Monday, 1 March 2021

Blast from the Past - Beatles last appearance in Germany

Sharing this from one of our members. It is a German TV report on the Beatles visit to Hamburg on June 26, 1966. Alan provided subtitles in English. The two concerts that day turned out to be the group's final appearance in Europe.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Hot Off the Presses - Issue 76 being posted next week to all subscribers

 The February 2021 BBFC Magazine Issue 76 is being posted to subscribers on Monday.

It's full of interesting articles and reviews to help you survive lockdown and with cold winter days.

If you are thinking about a gift for your valentine, remember that membership in the British Beatles Fan Club makes a wonderful gift that keeps on giving all year long with four quarterly issues of the magazine included in membership. Click here for membership details.

Non-members can order a copy of the magazine from our website here.

The new issue includes:



  • The Beatles A Day In The Life
  • Media Watch
  • Gerry Marsden - Personal Tribute
  • The Beatles Not For Sale
  • The Beatles and their Apple artists
  • Tribute to Phil Spector
  • There Are Places I Remember
  • Proposed George Box Set
  • Paperback Writers
  • Try Some, Buy Some-New Releases
  • Beatle Boots
  • BBFC Competition Winners
  • Offers and Discounts
  • As I Write This Letter
  • Crap Photo of the Month

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

THE BEATLES ERA- How I Decided to write a book

THE BEATLES ERA- How I Decided to write a book 

by Peter Eijgenhuijsen

I always have been interested in the phenomenon of the Beatles and their unprecedented fame. Everything they did is still being investigated and described in books.  Many people are remembered only because their path crossed the path of the Beatles. For example, David Mason, an excellent classical trumpet player, teacher at the Royal College of Music in London, member of the best orchestras, but he only achieved fame because of his piccolo trumpet solo in Penny Lane.

Another example of their off-the-scale fame is the Abbey Road crosswalk in London. The Beatles had some pictures taken there in 1969. And of course, one of these pictures was used for the cover of the last album they recorded. Since that time, the crossing has been repainted many times and it has even been moved, although the latter is contradicted by some. Still, it is now an official historic landmark and everyday people have their picture taken on that ‘same’ crosswalk. Why, as Ringo once put it, did this casual picture become the icon of life? What are these fans looking for? Do they just want to copy a famous LP cover for fun, or are they looking for a spark of the magic? Do they want to unravel or even become part of the mystery? These questions do interest me. And I like their music. There is nothing like it.

Not so long ago, I visited my friend Theo, a hard-core Beatles fan, who, in the 1960s, examined album covers and lyrics for clues. During that recent visit he introduced me to, what he referred to as, The Beatles Era. He explained to me, standing in front of his record collection, that people always associate the Beatles with the 1960s, but, he said, “their success and influence go far beyond that decade. They are still a mega selling band. They continue to be very influential in our time and are expected to be well beyond our time. Linking the Beatles with one decade does not do justice to their impact on other periods. When you really want to understand the phenomenon of the Beatles and their impact on our time and beyond, you cannot ignore The Beatles Era.” It was obvious that he was captivated by this idea.

“The Beatles Era consists of five periods,” he continued. “First you have the period Before the Beatles. This period, where the fruitful soil for the Beatles is laid, ends in 1957, when Paul joins the Quarry Men, the skiffle band led by John. Then, obviously, we come to The Beatles Years, when the Beatles become the epicenter of the music world. This is the most important period, both musically and historically. This period ends with the split-up of the Fab Four in 1970. In The Solo Years, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr spread in the four directions of the wind, each to find their individual style. With the premature death of John, in 1980, the period The Reduced Solo Years begins. This is the period in which we currently live. The Beatles Era will end - no it will continue - with the fifth period After the Beatles.” He paused a moment to increase the impact of the final chord of his speech. He looked at me, opened his hands in front of him and said, “We all live in The Beatles Era.” 

He told me he came up with the idea of The Beatles Era when George died in 2001. He was on a business trip to the United States, when he saw a newspaper clipping on the wall, in one of the offices he visited, with just a picture of the cover of their second album With the Beatles with the left side made black. Only Paul and Ringo were looking at him, with serious faces, as if they were aware of their inevitable erasure. It was then, that he realized that we were entering a new phase, that nothing would be the same ever again.

Together we looked at the album cover of With the Beatles, which he took from his collection. It was scary, the black and white picture, with from left to right John, George, Paul, and Ringo. I covered the left side to get the effect of the newspaper picture. I could understand that it must have been powerful. “Of course,” my friend continued, “we do not know how the period The Reduced Solo Years will end, but the order of the individual Beatles on the album cover does not look insignificant to me.” “Everything on the cover of Beatles albums, has a meaning,” I said. “Intentionally or unintentionally.”

When I was cycling home, I smiled while thinking about my friend and his strange idea on The Beatles Era. At least he was never dull. But later that day, sitting on my couch reading a book, I stopped reading to rethink The Beatles Era. Maybe, it was not so strange after all. The Beatles had a major impact on society or were at least the symbol of the changes that took place. They personified the positive spirit of the 1960s and with their split-up in 1970, things became darker and more serious, as if we all had grown up and had to face reality. But there was always the possibility of them getting back together, a possibility that was cruelly destroyed by the murder of John Lennon in 1980. What also became evident throughout the years, was that the Beatles remained at the center of attention. Their music was reissued again and again, and new generations were introduced to it. Books on the Beatles continued to appear year after year. So, maybe the idea of The Beatles Era was not so strange after all.

As a fan, the theory appealed to me. But I was not the only fan. There were millions of fans and there were hundreds of millions who had experienced The Beatles Years, and for many people it was one of the most important periods of the 20th century, a turning point, after which nothing was the same again.

There was another reason why The Beatles Era appealed to me. I had the feeling it could help me to unravel the secret of the Beatles. I had always been intrigued by their fame, by the fact that so many books were written about them, going into the smallest details of their supremacy. It also amazed me that their music remained fresh, after all these years. What was the secret of their music? I was determined to get to the bottom of that. It was time to write a book about the Beatles. Yet another one.

My book The Beatles Era is available here on Amazon.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Strawberry Field is open again with safety measures in place


Keeping the iconic red gates open for good and inspiring new generations.

Strawberry Field, immortalised by John Lennon and the Beatles, has now safely re-opened the gates with extra measures in place.

 Home to an interactive visitor exhibition, cafe, shop, gardens and - at its heart - a Steps to Work programme for young adults with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment. Tickets MUST be booked in advance via the website.


Congratulations to our Four Lucky Winners!

 COMPETITION WINNERS

Congratulations to our 4 winners of the competition in Issue 75.

The correct answer was ‘Ya Ya’. All four winners will receive their prize copy of ‘Who Killed John Lennon?’ soon.

Congratulations to winners

Phil Curtin

 Timothy Northrop

Edward Snailham

 Lesley Stiffel

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Monday, 4 January 2021

GERRY MARSDEN - A Personal Tribute from BBFC Treasurer

I first met Gerry Marsden in 1982 at Woolworths in Croydon.

He was on tour and promoting a new 20th anniversary album of Gerry & The Pacemakers. I was going to see the show at Fairfield Halls, Croydon that night but was able to meet Gerry and get a copy of the new album that he kindly signed for me.

It was a massive thrill for me to meet one of my idols face to face. Gerry was charming. He had time for a few words before I took my signed album away and went home to get ready for the show that night.

I would meet him again many times after concerts. Those 60s tours he had been part of since the late 70s had become an annual event and Gerry was almost always on the bill. The bands would come into the foyer after the shows to meet the fans and Gerry would always have time for people.

Probably the best meeting I had was in 1993, when he was again in Croydon on tour and signing copies of his autobiography I’ll Never Walk Alone, written with Ray Coleman. Despite the long queue he had time for a little chat about those days in the 60s and of course football, before he dedicated and signed the book for me.

Gerry was born on 24 September 1942 in the Toxteth area of Liverpool where Ringo Starr also was born. He started to play guitar having got his first one aged twelve and saved money for strings by delivering the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

His first band was Gerry Marsden’s Skiffle Group, with elder brother Fred on drums. He was earning money during the day and playing at night. The band needed a new name and Gerry and the Mars Bars were formed. However, the chocolate company Mars told Gerry’s father that the name was their copyright, and so Gerry and The Pacemakers were born.

The Liverpool music scene was growing and soon Gerry and the band which now included bass player Les Chadwick, found themselves playing Liverpool clubs with some shows being promoted by Cavern host Bob Wooler. The group would soon be on the same bill as The Beatles at The Cavern. Gerry would also visit NEMS where Brian Epstein had a small record department. It was there he would meet John Lennon and Paul McCartney and they found they had similar music tastes. Rock ‘n’ Roll was now what all the bands in Liverpool wanted to play.

Soon Gerry and the band would be on their way to Hamburg. Playing eight hours a night made the group a much better unit. On their return from their first Hamburg gigs, Arthur McMahon left to get married and Les Maguire joined on piano. The Beatles and Gerry and The Pacemakers were great rivals to be the top band in Liverpool. This rivalry also made them great friends.

On 19 October 1961, the two groups formed and performed as The Beatmakers at Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool. The band consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete best, Gerry Marsden, Les Maguire, and Freddie Marsden.,

After signing The Beatles, Brian Epstein then set about signing other Liverpool groups and Gerry and The Pacemakers were soon in Brian’s stable of artists. With the Beatles securing a record contract in 1962 and scoring a couple of number one singles, Gerry and The Pacemakers went to London to meet George Martin who offered them a contract.

Whilst Gerry had started to write songs, Martin felt they needed a song from an established song writer. Mitch Murray had offered ‘How Do You Do It?’ to The Beatles, who famously did not give on of their better performances as they wanted their own compositions to be released.

John Lennon suggested to Gerry that they do ‘How Do You Do It?’. The song gave Gerry his first UK number one and ‘I Like It’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, followed both reaching number one. As a result, Gerry and The Pacemakers became the first artist to have three consecutive number ones with their first three releases. This record would remain until the mid-1980s when Frankie Goes to Hollywood achieved the same feat.

Gerry and The Pacemakers and The Beatles often appeared on the same bill during those early 1963 tours.

 

An album was rush released, called How Do You Like It? Released in October 1963, the album reached number two in the UK, only being kept off the top spot by With the Beatles. The album featured Gerry’s own composition ‘Don’t You Ever’. There were also cover versions of songs from The Beatles early repertoire like ‘A Shot of Rhythm and Blues’ and ‘Slow Down’. My own copy of this album is autographed by Gerry and George Martin.

 
The hits continued for the next two years. Hit singles ‘I’m The One’ and ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’ were both written by Marsden. The latter was written after a row with his girlfriend Pauline. He wrote the song and sent it to her. They got back together and married. The story of that song was told many times later by Gerry during performances on Solid 60s shows and he always had a huge smile on his face when remembering. Pauline remained his wife for the rest of his life.

In 1965 the band filmed their first movie Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’. The title song was again written by Gerry who was proving to be a more than average song writer.

By the end of 1966 music was heading into a different direction. The Beatles were releasing Revolver. 1967 would see the Psychedelic Era in its prime and this was not The Pacemakers scene and as a result the group disbanded.

Following the death of Brian Epstein in 1967, Gerry’s career was aa crossroads and in 1969 he appeared in Charlie Girl in London’s West End following the departure of Joe Brown.

His first love was music and in the 1970s he decided to reform The Pacemakers, with a new group of musicians.

Interest in 60s music was still very much alive and in 1979 the Liverpool Explosion UK tour took place. This was the first time I would see Gerry live. The opening show was at The Rainbow Theatre, London on 29 April. This was the same venue where The Beatles had performed their Christmas Shows in the 60s. On the same bill were The Fourmost, The Merseybeats, Wayne Fontana, Billy J Kramer, Dave Berry, and Tommy Bruce.

The month-long Liverpool Explosion tour was a forerunner of the later Solid Silver 60s shows.


Throughout the 1980s and through to 2018 Gerry and The Pacemakers toured the world mostly as part of a Solid Silver 60s Show. I had the pleasure of watching them many times in Croydon and even once in Skegness at a 60s weekend.

Gerry even found time to star in a musical called Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey. Gerry and his new Pacemakers continued to release CD albums, both live and in the studio. Several excellent compilations were also released in the 80s and 90s. One of the best was Gerry and The Pacemakers at Abbey Road, which features some previously unreleased material. Gerry and The Pacemakers The EP Collection featured tracks from EP’s issued in the 1960s. This CD included the four tracks on the EP Gerry in California released in 1965. This EP contains the only official live recordings of the original Pacemakers and shows they generated as much excitement with their live shows as The Beatles.



Of course, we cannot not mention Gerry’s amazing charity work for which he was awarded an MBE in 2003. He was also given the Freedom of Liverpool in 2009.

 In 1985 a fire at Bradford City football ground killed 56 people during a match between Bradford City and Lincoln City.

Gerry rerecorded ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with a string of stars who called themselves The Crowd with all proceeds going to the Bradford Appeal. The Crowd included Denny Laine, John Conteh, Rick Wakeman, Zak Starkey, John Otway, Motorhead and many more. The record went to number one raising much needed funds for the appeal.

Four years later Gerry rerecorded ‘Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’ to help the Hillsborough Appeal following the deaths of 95 Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup Semi Final against Nottingham Forest. (A 96th victim died in 2003). Enlisting the help of Paul McCartney, the Christians, and Holly Johnson the song went to number once again providing help for the families. That year saw an all-Merseyside FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Everton. Gerry led the community singing before the match singing ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

In 2020 Gerry rerecorded ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to raise funds for the NHS during COVID19. Visit www.gerryandthepacemakers.co.uk to hear the song and see Gerry’s Christmas message.

Gerry would occasionally appear on TV. Famously he appeared in an episode of the Liverpool soap Brookside in 1993 as the singer in a band that had original Beatle drummer Pete Best on drums. In 1995 he appeared on The Brian Conley Christmas Show.

In July 2017, an exhibition of over 30 photographs of Gerry and The Pacemakers were displayed at a special exhibition at The Museum of Liverpool. The exhibition was extremely popular and ran until January 2018.

Apart from music Gerry had a huge passion for Liverpool Football Club who adopted ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as their own song.

The top 10 songs of the time were played at the ground in reverse order. The week the song was number one it was sung as the teams came onto the pitch. The Liverpool fans then kept the song and have sung it ever since. Gerry sang the song at Anfield, Liverpool’s home ground, at the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Gerry Marsden never lost his roots and passed away in the Wirral on 3 January 2021. Thank you for all the marvelous memories. You will never walk alone.

Our thoughts are with wife Pauline and daughters Yvette and Vicky at this time.

 Ernie Sutton


Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Two wonderful musical tributes to John Lennon

In recent weeks we have received two original tribute songs from fans honouring John Lennon.  We thought it was fitting to share these with our members and followers as 2020 comes to an end.

The first is called "Practical Dreamer" and is by David Horton from Sheffield, England.

The second,"Song of Sixpence" by Robert Robert Metcalf was written a while ago. He tells us, "I´m a singer/songwriter living in Berlin. I wrote the ballad SONG OF SIXPENCE shortly after John Lennon´s death and after decades of neglecting the song, I recently got round to doing a video of it. I released it 10 days ago to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of John´s death."