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Review: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story – What’s all the fuss about?

fifthbeatle-coverWhat is all the fuss about the graphic novel by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker about Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager? This book has been getting a great deal of attention due to the fact that it not only will be made into a feature film by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, but also a multi-part television series with Sonar Entertainment.

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story is a visually elaborate re-telling of  Beatles’ history as seen through the perspective of their manager, who many including Paul McCartney have called “The Fifth Beatle.” However, that title is not an exclusive one. Recently, after Beatles’ producer George Martin died, Paul McCartney also deemed him “The Fifth Beatle.”

However, Epstein may deserve the title more since without him, The Beatles may have never made it out of Liverpool. It was Brian who persevered in acquiring The Beatles a record contract in England after repeated rejection. It was Brian who negotiated their debut in America with Capitol Records and Ed Sullivan. It was Brian who encouraged them to clean up their act to be presentable to the public. Brian may have believed in The Beatles more than they themselves did.

To tell the complete history of The Beatles, a graphic novel can be a challenging format. Due to the comic book layout, The Fifth Beatle tells its story through more of a screenplay or storyboard format rather than a traditional book, which explains why it can easily be envisioned for the screen. Unlike other graphic novels, The Fifth Beatle leaves out a narrator. As a result, the characters are required to explain much more through their words than they probably did in actuality.

A key drawback of a biographical film adapted from a book is that it leaves out many important facts and details. In some instances, the film creates new truths to satisfy dramatic effect in order to make the movie more entertaining – what is commonly known as “dramatic license.”

Unfortunately, right off the bat, author Tiwary admits that the truth wasn’t a priority to him in his book in telling Brian Epstein’s story: “Almost everything in the pages you’ve just read actually did happen” Tiwary writes. “But conveying the truth – while important – has never been my primary goal.”

Tiwary’s goal was “to reveal not just the facts but the poetry behind the Brian Epstein story.” He certainly finds inspiration and admiration for Epstein in all the obstacles he faced, not only in promoting The Beatles, but dealing with his closeted homosexuality. But that doesn’t excuse perpetuating detrimental myths back into Beatles’ lore. These “truths” used for drama are harmful to the legacy of The Beatles.

For example, The Fifth Beatle depicts Brian Epstein as purposely buying 10,000 copies of The Beatles first single “Love Me Do” in order to get it higher on the UK charts. Great for dramatic effect, but not so great if you’re into the truth.

Beatles historian and author, Mark Lewisohn, definitively states in his recent book, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1, that Epstein did not do this and that this nasty rumor “unfairly casts a blight on his integrity.”

As John Lennon stated: “It [Love Me Do] sold so many in Liverpool the first two days — because they were all waiting for us to make it — that the dealers down in London thought there was a fiddle on. ‘That Mr. Epstein feller up there is cheating.’ But he wasn’t.”

Tiwary further implies that Epstein also overbought quantities of “Please Please Me” for his NEMS record shops to help it reach number one. Mark Lewisohn’s research refutes that explaining that “in 1962, it made no difference how many copies a shop sold of any record because the charts weren’t computed that way.”
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Another depiction that is greatly exaggerated is Brian Epstein’s dealings with Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Parker. In The Fifth Beatle, the Colonel is depicted as devilish and horribly unfair to Elvis for taking 50 percent of his earnings.
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However, the 50/50 contract, which only applied to side deals, was not signed until 1967, three years after the meeting between Parker and Epstein took place in 1964. The 50/50 split did not apply to all of Presley’s earnings until 1976, a year before Presley died. Another case of dramatic license, and yet the movie hasn’t even been made yet.
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Unlike what is presented in The Fifth Beatle, Colonel Parker was reportedly a big help to Brian Epstein and they got along well. Author Ray Coleman describes Colonel Parker as being generous in his advice to Brian about The Beatles touring in the States.

“Elvis has required every moment of my time, and I think he would have suffered had I signed anyone else,” Parker told Epstein, as recounted in Coleman’s biography of Brian Epstein. “But I admire you, Brian, for doing it… But remember, too, that when Presley soared to fame I was 44. When the Beatles happened, you were 28. That helps.”

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While Tiwary succeeds in passionately giving credit to Epstein for his role in promoting the biggest band of all time, he also raises concern by presenting inaccurate facts in his graphic novel, which may then be carried over into the forthcoming movie and TV series.
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It’s true that many films adapted from nonfiction books sometimes rearrange or embellish the truth in order to get the main message or theme across. However, something so detrimental to Epstein’s reputation as “buying” The Beatles’ popularity should have been researched more thoroughly. Hopefully, the film version will redeem itself by still exuding Epstein’s passion without sacrificing his integrity. — Trina Yannicos
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Note: A special Collector’s Edition of The Fifth Beatle was recently released which includes a unique textured cover and a section of bonus materials with rare Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia, artist sketches and alternate covers.
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Ringo Starr ‘Photograph’ live slideshow in Los Angeles and book review

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr in Los Angeles, Sept 25, 2015; Photo credit: Daytrippin.com

The new Photograph book by Ringo Starr includes Ringo’s personal photos mixed with handwritten letters and memorabilia from his own collection. Ringo attributes the majority of the items shown in the book up to 1964 thanks to his mother who was diligent at saving everything.

The book spans Starr’s lifetime from his early childhood, including time spent in the hospital, his teenage years playing with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, all the way through to his solo career playing with the first All-Starr band. The Beatles’ years feature unique photos of Ringo’s bandmates that only another “Beatle” could capture.

Ringo Starr Photograph bookThe 304-page book has a dust jacket with a hole cut out on the front to reveal a photo of Ringo (the first “selfie”) on the actual hardcover of the book. This is the third incarnation of the book which was released as a limited edition book by Genesis Publications in 2013 along with a multimedia-filled e-book.
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On September 25, 2015, Ringo joined Conan O’Brien in a live slideshow event at the El Rey Theatre to discuss Photograph. O’Brien, a self-professed Beatles fan, was the perfect choice to interview Starr trading one-liners with him throughout the conversation.

Conan and Ringo sat on the corner of the stage facing each other with a huge screen in the background. Laughter set the tone of the evening. Conan started off by saying: “I think I’m here to book you an airline flight, Ringo. Would you like an aisle seat?”

As the slideshow began, the audience reacted fondly to early photos of Ringo with his mother, including one when he was 7 years old in the hospital with tuberculosis. Ringo shared stories of what his early childhood was like as pictures of him with one of his first drum kits was shown.

When Conan pointed out the streak of gray on the right side of Ringo’s hair noticeable in some early pictures, Ringo revealed that he had alopecia at age 18. He said the doctors told him it would either eventually cover his whole head or it would go away altogether. Luckily for Ringo, the gray went away by the time he was a Beatle.

Ringo Starr and Conan O'Brien

Ringo Starr and Conan O’Brien in conversation at the El Rey Theatre, Sept 25, 2015; Photo credit: Daytrippin.com

In one photo on page 62 of the book, Ringo, pictured with his mother, Elsie, and stepdad, Harry, is showing off his shoes which happen to be Birkenstocks.

“I was ahead of my time,” Ringo responded.
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Ringo described how The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, called him on a Wednesday in 1962 asking him to join the Beatles and play a gig with them that night. However, Ringo had already committed to a gig with Rory Storm at Butlins Camp so Ringo explained that he’d join the band on Saturday.

“I’ll join the Beatles, but on my schedule,” Conan joked.

On page 82 is a photo of Ringo with George Harrison and Paul McCartney before he had joined The Beatles. A girl on the right side is staring at Paul. “The best part of this photo for me,” Ringo observed, “is the chick looking at Paul… She’s like, ‘I’m ready.'”

Pointing out his picture of John Lennon sitting in a hotel room, Ringo said, “What the hell is he doing… nobody can do this!” Ringo and Conan both remarked how Lennon’s leg was extremely flexible to sit up so high on his lap. “Cirque du Soleil was calling,” Ringo quipped.

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Moving through The Beatles’ years, there was a shot of Ringo and Peter Sellers, who The Beatles were big fans of. In 1969, Ringo starred with Sellers in the film, ‘The Magic Christian.’ Ringo revealed that in addition to money, Sellers gave him his house as payment for being in the film.

“What?” Conan exclaimed. “That’s fantastic, you had a great agent,” he continued. “I’m calling my agent tomorrow and firing him.”

During the hour-long conversation, Ringo stated his hopes for a future project. Since all four of The Beatles had their own cameras during Beatlemania, Ringo hopes that a second photo book can be done in collaboration with the photos of John, Paul and George. “Then I’ll be in more of the photos,” Ringo concluded.

Ringo Starr’s Photograph is available on Amazon.com
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The Beatles official music videos finally to be released on DVD

Beatles 1+ Deluxe Edition Celebrates the Sights and Sounds of The Beatles in 50 Films and Videos paired with all-new stereo and surround audio mixes of The Beatles 1

Rain-May201966

The Beatles filming “Rain”, May 20, 1966; Photo: Apple Corps Ltd

“These videos and films are spectacular reminders of the era we lived in. They also rock!” – Paul McCartney

“I think it’s really interesting to see the videos we made, some of them incredible and some of them really incredible.  How else would we have got to sit on a horse?” – Ringo Starr

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Finally, 50 of the Beatles music videos will be officially released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 6. The video packages will be available for purchase either separately or together with a new stereo surround mix of The Beatles 1 greatest hits collection CD.

PrintThe brand new Beatles 1+ celebrates their career in over 200 minutes through 50 promotional films and videos. This includes the 27 No.1s, with the restored videos, along with a second disc of 23 videos, including alternate versions, as well as rarely seen and newly restored films and videos; all include new audio mixes in deluxe CD/2DVD and CD/2Blu-ray packages.

DeluxeBluRayThe 27-track CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray pairs beautifully restored videos for each song with new stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS HD surround audio mixes. The 27-track audio CD is also being made available with new stereo mixes. A 2LP, 180-gram vinyl package will follow.

The new editions of The Beatles 1 have been made possible following extensive research, and restoration of the original promo films, classic television appearances and other carefully selected videos spanning the band’s history. Apple Corps dug deep into The Beatles’ vaults to select a broad range of films and videos for their rarity, historical significance and quality of performance.

An 18-person team of film and video technicians and restoration artists was assembled by Apple Corps to undertake painstaking frame-by-frame cleaning, color-grading, digital enhancement and new edits that took months of dedicated, ‘round-the-clock work to accomplish.

HelloGoodbye-Nov101967

The Beatles filming “Hello Goodbye” on November 10, 1967; Photo: Apple Corps Ltd.

The result is a visual rundown of The Beatles’ number one records, as well as additional tracks on the bonus disc of Beatles 1+. 20 of the films and videos were not used in The Beatles’ Anthology and of the remaining 30 included on The Beatles 1+ these were only seen in part or in alternate edits. For four of the videos, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have provided exclusive audio commentary and filmed introductions, respectively. 

DeluxeBluRaypackageThe 1+ Deluxe Edition is presented in an expanded 124-page illustrated hardcover book which includes ‘an appreciation’ of The Beatles’ groundbreaking films and videos by music journalist and author Mark Ellen and extensive, detailed track/video annotation by music historian and author Richard Havers.

The Beatles 1 27-track DVD and Blu-ray have a running time of 110 minutes, and the bonus 23-track DVD and Blu-ray included on the Beatles 1+ set run for 95 minutes.

(Source: Official Press release)

Order links

1 CD (2015 remaster)

1 DVD

1 Blu-ray

1 CD/DVD

1 CD/Blu-ray

1+ Deluxe CD/2DVD

1+ Deluxe CD/2Blu-ray

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Full Track Listing:

The Beatles 1 [CD; DVD; Blu-ray; CD/DVD; CD/Blu-ray]

DISC 1 AUDIO (CD) + DISC 1 VIDEO (DVD or Blu-ray)

  1. Love Me Do
  2. From Me To You
  3. She Loves You
  4. I Want To Hold Your Hand
  5. Can’t Buy Me Love
  6. A Hard Day’s Night
  7. I Feel Fine
  8. Eight Days a Week
  9. Ticket To Ride
  10. Help!
  11. Yesterday
  12. Day Tripper
  13. We Can Work It Out
  14. Paperback Writer
  15. Yellow Submarine
  16. Eleanor Rigby
  17. Penny Lane
  18. All You Need Is Love
  19. Hello, Goodbye
  20. Lady Madonna
  21. Hey Jude
  22. Get Back
  23. The Ballad of John and Yoko
  24. Something
  25. Come Together
  26. Let It Be
  27. The Long and Winding Road

DISC 1 VIDEO EXTRAS

Paul McCartney audio commentary

Penny Lane
Hello, Goodbye
Hey Jude

Ringo Starr filmed introductions

Penny Lane
Hello, Goodbye
Hey Jude
Get Back

The Beatles 1+ (CD/2DVD; CD/2Blu-ray]

DISC 1 AUDIO (CD) + DISC 1 VIDEO (DVD or Blu-ray)

(same as above)

DISC 2 VIDEO (DVD or Blu-ray)

  1. Twist & Shout
  2. Baby It’s You
  3. Words Of Love
  4. Please Please Me
  5. I Feel Fine
  6. Day Tripper *
  7. Day Tripper *
  8. We Can Work It Out *
  9. Paperback Writer *
  10. Rain *
  11. Rain *
  12. Strawberry Fields Forever
  13. Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows
  14. A Day In The Life
  15. Hello, Goodbye *
  16. Hello, Goodbye *
  17. Hey Bulldog
  18. Hey Jude *
  19. Revolution
  20. Get Back *
  21. Don’t Let Me Down
  22. Free As A Bird
  23. Real Love

DISC 2 VIDEO EXTRA

Paul McCartney audio commentary

Strawberry Fields Forever

 

* alternate version

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Review: Special Collector’s Edition of Beatles first official book

Ever wonder what The Beatles did on the day this picture was taken?
The Beatles "On Air: Live At The BBC Vol 2" Cover
This now famous photograph from the On Air – Live at the BBC, Volume 2 CD release is among the photos taken during The Beatles “Day in the Life” 1963 photo shoot featured in the new reissue of The Beatles’ first official book, Meet The Beatles: An Informal Date in Words and Personal Album Pictures.
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During this “day off” for The Beatles, they walked around London as virtually ordinary people – strolling around Soho, shopping at a local market, eating ice cream and sharing fruit with a few female fans. These photos can be distinguished from other Beatles photos since Paul is conspicuously wearing a sweater over his shirt and tie.
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It’s so “fab” and “gear” that a special 50th anniversary collector’s edition of Meet The Beatles has been reissued. Here we get a behind the scenes look at what life was like for The Beatles before they hit it big in America and became a global sensation.
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Meet The Beatles includes a personal introduction by The Beatles, while the rest of the 40-page photo-filled book was written by Beatles’ publicist Tony Barrow, the man who coined the phrase “The Fab Four.”
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The hardcover book is an exact reproduction of the original which was published as a magazine in 1963 by Souvenir Press. The book features black and white photos of The Beatles, many taken by Dezo Hoffmann. What has changed in the last 50 years is the price: originally costing two shillings and six pence in the UK, the price is now £10.
meetbeatlesbk-UK

Original 1963 edition

meetbeatlesbk-2015

50th anniversary reissue

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An interesting tidbit of Beatle history is how The Beatles were listed in the text as “George, John, Paul and Ringo” most likely due to alphabetical order, which surprisingly works for both their first and last names. However, when closing out their introduction (“Thanks a million all you Beatle People — you’re the gear”) their signatures are listed in the customary order of “John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr.”
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Amidst the entertaining “Beatletistics” of each individual member (George “favors smallish blondes”, John “dislikes traditional jazz and thick heads”,  Paul has “a strong liking for Kraft cheese slices”, and Ringo “dislikes onions, motor bikes and Chinese food”) and the many photos of The Beatles in their “Beatropolis,” (a.k.a. Merseyside) is a fascinating look at “A Day in the Life” of The Beatles in London in 1963.
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What Meet The Beatles reminds us is how down to earth The Beatles were. In their introduction, The Beatles respond to a frequently asked question: How has stardom changed you? The Beatles respond: “It HASN’T!” They continue to explain: “Luckily there are three other Beatles ready to sit on any one of us who may show signs of swelling of the bonce…”
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The original UK publication sold 1 million copies and was translated into several different languages. Here is the US version published in 1964.
meetbeatlesbk-USedition2
To get your copy of the Meet The Beatles 50th anniversary reissue, click here.
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Ringo Starr sings about his band before The Beatles

ringo-postcardsalbum

Postcards from Paradise album cover. Photo credit: Rob Shanahan

Ringo Starr has written a new song reminiscing about his early days in Liverpool about the band he was in before he joined The Beatles. The song title, “Rory And The Hurricanes,” was announced last week along with the full track listing and release date of Ringo Starr’s new album, Postcards From Paradise.

The song “Rory And The Hurricanes” coming out on March 31 will add to the musical autobiography that Starr has been creating since 2008. Instead of publishing a traditional autobiography, Ringo has chosen to write about his life through his songs.

“I have been offered autobiographies, but all they only really wanna know about is those eight years in The Beatles and there would be three volumes before I even got to that,” Ringo explains. “[So] I’ve decided to do mini-autobiographies, instead of writing a book, I’m doing it on record… I’d rather put it quickly in a song, snippets of part of my life.”

This song will continue the musical memoir that Starr started in 2008 with his song “Liverpool 8” about the good and the bad of growing up in this British working class town where he became part of The Fab Four.

Rory Storm was mentioned in “Liverpool 8” as Ringo sings: “Played Butlin’s Camp with my friend Rory / It was good for him, it was great for me.”

It was while Ringo was the drummer for Rory Storm’s band that he adopted the first name “Ringo” instead of “Richard” for all the rings he wore and “Starr” instead of “Starkey” for “Starr Time,” a portion of the show where Ringo did a major drum solo.

Here are Ringo’s autobiographical songs (so far) in order of release:

“Liverpool 8”

“Liverpool 8” released in 2008 is the first song in Ringo’s virtual musical biography. Ringo sings about joining The Beatles and leaving Liverpool for worldwide fame. In the song, which was co-written with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Ringo asserts “Liverpool, I left you, but I never let you down.”


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“The Other Side of Liverpool”
“The Other Side of Liverpool” released in 2010 was about the negative aspects of growing up poor in Liverpool as Ringo sings “We had to go to Steeple Street / Just to take a bath.”


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“In Liverpool”

“In Liverpool” is the third installment to Ringo’s musical biography released in 2012. He sings of his early days as a drummer and going to clubs: “Me and the boys, me and the band / Living our fantasies.”

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Paul McCartney releases Wings remasters and New Ringo Starr tour dates

Wings remastered albums

Reissues of two Wings albums, Venus and Mars and At The Speed of Sound, were released last week. Both albums are available in a variety of physical and digital formats. Starting with a 2-disc (2 CD) Standard Edition, the first CD features the original remastered album and the second CD includes bonus audio made up of material including demos and unreleased tracks.

The 3-disc (2CD, 1DVD) Deluxe Edition is housed in a hardback book featuring unpublished photographs, new interviews with Paul, material from Paul’s archives and expanded track-by-track information. The deluxe version bonus DVD is comprised of filmed material from around the time of each release, some of which has never been seen before.

As with all the Archive Collection, Paul McCartney has personally supervised all aspects of the reissues.  The remastering work was done at Abbey Road by the same team who have worked on all the reissues as well as the Beatles’ catalogue.

Since launching the Paul McCartney Archive Collection in 2010, Paul has received two GRAMMY Awards for the releases.  In 2012 he picked up Best Historical Album for Band on the Run and this year Wings over America picked up an award (Best Boxed or Special Edition Package) on the same night that Paul set a personal best by picking up five awards in just one night. In 2013, RAM was nominated for Best Historical Album.

Other titles released to date in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection are Band on the Run, McCartney, McCartney II, RAM and Wings over America.  Is your collection complete?

(Source: Official Press release)

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New Ringo Starr Tour dates

Ringo-2014tourPRRingo Starr and his All Starr Band – Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Bissonette and Warren Ham – announced new tour dates beginning on February 13 in Louisiana and then onto Texas, Birmingham, South Carolina, and Orlando before traveling throughout Latin America with shows in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and more. The tour continues through March ending with 3 shows in California in Santa Ynez, San Francisco and San Diego and a show in Las Vegas.

This incarnation of the All Starr band is the same line up he has played with since 2012, and the addition of these new dates comes as no surprise to anyone who has heard Ringo talk about this band, with whom he loves performing. “We have so much fun playing together , we don’t want it to end!”  Ringo also loved touring in Latin America and said “the audiences were just great and so loving, we can’t wait to go back”.

RINGO STARR AND HIS ALL STARR BAND ON TOUR:

February 2015
13 Riverdome, Bossier City, LA
14 Cowan Center, Tyler, TX
15 BJCC Concert Hall, Birmingham AL
17 The Peace Center, Greenville, SC
18 Bob Carr PAC, Orlando FL
21 Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
22 Coliseo de Puerto Rico, San Juan
24 Van Wezel PAC, Sarasota FL
26 HSBC Brasil, Sao Paolo, Brazil
27 Vivo Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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March 2015
1 TBD
3 Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile
6 Bogota Corferias, Columbia
8 Coliseo Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
10 National Auditorium, Mexico City
12 Chumash Casino, Santa Ynez CA
13 Masonic Theater, San Francisco CA
14 Pala Casino, Pala, CA
15 The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, NV

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For additional dates and on sale dates please check local listings and for more information please visit:
www.ringostarr.com

(Source: Official Press release)

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Q & A: Journalist Ivor Davis talks about touring with the Beatles in the summer of 1964

By Marshall Terrill

The Beatles and Me on TourIn the summer of 1964, The Beatles embarked on a record-breaking pandemonium-inducing tour of America and Canada. Ivor Davis’ new book, The Beatles and Me On Tour, presents an insider’s chronicle of that tour and a peek into a beloved era with the world’s most famous band. Davis, who was then a young reporter for the London Daily Express, traveled with The Beatles as the only British writer on the entire tour.

Through 34 days and 24 cities, Davis traveled with The Beatles watching them make rock and roll history. He enjoyed unrestricted access to the Fab Four – from their hotel suites to backstage concert areas to their private jet. He fended off excited girls, played all night games of Monopoly with John Lennon, became the ghostwriter of a newspaper column for George Harrison and witnessed the night Bob Dylan turned The Beatles onto marijuana.

In The Beatles and Me On Tour, Davis recounts in frank and amusing fashion, the rip-roaring adventures of The Beatles at a critical moment in rock history.

 

Q: Your book, The Beatles and Me On Tour marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first tour of the U.S. What took you so long to sit down and write this book?

Davis: I was getting on with my life. Newspaper reporters do a story and then move onto the next and seldom look back. I got married, had a family and covered some terrific stories in half a century – but I finally decided to look back. I’m glad I did.

Q: Tell us briefly where you were in your career at this point, who you were working for, and how you got the assignment to cover the Beatles first U.S. Tour?

George Harrison and Ivor Davis

George Harrison and his newspaper column ghostwriter, Ivor Davis, in 1964; Credit: Express Newspapers

Davis: I was newly appointed West Coast correspondent for the London Daily Express, circulation four million daily. My editor called and said, “The Beatles are coming to America and I want you to fly to San Francisco where they’ve just arrived. Cover them, eat, drink and hang out with them – and, oh yes, we have signed George Harrison to write a column. He’s a musician and can’t write so you’ll have to make what he has to say palatable reading.”

Q: You did a great job of covering a day in the life of Beatlemania experienced from the inside of the fishbowl, but it didn’t always sound so wonderful or cute. Looking back, can you talk about the stress and strain of that tour and how they handled everything?

Davis: Strangely enough The Beatles were like kids in the candy story; the prisoner effect was a strain. They were unable to leave their hotel rooms for fear of being torn from limb to limb by ecstatic fans. And they were upset about the lousy sound systems in nearly all of the venues. I couldn’t hear what they were singing. We were all drowned out by the screeching, wailing fans and so were The Beatles. Ringo often didn’t know what song they were singing and told me he had to lip-read to catch up!!!

Q: You came from an era of journalists where they flipped their notebook shut on the personal indiscretions of celebrities and politicians, and certainly, there’s still an element of that with this book. What was the informal agreement, or not-stated but implicitly-understood agreement with The Beatles in this particular case?

No one ever said, “Don’t write negative stories” … but we knew being allowed into The Beatles inner sanctum came with unwritten rules.

Davis: No one ever said, “Don’t write negative stories” … but we knew being allowed into The Beatles inner sanctum came with unwritten rules. The Beatles co-opted us onto their team, their entourage. We sympathized with their prisoner status. We could go anywhere and so we treated them kindly.

Q: Given what you just said, you don’t seem to defend John Lennon regarding an incident with a teen in Las Vegas.

Davis: The Vegas incident was a harsh wake-up call. We knew that when girls were ushered into meet The Beatles, they didn’t ask for their birth certificates. But as Paul said, “We were aware of underage girls hanging around, but there were lots of over-age girls – and this was at the start of birth control pills. And we were healthy young lads.” With, of course, lively libidos.

The Beatles at Hollywood Garden Party, September 1964;  Credit: Express Newspapers

The Beatles at Hollywood Garden Party, September 1964;
Credit: Express Newspapers

Q: Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley never experienced the kind of frenzy and mania The Beatles did. Can you give a perspective on why The Beatles seemed to evoke such feelings from the teens of that era?

Davis: Lots of older women I spoke to in the last couple of years told me that honestly they were in love with John, Paul, George and Ringo. In their own (fantasizing) minds, when they looked at each individual member, they winked, waved and smiled back … and it was true love.

Q: The Beatles’ side trip to Alton, Missouri for a few days of relaxation seemed unnecessary and dangerous. What do you recall of that stay?

Davis: It was a great break. What was dangerous was the late night flight in a rinky-dink plane with the owner of the charter jet company in the cockpit. And their landings in Missouri were runways with virtually no lights. It wasn’t until they were well into this flight that The Beatles realized danger threatened. Once on the ground they had a wonderful break – celebrating Brian’s birthday and getting nicely inebriated.

Q: Can you give me a brief thumbnail sketch of each Beatle, starting with John Lennon, who seemed to be a real pisser.

Davis: JOHN: wickedly funny, who spoke his mind and it often came back to bite him. Witness that Jesus statement that landed him in hot water. But brilliant and like Robin Williams a bit of a genius.

PAUL: Very PR-oriented. The most approachable of The Beatles, who knew the value of hobnobbing with the media and being nice.

GEORGE: Really uncomfortable with strangers at first. He was a bit sullen at first and the kind of guy who warmed to you later – once he felt more relaxed and got used to you.

RINGO: The newbie in The Beatles pack. Definitely the fourth banana. But as Brian Epstein said later, America made Ringo. By the time they flew home in September 1964, Ringo had become the most popular Beatle.

By the time they flew home in September 1964, Ringo had become the most popular Beatle.

Q: The Brian Epstein you painted was a man who seemed a harsh taskmaster who was volatile, vulnerable and emotionally fragile at times.

Davis: Brian lived a secret life. He was a closet gay, who took terrible risks in his personal life and had terrible experiences as a result. He tried to give off the cool, imperious front but beneath he was terrified that his sexual preferences would come out and destroy The Beatles who he had worked so hard to build up.

Q: John Lennon’s fascination with President Kennedy assassination and insisting on a tour of the book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald made the deadly shots seems almost fateful or ironic?

Davis: It was. But John was always pushing and prodding more than any of the other Beatles and at an early age was more concerned about politics and events outside the music biz. He was the political/social conscience of The Beatles.

Q: Lennon specifically commented to you about America being the Wild West when it came to guns. What would he have thought of today’s America with random shootings at malls, colleges and military bases on such a regular basis?

Davis: John would still be campaigning, using his fame to right terrible wrongs – in Iraq, Afghanistan and the plight of the have-nots in third-world countries.

Q: You were covering the Watts riots in Los Angeles when you received a phone call that The Beatles and Elvis were about to meet at his home on Perugia Way. Given that no photos or recordings were made of that night, why were you, a journalist, invited to come in the first place and what was your take on if they got along or not?

Davis: Elvis did not have a great time. It’s funny, everyone there, including the Memphis Mafia and those in The Beatles’ inner circle, said the ice thawed eventually and they began to communicate. That’s what I saw. Awkward beginning and a lightening of the atmosphere and mood once they started jamming. Don’t forget Elvis was the King of his castle and The Beatles had invaded his home terrain and taken over the No. 1 spot. Elvis was not a happy camper making those repeat movies (three a year!) and The Beatles’ first movie was a home run!

Q: You write at the end of the tour, it was fun, but that you didn’t expect it to be historical or the Beatles to become legends. What’s your outlook today?

Davis: Back then I was around the same age as The Beatles and none of us had the vision. Who in their early twenties has great vision … that comes with age. Today I am still astonished that people come up to me as if I’ve been sprinkled with invisible Beatle magic dust. I was just a lucky guy at the right place and right time – and who could have predicted it? No one. I was just doing a nice job when by happenstance The Beatles rode into town…

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The Beatles and Me On Tour is available in hardback and Kindle on www.amazon.com

Ivor Davis will be signing copies of The Beatles and Me On Tour at the Los Angeles Fest for Beatles Fans Oct. 10-12. For more information about Ivor Davis, visit https://www.facebook.com/ivor.davis.395

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