Tonight – People’s History of Pop

The first episode of the People’s History of Pop is to be broadcast on BBC Four at 9pm tonight, as part of the year-long My Generation season.

Twiggy.jpg

Photo courtesy of BBC People’s History of Pop
Episode one sees Twiggy unearth pop treasures including a recording of John Lennon’s first-ever recorded performance with his band The Quarrymen, at a fete in Liverpool on the day he met Paul McCartney for the first time – which viewers will see Twiggy with David Hughes – Chair of EMI Group Archive Trust – listening to at the legendary Abbey Road studios.

Quarrymen tape recorder courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust.

Advertisements

Fete intervenes 54 years ago today. Lennon meets McCartney.

There are dates in pop history that we most likely all remember, Elvis’ death, Live Aid, Woodstock, but what about July 6, 1957? The late fifties – Cliff Richard was yet to emerge, Elvis was King, Bill Haley was still having hit records and Teddy Boys greased back their hair in the embryonic coffee bars. In Church Road, Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool, it’s the day of the St. Peters Church Garden Fete. Starting time 3.00pm, all proceeds in aid of church funds. The Fete is preceded by a parade down Church Road – scout and guides, Morris Dancers, the Rose Queen Sally Wright and on the last lorry, a bunch of six young skifflers, The Quarrymen – guitarist Eric Griffiths, banjo player Rod Davis, tea chest bassist Len Garry, washboard man Pete Shotton, Colin Hanton on drums, and singer-guitarist John Lennon. Arriving at St Peter’s Church field, the lads from their lorry play covers of Lonnie Donegan, and Gene Vincent and traditional skiffle numbers like ‘Maggie Mae’. Looking on is another young music hopeful, his guitar perennially round his neck, probably for no better reason that that is where it lives. He watches The Quarrymen. That evening, the boys repeat and extend their performance in the Church Hall. The spectator is there too, and eventually John Winston Lennon and James Paul McCartney have their first conversation.

It is a date we should all remember as the moment that changed pop music forever.

Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger & who is that mystery man? Quiz.

This photograph hangs on the wall of a significant financier. We can see it’s McCartney and Jagger in a recording studio. Three questions. Who is the guy with the neckerchief biting his nails? Which studio are they in? What year is it?

Over to you…..

Update – Is this the same guy (the one on the right)?

And this guy (on the left)?

and left here….

conclusive proof:
.

The man in the shirt is Glyn Johns.

Is this the studio? From 4.45

Still looking for confirmation of the year and the studio.

George Martin documentary review

Thanks to the wonders of the BBC Iplayer I finally watched the Arena documentary Produced By George Martin last night. It was even better than I’d hoped for. If you are in the UK you can still just about catch it here and I’d advise you to ignore the Bank Holiday sunshine for an hour and a half to do so immediately. It went over many familiar tales that make up the George Martin story but also uncovered some things that were new to me:

1. The device of using son Giles to interview his father really worked, with Giles gently needling his father to reveal some of the steely drive that is not always apparent when you meet George (who is one of the most polite, generous and entertaining men on the planet).

Giles teased his father, in the way that only sons who get on very well with their Dad’s can do, into opening up slightly. He revealed glimpses into George’s competitive nature, his workaholism and his very obvious pique at the relatively tiny rewards that EMI offered him as a reward for the phenomenal success that he’d delivered with The Beatles and the other Parlophone acts. The hurt at John Lennon’s comments and behaviour during Let It Be was also palpable.

2. I thought I knew a lot about George’s pre-Beatles career but was delighted to find he’s recorded even more seminal recordings across a range of genres that I’d thought including The Archers theme tune. He really was a key player in inventing the modern recording industry.

3. The scenes where George talked to Paul McCartney were wonderful. The pair of them were incredibly affectionate, respectful and deferential to each other. Clearly old warriors with a lot of shared battle scars enjoying each others company as they reminisced. George remained encouraging to the younger man, gently praising Paul each time he remembered what was happening in the photos they were looking at. I wonder if there is anybody left on the planet who Paul can enjoy this sort of relationship with.  He certainly seemed to value it.

Just as this documentary focussed on George Martin’s contribution to musical history and the wonder-story that was The Beatles I’d like to see more about how Abbey Road Studios and its engineers – Ken Townsend, Ken Scott, Alan Parsons and the rest – helped George and The Beatles make their sounds. Is there anybody out there making a documentary on this? Its Abbey Road’s 80th Birthday in November – would be good timing for such a documenatry.