The Beatles In Film – Behind the Scenes of Help!

As if the British Invasion wasn’t adventure enough, The Beatles would soon find themselves fighting an evil cult and saving Ringo Starr from ritual sacrifice with little more than their cheeky British humor.

Help! was the band’s second feature film with the soundtrack released as an album, also called Help! Production of the film began with a flight to the Bahamas on February 23, 1965, and its Royal World Premiere occurred at the London Pavilion Theater on July 29, 1965.

In the 2005 book Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, author Philip Norman writes that The Beatles said the film was inspired by the Marx Brothers’ anarchic comedy film Duck Soup. The film also heavily satirized the James Bond 007 films, writes Kenneth Womack in Reading the Beatles. Coincidentally, the film’s distributor United Artists also held the rights to the Bond series.

Beatles Humor

The humor of the film was also often said to be influenced by the abstract humor of The Goon Show, a British radio comedy program. According to Janne Mäkeläm, author the book John Lennon Imagined, the radio program “contributed to a pool of shared experience and a form of identity” shared by its listeners. John Lennon was an ardent fan who often “bewildered his aunt with nonstop imitation and mimicry of various Goon accents.”

paul mccartney en route to st louis missouri august 21 1966

Paul McCartney intently listens to a friend during a flight en route to St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966.

Although critical opinion of the film was generally positive, the humor was not always appreciated. Mäkelä cites a 1966 review of the film titled “Beatles Goon It Up Again,” in which the critic wrote, “It is all rather obscure humor and if there are any funny lines then they are obliterated by some of the noises which make up the background.”

Regardless, the Fab Four were united in their humors and welcomed the presence of wild animals, music, and unusual conventions such as the film’s closing statement, a dedication to “Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine.”

Other critics argued that it tried and failed to exceed the expectations set with their 1964 comedy film A Hard Day’s Night. The boys from Liverpool, on the other hand, would later admit they were a bit bored with their lack of involvement in the production.

Help! I’ve Got the Giggles

To compensate, The Beatles shot the film in a “haze of marijuana.” In the television documentary series The Beatles Anthology, Ringo Starr said, “A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film … We had such hysterics that no one could do anything … It was just that we had a lot of fun in those days.”

In the Beatles Anthology Director’s Cut, Paul McCartney recalled shooting a scene where they group had to quickly turn to the camera and look surprised. He said, “We giggled a lot … It’s OK to get the giggles anywhere else but in films, because the technicians get pissed off with you. They think ‘They’re not very professional.’ Then you start thinking, ‘This isn’t very professional – but we’re having a great laugh.”

Although the film might not be everyone’s cup of tea, its score released as an album of the same name has proven its staying power. In 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine released its definitive list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. After compiling data from two extensive polls, Help! was voted into spot #331. A year later in 2013, the BBC reported that the album finally went platinum after the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK’s recorded music industry’s trade association, changed its sales award rules.

Bob Bonis Lens a Hand (Pun Intended)

Although Bob Bonis wasn’t around to help The Beatles fend off an evil cult, he did help them navigate foreign territory as their U.S. Tour Manager for all three U.S. tours between 1964 and 1966 (he also managed the Rolling Stones’ first five U.S. tours). While looking through the viewfinder of his Leica M3 camera, he was likely more tolerant of the giggles than the film crew was.

As he toured with the Fab Four at the height of Beatlemania, he also worked to capture their rise to fame on film, but one exposure at a time. 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!

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.

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 II

the beatles, john lennon, paul mccartney, george harrison, ringo starr in bel air california august 23-24 1964 photo by bob bonis

The British Invasion was in full swing, and as The Beatles’ popularity grew, they became a worldwide sensation with rock-n-roll fans and popular media alike.

The press had already dubbed the worldwide phenomenon “Beatlemania.” Then, following the release of their second studio album With the Beatles, the band’s press officer Tony Barrow referred to the band as the “fabulous foursome” in a news release, which the media adopted as “The Fab Four.”

But on the fringes of “The Fab Four” were the outliers. While not officially part of the band, many people played a major part in their careers or personal lives – managers, agents, media, other artists and more. These people are sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” (sometimes by themselves!). Exactly who had rightful claim to the assumed title, however, is still up for debate. So who might the Fifth Beatle actually be? In Part I of this 2-part blog, we identified several candidates. Here we present the next list of royal contenders. What do you think?

Derek Taylor

A British journalist, writer and publicist, Derek Taylor is recognized mostly for his work as press officer for The Beatles. In true spin fashion, he is credited with coining the phrase “The Beatles Are Coming.” He was working as a journalist when he was asked to write a review of The Beatles’ May 30, 1963 concert. According to BeatlesBible.com, Taylor was expected to write a criticism of what the national press called an “inconsequential teen fad.” Instead, he was captivated by the music and praised the performance. Shortly afterwards, he was invited into the Beatles’ circle as a trusted journalist.

Neil Aspinall

A school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Neil Aspinall is best known for his work as the head of The Beatles’ company Apple Corps. In the band’s early years, the group employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant. Following the band’s return from their second trip to Hamburg in 1961, Aspinall left his job as an accountant to become The Beatles’ full time road manager. Following the break-up, he worked on expanding the band’s legacy with projects such as the Anthology records.

Mal Evans

In the early 1960s, Mal Evans was working as a telephone engineer and a part-time bouncer at the Cavern Club, a Liverpool music venue where the Beatles often performed. Beatles manager Brian Epstein eventually hired Evans as the group’s assistant road manager, working alongside Neil Aspinall. Evans contributed to several Beatles recordings and even appeared in some of the band’s films. After the band stopped touring in 1966, he continued to offer his assistance until their break-up in 1970.

George Martin

After recording the Beatles’ first studio album Please Please Me, English record producer Sir George Martin famously told the band, “Congratulations, gentlemen, you’ve just made your first number one [record],” according to the BBC. He is often referred to as the Fifth Beatle due to his extensive involvement with each of the Beatles’ studio albums. Martin is also lauded as one of the best record producers in history. He was behind 30 number-one hits in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Ed Rudy

Being the only American reporter allowed to accompany The Beatles on their first United States tour, Ed Rudy was able to spend exclusive time with the band. In an interview with Examiner, Rudy said that going on tour with them was “an unforgettable and life-changing experience.” He was embedded with the band as they navigated the raging “Beatlemania,” where he was “in the midst of a very friendly, though sometimes accidentally dangerous, raging mob of American teenagers.” While promoting the band in broadcasts around the world, the Beatles dubbed him the Fifth Beatle.

While the Fifth Beatle moniker seems to be applied somewhat liberally, there was another man behind the scenes ensuring the Beatles’ continued success. While serving as the band’s U.S. Tour Manager for all three American tours between 1964 and 1966 (as well as The Rolling Stones on their first five U.S. Tours), Bob Bonis took it upon himself to chronicle the Beatles and the historic moments he shared with them in this most important time in their careers: coming to America and heralding The British Invasion.

Captured using his trusty Leica M3 camera, Bonis’ iconic photographs are available 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!

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!

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).

All Of Our Guitars Gently Weep

I think people who truly can live a life in music are telling the world, ‘You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give most willingly.

George Harrison

February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001

On November 29, 2001, 14 years ago today, beloved member of The Beatles – George Harrison succumbed to the effects of lung cancer and passed away at the age of 58.

He was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle,” and while Paul McCartney and John Lennon shared most of the spotlight, he was often regarded to be the group’s most mindful and spiritual member.

Harrison, the youngest of The Beatles, played lead guitar and wrote iconic songs such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Taxman” and “Something” (which has become the Beatles’ second-most-covered song).

He died at a friend’s home in Los Angeles with his wife Olivia and son Dhani by his side. In a statement, his family said, “He left the world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.”

Harrison’s guitar style, a mix of the blues and early rock-n-roll, gave The Beatles’ music an unmistakable place in the world and in history. Those close to the group say that he greatly influenced McCartney and Lennon as they grew as writers, becoming more poetic, complex, and relevant to current events of the time.

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Following the breakup of The Beatles, Harrison continued to make music as a solo artist and released several best-selling singles and albums. Later on, he co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Rolling Stone ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He is also a two-time Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductee, once as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and posthumously for his solo work in 2004.

While he continued to release music, NPR reports that Harrison “slowly withdrew from the spotlight over the ensuing years.” Those close to him said that rather than living a life of stardom, he became more interested in his private life and had a passion for cars and working in his garden.

In 1998 Harrison was successfully treated for throat cancer, which he attributed to his smoking habit. Only a few years later he would battle cancer again. Upon disclosure to the public, Harrison told his fans not to worry about him as he was not afraid of death and was at peace.

As reported by the New York Times, McCartney told reporters in London, “He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother.” Ringo Starr said, “We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter.”

Bob Bonis was fortunate enough to know Harrison and to watch him grow as a person while serving as U.S. Tour Manager for The Beatles on all three of their U.S. tours (and also for The Rolling Stones’ first five trips to the states). While Bonis was on tour with The Beatles, his Leica M3 camera was always ready to shoot, capturing some of the most genuine, candid and personal moments of George Harrison and his fellow Beatles.

These photographs are now available from The Bob Bonis Archive. Each photograph is available as strictly limited edition fine art prints. Every print comes hand numbered, estate embossed, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. To buy one of these iconic and historically important photographs, and to memorialize a rock-n-roll superstar, visit the George Harrison gallery by clicking here.

George Harrison: despite being the quietest Beatle, the mark you made on this world and the music you left continue to resonate with history and will carry on well into the future. May you rest in peace knowing you left this world a better place.  Our guitars gently weep for you yet.

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