Daytrippin' Beatles Magazine

The Latest Beatles News, Travel, Biography and Discography


Finding the Fourth Beatle: John, Paul, George and their 18 drummers

by David Bedford and Garry Popper

 

fourthbeatle-bookThe Beatles phenomenon is one amazing story that John Lennon tried to sum up by stating: “I met Paul and said, ‘Do you want to join me band?’ and then George joined, and then Ringo joined. We were just a band who made it very, very big.”

That is one of the biggest understatements ever, because it was so much more complicated than that, and the story involves 18 drummers.

Neil Aspinall once said that “the story of the Beatles always seemed to be about John, Paul, George and a drummer.”

When examined closely, that is exactly what happened, yet nobody has concentrated on the story of those drummers, and the crises in the evolution of The Beatles that always seemed to be around losing, or gaining, a drummer.

How many drummers can you count that played with the Fab Three between 1956 and 1970? We have found 18!

In a new book, and forthcoming documentary film, Finding the Fourth Beatle tells the story of The Beatles from 1956-1970 through the 18 drummers, including Colin Hanton, Pete Best and Jimmie Nicol, and some you will not have heard of before. The book and film explore the Beatles’ crises, changes of musical direction, getting a record deal, and finding the drummer who would put the beat into The Beatles: Ringo Starr, the Fourth Beatle.

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Review: It was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt Pepper and Beyond

It was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt Pepper and Beyond is a new documentary film celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. It serves as a complement to the Making of Sgt. Pepper documentary from 1992 and also the recent PBS documentary, Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution. While those films offer more of a focus on The Beatles’ recording process, It was Fifty Years Ago Today gives a more cultural context to the Sgt Pepper album.

This film was not officially sanctioned by The Beatles, and therefore no Beatles music was included. Instead it offers interviews with many people who were in the Beatles inner circle and also famous Beatle biographers. They all have some great insider stories and details to share.

For example, the documentary features rare interviews with The Beatles’ original drummer Pete Best, John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird, Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein’s secretary Barbara O’Donnell, Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks, Beatles associate Tony Bramwell, Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny Boyd, Hunter Davies, Simon Napier-Bell, Ray Connolly, Bill Harry, Philip Norman, Steve Turner, Andy Peebles, Freda Kelly and The Merseybeats.

Another plus is all of the rare historical footage of The Beatles that you don’t often see in “official” documentaries. However, the flow of the film is at times disjointed with one interview popping up in-between two other unrelated segments.

Also, the film title and DVD cover text leads you to believe that the focus is mainly on Sgt. Pepper. The film starts in August 1966 giving the background of why The Beatles stopped touring which led to their unlimited time in the recording studio. However, the film goes on for 2 hours, and covers material way past the release of Sgt Pepper in June 1967 to include the Beatles trip to India in 1968.

In this reviewer’s opinion, the film was about 30-40 minutes too long and all of the information about what happened after the death of Brian Epstein in August 1967 should have been omitted. The fact that it continues through 1968 leaves you to wonder where this “Sgt. Pepper” documentary is headed and wondering when it will end.

With that said, the interviews are very intelligent and interesting. There is also a second DVD of bonus extra footage of extended interviews with a few people featured in the original film. Highlights are the in-depth interviews with former BBC radio host, Andy Peebles, who interviewed John Lennon two days before he died, and Pete Best. Also included is a brief visual tour of Beatle-related sites in Liverpool and London, with a special stop at 34 Montagu Square, which has a special connection to John, Paul and Ringo.

For Beatles fans who like to get their hands on rare footage and interviews of The Beatles, then this DVD is for you. – T.Y.

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The Beatles ‘Eight Days A Week’ documentary coming to DVD in November

On November 18, the new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years directed by Ron Howard will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, plus a 2-Disc special edition.

UMe Polygram Entertainment The Beatles Eight Days A Week

Photo: Polygram Entertainment and Capitol/UMe.

The film was released last week in theaters for a one-day to one-week run which varied across different cities. After the film, the 30-minute Shea Stadium concert film from 1965 was also shown. This footage from the concert is not listed as being included on the DVD.

As a Beatles fan and journalist who saw the film in theaters, the title ‘The Touring Years’ seemed a bit misleading to me. Instead of focusing mostly on the shows that The Beatles performed, the film provided an overall look at their career during the years they were touring and spent lots of time on The Beatles’ efforts in the recording studio.

While there is not much new information offered in the documentary, the high points of the film are the rare photographs and video clips that were included to illustrate the story of The Beatles’ touring years. For example, in February 1964 during an interview in Washington DC, John tells a reporter his name is “Eric.” The uninformed reporter believes him and introduces Lennon convincingly on camera as “Eric” so that John has to enlighten him and tell him it was just a joke.

Another rare clip is an interview with The Beatles in Sweden circa 1963/64 where George is standing behind John who is seated. George keeps flicking ashes from his cigarette on the top of John’s head and John doesn’t necessarily notice.

There are also insightful interview clips from Paul and Ringo in the present day, as well as other celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg and Elvis Costello.

Another highlight is an interview with Dr. Kitty Oliver, an African-American journalist and author who went to The Beatles’ concert in Jacksonville, Florida as a teenager. The Beatles refused to play to a segregated audience at the Gator Bowl. They had it written into their contract, so the venue agreed to integrate the crowd.

“Here was a band I loved and music I was such a fan of, that seeing The Beatles overrode the idea of walking in to this all-white environment that I had never been in,” Oliver recalls.

Historians believe that this strong stand that The Beatles took in Jacksonville in September 1964 led to an end of segregation in most of the big stadiums in the South. – Trina Yannicos

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Below is a description of content included on the DVD release as stated in the official press release:

Featuring a wealth of specially created supplementary material totaling 100 minutes of extras, the deluxe home entertainment editions contain exclusively-created featurettes for fans to delve even deeper into the band’s world.  Accompanying these are stunning, fully restored full length performances of some of the band’s most iconic tracks including “Twist and Shout” and “She Loves You” recorded at the ABC Theatre, Manchester in 1963 and “Can’t Buy Me Love” at the NME Awards, 1964, in London, bringing the experience of seeing The Beatles in concert fully to life for all fans. A full breakdown follows:

2-disc Special Collector’s Edition (DVD and Blu-Ray) includes:
1 x DVD/Blu-Ray feature disc
+ 1 Bonus Disc (containing approx. 100 minutes of extras, highlighted below)
64 page booklet with an introduction from director Ron Howard, essay by music journalist and author Jon Savage and rare photos from The Beatles’ private archive

Words & Music (24 mins)
John, Paul, George & Ringo reflect on songwriting and the influence of music from their parents’ generation, Lennon/McCartney writing for other artists, The Beatles as individual musicians, and the band as innovators.  Also featuring Howard Goodall, Peter Asher, Simon Schama and Elvis Costello.  The interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.

Early Clues To A New Direction (18 mins)
A special feature touching on The Beatles as a collective, the importance of humor, the impact of women on their early lives and songwriting, and the band as a musical movement. Featuring John, Paul, George & Ringo, along with Paul Greengrass, Stephen Stark, Peter Asher, Malcolm Gladwell, Sigourney Weaver, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Curtis, Elvis Costello and Simon Schama.  Again the interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.

Liverpool (11 mins)
The early days in Liverpool of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s are brought vividly to life by those who worked closely with them at that time including fan club secretary Freda Kelly, Allan Williams an early manager, and Leslie Woodhead multi-award winning documentary film director.

The Beatles in Concert (12 mins)
Five great but rarely seen full length performances of The Beatles live in concert – Twist and Shout, She Loves You, Can’t Buy Me Love, You Can’t Do That and Help!

Additional features are:

  • Three Beatles’ Fans
  • Ronnie Spector and The Beatles
  • Shooting A Hard Day’s Night
  • The Beatles in Australia
  • Recollections of Shea Stadium
  • The Beatles in Japan
  • An alternative opening for the film

 

Pre-order: Deluxe Collector’s Edition (2-DVD)

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