Such is the case with what happened this past week, when, out the clear blue sky, I received TWO emails regarding our 2002 Series "Who Played the First Beatles Record In America?" (You can find that original series on the OTHER Forgotten Hits web page here):
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Who Played The Very First Beatles Record In America?
It's one of our most popular, most read and most quoted-from series ... and it has evidently come up again thanks to a recent radio promotion ...
re: WHO PLAYED THE FIRST BEATLES RECORD IN AMERICA?:
Hi Kent ...
Bruce Chandler here ...
I've been doing mornings on Dial-Global's national KOOL GOLD format (on 150 AM and FM's) for the past 25 years and also am on KRTH 101 in Los Angeles Sunday afternoons 3-7 ...
I did a contest this morning on my network show asking "What Beatle song was the first to be played on US airwaves" and just happened upon your website during the contest to verify my answer ... "Please Please Me".
I can tell you that I HEARD the song on KFXM 590 in San Bernardino, California, in the spring of 1963. I was VERY into radio at the time and in my early teens. It didn't do anything on their survey ... I think it got up to about #37 or so on their Top 40 tune list.I can absolutely CONFIRM is WAS "PLEASE PLEASE ME."I will bookmark your site ... I'm liking it!!!
Hi Bruce! Great to hear from you.
As you saw on the site (and we even had the original WLS Silver Dollar Surveys to prove it!), Dick Biondi first started playing "Please Please Me" back in February of 1963 ... I'm guessing that what you heard on KFXM had to be shortly thereafter because honestly by spring a few California radio stations had already jumped on their NEXT release, "From Me To You". (I believe we show evidence of that on the site, too! lol)
Here in Chicago,we ignored "From Me To You" in favor of the Del Shannon cover version, which became a Top Ten WLS Hit ... all in all, a bit ironic in a way since Vee Jay Records was a local label right down the street from the radio station ... but when "Please Please Me" flopped on the local charts, they probably just decided to go with the "proven name" rather than the actual "unknown" artists who wrote and performed the song!
In that you could hear WLS' 50,000 watt signal virtually all over the country ... and Dick Biondi was one of the most popular jocks on the air ANYWHERE at that time ... theoretically he helped introduce The Beatles to The United States ... but nobody noticed! (A year later, when Beatlemania was in full force across The USA, he also introduced them on stage at The Hollywood Bowl as by then he had left Chicago for what he hoped would be "sunnier skies" in Los Angeles!)
Thanks for your email ... and, if it isn't too late, please mention our site a time or two on your program, too, so that others can find and enjoy it! (kk)
I just found your piece on Forgotten Hits about who exactly played the Beatles for the first time in the US, but thought you may want to include this as a footnote.
My father was on CFRB 1010 AM in Toronto for several years in the 70's and 80's, first as a regular replacement DJ for Ray Sonin, who liked to return to the UK on vacations with a tour group of listeners of his long-running 'Calling All Britons' and 'Down Memory Lane' shows.
In the late 80's, during a special anniversary broadcast celebrating Ray Sonin's career with the station, the host of the tribute recalled that Ray Sonin had, in fact, been the first DJ in North America to play The Beatles on air, in 1962!
Ray had been going through a stack of records that had come in from Capital, and discovered the lads' 45 of Love Me Do. Ray played it one evening in 1962, and afterward commented to the listeners, "Well that was The Beatles with their hit single Love Me Do. Perhaps we'll hear more from them in the future."
I found a cross reference to this claim on the Streaming Oldies Site:
Rock Factoid #2: Who was the first DJ to play a Beatles song in North America?
And what year?
Most would guess either Alan Freed or Wolfman Jack, Dick Clark, or maybe even Casey Kasem; with the year probably around 1963.
The correct answer is: None of the above.
It was a 55-year old broadcaster at CFRB in Toronto, Canada; which at the time was a middle of the road "personality" station. His name was Ray Sonin, who came to Canada in the late fifties and began a weekly Saturday show called "Calling All Britons."
The show featured British based music from the likes of Vera Lynn and others; British military brass bands. One of the highlights; the latest football, or soccer scores. The year was 1962.
I'm sure the archives at CFRB would bear out this claim should you additional info.
Interesting ... and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that somebody in Canada played The Beatles before WE did here in The States ... it seems like most of the world had discovered the band before they finally caught on here in America.
So I put my research cap on again and began digging to see what else I could find about this early airing of "Love Me Do".
According to the CHUM Chart Book, the first Beatles single to chart in Canada was "She Loves You" ... and that didn't happen until January of 1964 ... which is considerably LATER than when Canadian Radio first claims to have first played "Love Me Do".
In fact, according to the CHUM Chart Book, "She Loves You" hit the charts there three full weeks before "I Want To Hold Your Hand" debuted on the Canadian Chart, making it The Beatles' first breakthrough hit in The Great White North.
However, by the time ANY of this happened, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had already topped the charts here in America ... so now I wasn't sure who really came late to the party!
Using my U.S. Beatles Singles logic, the IMMEDIATE problem I found with your story was the fact that Capitol Records never released "Love Me Do" as a single in 1962 ... it was completely passed over. Even when the record DID finally come out in America in the Spring of 1964, it was pressed on the Tollie Record label, a subsidiary of Vee Jay Records, who earlier had pressed singles like "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" before Capitol finally released something by the group. So my first thought was that he COULDN'T have found the single in a stack of Capitol Records releases because, quite simply, they never had released it!
Thinking this through just a little bit deeper, (and wanting to give your recollection at least the benefit of the doubt), I thought your story MIGHT make sense if, during one of Ray Sonin's journeys back and forth to Jolly Old England, he happened to pick up a copy of the record on the British Parlophone label and brought it back with him to The States because then, I suppose, he theoretically COULD have played it on the air there ... but even that's pretty unlikely as "Love Me Do" just wasn't that big a hit in Great Britain ... it only climbed as high as #17 ... The Beatles didn't really catch on in a BIG way at home either until "Please Please Me" came out a few months later. (Besides, Sonin would have told a COMPLETELY different story if he had personally brought in an import copy of the single and played it on his show ... it wouldn't have been a case of the record "finding its way into a stack of Capitol Records singles" as documented above.)
So based on ALL of the above, I was ready to wrap this up and put it to bed, conceding the possibility that somebody else in North America may have played a Beatles record before Dick Biondi played "Please Please Me" here in Chicago, but before I'd be willing to acknowledge this event as "fact", I would need much more substantial evidence than simply "hearsay" to do so. (Our website article offers proof in the printing of the two WLS Silver Dollar Surveys on which "Please Please Me" appear ... WLS counted down their Top 40 EVERY SINGLE DAY so, for at least two weeks anyway, "Please Please Me" WAS getting airplay here in Chicago. And, with Vee Jay Records literally right down the street, and scoring considerable chart success with The Four Seasons at the time, it was likely that WLS would have given this record a shot. Clearly, the audience reaction sparked NOTHING ... it disappeared from the chart two weeks later!)
Truth is, over the past several years since our article first ran in Forgotten Hits, at least a dozen other disc jockeys have ALSO claimed to have been the first, airing SOMETHING by The Fab Four before Biondi spun "Please Please Me" here in Chi-Town ... but we've shot them down one by one because NOBODY was able to offer concrete proof that they did so ... everything we got was based on "hearsay" and we wanted PROOF! (Any evidence they WERE able to provide all targeted dates AFTER the record was first aired here in Chicago.)
And, quite honestly, the record labels at the time just weren't pushing these records because NOTHING big had EVER come out of England before. When Dick Clark played "She Loves You" on his Rate-A-Record segment of American Bandstand, it barely registered ... and there are pretty good odds that the ONLY reason he played it was because he owned a stake in Swan Records, the label that pressed the single here in The States ... AGAIN because Capitol decided to pass on the band.
HOLD THE PHONE: But I don't give up (or in) that easily ... I decided to check ONE more source before just writing this off as yet another jock trying to take credit for what WE would consider a MAJOR part of musical history. And, lo and behold, I think I found it!!!
Consulting Noted Beatles Historian Bruce Spizer's book "The Beatles' Story On Capitol Records (Part One: Beatlemania and the Singles)", I discovered that Capitol Records Of Canada DID, in fact, release "Love Me Do" as a single!!! (Now we may be on to something here!!!)
According to Spizer's book (which includes conversations with Capitol Of Canada's Paul White), EMI's Capitol subsidiary ALSO had first right of refusal regarding releasing any recordings made by EMI's worldwide stable of artists. (While the U.S. branch exercised these rights, shutting down the early releases "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me", "From Me To You" and "She Loves You", thus allowing them to be picked up by tiny independent labels like Vee Jay, Tollie and Swan Records), White's feeling in Canada was different, as they had had some success with British artists on their charts before (most notably "My Boomerang Won't Come Back" by Charlie Drake, "I Remember You" by Frank Ifield and "I Don't Care" by Helen Shapiro, and artist who toured extensively with The Beatles during the early British years.)
According to Spizer's book (which then goes on to quote Paul White):
"In January, 1963, Paul White received another stack of singles from EMI. Included in the batch was The Beatles' first single "Love Me Do" b/w "P.S. I Love You", which was released in England on Parlophone 45-R 4949 on October 5, 1962. According to White, 'One evening, as I was getting bored again listening to all these 45's, 'Love Me Do' slipped out of its sleeve and plonked down onto the turntable. I thought, 'My God, that's different!' I only thought it was different because, although the guys were definitely singing a simple lyric, they seemed to be happy doing it, compared to the guys on the other 50 records I'd heard that week. So I put them on the 'must listen again' pile. When I listened to it again, I thought, 'I've definitely got to release this record.'"
"As was often the practice at that time, White did not bother to obtain the master tape from EMI. Instead, 'Love Me Do' and 'P.S. I Love You' were dubbed from the Parlophone 45. Thus, when the single was released in mid-February, 1963, on Capitol of Canada 72076, it featured the version of 'Love Me Do' with Ringo on drums."
"While White 'liked the group's fresh new sound', Canadian radio stations weren't willing to take a chance on programming the song. Without airplay, the single was doomed and reportedly sold 78 copies."
OK, a couple of stickler points here ... I will now concede that Capitol Of Canada did, in fact, release "Love Me Do" as a single ... as catalog number 72076. (Spizer's book even shows a photo of this release.) However, according to this bit of documentation, they didn't do so until mid-February of 1963, still making it IMPOSSIBLE for ANYONE in Canada to have played this record in 1962. In fact, the mid-February release coincides PRECISELY with when WLS was programming The Beatles' follow-up hit, "Please Please Me", which had been released in The U.K. in January and here in The States a month later. The line that "Canadian radio stations weren't willing to take a chance on programming the song" and statistics claiming TOTAL record sales of 78 copies lead me to believe that if Sonin DID play the record (and I have NO reason to doubt that he did), it, too, went absolutely NOWHERE ... however, I would temper that by saying that he would have had to have aired it in February of 1963 and not 1962 because Capitol of Canada hadn't even PRESSED the record until then!
I wondered further where Capitol of Canada went from there ... with one Beatles single under their belts, would they continue to press these British releases for their Canadian audiences? Certainly I remember a couple of Capitol Of Canada singles selling well enough here in The States to actually make both the Billboard and the Cash Box Charts in 1964 (when we couldn't get our hands on enough Beatles material!!!) Canadian Single Releases of "Roll Over Beethoven" / "Please Mr. Postman" and "All My Loving" / "This Boy" crossed over the border to become #30 and #31 Hits on the U.S. Cash Box Charts. I couldn't help but wonder: did Capitol of Canada release anything else in the meantime?
Spizer and White talk about their subsequent releases after "Love Me Do" failed to make an impact:
"The Beatles' next single 'Please Please Me' b/w 'Ask Me Why' (Parlophone 45-R 4983) was released in England on January 11, 1963, and was subsequently sent to White. He liked 'Please Please Me' even more than 'Love Me Do', so the second record was released on Capitol of Canada 72090 on April 9, 1963. (NOTE: That's about six weeks AFTER WLS here in Chicago had already played the tune on the air! kk) Once again, Canada was not ready for The Beatles. According to White, 'Please Please Me' 'became a zinc record and sold about 180 copies.'"
"Because both Beatles singles were total bombs in Canada, the label gave no thought to putting out The Beatles' first album. This, however, did not deter White from issuing the group's third single, 'From Me To You' b/w 'Thank You Girl' (Parlophone R 5015) on Capitol of Canada 72101 on June 18, 1963. This time, sales were somewhat better, perhaps selling as many as 500 copies.
Three Canadian releases ... and three flops ... but White still believed in the band ... read on:
"The poor performance of the three singles did not go unnoticed by the label. According to White, 'The president of the company finally said to me, 'Why are you releasing these records? They're all stiffs!' I said, 'Quite frankly, I like them. This group is dynamite, plus they're selling zillions in England and they can't all be wrong.' He said, 'I'll give you one more chance, but get on something different.'"
"Paul White's faith in The Beatles finally paid off with the release of the group's fourth single, 'She Loves You' b/w 'I'll Get You' (Parlophone R 5055), on Capitol of Canada 72125 in mid-September, 1963. Although 'She Loves You' initially bombed in the United States, in Canada it was a different story. The single eventually worked its way up to the top of the CHUM Hit Parade, remaining on the charts for an incredible 22 weeks.
"White fondly recalls, ''She Loves You' landed in every major Canadian radio chart, becoming a huge seller, and taking the previous three releases along with it, so all four hit the charts.'"
"Beatlemania had finally crossed the ocean."
And, as such, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" followed it right up the Canadian charts to score another #1 Hit. (These two back-to-back #1's happened in reverse order here in The U.S. ...
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" was their breakthrough hit, sitting at #1 for seven straight weeks before being displaced by "She Loves You".) Amazingly, the record that started it all, "Love Me Do" began climbing back up the charts in Canada, where it finally peaked at #8. Here in The States, it topped the Billboard Chart in May ... and remains one of their most-played oldies to this day.
So to recap ... YES, Canada (and Canadian Radio) jumped on The Beatles before we did here in The States ... although "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" BOTH reached the #1 Spot during the SAME WEEK in January of 1964 in each country ... some 16 months AFTER "Love Me Do" was first released in Great Britain. Follow-up British singles like "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" ... and, to a degree, even "She Loves You" didn't make much of an impact here in North America until AFTER Beatlemania kicked in, spurring ALL of their earlier releases to start shooting up the charts.
Canadian DeeJay Ray Sonin most likely DID play the Capitol of Canada single of "Love Me Do" and very likely was the first Canadian DeeJay to do so (play a Beatles Record in Canada that is) ... but, based on our research, it is HIGHLY unlikely that he did so before mid-February of 1963, which would have been right around the same time that Dick Biondi was playing "Please Please Me", their follow-up hit, here in Chicago.
Subject to any more "official" documentation, I think we may, at best, have a "tie".
(Whew! I think I need a nap!) kk
Is there a recording of the Beatles' first concert in America (New York I believe).
If I remember correctly, Roy Orbison, The Righteous Brothers and Jay & the Americans opened for them.
Funny you should ask. Actually, The Beatles first official concert here in The States was held at the Washington D.C. Coliseum in February of 1964 ... they held the concert there as a way of saying thank you to the Washington, D.C. radio station who first broke their first U.S. #1 Hit
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" on American radio. Honestly, I don't know that there were any opening acts for this particular concert.
A documentary film covering "The Beatles First Visit To America" has been available for years ... and it's really well done. But we also just received word (see the email immediately below yours) about a brand new, fully restored, pristine copy of this COMPLETE concert being made available again ... along with an edited-in performance by both The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore from the same era that was originally shown in theaters at the time via closed-circuit screenings. (You'll find full details below ... and I, for one, couldn't be happier! I've seen "bootleg" copies of all these shows for YEARS ... so it'll be nice to see the complete, unedited, cleaned-up version again after all this time!) kk
In what can ONLY be described as a MAJOR Beatles / Beach Boys announcement, this just in from David Beard, publisher of "Endless Summer Quarterly" ...
Check this ESQ exclusive out: http://endlesssummerquarterly.blogspot.com/2010/12/beatles-complete-first-american-concert.html
THE BEACH BOYS LOST CONCERT COMPLETELY RESTORED WITH THE BEATLES
FIRST AMERICAN CONCERT CLOSED CIRCUIT BROADCAST
In an Endless Summer Quarterly exclusive, Alan Boyd, director of the documentary Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys Story, provided ESQ with the news of the premiere of The Beatles First American Concert Closed Circuit Broadcast Featuring The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore. The film also includes the original Roger Christian introduction of The Beach Boys and Gore.
The film will make its debut at The American Cinematheque Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028 on February 11, 2011 [Details on tickets and premiere time TBA].The phenomenon known as “Beatlemania” arrived on American shores from Great Britain when the Beatles landed at New York’s Kennedy airport for their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9th, 1964. On February 11th, the group performed their first American concert at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C. This historic event was videotaped for a national closed circuit theatre audience, and packaged with pre-taped live sets by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore for a 90-minute big screen spectacular. The historic presentation, straight from the original broadcast master two-inch quad videotapes, has been unseen in its entirety since March, 1964.
Host Domenic Priore (author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ’n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood) will be joined by rock ’n’ roll visual archivist Ron Furmanek and Boyd in bringing this unique program back to the big screen again after 47 years, the way it was intended to be.The performance captured at this event is the longest set that would ever be filmed of the Beatles in concert, and easily transmits far more raw energy and attitude than would be present at later Shea Stadium, Australia, Japan or Germany tapings. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all seem to be on stun from the attention and thrill of taking America by storm and becoming the entertainment phenomenon of the century. The recently-discovered master video tapes of this performance are a vast improvement over the fuzzy kinescopes that were a favorite of the underground movie house circuit during the ’70s; in those, the encore of “Twist and Shout” was cut off at the middle, and, the closing rave-up “Long Tall Sally” has not been screened anywhere since 1964. The entire performance is presented here in stunning, first-generation picture quality.
The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore segments were videotaped at the NBC Television Studios in Burbank, California (the same studio that later hosted Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special, Laugh-In and the Johnny Carson shows). The sound quality on these segments is a perfect reproduction, and showcases The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Mike Love) in their performance prime.
This will be the first time the ENTIRE production has been seen in full since the two days it was screened as a nationwide closed-circuit theater event (the same system more commonly used for live sporting events). Nowhere will you be able to see The Beatles in a more riveting, rock-solid performance, with the audio and video quality clear as a bell, blasting through theater speakers on The Egyptian Theater's giant screen. Our test screenings left us bedazzled, feeling as though we had just seen The Beatles in person... it’s that good.
Hosts Domenic Priore, Ron Furmanek and Alan Boyd will be joined by special guests TBA.
OK, put this one on my MUST LIST when it's released on DVD next year!!! Excellent! Thanks, David! (kk)
re: SCRAMBLED EGGS:
Just a classic tune ... this was the basis for "Yesterday" ... fun stuff Jimmy Fallon has become soooo good, you can't NOT watch his show!
BTW was it just me or did Paul McCartney sound HORRIBLE when he was on SNL a week or so ago? That was the worst rendition of "Band on the Run" I've ever heard.
McCartney's most recent SNL performance was VERY painful to watch ... it was like he was literally straining to get out every single note. Having seen him in concert several times now (and watching recent TV and YouTube clips), he's still got MOST of his chops ... I can only think that he was having an especially bad night (or perhaps saving himself for his big show at the Apollo Theater a few nights later???) Read on ... (kk)
re: MORE PAUL McCARTNEY NEWS:
Macca was all over the news (AGAIN!) last week after his all-star show at the legendary Apollo Theater.
Here's a report written by Roger Friedman, sent in by Tom Cuddy ...
Paul McCartney’s Historic A List Party at the Apollo Theater Brings Two Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, and Howard Stern
“A long time ago in Liverpool I dreamt about this,” Paul McCartney, now 68, told the audience of A listers and Sirius XM Radio fans at the Apollo Theater last night. As a Beatle and a Wing, he’d never played the Apollo. For the occasion, he pulled off a magical show of Beatles and Wings songs, as well as a tribute to Marvin Gaye–a nod to the theater’s history.
Looking into the audience, Paul remarked that he was having trouble remembering lyrics and chords, he joked, when so many people were holding up signs. It wasn’t like the stadiums and arenas he’s used to playing: the Apollo is small, and the audience is right up close. They were so close, in fact, that Paul did a couple of shout outs to pal Tony Bennett, who was sitting up front, and Jimmy Fallon, with whom he’d performed last Thursday in a hilarious bit on Fallon’s talk show.
He probably could see the rest of the people up front, too, including Rolling Stones Keith Richards (with Patti Hansen) and Ronnie Woods, Jerry Seinfeld and comedian pal George Wallace, Lorne Michaels, Ben Stiller (with his real estate agent). Howard Stern, Chris Rock, Brian Williams, Steve Buscemi (with wife Jo), Aidan Quinn and wife Elizabeth Bracco, Steve and Maureen van Zandt, matchbox twenty’s Rob Thomas. Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Alec Baldwin, newly engaged David Lauren and Lauren Bush, incoming school chancellor Cathleen Black, and famed record producer Tommy LiPuma.
Some other notables: Linda Moran, head of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, record exec John Titta, “SNL” players Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis, also Alan and Susan Patricof, NBC’s Vic Garvey, and Citigroup chief / Apollo chairman of the board Richard Parsons.
The piece de resistance? Paul Simon and Edie Brickell. To have Simon and McCartney in the same room, the two greatest songwriters of the rock generation, was kinda mind blowing.
McCartney lived up to the challenge: He mixed Beatles songs with solo efforts, and threw in Gaye’s “Hitch Hike.” On the latter, the band blew out the mics, and had to start over a couple of times. McCartney was of good cheer, though, and effortlessly spry. His voice has never sounded better, either. And the band, as Max Weinberg of the E Street Band observed, is maybe the best he’s ever had.
The list of songs: “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Jet,” “Drive My Car,” “All My Loving,” “One After 909,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Long and Winding Road,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Blackbird,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “And I Love Her,” “Dance Tonight,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Hitch Hike,” “Band on the Run,” “Obla-di Obla-da,” “Back in the USSR,” “A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance,” “Let it Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Wonderful Christmas time,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Get Back,” “Yesterday,” “Sgt. Pepper (Reprise),” and “The End” (not “Carry That Weight” listed elsewhere) from “Abbey Road.”
He came, he saw, he conquered. He led the audience in a singalong Russian folk song called “Petruska.” told jokes, and led his band with the energy of a 30 year old. “A Day in the Life” was chilling. “Let it Be” and “Long and Winding Road” just seemed more outstanding than ever. It was cool hearing “One After 909″ resurrected.
Kudos to Scott Greenstein of Sirius XM: he pulled off a coup. Later, at Marcus Samuelsson‘s new Harlem restaurant, the Red Rooster, guests dined on veggie dishes. Paul and his lovely girlfriend Nancy Shevell made the rounds, and settled down to eat with Keith, Patti, Ronnie and Keith’s longtime manager Jane Rose. It’s about 46 years since most of them met, and they’re still going strong. Amen.
Here's another report as filed by Rolling Stone:
Paul McCartney's Star-Packed Apollo Show:
Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Howard Stern, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld
and others saw Macca perform stellar two-hour show
Midway through Paul McCartney's two-hour set at the Apollo Theater Monday evening, he paused for a few seconds before playing a gorgeous rendition of "Maybe I'm Amazed."
"I want to take a moment," he said, standing at the piano with his hand on his chin. "I just want to just soak in the Apollo." The huge smile on his face as the crowd roared seemed genuine. The 68-year-old icon has played just about every major venue in New York (Carnegie Hall, Shea Stadium, Madison Square Garden), but until now he had never performed at Harlem's most hallowed theater. Early on he even touched the fabled onstage log — which all Apollo performers touch for good luck when they go on. "This is very special for us British boys," he said. "The holy grail."
The concert was held by Sirius XM to commemorate their 20 millionth subscriber. Tickets weren't sold to the public and were offered mainly to Sirius XM listeners — though celebrities also comprised a substantial portion of the crowd. In the audience was Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, Matt Damon, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, John McEnroe, Patti Smith, Rob Thomas, Kevin Bacon, Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg, among many others. (When we arrived I asked my friend if he knew how to find the staircase to the mezzanine. "Walk right past Howard Stern," he said. "Then take a right at Val Kilmer." He was exactly right.)
Towards the end of the night McCartney said, "Now I only want the celebrities in the house to cheer." They produced a mighty roar, though many of my fellow civilians screamed along with them.
Indeed, the entire crowd — celebrities or not — saw a stellar Paul McCartney concert. Last summer, when he came to Citi Field on a cold, rainy night, the show ran a bloated three hours and dragged in the middle, when he played selections from Flaming Pie and the latest Fireman disc. At the Apollo, stripped down to a lean two hours, the show's energy never dipped in the slightest. It also took on renewed power without the massive stage lights and video screens he utilizes at his regular arena and stadium gigs: This was just five men playing selections from one of the strongest catalogs in rock history.
It's a shame he so rarely does gigs like this. Bands like Pink Floyd and U2 were made to be heard alongside 50,000 people in a soccer stadium, but McCartney is perfectly suited for the clubs and theaters where he began his career.
As usual, the bulk of the set was devoted to Beatles classics. In the cramped, sweaty theater, even overplayed tunes like "Let It Be" and "Drive My Car" took on renewed power. He opened with "Magical Mystery Tour" and later played note-perfect versions of "The Long And Winding Road," "Get Back," "Eleanor Rigby" and "Hey Jude."
He also devoted a lot of time to Band On The Run, which was recently re-released. "Band On The Run," "Jet" and "Let Me Roll It" are staples of most Macca shows, but the hardcore fans in the back let out a huge yelp when he began playing the wonderfully obscure album closer "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five." "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" had the crowd singing along to every word, while an acoustic "And I Love Her" was perhaps the most tender moment of the night.
The only real kink in the night came when he began playing a cover of Marvin Gaye's 1962 classic "Hitch Hike." As six go-go dancers appeared from behind a scrim the vocals dropped out and piercing feedback rang throughout the theater. McCartney did his best to hide his annoyance. "Of course that happens when we're at the Apollo and on the radio," he said as the band started it up again — only to stop again after just one verse. On the third time they nailed it. "Now we've proven that the show is live," McCartney said.
McCartney is a walking advertisement for a strict vegetarian diet. It was easy to forget that he's pushing 70 when he threw his band into a smoking "I Saw Her Standing There" that led right into "Get Back." The encore also contained an inevitable (but still fun) "Wonderful Christmastime" and the standard show-closing medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/Carry That Weight/The End."
As the crowd slowly filtered out onto the streets of Harlem and attempted to figure out which limo was theirs, every single person seemed to be smiling — even if it was partially because they were just sitting near Howard Stern and Keith Richards for two hours.
-- Andy Greene / Rolling Stone Magazine
And don't forget ...
Paul McCartney was in Washington, D.C. last weekend where he was one of the honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognizes those in the performing arts.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who admitted to having “several waves of teen girl hysteria” over The Beatles, hosted a dinner for the honorees, which also includes Oprah Winfrey, country singer Merle Haggard, composer Jerry Herman and dancer Bill T. Jones, Saturday night.
Macca, who was honored in D.C. in June with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, said, “You know, great things just come in bundles. I am a big fan of this president, and I think he’s a great man whose got some difficulties. I’m very honored to be with him and his family, and I’m also a big fan of Hillary’s, too.“
Last night, a number of celebrities came together to pay tribute to this year’s honorees at the Kennedy Center. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler honored McCartney by singing a few songs off the Abbey Road album. Highlights will be shown on CBS on December 28th. Past honorees include Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, Brian Wilson, Elton John, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and B.B. King.
Lately it seems to be "All Macca, All Of The Time"!!! And with "Band On The Run" back in stores again (in all kinds of deluxe, collectors editions ... with the rest of his solo catalog to follow), recent appearances on both Saturday Night Live and The Jimmy Fallon Show ... and concerts in New York City one night and Liverpool, England the next ... McCartney seems to be busier than ever!!! WTG, Sir Paul ... we love ya, yeah, yeah, yeah!!! (kk)
(Here's a brief recap of a show McCartney just did in Liverpool at The 100 Club, courtesy of Frank B. and the WCBS-FM website):
Paul McCartney is in London today for his smallest show since playing Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1999. He’ll perform a special lunchtime show at the 100 Club. It’s a prelude to his two U.K. theater shows, tomorrow in London and on Monday he will be in his native Liverpool.
“It's great to be playing at a venue with so much great history that has seen so many brilliant gigs over the years. One of the reasons for playing the 100 Club ... is so that we can be part of the campaign to help the venue stay open for a new generation of up-and-coming artists -- like myself!"
Among the artists who’ve played the venue are The Rolling Stones, The Clash, David Bowie and Bob Dylan.
The 100 Club is in danger of closing at the end of the year because of a rent increase, and Paul McCartney has joined the likes of Mick Jagger and Ray Davies by voicing support for the venue.
In case you’re wondering what his set list looked like, here it is:
Friday 17th December, 100 Club London, United Kingdom:
2. Magical Mystery Tour
4. Drive My Car
5. All My Loving
6. One After 909
7. Hi Ho Silver
8. Let Me Roll It
9. The Long And Winding Road
10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
11. Maybe I’m Amazed
12. Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
14. Calico Skies
15. I’m Looking Through You
16. And I Love Her
17. Dance Tonight
18. Eleanor Rigby
19. Hitch Hike
20. Band on the Run
21. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
22. Let It Be
23. Hey Jude
25. Get Back
26. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End
Speaking of Paul McCarteny ... and Saturday Night Live ... this is just one vintage clip I couldn't resist posting again today! ENJOY!!!