Saturday, 26 September 2015

Review: Dung Beatles in Aylesbury

Aylesbury Canal Society September 19th 2015.

The Aylesbury Canal Society celebrated a move to a new home and the 200th anniversary of the Aylesbury Arm.

The Dung Beatles, Steve, Phil, Danny and Mike, performed here for a private dinner for members and invited guests.

Their two sets ran to over 50 songs, many of which came from the earlier catalogue and especially selected for the audience.

The first set began with "Please Please Me"and progressed through well known songs from 1963, including "Thank You Girl" featuring a great harmonica from Danny. 

After switching to acoustic guitars, a number featuring Mike on vocals for the first time was "Act Naturally". Unfortunately the microphone failed here, but Phil stepped in quickly after realising what had happened. It was a pity for Mike, on his first vocal for the band. The professionalism showed through though duly covering the failing microphone.

The band ventured into 1964 and "I'm a Loser was well received, but had no harmonica part as the original did. I'm sure Danny, after the superb "Thank You Girl" could eventually cover the harmonica on "Im a Loser" just as well.

Songs from 1965 followed including a debut for "Michelle", not previously performed by the band, and beautifully sung by Danny, including the part in French.

A mixture of numbers followed from various years plus a solo McCartney number "Every Night", where the three piece harmonies of Phil, Steve and Danny were superb.

"Can't Buy me Love", however, started with distorted vocals, and the first set came to a close with a great rendition of "The Ballad of John and Yoko".

After a 20 minute break, the band returned and started with "She Loves You". Hit after hit followed including excellent covers of "Drive my Car" and "Day Tripper", both in vocals and musicianship.

"Paperback Writer" followed where the harmonies need some tweaking to improve.

They were now venturing into the later period and "Sgt Pepper" had the dance floor full. Things were building to a great finale. "Lucy in the Sky", "Back in the USSR", had the place rocking.

"Come Together" saw Danny Improvise a superb guitar solo when it seemed the song was going to restart, again superb ad libbing and professionalism shown.

With rockers to finish,  which included a superb drum solo by Mike on "Roll Over Beethoven", "A Hard Days Night" closed the show, but the audience wanted more and the band obliged with "Twist and Shout" and "Hey Jude".

Danny was superb on lead guitar and occasionally switching with Steve. Mikes drumming was excellent, and Phil gave a solid performance on bass.

Another great gig, despite a few hiccups, but with over 50 songs in the set list, the band can be excused the odd mistake.

The crowd loved it. Here's to the next one. Go see this band, if you can, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

We should also mention that the day was not just about the gig, but a superb day was organised by the Aylesbury Canal Society, including stalls, dancers, open boats and food. Brian Barnes from the society deserves a special mention for all his efforts.

Set list;
Please Please Me/From Me to You/Thank You Girl/It Won't be Long/All My Loving/Act Naturally/Love Me Do/This Boy/I'll be Back/Eight Days a Week/Things we Said Today/I'm a Loser/No Reply/I've Just Seen a Face/Norwegian Wood/Michelle/Good Day Sunshine/Every Night/We Can Work it Out/Here Comes the Sun/I Should Have Known Better/Nowhere Man/Help!/You're Gonna Lose That Girl/I Feel Fine/Can't Buy Me Love/The Ballad of John and Yoko.

Second set;
She Loves You/I Want to Hold Your Hand/any Time at All/Ticket to Ride/Drive my Car/Day Tripper/Paperback Writer/Taxman/Dr Robert/Sgt Pepper/With a Little Help From my Friends"/Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds/Magical Mystery Tour/Back in the USSR/Ob La Di Ob La Da/Come Together/Something/Get Back/I Saw Her Standing There/One After 909/Roll Over Beethoven/You Can't Do That/A Hard Days Night/Twist and Shout/Hey Jude.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Lennon Radio Play on BBC Radio 2

Stephen Kennedy with John's statue on Mathew Street in Liverpool
Stephen Kennedy, director of the Dublin Beatles Festival, is a man of many talents including playwright. 

Last February we posted about his play Lennon being invited to Berlin and now those of us who were not lucky enough to travel to Berlin, have the opportunity to listen to the play on BBC 2 radio.

On October 9th, John would have been 75 and one day before that anniversary, Stephen's play will be aired on BBC 2 Radio at 10pm.  You can read more about it here.  It sounds like a wonderful way to start celebrating John's birthday.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Dublin Beatles Festival tickets on sale

Freda Kelly with Paul McCartney
The Dublin Beatles Festival is just around the corner and tickets are on sale.  This year's festival is  between November 6th-8th, at various venues in Dublin city centre.
The festival will have Beatle gigs, film, theatre, free events, table quiz, public interview, art, memorabilia and merchandise.  

Festival director Stephen Kennedy describes some of the highlights of the festival below.  It does sound like fun.  If any of our members plan to attend, please send us your photos and reviews!

THE ROCKITS (a Cavern Club resident band) are coming over from England – and they are going to play two sets at their show in the Workman’s Club on Saturday, November 7th.  The first set will be the ‘Hits of the 1960s’ (The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces, Elvis Presley) and their second set will focus exclusively on the music of The Beatles.  It’s going to be one big party.

And FREDA KELLY is coming over from Liverpool for a public interview with Tom Dunne at the Grand Social on Sunday, November 8th.  Freda worked for The Beatles for 11 years and is the subject of the award-winning documentary Good Ol’ Freda.  As George Harrison pointed out – “Freda was there at the very beginning and she stayed until the very end.”  This lady is wonderful.  Pure and simple.  The Beatles were lucky to have her. 

We also have a wide range of brilliant Irish acts performing at the festival too – including The Newspaper Taxi Men, Vyvienne Long, Biggles Flys Again, Jonathan Ward, Enda Reilly, Duncan Maitland, Pearse McGloughlin, Keith Grogan, The Sex Beasts, and more!

There will also be the ever popular BEATLES TABLE QUIZ – plus FREE EVENTS such as Lennon v McCartney (short film) and Pete Best of The Beatles (stage play performed by Padraic McGinley).  You can also meet renowned Beatle artist Georgina Flood – and browse rare Beatle merchandise from England’s Beatle Days.       

Tickets have just gone on sale right here:

And the mini-programme for the Festival can be downloaded from here:
Here are some of the other key links:

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Don't miss your chance to see previews of this year's plays in the Ticket to Write festival at this fun fundraiser event.

Trailers of the one-act plays being performed at Liverpool's Unity Theatre in October are  just part of the fun.  The fundraiser also features musical numbers, a prize quiz, a raffle and a supper all for just £10. And you can bring your own wine or other drinks.

The Fund-raising event is at St George's Church Hall, Lord Street, Southport, PR9 0NP on Thursday 24th September. Doors open 7.30pm.

For advance tickets and more info contact Jamie Gaskin through

Sunday, 13 September 2015

John's Gypsy Caravan restoration project

In 2012 John's Gypsy Caravan that he bought for his son Julian was rediscovered, but it was in desperate need of restoration to bring it back to its former glory.

The Delight Makers charity is striving to complete this work in the next 18 months while also making a documentary about the caravan with the hopes to have it all ready to coincide with the the 50th anniversary of the release of the Sgt Pepper Album. Fans can contribute to the project and the goal is that the caravan and documentary will raise funds to help promote peace and healing.

Click here to learn more

Saturday, 12 September 2015

BBC Four is asking for help from fans

Beatles fans, here is an opportunity for you to share your memories.  We received the following message from Rebecca Stewart from BBC Four. 
"I am working for a production company that is making a new documentary called The People's History of Pop for BBC Four, due to air in 2016. 

We are currently crowdsourcing photos and audio/video of people's cherished music memorabilia - ticket stubs, diary entries, teen band recordings, wrist bands, rare footage and more - to tell the stories of British rock and pop music from the fifties to the noughties through the memories of fans that were there. 

I'm currently trying to find some memorabilia of all things Merseybeat (including the Beatles) and I wondered if you would be willing to share this on your website to see if your online fan community would want to get involved. 
Everything sent in to will be part of an incredible online archive and will culminate with a television series for BBC FOUR, featuring the best of what's been uploaded to the site."

Friday, 11 September 2015

Beatle Week Spotlight: May Pang interviewed by Mark Lewisohn

30 August 2015 Mark Lewisohn interviewing May Pang Adelphi Ballroom

In 1969 May Pang was working for Alan Klein of ABKCO. She was a gofer. Because of Alan’s involvement with Apple, May was able to meet the Beatles. The first Beatle she met was Ringo Starr who was her favourite.

In December 1970 John and Yoko Lennon were filming ‘Up Your Legs’ and ‘Fly’ and they needed some assistance. They approached Klein who then asked if May wanted to help them out – yes!

May would stay with them in Tittenhurst where she was involved in the making of the film ‘Imagine’. She stressed that the scene in which John is playing ‘Imagine’ on the white piano in the white room with Yoko slowing opening the windows was shot MANY times. At one point John asked her how she liked Tittenhurst. May really didn’t know how to answer the question so John told her: ‘Well, it is 80 acres, you know.’ May also recalls the photo shoot in which John is parodying Paul holding a ram on his ‘Ram’ album. It was very difficult for John to hold on to the pig.

May moved to New York City in 1971 with them and recalled that John became particularly fond of Burger King and milkshakes. Initially they stayed at the St Regis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan on the east side. This is where they filmed the video for ‘Happy Christmas’. The images on the record label in which John’s face morphs into that of Yoko’s were hand done by the photographer Ian Macmillan who had previously shot the Abbey Road album cover.

George Harrison visited them in the St Regis Hotel. Jack Lemmon was a resident and often his calls would be accidentally put through to the Lennon’s room because of the similarity in the names.

John and George were getting along fine in the first few years of the 1970s but there was a confrontation between the two in 1974 when George was in the United States on his Dark Horse tour. The two met and George demanded that John take off his tinted spectacles so he could see his eyes. George told John: ‘You weren’t there for me’ and John replied: ‘I couldn’t but I am here now.’ May is not sure exactly what they were referring to – they could have been referring to their time in the Beatles or to more recent concerns such as Alan Klein and the dissolution of the band. It was around this time that George once turned to May and said: ‘I’m pleased you are with him.’
Photo by Terry Bloxham

John and Ringo Starr were always close throughout the 1970s.

In 1973 May Pang helped the Lennon's move into their new flat in the Dakota building, 1 West 72nd Street in New York City. At this time May was assisting Yoko on the creation of Yoko’s album ‘Feeling the Space’. May contacted Jim Keltner to put a band together to record the album. Shortly after, John told May that he wanted to go back into the studio and asked her to arrange one in two weeks time – this would result in the album ‘Mind Games’.

At this time, May claimed that everyone could see that John and Yoko were drifting apart. Yoko came into May’s office at 9:30 one morning and announced that she and John were not getting along and were going to see other people. Yoko looked at May and said: ‘I know you don’t have a boyfriend.’ May was shocked and told her that she wasn’t interested, and she wasn’t at the time. Yoko insisted that she would be ‘good for John’ and left, later telling John that she had fixed things with May and he could go out with her. John approached May a few weeks later. John’s lawyer, Harold, was visiting from Los Angeles and John asked him when he was returning. On being told that he was leaving that night, John told May to pack his and her things and they left that night for a life together in LA. It was then that John went after May and she slowly fell in love with him.

Photo by Terry Bloxham
Mark asked about this ‘long weekend’. May Pang replied that John really was not a drinker but that was the thing to do in Los Angeles. Harry Nillson certainly led him astray but their time there was not all about drinking.

May arranged for Julian to come out and visit. Cynthia accompanied him and when Julian saw John he ran into his arms. May still sees Julian once a year.

During the recording of Harry Nillson’s album ‘Pussy Cats’ Paul and Linda McCartney visited. This led to the ‘Toot and Snore’ bootleg recording – Mal Evans was on it, May played the tambourine and Paul was on the drums – John and Paul were having a fine time.

In December 1974 the Beatles were in the process of signing the final documents which would dissolve the group. John was holding back, stating that ‘the stars weren’t right’. George was in the United States on his Dark Horse tour and would ring John screaming at him over the phone. May heard George scream: ‘I started this tour without you and will finish without you.’ John finally signed the documents in their room when they were on holiday in Disney World in Florida.

May told us he exciting news that she still has the tapes of the ‘Too Many Cooks’ session John recorded with Mick Jagger. It was clear from her tone of voice that she had no intention of releasing it at this time.

May told the story of how John met David Bowie through the actress Elizabeth Taylor. It was at Dean Martin’s son’s, Ricky, birthday party in Los Angeles. They met again at Electric Lady Studio in New York as Bowie was recording ‘Across the Universe’. She also recounted the story of how John agreed to sing on his collaboration ‘Whatever Gets you Through the Night’ with Elton John if it made it to number one, never thinking it would!

Mark Lewisohn asked May how she thought her relationship with John Lennon ended. May said that they were about to buy a house in the Hamptons, in New York state. They had picked out a Scottish-style house. Yoko was always ringing John. On one occasion Yoko thought John sounded breathless on the phone from too much smoking. She said she had a remedy. John wanted to go and see Yoko about this remedy. He then told May that he was moving back in with Yoko purely to make his immigration process more possible and that they would still see each other. May says that they did continue to see each other. The last time they spoke was in May 1980 when John was in Cape Town in South Africa.

May told of how she was the inspiration for the song ‘Surprise Surprise’ on the ‘Walls and Bridges’ album and that it was her voice on the song ‘No 9 Dream’.

All throughout the interview, May Pang was lively, happy to chat but reticent about speaking on controversial subjects like her relationship with Yoko Ono.

~ Report by Terry Bloxham 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Review: Eel Pie Island Museum - Stunning museum for music fans

1960's music fans will be familiar with the name "Eel Pie Island." This Island in the Thames river in Twickenham, only accessible via footbridge or boat, was an unlikely candidate as a site that would change the face of music, but despite this isolation it became famous as a major music venue in the 1960s that launched many successful music careers.

A group of fans representing the British Beatles fan club had an outing in the area last weekend, and we were delighted to discover that there is a wonderful museum in Twickenham dedicated to preserving and sharing the story of Eel Pie Island.

As soon as we heard about it, we made a beeline for the museum to check it out. We were not disappointed! The museum is exceptionally put together. The story of the island comes alive as you explore its history and learn how it played a part in the British Blues scene of the 1960's and of the early beginnings of stars such as The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton. You'll be fascinated to learn how the island has also influenced other genres from jazz through heavy metal. The collection of photos, timelines and memorabilia is interesting and engaging and includes instruments you are not only allowed to touch, but can actually pick up and play.

The curator, Michele Whitby, has created something really special. The museum is currently located on first floor of the Twickenham library on Garfield Road in Twickenham but they are actively seeking a permanent home. There is no fee, but a donation of £2.00 is appreciated to help the museum both continue and find its new home. Together a visit to the Eel Pie Island Museum coupled with a ride on the Swinging 60's Shuttle Bus (see review) makes a perfect day out for music fans.

Review: Swinging 60s Shuttle Bus - Immerse yourself in rock and roll history

Rock and Roll fans pay attention: Next time you are in the London area, be sure to add an outing to Richmond to your itinerary.  Richmond and Twickenham  are well known as areas rich with Rock and Roll history that includes the Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Manfred Mann, The Who, David Bowie, The Animals, Joe Cocker, Elton John, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Genesis and many more. Even the Beatles, have some history here. However, the new Swinging Sixties Shuttle Bus makes learning and exploring this history easy, informative and most of all fun!

A group of fans representing the British Beatles Fan Club gave it a try last weekend and we were impressed. We opted for one round-trip ride on the bus that took us from the Waitrose bus stop in Richmond to Teddington and back. The original 1960’s double-decker bus is equipped with a music system playing music of the groups who got their start in the area, a fun and knowledgeable conductor (we had Paul) and a fab atmosphere.

The round trip ride takes about an hour and during the ride, the conductor with immerse you into the 60’s music scene with stories about the legendary artists who got their feet on the path to stardom from local venues. There is no better way to take it all in and learn more about the unique breeding ground that launched so many music careers.

The shuttle bus is the first creation of the Music Heritage London (MHL) which plans to expand in future with more ways to share this rich Rock and Roll heritage area with fans. To learn more about the Swinging 60’s Shuttle Bus including updated prices and schedule, visit their website and like them on Facebook

Paul our conductor also let us know about the Eel Pie Island Museum in town which we immediately added to our outing. Our next post will be a review of that fab museum.

Friday, 4 September 2015

BBFC Magazine - Latest Issue Available now

Issue 56 has been mailed to all members and is now available for sale in the website shop. The issue is packed with great news, reviews and a tribute to Cilla Black :
  • The Beatles - A Day In The Life
  • Media Watch
  • Tribute to Cilla Black
  • Coming Up - Forthcoming Events
  • Paul McCartney ‘Out There’ Tour Review
  • BBFC’s ‘Help!’ 50th Anniversary Party
  • Meet The Beatles
  • Paperback Writers
  • Try Some, Buy Some - New Releases
  • BBFC Offers & Merchandise
  • As I Write This Letter
  • Crap Photo of the Month
To get the magazine, join the BBFC today or visit our shop to buy just this issue.