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- Five Common Myths About The Beatles' U.S. Invasion, 50 Years Ago
The Beatles playing The Cavern in Liverpool. Consider the continuous, constant, staggering interaction between the 37 trillion cells currently sailing on waves of fiber and plasma in your body, right this very instant; remember, just as many forces and factors and coincidences and catastrophes shape every life, every career, the fortune and destiny of every star and every UPS man, every criminal and every Christ, every substitute teacher and every Beatle.
Chance, baby, it swings like a pendulum. But it so happens we know a lot about the Beatles, so we can document the agents of their fortune. When that tale is told, Allan Williams would be as important as any man or woman in the story. The beta version of the future beat gods caught his eye sometime in late or early when they first performed at the Jacaranda , a legendary Liverpool coffee bar run by Williams and his wife, Beryl. In the first months of the new decade, Williams helped the trembling and formative band then comprised of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison become a more reliable gigging outfit by procuring them a steady drummer first Tommy Moore and then Norman Chapman, before settling on Pete Best.
He then turned them into professionals, and gave them invaluable performance experience by booking them regularly in Liverpool and other venues in the North. Virtually every single working band has its own Hamburg, and can tell you exactly what the idea of Hamburg means. Hamburg, the reality and the myth, is virtually the invention—or more accurately, the discovery—of Allan Williams.
Perhaps someone else would have eventually stumbled across this same idea; but it was Williams who did it first, and far more importantly, since he was from Liverpool and since he managed the Beatles, he brought over the Beatles. Rating details. All Languages.
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He's emphatic that "Tune In" isn't a hagiography, the literary version of a Beatles concert's high-pitched screams. Ah, but it's a season for myths. American media is currently drowning in biographies and retrospectives linked to the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination , and for all the attempts at hard-nosed history, it's still challenging to watch videos of the youthful president and not be swept away by the yearning, emotional pull of what-might-have-been.
The Beatles, too, have become encrusted by an aura of nostalgia and wonder, as if subjects of an ancient legend. Lewisohn is far from the first to try to get underneath the shell.
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Hunter Davies wrote an authorized take in the late '60s; Philip Norman published the essential "Shout! As the 50th anniversary of their "Ed Sullivan Show" debut nears on February 9, the marketplace fills with more -- not just books, but also a new music release. Here are the Beatles from , when they were still a little raw, driving the motorways of Britain in the era's version of an Econoline van to fulfill the latest one-nighter on their concert schedule. For the BBC, Britain's broadcasting monolith, the group was energetic and eager-to-please, says Kevin Howlett, who helped put together the collection.
It's a sequel to the recently re-released and remastered "Live at the BBC," which originally came out in For one recording, during a bitter, snowy winter, they did a show in Bristol and then drove to London -- a two-hour trip on a good day -- for their BBC take the next morning. The BBC didn't play many records, so it was perform live or nothing.
Indeed, they were amazingly versatile. The Beatles somehow obtained a copy -- it probably helped that their manager, Brian Epstein, managed a record store -- quickly learned it and performed it on a broadcast. They were also known to adapt American favorites for cover versions or to give them ideas for originals. Those kinds of talents are what set the Beatles apart from their competition, says John Covach, the director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester, who's taught courses on the group.
Covach mentions a variety of early songs -- "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "If I Fell" -- that start out with fairly conventional structures but always have a twist somewhere: a drop to a minor chord, a leap to a high note. Author Mark Lewisohn recently published the first volume of his Beatles biography. The Beatles freely admitted borrowing from others. They had "big ears," in the jargon of music aficionados -- they'd listen to anything -- and tried to write their own versions of American hits.
After all, their Liverpool colleagues were doing the same covers the Beatles did. Though the songs came in handy for their own group, even McCartney and John Lennon were under no illusions that the Beatles would last. Their long-term goal was to simply be songwriters for others, after all. It kind of morphed into something else.
Five Common Myths About The Beatles' U.S. Invasion, 50 Years Ago
See Ringo's photographs. Of course, that's what leads to the present mythology -- the "something else. The Beatles prepare to leave for America in early It's all become wrapped up in a ball by now: the cheeky press conferences, the madcap lads of "A Hard Day's Night," the psychedelic savants of "Tomorrow Never Knows," the Apple business and the fade-out -- not to mention the tragic deaths of Lennon's friend Stu Sutcliffe, manager Brian Epstein and Lennon himself.
No wonder there are entire festivals devoted to all things Beatle , and have been for decades. For Lewisohn, the biographer, that just means digging deeper to get to the heart of it all.