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.
Today we borrow from birthdays past and update all the broken links.
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 teenagers in 1957 post-war Britain. They started making music together, quickly bringing in young Sir George to form 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 “I Feel Fine” and followed (via a very stressed sound system) with “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Ticket to Ride,” and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” 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, more videos!
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!"
We begin with the first recording by The Quarrymen, featuring John, Paul, and George pre-Ringo set to a bunch of still photos of "the Lads" at very young ages. From 1958, here's "That'll Be The Day."
We now go to some very early Beatle footage Live at the Cavern Club August 1962 of them performing "Some Other Guy" and "Cry For A Shadow."
Here are the Beatles in a Cavern Club rehearsal of "One After 909" set to stills.
Another early hit performance was this February 1963 Morecambe & Wise Show where they do an 11+ minute set of "This Boy," "All My Loving," and "I Want To Hold Your Hand," with a comedy gag bit at the end.
An August 1963 Beatles live performance of "Twist and Shout"
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 of "Please Please Me" 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,” “She Loves You,” “Till There Was You,” and “Twist and Shout.”
Here's another exceptional video of "Twist and Shout" live.
Beatlemania at its height! This one's a rare color clip called "The Beatles Come To Town," features 2 minutes of news coverage of Beatlemania before they break into a fantastic live performance of "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout" in Manchester 1963 where the screams are a trip unto themselves, as they were at ALL Beatle concerts!
From a 1963 live in the studio television concert in Sweden, enjoy "She Loves You," "Twist and Shout," "I Saw Her Standing There," and "Long Tall Sally." Wow. Paul really knows how to rock, so check it out!
This site, Beatles videos, has so many that you could spend a week watching them all. He claims 350, 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!
This was their first concert in 1964 when they blew the doors down here in the US and I found a video of the whole show! Here’s 38 minutes of pure Beatlemania, with pandemonium in the audience!
The Beatles Live at the Washington Coliseum It’s an awesome set list, so you really should check this one out!
A great 1964 live performance! The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl. Pt. 1
From "Ready Steady Go," a live performance in 1964 of "Can't Buy Me Love."
From 1964, "Things We Said Today."
Here are The Beatles performing "I Feel Fine" live at the NME Poll Winners Concert, 11/4/65.
From that same NME show, “Ticket to Ride” and “Long Tall Sally”
"I'm A Loser" in Paris, 1965.
Here’s the entire 30 minute show!
The next 2 videos are from Blackpool Night Out, August 1965:
Here's a great performance from 1966 Germany, "Nowhere Man."
From 1966 in Munich, another live performance of "I Feel Fine."
From August 1966, the entire concert at Budokan in Tokyo! 30 minutes of pure gold, and in color! Beatles Live at Budokan, Japan
Or if you want to sample individual tunes from that concert, here’s
Here's "Day Tripper," "Baby's In Black," "I Feel Fine," and "Yesterday." (Yesterday is cut short.)"She's A Woman."
Here are some clips from the late 60s. First, the Beatles performing "Revolution" on the David Frost show.
Here's the original promo video for the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," considered by some sources as the first music video.
From the rooftop last concert, Part 1 featuring
Part 2 featuring
From "Live Peace In Toronto" in 1969, here are John, Yoko, and the Plastic Ono Band. These performances are in the order they were done at the concert. For your enjoyment,
The harrowing "Cold Turkey."
For your enjoyment, John at Madison Square Gardens in 1972 doing "Imagine."Here's the original 1971 music video of "Imagine."
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, the chillingly prescient Instant Karma.
Here are 6 of 7 clips of "Gimme Some Truth," covering the making of the "Imagine" album in 1971. For your enjoyment, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,, Part 5, and Part 6. (For some strange reason, part 7 is nowhere to be found this year. Very curious!)
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:
"Money" (let it buffer for awhile)
Here are some non-musical videos of the wit, wisdom, and life 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.
Here are some clips featuring the Beatle performances on the Ed Sullivan show in early 1964.
The first one is funny, as it showcases Beatlemania.
As the closer to this long set covering the creative life of a force majure, here's the entire 9 part Maysles brothers documentary covering the band's history in the US, including all 3 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
The Beatles -- The First US Visit Part Three (which features their first performance on Ed Sullivan)
The Beatles -- The First US Visit Part Seven (featuring their second performance on Ed Sullivan shot in Miami Beach)
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 72nd 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, and thanks to Yoko for her generosity with your legacy. As always, Starting Over. Gimme Some Truth. All You Need Is Love. Give Peace A Chance.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson