The Beatles' "White Album" demos: listen and learn

One May day in 1968, The Beatles gathered in Esher, London at George Harrison psychedelic bungalow Kinfauns to make music. They jammed through numerous songs written during or after their time hanging with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Those demos are the skeleton of what would become the White Album. Some of those acoustic renditions have since been officially released or made their way to YouTube. Over at Rolling Stone, Jordan Runtagh takes us through the "Esher Tapes." Here are two of the tracks with Runtagh's commentary:

"Revolution"

Anti–Vietnam War demonstrations, Prague Spring, the assassination of Martin Luther King – John Lennon pondered the tumultuous events of early 1968 from his bucolic hideaway in the shadow of the Himalayas. "I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India," he told Rolling Stone in 1970. "I still had this 'God will save us' feeling about it: 'It's going to be all right.'" The sentiment would because a positive mantra in one of Lennon's most enduring songs; one he hoped would shake the youth out of the dreamily complacent Summer of Love era. "I wanted to put out what I felt about revolution. I thought it was time we fucking spoke about it." In the band's early days, he felt gagged by the unofficial code of silence that prohibited celebrities from speaking out about political matters for fear of antagonizing their audience. "For years, on the Beatles' tours, [manager] Brian Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war.

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Baby you can drive Ringo's car: Starr's Mini Cooper up for auction

Bonhams is auctioning off a 1966 Mini Cooper 'S' once owned by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. It's expected to fetch US$120,000 - 160,000. From Bonhams:

The Mini was the standout motoring icon of the 1960s, so it was only to be expected that that era's defining popular music act – The Beatles – would all own examples of Alec Issigonis' motoring masterpiece. But while it is relatively easy to carry your guitar around in a Mini, a set of drums is another matter entirely, and it is said that Ringo stipulated that his must be able to accommodate a drum kit, making it different from those purchased for the other members of the 'Fab Four'. The solution to the lack-of-space/accessibility problem was a hatchback conversion, which coachbuilder Harold Radford was offering as an option on its up-market Mini de Ville GT, introduced in October 1965.

(via Uncrate)

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JOHN WILCOCK: The Diggers' Death of Money & Other Counterculture Moments of 1966

A variety of events from 1966, including Ken Kesey's Acid Test at The Filmore, Charles Whitman's attack at The University of Texas at Austin, and John Lennon's statement about the Beatles popularity over Jesus.

The story of John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce

In 1967, John Lennon tooled around London in a Rolls-Royce Phantom V personalized with a psychedelic paint job. After years traveling around to various US museums, the car recently returned to London for a new Rolls Royce exhibit at Bonhams. Rolling Stone's Jordan Runtagh tells the story of the trippy whip:

Exactly how Lennon decided on the lurid Romany floral/zodiac hybrid is subject to some debate. Anthony recalls Ringo Starr planting the seed of the idea during a drive in early 1967. "We were passing the fairground one day and they were admiring the fairground decorations and gypsy caravans. Ringo said why not have the Rolls painted the same way. John thought it was a great idea." However, others say the idea was suggested by Marijke Koger of the Dutch design collective the Fool – who would also paint Lennon's piano that summer – after Lennon commissioned a refurbished 1874 gypsy caravan as a present for his young son, Julian. Either way, the chance to indulge his eccentric taste, while simultaneously delivering a massive "V-sign" to the staid British high society, proved too tempting to resist.

Doubtful that Rolls-Royce themselves would ever submit to such a drastic makeover of one of their prized vehicles, Lennon paid a visit to private coach makers J.P. Fallon Ltd. in Chertsey on April 8th, 1967, to discuss the design. After spraying the body of the car yellow, local artist Steve Weaver was tasked with painting the red, orange, green and blue art nouveau swirls, floral side panels and Lennon's astrological symbol, Libra, on the roof.

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Auction for John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper album cover sketch

The owners of John Lennon's former home found an old sketchbook containing this tiny sketch of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. It's up for auction with an estimated selling price of $40k-$60k which seems oddly low for such an artifact. From Julien's Live auctions:

An ink on paper sketch by John Lennon of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover with Lennon’s handwriting of the album’s title on the central bass drum in the image. The drawing was found in a sketchbook left in Lennon's former home, Kenwood in Surrey, England, and recovered by the new owners. The design of the album cover is known to have been executed by artist Peter Blake based on drawings provided by Paul McCartney. All of The Beatles contributed to the design of the cover in some way. It is unknown how this undated drawing figures into the history of the album cover and Lennon’s involvement.

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Sgt. Pepper gets a good dusting off at 50

If you're old enough, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the greatest records ever released. There are enough of us who can recite the lyrics to start a revolution. And just when you think things can't get any better, you realize that they're getting better all the time.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of the original Sgt. Pepper album, the Beatles have produced an enormously "wantable" six disc CD/Blu-Ray combination package with replicas of all the original paper inserts plus a whole lot more.

That's all I've got: watch the video. It's $149 at Amazon, but I bet the price will drop before release on May 26th.

More detailed information for the obsessed!

CD 1: New Stereo Remix

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band With A Little Help From My Friends Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Getting Better Fixing A Hole She's Leaving Home Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! Within You Without You When I'm Sixty-Four Lovely Rita Good Morning Good Morning Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) A Day In The Life

CD 2: Sgt. Pepper Sessions

Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 1 Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 4 Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 7 Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 26 Strawberry Fields Forever—Stereo/Giles Martin Mix 2015 When I'm Sixty-Four Penny Lane—Take 6 Penny Lane—Vocal Overdubs and Speech Penny Lane—Stereo / Giles Martin Mix 2017 A Day In The Lif e- Take 1 A Day In The Life—Take 2 A Day In The Life—Orchestra Overdub A Day In The Life—Hummed Last Chord A Day In The Life—The Last Chord Sgt. Read the rest

Regina Spektor's stunning cover of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

From the Kubo and the Two Strings soundtrack, this hauntingly gorgeous cover of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Regina Spektor who kindly said the following in an interview a few years back:

"I love Boing Boing. It's cool because the site is filled with curated information all about science, art and culture -- plus, you still get cute distractions like little animals."

Thanks, Regina!

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Great fan-made Beatles videos

Alvarortega has a YouTube channel of animated videos of Beatles (and solo) music. Really fun stuff! Read the rest

Peter Sellers recites the Beatles (in funny voices)

Robbo writes, "Peter Sellers recorded a series of performances, in a variety of voices, reciting the lyrics of popular Beatles songs. It is demented weirdness - and perfect in all its madness." Read the rest

Cover of Norwegian Wood on theremin

Carolina Eyck performs a lovely series of Theremin Sessions, including this cover of Norwegian Wood. And she takes viewer requests:

To take part in this video project, comment or send me your suggestions for an improvisation. This can be: a) a word or sentence b) a photo, a drawing/sketch or painting of yours c) a recording of you playing your instrument d) a video of you playing your instrument I choose one suggestions every week to play an improvisation in the end of the video. Looking forward to your ideas!

Bonus video to show young people in your life: Carolina performing at age 9:

Bonus bonus: "Après un rêve" by Gabriel Fauré :

More at her site.

Norwegian Wood - Beatles (Cover): Theremin Session #13 (YouTune / Carolina Eyck) Read the rest

Beatles LEGO Yellow Submarine now shipping

As soon as Pesco posted this, I knew I had to have the minifigs, especially the nowhere man.

The LEGO Yellow submarine is now shipping!

LEGO Ideas Yellow Submarine 21306 Building Kit via Amazon Read the rest

Watch The Beatles' LEGO Submarine

"The Beatles’ LEGO Yellow Submarine vs. the Sea Monster," a promo video for The Beatles Yellow Submarine set due out next month. And yes, there's a Blue Meanie included. The concept for the set came from the LEGO Ideas crowdsourcing program, a submission from a fellow named Kevin Szeto:

"As an amateur musician and songwriter, I have always been drawn to the music of The Beatles," Szeto wrote. "The creation of the Yellow Submarine model was really my way of showing my affection for The Beatles, as well as trying to pay a small tribute to The Beatles phenomenon. The Yellow Submarine is bright, fun, and colourful, which also made it a good subject to translate into LEGO form."

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A song composed by artificial intelligence in the style of the Beatles

Enjoy this song by the Pre-Fab Four! Read the rest

John Lennon on his first acid trip

In 1965, John Lennon, George Harrison, Cynthia Lennon, and Pattie Boyd were having dinner at a dentist friend's house. The dentist put LSD in their coffee without telling them first. When he revealed what he had done, John was pissed off, and rightly so. "How dare you fucking do this to us?" he said. Rolling Stone's Mikal Gilmore has the story and an animated interview with John about their first trip on LSD and the secret history of Revolver:

"It was as if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a horror film," Cynthia Lennon said. "The room seemed to get bigger and bigger." The Beatles and their wives fled Riley's home in Harrison's Mini Cooper. (According to Bury, John and George had earlier indicated a willingness to take LSD if they didn't know beforehand that it was being administered.) The Lennons and Harrisons went to Leicester Square's Ad Lib club. In the elevator, they succumbed momentarily to panic. "We all thought there was a fire in the lift," Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. "It was just a little red light, and we were all screaming, all hot and hysterical." Once inside at a table, something like reverie began to take hold instead. As Harrison told Rolling Stone, "I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience in 12 hours."

The couples ended up at the Harrisons' home in Esher, outside London.

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"Here Comes The Sun" played verrrrry slowly, then sped up to the right tempo

Samuraigutarist recorded his cover of The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" at a very slow tempo that lengthened the song to around 30 minutes. Then he sped up the video and audio 20x. The result sounds like a lovely violin version of the song.

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Beatles "holy grail" record sells for $110k

An exceedingly rare and historically important Beatles record sold at auction today for $110,000. The 78 RPM 10" acetate includes "Hello Little Girl," apparently the first song John Lennon ever wrote (or at least recorded). The flip side is a song Meredith Wilson wrote for the 1957 play The Music Man, titled "Til There Was You." Take a listen below. The Beatles manager Brian Epstein handwrote the label on this particular record that now belongs to an anonymous collector.

From Omega Auctions:

This unique 10" 78RPM acetate record featuring 'Hello Little Girl' on one side and 'Til There Was You' on the other was cut in the Personal Recording Department of the HMV record store on Oxford St, London. Brian Epstein had the disc cut from the Decca audition tapes before presenting it to George Martin (EMI) on 13th February 1962 in his desperate attempt to get them a recording contract. This meeting, despite Martin's initial reticence, was to eventually lead to the breakthrough they were looking for. The disc was later given to The Fourmost to record their own version of Hello Little Girl (recorded 3 July 1963) and then to Les Maguire of Gerry & The Pacemakers (recorded Hello Little Girl 17th July 1963). This is the first time it has come to the marketplace, having been tucked away in Maguire's loft until now. Epstein's handwriting on the labels reads as follows: side 1 Hullo Little Girl, John Lennon & The Beatles, Lennon,McCartney' and side 2 'Til' There Was You Paul McCartney & The Beatles'.

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Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction) sings The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun"

From George Fest: A Night To Celebrate The Music Of George Harrison that took place in L.A. in 2014. Also making the scene were Norah Jones, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Dhani Harrison (George's son), Ian Astbury (The Cult), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Ben Harper, Ann Wilson (Heart), and many others. The whole event will be available next month on CD, Blu-Ray, digital download, and vinyl. Trailer below.

George Fest: A Night To Celebrate The Music Of George Harrison (Amazon)

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