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Let it Be

Inside Apple Studios, London 1969.

Filming Let it Be

The Beatles assembled at Twickenham Film Studios on 2 January 1969, accompanied by the film crew, and began rehearsing. Cameraman Les Parrott recalled: “My brief on the first day was to ‘shoot The Beatles.’ The sound crew instructions were to roll/record from the moment the first Beatle appeared and to record sound all day until the last one left. We had two cameras and just about did the same thing.” The cold and austere conditions at Twickenham, along with nearly constant filming and sessions starting much earlier than the Beatles’ preferred schedule, constrained creativity and exacerbated tensions within the group. The sessions were later described by Harrison as “the low of all-time” and by Lennon as “hell … the most miserable sessions on earth.” This caused George to leave the band temporarily

At a meeting on 15 January, Harrison agreed to return with the conditions that elaborate concert plans be dropped and that work would resume at Apple’s new recording studio. At this point, with the concert broadcast idea abandoned, it was decided that the footage being shot would be used to make a feature film. Filming resumed on 21 January at the basement studio inside Apple headquarters on Savile Row in London.Harrison invited keyboardist Billy Preston to the studio to play electric piano and organ. Harrison recalled that when Preston joined them, “straight away there was 100% improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we’d created among ourselves.” Filming continued each day for the rest of January.

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Beatles London

A parrot and a piano in Notting Hill, London 1968

On Sunday July 28th 1968, the Beatles visited the Mercury Theatre as part of their Mad Day Out antics.

The second location in The Beatles’ Mad Day Out escapades took place here at Ladbroke Road in Notting Hill, London.

The building was originally a church hall dating from 1848, and is now a private home. The Beatles’ car was parked near the Horbury Chapel, where they waited in the theatre until a parrot handler arrived.

The group posed with the parrot in a number of shots near a theatre exit. They took to the stage for several pictures, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney alternating as the main figure. The Beatles then began a jam session around a piano, with the parrot perched on Paul’s left shoulder.

The Beatles London exploits consisted of various trips to the East End and North London.

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George and Eric

Before Live Aid and Farm Aid, there was one benefit concert which started them all. George Harrison’s incredible evening of entertainment known as the Concert For Bangladesh. The event saw George appear with Eric Clapton.

One such number saw George Harrison welcome Eric Clapton to the stage to perform The Beatles’ classic ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.

The event was a crowning moment for Harrison personally. The gig was in aid of Bangladesh’s victims of famine and war—something which had been brought to Harrison’s attention by Ravi Shankar. When asked why he created the event Harrison dryly replied: “Because I was asked by a friend if I would help, you know, that’s all”.

The concert would feature an all-star line up of Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Badfinger, and, of course, Ravi Shankar.

At the time of the event, Harrison was arguably the most successful Beatle. The singer-songwriter’s album All Things Must Pass had confirmed that he was equal to his bandmates in the Fab Four. As such, he enlisted the help of his friends to make the event a star-studded one. However, Harrison had originally intended to reunite with his former bandmates for the night and provide concert-goers with the first live performance from The Beatles in America since 1966, but it wasn’t to be.

It did nearly happen though for one particular Beatle. John Lennon had agreed to appear at the gig, even consenting to Harrison’s stipulation that Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono could not perform with him. But just a few days before the event Lennon left New York City in a cloud of contempt as he and Ono fell out over Lennon’s agreement with his former bandmate.

Next on the list was Paul McCartney. Macca almost outright refused to be a part of the benefit as he was still emotionally embroiled in the band’s breaking up and the nasty legal battles that went alongside it. He would later tell Rolling Stone about the opportunity to reunite The Beatles “George came up and asked if I wanted to play Bangladesh and I thought, blimey, what’s the point? We’re just broken up and we’re joining up again? It just seemed a bit crazy”. At least there was Ringo to the rescue. The Beatles drummer was more than happy to perform at the charity gig and was ready and raring to go in time for curtain up.

George and Eric 1971

As well as welcoming a plethora of impressive performers, the coup of seeing Dylan on stage again was enough for most people to label it the best benefit concert ever, Harrison recruited none other than his friend, Eric Clapton. The former Cream guitarist had been working on his own solo career when Harrison asked him to lend a hand. It wasn’t the first time either.

Clapton had always provided Harrison with a place for respite as the tensions in The Beatles grew around George’s lack of opportunity to write songs. One he did write for the band is largely considered one of their best and it’s a song that even Clapton himself had a hand in, the brilliant ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.

Harrison had been struggling to complete the White Album song and asked close friend Eric Clapton for help. Clapton turned up at Abbey Road Studio to do just that—but after a period of convincing. “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records,” Clapton is thought to have said to Harrison with a moment of trepidation. “So what?” Harrison replied. “It’s my song.”

In a 1987 interview with Guitar Player Magazine, Harrison was asked whether it had hurt his ego: “No, my ego would rather have Eric play on it. I’ll tell you, I worked on that song with John, Paul, and Ringo one day, and they were not interested in it at all,” he said. “And I knew inside of me that it was a nice song.”

Harrison added: “The next day I was with Eric, and I was going into the session, and I said, ‘We’re going to do this song. Come on and play on it’. He said, ‘Oh, no. I can’t do that. Nobody ever plays on the Beatles records’. I said, ‘Look, it’s my song, and I want you to play on it’. So Eric came in, and the other guys were as good as gold because he was there.”

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Beatles London

EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London 1967. The Sgt. Peppers Sessions

Paul McCartney had the idea for Sgt Pepper during a flight from Kenya to England in November 1966.

It was originally released in the UK on 26 May 1967, and in the US on 2 June 1967.

Recording continued on the new album in January, with the first of many sessions for ‘A Day In The Life’, and then on 1 February they began work on one of Paul’s songs, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The new LP had a name and a loose concept, in so far as the band pretended they were giving a show as this fictitious band.

How Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Changed The Face Of Music.

And yet it could all have been so very different. In the early Spring of 1967, the UK press was full of reports with headlines such as “Has the Bubble Burst?”

“Beatles Fail To Reach The Top”, all because ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ had stalled at No.2 in the UK singles chart.

At manager Brian Epstein’s insistence neither track was included on the LP, and later became a decision that George Martin later described as “the biggest mistake of my professional life”

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Beatles London Tour

Scala Theatre, London 1964, filming A Hard Day’s Night

March 1964 saw filming of A Hard Day’s Night commence. On March 31st, the Scala Theatre, a TV performance was filmed here. 350 screaming fans were in the audience, one of them being a young Phil Collins. The filming here continued for 3 days, culminating in the climax of the film.

‘Tell Me Why’, ‘And I Love Her’, ‘I Should Have Known Better’ and ‘She Loves You’ were songs mimed to in the show. On a Beatles London Tour, you can visit various film locations especially our Day Tripper one. Directed by Richard Lester it was considered by many to be the best Beatles film.

Check out https://www.beatlestourslondon.com/beatles-tours/day-tripper-beatles-tour-london/ for more details

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Mary Hopkin and The Beatles

With Mary Hopkin at Apple Records, London 1968

The model Twiggy first saw Mary Hopkin winning the British television talent show, Opportunity Knocks. She then recommended her to Paul McCartney and became one of the earliest signings to the Beatles’ Apple label. Apple Records was a division of Apple Corps Ltd. Other signings at the time included James Taylor, Badfinger and Billy Preston.

‘Those were the Days’ went to number one in the UK charts and was one of Apples’ most successful singles. ‘Goodbye and ‘Knock, Knock Who’s There’ were follow up hits for Mary.

Apple Records and Apple Publishing signed a number of acts whom the Beatles personally discovered.One or more of the Beatles would be involved in the recording sessions in most cases.

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Abbey Road Studios

On this day 1966 filming Paperback Writer and Rain Promos at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London

Abbey Road Studios filing Paperback Writer and Rain

On Thursday 19 May 1966, The Beatles filmed promotional clips of Paperback Writer and Rain. The filming took place in Studios One and Three at EMI, Abbey Road. Michael Lindsay-Hogg, directed them. He was well known from his Ready Steady Go days. He would later go on to direct Hey Jude, Revolution and Let it Be. This was day one of a two day shoot which produced a total of four promos for Paperback Writer and three for Rain.

One of the promo films for “Rain” and the other for “Paperback Writer” were shot in colour for the American market. The Beatles recorded the special colour one for the Ed Sullivan Show which was transmitted later for the American audience on June 05, 1966

The first black & white version of Paperback Writer was broadcast on June 25 1966 in ‘Goodbye Lucky Stars’. This was the final edition of the popular TV programme ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. On Friday June 3rd, ‘Paperback Writer and ‘Rain’ were first broadcast on Ready Steady Go. This was the first time that material was screened, that hadn’t been filmed in its own studio.

Why not check out https://www.beatlestourslondon.com/2020/02/26/abbey-road/

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The Beatles and Roy Orbison

The Beatles with Roy Orbison plus Gerry and the Pacemakers in Slough 1963

On this day in 1963, The Beatles kicked off their third nationwide UK package tour. Along with Roy Orbison plus Gerry and the Pacemakers amongst others. The opening venue was the Adelphi Cinema in Slough with two shows starting at 6:00 and 8:30 pm.

Roy Orbison was initially topping the bill, however due to audience demand, the fab four took over top position. With tickets priced at 5/-, 7/6 and 9/6 it was another fab night full of beatlemania and wonderful music.

The Beatles set consisted of ‘Some Other Guy’, ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Please Please Me’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, and ‘Twist & Shout’ The tour comprised of twenty one dates and finished on June 9th in Blackburn, Lancashire.

You can visit Beatles sites in London with us when Government restrictions are lifted. We will keep you fully informed at https://www.beatlestourslondon.com/ of any changes as soon as they happen. In the meantime Stay Safe and why not check out Roy Orbison at https://royorbison.com/ It’s well worth viewing.

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Beatles Tour London

On This Day in 1963

The third of Brian Epstein’s Mersey Beat Showcase concerts. It took place at the Majestic Ballroom in Finsbury Park, London.

Two thousand fans saw The Beatles perform at the venue. The other acts on the bill were Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Big Three, and Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas. All of which were managed by Epstein.

This was the only occasion on which The Beatles performed at the Majestic Ballroom. Prior to the show they met scriptwriter Peter Clayton here. It was to discuss ideas for a feature film, although the plans never came to fruition.

Finsbury Park has been a centre for entertainment for many decades. A very popular location for movies and tv shows. After being used for many decades as the foyer area for the cinema, the Majestic Ballroom, then became a Bingo Club in Stroud Green Road. The building was closed in the 1980’s and demolished in 1999.

On a Beatles Tour London visit, you can choose locations that you like and we can build them into your Beatles Tour of London. Abbey Road Studios ( www.abbeyroad.com )where most of the fab Beatles songs were recorded will be included in the tour.

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Filming Help! 1965 The Beatles