by Robert Wilkinson
Every October 9 we celebrate the birthday of the one who gave the world "All You Need is Love," the first global broadcast, and "Give Peace A Chance," the rallying cry that united millions in ending a useless war (yes, "useless war" IS a redundancy!) An orphan with a bad attitude, his life was a miracle journey of ego to the peak of absolute fame, power, and wealth, the crash that inevitably follows, and the redemption of a life through love, appreciation, and respect for inner and outer peace. Musician, author, caricaturist, movie star, hell raiser, rabble rouser, troubled genius and sometimes not a very nice guy, nonetheless he was one of the best of all time. Today we have a LOT of videos of this remarkable man for the ages.
In case you were on Uranus in the 60s, not yet born, or raised in a culturally deprived environment, a little backstory. The world was changed when he met Sir Paul when they were both kids in 50s post-war Britain and started making music together, quickly bringing in young Sir George forming the nucleus of a band that was remarkable in that it was BOTH a) the best at what they did, and b) the most loved for what they did. Beatlemania was truly a global phenomenon unlike anything before or since.For an example check out this live performance of She Loves You from 1963.
Here's another example of Beatlemania at its height, a live performance from Shea Stadium in 1965 where they opened with "Twist and Shout" and "Baby's In Black," perfectly capturing the pandemonium of their concerts, where it is said no one could hear any of the music over the screaming, including the Beatles themselves. From the same concert, 3 videos of "Help," Dizzy Miss Lizzy, and "Ticket To Ride.
Even when he had moved on from the Beatles while the world wanted more, more, more, he still let his creativity hang out, giving us the concept of "bagism," using his honeymoon as a media event to focus on peace, individually and collective. Persecuted for years by J. Edgar Hoover and Republican party lowlifes for his political antiwar muscle, he never lost his acid wit.
While he was no paragon of virtue, fatherhood, or much else one could admire except for his musical genius when younger, he redeemed it all in amazing ways in his final years of life. A man on a quest, after the Beatles he spent the rest of his way too short life getting beyond the chains of the philosophical rope-a-dope or superficial dedication to a cause that so many celebrities indulge in today. This man walked his walk and let it all hang out for all the honest world to feel.
From John Lennon.com videos of "Working Class Hero," "Give Peace A Chance," "Imagine," "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)," "Watching The Wheels," "Starting Over," "Woman," "Love," "Mother," "Stand By Me," "Mind Games," and "Cold Turkey."
And now, as Ed Sullivan used to say, "On with the shew!"
More early hit performances include this August 1963 version of the Beatles doing "Twist and Shout" and one of the best video performances of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from the Morecambe & Wise Show, filmed late 1963.
Here's one of my personal faves, the Fab Four nailing Please Please Me, a masterpiece of a song. (George Martin is said to had opined that the song had "good atmosphere" - do ya think?) Another version here complete with hysterical girls.
We also have one of the most famous Beatle performances ever, a rare moment where you can hear them at their early best, including John's famous cheeky on-stage request to the audience, which included British royalty. "For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you if you'd just rattle your jewelry." For your enjoyment, The Royal Variety Show Live at in 1963, featuring From Me To You, Till There Was You, and Twist and Shout.
Here's another exceptional video of "Twist and Shout" live.
Beatlemania at its height! "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout" in full color in Manchester 1963 where the screams are a trip unto themselves, as they were at ALL Beatle concerts!
This site, Beatles videos, has so many that you could spend a week watching them all. He claims 280, and updates them regularly. A real treasure trove for Beatle fans.
However, if you don't want to pick through that site, here are some great performances from 1964-1966!
"Things We Said Today" (1964)
"I'm A Loser" in Paris, 1965.
The next 2 videos are from Blackpool Night Out, August 1965:
Here's a great performance from 1966 Germany, "Nowhere Man."
Here's "Day Tripper," "Baby's In Black," "I Feel Fine," and "Yesterday" (Yesterday is cut short)
From 1966 Japan, "She's A Woman."
Here's John with the Beatles at the end performing Come Together, and here's a masterpiece of a performance at Madison Square Gardens in 1972 with John doing one of his best songs and one of my all time favorites, Instant Karma.
For those who just can't get enough of the early Beatles when they truly were at the top of their game, here are a bunch of live performances, lip synched as was the custom of the day:
Here's the original promo video for the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," considered by some sources as the first music video.
Here are some non-musical videos of the wit, wisdom, and life of John Lennon:
Here's 4 minutes of funny clips of John Lennon.
Here's a 9 minute clip called "The Comedy of John Lennon"
Here's a a 10 minute clip called "The Truth About John Lennon" featuring historical reminiscing by his sister and members of The Quarrymen (his first group) about JL's childhood, mother, early art, and wit.
For your perusal, a John Lennon Biography
Another creative work incorporating several performances re-edited by a fan is "You Can't Do That," with several Beatle media interviews showcasing their wit, humor, and charm that captivated the entire world at this link. It was definitely a more innocent time, filled with magic and wonder.
Here's last year's birthday featuring links to all 3 Beatle performances on the Ed Sullivan show in early 1964, here's A Happy 2008 Video Birthday to John Lennon, A Man for All Ages
Beatles in his 20s, adrift amidst the personal wreckage of his past in his early 30s, devoted husband and father in his late 30s, dead at 40. Here's a happy 69th RIP birthday greeting to you, John Lennon. The world is a better place for you having lived, and in your death we lost one who could rally the whole world for peace.
I suppose that's your gift to all of us, that we should stop looking to another to take the lead, and each of us take the lead instead, as best we can. Thanks for the memories and inspiration. Starting Over. Gimme Some Truth. All You Need Is Love. Give Peace A Chance.
© Copyright 2009 Robert Wilkinson
(Yes, this is a variation on what I posted two years ago, but with many new and different videos.....)