Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 27th

Beatles Manager Brian Epstein dies.  His death is ruled accidental but is believed to have been caused by an overdose of barbiturates and brandy.  The Beatles are in Bangor, North Wales at the time, attending a conference by The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. 

The story went round for years (as told by Brian Epstein) and is still repeated to this day that when a young lad named Raymond Jones wandered into the Epstein family store NEMS in 1961 and asked for a record by The Beatles ("My Bonnie", recorded in Germany with lead singer Tony Sheridan earlier that year) and Brian didn't have it (nor had he ever even heard of it), history was made that day. 

Epstein prided himself on having (or being able to get) ANYTHING a customer might ask for.  And when Jones explained that The Beatles were a local group from right here in Liverpool … and regularly played afternoon sessions at The Cavern Club, Brian was intrigued enough to go.  He was immediately impressed by their charm and charisma.  (Word is, being gay, Brian was also immediately attracted to their leader, John Lennon.) 

Later, in his memoir "A Cellerful Of Noise", Brian recounted "I was immediately struck by their music, their beat and their sense of humour on stage – and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started". 

He approached the band in their dressing room (which he later described as being not much more than a broom closet) after their session and almost immediately set the wheels in motion to become their manager.  Priority One as far as Brian was concerned was landing them a recording contract.  He also cleaned up their act, taking them out of leather jackets and putting them in collarless suits and ties.  (The only Beatle who seemed to like the change was Paul McCartney.)  

At the time, they were a scruffy lot, wearing leather jackets and jeans and eating, drinking and swearing on stage.  Pete Best was still their drummer and, although they were extremely popular with the teens in the area for a club band, the "very proper" Epstein set his heights on cleaning up their act, grooming them for the big time, taking them through his own version of "charm school" and getting them signed to a major record label. 

Nearly every record label in London (and most famously Decca Records, who chose to sign Brian Poole and The Tremeloes instead) turned them down before Parlaphone decided to take a chance and soon Brian was the keeper of the goose that laid the golden egg.  (Just before signing with Parlaphone, the responsibility of firing Pete Best as their drummer fell on Brian as their manager.  It was a very short but sweet exchange:  "The boys want you out and Ringo in" … and that was it.) 

However, when it came to true managerial skills, his complete lack of experience in this area (plus the fact that nothing of this magnitude had ever exploded in show business the way Beatlemania captivated the world) caused him to leave untold MILLIONS of dollars on the table in the way of royalties and licensing fees. 

Still his guidance (and their talent) made them the biggest act in the world who even today, some 50+ years later, still manage to outsell many of the most popular recording artists in contemporary music.  Films (like "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!", "Magical Mystery Tour", the animated "Yellow Submarine" and their epitaph, "Let It Be") followed, as did sell out appearances at many of the largest stadiums around the world. 

However, once The Beatles had decided to stop touring, Brian's role in their career fell further to the background.  The studio was pretty much off limits to him … this was their creative playground … the relationship had always been one of "We'll take care of the music, Brian … you take care of everything else."

The fact that The Beatles were heavily experimenting with drugs at this time didn't help matters … they were also exploring the mystique of India and transcendental meditation.  One of Brian's last notes to the band read "Brown Paper Bags for Sgt. Pepper" … he didn't like the revolutionary cover montage they had come up with for their soon-to-be, landmark #1 album.  (Ironically, John Lennon would release "Two Virgins" in a brown paper bag a few years later because it depicted him and Yoko nude on its cover and record stores refused to display it that way!)  Ironically, the original contract that The Beatles signed in 1962 naming Brian Epstein as their manager was due to expire in 1967.  (Incredibly, Epstein never signed the contract!)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience perform at The Saville Theatre in London.  A second appearance that night is cancelled out of respect for the passing of Brian Epstein, who, since 1965, regularly presented performances there.

"Born Losers" remains in the #1 spot at the box office this week.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson celebrates his 59th birthday.  (God, he looked SO much older than that, didn't he???)

And, in local news, Forgotten Hits Founder Kent Kotal turns 14. 

It was just a matter of days before he would be starting High School.  (Grade school graduation picture shown above ... it was pretty obvious who his hero was at the time!  lol)

Kent was already deeply amassed in his love for music ... he listened to the radio nearly non-stop and even compiled his own weekly survey charts based on the rankings found on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey and WCFL Big 10 Survey ... he even polled friends at school as to their favorites and kept track of the nightly countdowns of that day's favorite tunes based on call-in votes to the radio station.  Copies of those WLS and WCFL charts have been featured weekly in this special 1967 50th Anniversary series.  

Also in 1967, he picked up the guitar for the very first time (albeit a MAJOR "cheapo" with strings that were two inches thick and sat six inches above the neck of his guitar.)  And let's face it, there was absolutely NOTHING in the whole wide world cooler than jammin' out with your mom in the living room.  (Who knows ... perhaps had we lived in a different Chicagoland suburb we could have gone on to fame and fortune as The Park Ridge Family!!!)

Although The Beatles were the ones who opened his eyes to a whole new world when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show some 3 1/2 years earlier, it was The Monkees that finally inspired him to pick up the guitar himself.

He wanted to feel the camaraderie of being in a band ... they just looked like they were having so much fun together (even though they could never seem to land a gig!)  He wanted to feel that way, too ... with a "band of brothers".  (Of course anyone who's ever actually ever BEEN in a band knows there's no such thing ... heck in all these years of doing Forgotten Hits, I still meet artists who refuse to speak to each other some fifty years after the fact!  Sadly, they've lost the joy of what inspired them to make music in the first place.)

In 1967 he would also write his very first song.  (Who knows ... had he stuck with it, maybe Kent could have won the Nobel Prize for literature last year instead of Bob Dylan!) 

They were clearly on equal par as lyricists ... here are some sample lyrics from that very first tune he wrote in 1967, "If I Had A Penny" ...

(1st Verse)
If I had a penny ... now what would I do?
I'd put it in my piggy bank and save it up for you.

(Last Verse)
Who cares about that penny?  It's just a waste of time.
Forget about that penny ... 'cause I really got a dime.

(Nope, they don't write 'em like that anymore!!!)

For the rest of his entire life he will continue to proclaim 1967 as his favorite year in music for … which has been the whole basis and inspiration for this incredible, mammoth 50th Anniversary Series running this year in Forgotten Hits.


From our DeeJay Buddy Chuck Buell, a "Name That Tune" Birthday Tribute!  (Thanks, Chuck!  Yep, this is the one!) 

All right, Forgotten Hit Readers!  

Today is Kent’s Birthday!

So it’s time for that Chuck Buell Forgotten Hits Family Fun Birthday Party Game!

Play along with Kent as he takes on, “I Can Name That 1967 Tune” in One Note!

It’s one of the first songs Paul McCartney ever wrote at the age of 16.

It was to be released as the B Side of either “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “Penny Lane,” but when those two songs were released together on one single, the song instead was included on the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!”

Paul McCartney’s children once sang a special version for McCartney on his birthday!

The Beatles “Birthday" song you say?! 

That song was released a year later on “The White Album” in 1968!

Many of us have been singing along with this song since the Summer of 1967 mostly ignoring the fact that, like Kent, it was also our song!

Happy Birthday, Kent!