Thursday, August 31, 2006

Drive My Car

A look at some of John Lennon's cars

John passed his driving test on February 15th 1965. These pictures were taken that same day in George Martin's car outside Abbey Road Studios. (Click images to enlarge)

Rolls-Royce Phantom V

John bought this car in 1965. It was originally black but was later painted with psychedelic designs by 'The Fool', a team of Dutch artists.

Inside the Rolls-Royce after having it sent to Spain during the filming of "How I Won The War" in 1966.

Mini Cooper S

Information and pictures at Beatles Minis

Ferrari 330 GT

This is the only picture I can find of John's Ferrari. It was restored by Dodi al Fayed and sold at auction in 2000.

Iso Rivolta

John and Cynthia looking at a 142mph (230km/h) Iso-Rivolta S4 at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1967:

It's uncertain whether or not he actually bought the car that same day. According to the Telegraph 'John and his first wife Cynthia saw the four-door S4 (better known by its later title, Fidia) at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show and wrote out a cheque for £8,000 on the spot. John is reported to have said, "What do you think, love?" to which Cynthia replied, "Ooh, it's lovely!"' Other sources say this isn't true.

Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman

John Lennon's Mercedes Pullman limousine was auctioned at London's Hard Rock Cafe in March 2001. The car had black velvet upholstery and an eight-track tape and record player.

Austin Maxi

This is the car John crashed while visiting family in Scotland in 1969. He had it mounted on a pedestal as a reminder of how lucky they were to be alive.

Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint

Picture and information at Classic Cars from

Austin Princess Limousine Hearse

This car appeared in John and Yoko's 1973 'Imagine' film.

There was also a gold Porsche and a green Volkswagen Beetle, both of which John bought for Cynthia (Source: "John" by Cynthia Lennon).

David John Paul George Ringo Lennon set for fame

31 August 2006

A JOHN Lennon fanatic from Worle has been chosen to audition for a DVD and CD which are being made to celebrate the music legend.

Pictured wearing round specs identical to the ones his hero was famous for, and with countless tattoos of the Beatles up his arms, it is obvious why the father-of-three has been picked.

He even changed his name from David Presley to David John Paul George Ringo Lennon 20 years ago because he was fed up with being called Elvis.

David, of Harrier Path, has been picked to audition for one of 20 places on a DVD and CD of John Lennon's greatest songs.

The finished recordings will be shown in the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. Similar exhibits have already been made for the likes of Bob Marley, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Mr Lennon, 55, said: "I'm scared stiff. I can't sing. But I feel very honoured to be picked and I'm looking forward to it.

From The Weston Mercury

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sgt Pepper voted greatest album

Full story from BBC news

The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been voted the best Number One album of all time by the British public.

The seminal record, released in 1967, topped the poll to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UK album chart.

"It revolutionised music and what we expect from an album," said Radio 2's Simon Mayo, which broadcast the full run-down of the top 100 albums.

Just 201 votes separated Sgt Pepper and Michael Jackson's Thriller, in second.

The Beatles had a total of four albums in the top 10, with Revolver at six, Abbey Road at eight and The Beatles - also known as The White Album - at 10.

The Top Ten:

1: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
2: Thriller - Michael Jackson
3: The Joshua Tree - U2
4: Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
5: Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
6: Revolver - The Beatles
7: Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
8: Abbey Road - The Beatles
9: A Night At The Opera - Queen
10: The Beatles - The Beatles

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Imagine live at the Apollo Theatre

One of my favourite versions of Imagine.

Thought For The Day #3

A caricature of George drawn by Paul (and signed by George)

A caricature of Ringo drawn by John (and signed by Ringo)

A caricature of Paul drawn by George (and signed by Paul)

A caricature of John drawn by Ringo (and signed by John)

[Thought For The Day Archive]

Rare Pictures

Individual Photos

Group Photos

I hope there'll be at least one or two of these that you haven't seen before!

Young John

From "16" magazine, August 1966

Young John

Dear Father Xmas, will you please bring me a water pistol with love from John and do not forget a money box with a key and a pair of gloves, and have you any books and would you try to get some dinkies please, also a pair of skates.

So went one of the very first literary efforts of five year-old John Winston Lennon, present-day author, musician, singer, songwriter and humorist. John is probably the most difficult Beatle to talk about. He’s such a very direct, but at the same time complex person. But let’s see what the people who knew him best, as a child and at school, have to say about young John.

Mimi Smith – John’s Aunt Mimi – raised him from the age of five after his parents separated. She describes the schoolboy John as “a lovable rebel. He hated any kind of conformity,” she says, “and those who made him want to conform, especially his school masters. When he was at art school, he had a lot of homework to do, and I had to lean over him all the time to make sure that he did it. If George or Paul came round to see him it would become quite hopeless.
“He loved animals, especially our cat, Sam, who died last year. John was really heartbroken when I told him the sad news.

“John was a very handsome little boy with silver-gold hair and big brown eyes. I don’t think he minds people looking at him now because they used to do it when he was a child, on buses and places like that. He got so used to it that if they didn’t look at him, he would go up to them and say, “I’m John Lennon, I am.”

“He was always the leader of his little gang and insisted on being the Indian and never the cowboy. But I remember that his word was law. If he said, “you’re dead,” then his friend had better accept the fact that he was dead. John wouldn’t argue about it. To be an Indian, he had to have all the equipment. I used to go the fish-shop to buy a bundle of feathers to make him a head-dress. This still wasn’t enough, though; he insisted that he wanted to look even more like an Indian. So, in the end, he persuaded me to paint him all over with gravy browning. You should have seen him; he looked a real sight.

“He also had this little house built in a tree in our back garden. From the spring onwards, it was impossible to see through the leaves, and he used to hide in there for hours. He called it his ‘den’ and used to sit there drawing and making up rhymes, just like those in his books. I used to get annoyed because he kept stealing all my clothes-lines to make alterations to his tree-house.

“At first, when he was naughty I used to send him to his room but he was always so quiet when I did this that one day I decided to see what he did up there. I crept up to the door and looked in. There he was, sitting comfortably in an easy chair and reading a book. He was perfectly happy, and all the time I thought I’d been punishing him. I never saw him look at a comic or a novel. To this day, I don’t think he has ever read a novel. His favorite books were about painting and painters, like Jake Ruskin’s Book of Beauty.”

John’s tutor during a course at art school gives a different picture of John in his teens. He says:

“Compared with other students, John was very quiet and reticent. His work wasn’t very good, but then neither was that of the other students. His classmates were very sympathetic towards him and helped to cover up his mistakes. I don’t remember him as a leader. His friend Stuart Sutcliffe, on the other hand, was a real trend-setter in my opinion.

“I remember that John played the guitar in those days. I think he rehearsed mainly at school because his aunt wouldn’t allow him to play it at home. He was always being told to ‘pack up that guitar and get down to work’.

“The reason I liked John was because I go for people who are different. At first, I didn’t think that he had any particular talent, but that was before I found his sketchbook. All the students had a sketchbook for normal schoolwork, but this one was John’s private book and I’d never seen it before. Inside were loads of drawings and satirical comments about the faculty and students that obviously formed the basis for his first book.

“To say that they were brilliant would be an understatement. They showed a brand-new Lennon. Everybody loved that book, regardless of whether they were mentioned in it or not. After this point, his general work improved. He felt that he now had something to offer and could experiment with new ideas instead of just sticking to the usual curriculum.

“Cynthia also helped a great deal at this stage. She was his guiding light and even though she was the top girl in her class, she always managed to spare time for John. Even in those days, they were made for each other.

“Once I’d seen his sketchbook, I felt convinced that John could become a brilliant graphic artist, so I recommended him for the Graphic School of Art. Unfortunately, at this time John was getting a reputation as a rebel and because of this the Graphic School refused to have him. I was certain that he would succeed, so I kept trying and finally they did accept him - but in the Painting not the Graphic School! This was totally wrong, but there was nothing I could do. His graphics talents just faded out and after six months he left. I was very annoyed, because I was certain that he would have been brilliant.

“The last time I saw John was at the last Liverpool Rag Day in 1960. I was driving through the crowd which had got completely out of control, when the car was pelted with fruit and tomatoes. I peered out and there was John with some of his friends, grinning all over their faces. He came over and apologized and we parted the best of friends.”

Paul's Close Shave!

From "For Teens Only", April 1965

Paul's Close Shave!

It was a time of danger – an experience he can’t forget! When you read all about it, you won’t forget it either!

“I have a problem,” Paul confided to us one day. “It’s not actually a terrible problem but it is somewhat irritating.”

“Do you mind telling us what it is?” we asked him.

“I think you already know,” he smiled. “After all, you are looking at me. Even in pictures, my problem shows up. So it’s really no secret. It’s this…don’t you think I need a shave?”

“Well…” we said, not knowing quite what to say.

Paul laughed. “You don’t have to be diplomatic. I look like I need a shave. But the truth is – I shaved a few hours ago! And that’s my problem. I always look like I need a shave! And people usually tell me so, too!”

“Are you going to do something about it?” we wanted to know.

He told us, “I already did. I decided to give myself a really close shave.”

Paul went out and bought a brand new stainless steel razor. He also bought some special shaving cream that was supposed to be absolutely wonderful for giving a close, clean shave. He polished his bathroom mirror until it sparkled – so he could be sure what he was doing. He gathered together all his bottles of beard softeners, before-shaving lotion, after-shaving lotion, skin freshener and men’s cologne.

He splashed water on his face, then used two of his special lotions. He put just the right amount of shaving cream on his skin and picked up his bright new razor.

Paul smiled and said, “After I’d started to shave, I realised I’d forgotten to prepare one important item – band-aids! By the time I’d finished my ‘close-shave’ I really needed them!”
Paul wasn’t in danger of bleeding to death, but he did look just a bit strangled.

He told us, “I’d wanted to impress all these people who said I needed a shave. But after I was finished, I needed a doctor! I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with my problem. Another close shave like that could kill me!”

We like Paul’s face just the way it is. And we wouldn’t advise him to try to change it. After all, the last time he did, he had a very close shave – in more ways than one!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More pictures

More pictures of the Beatles' wives and girlfriends.

Ringo's 2nd Wife!

From "Teen Pin-Ups", August 1966

Ringo's 2nd wife!

Does Ringo have a hidden past? Or is it a hidden future? Find out the facts about this girl!

She’s small and slim, has a very clear complexion and has dark red-brown hair. She’s pretty and pert – and she’s Maureen Starkey, Ringo’s wife! But what is she like “behind the scenes” in her own home? That’s what you’re going to find out right now!

Ringo told us, “I guess Maureen’s gotten a ‘public image’ since she’s married me. Everyone thinks she’s very shy and quiet and content to stay in the background. I guess people picture her as the ‘typical’ Beatle girl –with long, straight hair and a very definite taste for Mod clothes. People may think she’s even rather ‘colorless’ just because she does stay in the background and not say much.”

Ringo looked around seriously. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “But people have her all wrong! Why, the girl who stands by my side for rare publicity pictures and the girl who cooks my dinner are two different people! It’s almost as if I have two wives!”

Well, we’re going to tell you about the ‘second one’ – the private one. And we’re starting with the idea that she’s not as shy and quiet as you might think!

Ringo confided, “It’s not her fault that she doesn’t go to press conferences and is hustled away when we land at airports. If she had her own way, it might not be like that! She actually loves to be with people and talk to them. Why, you should see her at a party,” he told us with a smile. “She’s not so shy and retiring then! In fact, she dances almost as well as I do!” He smiled and winked. “Notice – I said almost.”

Although Beatle girls usually ‘fade into the background’ when the boys are travelling, Maureen definitely shares a big part of Beatle life at other times. And it’s all her own idea!

Ringo confided, “Did you know that she used to handle a lot of our fan mail? Mostly, I suppose, she dealt with mine. I even think she used to hide mine – so I couldn’t get interested in any of the girl fans!” He smiled broadly then. “Come to think of it, my fan mail was much less while I was dating Maureen!”

And is Maureen (or Mo, as her close friends call her) the stylish Mod girl pictures of her show?

Ringo said, “I think the image of her as a typical Mod girl is my doing. Actually, I talked her into letting her hair grow and wearing the kind of clothes she does now. She never used to, though she’s starting to like it now. As a matter of fact, I always help her pick out her clothes – even today! So if anyone’s the Mod it’s me – not my wife!”

Although Maureen’s taste may not run toward the Mod look, she has definite opinions about other things!

Ringo said, “For one thing, my wife just can’t stand square-shaped rooms. In fact, we took one particular flat just because it had an L-shaped living room! And a girl who’d buy her husband antique swords for his birthday – well, that girl can’t be ‘colorless’, she has to have good taste.”

One thing’s sure, Maureen has excellent taste when it comes to picking husbands!

John's Magic Moment

This article appeared in "For Teens Only", July 1965.

Close your eyes for a second and think of something wonderful. Then open them and see what thrilled John so, so much!

John's Magic Moment!

Everybody has memories of happy times they’ll probably remember and cherish forever. Perhaps yours is of a birthday party or a wonderful dance or a talk with a best girlfriend. Well, John has a cherished memory, too – of a magic moment he’ll never forget.

He told us, “The first time I kissed Cyn was one of the happiest times of my life. I guess that’s when I first got the idea that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I knew as soon as I’d kissed her that she wasn’t just ‘another girl’ to date and have fun with. It was a very special moment.”

John and Cyn were both attending the Liverpool College of Art. They knew each other and had dated twice before. But the night of their first kiss was also the first time they’d dated alone!

John confided, “I felt a little shy with Cyn, although I don’t know why. She was so pretty and so nice, I felt lucky to be with her. And that made me just a bit afraid that I’d do or say something wrong. I didn’t want to hurt or offend her.”

John took Cyn to a movie and then for a bite to eat. As they sat in their booth, she talked about school and John’s extra-curricular love, music!

John smiled and said, “Cyn understood right away how I felt about my music. It was almost as if she knew me better than I knew myself.” He grinned widely and continued, “I guess you can say that’s the truth now, anyway.”

When John and Cyn left the restaurant to go to Cyn’s home they were very quiet. They just walked along together, looking at each other at times, but saying nothing. Then John reached out and took Cyn’s hand.

As John continued to speak he got sort of a ‘mellow look’ and said, “Her hand was so soft – like a kitten or a little puppy. It made me feel wonderful, just touching her.”

All too soon, John and Cyn were standing in front of her door.

“I had fun, John,” Cyn said quietly.

“So did I,” John answered.

And then he put his arm around her shoulder and leaned down to kiss her. His first kiss was a quick one – but it was tender.

John got a gleam in his eye as he said, “Of course we’ve had many many kisses and much love and happiness since then. But I look back at that moment – that first kiss – as the most magic of all. I think I’ll remind Cyn about it as soon as I can!”

We aren’t sure what happened when John reminded Cyn but we have a pretty good guess. So the next time John tells us about a magic moment, you’ll have a pretty good idea about when it happened!”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thought For The Day #2

"The one wish I’d pick is a serious one. I’d want to make sure I’d get my money’s worth out of my wish. Anyway, I’d want to change places with one of my fans for one day. The fan would be me – and I’d be the fan. Then I’d have the opportunity to scream at her and pull at her clothes and tears out hunks of her hair. I’d go to her house (really my house, you realise) and pound on the doors and windows. I’d stand out there for hours and not go away. And if the fan (being me for the day) came out, I’d start screaming and jumping up and down. I’d leave finally, but when I did, I’d take clumps of grass out of the lawn and pull flowers out of the garden. If I were a fan for a day and a fan was me, she wouldn’t forget me so fast, I assure you of that!"

John Lennon tells a teen magazine about his biggest wish (July, 1965)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"The U.S. vs. John Lennon" track listing confirmed

Here is the track listing for the "The US vs John Lennon" soundtrack, to be released on September 26, 2006.

1. Power To The People
2. Nobody Told Me
3. Working Class Hero
4. I Found Out
5. Bed Peace
6. The Ballad Of John And Yoko (The Beatles)
7. Give Peace A Chance
8. Love
9. Attica State (Live from Ann Arbor, 1971 - previously unreleased)
10. Happy Xmas (War Is over)
11. I Don't Want To Be A Soldier
12. Imagine
13. How Do You Sleep (instrumental)
14. New York City
15. John Sinclair (Live from Ann Arbor, 1971)
16. Scared
17. God
18. Here We Go Again
19. Gimme Some Truth
20. Oh My Love
21. Instant Karma

Which Beatlemania Beatle Girl Are You?

Which Beatlemania Beatle Girl Are You?

More quiz results here

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More John Lennon Photos

More of my favourite John Lennon pictures.

John Lennon says: "I want to lead a normal life"

This article appeared in "The Dave Clark Five vs The Beatles", 1964

John Lennon says: "I want to lead a normal life"

“I want my wife to lead a normal life and not be pestered night and day just because she’s married to one of the Beatles.” And so far the leader of the Beatles, also known as “The Sexy One” has been fairly successful in keeping his private life separate from the frenzied furor that surrounds him and the other three members of the group.

While female Beatlemaniacs may mourn the fact that Lennon has already been spoken for, and is not only a husband but a father too, it hasn’t spoiled his popularity. In fact, some of the more devoted fans make it a point to visit his home in Liverpool. While he accepts this as part of the price of success he isn’t crazy about it.

“My wife married me, not because I’m a Beatle, but because she loves me. Why should she have to be bothered by publicity?” He feels even more so about his young son. “I had a normal life, growing up in Liverpool – I did the things the best of the boys did in our neighborhood. I didn’t stand out in any way and nobody gave me any special attention. I think that’s best for a boy growing up, and I want it to be that way for my son.”

Suppose his son, too, shows a talent for music, we asked. Does he want the boy to follow in his footsteps?

“Time enough for that later on,” he shrugged. “If he’s got talent it’ll show in good time. Meanwhile, my wife and I just want him to have a normal childhood, you know what I mean?”

John and Cynthia article

This is part of an article about John and Cynthia that appeared in 16 magazine, August 1965

Wherever he is, whatever he is doing, he is thinking of her. Her looks – the clothes he helps to choose for her, and the black leather cap he wears that she, too, sometimes wears. Even her cooking. Always.

And she will tell how he wrote his very first song, “I Lost My Little Girl”, when he was a thousand miles away thinking of her and lonely for her.

Because destiny brought them together before IT happened. He married her before the fans began to worship him almost beyond belief. And he hasn’t changed his mind about her since.

She thinks as she sits alone, waiting to hear his smoky voice, with its warm tonal quality, of the little ways which are the moments of their truest love together. Love! This is the keyword to John’s life. She knows the key belongs to her.

“When I’m home everything seems to be right.”

Because it reminds him of her. He knows as he walks among the roaring fans that she is somewhere, a long way perhaps, but waiting for him. And thinking of him.

And in the lonely hotel rooms, he is thinking of her.

“When I’m home everything seems to be right.”

She thinks of their son - John Jr. – and how one day she will explain his famous father to him. Together each thinks the same thought, a lovely thought that draws them even closer:

“When I’m home everything seems to be right.”

[Note: "I Lost My Liittle Girl" was actually one of the first songs written by Paul McCartney, not John Lennon.]

Beatles' Girls: Cynthia Lennon

This article appeared in 16 magazine, November 1965
(There are one or two errors in the article - for example Cynthia's mother and John's Aunt Mimi did not attend their wedding.)

Beatles' Girls: Cynthia Lennon

John and Cynthia were married in August, 1962, but it wasn’t till over a year later that Beatles fans heard the news.

Despite all the changes this made to them both – like having to leave their Allerton home because they were pestered so much – Cyn has taken it all in her stride.

In fact, Cynthia Lennon has been taking it all quite calmly since the very beginning when she first bumped into the long-haired lad who was to become her hero.

Though nowadays she lives in a big mansion at Weybridge, Surrey, has a nanny to look after John Lennon II, and has a Rolls, Volkswagen, Ferrari, and Mini in the garage, Cynthia has changed little from those early days.

She is still the same quiet-spoken almost placid girl, who brewed endless cups of tea way back in 1962 when her husband John Lennon and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney got down to penning their first hit-to-be “Love Me Do”.

In those days, when the Beatles were emerging from the skiffle groove and earning only a few pounds a week between them, Cyn and John Lennon had little but love to keep them going.

There were times when it looked so hopeless that John, who had never had any other job in his life, started scanning the advertisements for work in the local papers.

It was then that the real power of Cynthia Lennon was shown with quietly whispered words of encouragement to keep going, no matter the odds, and a faith that everything would turn up trumps. The group redoubled its efforts, went to Germany and became a hit at Hamburg’s famous Star Club…where their name is still painted in red over the main doorway. Later they moved into the charts with “Love Me Do” and found a new pop generation ready and waiting to do just that.

Love, in fact, has been just about the most important word in Cynthia Lennon’s life since she first met John at art school in Liverpool. Love it was when she first began to notice the fellow student whose zany sense of fun often had everyone in stitches. Cynthia also loved the little tunes – conjured up out of the air – he used to whistle. She never guessed that these were the forerunners of others which were to become smash hits throughout the world.

Cyn and John dated between skiffle group sessions, usually after her long hours of sitting patiently by bandstands in church halls, clubs and ballrooms in the Liverpool area. And they would talk as John took her home, ten miles across the Mersey, to the little terraced house in Trinity Road, Hoylake, where she lived with her mother. When John and Cynthia decided to marry, chief guests at the wedding were Mrs Lilian Powell, the bride’s mother and John’s aunt, Mrs Mimi Smith, who had brought him up at her home in Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.

As the first Beatles wife, Cynthia Lennon quickly discovered it wasn’t the same as being married to a postman or a plumber or any other tradesman. The group was drawing big crowds, mostly girls to the Cavern Club. Their image had to be protected. It was decided that a wife wouldn’t quite fit into plans at that stage. So Cynthia Lennon had to disappear into the background for about 14 months. The Hard Day’s Night finally ended for her after the Beatles’ trip to Paris. She began to appear more and more in the news and everyone happily accepted her.

Cynthia and John both want to bring up their two year-old son, John Charles Julian, known as Julian, as any normal child. That is why little Julian frequently takes a trip north to stay with his grandmother and also to enjoy a holiday at the family’s favorite spot in North Wales.

What is Cynthia Lennon really like? Her mother once said: “Cynthia is a shy girl. She does not want to share the same bright spot as John.”

A friend says: “I think her main interest, outside her family and home, is art. She relaxes by painting. She was never really one of the beat clique.

“She has few close friends, but now that Ringo has married, Cynthia and Maureen have been drawn closer together.

“Cynthia is a very intelligent girl and has been a real inspiration to John. I don’t think he would have been half so good if they had not met.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Beatle Girls Gallery

Pictures of Maureen Starkey, Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd and Jane Asher. Most of these are from various issues of 16 magazine unless otherwise stated. Sorry some of them are so small!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Beatles Story Wiki

Here's an interesting link that I've just discovered: The Beatles Story Wiki is a new online interactive encyclopedia devoted to the Beatles. Fans can submit new information to the site and edit existing articles. At the moment the Wiki is concentrating on the period from 1957-1963.

Win an updated guide to Beatles' Liverpool

icLiverpool is offering you the chance to win a free copy of "The Beatles' Liverpool", a guide to Beatles-related places in and around Liverpool. Find out how to win here. The competition closes on August 31 2006. I'm assuming the offer is probably only open to people in the UK, though I'm not sure.

My Top Ten Beatles Moments

As part of a group writing project taking place at The Beatles World I have put together a list of my Top Ten Beatles Moments.
I'm sure you'll understand how hard it was to choose just ten points to write about! If you disagree with my choices, why not make your own list and post the link to it over at The Beatles World website.


My Top Ten Beatles Moments

1. Woolton Village Fete (6 July, 1957) - This is probably the single most important event in the entire history of the Beatles. Ivan Vaughan introduced 15 year old Paul McCartney to 16 year old John Lennon, John asked Paul to join his band The Quarrymen and the greatest songwriting partnership of all time was born.

2. Hamburg – As John Lennon once said, “I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool.” It was here that the Beatles developed their distinctive sound, widened their repertoire and got used to performing for a more demanding audience than they’d encountered at home. They also formed some important new friendships in Hamburg, most notably with Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voorman and Jurgen Vollmer, who went on to influence the way the Beatles dressed and cut their hair.

3. First recording contract – The first real turning point in the Beatles' career came when they were offered their first recording contract with George Martin and Parlophone in 1962. Their first single “Love Me Do” only reached #17 in the UK chart, but their insistence on recording only original Lennon-McCartney compositions paid off when “Please Please Me” went to #1. After that there was no looking back.

4. Beatlemania – Beatlemania began in the UK in 1963, quickly sweeping across Europe and then the rest of the world by 1964. The actual word first appeared in the British newspaper The Daily Mirror the day after the Beatles’ appearance on “Sunday Night at the London Palladium”.

5. The Ed Sullivan Show – As part of their first US visit in 1964, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. This is considered by many Americans to be one of the defining moments of the 1960s and marked the start of the ‘British Invasion’.

6. Bigger Than Jesus – When John Lennon remarked to journalist Maureen Cleave in a 1966 interview that “we’re more popular than Jesus now” he could never have imagined the chaos it would cause. After his comment was published out of context in an American teen magazine, it sparked record-burnings, protests and threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Never before had a so-called pop-star’s words been taken so seriously. Significantly for the Beatles it came at a time when they were growing increasingly tired of touring and together with recent trouble in the Philippines and the inability to hear themselves play over the noise of their screaming fans, it contributed to their decision to stop touring altogether and concentrate on their work in the studio.

7. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – In my opinion every new Beatles album and single marked a defining moment. I personally prefer Revolver and Rubber Soul, but I have chosen to include Sgt Pepper in my Top 10 Beatles Moments because I consider it to be their most innovative album and the one that has probably had the biggest influence on popular culture.

8. India – In 1968 the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh in India to study transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Much of their music on “The White Album” was inspired by their time in India and all four Beatles have said they considered it to be a worthwhile experience, although it was only really George who kept up an interest in Indian culture afterwards.

9. Rooftop Concert – This 1969 concert on the roof of the Apple building in Savile Row, London marked a moment where the Beatles were able to put aside their differences for long enough to give one last performance, featuring songs from their new album “Let It Be”. Within a few months of the Rooftop Concert, the Beatles had broken up (although the break-up was not officially announced until 1970).

10. Beatles Anthology – I’ve included this to show that the Beatles’ story didn’t end with the break-up or with John Lennon’s death. Anthology was released in 1995 as 3 volumes of demos and unreleased versions of Beatles songs, and was accompanied by a TV series which was later released on video and then DVD. Two unreleased John Lennon songs “Real Love” and “Free As A Bird” were also included, with Paul, George and Ringo playing along with John’s voice. The importance of Anthology was not just that it gave existing fans the chance to hear previously unheard songs, but it also helped to win over a whole new generation of fans.

The Spiritual Side of the Fab Four

See if you can get all 10 right in this quiz from

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

War Is Over (If You Want It)

The following pictures are from John and Yoko's 1969 "War Is Over" campaign in which they put up huge billboards in eleven cities around the world, reading "WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko". When John was asked how much the billboards had cost, he replied, "I don't know, but it's cheaper than somebody's life."

Billboard in London

Billboard in New York

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Talk show host Mike Douglas dies on 81st birthday

[Associated Press]

Mike Douglas, whose affable personality and singing talent earned him 21 years as a television talk show host, died Friday on his 81st birthday.

He died at 5:30 a.m. in a Palm Beach Gardens hospital, said his wife, Genevieve Douglas. She wasn't sure of the cause, but said he had been admitted Thursday.

Douglas' afternoon show aired from 1961 to 1982. It featured his ballad and big-band singing style, other musicians, comedians, sports figures and political personalities, including seven former, sitting or future presidents.

Douglas was genial most of the time, but confided in his memoir that his composure was sorely tested one week in 1972 when former Beatle John Lennon and wife, Yoko Ono, were his unlikely guest hosts. One of the guest celebrities they selected was well-known anti-war activist Jerry Rubin.

"He just got on my nerves. It sounded like this guy hated the president, the Congress, everyone in business, the military, all police and just about everything America stands for," Douglas said.

He recalled becoming confrontational with Rubin. But Lennon "picked up the mantle of Kind and Gentle Host, and he did it quite well, reinterpreting Jerry's comments to take some of the sting out and adding a little humor to keep things cool," Douglas said.

Full story here

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Beatle Adoptions

Last updated: 23 May 2007

Here are all the Beatles I've "adopted".