The Beatles

Charlie Watts at the drums on the set of Ready Steady Go! in May 1966. Photograph: Ivan Keeman/Redferns

I was fortunate enough to meet Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer who died on Tuesday, interviewing him in 2000 for one of his beloved jazz projects. In the interview, I managed to call George Harrison “the bass player of the Beatles”. Still, I got some things right, writing: “Charlie’s the Stone who is so universally well liked that he commands instant respect without trying.”

It soon became apparent when his death was announced that the response was about honouring a great musician – the rock’n’roll legend, the lifelong jazz aficionado – but also a lot more. There was the standard emotional outpouring, the shock and dismay, that sense of grief-ownership that hits you: “Oh no, not Charlie!”…  Seguir leyendo »

It had just turned December on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was on my customary morning jog, heading out of Central Park toward 72nd Street. The sun was out but it was treacherous underfoot. I’d slipped on some ice and gone tumbling, to be rescued by a group of college boys.

“Are you all right, sir?” they asked, sounding concerned in a way that indicated that I might have looked frail, fragile and quite possibly old. I felt like saying, “Of course I’m all right, man, can’t you see that I am a globe-trotting rock star?” But I saw the genuine concern in the boys’ faces and thanked them, cautiously continuing my run.…  Seguir leyendo »

John and I are in our Dakota kitchen in the middle of the night. Three cats — Sasha, Micha and Charo — are looking up at John, who is making tea for us two.

Sasha is all white, Micha is all black. They are both gorgeous, classy Persian cats. Charo, on the other hand, is a mutt. John used to have a special love for Charo. “You’ve got a funny face, Charo!” he would say, and pat her.

“Yoko, Yoko, you’re supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water.” John took the role of the tea maker, for being English.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Aimee Mann, a singer and songwriter (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 03/06/07):

MY big brother was always the one to bring new music into the house. Until I heard the Beatles playing on his stereo in the basement, my favorite music had been Glen Campbell singing “Galveston” or my father playing “Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey” on the piano.

I was young enough to giggle when my brother changed the words of “P.S. I Love You” to...something more puerile, and four years later, young enough to think that “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was really a band, and not the name of a Beatles record.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Daniel Levitin, a former record producer, is professor of psychology and music at McGill University in Montreal (THE GUARDIAN, 02/06/07):

It is 40 years since Sgt Pepper, having laboured 20 years teaching his band to play, arranged for their debut in full psychedelic regalia. He leveraged a little help from his friends, notably the vocalist Billy Shears, and a riverboat owner named Lucy who had made her fortune in the diamond business. Mitch Miller, head of A&R at Columbia, dismissed the Beatles as "the Hula Hoops of music". Will their songs continue to inspire future generations? Or will their music die along with the generation intoxicated by their wit and charisma in the mind-expanding 60s?…  Seguir leyendo »

By Daniel Levitin, a former record producer, is professor of psychology and music at McGill University in Montreal (THE WASHINGTON POST, 01/06/07):

Yes, it's been 40 years exactly since Sgt. Pepper, having labored the previous 20 years teaching his band to play, arranged for its debut in full psychedelic regalia. He leveraged a little help from his friends, notably the vocalist Billy Shears and a riverboat owner named Lucy who had apparently made her fortune in the diamond business. Pepper realized that good music-making requires the expanding of horizons. A recent "trip" inspired him to incorporate tabla and sitar into the music.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Jon Wiener, the author of 'Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files', and served as historical consultant on the film The US v John Lennon, released last week (THE GUARDIAN, 19/12/06):

When the Dixie Chicks told an audience in London in 2003 that "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas", they set off a political storm in the US that echoed the treatment meted out to John Lennon 30 years earlier. They were talking about the Iraq war, while Lennon had been campaigning against the Vietnam war.The Dixie Chicks got in trouble with rightwing talk radio.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Mark Espiner, a music critic and theatre director (THE GUARDIAN, 18/11/06):

Las Vegas is the whorehouse of theatre and music. Few performers go there other than to make shedloads of cash, often by exploiting themselves. John Lennon knew that. He might have recognised Elvis as the king of rock'n'roll, but he sure wasn't going to follow him to sin city to play his greatest hits. That, he said, would be "going to hell".

Funny, then, or poignant, that with a little help from his friends, that is where he has ended up. Love, the Beatles theatrical extravaganza in Vegas, has wowed the critics.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Bob Stanley (THE TIMES, 18/11/06):

IT’S A QUARTER of a century since a group of Dutch session men rerecorded a bunch of Beatles songs, stuck a basic disco beat behind them, and christened themselves Stars on 45. The subtle Rotterdam accent aside, it was clean, dumb fun — songs like No Reply and I’ll Be Back were rarely heard on the radio in 1981 (nor are they now) and, coming at the end of a period of extended mourning for John Lennon, it reminded everyone that the Beatles had actually been a whole lot of fun and had recorded dozens of better songs than Imagine.…  Seguir leyendo »