Artists: The Beatles

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The Beatles and WWII
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GONZO MAGAZINE #255/6: Jon meets Tony Palmer

Tony Palmer is undoubtedly one of the best known British film directors of the past 50yrs. However, music lovers will be more impressed by the fact that he was the bloke who wrote the liner notes for the Yellow Submarine album by The Beatles, and was – as far as I am aware – the first person to compare them as songwriters with the classical composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Over the years, Tony Palmer has been involved with a number of Beatles-related projects, but I had never heard how this relationship began until one day several years ago, when Tony, my wife and I were sitting down, eating cake and swilling back tea.

Back in 1976, the legendary Lou Reizner came up with one of the more peculiar Beatles related projects. All This and World War II is a 1976 musical documentary that juxtaposes Beatles songs, performed by a number of musicians, with World War II newsreel footage and 20th Century Fox films from the 1940s. It lasted two weeks in cinemas. I only ever saw it once and thought it was a horrendous idea, executed so slickly that it was bordering on the worst possible taste.

So, when I heard that Tony Palmer was directing a reboot of this, my heart sank. I had no idea that he had been involved with the original film, but apparently, he had been in some minor capacity. When the DVD arrived on my doormat, I will admit that I took a long time to get around to watching it. I was too afraid of what I would be likely to see. But I really shouldn’t have worried. Tony Palmer takes what was a terrible idea, that either upset everybody that watched it or left them totally baffled, and truly did something really rather remarkable with it.

So, in order to mark this outstanding – and, believe it or not, very emotional – film, I tracked down Tony Palmer, and got him to tell us the story of how he first met John Lennon. After this, we went on to a detailed look at ‘the Beatles and World War II’.

Enjoy…


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The Beatles Biography

The Beatles are considered to be the “Ultimate” rock band and have enjoyed pole position, in terms of popularity, since their emergence onto the international music scene in the early sixties.

Hailing from Liverpool, the band was first formed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, from a previous skiffle band called, The Quarrymen.

Originally called the Silver Beatles, before shortening the name to just, The Beatles, in 1960, the band played in and around Liverpool.  Alan Williams, the first manager, took an opportunity for the band to play in the German seaport of Hamburg. It was while in Hamburg that The Beatles’ strengths as a live unit were honed, whilst John Lennon and Paul McCartney improved their song writing skills. After numerous trips to Hamburg, the band was discovered by Brian Epstein, who became the manger.  In early 1962, the band signed to the small Parlophone label and were produced by George Martin.  Shortly after signing the deal, Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr and it was this line up which went on to conquer the world

The Beatles were soon a success in the U.K. and this success soon transferred to America followed by the  rest of the world. Seen as trendsetters and leaders of musical innovation, the band recorded many groundbreaking albums and toured regularly until 1966, when they retired from live performance. The band also made two films at the height of what was known as “Beatlemania”.   These films were ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in 1964 and ‘Help’ in 1965. There was also the animated feature film, ‘Yellow Submarine’, in 1968, although The Beatles only appeared towards the end of the film. ‘Let It Be’ was the final film, released after the band had officially split in 1970.

The members of the band all enjoyed success as solo artists and this continued throughout the seventies with rumours of a Beatles reunion at various points during the decade. In 1980 John Lennon was assassinated in New York by a deranged fan and George Harrison succumbed to cancer in 2001. In the 21st Century however, The Beatles are still considered to be the biggest and most famous rock band of all time.

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