Creative director John Kosh had his hand in many Beatles-related projects

Creative director John Kosh has been behind many Beatles-related projects, including the album covers for Abbey Road and Let It Be, and John’s ‘War Is Over’ campaign.

 

Kosh, who was a guest at one of our recent Fests, spoke with Best Classic Bands about his work with the Beatles and artists such as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, The Who, and more.

 

Recalls Kosh about the Abbey Road cover:

 

It was designed without a title and without the name of the band. I received an irate call from the chairman of EMI, Joseph Lockwood, in the middle of the night saying that no one would know what it was. But the next morning George Harrison reassured me: ‘We’re the fu**ing Beatles.'”

 

::: Read more about Kosh at Best Classic Bands HERE :::

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Remembering John Lennon

Thoughts from Fest Founder Mark Lapidos on this most somber of days…
 
There is no getting around it. This is the blackest date in Beatles history.
 
34 years later, it still sucks. For many millions of fans it was the worst day of our lives. We can somehow understand how or why politicians and world leaders over the centuries could be assassinated. BUT A MUSICIAN!!!! Not just any musician, but John Lennon.
 
John was so much more than a musician. He became the voice of a generation, spreading peace and love around the world. He was also an artist, writer, husband, father and a dreamer, to name a few.
 
There have been so many books written about John – some really terrific ones and some horrible ones. But just listen to his music, read his words, listen to his interviews – that is where you will find the essence of John.
 
John’s music and spirit will always be with us, so listen to his music today. Put on your favorite Beatles album or favorite solo album, or put on something you haven’t listened to in a while. Think positive thoughts about John and celebrate his life and always remember what he gave us. It is something so ingrained in us, it will last forever. All You Need Is Love.

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Paul McCartney’s variance & versatility during the ‘Help’ sessions

Throughout his career, Paul McCartney has shown himself to be a bit of a chameleon, with his musical style bouncing all over the place from the mid-60s to the present.
 
While with the Beatles, you can point to the absurd differences between a song like ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Honey Pie,’ both of which appear on The Beatles (The White Album).
 
During his solo career, McCartney has gone from light to heavy to experimental (‘Temporary Secretary,’ etc) to classical and circled all the way back to his roots while putting a ‘NEW’ spin on things.
 
One of the best early examples of McCartney’s versatility can be found on three songs he recorded during the ‘Help’ sessions.
 
‘I’m Down,’ ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face,’ and ‘Yesterday’ were all recorded on the same day in June of 1965.
 
‘I’m Down’ is a classic McCartney rocker, which the Beatles began using to wrap up most of their live shows.
 
‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ is a bluesy/country/folk-pop song that features a tempo unlike anything the group had done prior.
 
‘Yesterday,’ now viewed as an absolute classic, featured two contrasting sections and a string quartet.
 
Below, listen to alternate/live versions of each song >>
 

 

 

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The Beatles pondered doing a live (non-rooftop) show in 1969

On January 29, 1969, the day before their rooftop concert, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had an at times intense conversation during the ‘Get Back’ sessions.
 
Over on the amoralto tumblr page, they did a great job breaking down the conversation.
 
The conversation – mostly dominated by Paul – revolved partially around the idea that the Beatles could do something instead of the rooftop concert.
 
Paul suggested playing in front of audiences again, entering a ‘visual’ studio, or doing some other not-yet-hashed-out thing instead of and/or in addition to the rooftop concert.
 
In the excerpt below, Paul makes his case:

PAUL: Yeah, but so… Hmm. But I’m just talking about this thing, like this thing we’ve entered upon now, we still haven’t got any aim for it, except another album, again. Our only aim, ever, is an album. Which is like a very non-visual thing, it’s very sort of… But it’s great, isn’t it, and we do albums, then. But—
 
JOHN: But albums is what we’re doing, at the moment.
 
PAUL: [uneasy] Yeah, but I don’t know. Like—
 
JOHN: I mean, that’s what we [inaudible] talk about.
 
PAUL: —like I was saying the other day, is that you – is that you – you— [hesitating] We’re into albums as the four of us, but I really think we could be into other things. But every time I talk about it, I really sound like I’m the showbiz correspondent, trying to hustle us to do a Judy Garland comeback, you know. But really, all I mean is – well, look, let’s get – let’s change, or let’s go into a studio, like a vision studio, after we’ve learnt all of these, that’s just as good as this for sound, that’s got the same sort of thinking…

Later on in the discussion, Paul intimates that George would be in favor of a show in the mold of the ones Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley were having around that time, and John wouldn’t rule it out:

PAUL: There’s no other way. We can’t think ourselves out of it. And we can’t sort of say, well, it will be alright. See, and then the only other alternative to that is to say, well, we don’t – we will never do it to an audience again. But if we intend to – to keep any sort of contact on that scene… [pause] Yeah. I do understand George’s just saying, “There’s no point,” you know, because it is like we’re Stravinsky, and it’s in the music. And he doesn’t sort of get up and play his ‘Joanna’ for them anymore. He just writes it, and just sort of maybe occasionally conducts it.
 
JOHN: But as long as there’s a good reason – like George wants to do a heavy show, like Dylan and Presley, all that.
 
PAUL: Mm.
 
JOHN: And that’ll be a large – I don’t know, like, I mean, that – that’s all this.
 
PAUL: Mm, yeah, I know, yeah. that’s always – that’s always just—
 
JOHN: Okay, yeah.
 
PAUL: That’s us again, you know.
 
JOHN: Yes, I know.
 
PAUL: It’s us going silly again.
 
JOHN: It is, and I think – I think we might do it.

All Beatles fans know what happened next.
 
The group went on to the Apple rooftop the next day for their final public performance.
 
A few weeks later, the group began work on ‘Abbey Road,’ the final album they would record.
 
What would have happened if Paul had convinced John and George to tour again…or if he had just convinced them to do one ‘audience show.’
 
Chances are that with George being held back musically, John wanting to branch off, and Paul’s at times overbearing personality, the group still would’ve disbanded.
 
However, it certainly would’ve been interesting to see what the dynamic would’ve been if the band had toured or played even one legitimate concert instead of the rooftop gig.

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On John Lennon’s “Lost Weekend” & The Beatles Reunion That Never Was

John Lennon and Paul McCartney hang out in Los Angeles

By Danny Abriano
 
As a Beatles fanatic who was born three years after John Lennon was senselessly taken in December of 1980, I’m often bothered by the fact that I never shared the world with John. Since The Beatles formed and broke up before I was born, I also think about all of the “what ifs.” One of the most pondered, of course, is “what if The Beatles had gotten back together?”
 
During John Lennon’s “Lost Weekend” – the time he spent away from Yoko Ono from the summer of 1973 to early 1975 – he was with May Pang (and many others), and reportedly gave serious thought to a reunion with Paul and the rest of the group.
 
Before delving into the potential Beatles reunion, though, it’s important to discuss why the Lost Weekend came about in the first place.
 
John’s marriage to Yoko was floundering, and Yoko basically chose May Pang – who was an employee of theirs – as a lover and companion for John to have during their time apart. John spent lots of The Lost Weekend in Los Angeles, with friends such as Mal Evans and Harry Nilsson.
 
This month in 1974, one of the most infamous events of The Lost Weekend took place – the night John and Harry Nilsson were kicked out of the Troubadour Club for heckling the Smothers Brothers. As the story is told in “Lennon In America” by Geoffrey Giuliano:

One evening, Lennon, along with May Pang and Harry Nilsson, arrived at the Troubadour around midnight to catch the opening night of the Smothers Brothers act. Already overloaded on Brandy Alexanders, John became immediately disruptive, joining Harry in a cacophonous songfest and hurling a stream of obscenities at the Smothers. Events took a nasty turn when the duo’s manager Ken Fritz confronted an out-of-control John and hauled him from his seat.  Lennon exploded, overturning the table and the pair exchanged a few halfhearted fisticuffs. Lennon and company were literally thrown out the door where they tumbled into a party of incoming patrons, touching off a full-blown street brawl. The incident made worldwide headlines the following day.

While the Troubadour incident sheds light on how wild Lennon could be during the Lost Weekend, not every moment was dedicated to debauchery.
 
During this time, Lennon completed three solo albums (“Mind Games,” “Walls and Bridges,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll”), produced the “Pussy Cats” album for Harry Nilsson, and wondered aloud about a potential Beatles reunion. As May Pang told it:

John really thought about it at one point, and we were considering it early on in ’74, just for the hell of it. Harry Nilsson wanted to be a part of it. We said, oh, that would be a good idea—a one-off, and we would do it in the fall. We were thinking about upstate New York, like Syracuse, because Ringo couldn’t be in New York City…we had been hanging out with Ringo a lot in L.A., and it just came out of conversation, hanging out: ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we did this one gig,’ and they’d start talking about it. ‘Yeah, well, why don’t we do this, and George would do that, and Paul. . .’ So it was just thrown around, and everybody was like, well. . .let’s do that.

In addition to his words to Pang, John had also spoken openly around that time about a potential Beatles reunion.
 
So, why didn’t a reunion happen?
 
According to Pang, none of the Beatles ever took the lead on hammering out the details. By 1975, John was back with Yoko and at the beginning of a five year break from the music business.
 
Lennon was at times in the process of losing himself completely while he was away from Yoko during the Lost Weekend, and his decision to get back together with Yoko was his.
 
However, like many fans unfairly blame Yoko Ono for the breakup of The Beatles, many also claim that her presence prevented any potential Beatles reunion from happening. May Pang supposedly encouraged John to reunite with Paul – something Yoko apparently didn’t do. Still, every choice John made was his.
 
While a Beatles reunion never took place, John Lennon and Paul McCartney did record together after the breakup. The date was March 28th, 1974, and a John and Paul reunion (with Harry Nilsson, Stevie Wonder and others also playing) came to be during a night of partying in the studio in Los Angeles.
 
The tape of the session is out there on the bootleg “A Toot and A Snore in ’74,” and is mostly a convoluted mess of voices and noises. Still, it has John Lennon and Paul McCartney playing and singing together four years after the breakup of The Beatles, something that can’t be found anywhere else:
 

 
Listening to John and Paul play and sing together on the tapes above is both sad and thrilling at the same time.
 
It’s just a jam session, and an alcohol and drug fueled one at that. However, it makes me think about what would’ve happened if a legitimate Beatles reunion had ever occurred.
 
After the breakup, the solo Beatles recorded with one another often, but never recorded as a foursome again. Most notably, John, George, and Ringo played on Ringo’s “I’m The Greatest,” and George, Paul, and Ringo played on George’s tribute to John “All Those Years Ago” after John was killed.
 
What would’ve happened if the group had gotten back together? Would it have been something that blew up as quickly as it materialized? A one album thing? Something that resulted in a second long-lasting effort? With their legacy already cemented, would it have even been worth it?
 
I was at Radio City Music Hall in 2010 when Paul surprised Ringo on stage for his birthday and of course sang “Birthday.” No one in the crowd knew Paul was about to show up, and the entire place went into absolute hysterics when Paul’s hofner bass was placed on stage, followed shortly thereafter by Paul running out and grabbing it. When Ringo ran behind the drum kit and sat down to start playing with Paul, it felt as if the mezzanine where I was sitting might collapse.
 
I had seen Paul in concert before, and I had seen Ringo in concert before. This was different, though. On stage were two Beatles – the only two who were left – performing together. It was more than special – there isn’t really an adequate word to describe it.
 
What would an official Beatles reunion have done to impact moments like the one above? Watered it down, or somehow enhanced it?

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The “January Effect.” A look at the “boys” before the Capture of America.

By Larry Kane, author Ticket to Ride, Lennon Revealed, When They Were Boys

January 1964. Paris, France. The boys had a triumphant run in Paris, which John Lennon described to me as “one long celebration.” It was, after all, in Paris where they found out that “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was number one in America. That had, according to John, “lessened a bit our concerns” about “making it in the states,” or he added, with that sometimes crooked grin, “the colonies. Do we still call them that.”?

When I asked John in 1968 what was the best moment, the highlight moment of the Beatles career, he added, “Oh, Paris, hearing about…it being number one…remember it well, Larry…milk” Milk? Still trying to figure that one out, to this day.

January also followed the pattern of the so-called “Snowball” memo which I revealed in the “When They Were Boys” book.” It was a memo designed to create a snowball effect, prior to the Beatles landing in America. The elements? Just a little bit of film footage, the release of ‘hold your hand’ the day after Christmas, and news and p.r. masters Tony Barrow and Derek Taylor leaking just enough great tidbits to American reporters, including a slice of film to America’s leading anchorman, Walter Cronkite.

It was in January, that a confident Brian Epstein had finalized his deal to get the boys on three consecutive nights of the Ed Sullivan show, starting on February 9th.

January was also the time that Epstein and Capitol “capitalized” on all that music that John and Paul wrote. Oh yes! The songs that American broadcasters and labels had basically ignored in 1963. As John’s sister Julia Baird would say, “Imagine This.” That’s her book title, but IMAGINE THIS!

On January 3, “Please Please Me”, and flipside “From Me To You” was released. The “snowball effect” continues: On January 10 “Introducing the Beatles” is on sale. On January say hello to album “Meet The Beatles.”

And let us not slight early February. 2/3/64 and its “Twist and Shout.” On 2/7/64, “All My Loving” is unleashed, on the day the boys arrived in America, exactly 50 years before the opening of the 40th annual FEST, which I will help open with my one man show on Friday night, with all those details of heated days and stormy nights traveling with the Beatles.

By the way, for those of you obsessed with detail: The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport, which was renamed on December 23, 1963, in memory of the President. The original name was Idlewild, the name of the golf course where the airport was originally constructed. The airport was modernized to get ready for the 1965 World’s Fair, not far from Shea Stadium, where the Beatles changed music history by appearing before 60,000 fans in August 1965. During that concert, I watched from the steps of the Mets’ dugout with Ed Sullivan. We didn’t hear much, but watching the crowd itself was amazing.

For those of you coming to New York for the first time, some places to see are Strawberry Fields, Central Park West, just off 72nd Street and the Dakota. Also: The Plaza Hotel, where the Beatles stayed on their first quick trip in 1964. The Delmonico Hotel where they stayed in the Summer of 1964, and where Bob Dylan introduced them to a banned substance.

That’s it for now. I’ll be here, there and everywhere during those three days in the Fab Four Feb.

Larry Kane.

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