February, 1967 saw the release of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, John Lennon’s ode to his childhood haven Liverpool’s Strawberry Field children’s home and its grounds held special memories for John Lennon.
It inspired one of his greatest achievements, an effects-laden paean to his childhood haven drenched in hallucinogenic overdubs and owing much to the genius of George Martin.
Originally cited for inclusion on Sgt Pepper but instead released as a double A-side single along with Paul McCartney’s equally brilliant and nostalgic “Penny Lane”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was pop music presented as art, a quantum leap in the group’s development, and a record that set the standard and style for the year to come.
Jean-Marie Périer was at the heart of the pop explosion of the 1960s, capturing homegrown stars such as Jacques Dutronc and Johnny Hallyday – along with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Miles Davis – for the French magazine Salut les Copains.
The Beatles, Paris, 1964
Périer left the magazine Salut les Copains in 1974, and largely gave up photography to pursue a career in filmmaking.
Now a humble parking lot, the Washington Coliseum has seen a lot in its days. Malcolm X once spoke there, circus lions jumped through hoops there — and on 11 February, 1964, The Beatles played their first-ever U.S. concert there.
Photographer Mike Mitchell was photographing that day.
He was 18 years old, he recalls in an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, and couldn’t afford a flash for his camera.
He took concert photos using only the available light.
“I had to take my cues from what the light was doing,” Mitchell said. “And the light was very kind.”In the 50 years since that day, a lot has changed.
The building fell into disrepair after being sold, and for 10 years was a transfer station for Waste Management”.
The Coliseum for a very long time was a vacant shambles compared to its former glory. (NPR).
Still, on any given day, beautiful shafts of light can been seen spilling through the circular windows in the vaulted ceilings onto the abandoned clusters of stadium seating lurking in dark corners along the walls.
Yes, 18 June 1964 was the date my two sisters and I caught the bus from Matraville to Rushcutters Bay, Sydney town, to see The Beatles – “see” being the operative word, because they were very hard to hear above the incessant screaming – mostly from the girls, of course.
The supporting acts – Johnny Devlin, Johnny Chester, The Phantoms, Alan Field and Sounds Incorporated (an instrumental band) warmed up the Sydney Stadium crowd to mixed reactions – but at least you could hear them.
That all changed when The Beatles were introduced!
My sisters were either side of me, one screaming for Paul, the other for George. The Beatles played 12 songs – their time on stage was around 35 minutes.
The Sydney Stadium (known as the Old Tin Shed) was built in 1908 and used predominantly as a boxing venue.
It had tiered wooden seats and was hot as hell. It was occasionally used for music concerts.
Reports stated Frank Sinatra hated performing there and Bob Dylan almost passed out in the oppressive heat.
It had a revolving stage, where it would move around about halfway before rotating back, giving most fans a reasonable look at the artist.
The photo below is from the 18 June concert. Part of the meagre PA system is visible next to John – a far cry from the huge PAs pumping out megawatts these days by artists.
. . . but we came away from the concert saying how fab The Beatles were, but deep down we knew we had barely heard them.
At least we can say “we were there”!
The official program is now a collector’s item and can fetch some decent money in mint condition.
Yes, I still have mine, but I wish I had also kept the tickets.
The Beatles’ music, to me, is still just as fresh today as it was back then – is still played frequently on the radio – and still recorded by many artists around the world.
I challenge anybody to name an artist of today whose music they think will still be popular and played regularly 50 years from now. Come on, name one – there is no solo artist or group to touch the talent or popularity of The Beatles – there never has been and, probably, there never will be.
One thing’s for sure – I know I won’t be around in 50 years time to hear any of today’s artists’ or groups’ music which may be played on the radio – or whatever the listening apparatus will be then!