Today is a significant date in pop/rock history. Forty-three years ago today, in 1970, Paul McCartney, almost accidentally, announced the end of The Beatles, arguably the most important group in modern musical history.
The group had been splintering for some time, with George Harrison leaving in 1968, only to be coaxed back in by John Lennon, and then Lennon himself calling it quits in the early fall of 1969. The group agreed to keep silent about the split as the “Abbey Road” album was slated for release in September of 1969 and because they had other projects in the works, namely the “White Album.”
McCartney had already recorded his first solo album “Ram” and the other three tried to convince him to delay its release so that it didn’t clash with the release of the “Let It Be” album and film. An irritated McCartney then issued a Q&A to the press loaded with negative comments about The Beatles’ future as a band. These comments made the front page of the Daily Mirror on Friday, April 10, 1970 with the paper announcing that Paul had quit the band.
The split was felt worldwide and was significant because it not only marked the end a group that literally changed the face of the music industry but it served as another indicator that the hopes and dreams of the 1960s youth culture had come to an end. Just five months earlier, the infamous free concert at Altamont Speedway that resulted in the murder of one concert-goer and the accidental deaths of three others, was in stark contrast to the “peace and love” of the Woodstock festival just four months earlier. Altamont was considered by many to be the death of the hippie generation and now, that same generation’s greatest band, the band that had sung “All You Need Is Love,” was gone. The demise of The Beatles and the violence at Altamont, as well as the continuing atrocities in Vietnam, made it very clear that the optimism and hope of the 60s youth culture was beginning to fade.
Ironically, today also marks the death of not only The Beatles as a band but also the death of one of its original members, Stuart Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe is often referred to as the “fifth Beatle” and was their original bass player. Stuart quit the band in June of 1961, while the band was playing in Hamburg, to pursue a career in painting. He studied under renowned pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi, who wrote in a report that Sutcliffe was one of his best students. Unfortunately, in early April 1962 he collapsed in the middle of an art class after complaining about headaches and on April 10, 1962, he was taken to the hospital but died in the ambulance on the way there. It was later discovered that he’d died of a brain aneurysm. He was 21 years old.
Just seven months after Sutcliffe’s death, The Beatles would have their first Number 1 single with “Please, Please Me” and the band that Sutcliffe helped start would be on their way to becoming one of the most important groups in rock history.
So, today, we feature events that pay tribute to the legacy of The Beatles, as proof that even a half a century after their formation, this great band continues to resonate with audiences young and old.
Saturday, April 13
Flashband Project British Invasion – Washington DC Covering Beatles’ songs is dangerous: they’re iconic, deceptively complex, and pretty hard to improve upon. April’s Flash Band Project will test the skills of forty musicians as they come together with four weeks to prepare their fifteen minute set. Style and genre are up to the musicians, so there will be some of everything. The rules: one Beatles cover, one original song and all brand new bands. Don’t know what the Flash Band Project is? Flash Band events bring together a group of musicians who form new, temporary bands (Flash Bands). After a short period of rehearsal, they are put on stage for a one-night only show.
The Shea Theater Presents: Beatles For Sale – Turner Falls, Massachusetts The Shea Theater Presents “Beatles For Sale, New England’s Premiere Tribute to The Beatles.” Come out this Saturday for a fantastic evening of great Rock and Roll.
Thursday, April 18 to Saturday, April 20
Let It Be – Presented by North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation – Templeton, California Back by popular demand! The original LIVE MUSIC and DANCE PERFORMANCE based on the music of The Beatles returns to Templeton Performing Arts Center. Experience an original story of youth and wisdom, or love won and lost, as performed to a live band, playing the music of The Beatles.
Saturday, April 20
The Beatles Show – White Plains, New York Fresh from their appearance at Carnegie Hall in NYC, the Westchester Chordsmen present an extraordinary musical event with songs written by the Beatles. The 65-voice men’s a capella Barbershop chorus, located in White Plains, has singers from Westchester and surrounding counties in New York, Connecticut, New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. The Chordsmen will perform the songs of the lads from Liverpool – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The Chordsmen, with special guests, the Grace Notes, will sing many of the most popular tunes of the Fab Four at two performances only on April 20, 2013, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Beatle’s first trip to the “colonies”, to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Chordsmen – once known as the “Golden Chordsmen” – and to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza!
Saturday, April 27
BEATLES BRUNCH With ABBEY ROAD – Costa Mesa, California Nationally touring Beatles band, Abbey Road, will perform live Beatles music during Saturday Brunch on the patio at the Acapulco Restaurant & Cantina in Costa Mesa. The ticket price includes a Buffet Brunch plus a one-hour performance of Abbey Road playing the Beatles’ top hits. (Beverages, specialty desserts and gratuities are not included in the ticket price.) With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world. Hear the piccolo trumpet solo on “Penny Lane” and the full orchestration of “A Day in the Life.” Relive the emotional intensity of Paul’s moving “Yesterday” solo, as well as the high energy of stadium songs like “Twist and Shout” and other Beatle hits.
Biographical information courtesy of The Guardian’s article “Paul McCartney leaves the Beatles.” and Wikipedia.