Posts tagged ‘Beatle’
Oh Taschen. Yummy, delectable, I-want-to-devour-you-whole Tahhhh-Shen. So beautiful. So sumptuous. SO expensive. And yet, somehow, worth every blessed cent. Your anthologies agonize me with want. I covet your sweetly binded spines and secretly despise those who have your volumes proudly displayed on their hand-crafted cabinetry. I’m a hater, what can I say?
I own one Taschen volume, their recent , and countless other titles clutter my wish list. ( : Portrait of a CityThe Stanley Kubrick Archives, anyone?) But their newest release has been automatically scratched from any such “wish” list and sent straight to the top of “must have” indulgences.
My tongue hit the floor when I came across the latest Taschen catalog advertising … a decadently illustrated 300+ page volume chronicling ’60s Rock photographress supreme and the Mother of all Rock moms? I am SO on this one. : A Life in Photographs
Linda McCartney‘s life may very well be overshadowed by the incalculably large shadow of her legendary husband (she married a Beatle for goshsakes– and not just any Beatle, but one half of the greatest songwriting team of the 20th Century. And you can quote me).
But Linda was hardly a mere footnote in rock history.
She was a chronicler of it.
They met and fell in love like a good old fashioned romance novel. Down to earth, no-frills artsy girl happens upon society’s most eligible, rich, handsome bachelor, and the two fall madly in love, throwing convention to the wind. (The same, interestingly enough, is quite true of the couple’s acutely avant garde counterpart, John and Yoko; although to quite a different reaction … something that is another post altogether…)
Linda was never really just “Mrs. Paul McCartney.” Although she was an inextricable part of Paul’s life and work, straight up to her tragic death at age 56 from breast cancer, she was not only a wife and mother, but an artist.
A formidable one, in her own right, which this new Taschen anthology documents both exquisitely and authoritatively.
Sir Paul McCartney and his fashion-guru daughter Stella, along with siblings Mary, James and (half-sister) Heather, have collaborated to present this highly personal tribute to a striking artistic talent, devoted mother, and truly gracious lady.
The publisher’s description sums it up perfectly:
From her early rock ’n’ roll portraits, through the final years of the Beatles, via touring with Wings to raising four children with Paul, Linda captured her whole world on film. Her shots range from spontaneous family pictures to studio sessions with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, as well as artists Willem de Kooning and Gilbert and George. Always unassuming and fresh, her work displays a warmth and feeling for the precise moment that captures the essence of any subject. Whether photographing her children, celebrities, animals, or a fleeting moment of everyday life, she did so without pretension or artifice.
These photos are only a few from the selection of shots that will thrill any fan of 60s rock culture… or indeed, any true fan of photography itself.
All in all, Taschen’s tribute is endearing, heartfelt, and probably their most sentimental volume to date.
I leave you all with my personal favorite Paul and Linda moment. Paul’s campy but oh-so fun music video featuring Michael Jackson, “Say, Say, Say“ (1983), with Linda very much a part of Paul’s company, pitching in the best she can … bless her darling heart.
We love and miss you, Linda!
Last week, on a rainy Friday evening, The American Cinematheque here in Hollywood showcased a screening of The Beatles First Concert in America: The Washington D.C. Coliseum, to a sold out audience. The energy of that performance, which has only intensified with age, left every last one of us riveted.
Which is the reason for this blog post. Apologies just might be in order: I’m an unabashed Fangirl.
1.) No Pyrotechnics. No HD Mega Screens. No sound monitors of ANY kind.
Today, the production of a concert is just as memorable as the music itself– and, often, moreso. Laser light shows. Pyrotechnics. Fireworks. All the bells and whistles that can keep the audience keen. On February 11 1964,however, what the audience got was a concert as performed by your local high school band. Only … they kinda happen to be the best rock band on the planet.
You can easily count the number of amps they’re using because… they’re all on the stage. In a stockpile. One, two, three, four … five amplifiers. The boys were using Vox AC-30 amps that night, just as they had used back in Britain for about a year or so. Their sound was sharp, hard and clear– perfect for the clang of an early 60s guitar. But… still… 30 watts! It wasn’t until 1965 that Vox would design a special 100 watt amp specifically for the Beatles, and so they relied on 30 watt amplifiers to feed a crowd of three thousand hysterical, screaming teenage girls. Without sound monitors. Today, it would take four of Vox’s AC-30 amps to equate to one Vox Valvetornic amp. I’d love to see some of our over produced contemporary bands try something like that!
Today, a high-profile band is guarded by 400 pound security gorillas armed with oozies. In 1964? It was every man for himself. The Beatles were shoved onto a plywood 20 x 20 stage guarded by a few white-collar pencil pushers as a hysterical teenage audience pelted them with… jelly beans. The gesture was meant to be affectionate as it was a well known piece of Beatle-lore amongst teenage fans that the Beatles loved jelly babies. But in England, jelly babies are a soft little candy. Their American cousins, jelly beans? Quite another story. Recounts George Harrison:
That night, we were absolutely pelted by the fuckin’ things. They don’t have soft jelly babies there; they have hard jelly beans. To make matters worse, we were on a circular stage, so they hit us from all sides. Imagine waves of rock-hard little bullets raining down on your from the sky. It’s a bit dangerous, you know, ’cause if a jelly bean, travelling about 50 miles an hour through the air, hits you in the eye, you’re finished! … Every now and again, one would hit a string on my guitar and plonk off a bad note as I was trying to play.
3.) Rock and Roll
In the years before albums like Sgt. Pepper, Revolver or Rubber Soul pushed the boundaries of contemporary music, The Beatles were just a straight up Rock and Roll band. They idolized black American R&B, emulated its raw intensity and the result was magic. This rendition of Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally had been a stage staple since the early 60s, when The Beatles were nothing more than cellar regulars at The Cavern Club.
It has rarely been played with more purity and energy than this two minute bit in D.C.:
Ringo tends to get a hell of a lot of flack. People dismiss him as just a third wheel, a yes-man, or the luckiest substitute drummer in the history of music. Truth is: Ringo rocks. He was a major name in Liverpool WAY before The Beatles were even a blip on the radar and did the Lads a favor by playing with them over in Hamburg.
And if you insist on demeaning his skill as a musician, I highly suggest first taking in this particular number from the Washington D.C. concert.
Not only does he showcase his worth as a major percussionist… he is the man of the match!
5.) THE FANS
For the few of you out there who may not know… there is an art to being a Beatlefan. The head bump, the seat bounce, the finger scrunch– all are the result of much study and practice. Then again … it’s actually just the spontaneous, knee-jerk reaction of exposure to what was the most head-pounding rock and roll of its time.
The Beatlefan is unmistakable. And the 1963 Washington D.C. concert is especially noteworthy since the Beatlefans are at their unruly best. Beatlemania in the US was a new disease… and the symptoms manifested itself in some particularly entertaining cases…
It simply doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true: today marks the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic death.
It’s a particularly difficult subject for me to discuss because, in so many ways, his music occupies a very special, very deep, and very personal place in my life. John, always ebulliently self-effacing, would smirk and slag off a comment like that, and for good reason. We martyr and project and idealize public figures often to the point of irreparably fragmenting them–only to turn right around and punish them for it.
And few people have had more projected upon them than The Beatles.
Having been thrust onto an unprecedented public platform at the mere age of 23, John knew this better than most people, and fought its inevitability his whole life. Determined, always, to never be what the public felt he ought–or even what his band mates felt he ought. He fought, tooth and nail, for the human right of individuality… a gift that John’s life, if anything, teaches us to never take for granted.
For his cost him many things–friends, family, fans… and in some ways, it was his unapologetic fight to be true to his beliefs, and thereby true to himself, that cost him is life. For it was the delusional rage of a fan, unable to cope with the fact that John was a deeply flawed mortal, that silenced him forever thirty years ago.
It had been a happy year for John. He met his 40th birthday in October with a renewed vigor, coupled by the fact that it was a date shared by his son, Sean, now 4. There had been a new album. A good one. After years of seclusion, confusion and personal turmoil, John had emerged triumphant, hand in hand with Yoko.
It could have been a truly bright decade of renewed possibilities, John equipped with a solid sense of self and a renewed confidence that he’d struggled for years to find.
But it was all taken away from him, that cold December night 30 years ago.
The world mourned then, and we reflect now, on one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, John Lennon, with a series of photos celebrating the last year of a life that, although gone, has never stopped inspiring.
The Pictorial has also produced a special photo montage tribute to John and the Beatles. Hope you enjoy: