that trip came not just the band’s epic White Album and Donovan’s “Hurdy-Gurdy Man,” but a seismic shift in the popular understanding of Eastern spirituality, meditation and music. It also was the beginning of a strange relationship between the Beatles and the meditation movement that they inadvertently popularized. Not to mention the rise of an Indian guru who shaped my own life.

In August 1967, Boyd talked her husband into joining her at the Hilton Hotel in London to see Maharishi speak. She had learned his trademarked Transcendental Meditation that spring and had fallen in love with her daily mantra-based practice. In the end, all the Beatles joined them. Maharishi cut an enticing anti-establishment figure at a moment when the Beatles were questioning their reality – the then-47-year-old Indian man had long hair that flowed mane-like into his greying beard. He wore only a simple white robe and flip-flops. As he lectured at colleges and universities around the United States and Europe, young people became enamored with his simple notion of using meditation to elevate your consciousness. He would answer even the angstiest questions on the meaning of life or world events with an infectious giggle and the reassurance that life was simple and blissful. Maharishi supposedly didn’t know who the Beatles were when he met them, but he knew they were very famous – he was nothing if not media savvy (as described in Kurt Vonnegut’s essay, “Yes, We Have No Nirvanas”) – so he invited them all to a ten-day summer conference in Bangor, a small coastal city in Wales. It was there that the four men became devotees. The plan emerged to spend a few months in early 1968 at Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh. They all felt – to different degrees – a hunger to transform themselves. Maharishi was adamantly opposed to drugs and drinking and, Boyd wrote in her memoir, they were all on steady diet of weed and acid, stumbling daily through a mind-boggling hysterical swarm of paparazzi and fans.

But the hard living was in the rearview mirror when the Beatles flew to India in February of 1968, with a phalanx of reporters in tow. They went to Rishikesh, a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas. The plan was to stay for a few months – it was a course to make them teachers of Transcendental Meditation, although it didn’t seem anyone in the Beatles crew actually wanted to teach, they just wanted that time with Maharishi.

Life there was idyllic and simple, by most accounts – the Beatles slept in sparsely furnished rooms, and were awakened by peacocks. They meditated for much of the day, and listened to Maharishi lecture about reincarnation and consciousness. There were about 60 people at the ashram, including Donovan and his manager; the Beach Boys’ Mike Love; and Mia Farrow, with her brother Johnny and sister Prudence.

How and why they left their guru is the stuff of differing legends, and I’ve heard a dozen versions of what happened. I would say that the truth lies in the music that came out of that time – somewhere between “Sexy Sadie” and “Across the Universe” – part transcendent cosmic consciousness and part total betrayal and loss of faith. Whatever actually occurred, they decamped after two months in a bit of a huff, leaving Maharishi and his meditation movement behind. But Maharishi already had the photographic evidence and journalistic accounts of the Beatles’ devotion. The band moved on, but Maharishi’s star continued to rise, and TM became increasingly entrenched in popular culture. Life magazine proclaimed 1968 “The Year of the Guru,” and featured Maharishi on the cover with groovy, hallucinogenic spirals framing his face.

By the mid-1970s, the Movement estimated that it had 600,000 practitioners, with celebrities such as actress Shirley MacLaine and football star Joe Namath continuing to promote Maharishi’s techniques and vision. TM how-to books were a staple on the best-seller list, and at the time, the Movement estimated that an average of 40,000 people a month were learning the meditation practice. He bought two Heidelberg presses and began printing elaborate pamphlets and books and mission statements. He sent them out to world leaders and set up hundreds of certified centers throughout the United States, Europe and India. Later the media would describe TM as “the McDonald’s of the meditation business.”

Growing up in Fairfield in the 1980s and 1990s, the Beatles were an awkward part of our founding history. At the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment –John, Paul, George and Ringo were sort of like estranged uncles whose stories were left to the shadows. There were celebrities who practiced meditation and who sometimes visited our school, smiling warmly as they watched us meditate or embark on our “consciousness-based education.” But while I have strange memories of Mike Love singing in our tiny school library, no Beatle ever came to visit. While the Beatles went through their own unraveling, tragedy and emergence as solo artists, the Transcendental Meditation community was winding itself into a tighter internal facing realm, entirely devoted to Maharishi and his global plans. At the time, TM became a forgotten byproduct of the hippie era.The binary tumult of that moment with the Beatles seemed to shadow Maharishi until his death. People treated him either like a god or a pariah. Popular narratives seemed stuck on this idea of a guru-disciple relationship, where Maharishi was either an enlightened sage who would transform your consciousness or as a media-savy opportunist who was after everyone’s money. There didn’t seem to be a middle option.

However, in the 2000s as Maharishi grew older and less present, something unlikely happened. TM returned to popular culture, thanks to the evangelical efforts of David Lynch, a longtime meditator who in 2002 attended something called the Enlightenment Course with Maharishi in Europe. After that, Lynch traveled around the country, talking to large groups about a simple technique that could make you happier, calmer, and more productive. Suddenly Rupert Murdoch and Katy Perry were tweeting about how much they loved it, but there was little to no mention of the guru. In 2009, Paul and Ringo performed for the David Lynch foundation, raising money to help children learn TM, along with Mike Love and Donovan. Onstage, they reminisced about the time and the music they made and said they loved meditation. All it seemed had been forgotten or forgiven, and together they sang “Cosmically Conscious.” Maharishi was not mentioned.



By Posted on 0 4

A collection of rare photos of The Beatles during their stay at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram was inaugurated by forest minister Harak Singh Rawat on Monday. Around 23 photos of The Fab Four contributed by Canadian film and TV producer Paul Saltzman who was in the ashram in February 1968 when the quartret stayed there were put on display.

In the photos, the iconic musicians in traditioanl Indian dress are either seen in solo portaits or sitting in meditation with the Maharishi or with their other celebrity friends. A special attraction of the exhibition was a group photograph of The Beatles sitting with the maharishi decked in flower garlands. Another iconic picture was the one of Maharishi on the cover of Time Magazine of 1975.
Sanatan Sonkar, director of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, where the ashram is situated, said that actress Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence whom The Beatles mentioned in one of their songs had also visited the ashram a few days ago.
Anand Shrivastava, chairman of Mahrishi Foundation and nephew of Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi who was present on the occasion, told TOI, “I was just 8 year old when The Beatles came to the ashram. I remember the preparations that were made for the visit such as putting up of barbed wires around the periphery of the premises.”


By Posted on 0 , 8

“The Long and Winding Road,” written by Paul, but attributed to both McCartney and John Lennon.  No mistake; this was a McCartney composition. Paul says he created the title when he first traveled to his High Park Farm property in Scotland, which he had bought in 1966. It is a reflective piece, inspired by the road that stretched up the hills in the remote Highlands near Campbeltown. Paul wrote this in 1968, while on his farm at a time when tensions were growing among the Beatles.

As Paul reported to Mike Merritt of the “Sunday Herald in 2003, “I just sat down at my piano in Scotland, started playing and came up with that song, imagining it was going to be done by someone like Ray Charles. I have always found inspiration in the calm beauty of Scotland and again it proved the place where I found inspiration”.

According to Peter Frampton, the song had a somewhat contentious history, as he recalled how Lennon engaged American music producer Phil Spector, rather than George Martin, their regular producer, to help with the “Let it Be” album on which “The Long and Winding Road” is recorded.

The Beatles taped the song several times, but when Spector entered the picture, he overdubbed the song with a small orchestral group and a women’s choir.  Paul found it distasteful.  At that point, he determined to dissolve the Beatles’ partnership, and taking his case to London’s High Court, he cited one of the reasons for the dissolution as “intolerable inference” by overdubbing “The Long and Winding Road” without his input and consultation. It was the Beatles’ final number-one single on the “Billboard Hot 100” chart in America, but for many fans, the song captured sadness at the disbanding of such a talented group.  Brian Wilson of “Rolling Stone” is reported to have said:  “When they broke up I was heartbroken.  I think they should have kept going.”

Of this incident and the song, Paul said:  “I was a bit flipped out and tripped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.” Still, the song may mean different things to different people; and whereas, when I was younger, it seemed to be of shared sentimentality and sadness, I now see it as a song of hope and inspiration, and of joy and love of good things to come.

The long and winding road, That leads to your door

Will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here, Lead me to your door.



By Posted on 0 , 19

An Interview with the Rock & Roll Detective
By Bob Wilson

Jim Berkenstadt spends his time pulling the gum from his shoe, and takes us on tours solving mysteries working his ‘magic’.  People have often asked who the 5th Beatle is, and drummer Jimmie Nicol is an appropriate answer as any.
In The Beatle Who Vanished (2013), Jim hashed out the story of Ringo’s temporary replacement on the Beatles first major tour. Nicol’s story is fascinating, and a film is in the works based on the book.  The Rock & Roll Detective gave us some insights on what to expect.
Tell us about Jimmie Nicol, and The Beatle Who Vanished.
The Beatle Who Vanished is the first historical account of Jimmie Nicol, an unknown drummer whose journey from humble beginnings to saving The Beatles’ first world tour from disaster, was only one part of his legend. Though his 13 days of fame made headlines around the world, the true mystery of Nicol’s story is riddled with blacklisting, betrayal, drugs, divorce, bankruptcy and an eventual disappearance that led many to question whether he is dead or alive.





Butch Vig, drummer in the band Garbage and producer of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Paul McCartney, and many more had this to say about the book:  “This is a fascinating and mysterious must read for hardcore fans, and anyone who wants to understand the meteoric rise to pop stardom and the subsequent crash landing.”


How did the upcoming film based on The Beatle Who Vanished come about, and who is involved?
Alex Orbison (Roy Orbison’s son) was looking at his Roy Orbison Facebook page one day and a fan had shared one of my posts about Jimmie Nicol. Orbison, a drummer himself who has seen a number of fleeting fame stories in Nashville, became intrigued. He told his buddy Ashley Hamilton (son of George Hamilton), a great singer, who had also experienced the ups and downs of the entertainment industry. Both guys ordered the book and read it. They loved it and thought it would make a great movie. So, one day out of the blue, I got an email from their attorney inquiring if I would be interested in optioning the rights to the book for a movie. The rest is history. They have just made a deal with a studio and the film is moving to pre-production this year. Once more information is made public, I will be happy to update your readers with more details.



Do you have any updates on Jimmie Nicol today?
I do! One of the interesting things about publishing a book is that people read it or read about it, and they contact the author with information they know about that person. I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland and met with Jimmie’s first cousin Ronnie Nicol who has stayed in touch with Jimmie over thedecades. He had lots of great new information. I am planning a Second Edition to coincide with the release of the film and I plan to add an additional chapter with all the updates.


When a famous client rings you on the telly, how does the conversation usually go after you get through reps?
Well, I recall getting a phone call one night from Olivia Harrison. She said she “had been talking to Marty” (Martin Scorsese) about doing a film on George Harrison’s life and wondered if I wanted to be the historical consultant on the film? Needless to say, I said yes after I got over my heart attack! LOL. So I spent 3 years working on the wonderful film, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” which won a couple of Emmy awards. It was a great honor!

What does being in the Beatles for thirteen days do to a man?

That is a great question Bob. It depends upon the man in question. In the case of Jimmie Nicol, as I wrote in my book, it made him think he could replicate Beatlemania with his own group. Nicol formed two bands in the fall of 1964 and the winter of 1965. His goal was to turn on of them into a major pop band. He got record deals and was able to tour extensively. What happened? Check out a copy of The Beatle Who Vanished to find out and to discover how being a Beatle for 13 days affected his entire life!

Where are the best places for the interested to go to look for
your works?
People can find all of my past work at: and can also see my TV and Film work at:
To learn more about The Beatle Who Vanished, readers can go to: and

The Beatle Who Vanished on Amazon… Here.