Monday, 8 October 2012

Reflected People 1967-70

1967 TO 1970


I wonder what would have happened if a woman had gone with the Apollo astronauts, in 1969, to the Moon? Being that the Moon is connected with the female menstrual cycle. Could a woman go to the moon? By the end of the next decade the question was would anyone go back to the Moon? A great apathy was to descend on space exploration; the costs of it were proving too much. The risk was also great. Sceptics thought that sending people to the moon was sending them to their deaths. But the US government wasn’t interested in spacemen’s lives, just showing how wonderful the USA was to the world or more likely the USSR. At the same time Hippies protesting over the Vietnam War were shattering the American dream. They were too much to handle, even for Captain Kirk! And their hair!

In Britain the radio waves were full of pirates at the start of 1967. They were soon to BBC employers or shut up, precisely what they didn’t want to be. The BBC had a monopoly on what music was heard. It was for this reason that Ronan O’ Rahilly had set up Radio Caroline in 1964. Musician and singer Georgie Fame had employed him as an agent, but Ronan had hit a brick wall trying to get Fame’s music on the airwaves. Like the internet users many years later, Pirate Radio didn’t pay for the music, unlike the BBC and the Musicians Union didn’t like that. So Tony Benn who had the power to stop the pirate stations, ever in support of Union power, did so. The pirates did end paying as they fought to stay on air, mostly in vain. Consultants were brought in to update the BBC image and the radio stations changed their names to - 2, 3 and 4, instead of Light, Third and Home. Lord Hill forced the BBC to set up Radio 1 and told them if they didn’t he would force pop on Radio 4. So the BBC employed the pirate DJs. Most were sacked within 6 months and replaced by BBC DJs such as Murray, Freeman, Young and Hamilton and of course BBC stalwart Terry Wogan.
Meanwhile teenagers’ rights were being interfered more directly at government level and they didn’t even no about it, never-mind protest. Well not directly. The 1967 Licensing Act closedown clubs for teenagers like the famous MoJo. Instead new adult type clubs opened, like
in my hometown Sheffield, the (2,000 seated) Fiesta, these became known as the Cabaret Circuit. These benefited the careers of many pop stars such as Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, and a Sheffield singer called Tony Christie. Many like Tom and Engelbert had the huge number ones Delilah, The Last Waltz after clubs like these sprang into action all over the country. In Scotland the trend was the other way and clubs were folding due to the gangs and legal problems. Glasgow and Edinburgh were worst affected, some thirty Friday dances go to the wall, even civic halls sank without a trace by 1968. It didn’t stop a band setting up that would later see teenage girls wearing Tartan all over the country. However at that time they were called Saxon! Cabaret records were of course all played to death on Radio 1, which was really another radio 2, with the exception of John Peel. Tony Blackburn became the first on and played The Move’s Flowers in the Rain, a well known dig at the Labour Government, less well known is the record jumped all over the place! Despite bands like the Move getting some airplay Radio 1 wasn’t aimed at teenagers. Ed Stewart an ex pirate was giving the job of entertaining children and the show he was on was formerly on the light programme. He must have been sick to death of playing comedian Terry Scott’s My Brother and Three wheels on my wagon. Neither of which entered the chart, but probably sold sufficient to make it, just on his airplay.

Also in 1967, two factors put an end to the baby boom that would fuel unemployment during the late seventies and eighties, making the Government look bad, because of it. Nevertheless the politicians at the time were not keen on either. Ironically they made the unemployment go away and thus made the Government look good, taking the credit, by politicians saying it was there policy. Nor did they give them credit. The first was David Steel’s Abortion Act. This legalised and thus increased the use for women who did not want a baby. It’s generally thought by the population to be used mostly by girls under 16 and aged 16 to 20. This however is untrue and those women over 20 are more likely to have an abortion than under 16s. Still at around 30 per 1000 females, at the highest, it would only limit the population growth marginally. The major effect had to be the contraceptive pill. Without doubt this killed off the baby boom. Two doctors in the USA Gregory Pincus and John Rock had began clinical tests there in 1954, yet the pill arrived too late to stop the baby boom. By 1970 most GPs were prescribing the pill.

Something also returned to Britain that year the Gibb Brothers.

Kids in love with teachers

As the extended school leaving age took its effect, the public turned a blind eye to bad behaviour and portrayals of this bad school life were not welcome by the British public. Lulu found out this, when because of her size she was cast in the film To Sir With Love. The film made mega bucks in the States and everywhere except where it was set. The reason for this was because of the racial connection of a young white girl and Sidney Poitier playing a black teacher. Lulu practical played herself apart from her name! However what shock the world and
especially the USA was mixed race teaching. Race issues such as this were not of interest to the major British public. The only real British race issue was the idea of ethnics taking low skilled jobs from workers or jumping council house waiting lists. This in the case of black teachers doesn’t apply. The title song sung by Lulu, wasn't released, which shows how unpopular the film was in Britain. The idea that bad schools foster bad behaviour comes out in the British comedy classic films about Saint Trinian’s school. Run by bad & bent head-teacher who takes money from stupid - rich (generally) – parents, with the education ministers trying to close them down, without success. The girls all spoilt rotten and the cliché more money than sense. Up against this, the public didn’t want to see working class brats.

Upper Class twits

The public however loved middle and upper class brats. In 1969 Oxford and Cambridge students had produced a TV show which typifies students even down to the title, though it bears no resemblance to the programme itself. No rock\pop music theme music, just a brass band with a raspberry blown at the end. YES it’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the result of practical jokes of student life, in a male dominated college. Many sketches could have been lifted from revues at college. Cleese and Co often dressed in women’s clothes, due to lack of female contact at these places. The show itself had only one bit part actress. However if you didn’t like Monty Python and found it annoying there was an American version of University students entertainment that was worse. Arizona University, found something that could annoy most people except young kids “Bubble Gum Pop”.
Created by two men that became known as Super K, they got session musicians to put out singles with titles such as Yummy Yummy I’ve got Love in my Tummy and Simple Simon Says. Band names were just as weird, like Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Company. Thus they filled chart books with acts having one hit only. Super-K had little time for the band members and shuffled them around, always complaining about making B-sides, which could feature the A-side going backwards or some other gimmick.

Chapter incomplete

Reflected People Chapter 6 1964-66

1964 to 1966


After the success of the Beatles and finding out that they came from Liverpool, also how talented they were, The Sunday Times thought that Lennon & McCartney were the best composers since Beethoven! Others refused to believe that they were what the nation’s youth wanted. They were right but for the wrong reasons. A New Statesman writer wrote in February of 64 that Beatles fans were “dull, idle, failures”. He meant either all of them were like that or had one of the traits. Yet he made it clear that the leaders and creators of tomorrow “will NEVER go near a pop concert.” Then again nor did the Music industry believe that something like the Beatles was not what all the nations teenagers wanted. So the record companies sent out their artists & repertoire to all the regions of the UK to search for raw talent which was like the Fab Four, but just not quite. They hadn’t much choice in the matter! Tin Pan Alley songwriters and music publishers were not much good at producing songs about how working-class teenagers felt. Try as the might they still struggled to find working class heroes. The obvious place to start was Liverpool and those 300 bands that the Cavern man knew. Epstein was quick off the mark and managed the best. Signed up by his new friends at EMI, he rarely went wrong with his acts. The only real exception was Tommy Quickly, who failed to chart, presumably because he wasn’t a group? Having said that, George Martin became very familiar with Liverpool and its bands, yet confessors to having seen nothing that came close to the Fab Four. Then again what did he want to go looking for something that he already had? Not that they didn’t try some of them out on the public. Bands like the Toggery Five and their single I’m Gonna Jump did not impress Joe Public one bit. The problem wasn’t lack of talent as such. You would hardly believe it today, but a lot of bands were not out to seek the fame, like the Beatles had, some of the bands that did go on to be famous, such as The Dave Clark Five, started out singing & playing for charity. In their case to send their rugby team to Holland. Teenage culture, although formed, wasn’t like the 21st Century. Careers advisors told singers and musical teenagers that few who wanted such work would get it, with the exception being if you knew someone or came from a musical background. Those told were disappointed, yet it was true. If you sang poorly it came out on the recording. 24 and 48 track tape machines were not around. Often there was little that could be done to disguise faults, errors, and mistakes on the recording. Even big names like The Beatles and Cliff Richard had faults on their tracks. The record companies released them because few people would have known about them, or costs of correcting would have been high. The crackles of the record and mono sound disguised Cliff clearing his throat during the instrumental break in On The Beach. Nevertheless they could all sing and play well. In the Beatles case so well it’s easy to dub a film of the singing live on TV with the recorded version.
Still the A&R came to search for more pop idols and brought the BBC to film the historic moment, as they descended on my home town of Sheffield. I might have been 4 at the time, but I’ve never heard of Knives and Forks and their classic Being with You, nor have I heard of: The Square Circles, Mickey’s Monkeys, or Small Paul & the Young Ones. It wasn’t gloom and doom for all the acts spotted. Dave Berry performing at Doncaster Baths, whom I have heard of (before I started writing this book), was seen by the legendary Mickie Most, at that time
freelance and not yet famous not that he hadn‘t tried himself to sing. Manchester and Birmingham also got the same treatment. Ron Richards was lucky and found the Hollies in Manchester. Liverpool far outweighed them all. The music press headlines say it all. The American’s picked it up as the ‘British invasion’; meanwhile Blighty was invaded by Liverpudlians. Oxford students were Scouse, though not one came from there. Mersey Beat became a national phrase, not just a local music paper. It wasn’t all good news. Mersey women hardly got a look in, despite Mersey Beat renaming Cilla White as ’Black’, she’s one of a few. The paper knew of at least 50 girl groups, they all disappeared without a trace. It was for other places to give females a chance at pop stardom, starting with Scotland.
As you can well imagine the Scots were keen to show that they had as much talent available as any south of the boarder. The truth was that their own scene was dead and the only person that was any good had done the same as the Beatles and gone to Germany. The Scottish Daily Express was at the spearhead at finding what was left. They didn’t realise that a lot of venues (like ballrooms) had gone for bands to play live in. The music business personal boarded trains at Kings Cross and Euston, invited by the paper, to see the Mac-Beatles types. They saw none! Red faced the Express was relieved when Tony Gordon contacted them telling there’s this teenage girl singing songs with a band. Gordon, a businessman, was setting up nightclubs in Glasgow and Manchester based on the French Discotheque venue. Marie Lawrie’s singing had impressed people since the Queen’s Coronation. At aged 12 she was touring Glasgow with her own band that consisted of 17 to 18-year-old lads. With the money made from it, Marie was the best-dressed girl in school. This didn’t make her popular, with the girls or the Head teacher. Confidence oozed from Marie and she became a rebel, questioning, speaking out of turn. As most schools teacher’s missions was to nock the guts out of kids, then mould them into something else, when the opportunity arose the Head went for it. An accident with a red hair dye, at home, but was still strong when she got to school, was perfect for some humiliation on a grand scale. Marie was all ready suffering from it, which didn’t matter to any Headmaster or in this case mistress. A full assembly and the Head’s insults flowed. Not satisfied with that, the assault was continued with a bottle of disinfectant over the girl’s hair! Music was the only escape and Marie went rarely to school, especially after she was chased home and beaten by a gang of girls, because she didn’t fit in.

Lulu aged 14
The Glasgow singer called Alex Harvey was the one who had gone to the Hamburg clubs. He was often singing an Isley Brothers written song. Marie and her band The Bellrocks started doing the number. Once contacted the Scottish Daily Express got the A&R people to see Marie and The Bellrocks and away to London they went. Ron Richards again of Columbia didn’t think it was right for them and sent them to Peter Sullivan at Decca. Marie sang the song so loud it broke the microphone! While the contract details were being sorted out, Marie got a real lady of a manager and a new name. Marian Massey was Tony Gordon’s sister; she had been an opera singer and was beautiful, dressing like a movie star. One day she called Marie “a real LULU of a kid” and it stuck. Decca waited some time before releasing the song that Lulu had broken their mike. This was because in 1964 she was 15 and could leave school to promote the single called Shout. Not that she needed to, for on a fairly new pop music show on ITV John Lennon reviewed it and said it was the best single of the week! By June of 1964 it was in the top ten. Back in Glasgow Lulu’s parents have a visit from the school bobby. “Why hasn’t she been to school?” “She’s a pop star” replied Lulu’s mum.

Lulu wasn’t the only Scots act found by Decca, Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle a duo where given a contract, but their time was yet to come. Another record company that had the Beatles went and picked up the Mckinley Sisters. Starting March 1964 they released four singles. If any made a chart it’s not been recorded.
A more rebellious girl came up with an image that doesn’t go away. Sandie Shaw’s mum made her see a chiropodist when she decided not to wear shoes during her performance. This image was a reflection of her attitude to fashion, but had more practical reasons. She teamed up with Chris Andrews to write songs, but her biggest hit was with a number written by ace songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Always Something There to Remind Me was recorded like most tunes then in a day. Sandie thought the recording process just like the car production line at Dagenham, where she was born. Girl Don’t Come probably would have great difficulty getting released many years later; being sung by a female artist, people thinking it was about not having an orgasm! However this was the sixties and sex was not on the agenda. So in this case it was the horror of a boy being stood up! For most boys this was their biggest nightmare and sex was a bonus, they were not at all interested in the female orgasm. However things were beginning to change and Sandie and the female orgasm were to get linked together through Tommy Woodward.
Woodward is part of the real name of Tom Jones. Tom decided one night when he was singing Jerry Lee Lewis numbers in a Walsh club, to move in a suggestive way. Most in the club were puzzled, yet the target audience loved it, thus he had moving ever since. His manger (Gordon Mills) had heard Sandie’s big hit and had the perfect song for her. Tom wanted to sing it, but Mills had to get the best deal for the song so went to her manger. She hated it and so Tom recorded It’s Not Unusual with session musicians (including members of Ted Heath band-brass) and sandpaper on a stool. Well dressed in a ‘Beatle’ jacket and tight trousers with that movement and Tom success was assured. So were the females having you know what watching him! Anyway it ended the idea you had to be a group to be in and get a recording contract. Many women would have been disappointed to find out that Tom was married. This was because of getting his girlfriend pregnant; by the time of his first hit it wasn’t unusual for lots of teenage girls to get that way. A banker’s wife called Helen Brook had got fed up with this situation and set up clinics for girls in 64. Brook’s flouted the rules on the pill, giving it to single women. General practitioners were only allowed to prescribe it to married woman. The only alternative was the backstreet abortionist, despite the reality of 40 deaths per year. However most of this was a direct consequence of increasing education. Teenage women had little understanding of relationships, because they were treated like girls. Life-skills were not taught in schools nor can schools teach them. That was one end of the extreme; the other was not having sex at all! One marriage went unconsummated for 25 years, recalled a London marriage councillor and they were plenty of them during the fifties and sixties.

This is the Modern World

The ITV show that Lennon was on was breaking new ground too. But it was also aimed at an audience who was not all that keen on the Beatles or on the Mersey Sound. And Lennon found out too! Not ALL the nations’ youth did want the Beatles. This group of classroom created teenagers thought that the Beatles were “girls’ music” perhaps because the movement was
very male orientated. This is again connected with schooling. For in those days a lot of the schools (particularly grammar) where separate sex. My future comprehensive school had been a boys only, and the adjacent one the girls. But this movement had no origins in Sheffield and was London based. More specifically it had started in the Soho area and even down to one school! Saint Martin’s School of Art students were hanging around a club called the Flamingo, which would later give rise to the Manfred Mann song, Pretty Flamingo. The stereotyped image of these kinds of students was one of woolly jumpers and jeans that had been deliberately splashed with streaks of coloured paint. They like to listen to Modern Jazz, hence the line in Rock & Roll Music, by the Beatles, Unless they try to play it to dam fast and had become known as ’Modernists’ by the hacks at Melody Maker. Naturally they shook of the student image, by dressing well. Jeans such as Wrangler and Lee Cooper however where very popular and although you could buy these Jeans in shops, they were not the right ones! Sounds familiar doesn’t it, what every modern parent dreads the words “you’ve got the wrong one”. Leading to the blazing row! Well you can now blame it on the soap Peyton Place and the actor Troy Donahue. He wore Levi Jeans with buttons. Unavailable in the UK and all other brands had zips.

The TV show created a demand for another type of clothing, a jacket worn by the character Rodney Harrington often played by Ryan O'Neal.    

 His Jacket was most desired, but no-one seems to have known the name of it and it became known as the “Harrington”. The actor Steve McQueen also wore it and the in the Superman movies of the late 70's when Superman was being Clark Kent he wore one too.   Obviously another side affect was to name your son Rodney. This name and another Modernist clothing accessory would become part of two BBC TV comedy series that had a huge impact. It really goes to show that TV simply responds to cultural change rather than leading it. For the Mods as they became known were mostly from families in the clothing trade or as it was known be most people: the Rag Trade, hence the fascination with clothes. The Rag Trade itself was big business and attracted its own TV comedy show. The piece of clothing that got the Mods burning holes in their pockets was a French Beret. Thanks to the 1960 French film Shoot the Pianist, American style became unpopular. With the drawing ability, taught them by Saint Martins, they sketched clothes from French films rather than watch the action. Subsequently splitting away from the norm, the Mods’ sport became the Tour de France, again due to education, this time getting there. Cycles were cheaper than going by bus, plus the Italian Bertorelli family had set up a shop to sell cycles in the Fulham Road. This youth movement noticed that when the racing cyclists trained during the winter, they wore a beret. Of course any Mod wouldn’t be caught dead on a bike, so they swapped them for motor scooters.
The next influences on the Mods came from the National Health Service and the Black Market. They had discovered that you could stay awake all-night at the nightclubs if you took amphetamines, most of which were brought in the clubs by US servicemen. The US Air Force had issued them as standard to keep pilots awake on night bombing missions; they kept the practice up after the war. Selling them through clubs became a regular thing for servicemen; still the price wasn’t right for some. With the NHS in full swing doctors encountered older women who were self-conscious of their own figure in greater numbers than before. The answer to the problem was simple available (on prescription) a pill called amphetamine. By 1956 the drug was no longer on sale at chemists, because of its misuse problem. Yet it was not the only drug out there, Benzedine, which became known as Speed, was found in the emergency kits of pilots. The most popular with Mods was Drinamyl, largely because they got them from their dieting mother. She got them from her doctor and the World Health Organisation found out in 1964, that 13 doctors in the Inner London area were responsible for Britain’s drug problem. For this reason alone, it proves that the London clubs were too exclusive to provide the drugs alone, but no-doubt they kick started the phenomenon going. Mod youth quickly worked out what the pills were that mother was taking, even if she kept it secret from them. The reason was obvious; mother couldn’t sleep and was hoovering the house in the middle of the night! The drug was so common they called them ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ and was used by the Rolling Stones in a tune. Their more popular name was Purple Hearts and John Lennon’s famous remark at an award ceremony to the next Prime Minister Harold Wilson, shows how much they were in the culture.

 If you didn’t know he was referring to the drug, Lennon was just seen as taking a dig at the US military operations and the name of the medal, it gave returning soldiers. In reality it was both the Government’s opposition to drugs and the Vietnam War. All the Mods’ drugs were banned by 64.
Anti-drugs or not it didn’t stop Mods taking the pills from mothers and selling them to their mates. Prices were varied, but the going rate was between 6d and a shilling per pill. Another way of getting hold of the drug was to get inhaler from the chemist, used for asthma sufferers. It was 100% strong than a single tablet, nicknamed the B-Bomb! Consumption could be very high; one social worker noted 16 lads took as many as 90 pills over a weekend! The physical affects of these pills were recorded in song by the Who in their song My Generation. The singer of this tune mimics the style of a nervous teenage boy, or someone with a stammer. Under-confidence in teenage years is very common effect of puberty. Spots don’t help the self-image and dealing with authority is weakened. It’s not uncommon to burst into tears if anyone even shouts at you. Aggressive behaviour is also caused by higher levels of testosterone; both of these are incorporated into My Generation. The fast-angry style, stammering vocal, is also the side effects of the Purple Hearts. This mixing perhaps explains why this song has remained popular long after the Mods disappeared from the scene.

They also had a name for the special style leader and he was called the ‘Face’. To be one of these you had to be male and really up-to-date with everything; little surprise that many called that went on to big stars, such as Rod Stewart. What’s more had one place that was there’s the Marquee Club. The club had developed a talent finding method of it’s own - Mods would pass judgement. Unsigned acts would play during the breaks of star acts. Unlike the girl-groups with screaming fans, Mods watched and did nothing else. If they liked them … Well you were made and the names say it all… The Who, The Move, David Bowie. Only one band they didn’t like made it big. They liked to do things with guitars, like hitting the manger on the head!
Enter a right bunch of juvenile delinquents, well some of them: Mick Jagger’s mum recalls all he ever wanted was money and was well on the way to be an accountant. Keith Richards was nuts about guitars, while Charlie Watts was the same about drums. Brian Jones was definitely and defiantly one, whereas Bill Wyman was very religious, at least about Little Richard. The qualities they acquired through the education culture set them on course for rock stardom. Jagger for instance stretched rules over uniform and got ‘leader’ status applied to him. Rhythm and Blues glued them together and contact with Blues man Alex Korner brought them playing at the Marquee Club under the name The Rolling Stones. Potentially they would be big rivals to the Beatles, but that never really happened due to the fact that Epstein had employed Andrew Loog Oldham to do the publicity work with his acts. He was told to see them by Peter Jones working then on Record Mirror. Eventually they all ended up in front of the man who turned down the Beatles. “I didn’t want to make that mistake again” said Dick Rowe at Decca Records.

The Mods had a love hate relationship with the Stones, but the were great for TV and Ready Steady Go first live outside broadcast featured the Stones, they limited the tickets to 8,000 still it was massive.
RSG was so popular the BBC head of Light entertainment told his team to come up with something to get ratings with pop music. They also now had a big advantage the charts were full of UK acts. More to the point they were singing songs that were at least English or appeared to be. Home grown talent and now with Royal approval after the Beatles got medals. They didn’t need to worry about middle class types saying they were pushing US crap down the viewer’s mouths anymore. But Bill Cotton (son of the bandleader) couldn’t get them to think up something, so he invented Top of the Pops. Still it didn’t mean the BBC Governors were keen. Nor did they like these longhaired types hanging around the new BBC building at Sheppard’s Bush. So they sent them to an old church in Manchester and got ex Luxemburg DJ Jimmy Saville to present it. TOTP was however based solely on what was in the top twenty charts; even so the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richard said that it was very commercial “for a government agency”.
What it really became famous for was acts miming to music. In his presenting style Jimmy Saville would have a copy of a single in his hand and then play it on a record deck. Meanwhile the artist, such as Jonathan King pretended to sing Everyone’s Gone to the Moon, but seeing

a clip reveals the record couldn’t have started in time with King. Union control of the BBC, in those early days, made them invent silly rules where acts had to record the track again for the BBC to broadcast and then still mime to the BBC recording! Bruce Welch of the Shadows says you had about 3 hours to record a version of the single, which often took a few days to do originally. The M.U. man watched to make sure it was done. Then without the knowledge of the union (or maybe with?) the tape was switched with the real recording and the act mimed to that. On the ITV music shows the union was ignored. The BBC Governors hated the unions; still it took them several years to pull a fast one on them. Meanwhile TOTP had grown and by 1966 its 7.30 slot pulled 20 million viewers. Union bosses were now fully in the belief that musicians were losing money hand over fist because of this and threatened to pull the plug on all music. Classical music no-way thought the BBC high level for the sake of pop music, yet 20 million people were not all kids! The Manchester studio was too small to cope with the Union demand of an orchestra, so with blackmail threats, TOTP went to TV centre. The orchestra played on hits which never sounded right and the poor floor manger had to have a wig to stop his bald head spoiling the image of a trendy show. Yet nothing could spoil it for it was trendy and Mary Quant models knew it. In spite of that despite the backlog for tickets, the risk of getting squashed by the huge cameras, the show sent people to clubs giving fashionable people tickets. So the bosses knew they were on to a good thing. They also won the argument with the union. But despite it's success the BBC never cared much about Top of The Pops it was after all something for teenagers and to some extent the BBC were still of the belief that kids should be seen, but not heard. So they turned a blind eye to the going ons back stage, something that would haunt them in the future.
There was another problem, getting bloody artists to perform. For the Beatles it wasn’t so much they didn’t want to appear it was that thousands of girls also wanted to see them. And so the film was born. Even so some artists caused a problem if they went to number One. Such as Elvis, who didn’t come to England (apart from in airports) and doesn’t seem to keen on sending films over. Being music the problem was solved by dancers. Being the sixties they were very attractive girls. Rather than confusing the audience into thinking they were the act on the record, especially when the girls danced to a female artist(s), a regular dance troop was employed called the ‘Jo-Jo’s’. For this reason the show would soon pick up adult males who tune in to see the dancing young women! Pop music is of course a business, whereas you can argue that classical and other forms are ‘art’. This problem plagues the BBC to this day, because it can’t be seen as a commercial organisation. Pop can be ‘art’ too, yet by the inclusion of the chart means by definition that the show must be commercially based. As someone joked once ‘why are teenagers so obsessed with how much money a recording artist makes?’ The shows’ producer Johnnie Stewart attempted to get round the art-profit issue by setting up a rule that the artist had to be going up in the chart, new, or at number one. Even then only the number one act could be played EVERY week. Generally two weeks later the effect of being on TOTP, selling more records, could see the artist on again. This spiralling effect, balances out eventually, when the bulk of the population of regular single buyers have bought what they like. However when non-regular buyers start than massive sales can happen, often when things come together, the key sometimes is tragic events.

Can You Hear Mr Jones

In a Manchester school some brothers had got chucked out of assembly for singing close harmony to the National Anthem. They never stopped singing even after they went to Australia, where they grew up performing all the time. Enough to have social workers panicking! By the time they returned to England, another ex Australian had discovered his talent was being an agent. Robert Stigwood had already opened doors for John Leyton, Mike Berry, Wendy Richards (later of EastEnders fame) and a fan of Billie Holiday and Sammy Davis, who renamed Billie Davis. She had success with versions of American hits Tell Him and End of the World. With the success of the Beatles German recording, that record company set up Polydor Records in 1965. The director of Polydor happened to be friends with Stigwood and so he gave him this group of brothers who sang in harmony, to work with called the Bee Gees.
Meanwhile in Wales another 116 children were never going to hear the Bee Gees. Their school happened to be very close to a colliery tip that was built on a stream. Too close… On the 21 October 1966 the tip smashed into the school at Aberfan. The story made headline news around the world. It was BBC television news first UK disaster covered and even I remember (only aged 6) the black and white TV news image to this day. Charitable donations flooded in

from the public, but this wasn’t the age of the charity record. Yet records in the pipeline (made before the disaster) benefited from this event and some artists did too. After his record success Tom Jones was able to jet off to New York. The record retailing business in Britain wasn’t as geared up to deal with the vast range on offer. Most record shops were small compared with American stores. The Twelve Inch LP takes up lots of space and so shops concentrated on the more commercial LPs, such as film musicals. Even popular US artists were often not in stock. So Tom’s hero Jerry Lee Lewis Country album Country Songs for City Folks was like gold dust in UK shops. In New York record shops, with all the trouble Lewis got in with young girls and knowing moral standards in the USA, the staff at the US store Tom picked up his copy, probably thought Jones was a gold dust customer! The upshot of this purchase was a million seller for Tom, for on the album was Green Green Grass of Home.
Strange as it seems a song about a condemned man dreaming about his home just before he is executed, would relate in the public’s mind to a tip disaster in Wales is a bit of a puzzle, but too many it did. Funnily enough I never related it to the event, but I can see why people would. For one thing Tom’s song hit the chart less than a month after the news broke. The Welsh connection with mines is another indicator and the (I think) ironically titled book and film which also features a tear jerking mine disaster, How Green is My Valley also comes to mind. Then of course as Tom knew too well a Welsh man singing that song on Top of the Pops, with an audience which could get as high as 20 million. Well you couldn’t have a bigger hit if you had ‘mining disaster’ in the title… Well no, but you can have your first hit if your called the Bee Gees. Perhaps that’s why they sing about Mr Jones in the New York Mining Disaster 1941, for there wasn’t one in New York in 1941.

But why were teenagers obsessing with how much pop stars make? The answer is simple - to fit in or not to fit in. Sounds Shakespearian in answer yet it’s not. While teenagers seek independence, because of puberty, they also don’t want to be alone. If others buy what they like they don’t feel alone. More to the point they feel empowered something that school often takes away with all those rules. However if your trying to be different you can see what others are buying and well be different, by either not buying the same things, or buying different things. The same can applies to image and trends, which may not be commercially based, though having said that few catch on without having something that can be sold. Again empowerment is achieved. Not everyone was keen on powerful youths. Manchester business men had found ways of getting hold of the teenage cash and loosing the red-tape from authority. After school or work, there wasn’t much to do, but hang around Coffee Bars. The owners of these worked

out by charging a membership and appealing to the teenage clients, with things they liked, an being of course alcohol-free, they had the private club status applied them. More importantly they could do what they wanted and no ‘licence’ headache troubles. Unregulated they were dirty, nasty, smelly, dark, cesspits, just what the teenagers loved! They were also dangerous, drug filled, dens run by a bunch of crooks. At least that’s what the Manchester Police and probably the older members of the public thought. The police were also not allowed to go snooping on private clubs. For this reason many of these clubs were run by dodgy persons. There was only cause of action for PC Plod, to raid them. Unfortunately for the police when they did the results were poor. In one club they found 1 girl had 1 speed capsule, out of 150 persons! The only other problem was that 42 girls and 13 boys were under 18. The parents were horrified at the location they were found in and had no-idea they were missing from home! Appalling many clubs were used by homeless youths to stay in, even during the day. Nevertheless these places were fire traps and dirty, so the pressure to do something about them resulted in section 18 of the Manchester Corporation Act of 1965, which would put an end to health and safety issues. Together with the 1964 Drugs Act, these clobbered youth empowerment, in places like Manchester, closing youth clubs down, leaving only two there by 1968. Across the pond in America, with higher education basically a right to all but black people, US authorities couldn’t impose rules on their youths. When they tried to impose a curfew on Sunset Strip in 1966, youths fought back. The tale of which made it into the Buffalo Springwater’s 1967 record Hey What’s That Sound. It failed to make the British top 50 though.

This is an unfinished chapter….

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Reflected People - The Beatles!

Chapter 4

The Dawn of the Hunter Band

One band has had such an impact on the young that it is necessary to look at how they came about in greater depth than any musical act in this book, hence the lack of dates to this chapter heading. Two members of this band also created a more spectacular impact that still benefits every popular music artist since they tried it. Their stimulus and all four members together, is the stuff that legends are made of rather like them. The legend starts with an elusive search that fuels even modern kids.
People in the entertainment industry and in general as well, make light of the man who refused to sign the Beatles to Decca Records. He is seen as a fool, and a warning to those with talent to keep trying, for someone will recognise your worth eventually. The idea that the music industry people are searching for someone (or persons) with a new talent that will make them a lot of money is thus generated. Is this all true? Is that why, since the Beatles, we have had fads and trends in music, different styles, superstars and pop idols, with girls going crazy about David Cassidy, George Michael; boys lusting after Whitney Houston or Madonna? Or any of the countless acts, which nobody born to later generations as heard of?
Actually it’s baloney. It’s a myth. Pure fantasy! The reality, apart from the obvious ones of these things being done to make some people very rich and that the music industry is only into profit, is that talent isn’t often present. Broadly speaking the education culture has created this hogwash, however most superstars might claim that without the Beatles they wouldn’t have ever been famous. That is not true if you are a solo artist. You could have been famous in every decade, even before the Beatles. ABBA, Duran Duran, Sex Pistols, Boomtown Rats, Oasis or any singing group needed the Beatles. Not for the musical style, just to be a singing group! And the Beatles got where they were from sex.

Beatles Have Talent... But Who Cares....

If you look at the UK top 20 before the release of the Beatles first proper single release Love Me Do, you can begin to see why the A & R man from Decca, Dick Rowe turned them down. If you can’t spot the reason, try looking for UK groups. Actually you’ll see hardly any groups from anywhere! The only one having hits were the Shadows or other instrumental acts. Singing groups like The Four Seasons for obvious reasons were not getting copied. You know what I mean? Well I don’t think many young heterosexual men sing Walk Like A Man in karaoke clubs today! Also they were often billed as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The Shadows too had started out as the backing band as Cliff. It seems that if they wanted to put a vocalist on a track they asked Cliff. More likely they were told to do so. Record companies could use much cheaper session musicians, few of them were considered special or very talented. A vocalist however could make a song. Therefore there was considerable reluctance from the music industry to have singing groups at all. They were the 50s, the 60’s would be different, the music industry argued. Rock and Roll was dead or dying. Skiffle was dead too. Both radio and television liked to talk with only one member of the band. And talking was essential for the reason that talk was cheap! Well cheaper than paying the artists to perform. For instance try watching the recording of The Ed Sullivan U.S. show (from 1957) where Buddy Holly and the Crickets sing That’ll Be The Day. Sullivan, you will see, speaks only to Holly and refers to the band being Holly’s.  I keep trying to put the clip of this interview on the blog, but Youtube keep deleting the videos. So here is the audio only version!  
Shows like this derived from Music Hall and their compares then infill between the acts and the introducer of them. TV picked up the practice and its presenters had a few minutes to talk to the act, just like the Music Hall man would. This ruled out “long” talks with other members, who tended to stay silent, apart from when the host made a glib remark at one of them. In fact Holly did not want to stand out from the band and they called themselves “The Crickets” only, on their records. Columbia Records man Mitch Miller told Holly once that he was wasting his time on this band. The other most likely reason for this lack of groups is money. As the Beatles found out, the standard royalty rate at Electrical Musical Industries (EMI.) the largest record company at the time, was one penny per copy on a single. Solo artists, of the time, such as Cliff Richard and Pat Boone, got the penny all to themselves, whereas Paul, John, George and Ringo had to split it between them. They also had a manager, Brian Epstein, and thus each penny was split five ways. As most performers are satisfying their egos the temptation to break from the band is big. Little wonder groups were short on the ground. This doesn’t explain why they broke big, or why the Decca man ignored the Beatles’ style and the way the band played.
What was going on was an opportunity for a revolution, that nobody had any knowledge of whatsoever. Certainly nobody at Decca or EMI had any idea of it. The Beatles themselves did not realise it, they didn’t think that a singing group was the way ahead, they just wanted to be like their hero- Buddy Holly/Crickets; hence their own band’s name. What was causing part of this revolution was where they had started! They had mostly met at school and through a love of music. The record industry had no idea of this sub-culture. Brian’s motivation was money and compensation for a thwarted acting career. He even thought the band were German, importing records they had made in Germany, to their home town of Liverpool to sell in his shops. Err actually not completely true. As the Beatles became a legend, many false notions have become imbedded in the stories that are told about them. These also block the real breakthrough they created. The rest of the revolution was in the acts the public could buy and is reflected in the chart, which would see more balance between solo acts and groups. The catalyst for this change wasn’t the music or the way it was played but sexual innuendo.
Popular songs, dating back hundreds of years have often carried sexual references to them. However television was now breaking uncensored into people’s home. Musical performers stopped smiling into the television cameras and shook their bodies. As we have seen with Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, they had transfixed teenagers’ eyes to the box as the shook, or moved it, to their songs. Education culture was changing things best left unsaid as people at the time would say. However in the UK with only two channels broadcasting, seeing pop stars on TV was a problem for that age group. Nowadays records are called hits before they have even been released. Then a host on a television show announcing the hit record performance of an act was certain the record was a hit, for it had to have been in the chart at least a week and probably in the top ten. For the shows wasn’t interested in new material by new acts. Not even the Beatles! The problem was parents who didn’t want what they called ‘noisy rubbish’ on, would turn over. This was the attitude of working class parents, middle and upper class parents saw these acts as beneath them and their kids were expected to be like their father (for the boys) and mother (girls). They also sent them to boarding schools or day school, where this view of their culture was reinforced. The TV companies therefore would target pop at between 5pm and 7pm, when ‘dad’ was having tea or still at work. Most music was heard not seen therefore. The artists who made pop records tended to have hits on musical ability not on how they looked. Those like Elvis and Cliff, with higher profiles got on TV and were screamed at by young girls for their good looks. Those that didn’t get on were not. Going back to those pre-Beatles charts, you will see a lot of American solo artists. Some of these acts would be never seen by the English people who bought their records, unless they saw them in a music paper or the act made a long playing record. Today not seeing a picture of the artist somewhere is near impossible for a modern teenage. The only way of finding out about new music then, was the radio. Going to see them was in many areas near impossible. Clubs largely were absent from most other cities; except of course London. Any that did set up were playing Jazz. Parental control was much more powerful; there was no need of curfews. Little Johnny, out on the street after 8pm, was brought home by a policeman, with the same attitude that Jack Warner had on BBC’s Dixon of Dock Green, at least that’s what most people thought would happen.
There was however money to be made out of the young, plus the education system was making this practical, although nobody understood the real reason why. Therefore the only way to see anyone perform pop music was to go to a club. These were often the same places that theatre types and comedians appeared at, like working men’s clubs or the British Legion. But public swimming baths had also become venues, along with church and community halls and centres.

Away from the conservative South of England, the school system was already breaking down the moral fibre. Gangs had grown strong and began to cause problems for the authorities. Gerry Marsden says he grew up fighting, having to avoid 25 rival gangs. At the same time money making individuals had cashed in on the school based youth culture and set up clubs for them to dance in. In the multi-cultural, multi-income mix of Liverpool this was producing seeds for our revolution. Fighting was encouraged at the local schools as well. Some even had organized fights among male pupils, where they could win a cup. Educationalist believed it let out the boys emotions. Yet this was simply to let them get on with their school work, or to reduce conflicts within schools. When the gangs (all of which originated from going to school, even though many of the members may well have left school) clashed with the money based activities; tales were bound to spread. The local swimming pool became known as the “Blood Baths”. Others The Grosvenor “Brawlroom”, and the Iron Door, as the wooden door was smashed down by axe maniacs after black singer Derry Wilkie. But, the soon to be famous, club in Liverpool had realized that teenagers would come into town (or were in already as they were working) during the lunchtime and wanted to listen to performers playing pop tunes. Originally it had discouraged pop/blues/rock musicians and was only interested in jazz entertainers, but found it was profitable. This is how Alistair Taylor knew about the club. He too
was a Jazz fan when he went to work at NEMS in 1960 aged 25. This was the case with many clubs and explains why the Beatles had gone to Germany to make money. They gained sufficient popularity there, so much so that Deutsche Grammophon records had given them a contract. I say them in a loose way for the record company saw Paul, John, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best as merely session musicians for the vocalist Tony Sheridan. Rather like Cliff and the Shadows, only Deutsche Grammophon had no plans at all to record an album of the Beatles alone. Sheridan himself had been in Germany several years, yet he came from London. George Harrison wanted him in the band permanently. Imagine that a Cockney in the Liverpool band! When they got back to Liverpool the Cavern Club change its mind, the club didn’t just have live acts; it also employed a disc jockey, to play 45 rpm records. This also got young school kids coming, because it didn’t have a liquor license. There were also a lot of young people turned out at 15 from the Secondary Moderns who had got jobs in offices (girls only) and building and other trades (connected with the port). Strangely these types of school would do a lot to create the fan base of many pop stars. The music industry certainly benefited from these academic underachievers.
The Beatles may have taken with them, back to Liverpool, copies of the German single of a recording of them playing with Sheridan. Presumably the Beatles hoped a talent scout would see them playing and give them an English contract. Artist and Repertoire people were as rare as the blue moon, outside the regions. Despite the fact that Bob Wooler, the Cavern DJ and art college student Bill Harry counted some 300 bands in Liverpool alone. Another problem was
Bill & Vigania Harry
that the Beatles were not really playing any decent tunes and were even singing and playing jazz classics or skiffle, to please the club, such as The Saints or No Other Baby the only skiffle number they knew. Most of there numbers were restricted to the type they played in Germany anyway. Gradually the club relaxed its attitude as they were growing in popularity. Even singing and playing old tunes the kids loved it and were going around asking record shops for My Bonnie by “The Beatles” or as turned out the “Beat Brothers”.
Only one record shop propriety was interested enough to find out who those pesky kids were on about. He had a chain of shops called North End Music Stores; he was a smartly dressed manager called Brian Epstein. Even though he didn’t want to be a record shop owner, he made a good job of it. Singles were always in his shop before anybody else. He made all the staff put up with awaked customers and even myths were spreading about him. From a Jewish background, I find it hard to believe that Epstein would order records of Hitler’s speeches, yet stories say that he did.

These myths were spread, partly because he was Jewish, largely because of the reputation his shops had for getting anything a customer wanted. One lad, Raymond Jones, nearly beat the store’s policy by asking for the Beatles single on the 28 of October 1961. Despite the fact that Brian had a great deal of conversations with the editor (Bill Harry) of Mersey Beat, since it came out in July that year, which had on it’s cover and splashed all thru it, ‘the Beatles’ Brian did not connect the song with the same band. At least that is what I think, though Brian may have wanted to take all the credit for their discovery all to himself, precisely what Bill Harry thinks, doubts creep in when you find out that he wanted to put reviews of Broadway Musicals in this Beat paper! Though Epstein was interested in what young people were buying, Bill was perhaps not taken to seriously by the record shop man, judging by what people (who knew Brain well) have said. They place importance on the views of young people influencing Epstein and older ones not having the same effect. Raymond therefore would have been a different kettle of fish. In that he was young and wanted to buy music, not sell papers! Whereas Bill admits he had switched from Jazz to support the Beat Music; thus taking him perhaps out of the age range that Brian tuned into for views. But with Epstein A plus B equalled C. Liverpool being a port meant that records could easily be got from around the world and Brian made sure he got them first! This one he couldn’t see in any catalogue list produced by any company. He chased everyone in the import trade to get copies of the Beatles disc. So when Raymond came back Brian nearly admitted defeat. But the lad then mentioned that it was on a German label. And so the myth that Brian thought they were German was born! Then spending a huge amount on phone calls contacted Deutsche Grammophon. They had not heard of the Beatles, yet they did have a record called My Bonnie by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, who where from Liverpool. So Brian ordered a box of 25 singles, which he had to, and sold the single to Raymond for 6 shillings! A few days later all 25 where gone and he order 50 more. A and B were in place! Bill came in again and Brian asked where these Beat

Tony Sheridan
Brothers or Beatles could be found. Even though the Cavern was not far from a branch of NEMS, Brian had never been there or so he claimed. However Alan Sytner the owner of it says that Brian was often in. Nevetheless that doesn’t mean that Epstein saw the Beatles there, as the Cavern would target it’s customers to come in at different times. So you could have gone to the club and seen a Jazz band and never met the Beatles or even those who liked them. As Alistair Taylor (Epstein assistant) knew the Cavern and with the intention of having a drink and launch the two men (dressed in suits) arrived at midday on the 9th of November. The club even made an announcement that Brian had come to see the Beatles! The band looked rubbish; chewing and smoking during the stage act and of course had been drinking, which they did by going to the nearest pub, before and during breaks! They/one would sneak out, as they would do later in their career, for instance in the film Hard Day’s Night. The place was full of beehive haired junior secretaries and young rockers. Valerie Dukes a student nurse, recalls that the club was split into two sides. At one side were grammar school kids and the other side had the normal school kids. They two sides didn’t mix. Launch was not on the cards either, for all they had was soup, cheese rolls and tea! It was also very much a clique; another side effect of the education system, which Stuart James the singer with the Mojos recalls. The two men stood out like a sore thumb! The placed smelled, was full of smoke, water dripping and the Beatles had guitar amps. “What a fucking racket” recalled Geoff Davies, who went on to join Probe Records, but still saw them 78 times! Epstein spoke with the band after five songs. Taylor says that Brian talked about managing them straight away. Taylor was still a Jazz man, admits that he didn’t like pop music and had no talent in spotting a hit single. Many years later Alistair Taylor tries to take a lot of the credit for the Beatles discovery away from Epstein. The real truth is that he doesn’t want to say that he thought the Beatles were crap at that time. In his book, A Secret History which confuses even more the discovery tale, he invents the name Raymond Jones, after being pestered by Beatles fans. So why didn’t he put one of them in? He also fails to take into account the German record company’s help, which only He approached, and doesn’t explain why Brian is sent on their sales course later, which Taylor knew about. He rules out that they were announced at the Cavern, making no mention of Mersey Beat paper either. Many years later

Raymond Jones in the 60's
Spencer Leigh tracked down Raymond Jones, who had retired from owning a printing company and now lived in Spain. He recalled the conversation with Epstein and the fact he used to go into to the shop buying Carl Perkins and Fats Domino after the Beatles had played the material.
It wasn’t Brian’s last visit! He market tested them on his female staff, bringing them to the Cavern. Rita Shaw also recognized them as
they had hung around his shops, very rarely buying anything, though they would hear the music from America. Brian was told they were the ones he had got the music off the ships for, sending all the assistants “crackers”. So much so the Beatles were singing and playing it, for strangely enough they didn’t seem to be trying to break the hold that U.S. acts and songwriters had on Britain. As we will see they were simply trying to copy them and break into the market that way. Epstein still saw there popularity, stage presence and that they were good looking too, which wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the gay Epstein. He was convinced they would make money and knew as well that they were good actors, if you like. Brian of course loved the theatre, which is why he did not want to sell records. With the requests he was getting for the single, by the band’s groupies he knew he was on to good thing and now he had C. Or was he? The Beatles were duly invited to NEMS head office; they took Cavern man Bob Wooler along to help them. Explaining the high sales for their single with Tony and told them he wanted a 10% cut of their earnings, rising to 15% when they passed £100 per week as their new manager. His first shock was that the band seemed to have a manager. Allan Williams was also the manager of the Jacaranda Club, (where Brian went to see him) however he was pig sick of the lads, their jokes and sarcasms, plus the chip on the shoulder of John Lennon. It was also true that the music industry favoured solo vocalists, such as Tony Sheridan, so Alan might have believed they were not going anywhere. Ironically Williams, who Paul describes as a small Welsh man who managed all the bands in Liverpool, got them the job in Germany, yet only on the condition they were a five-piece-band. They had no official drummer at that time and George Harrison happened to be friends with Pete Best. Epstein discovered that a lot of Williams’ anger was due to him not getting his fees from these German gigs. Still he told him not to touch them with a “fucking barge pole”.

Brian after seeing Williams thought it would be easy to get them out of the contract. With Alan it was! Getting them gigs was all that he did, so Brian did that. Only when they went to more up market places than the Cavern they were being laughed at! The ‘Gene Vincent’ style of leather clothing they all wore, seen in the film they got their name from, The Wild Ones, was the cause
of this mockery. Brian had seen that the instrumental band - the Shadows - had started dressing in suits, ditching the leather made the Beatles look presentable. Epstein himself was always smartly dressed; the record store staff called him “Mr Brian“. According to Alistair Taylor who at least doesn’t take credit for this idea, Epstein paid £40 each for the Mohair Suits. Trying to persuade them not to smoke and eat was a different matter. They were working class, with thick accents, who would take them on. Getting gigs was one thing and as their manager now, Brian told them only the best music was to be performed on stage. The band was also in debt to £200 at Frank Hessy’s music store for their guitars and amps. So Brian paid off that as well. Their manager worked out nobody from the record companies was even thinking about the talented people, that Brian knew in Liverpool, and

Cochran and Vincent
wasn’t going to go there. He would now use his knowledge from the business of record retailing and contacts to get them a record deal. What he didn’t know he would soon pick up, he perhaps thought. Unfortunately he nearly blew it for the band. Yet his saving grace was something he had no idea of. Having built up an empire of nine shops in a few years would make anyone in the music business sit up and take notice. Mr. Epstein went a lot further than that. Record sales reps had noticed that Epstein’s orders were predicting major hits in the rest of the country. If NEMS ordered more than average the news went back to head office NUMBER ONE! Even if NEMS didn’t, reps were sent wanting to know why. Nobody ever told Brian that in the record companies. With that in the background, he began to increase the band’s publicity. He contacted the Liverpool Echo, which he thought didn’t produce a result. But Tony Barrow, from the pool, was writing both for the paper and sleeve notes for Decca Records. He told Decca that Epstein was saying the Beatles would be bigger than Elvis. What’s more interesting is that Decca now distributed Elvis’ records. So Decca were on alert and possibly on the defensive. Armed with copies of My Bonnie Brain went to see the Marketing Manager of EMI on the pretext of getting discounts for EMI products. Ron White heard the record but was never in a position to act and he told Brian that the A&R people would have to cast judgment, yet as a favour Ron was also going to get the department to translate the German record contract. So Brian by the sound of things was also picking the brains of the record bosses. What he found out was that German deal was really lousy to the lads and that they were still under contract to produce records for several years to come. The Beatles had been taken to the cleaners! It would have stopped any chance of fame. Fortunately the head of Deutsche Grammophon was the bandleader Burt Kaempfert, so knew what it was like for artists trying to hit the big time.
Any modern collector knows that they did record further songs for the Germans, Epstein and Burt agreed this for them to be released from that contract. Doing this takes them back to Germany and are largely absent over the English deals.
At EMI Ron had played My Bonnie to “all” the A&R men. Normal practice it seems was to play the demo and not mention who the acts were, however in this case, they were told only to listen to the backing group and not the lead vocal (Sheridan). As you can imagine that was very difficult to say the least. What they had to go on was the music. Not the voices, the image, the appeal, which Epstein picked up on. “Another Shadows” would have been the verdict. And it was. The band the ‘Shadows’ were big at this point they must have been flooded with demos of groups who thought they were the next Shadows. The EMI A&R men had strict fields of operation, they were not to compete. The man that Brian and the band needed was Norrie Paramor. They fitted into his department only. Yet he had the Shadows, did he need to have another act to compete with them? Of course not! Walter Ridley might have been more interested in Tony Sheridan. Others were the musical and piano man Norman Newell. Brian was told the bad news on the 18 December. If only Brian had taken the band to a recording studio! Maybe Norrie would have signed them up. Then again perhaps not! This is where the Decca man answers why.
So another trip to London was the only option for Epstein, which occurred on the run up to Christmas 1961. I dispute Taylor’s claim that Brian went at the same time to Decca as EMI, as Brian was an ethical man, as Taylor admits. The same tactics as EMI, to the marketing man for Decca with a slight change though, a licence agreement and NEMS buying up 5,000 singles. Same response nearly as EMI, Dick Rowe (A&R) had to come in. After a lot of persuasion the A&R man agreed that, Mike Smith would be sent to see the band at the Cavern, to Mike’s surprise they were good. They were making an audition tape, in the first days of the New Year. Brian insisted they use the stage act and the 15 tracks consisted of mostly of rock and roll hits plus Tin Pan Alley songs. With tracks like To Know Her Is To Love Her by Spector and Take Good Care Of My Baby by Goffin-King, the Beatles were trying to break into established areas not change it. Only three tracks were Lennon/McCartney compositions. To be fair Lennon wanted more heavy tunes on it, while the best of those chosen, which is deemed by Beatles fans to be Hello Little Girl. The Fourmost version, however recorded a few years later, is still recognized by fans as being better. Little wonder they were not greeted with much enthusiasm by Decca. It was like trying to sell seventies cover versions to modern record companies or Sci-Fi novels to Mills and Boon! The fifties were dead to record companies; they were looking for something knew or more likely what was being dished up at the time. It’s worth saying again that Rock and Roll was dead or dying! Singing groups were out! Had Paul or John decided to have to be the leader of the band (one not both) then like Joe Brown they might have got the record contract. But there was no leader. The famous response from Decca was clear and harsh “not to mince words, Mr Epstein, we don’t like your boys sound. Groups are out; four piece groups with guitars particularly are finished.”
Lennon thought it was the songs, sadly it wasn’t. Brian didn’t help he told them that they would be bigger than Presley! You tell EMI today that you will be bigger than the Beatles, if you’re after a record deal and see how fast you will be out the door!
“Put them on television you’ll have the biggest thing ever” said Epstein. “Stick with your record shops” said Rowe. Epstein wasn’t in the record club! Some of us would have given up with that reply, not Brian, well he nearly did. Lennon, who you can tell thought the world of Epstein, described him as “intuitive”. He was right there! Brian now had a 15-track tape of Beatles songs. With that he tried all the other record companies, probably not to much effect, as word would have got around from Decca blacking the band’s name. Though of course the people that work, selecting new acts, for record companies move and are trained in the same circles as everyone else ‘the record club’. All results ended the same way every time, with rejection.
It wasn’t all bad news for the lads and their boss. Burt’s record company branch in England Polydor had been contacted about the sales of My Bonnie by head office. They agreed to release it throughout Britain in January of 62. And Brian had gone on record sales training courses with the company.
Epstein at the Cavern
Fortunately for the Beatles, one person had a slightly different background to all the rest. He had no problem with competition between A&R men. Unfortunately for Epstein, that person was conceivably on holiday, when he went with the record to EMI. Brian sent the Beatles back to Germany to complete their contract. There they had other problems. Pete Best was becoming difficult and wasn’t turning up for gigs. McCartney called him mean and moody. If he did this to his face, Paul hasn’t let on. Richard Starkey had already got quite a reputation as a drummer. He was being brought in by the band when Best was absent.

Here’s Martin’s Vision

Brian, still in London and still trying to find ways of getting the Beatles signed up, went to a record shop in Oxford Street. Myths and facts then merge together of how Epstein and George Martin get to meet. Most writers are pretty unclear on this subject. So someone, either the store manager of the HMV shop, or an engineer, or the people in charge of the song publishers (above the shop) told him to see Martin. Brian may have just gone in to see what ideas he could use in his shops. One thing that I think is for certain is that he had been on that sales course with this manager Robert Boast. What did Brian expect from him? Apparently he did take the demo tape into the shop and had acetate discs cut from the master tape. To some the disc cutting man, Jim Foy, was a friend of George Martin. Unless Martin says he was, then some other explanation has to be found. The story gets confused further when Martin says the engineer was an ex EMI man called Ted Huntley! Indeed other writers/historians might have got their facts wrong, for Syd Coleman was the man that Martin knew. Another factor is that some of the songs were Lennon & McCartney written.
At that time songs were written and artist were found to sing them. This meant that real power in the record industry were the music publishers. Songwriters were probably drawn from middle-class backgrounds with schools that had very good music departments. The type of school that accepted pupils whose parents wanted them to have an education above the rest. Music lessons were thus an extra cost! Songwriters thus knew nothing of the industrial cities, they didn’t write about them anyway. However with the cost elements gone from music education, it was possibly to learn to write songs, if you came from somewhere like Liverpool. Clearly Lennon & McCartney were more important as songwriters than the band would be at that time. Brian would have known that too. A strange coincidence then that he should go into a shop that on the upper floors has the music publishers of Ardmore & Beechwood, the same company that worked for the largest record company in England. Martin also picked up the story that he was going to see the Music publishers. Thus had Brian gone to them to flog the songs of Lennon & McCartney, getting in the back road way? The Coleman connection with Martin, and he is part of the story, is that he worked for the publishing firm as its boss. Jim or Ted told him to see Coleman above the shop. Again if Brian wasn’t trying to get the songs published, instead of the band signed, more than likely, he thus went up to see the music publishing company for contacts. “Have you tried? Yes” seems to have been most of the conversation between the two men, till it came to George Martin. The thing is that talent seems to have been put on the back burner. And now the old adage ’it’s not what you know, but who’ positively comes forward. Coleman passed him on to see George Martin; this may explain why Northern Songs comes about later. I’ll deal with Northern Songs shortly.
George Martin could clearly see that a singing Shadows might just catch on. The Shadows were also on the same record company as Martin and he was jealous of Paramor’s success with the group. It did not matter to him about loyalty as he had to improve his own label. At no point did Epstein mention that EMI and Paramor had turned them down. George however was no expert on the music that was in the top 50 charts. He had worked more or less with comedians like Peter Sellers and also was responsible for a recording of the Laughing Policeman. He admits that even the serious stuff, he brought to the demo meetings and with other A&R people brought fits of laughter from them. He confessed also that he didn’t know where Liverpool was! What Martin knew about was music. He wasn’t impressed with the 15 songs, though had a feeling about the band itself. The drumming however he hated! It was still Pete Best. The Beatles were thus given a second chance to perform on the 6 June 1962. Martin made it obvious to Brian to ditch Pete Best and he would bring a session drummer in. Afterwards, knowing how the three remaining Beatles moaned about Best’s lack of commitment to the band, Brian phoned Richard Starkey (who was being called Ringo) telling him that he was now the new Beatles drummer. So Ringo turned up for the band’s recording of Love Me Do and George Martin said no-way! The two men still have ‘friendly’ chats on this subject even now! Pete Best himself tried to have a solo career, but mostly failed. He was reported to be not resentful, unlikely story, for he much later joined the Employment Service persecuting young unemployed! Nevertheless Best’s departure caused a stink with the Cavern fans. They also didn’t like them in suits! Yet also there was a element of local pride in this band developing in the Beatles and Liverpool wasn’t too keen on him going. Many people thought that Best was better looking than John and Paul and that was why he got the push. Gerry Marsden recalls that things got so bad that Epstein got thumped by some member of the mob!
The first release by the Beatles, Love Me Do, was viewed by the music business with deep suspicion.
It’s chart the Record Retailer

Top 50 saw the single get to number 17. The talk was that Brian, who owned record shops, was buying or fiddling the books, simply because the group were the only singing group in the chart. But even Brian said that 100,000 copies had been sold more than could be got by fiddles. Even if the North of England had bought it a million the chart would have levelled it sales to reflect those of other hit records. It would have gone to number one, but the record company didn’t bother to promote it. Ardmore & Beechwood who published it, thanks to Martin wanting to give some credit for bringing the band to his attention, also didn’t do anything promotion wise. This wasn’t the company being against the band; simply it had more invested in the artists of the Columbia label, then those of the Parlophone label that the Beatles were on. Even George Martin however thought that the rest of EMI were against the band. The Chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood strangely had something to say about Epstein and his Beatles. He told the Press Officer to make Brian ’feel important’. This was not meant, as flattery as he and them was very important to EMI’s music business. Sir Joseph is also keen that EMI beat Decca at Pop Music, which more than likely is due to Brian telling him about what they said to him. This has to be the result of Brian going to see the Chairman after all the problems he’s had, such as only 250 copies were pressed of the demonstration (red & white) single. To add insult to the injury; Paul’s surname on the writers credit is spelt “McArtney”. Some of these promotion discs were sent to where John Lennon heard Elvis Presley for the first time - Radio Luxembourg!

It’s Big Up North!

The Beatles had taken rhythm and blues, from Black Americans and combined it with a sugar lyric for rock & roll, a black slang word for sex. Getting sexual messages across to teenagers was full of difficulties. Direct references were not allowed. The songs would not get on the radio; record shops would not sell them. So the lyrics were entwined up in innuendo. The other reason the first single was not a big hit, was because it was to well disguised. So the writing team of Lennon & McCartney came up with Please Please Me with sexual references by the score, just the sort of stuff that would trigger teenage chat about sex. The record would have been number one, were it not for record shops and industry moaning that Epstein had been fiddling again. It was certainly number one in other charts. Maybe the industry chart had more shops from the South of England, where Radio Luxembourg was at its weakest? Certainly it did not use that many, as even in the seventies it was only 250 shops strong. The news that it was number one in some charts was greeted with silence at the Cavern! The clique’s secret was gone forever. Brian Epstein dream was now coming true, but he wasn’t happy with the record company having failed to promote both singles. If Ardmore & Beechwood had rejected the Lennon & McCartney song writing team, now their songs were going to them for publication! Worse still they had no enthusiasm for the act. Martin suggested that Brian saw Dick James a newly set up publisher, having left the actress Eleanor Bron’s father’s publishing company. Small world, she would act in a Beatles movie and she was the inspiration for the name Eleanor in the song Eleanor Rigby. Dick James however was more famous for singing the TV Theme to Robin Hood, the series best remembered for Richard Green as Robin and the title shot
were arrows hit a target.
The sound of which is still used by some radio stations to indicate a hit/new entry on the chart!

In his forties, so a bit out of his depth, Dick asked his son about the band. You can guess what he thought. Next day Dick played the single of Please Please Me down the phone to the producer of ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars and they were on the show the first Saturday singing it. Brian, Dick, Paul & John set up Northern Songs to publish all future recordings. After Brian’s death, Dick James sold, for 10 million pounds, Northern Songs to ATV, the same company that made the Robin Hood TV show. Incidentally both John and Paul would have got money for each song they wrote and since they wrote more songs than George and Ringo did; made more money than they did! Nevertheless doing this changed forever the system and Music Publishers lost their influence to make hits, by the end of the sixties. A sort of karmic effect for rejection of a great song writing team!
John and Paul did something else. They made it possible for any artist (from any background) who could write and sing their own songs, to do precisely that and prevent others from singing them, if they wanted to. In the fifties and early sixties, this was as rare as hens’ teeth.

Four Elvis or Four Cliff

Girls were now in heaven, four Cliff's, to scream at. The top show on telly Sunday Night at the London Palladium had to have this band, they were English and they could get them cheap, cheaper than Frank Sinatra anyway. Bernard Delfont’s daughter was also one of these

Bernard Delfont
screaming nutters and he could get them on the show. The good looks and innuendo songs assured them fame and 2,000 girls screaming! “WE WANT THE BEATLES”. Epstein’s revolution hit that Sunday night! Police vans and John Lennon nearly saying “rattle your fucking jewellery” to members of the Royal Family
and a quote from the doorman commenting nothing like this since 1955 and the Yank Johnny Ray; all good copy for the press. Fleet Street became Beatlemaniacs on Monday. But is this talent? What was that good about She Loves You or From Me to You. Pete Waterman thinks that using the words Yeah Yeah had a massive effect on music. Yet a solo artist could have sung these. Nevertheless these records still help to create the revolution in the charts, balancing between solo acts and groups which we have today. No they didn’t! The Beatles themselves were terrified that they wouldn’t last. They needed to go bigger than Elvis Presley! Like their manager believed they would.
America ignored Cliff Richard and stacks of British acts; they were going to ignore the Beatles too! Unlike our sales charts the US Billboard chart wasn’t bothered too much if a record had sold only a few thousand copies. And although there were other charts, because of the free market system, they were not very different from one another. Billboard was sought of and still is the industry chart. If radio stations liked the music and single it was played to death! So Billboard asked all the crucial stations to tell them which records were being played the most. With this information they would compile their chart. The idea being that the American public would go out and buy these records. The problem with this system is that the radio stations have to be broad-minded about what they play and more importantly the type of music they select. Now you can see what I mean about sex. The American culture has never been keen on that subject. Therefore with sex references by the load the US frowned on the Beatles first few songs. There were other less direct prejudices that the Americans have. First the Beatles were British, war of independence you know! They were working class too! You shouldn’t believe that the American system ignores this. Black people in America are often working class. Let’s not forget Native Americans. There also is protectionism, keeping the culture of the USA free from outside influence. Of course it’s full of outside influences, they just come from inside! Though craftily EMI bought Capitol Records and were selling records to the Americans. Only they were not British acts. Capitol thus had its own control and to survive in the business world of the US needed it. It wasn’t therefore taking risks over English acts it knew wouldn’t get radio airplay.
Thus EMI and Capitol were arguing over the Beatles! EMI knew that the Beatles were good now, after She Loves You topped over one million sales; even on the figures produced at that time. In fact in 1963 Parlophone alone made over two million profit and cost only £50,000 to run! Capitol wouldn’t budge. Accepted theory then and even to this very day was that you had to tour and promote yourself to the US public. This of course means getting on crucial chart radio stations, plus perform at various venues that are ’hip’. The Beatles were not doing that, they had seen Cliff Richard and others do that and still not make it. They told Epstein no tours and we’re not going there till we have a big hit! And Epstein was also getting phone calls out of the blue for gigs at the Classical Music only Carnegie Hall in New York. Over there, Sid Bernstein an agent at General Artist Corporation was reading the Fleet Street Press for a social work course. He, without ever hearing their music, watched the Beatles grow in column inches. Offering the Hall and three times the rate that Brian suggested, for the two performances for only one day! This fuelled the row with Capitol. George Martin must have been pig sick of the company that his own record company owned. Polite as Martin is, he virtually told them to get stuffed. Martin made arrangements with smaller independent labels Vee-Jay and Swan, Tollie, to get the records out. The first few early Beatles hits did make the Billboard Chart, though none got them into the top twenty. Martin knew that this would be the case. It did however build a following for the band. Of course there is another reason that Capitol didn’t want the Beatles. The US had got its own singing group and signed to that label. They were singing songs about the California coast and what people did there. Though all but one didn’t practise what they preached. They also hit the top twenty with their first release in the US in the same year and two months before the Beatles did in Britain. Getting three places higher with Surfin’ Safari and they were the BEACH BOYS. However they didn’t have a number one single, even Surfin’ USA failed
and reached the third position. Brian Wilson got the idea of the song from a Chuck Berry composition, the rest where about his brother’s Dennis early rock & roll lifestyle (sex and drink), that their father disapproved of. Although they were a five-piece band playing and singing, Wilson was in charge, eventually after his father was dropped as their manger. Like the Merseyside lads he wrote their songs, but unlike them, they had no producer and did have a leader. A fan of Phil Spector, Brian got rid of the Capitol Record’s producer and did the job himself. Wilson did not however create the surf style sound they used. Legendary guitarist Dick Dale created that. The sound was done by making the guitar sound like drums, yet he also added an Arabic musical influence. This sound was not unique to the Surf Scene, as it can also be heard on some records of the English band The Shadows. They were mostly good looking, one reminds me of John F. Kennedy, and didn’t dress in suits. Before 1964 they had some top twenty successes, but were still waiting for their first number one. But Capitol was now under pressure from American disk jockeys as well as the public, who had got hold of independent label release of Beatles material. The “Beatles Craze” had swept through Britain like a plague. In Germany, far less narrow-minded to English music than America was, they had sung She Loves You in German, so it was a number one there! And the rest of Europe fell under their spell. Even France, that had an actual blockage against both English and American culture, fell. They continued to keep that support when Paul McCartney wrote a song about an American millionaire's daughter named Michelle! Plus the French words of course!!

They were so huge that Capitol ended up releasing the none offensive I Want To Hold Your Hand, along with five million badges and a $20,000 dollar add campaign. It made the US top 20 on the 25 January 1964 going to number one the following week. True to their words the Beatles were in America seven days later, greeted by thousands of screaming American girls! American radio had gone mad and made sure that a public holiday was there for the fans that day. The Beatles played to a jam-packed Carnegie Hall, their first US concert, its first pop band, within a week. Wonder if they played Roll Over Beethoven? Many Americans might have thought he would. Nevertheless around 73 million of them watched the four lads on the Ed Sullivan Show on the 9th of Feb. So many that the US police said even criminals stayed at home!
Brian Wilson was amazed! “The girls were screaming at them” Presumably they were not when the Beach Boys performed. It wasn’t that bad for them, for singing groups were now in. Yet the backlog of Beatles songs, that the Yanks needed to catch up on, took all the top five positions in Billboard’s chart. Still the paper wasn’t that keen on the Beatles, yet it had to admit the US public was! Nevertheless the Beach Boys finally got the number one in the US they needed, in July of that year with I Get Around. Their summer songs also did well in Britain, not due to the weather, but being on the English owned Capitol label.
Others were not so lucky. The same system that kept British acts out of the US charts was now on the American acts. Radio stations would only play the British songs and the music publishers sent their songs to Britain. Thus the British music industry covered black music and sent it back to the States. Being white performers the narrow-minded music stations turned against the black artists US acts performing their own same songs, which were covered by the British acts. Phil Spector’s work as a producer suffered most. His singers were interchangeable but therefore not fan based, unlike the Beach Boys and Beatles. Record bosses could only moan that once you have heard one Limey act, you’ve heard them all! Be that as it may, the Singing Group was thus here to stay, especially when the Beatles released the film A Hard Day’s Night thus making them actors; Brian Epstein dream was complete with that. The final factor in keeping them strong as a group was that they were the jack of all trades together, as far as their musical style was concerned; apart they were no such thing. Another of life’s ironies is that the money issue and egos, which brought them together, ultimately split them in 1969. But London and South of England would never ever be the centre for music talent exclusively. A&R men got on their bikes!