Ringo Starr against homophobia in North Carolina, USA


This music video is called All You Need Is Love – The Beatles (with lyrics).

From CBS in the USA:

Ringo Starr Latest To Cancel North Carolina Concert

April 13, 2016 4:21 PM …

In a news release, the onetime Beatles drummer said he was joining with Bruce Springsteen and other artists as he called off an All Starr Tour show that had been planned for June 18 at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina over the law, known as HB2.

“I’m sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred,” Starr said in the release. “Spread peace and love.”

Starr’s release said the law “opens the door to discrimination everywhere.”

“How sad that they feel that this group of people cannot be defended,” he said in the release. …

The North Carolina law further bars local governments statewide from prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A new statewide nondiscrimination law doesn’t contain those specific protections.

In announcing the cancellation of his concert, Starr asked his fans to support organizations fighting to overturn the law.

“As Canned Heat sang, ‘Let’s work together.’ And The Beatles said, ‘All you need is love,’” Starr’s release said.

Because of the same law, Springsteen this past Friday announced the cancellation of a concert that had been planned for last Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” Springsteen wrote Friday. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” …

The new law would also make clear local governments can’t require area businesses to pay workers above the current minimum wage, with some exceptions.

Beatles producer George Martin dies


The Beatles and George Martin in the studio in 1964

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Beatles producer George Martin dies at 90

15 March 2016

Music producer George Martin, best known for his work with the Beatles, died March 8 at the age of 90. Together with the Beatles, Martin crafted some of the most enduring pop music of the 1960s and, indeed, of the twentieth century. His orchestrations and performances, along with his watchful editing and criticism of the group’s work, played a significant role in bringing the compositions of Lennon-McCartney and George Harrison to life.

Martin was born January 3, 1926, in London. In his 1979 memoir, All You Need Is Ears, Martin described his childhood home during the Depression, a three-family house in the Highbury district: “[I]t was just two rooms on a top floor, with an attic room above. There was no electricity: we had gas lights on either side of the mantelpiece. There was no kitchen: my mother cooked on a gas stove on the landing. There was no bathroom: we had our baths in a tin tub.”

Martin’s father was a talented carpenter who nevertheless remained unemployed for 18 months during the Depression before getting a job selling newspapers on the street. While the family may not have had much, they were able to acquire a piano, thanks to an uncle who was “in the piano trade.” Martin’s love affair with music began at the age of six, when he first touched the instrument’s keyboard.

Martin later discovered he had perfect pitch and began teaching himself Chopin pieces by ear. At school, he was treated to performances of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Adrian Boult. Hearing the orchestra perform Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” was a revelation for the 15-year-old Martin, who later commented: “I couldn’t believe that human beings were making such an incredibly beautiful sound.”

He would go on to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he also studied piano and oboe. Following his graduation in 1950, he worked briefly for the BBC’s classical music department before taking a job with Parlophone records, a division of EMI. By 1955, he was the label president.

Prior to his work with the Beatles, Martin produced comedy albums for some of the more talented satirists of the day, including Goon Show comics Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, as well as Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller of the Beyond the Fringe revue.

But by the early 1960s, Martin wanted to branch out into rock and roll. He signed a contract with a new group of working class kids from Liverpool who had cut their teeth performing night after night in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany, and had just failed an audition with Decca records.

The Beatles were electrifying, and they were somehow different. When they exploded onto the American charts in mid-January 1964, their serious competition came from remarkable performers like the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, and the Four Seasons. Despite the extraordinary (in some cases, greater) musicality of the latter, none of those became a global cultural phenomenon in the way the Beatles did. They certainly struck a chord in the US. Their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964 was watched by more than a third of the American population (some 73 million people).

There was a rebelliousness about the British band’s music, an aggressiveness and a punch that other groups and individual performers lacked. There are few moments in rock and roll as exciting as hearing the voices of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison climb higher and higher on “Twist and Shout” (1963) until they erupt into frenzied screams. Their recording of the song is more exciting, and crazed, than the original (and very fine) Isley Brothers version from the year before.

The Beatles’ entry onto the musical scene marked and emerged from a period of increasing social and cultural ferment. In Britain, the mood revealed in the “Angry Young Men” trend of the late 1950s took more artistically and socially consistent form in the social realist “New Wave” films of Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and others in the early 1960s. In 1964, widespread working class dissatisfaction with the realities of postwar life brought the Labour Party to power, for the first time in 13 years.

In the US, 1963 witnessed mass protests over civil rights, the largest being the March on Washington addressed by Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the first demonstrations against US involvement in Vietnam. Political violence erupted in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The first major inner-city riot occurred in Harlem in July 1964. Newspaper headlines reported hunger in Appalachia, and Michael Harrington’s The Other America (published in 1962) reported that as much as 25 percent of the US population lived in poverty.

One could perhaps argue that the growing mood of social rebellion in the US first found expression in the field of popular music and, oddly enough, in the mass enthusiasm for British groups. They tended to be more socially and class conscious, generally more savvy. British popular culture had not suffered the same devastation at the hands of—and therefore was not as intimidated by—official anti-communism.

The Beatles appeared sharper, less cowed by the media and less willing to play nice than their American counterparts. Their interviews and press conferences were mocking comedic performances worthy of the figures recorded earlier by Martin. No one, it seemed, could get the better of them. This same attitude found its way into their music.

George Martin’s musical counseling would prove invaluable to the Beatles in the years that followed. McCartney has often spoken of Martin’s good “bedside manner,” providing both a challenging and nurturing environment in which he and Lennon, and eventually Harrison, could develop as songwriters.

And as their music became more complex, Martin contributed more frequently as a composer and performer. His arrangements and orchestrations were featured on songs like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.” There was the brass accompaniment on “Mother Nature’s Son” and “Martha My Dear” from the White Album. Martin performed the haunting electric harpsichord on “Because” from Abbey Road.

He was most frequently heard on piano. He performed the Baroque-style solo on “In My Life,” the saloon piano of “Rocky Raccoon” and the solo in the middle of “Lovely Rita.” On “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” Martin contributed piano, harmonium, organ, glockenspiel and probably the kitchen sink to build the circus atmosphere the song required. He was often tasked with finding practical solutions for the realization of Lennon and McCartney’s more unorthodox musical ideas, splicing together song fragments and manipulating tape loops.

While sometimes portrayed as the stodgy father figure to “the boys,” he actually encouraged their experimentation and joined in with some of his own. When Martin explained to the 40-piece orchestra assembled for “A Day in the Life” the sort of outburst he had in mind for them to perform, he said, “they all looked at me as though I were completely mad.”

While Martin did his best work with the Beatles, he also produced several well-known records for other artists. During the Beatles years there were recordings with Gerry and the Pacemakers (“Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” “How Do You Do It?”), Cilla Black (“Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You’re My World,” “Alfie”) and Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”). Later he worked with jazz artists Stan Getz (Marrakesh Express) and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (Apocalypse), as well as rock guitarist Jeff Beck (Blow by Blow, Wired).

He collaborated again with Paul McCartney on three albums during the 1980s, including Tug of War (1983) with its beautiful tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today.”

In 2006, Martin collaborated with his son Giles to mix together a selection of Beatles songs in a well-received suite entitled “Love,” which accompanies a special theatrical production of the same name by Cirque du Soleil. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year.

A comment on this article by Robert B. Livingston says:

One of the most significant celebrations of St. Patrick’s day outside of Ireland takes place on the little emerald island of Montserrat. Festivities there last throughout the week and take on a Caribbean flavor with soca bands competing, fancy dress balls, and many other happy events.

How bittersweet that Martin should pass away even as people there, and many Montserratians in diaspora, looking homeward, were gleefully anticipating the coming week.

Martin had personally done much by using his celebrity to plead their cause and raise money for their relief after the island was half devastated by eruptions of the Soufrière Hills volcano after 1995. He had himself in 1989 lost a recording studio, one he had once built there, when Hurricane Hugo swept through.

As a kid, I was mesmerized by the animated film Yellow Submarine. From an allowance I was able to scrape up enough to purchase the LP soundtrack– the first record of many collections hard won and lost– which I listened to for hours on end, admiring the cartoons on the cover. Martin’s classical score on Side 2 was at first a curiosity to me, but grew on me with time.

Imagine the movie without it! Impossible. And what a beautiful and innocent film it is.

George Harrison Beatle tree killed by beetles


This video from the USA says about itself:

L.A. Gently Weeps As George Harrison Tree Is Felled By Beetles

22 July 2014

A local official said on Tuesday that a tree planted in memorial to late Beatles guitarist George Harrison following his death in Los Angeles in 2001 has been killed by bark beetles amid California’s epic drought. The pine tree, which was dedicated with a plaque to Harrison at the head of a hiking trail in the city’s Griffith Park, was among a number of trees that have succumbed to the beetles this year. City Councilman, Tom LaBonge said he expects to see a new tree planted in remembrance of Harrison in the fall.

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

George Harrison Memorial Tree killed … by beetles; replanting due

By Randy Lewis

July 21, 2014

In the truth is stranger than fiction department, Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, told Pop & Hiss over the weekend that the pine tree planted in 2004 near Griffith Observatory in memory of George Harrison will be replanted shortly because the original tree died as the result of an insect infestation.

Yes, the George Harrison Tree was killed by beetles.

Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.

The sapling went in, unobtrusively, near the observatory with a small plaque at the base to commemorate the former Beatle, who died in 2001, because he spent his final days in Los Angeles and because he was an avid gardener for much of his adult life.