August 8, 1969 — the Beatles shoot the most iconic album cover ever

8 08 2012

On August 8, 1969, Scottish photographer Iain MacMillan shot the Fab Four crossing that most famous of London cross walks.  Within 10 minutes, he captured what we all know and love as the cover of the Beatles’ swan song, Abbey Road, released in September 1969.

Almost as interesting as the album cover itself are some of the candid shots; the ones that weren’t used; the outtakes, if you will.  I had some fun with some of these outtakes, giving them a just a bit of an artsy flair.  [NOTE:  Obviously the source photos are not mine.  I don’t know who holds copyright.]

You couldn’t tell from these pictures that, in a little over a month, John would ask for his “divorce” from the Beatles, effectively finishing the group for good.  They seem at least cordial, if not friendly with each other.


26 September 1969

26 09 2010

On this day in 1969 — 41 years ago already! — one of the greatest albums ever made was released in the UK.  It was released on October 1 in the USA.

Abbey Road Studios: not for sale!

22 02 2010

Here’s a bit of good news (unless you were a prospective buyer.)


27 09 2009

40 years ago yesterday, the Beatles’ Abbey Road was released in Britain.   It’s release came only days after John Lennon announced to his bandmates that he wanted a “divorce” and was leaving the group.


What they really meant

27 05 2009

If you’ve paid any attention to Beatles history at all, you’ve heard at least something about the so-called “Paul is dead” rumor that broke here in Detroit in 1969.  You can read about that anywhere. I’m not terribly interested in most of the “clues” other than for their comedic value.

I am interested, though, in other little signs and symbols that the Beatles put out there that hinted, probably unintentionally, at what was going on in their real lives.  One of those signs was found on Abbey Road and was a supposed clue of Paul’s death.   The “Paul is dead” nuts like to point out that Sir Paul was in black, barefoot and walking out of step with the other Beatles on the cover of Abbey Road.  Indeed he was.

abbeyroad frontcover

On the back of the album sleeve the band name is written in tile letters on a wall above the name of the famous road.  Interestingly, there’s a crack right in the middle of the “S” in the name.

abbeyroad backcover

Were these images intentional messages placed there by the Beatles?  Probably not.  But the symbolism, to me, is still quite stunning.

In August 1969, when the band posed for what may be the most famous album cover in rock history, an iconic image if there ever was one, the band was all but done.  Just a little over a month later, John announced to the group that he wanted a “divorce” and was leaving the band.  Other than one recording session in early 1970 attended by George, Paul and Ringo, the Beatles recording career together was effectively over.

If the way in which the Beatles were dressed was suggestive of some kind of funeral procession or a death, it wasn’t Paul’s death but the band’s death.

While recording Abbey Road, the Beatles were at each others’ throats over business matters.  John, George and Ringo had all decided Allen Klein should be the band’s manager.  Paul held out for his father-in-law, Lee Eastman, or anyone but Klein.  The fighting over this issue is legendary.  The image on cover of Paul being “out of step” with John, Ringo and George is quite profound.  He was, indeed, out of step with the direction in which the other three wanted to take the Beatles’ business dealings.   The crack running through the band name on the back of the album sleeve was just another hint at what had happened to the group.

Symbolism in music, art and literature, in my view, often gets overstated.  Sometimes a word or an image has no meaning deeper than what you hear, read or see on the surface.  As Freud might have said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”   But if we are going to look for deeper meanings, I don’t think those on the Abbey Road album sleeve are much of a stretch.  Certainly they jibe with what was happening with the band at the time the album was made and released.

A little slow on the uptake

12 04 2009

01 When I first read the news (oh boy) that the Beatles remastered albums are to be released on September 9, 2009, I only noticed the fact that the albums were being reissued in September.  The date sailed right past me.

I get it now: 09/09/09.  That’s a cool date.  It can only occur once every hundred years.  I know nothing of numerology, but maybe the number combinations have some significance.

It occurred to me last night while I was trying to sleep that 09/09/09 is a pretty good date to issue Beatles stuff.  Of course there were the songs, “One After 909” and “Revolution No. 9.”  In their club days, they played “September in the Rain.”

But September 1969 was also the month when two major things occurred in Beatles history.  First, and most importantly, they broke up.  Forget this business about their break up being “official” when McCartney announced in March 1970.  The Beatles were over by then (with the exception of one studio appearance by Paul, Ringo and George to record “I Me Mine.”)  On September 20, Lennon announced to the group he was leaving — that he wanted a divorce.  Second, Abbey Road, their final studio album, was released in Britain on September 26.

September 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the release Beatles’ swan song as well as their break up.  Seems like a perfect date to reissue their music.

Obsessed with bass

1 04 2009

If you’ve read this blog lately you know that I recently bought a bass and have been playing.  I’m in that honeymoon phase with my instrument.  I play when I can, I frequently look at other (used) gear to buy and have been reading and asking a lot of questions, trying to figure out how to best master the instrument.

I’ve also been watching a lot of bass players on youtube.  Paul McCartney is probably my favorite bass player and I found this guy who can play Paul’s stuff to the note.  Watching this gentleman practically brings a tear to my eye.  This guy is a dynamite player and he shows just how much Paul added to the Beatles’ sound, especially on a lighter, more melodic tune like “Someting.”

Check this out  I think you’ll enjoy it.