kevin howlett

The Beatles’ playful improvisations between the songs were dazzlingly fresh for a BBC radio show. Every programme of records linked by a disc jockey had to have a script written weeks in advance. It was only allowed to be broadcast once it had been scrutinized by Anna Instone – the formidable Head of the Gramophone Department. She was notorious for returning scripts with numerous alterations marked with a blue pencil. Fortunately, The Beatles’ series came under the aegis of the Popular Music Department, which permitted more freedom in the ‘announcements’. As Ian Grant recalled, ‘The Beatles took the Mickey. But that was it. It was right. You couldn’t have scripted that and blue-pencilled that. They would never have done it. They’d have just laughed at everybody. Pop Go The Beatles had to have this atmosphere and Terry let it grow, really. That was an innovative thing – to have that kind of freedom. But it was all recorded so it could be edited. I don’t think they’d have been allowed to go live!’

Terry Henebery recalled the fun in the studio was not confined to the speech content. ‘They were very much younger and they’d come to the studio and horse about. You had to crack the whip and get on the loudspeaker talk-back key quite a lot and say, “Come on, chaps!” They’d be lying over the floor, giggling. And I can remember afternoons down at the BBC Paris Cinema Studio, where you were just looking at the clock, throwing your hands up in horror and thinking, “Will they ever settle down, stop horsing about?” I mean, people would go and get locked in the toilets and fool about. But you were, at the end of the day, getting some nice material out of them.’ Ian Grant was reminded by his boss to ‘sort this unruly lot out. . . sit on them a bit more!’ ‘They approached it as fun,’ Ian remembered. ‘But Paul was more the co-ordinator for getting things together. You could liken him to the fixer. . . he was the guy you could talk to if it was getting a bit out of hand.’

—  Kevin Howlett, The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970. (2013)

Scan - George Harrison’s Dark Horse album cover

Q: “Dark Horse, the album and the single, made for a powerful but pessimistic image of desperate competition with your former bandmates and with yourself.”

George Harrison: “That album had some good material but the pressure I got under that year was ridiculous. I went through so many things: produced two other albums, Shankar Family and Friends, and The Place I Love by Splinter. And I produced an Indian music festival, which had taken me years to get together, with 15 ro 16 classical Indian musicians all playing ensemble, like an orchestra - which they never do. In India you see solo players or two performers with a tabla player. In 1974 I went to India, got them all together, they came to Europe, Ravi wrote all the material. It rocked. Then came my own album and this tour I had lined up. And I also met my wife [Olivia] Arias around then.

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Top Gear followed a half-hour magazine programme called The Teen Scene. The edition broadcast the previous week – 9 July 1964 – featured New Musical Express writer Chris Hutchins interviewing John about acting in the new movie [A Hard Day’s Night]. ‘We’re satisfied, but we’re not self-satisfied. There’s a lot which is embarrassing for us, you know. For instance the first bit, which is a drag as far as we’re concerned, because that was the first sort of acting we had done and it looks it. It stands out more than the rest of the film… We know that we’re dead conscious in every move we make… we watch each other. I know Paul’s embarrassed when I’m watching him speak and he knows I am.’

— Kevin Howlett, The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970. (2013)
Saturday Club w/ Brian Matthew (Unedited Session Take)
The Beatles

November 29th, 1965: The Beatles record segments and soundbites for the forthcoming Christmas special of friend Brian Matthew’s BBC radio programme Saturday Club. In between takes, the band fool around, confer on their schedules, and act the goat. (Note: Joy. A complete transcript to follow soon; read under the cut for more context on what they’re recording.)

JOHN: [strong Liverpool accent] Smashing. [sniggering] Smashing.

MATTHEW: Are you mildly worried—

PAUL: [strong Liverpool accent] No!

MATTHEW: —that John said the Searchers were good when they’re not on the programme?

JOHN: [laughs] Oh, sorry! I thought they were on it!

RINGO: Well, that’s better!

ENGINEER: It would have to be cut, of course.

MATTHEW: Yes.

JOHN: [posh accent] Oh, [inaudible]. Just cut it!

RINGO: It’s better if you leave it on ‘cause they’ll all be saying, “I must have been out when they were on.”

JOHN: [laughing] And they’ll all be puzzling!

PAUL: Yeah, leave it in.

MATTHEW: Are you happy with that, then?

ENGINEER: Yes, that’s fine for me. Um, any news about forthcoming American trips?

RINGO: No, we don’t know anything.

JOHN: No, we don’t know anything about anything.

PAUL: [strong Liverpool accent] No. No.

JOHN: [strong Liverpool accent] ’Fraid not.

RINGO: We don’t know.

PAUL: There’s nothing. There’s nothing in the offering you know.

ENGINEER: No new films?

PAUL: Well, yeah. But it’s not decided. You know. There’s nothing, uh—

JOHN: Worked out. [laughs]

MATTHEW: That’s a very good impression of Terry Doran. [laughter]

PAUL: No, this is like the girls in Liverpool dance halls, really. I mean, everybody thinks you’re doing a queer when you do it.

JOHN: Yeah.

PAUL: [lofty] Have you opened your stocking yet, John?

JOHN: I haven’t even taken it off.

PAUL: [sniggers] Ooh! [scattered laughter] No, you’ll have to cut that!

JOHN: Cut that[inaudible]

PAUL: You can’t leave that on, mister!

ENGINEER: Splendid.

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The Beatles with Mary Wells, Motown legend and one of the opening acts during their 1964 Autumn tour of the UK, backstage at the Gaumont Cinema, Bradford, 9 October 1964.

Photo © Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Remembering the late, great Mary Wells.

“[I]n the BBC’s Archive there is a mysterious undated reel with the Beatles requesting records to be played. Their introductions give intriguing clues to the music that was inspiring the group around May 1964.[…] George chose two Tamla Motown records - the Miracles’ ‘I’ve Been Good To You’ and the first UK hit for the label, ‘My Guy’ by Mary Wells.” - The Beatles At The BBC by Kevin Howlett [x]

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“Respect to the late George Harrison who turned me on to soul music in a big way. I was a massive Beatle nut when I was a kid and one week, I was watching ‘Ready Steady Go’ when ‘The Fabs’ were on. When Cathy McGowan asked George what music he liked to listen to at home he replied, 'The Miracles, Impressions, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye’. That was the start of my love of soul in all its forms.
Of course George later produced Billy Preston, Doris Troy and Ronnie Spector on Apple, and great records they were too.” - Peter Young, Radio London website [x]

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Cathy McGowan: “What records do you like, other than your own?”

George Harrison: “All the Motown Tamla records, Mary Wells, Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Impressions, all that crowd.”
- Ready, Steady, Go!, 20 March 1964

Kevin Howlett restored the BBC’s archive of The Beatles on BBC radio and TV early in their career. Today he explains the juxtaposition of the “radical” Beatles and the more formal radio and TV actors:

I think it’s important to put yourself back in that era, and this is the year [1963] before it all happens in America and internationally, this is the breakthrough year for The Beatles, make or break time. And what they were doing was revolutionary and shocking: the choice of material, the way they were allowed to be themselves on the air and be so witty and irreverent, all in a very good-natured way, but the culture clash of the cheeky lads from Liverpool with the trained actors who might be presenting programs with them.

photo cred: Harry Myers/Rex Features

George Harrison, photographed for the back cover of Dark Horse, Friar Park, 1974, as featured in the book Living in the Material World and previewed by Rolling Stone in September 2011.

“Even in 1974, it would have been difficult to imagine a less likely looking rock star than the image of George [Harrison] depicted on the back cover.“ - Kevin Howlett, The Apple Years, 2014

Tomorrow: Our guest Kevin Howlett has restored the BBC archive of The Beatles’ recordings and written documents from their early career. He is the executive producer of The Beatles On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2 that has just been released.

Tomorrow we listen to some of these tracks and discuss early BBC radio and TV appearances of the group.

“Nobody had any idea of how fast they would progress and how every record they ever made would be a signal from the front to other groups, ‘This is what you have to catch up to.’ They were so progressive.”

-Kevin Howlett

George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75

“Remastered from the original analogue master tapes with great care and attention, George’s Apple albums sound better than ever before. Shut out the distractions of our bustling world for a while and listen - really listen - to this remarkable body of work.” - Kevin Howlett, The Apple Years, 2014

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Universal Music Group and the Harrison family are proud to announce that George Harrison’s first six solo albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, have been digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release on 22 September by UMG. Wonderwall MusicElectronic SoundAll Things Must PassLiving In The Material WorldDark Horse,and Extra Texture (Read All About It) are available now for preorder, both individually in digipaks and together within the deluxe, eight-disc boxed edition, The Apple Years 1968-75.

Designed to complement Harrison’s 2004 collection, The Dark Horse Years 1976-92, the new box features an exclusive DVD with several video pieces, including a new seven-minute film with previously unreleased footage. The Apple Years box also includes an exclusive perfect-bound book with an introduction by Dhani Harrison, new essays by award-winning radio producer and author Kevin Howlett, and rare and previously unpublished images.

You can preorder it here.

George Harrison’s Dark Horse LP, with one side featuring George’s eyes, the other side featuring Olivia’s eyes. The album was released on 9 December 1974. (Image source: Sound Station)

“However, the year [1974] was redeemed by some positive things. Undoubtedly, the saving grace was that George met his future wife and soul mate Olivia Arias: ‘I liked the music. I liked what he was doing. We just seemed like partners from the very beginning.’ Signifying that bond, a photo of Olivia’s eyes was on the label of one side of the LP record, while George is pictured on the other.” - Kevin Howlett, Dark Horse 2014 remaster liner notes

(Thank you very, very much to friarparksoulclub for so kindly sending me this article from which the following excerpt comes!):

“They soon became partners and soulmates. Today, 40 years on, Olivia Harrison recalls her first impressions of her late and much-missed husband.

‘He was a terribly sweet person and I thought he needed a pal,’ says the 66-year-old.

‘He had a lot going on and there were a lot of demands on him.

‘We quickly became good friends and a team.

‘He was very open and had a way of bypassing all your hang-ups, inhibitions and concerns. He made people feel very loved and comfortable.

‘You visit some people and go away thinking, “Oh, that was nice”, but with George, no matter how long, five minutes or five years, every time he left the room you felt something had happened to you.

‘I’ve never met anybody who said they had a bad time working with him or being with him. That’s how I look back on him and it’s the truth.’

Thirteen years after his death from cancer at 58, this is a loving and touching tribute from Olivia.

She knew their relationship was growing fast when a blue-tinted picture of her eyes appeared on the label artwork for the Dark Horse album.

‘That was so sweet of him. He just said, “Someone’s coming over here to take a picture.” I’d only known him for a couple of weeks so it was like, “Oh, I think we’re getting somewhere here.”’” - Olivia Harrison, The Sun, 26 September 2014