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It was 50 years ago today... Sgt Pepper taught a band to play
July 6, 2007 3:09 AM   Subscribe

Birth of the Beatles On July 6, 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at The Woolton Church Parish Fete where The Quarry Men were appearing. John Lennon was impressed that Paul McCartney could tune a guitar and his knowledge of rock & roll lyrics.
posted by psmealey (56 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
BBC Radio 4 have marked the occasion with a documentary, Well Met in Woolton.
posted by ceri richard at 3:49 AM on July 6, 2007


And, from the other end of the Beatles' career, Lennon: The Wenner Tapes was on Radio 4 this morning - Listen Again link, programme page.
posted by jack_mo at 3:50 AM on July 6, 2007


No Beatles thread would be complete without a link to Grow a Brain's Beatles page.
posted by caddis at 4:30 AM on July 6, 2007


In one of my high school English classes, we were required to write a paper about a poet. Any poet.

I chose John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and called the paper "Lennon/McCartney, Poets of a Generation", or something like that. Got an "A". Anyway, the first paragraph began almost exactly like psmealey's post, except for the "Birth of the Beatles" bit.

I'm rambling again, aren't I? Ah, well.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:32 AM on July 6, 2007




In the early 1970s, everybody was looking for the "new Beatles." They were looking in all the wrong places. Musically, the ABBAs were a new Beatles, the Ramones were a new Beatles. But really, the new Beatles weren't to be found in the world of music. The new Beatles turned out to be the internet.
posted by Faze at 6:48 AM on July 6, 2007


The newer Beatles is Islamofascism!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:53 AM on July 6, 2007


Wouldn't this be more appropriately called the "conception" of the Beatles?
posted by JBennett at 6:57 AM on July 6, 2007


You might have a point, JBennett. Arguably, the Beatles weren't born until they met Brian Epstein and perhaps more importantly, George Martin.
posted by psmealey at 7:05 AM on July 6, 2007


Klaatu! Squeeze and Crowded House are two of my favorite "new Beatles."

Via Grow a Brain's page: Flckr photoset of The Beatles' last day together, at John's Tittenhurst house on August 22, 1969. One of the photos like this was used as the cover for the Hey Jude compilation.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:07 AM on July 6, 2007


It's weird to be able to listen to them at Woolton.
posted by pracowity at 7:17 AM on July 6, 2007


Arguably, the Beatles weren't born until they met Brian Epstein and perhaps more importantly, George Martin.

As important as those two gentlemen were, the birth of what we know as the Beatles was in Hamburg where they played long sets of whatever a random drunk requested. This gave them the huge breadth of influences and near telepathic tightness, which was the foundation all their innovations required.

(also, the best 'new Beatles' was the Knickerbockers. Get ahold of "Lies" that song fools even old hands)
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2007


the best 'new Beatles' was the Knickerbockers

I would have said Badfinger, but OK.
posted by psmealey at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2007


Awesome diagram on Wikipedia of how the band line-up changed from The Quarrymen to the Beatles over time.
posted by grouse at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2007


A gravestone in the cemetery at that church.
posted by pracowity at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would have said Badfinger, but OK.

Trust me on this. How four guys from Jersey managed to sound exactly like the Beatles is beyond me, but hey...gear, fab...
posted by jonmc at 7:31 AM on July 6, 2007


Get ahold of "Lies" that song fools even old hands

Wow. Just have. Spot-on. Even has that bit of raucousness that early Beatles songs had.

Which reminds me: I recently listened to the Smithereens' cover of the Meet the Beatles album (titled, naturally, Meet the Smithereens, hmm) and I have to say: I have no problem with anyone trying to do faithful covers of songs, but every track the Smithereens did was just short of that rock and roll energy they needed to have. The harmonies were amazingly clean and clear, but the just-at-the-point-of-breaking rock energy of my favorite band1 was MISSING. Even the parts where John and Paul screamed, the Smithereens chose not to. Result: an interesting, if lackluster, effort.

Sorry about the digression. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

1 The Beatles, natch.
posted by grubi at 8:01 AM on July 6, 2007


Great post. Wow, the Listen Again link / Wenner interview is incredible in just how brutally honest he appeared.

John Lennon refers to himself as a genius throughout the interview, very interesting.
posted by fatbaq at 8:14 AM on July 6, 2007


John Lennon refers to himself as a genius throughout the interview, very interesting.

As much as I loved (and, truthfully, worshipped) the Beatles, there's always been something off-putting about how incredibly tedious they seemed to become as individuals later on.

Maybe it's impossible to expect people to survive that kind of fame without it affecting them deeply and turning them into coccooned blowhards, but a lot of the stuff from Lennon and McCartney interviews past 1970 just make me cringe.

Just because you can have a huge impact on the world with your art doesn't mean than you can save it, or really even change it in any meaningful way.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 8:31 AM on July 6, 2007


Tommy Gnosis - Just because you can have a huge impact on the world with your art doesn't mean than you can save it, or really even change it in any meaningful way.

Well... Jesus saves, and The Beatles were bigger than him.
posted by pruner at 8:47 AM on July 6, 2007


National Lampoon did a great send-up of the Wenner interview, called Magical Misery Tour. WFMU has the mp3 here.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:11 AM on July 6, 2007


As a bit more information, Magical Misery Tour was on National Lampoon's 1972 record Radio Dinner (so it followed rather close in time to the December, 1970 interview).
posted by AgentRocket at 9:14 AM on July 6, 2007


Just because you can have a huge impact on the world with your art doesn't mean than you can save it, or really even change it in any meaningful way.

But they already had changed it in a meaningful way. Otherwise everyone would have been listening to Neil Sedaka and Bobby Vee through the sixties. Summer of Meh.

I posted this Knickerbockers clip from Hullaballoo in an earlier thread. They gave the lead singer a sax to hold because he was feeling shy. Awesome.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:17 AM on July 6, 2007


Otherwise everyone would have been listening to Neil Sedaka and Bobby Vee through the sixties.

Think about this: every time some man lets his hair grow a little bit and wears it long to the office without it being an issue, one can thank the Beatles.
posted by grubi at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2007


I blame the Beatles for Bill Gates' unfortunate coif.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:24 AM on July 6, 2007


Certainly if music = the world, then without a doubt, they changed the world, no question. My point was more about the whole Lennon as peace advocate, hippie sage, revolutionary, visionary, etc. Last time I checked, governments were still defrauding their people and starting unnecessary wars, etc. Not to say that he could have had that power, but listening to his interviews, you got the sense from Lennon that he thought he had influence over such things. He didn't.

Neil Sedaka

I hate Neil Sedaka, but he was a great songwriter. I just wished to God he would have given his better songs to someone else to sing. His voice and cheesy delivery always bugged me. He was the Richard Simmons of rock 'n' roll.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2007


I wasn't aware of the anniversary today. Thanks for the post.

Breaks out copy of U.S. version of Rubber Soul.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 9:27 AM on July 6, 2007


I think Lennon needed to believe that in order to feel purposeful; after you've already been a Beatle, what else is there to do as a rock-n-roller? Agreed that Bag-ins barely register on the Useful Preoccupations meter, but there was a lot of stupid stuff going on in the world- it seemed like the main options were Drop Out or Get Angry.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2007


after you've already been a Beatle, what else is there to do as a rock-n-roller?

Which may be why his best solo album was when he decided to record the old-school rock and roll he loved best. The joy in his performances is palpable on that platter.
posted by jonmc at 9:49 AM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


So true, jonmc. The only redeeming thing about the miserable film Let it Be is the rooftop concert where for a short while they seem to actually forget about the infighting and drama and just rock out. (I love the gentleman with the bowler and pipe climbing onto the roof at about 2:52. He always makes my moment.)
posted by oneirodynia at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2007


thank you oneirodynia, and I hope I passed the audition.
posted by jonmc at 10:14 AM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


also, the Beatles are responsible for much more in rock and roll than the stuff where their musical influence obviously shows. Millions of young men the world over saw footage of young girls screaming and chasing the Beatles and tearing at their clothes and most of them said, 'yes, give me some of that' and formed bands. However making music like the Beatles was deceptively difficult, so most of them imitated the Stones and the Yardbirds instead (they were harder to replicate, but easier to imitate) thus resulting in all the garage bands that through a long convoluted process resulted in punk rock.
posted by jonmc at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just want to thank psmealey and all the great commenters for the post and the nifty supporting links. Nice job.
posted by anastasiav at 10:22 AM on July 6, 2007


...and I hope we passed the audition.
posted by grubi at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2007


DAMMIT. jonmc beat me to it.
posted by grubi at 10:25 AM on July 6, 2007


Hee. I've always thought that was the perfect, career ending celluloid bookend to "Hey kids! I've got an idea- why don't we do the show right here!"
posted by oneirodynia at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2007


the just-at-the-point-of-breaking rock energy

Grubi captured it right there. That's the essence that made them so damn exciting. I only saw the Ed Sullivan Show footage for the first time in 1997, during the last big Beatles revival. But even to my jaded ("i've been in bands forever, dude") eyes at the point, they still blew me away. They played with amphetamine energy, and teetered on the edge of it all breaking down (a voice cracking, a clunker chord, a missed beat), but it never did. Just magnificent.
posted by psmealey at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I FPP'd the rooftop concert on its 38th anniversary (Jan 30, 2007).
posted by pruner at 10:30 AM on July 6, 2007


d'oh!

it seems that the vids I'd linked to in my FPP were pulled by YouTube.
posted by pruner at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2007


That Wenner interview with Lennon reminded me of this old National Lampoon bit. Tony Hendra used quotes from the interview to create a parody, "Genius is Pain."
posted by maryh at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2007


Looks like AgentRocket beat me to it! well, oops.
posted by maryh at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2007


jonmc, that solo album review link you posted just shows how much of a pretentious twat Christgau is.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2007


yeah, Christgau's an ass, (I'm a Dave Marsh, Lester Bangs, Chuck Klosterman, Gerald Early man) but I needed a quick link to show what album I meant. Forgive me.
posted by jonmc at 10:50 AM on July 6, 2007


I'd rather read Christgau than Meltzer. /derail
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 11:28 AM on July 6, 2007


I'd rather read the four guys I mentioned than either of them. Meltzer is annoying, but he's forgiven due to his involvement with my beloved Dictators.
posted by jonmc at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2007


Has anybody here ever heard real skiffle? Where would one here it? (I don't want to pay.)
posted by zorro astor at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2007


I love "Lies" and I've always known it was The Knickerbockers, but that video was weird. I couldn't reconcile the images with the sound they were making.

YouTube has several videos of The Knickerbockers, including a Beatles-lite "High On Love" and "I Can Do It Better" (again with the saxophone) and covers of "Tired of Waiting for You" and "Help!"

My Meet the Smithereens FPP.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:03 PM on July 6, 2007


zorro astor:

Lonnie Donegan is your go-to guy for skiffle. There's not much on YouTube, but I found this little clip. The song that launched skiffle (inasmuch as "Rock Around the Clock" launched rock & roll) was Donegan's version of "Rock Island Line." I bet you can find an audio sample of it somewhere on the Internets.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 12:15 PM on July 6, 2007


Others were impressed by their tight trousers.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


the best 'new Beatles' was the Knickerbockers

The amazing thing about the Beatles was that some really good bands could build an entire career out of sounding just like the Beatles, but the bands didn't even sound like each other. Some sounded like early Beatles (The Chartbusters, the Knickerbockers), some like Rubber Soul/Revolver-era Beatles (The Merry-Go-Round), some like Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles (Lazy Smoke), some like Abbey Road/Let It Be (Badfinger). How many bands can say that?
posted by jonp72 at 4:26 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Goo goo goo joob
posted by growabrain at 6:27 PM on July 6, 2007


poets change the world but giving voice to the emotions of their era/generation/zeitgeist whathave you. articulating what others can barely sense or just feel the edges of. bob dylan changed our world with "Blowin' in the wind". John Lennon changed our world with "Imagine".

Concepts barely understood or tangible become meaningful when captured in music and song, evoking emotions at a fundamental human level, across any artificial barriers of language, culture, class, caste or race. they touch those things in the human soul that first woke up in prehistory, when primitive man considered giving voice, naming things, certain chants, musics and dance, to have great power and meaning.

these are but the voices of our times
posted by infini at 9:40 PM on July 6, 2007


sorry, bad typo there "change the world BY giving voice"
posted by infini at 9:41 PM on July 6, 2007


Hard Nights Day. If you want to experience the music of The Beatles live today, I strongly urge you to seek these guys out. You will not be disappointed. They play at Dallas' Club Dada once or twice a month.

I am not a big fan of the idea of cover bands, but these guys changed my mind on that score. They do more than just copy what The Beatles did. They don't try to look like them, except occasionally in jest. They just love the music and know how to have fun with it.

(This is not a solicited endorsement. I don't know any of these guys personally. I've just seen a couple of their performances over the years and I think they rock.)
posted by ZachsMind at 3:46 PM on July 7, 2007


....Okay they didn't used to dress up like the recent videos on YouTube show. When I saw them they just wore street clothes. They still sound great tho.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:11 AM on July 8, 2007


Has anybody here ever heard real skiffle? Where would one here it? (I don't want to pay.)

Man, you're in for a treat. Skiffle rules. You'll have no problem downloading Lonnie Donegan compilation albums, and if you like him, you can find a comps like Freight Train: The Skiffle Explosion, which has Donegan, his arch rivals The Vipers, and lots of other good stuff on the Bittorrent trackers that specialise in music.
posted by jack_mo at 3:55 AM on July 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


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