An Evening On the Road and a Beatle Sandwich

Old man winter had the United Kingdom in his grips, and The Beatles had to get back home. But little did they know, surviving the cross-country journey from London to Liverpool would require an uncanny fight for survival.

The date was January 21, 1963. The Fab Four had just played a concert at the infamous Cavern Club in Liverpool the night before, but their next show (at that same venue) wasn’t for another couple days. In the meantime, they were needed in the studio for a recording session and for an interview with UK newspaper The Daily Mail.

After a full day, The Beatles piled into their tour van and trekked back home, braving the elements. They set off around 10 p.m. with London’s notorious fog encroaching upon them and the road. Mal Evans, The Beatles’ road manager, gripped the wheel as they made the voyage, but fate wasn’t going to make it easy for them.

A Rock vs. Rock-n-Roll

The gear and the boys were in tow and Evans was at the helm when they were jolted by an intense and harsh thwack. The windshield had been dealt a critical blow, and the cracks had spider-webbed out to the edges of the frame, making it impossible for Evans to see the road.

a beatle sandwich Paul McCartney rocks out on his Hofner bass at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1966.

Paul McCartney rocks out on his Hofner bass at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1966.

For Evans, The Beatles were his life. In the column “Here, there and everywhere” with The Sunday Times, author Mark Edmonds explores Mal Evans’ lost diaries and the events of that night.

In the January 21, 1963 entry, Evans wrote, “Met a lot of fog… suddenly after leaving [a restaurant] short time windscreen cracked with a terrible bang.” But Evans had a solution, though, but not one of elegance.

“Had to break a hole in the windscreen to see…” Evans wrote in his diary. And so, in below-freezing temperatures, The Beatles were forced to fight for their survival. To fend off the infringing cold being funneled through the windshield, The Beatles had to act quickly.

“A Beatle Sandwich”

Like most wilderness survival stories, The Beatles had to huddle together for warmth. But with limited space and the awkward seating arrangement of the van, they were left with few options.

Armed with a bottle of whiskey, the group took to piling on top of one another. In The Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney referred to this moment in rock-n-roll history as the “Beatle Sandwich.” Unfortunately, McCartney did not identify his bandmates by their sandwich ingredient pseudonyms.

After stopping for tea, the Fab Four eventually made it home to Liverpool where they were able to sleep off the deep chill. In his diary, Evans wrote, “They were on that night at Cavern as fresh as ever with no after effects. The Beatles have certainly gone up in my estimation. They are all great blokes with a sense of humor and giving one the feeling they are a real team.”

Bob Bonis

Although Bob Bonis might have never witnessed a “Beatle Sandwich” through his camera’s viewfinder, but it’s likely he bought The Beatles a sandwich or two while he served as their U.S. Tour Manager. Along with his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis managed The Beatles on all three of their American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond).

Bonis traveled with The Beatles at the height of their popularity and practiced his love for photography while the boy from Liverpool sang about love onstage. These rare and previously unreleased photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive. Each strictly limited edition, fine art photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

The Last Time (The First Time Mick Jagger & Keith Richards Write a Song Together)

“Well this could be the first time, this could be the first time we write our own tune, maybe the first time, I don’t know… Oh no, Oh no…”

The Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time” marked the beginning of the famed songwriting collaborations between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The single was released early in the Rolling Stones’ expansive discography, but the melody and undulating guitar riff continues to lilt its way throughout history.

On February 26, 1965, the Rolling Stones released the single “The Last Time” with the song “Play With Fire” on its B-side. The song was credited to Jagger and Richards, however, the wings of the duo that would also become known as the “Glimmer Twins” had not yet fully developed.

Inspired By Gospel

The song’s refrain is transparently similar to a 1958 song by The Staple Singers titled “This May Be the Last Time.” (The Staple Singers’ version can be heard by following this link.) Richards conceded to this in the 2009 book According to the Rolling Stones. He said, “We came up with ‘The Last Time’, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time.”

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Ian Stewart during a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965.

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Ian Stewart during a recording session at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965.

An article by independent news source The Conversation notes that “the story of [The Last Time] is one of admiration and imitation. It possessed stylistic flairs and influences that would ultimately foretell the band’s future stardom.” It wouldn’t be the last time gospel music would influence the Jagger-Richards songwriting duo, though, as it would become a recurring theme in their writing, as evident in the 1972 track “Shine a Light.”

It was recorded at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California in January 1965 when the British Invasion was in full swing. On their home turf in the United Kingdom, “The Last Time” was the third Rolling Stones single to reach No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It spent three weeks in this top spot in March and early April of 1965, according to the reference book British Hit Singles & Albums.

The tune has remained a popular staple in the Rolling Stones’ musical canon and was performed routinely during the band’s 1965, 1966, and 1967 concert tours. The song was put into storage, though, until years later when it made a comeback during the Bridges to Babylon Tour in 1997 and 1998. It also appeared in some of the band’s performances during the 50 & Counting Tour in 2012 and 2013.

Not The Last Time You’ll Say “Cheese”

Bob Bonis didn’t keep track of how many times he heard the Rolling Stones play “The Last Time,” but it’s likely he had the ditty looping through his head while he served as their U.S. Tour manager for the Stones’ first five trips stateside (as well as for all three The Beatles’ American tours).

Bonis’ version of the tune, however, may have sounded something more like… “Well I told you once and I told you twice, that someone will have to pay the price… if you don’t sit still and smile for the Leica.”

Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis practiced his passion for photography while the Stones played their passion on the stage. These sincere and historic photographs captured at the height of the British Invasion are available for the first time as strictly limited edition fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Beatlemania Phenomenon Becomes Pandemic

Beat-le-ma-ni-a

(bēdlˈmānēə)

Noun

Definition — Extreme enthusiasm for The Beatles, as manifested in the frenzied behavior of their fans in the 1960s.

“The band took to spending weeks on end in the studio as a way of escaping from the mayhem of Beatlemania.”

When Scottish concert promoter Andi Lothian first booked The Beatles in January of 1963, fifteen people showed up. When he booked them again that October, local police were pleading with him to let them onstage early to appease the fans growing increasingly agitated.

He told The Guardian, “The girls were beginning to overwhelm us … It was absolute pandemonium. Girls fainting, screaming, wet seats. The whole hall went into some kind of state, almost like collective hypnotism. I’d never seen anything like it.”

The Beatles had since released their chart topping album and single, both titled Please Please Me. While the phenomenon had already sparked to life in the United Kingdom, it took a few well placed breaths to send Beatlemania across the pond.

Roots in History

The word mania was first used to describe fandom in 1844. As reported by The Guardian, German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine coined the term Lisztomania to describe the pandemonium that erupted from fans during performances by the piano virtuoso Franz Liszt.

Paul McCartney singing on stage at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas, August 19, 1965.

Paul McCartney singing on stage at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas, August 19, 1965.

Back then, the phrase also carried implications of mental illness. The word Beatlemania, though, carried no such connotations (despite its close association with overactive pituitary glands). Parents of Beatlemania-afflicted teens, however, definitely thought their children were hypnotized by a spell of strange music that caused transistor radios to become permanent fixtures to their ears.

The Beatles had already been introduced to the States with the songs “Please Please Me” and “From Me to You,” and the singles were both flops initially. This made the American branch of The Beatles’ record label apprehensive about promoting them domestically. Fate was on their side, however, and the Fab Four were about to catch a break.

According to History.com, American television host Ed Sullivan was walking through London’s Heathrow airport when he encountered hordes of ecstatic teens, eager to see The Beatles’ return from tour. Shortly after, Sullivan booked them on the Ed Sullivan Show. Prior to seeing the commotion in the airport, Sullivan had never heard of them. He suspected, though, that they could be “as big as Elvis.”

The Beatles in Technicolor

With a performance on the Ed Sullivan added to their agenda, the Beatles’ American record label agreed to back their upcoming album. The band had also gained exposure in the States after CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite reported on the Beatlemania phenomenon raging across the UK and parts of Europe.

After seeing one such newscast, 15-year-old Marsha Albert from Maryland wrote to her local radio station asking, “Why can’t we have music like that here in America?” After some digging, a radio DJ unearthed the unreleased single “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” reports History.com. The song was wildly popular and sent The Beatles’ record label into a frenzy as they worked to meet customer demand. The single sold 1 million copies in the span of a few days. The British Invasion had begun.

While there are varying accounts of who coined the term Beatlemania first, the word mania and its historical roots ensured it was only a matter of time before it would be used to describe the band whose popularity spread like wildfire. The phenomenon only needed to wait until the conditions were right to make that leap across the Atlantic successful.

Order Amidst the Craziness

Along with the Beatles, Bob Bonis also confronted the raging crowds of teenage girls while serving as their U.S. Tour Manager from 1964 to 1966 (as well as for the Rolling Stones’ first five stateside tours). Armed with his Leica M3 camera, he was able to capture The Beatles in moments of order, amidst the chaos and flurry of screaming fans.

These never before available photographs of The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania are now available from the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Paul McCartney and George Harrison perform at the Metropolitan Stadium in Blooming, Minnesota, August 21, 1965.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison perform at the Metropolitan Stadium in Blooming, Minnesota, August 21, 1965.

5 Keefacts About Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a man who needs no lengthy introduction. Ranked number four on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists, he is credited with writing “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on guitar.

As one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, he’s lived life – and lived it hard – in the spotlight, and somewhat privately.  We all know Keith the pirate.  We know Keith the prankster. We know Keith the immortal (he’ll probably outlive most of us); but did you know Richards used to live in a villa that was occupied by Nazi soldiers during WWII? Or that he once almost burned down the Playboy mansion? A rich life is bound to have a few hidden gems, so here are five facts about Keith Richards that may have fallen through the cracks:

Keef the Boy Scout

In his autobiography, Keith Richards said, “Scouting was a separate thing from music. I wanted to know how to survive … how to find out where I am … how to cook something underground.” However, he did admit that young Keef mostly just took it as “chance to swagger around with a knife on your belt.” But, perhaps longingly, he added, “You didn’t get the knife until you got a few badges.”

Hey! You! Get off of my stage!

During the Stones’ December 18, 1981 concert in Hampton, Virginia, a fan rushed on to the stage, prompting Keith Richards to protect the sanctity of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Richards paused his performance in favor of turning his ‘axe’ into a weapon of self-defense. In Mark Blake’s book Stone Me: The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards, Keef said, “What if he had a gun in his hand or a knife? I mean, he might be a fan, he might be a nutter, and he’s on my turf. I’m gonna chop the mother down!”

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Kieth Richards plays guitar during a Rolling Stones rehearsal and recording session of backing tracks for an appearance on the popular TV show Shindig on May 18 and 19 at TCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 18-19, 1965.

Who needs sleep? Not Keith Richards

In Keith Richards’ autobiography Life, he said that on average, he would only sleep two nights a week during the band’s peak of fame. Running the numbers, he said, “This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes.” Even when he did sleep, though, music was still on his mind. As reported by Rolling Stone magazine, Keith has said in interviews that his famous riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came to him in a dream.

Whatever you do, don’t touch his Shepherd’s Pie

In Keith’s circles it’s a well-known fact that he takes his Shepherd’s Pie very seriously. He demands it while on tour and has his own set of rules when it comes to his pies. Late Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable recalled a tense situation involving Keith’s pies in his book Demons And Cocktails. He said, “We were backstage when I saw the pie. Like an excited 10-year-old at Christmas and I whacked several hefty spoonfuls onto my plate.” Luckily, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood stepped in and quickly had it re-crusted by the waiting staff, but not after a waitress bemoaned, “Don’t you know the rules?”

Jumpin’ Jack… the gardener?

Just a year after an infamous and controversy-surrounded drug bust at the same country-house location, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Richards’ Redlands home while jamming in the early morning hours, according to volume 2 of the Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. It was raining heavily outside and Jagger heard the sound of rubber boots thumping by. It was Richards’ gardener, Jack Dyer. Jagger asked what the sound was and Richards replied, “Oh, that’s Jack. That’s Jumpin’ Jack.” As the duo played around with the tune singing “Jumpin’ Jack,” Jagger shouted “Flash!” and shortly thereafter, the hit single was deemed the Stones’ return to their blues roots after their unsuccessful foray into psychedelia.

Bob Bonis might not have captured any Shepherd’s Pie thieves on film, yet he did snap a plethora of other honest, less obsessive, but equally powerful moments of Keith, Mick, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman while serving as the Stones’ U.S. Tour Manager on their first five trips stateside between 1964 and 1966 (as well as for The Beatles on all three on their U.S. tours).

With his Leica M3 always at the ready, Bonis documented the Stones’ indelible contribution to the British Invasion as it hit American shores and created a tsunami of musical, cultural and popular style changes that rolled coast to coast. These never before seen photographs are now available for the first time through the Bob Bonis Archive as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

The Beatles After the Breakup

The Beatles take a bow on stage at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, August 21, 1965.

For some Beatles fans the month surrounding New Year’s Eve on both sides can be bitter reminders of sour and sad times in The Beatles’ history.

On January 10, 1969, George Harrison walked away from rehearsal and the band amidst rising tensions. Less than a year later, on December 31, 1970, Paul McCartney officially filed the legal suit to dissolve the group (and publicly announced his departure from the band on April 10, 1970). Then, on December 29, 1974, John Lennon made the breakup official while the group was on holiday at Disney World.

john lennon on stage memorial coliseum portland

John Lennon on stage with The Beatles at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, August 22, 1965.

Perhaps it was an appropriate venue – an enchanted destination to conclude that mysterious and magical wave they had been sailing on across the world. The year’s end shouldn’t be mourned, and although the breakup came with an outpouring of grief (and the shattered hearts of teenage fans everywhere), it ushered in new beginnings and great successes for each member.

The Beatles had been on the trajectory heading toward the breakup since 1968, and it was beginning to show — they were moving away from those boyhood relationships and shedding the skin of the group in favor of their own and towards expressing their unique individual styles and preferences. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting duo split into their own respective paths. Harrison continued to develop as a songwriter. Ringo Starr, meanwhile, was also developing as a songwriter, as well as an actor and producer.

Rolling Stone Magazine described the 1968 album The Beatles (also known as the White Album) as “four solo albums in one roof.” And so, rather than lament or analyze the breakup of the Fab Four, the Bob Bonis Archive would like to celebrate the members’ continued success as individuals by touching on some of the accomplishments of each Beatle, after the breakup.

paul mccartney on stage crosley field cincinnati ohio

Paul McDartney on stage at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 21, 1966.

Paul McCartney

While he had already proven his worth as a songwriter with the Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney continued his upward trajectory to become recognized as one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. Throughout his career with the Beatles and his solo work, McCartney is credited with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million for both albums and singles. He is a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee and a 21-time GRAMMY Award winner. In 1997, McCartney was knighted for his contributions to music. Sir Paul continues to perform actively to this day.

John Lennon

Unaware his time was limited, Lennon continued to be an agent of change and a voice of peace. Before the breakup, he met and fell in love with artist Yoko Ono (who, to this day, and despite heated emotions by fans over decades, is steadfast that she was never a catalyst to the breakup). In 1970 the pair released the album John Lennnon/Plastic Ono Band to the praise of critics. The couple also continued their activism, the most notable being the “bed-ins” opposing the Vietnam War. With the birth of his son Sean, Lennon began to focus his energy on his family, and only briefly made a return to music before being assassinated by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980 in New York City.

george harrison backstage st louis missouri

George Harrison backstage at Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966.

George Harrison

Although he didn’t receive as much recognition as a songwriter as did Lennon and McCartney while he was playing with the Beatles, his solo talent would begin to flourish as the end neared. After the band split, he released the triple album All Things Must Pass to much critical acclaim. Although he also worked as a music and film producer, his musical roots kept him on the stage. In 1988 he co-founded the platinum-selling super-group the Traveling Wilburys, and Rolling Stone ranked him number 21 on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and collaborated with other great artists such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and of course, Ringo Starr. Harrison passed away on November 29, 2001 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Ringo Starr

After the breakup Ringo Starr went on to pursue his own extensive solo career. In the years immediately following, he released three solo albums with great success. His 1973 album Ringo reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since earned a certified platinum status. His artistic side also led to his involvement in film, such as producing the glam-rock documentary Born to Boogie and acting in several films. He has continued to make music throughout the years, however, his most recent gift to the world came in the form of a photography book. Titled Photograph, it features 250 rare and unseen photographs of both his personal and Beatles life. Combined with original text written by him, Starr offers an intimate glimpse into his life and his fellow band members.

And in the end…

While Ringo first began exploring photography in 1963, during their American tours, Bob Bonis stepped in as the band’s primary photographer. While serving as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Beatles from 1964 to 1966 (and also for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips across the pond), Bonis practiced his artistic passion for photography while the band focused on their music.

Using his trusty Leica M3 camera, and through his unique level of access to The Beatles both on and off stage, Bonis captured honest and candid moments of the worldwide phenomenon that was The Beatles. Through The Bob Bonis Archive, these never before seen photographs are now available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

ringo starr john lennon paul mccartney kansas city

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney perform at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964.

Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Part I

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are photographed by Bob Bonis while on vacation in Bel Air, California on August 23-24, 1964

Paul McCartney and John Lennon were hailed as The Beatles’ songwriting duo. George Harrison was dubbed “the quiet one.” And Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, according to many.

Together they worked as a whole to conquer the world and not only herald, but win the British Invasion. But while The Beatles were bowing to the crowd on stage, there was other key figures working for their success behind the scenes. A number of these have been dubbed “The Fifth Beatle.” Exactly whom that true Fifth Beatle was, however, is still up for debate (and it’s often a hot one). Here are just a few of the most notable “Fifth Beatles.”  We invite your comments and opinions.

Stuart “Stu” Sutcliffe

Before their spectacular rise to fame, The Beatles legitimately consisted of five members. The Fifth Beatle in this instance was their original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Before joining band he began his career as an artist and attended the Liverpool College of Art. He left the band in 1961 to pursue his art education and to continue painting. Early the next year he began complaining of headaches, and then tragically, on April 10, 1962, he died from a brain aneurysm.

Brian Epstein

Best known for his role as The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein is largely credited with discovering The Beatles. While Epstein’s management style drew some criticism and amidst the controversy of his personal life, he was instrumental in the band’s rise to fame. In 1997, Paul McCartney said, “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian Epstein.” Although he received McCartney’s “Fifth Beatle” endorsement years later, the jury has yet to reach a final decision. Quite a lot of controversy surrounds the motives and methods of Brian Epstein, but it is clear that without his influence in the early days we wouldn’t have gotten The Beatles as we know them.

Murray the K

Murray Kaufman, more commonly known as Murray the K, was an influential New York radio DJ during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He was embedded in the trenches of the Beatlemania and often referred to himself as the Fifth Beatle. His popularity peaked during the mid-60s when he befriended the band as they began performing in the U.S. While there isn’t a general consensus of how the name was attributed to him, his radio station quickly picked up on it and billed him prominently as the Fifth Beatle. In a late 70s interview, Kaufman admitted, “I really didn’t like it very much, but that was it.”

Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer and artist, is most well known for her close association with The Beatles, which lends itself to her candidacy of being the Fifth Beatle. When she first met the band in 1960, she was dating Klaus Voormann, a German artist who created the album artwork for Revolver. She quickly became smitten with original Beatles bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. Her best known photographic works are of The Beatles in their early days playing in Hamburg, Germany.

Klaus Voormann

Another German artist and musician that joined the Beatles’ circle of friends was Klaus Voormann. Like his then-girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr, he met and became closely associated with the group in the early 1960s. During the band’s early days, Voormann lived in the Fab Four’s London flat. Shortly thereafter he designed the GRAMMY award winning cover artwork for the Beatles’ Revolver album. In the 1990s, he also designed the artwork for the Beatles Anthology albums. Much like Kirchherr, his close relationship with the band led some to speculate about his role as a Fifth Beatle.

This was Part 1 of Who Was The Fifth Beatle? – Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Enter Bob Bonis

While the Fifth Beatles seemingly came and went, Bob Bonis was playing his part as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles on all three U.S. tours between 1964 and 1966 (and for the Rolling Stones’ first five trips stateside as well). Undoubtedly, while the others squabbled over who was the true Fifth Beatle, Bonis was keeping his focus on the shutter of his Leica M3 camera.

With his camera always ready for action, he captured never before seen photos of the band in candid, intimate and historically important moments in the early days of The British Invasion.

These iconic photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Reaching For The Guitars: Happy Birthday Keith Richards!

Keith Richards at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, May 12-13, 1965. Photo captured by Bob Bonis who served as US Tour Manager for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles between 1964 and 1966.

On December 18, 1943, the rock-n-roll gods willed Keith Richards into existence and guided him along the path that would lead him to The Rolling Stones and to become one of world’s greatest guitarists.

Keith, an only child, was born in Kent, England, to Doris and Herbert Richards, a factory worker dad who was injured in World War II during the Normandy Invasion, according to the book Keith Richards: The Biography. Although his father saw little value to music, Keith’s grandfather took an opposite and more playful approach to encouraging the rock-n-roll-tot.

Keith’s grandfather, ‘Gus’ Dupree, toured England with a jazz big band, which helped pique Keith’s infatuation with music and the sound of a six string. During an October 25, 2015, BBC Radio program, Keith said his grandfather ‘teased’ him with a guitar he had placed on a shelf out of little Keith’s reach. Then Gus offered him a deal: if Keith could reach the guitar, it was his.

Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart at RCA studios in Hollywood, California, September 1965. Image captured by Bob Bonis while serving as US Tour Manager for the Rolling Stones between 1964 and 1966.

And so, with destiny just out of reach, Keith set off on the task of devising a way to reach the guitar. After finding a chair, and the subsequent books and couch cushions needed to reach the prize, Keith reached the peak victorious. But there was a catch: learning the rudiments of Keith’s first tune, ‘Malaguena,’ a classical tune which had become a popular jazz song.

After practicing the number “like mad,” Keith’s grandfather let him keep the guitar. Now, with “the prize of the century” in his grasp, Keith practiced at home, becoming familiar with world renowned artists such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

As the years passed and as he grew older, Keef began to focus less on his formal education and more on playing guitar. By the year 1959, he could play most of the solos performed by blues legend Chuck Berry.  Not long after, Keith, along with his friends Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, and Charlie Watts, began playing together in the group that would soon become The Rolling Stones.

In a 1986 Guitar World Magazine article, Stewart said that Keith was without a doubt the band’s leader. Keith’s job was to keep the band working as a finely tuned machine, to which Bill Wyman commented that while most bands follow their drummer, there is “no way of not following” Keith’s lead.

Over the years, Keith’s signature “guitar weaving,” or the interplay between lead and rhythm guitars, graced the world with one hit song after another. With Keith driving the beat and Jagger singing to the crowd, the world class songwriting duo wrote 14 songs featured in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The magazine also ranked him fourth on its list of 100 best guitarists, adding that Keith is to thank for “rock’s greatest single body of [guitar] riffs.”

From 1964 to 1966, Bob Bonis had the honor of serving as the U.S. Tour Manager for the Rolling Stone’s first five trips across the pond (as well as all three U.S. Beatles tours). Armed with a passion for photography and his Leica M3 camera, Bonis captured the band in their honest, behind the scene moments.

These intimate, and often iconic photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

Keith Richards, we wish you Happy Birthday and a sincere thank you for your years of contribution to the world of music, rock-n-roll, and killer guitar riffs. Here’s to many more!  Party on Keef!

We Don’t Miss John Lennon Only On The Anniversary Of His Assassination

 Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

John Lennon

October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980

On the anniversary of John Lennon’s killing, every fan page and newspaper, every music blog and every related website commemorated his life and his passing.  But we realized that this homage should not be limited to the actual anniversary date of this horrific act only, but that true Beatles fans, Lennon fans and most real human beings miss John – as they should – every day.  Thus, our take on this infamous event, a few days later.

As John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment at the Dakota on December 8, 1980, a killer lurked in the shadows, waiting for the right moment.

Lennon and Ono were returning from the recording studio where they were mixing Ono’s song “Walking on Thin Ice,” which featured Lennon on guitar. “John and I were gloriously happy in the first week of December. In our minds, we were a team – old soldiers,” Ono recalled to British newspaper The Daily Mirror.

Going Home

John Lennon back stage at The Club House, Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966. Photograph by Bob Bonis and reprinted by the Bob Bonis Archive.

As they passed the small autograph-seeking crowd gathered outside their building’s entrance, Mark David Chapman, who Lennon had signed an autograph for hours earlier, stepped out from the archway in which he was hiding and raised his revolver, aiming directly at Lennon’s back. Five shots cracked into the night. One of the .38 Special’s hollow point bullets missed, two hit Lennon in the left side of his back, and two penetrated his left shoulder.

Police arrived on the scene within minutes to find Lennon lying in the lobby bleeding profusely. Outside they found Chapman waiting calmly for his arrest, holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel A Catcher In The Rye. In the book he had written, “This Is My Statement.” He signed it Holden Caulfield, the story’s protagonist, which had become a cultural icon of rebellion and angst.

The Mirror reports that upon realizing the severity of Lennon’s wounds, officers placed him in the back seat of a squad car and rushed him to a hospital; they did not believe he would make it if they had to wait for an ambulance. But upon arrival, Lennon’s pulse and breathing had stopped. Attempts to resuscitate him proved futile, the damage sustained and the volume of blood lost was simply too great. Shortly after 11 p.m., Lennon was pronounced dead. And the world changed forever.

Worldwide Mourning

The death of Lennon, one of the most iconic and outspoken Beatles, rocked the earth to its core. Fans poured into the public to share their grief. The world had watched his mind blossom with each new Beatles hit. Following the breakup, they listened to him espouse love and world peace with his solo projects and public protests. His murder left an indelible scar on the realm of music, and the hope for a better world.

Chapman had been a devout Beatles fan, but Lennon’s increasingly controversial statements, such as how The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, would come into direct conflict with his religious beliefs and his perceptions of reality. In a 2001 article, author Lynne H. Schultz quotes Chapman as saying, “At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage.” As his disgust with society continued to fester, so did his obsession with killing Lennon.

Lennon’s remains were cremated, but no funeral was held. A week after his death, at the request of Yoko Ono, millions of people around the world took pause for ten minutes in silent reflection of Lennon. The New York Times reported that thirty thousand people gathered in Liverpool, but over 225,000 occupied New York’s Central Park to remember Lennon while every radio in the city went silent.

In the time before the trial, Chapman underwent extensive psychiatric evaluations and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Although he was encouraged to enter an insanity plea, Chapman opted for a guilty plea and was sentenced to 20 years to life with the possibility of parole. He has been denied parole eight times and remains incarcerated to this day.

Early Years

Bob Bonis had the pleasure to know John Lennon while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles (as well as for The Rolling Stones) during all three of their American tours between 1964 and 1966. With his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis captured never seen before moments of John Lennon and The Beatles as they grew under the watchful eye of the world. His photographs chronicle the years of the band’s rise to fame, and snapshots of the moments leading up to Lennon becoming the musician, activist, and icon the world fell in love with.

These iconic and intimate photographs are available now for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE!

John Lennon: although your life ended at the hands of insanity, and way too early, your message of peace and love still rings clear, and you live on in our hearts day after day. We miss you constantly. Your music and your messages changed the world forever; thank you for your unequalled contribution to peace.

Down the Rabbit Hole: LSD, the CIA and The Rolling Stones

They were strange days all around as the Vietnam War marched on and The Rolling Stones gave rhythm to a blooming counterculture, evolving social norms, and dangerous civil unrest.

To quell the rising movements in opposition to the war, the Central Intelligence Agency and British Security Service MI6 carried out secret illegal (and immoral), covert experiments to explore mind control techniques for use in espionage, warfare, and population control. Most of the subjects involved were never informed they were being used in these experiments.

Project MK-Ultra, often referred to as the CIA’s mind control program, was extremely broad in scope, but the experiments conducted with LSD, or “acid,” were some of the most notable, and disturbing. While Keith Richards and Brian Jones would end up trying the drug with a little help from their friends, but according to author John L. Potash, Mick Jagger needed a little coaxing from an undercover British Intelligence asset.

Keith, Brian and The Merry Pranksters

Richards and Jones were first introduced to LSD while The Stones were winding down their fourth American tour. At the same time, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey and his troupe of Merry Pranksters were ramping up their historic Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test parties, promoting the use of such psychedelic drugs.

Outside the Stones’ concert in San Jose on December, 4, 1965, the Pranksters passed out handbills, trying to capture the frenzied energy created by the Stones, inviting the concertgoers to the second ever Acid Test. Although the band didn’t attend the Test, Stones bassist Bill Wyman wrote in his book Stone Alone that after the tour’s final show in Los Angeles the next day, “Keith and Brian took LSD at a party given by the writer Ken Kesey and his followers [The Merry Pranksters].”

Mick Jagger, though, fell into a different, bizarre, and covertly sinister rabbit hole. Much to the chagrin of the CIA, he had successfully resisted taking the drug until February of 1967. Some experts argued that LSD could be effectively used to disarm radical political beliefs. As a result, both the CIA and the MI6 used various methods of manipulating and controlling popular music to influence its listeners: the millions of youth in opposition of the Vietnam War.

Operation ‘Get Mick High’ is a Go!

In Drugs as Against Weapons Against Us, author John L. Potash explains that by glamorizing drug use with music from bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Project MK-Ultra could create a bandwagon effect, increasing drug use while decreasing commitment to political beliefs. Prior to 1967, Jagger unwittingly dealt a blow to the plot by publicly defending himself against false claims of using the drug.

But Jagger’s actions would soon be corrected. The morning after a party held at Richard’s English estate, guests who stayed the night (including Jagger, George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd) were offered a special LSD-laced tea by David Schneidermann, a known drug dealer working for British Intelligence and the FBI.

Potash writes the group was tripping all day, and later on, hashish was added to the party. But that evening, the house got raided by police and both Jagger and Richards were arrested and imprisoned on drug charges, which were later appealed. The mission, though, had been accomplished.

Identity Confirmed

Through a web of covert operations and agencies, Schneidermann admitted he was linked to the MK-Ultra program and its plot to manipulate mass populations with drug use. Potash notes that during this time, the CIA and British Intelligence were in the process of bringing LSD into England and were actively trying to introduce the drug to musicians.

In 2010, London newspaper The Daily Mail confirmed that Schneidermann did indeed work as an undercover operative to set up Richards and Jagger for the drug bust. The raid and the ensuing court case proved the band used drugs, subconsciously coaxing fans to imitate their idols by turning on, tuning in, and dropping their radical beliefs.

While serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Rolling Stones (as well as for The Beatles) between 1964 and 1966, Bob Bonis had the rare privilege and unrestricted access to witness band’s non-drug antics. He was uniquely positioned to build a friendship with the band and to watch them wander down the occasional rabbit hole. He captured candid, historic, and never before seen moments on film. But instead of a spy camera, he had his trusty Leica M3 strapped to his hip.

These photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, custom-printed fine art prints, from the Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE! To buy your very own and to share a piece of true rock history, click here.

Peeling a Glass Onion: 4 Facts About The White Album

The Beatles’ ninth studio album “The Beatles”, more commonly referred to as “The White Album,” was released on November 22, 1968, to an eager audience. The stark white album cover with the band’s name embossed in black was a conscious departure from the vibrant colors of the previously released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

The band’s songwriting was evolving along with the world, and the collection of 30 songs featured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr branching into a variety of musical styles. The album, primarily written at a Transcendental Meditation course, was recorded at a tenuous time for the band as relationships became strained and band members quarreled over creative differences. The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the eventual break-up of the Beatles in April 1970.

But despite the growing tension within the band, The Beatles reached number one on both United States and British pop charts and is hailed by some music critics as one of the best albums of all time. Test your Beatles fandom and see if you learn anything new! Here are a few facts you might not know about “The White Album”:

Martha, my dear dog

In 1997, McCartney revealed that the album’s ninth track “Martha My Dear” was actually written about his pet Old English sheepdog of the same name.  According to FeelNumb.com, McCartney said Lennon was amazed after seeing him act so lovingly toward his dear pet, adding he had never seen him act like that before. McCartney said, “It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog.”

Eric “Candy Cavity” Clapton

The song “Savoy Truffle” was written with the sole purpose of poking fun at a fellow rocker. George Harrison was hanging out with Eric Clapton, who at the time, was suffering from numerous cavities and needed dental work. But despite having a perpetual toothache, Clapton was always eating chocolates. According to BeatlesInterviews.org, Harrison wrote the song after Clapton was told to quit eating sweets. Harrison said, “So as a tribute I wrote ‘You’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy truffle.’ The truffle was some kind of sweet … just candy, to tease Eric.”

Happiness was a warm puppy

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” read the headline in a gun magazine, a play on Peanuts’ cartoonist Charles Schulz’s 1962 bestselling book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. Lennon said, “I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means that you just shot something,” Rolling Stone Magazine reports. Recording the song required two nights and over 70 takes, but McCartney has called it one of his favorite tracks from that album.

Where was Ringo?

During the recording of The Beatles, Ringo Starr quit the group for two weeks, foreshadowing the fate of the band. Starr was feeling like an outsider more than ever, and he let his band mates know. In Anthology, Starr recalled, “I felt I wasn’t playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider.”  UltimateClassicRock.com writes that Ringo escaped to an Italian island on a yacht he borrowed from a friend. The band would soon send him a telegram expressing their love and asked that he please come back. Upon returning, he was greeted by flowers on his drum kit arranged to spell “Welcome back, Ringo.”

Bob Bonis wasn’t working with The Beatles any longer when The White Album was being recorded. Rather, he had the privilege to serve as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as the Rolling Stones’ first five trips stateside). During his time with these bands and with his Leica M3 camera always at the ready, Bonis captured rare, candid, historically important and often iconic moments of the stars as they rose to fame.

These photographs are available for the first time as strictly limited edition, fine art prints, from The Bob Bonis Archive at BobBonis.com. Each photograph is hand numbered, estate embossed, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. Click here to buy your very own piece of rock history (or give one as a gift for a Beatles fan you know).

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