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|
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
|Raymond Jones in the 60's|
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|
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|
Here’s Martin’s VisionBrian, 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 CliffGirls 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
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!