Like many people, I enjoy to travel. I just love seeing new places and experiencing the culture as well as meeting the people. Part of my traveling experience is to track town Beatles things wherever I go.
Last month I went to Liverpool, London and the Netherlands. I have reported about Liverpool and London in the past, and so I am not sure if anyone wants the whole "what I did on my summer vacation" to those places again. I can tell you that I had an amazing time. We celebrated Paul's 75th birthday with a bus load of likeminded fans in Liverpool, went to the Whirral, spent time in the Cavern Club and the typical Beatles sites. In London we crossed Abbey Road, went into the Abbey Road shop, had lunch with a Beatles friend, went on a great Beatles tour and got to go inside of 3 Savile row.
The last part of our trip took us to Amsterdam and since it was a new experience, I thought I would share a little bit about Beatles traveling in Holland.
The Netherlands is a very small country, especially if you are from the United States. We stayed in Amsterdam, but I am pretty sure we saw the entire country. It was fairly easy to get around in Amsterdam because they had a tram that you rode around the city. As long as you knew where you were going once you got off the tram, you were all set.
Everyone in Amsterdam rides a bike. I have not been a bike since I was a kid. Here in the United States, bikes are sort of thought of as a child's toy and is not a major mode of transportation for most adults. There were bikes everywhere and they seem to have more rights than people walking. Just something to remember if you are ever in Amsterdam.
There are a lot of museums in Amsterdam, but the only one that we went to was the Anne Franke House. If you are ever in Holland, you must see the Anne Frank House. It is an unforgettable experience.
One of the first places we went was to the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe. I make a point of going to the Hard Rock at any city where I am staying. They did not have a lot of Beatles things on display, but they did have this box that John and Yoko gave out to friends for Christmas in 1980.
If you are a Beatles fan in Amsterdam you have to go to the Amsterdam Hilton, right? The outside of the hotel looks very much like it does in the photographs of the hotel from the 1969 Bedin. I am told that room 702 is decorated in John and Yoko decor. I tried to get into the room myself. It costs over $1000 a night to stay there, so that was out of the question. I went to the front desk and asked the woman there and she told me that they were too busy at the time to take guests up to the suite, but I could come back at 11pm. It just wasn't possible for me to return so late. I asked her if I could just go up to the door. To use the life, you have to have a keycard. She again told me no and so I left the Amsterdam Hilton with some disappointment.
Speaking of hotels, there was a record shop near ours that had a big Sgt. Pepper display in the front window. Look what was #2 that week! Who would have ever thought that the Beatles would be back on the charts after 50 years!
Something else we did that had a Beatles connection was go on a canal boat ride. As I am sure you recall, the Beatles (without Ringo) did this in 1964 when they were on their world tour. It was fun to imagine the streets and bridges filled with fans as we took our one hour boat trip around the canals.
We also made a visit to Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a quick train trip from Amsterdam--about 30 minutes. Here is my advise if you want to go to Alkmaar from Amsterdam. Don't use the ticket machines at the Central Station. Go to a live person and purchase your ticket. The machines are for people with the "Dutch card," which if you are from the Netherlands, you don't have.
Why did we go to Alkmaar? It wasn't for the cheese---it was for the Beatles museum! There is a large Beatles museum in Alkmaar. Once you leave the train station, look for blue signs that say "Beatles museum" and follow them across a bridge and you are there.
The Beatles Museum is the personal collection of the fan that runs that place. I was impressed by how organized it was. Everything is laid out by album. So anything that has to do with " With the Beatles" is grouped together, etc. There is just so much original Beatles memorabilia to look at. If you go, plan on spending well over an hour to look at everything. "Let it Be" was showing on a big screen in the back and there was a lot of stuff for sale, including a great selection of "Dutch imports" (which aren't imports since they are in Holland! I got a good laugh out of that). My only issue with the museum is that a few of the items on display there (Ringo's Abbey road jacket, Paul's Shea Stadium jacket and George's first guitar to name a few) were labeled as being the original, when I am certain that they are reproductions.
The last day we were in the Netherlands, we spent on a tour with Guus and Gabreilla of Beatles International.
They couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. They drove us all around Holland and we saw Beatles things along the way as well as plenty of wooden clogs and windmills. We went to Blokker and saw where the Beatles (again without Ringo) performed in 1964. They have a monument build to honor this occasion of the Beatles' performance.
Another one of the really amazing sites we saw was the WWII memorial where Alan Williams took the Beatles right before they went to Hamburg as well as the store where John stole the harmonica.
The trip ended to a visit to a Beatle friend, Ed's house. Ed is one of the co-writer of the A is for Apple series, which I contributed to. It is great to meet Beatles people in person after knowing of them online for so long. Ed has a great Beatles collection and it was a real treat to see it in person.
As you can see, the Netherlands has a lot to offer Beatle fans. I know it isn't on the top of the list like Liverpool or London, but I think it is well worth the time to go and check out these sites as well.
I love this photo from backstage in Georgia. Paul looks good with the grey showing again (at least to me). I love the Hofner cake and the custom One on One guitar. What I don't get is why Paul always has those curtain/backdrops backstage. They look gaudy (again at least to me).
I love these photos from 1994 of Ringo and Barb. They are so relaxed and summer-like!
In the early 2000's a newspaper published this photo of Paul outside of his childhood home on Forthlin Road.
Can you imagine the insanity that would happen if this happened today?
Chantez a bit if you know les mots
John did it in Toronto and on the streets of New York. George and Ringo chose Madison Square Gardens but Paul picked on a sleepy French village to get back to the people with his first publicized live debut since 1966.
“Chantez a bit if you know les mots,” said Paul, but very few of the lucky French kids seemed to know the words to “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
Maybe the 200 French fans who witnessed Mccartney’s return to the public platform were too amazed to sing for it was quite amazing to see the man who did so much for British pop music on stage once more.
Four sleeping hippies, two overworked roadies and an old man sweeping up with a broom were all that remained after the concert at Chateauvallon near Touton on Sunday evening.
It was the first time since 1966 that any Beatle had set out on the road in an open setting flanked by rocks and towered over by a small castle on a hillside, the man who wrote some of the most perennial songs of the sixties got up and played some funky rock n roll, aided and abetted by Wings.
Wings, are Paul’s substitute for Rikki and the Redstreaks, the fictitious group Paul wanted the Beatles to play as when Beatlemania reached the proportions and touring had to stop.
It seems as though now he never really wanted the fame that came with being a Beatle; but all he really wanted to do was to come on stage and play something to somebody, no matter what or where. The intricate recording techniques and musical innovations that the Beatles employed in their latter-day phase are a million light years away from Wings.
The crowd who flocked to airports, concerts and everywhere their majesties the Beatles trod won’t trouble Wings. Only a fraction of them will probably buy their records and curiosity is doubtless their main draw. A new rock generation has arrived since the Liverpool-beat and they just may not remember how the four mop-heads from the town changed everything in 1963.
But it is despite what happened then, and not because of it, that McCartney is on the road again.
Wings is a little different from most bands on the road today --- pretty funky, pa problems and generating a feeling they’re enjoying what they’re doing. Their biggest problem, perhaps, is that one of their members just happens to be one of the biggest superstars of the past decade.
On stage, Paul has changed little from the Beatles days. His hair is cropped shot, but he still stands slightly kneed, his backside shaking and his face forced against the mike as if he was licking an ice-cream cone.
He shakes his hips but the kids don’t scream anymore. His voice, whether screaming or singing, is everything it always has been, and his very presence commands a respect – even in France – few others could hope to receive.
And at the same time there’s no doubt that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself. It was difficult to realize that the man on this platform wrote songs which are whistled across the world. One poster – there may have been more but I never saw them – advertised his presence and most of the tickets were sold on the door. A few outlaws climbed over a hill to get a free show from a distance.
The 2,000 who payed were enthusiastic but undiscriminating. McCartney was on stage and he warranted applause, no matter what he did. His main failing seemed to be a complete inability to speak French and only the English present knew what he was talking about for most of the time. He attempted to rectify this during the second half of the show and his attempts were greeted warmly.
Wings’ material is a mixture of the “Ram” and “Wildlife” album, songs from their next album and few gems like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Denny Laine’s “Say you don’t mind.”
The latter two songs were the highlights of the act. Despite problems with the amplification, McCartney sat at the piano and gave us a lesson on how to sing the single Faces’ have made world-famous. It’s probably the best song he’s written since his partnership with Lennon officially ended and he knows it, too.
Henry McCullough takes the lead solo which all the punch of Ronnie Lane’s version and McCartney’s keyboard tricks were tremendous.
“Say you Don’t mind” gave Denny Laine a chance to use the falsetto voice we haven’t heard since the early days of the Moody Blues. You can’t beat a man at his own song.
Paul swops his bass for six strings for certain numbers but it’s McCullough who supplies most of the lead guitar.
Denny Laine is what used to be known as rhythm guitarist, helping out on the vocal on just about every song. Linda vamps at the keyboard like Graham Nash and chirps in with vocals here and there. Unfortunately, her voice lacks both depth and power, a fact which McCartney must know all too well.
It was brought home demonstratively during Linda’s main number, a new reggae song called “Seaside Lady” which bore a marked resemblance to “Ob La Di Ob La Da.” When Paul announced his mike wasn’t working properly, an American in the audience yelled back “Give it to your missus then.” Right on.
On drums, Denny Seiwell is a tower of strength and with McCartney as bass player, the rhythm section of Wings could become one of the best around. McCartney has received little credit for his bass work but some of his runs and ability to thump along to either rock rhythm or the more complex reggae numbers put him in the Jack Bruce class.
Other numbers in their repertoire included a country version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” the amazingly banal “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and the title track from their last album which McCartney sang with all the emotion of someone who really cares about what is happening to our wild life.
McCullough had an opportunity to throw out some Clapton-style blues in a new number “Henry’s Blues” which developed into a jam session with Paul playing a bit of lead guitar.
The whole show is backed by a movie screen and films of countryside birds flying, astronauts landing on the moon and waves crashing against rocks are shown throughout the second part of the act. They also have their own lighting system to pick out the individual soloists and a whole lotta brand new gear.
On stage they wear identical black suits with glitter on the lapels – a hark back to the days when Paul and Lennon disagreed over Beatle-stage attire.
In charge of the tour is now bearded John Morris, former manager of the Rainbow, who has put the itinerary together remarkably quickly but who has a million problems a night as a result. “We lost one plane and three cars today but the show started on time,” he proudly told me.
When the concert ended, the usual volatile Continental audience filtered away remarkably quietly when it became apparent Paul had left.
I love the lady that is waiting to get on the bus/train. She is just kindly waiting for this young couple to exit, totally clueless to who they are or that the press is taking a photo.
Some adorable fans at summer camp in 1964, showing off their love for the Beatles on their sweatshirts (it can get cool around a camp fire in the summertime)
I reported on earlier this week, when I was in Holland last month, I went to the Beatles museum in Alkmaar. The owner of the museum is a fan named Azing Moltmaker. He has written countless books about the Beatles and is more than happy to sell them to you when you visit his museum. His books are quite expensive outside of his place, but he has most of them for just 5 Euros each and so I decided to commemorate my trip, to buy Beatles in the Netherlands (1964-1993). Similar to my book about the Beatles in St. Louis, this book tells the stories of the Beatles, as a group and solo, in the Netherlands.
The first thing you all need to know about this book is that there are two versions. The first one was written in Dutch. The second one, which I am reviewing, was translated into English. Any time I read a book that is translated into English from another language, I know that there are going to be some mistakes. Sure enough, there were many syntactically errors in this book, but there were also many type-os that really should have been fixed before the book was printed. Whenever I read that the Beatles were in "ondon" instead of "London" or that their name was the "Bealtes," I know there is a problem. I realize that I am the queen of typing errors on this blog; however, I take a very laid-back approach on the blog and I don't a lot of editing. When I write a book, or an article, I edit and re-edit and catch a lot of my typing mistakes. Usually things like this don't take away from the book, but there were so many of errors, that it was difficult to read. Also I found a few mistakes, such as the spelling of Jimmie Nicol's name and how the book states that Ringo was getting his tonsils taken out in June of 1964 (we know that he had tonsillitis and had them taken out in December).
While I am focusing on the things I disliked about this book, I will say that I did not like the author adding his personal opinion about things. One example comes in the introduction: "It is also known to us that Ringo had a house in Amsterdam, but his visits there are in my opinion of no importance." Then why mention it in the first place? If you are out to write the be all end all book about the four Beatles in Holland, then why overlook the fact that Ringo owned a home in Amsterdam? Maybe Azing isn't interested, but what about the book's readers? I would have liked to have read about it. Similar comments are made about Linda's singing and his opinion about Wings. That is fine and all if you are doing a review of a concert, but has no place in a book that is to be informational about the Beatles.
There are a lot of good things to mention about this book. I really enjoyed the translation of the Dutch newspaper clippings into English. It was really great to see these rare clippings and be able to read what they said. There are some great little stories hidden in these clippings that you aren't going to find elsewhere.
I also enjoyed the vast amount of photographs in the book, some even in color. Not only were there plenty of photos of the Paul, John, George and Jimmie in the Netherlands, but there also are photos of John, Paul, George and Ringo during the times each of them came to the country any time before 1993. The solo stories were really interesting as well and I appreciated the transcripts of some of the interviews Paul and George gave in the 1980's-1990's on Dutch television.
The book started because Azing obtained the official documents on the Beatles' Holland tour from the promoter. Having these documents gave him some inside information about this trip that would not have been known without them. Thankfully they are reproduced and translated into English in the book.
The book was published in 1999, so it is a bit outdated when it comes to the solo year information. Paul and Ringo have both returned to Holland since then, and so those experiences are not in the book. When Paul McCartney returned to St. Louis last year, I wrote a "bonus" chapter to be downloaded so that my book would at least be a bit more complete. There is nothing like that for this book, which is fine if you are especially interested in the time the Beatles came to Holland in 1964 (which is the bulk of the book).
The book itself is beautifully printed in a bright orange hardback. Unfortunately there are a lot of mistakes on the inside of the book. However, it is the best book available about the Beatles tour in Holland as well as most of the solo appearances. If you are at the museum in Alkmaar it is well worth the 5 Euros that he is asking and it makes for a great souvenir of the trip. I personally would not pay the 100's that it is being advertised for online.
Here is the 2nd installment of the story of a group of fans that traveled around the UK in 1979 seeing Paul McCartney. This story comes straight out of the Fall/Winter 1979-1980 issue of the McCartney Observer
Liverpool. November 24, 1979
This was officially the first concert for members of the Fun Club. We managed to see Paul arrive at 4 P.M., and although it was pretty much a mob scene, it was still a small crowd compared to the rest of the stage door scenes we were to witness during the next few weeks. He drove past in a silver Mercedes and everyone thought that he was going to go into the side door, but instead, he walked the full length of the theatre with the crowd, obliging everyone with autographs and smiling for the cameras. I was in shock and couldn’t speak (seeing him in person is different than seeing him “in person” in a concert). I could only stare, but Susie aid “”hi!” and he responded with “hi ya!” Doylene called his name, and he looked at her, nodded and said, “Hi”. He looked so good, that man never ages. (He’s like a good wine and improves with age!)
Linda was there, but when everyone surrounded Paul she said, “I’m getting out of here!” and went straight inside. Our friend, Phil L. (who we met the night before) managed to get an autograph and was quite happy with himself. Later on, we met the rest of our friends, who had just arrived from the States that morning: Barb, Mary Ann, George and Mar. Now our next “Mission Impossible” was getting tickets inside. Doylene and Susie had gotten Barb and Mary Ann their tickets from Sue at MPL, but our ticket money and letters had mysteriously disappeared from the Royal Court Theatre. This was to be our first unfortunate encounter with a weird little man who happened to be box office manager for a few days (the theatre was closed down and Paul was trying to save it so he performed there instead of the Empire, which is a bigger hall). This man claimed that he never got our letter and/or money and it would be impossible to get us in. Meanwhile, there was a photographer there and he decided that the American girls would make a “nice story” so the box office manager decided to get in on the act. Doylene, Susie and I were photographed for the Daily Mirror and we had to go upstairs to the office where they had Doylene and Susie make these ridiculous poses with the manager. He still insisted that he wouldn’t’ be able to help us as Doylene and Susie held the tickets and he pretended that he was giving them to them!
After this ridiculously embarrassing publicity stunt, we were literally being down the door outside when we saw Tony Brainsby (Paul’s long time publicity agent) and he told me that Lawrence Jubar was going to give us tickets and to go downstairs and pose for a photograph with him! So, we all went downstairs and me Lawrence, who is very nice and so sweet. The photograph never did get in the papers, but the photographer later told us that he was trying to sell the story to a magazine. A small article was printed about Doylene and Susie though. So, with many thanks to Lawrence, we had good tickets into the show.
Tonight before the show began, there was an opening act, comedian Earl Okin, who told corny jokes and sang corny songs (Bessie, Bessie Bessie, you’re as far as a….). Earl must have great courage because he was booed constantly during the act. He made everyone happy when he said that there was a band waiting to lay for us and they were “waiting in the wings…”
Paul got really into the show this night, he was more at ease and it was fantastic. Everyone left smiling and happy. Denny dedicated a song to our friend, Martin, who managed to see the entire band in a club the night before, and had bought Denny a drink. Denny said, “he brought me a drink,” and Paul quipped, “you’d do anything for a drink!”
Liverpool. November 25, 1979
This was a terrible day for Doylene, Susie and I. The box office manager gave everyone standing tickets except for the three of us. He pocketed their money, charging them full price to stand in the balcony! He warned them not to move from where he told them to stand and kept coming back every few minutes to check up on them. Guilty that some usher may want to check the tickets he never gave them! He looked at the three of us outside and had absolutely no compassion whatsoever. I can’t even begin to explain the horrible feeling in the pits of our stomachs when someone opened a door and we heard Paul singing “Let it Be” while we were outside.
Liverpool. November 26, 1979
We saw Paul arrive at the stage door, but the scene there was nearly riotous and Paul was rushed inside. Tonight, our “pal” at the box office manager, decided he liked the taste of American money and charge each of us $12.00 to get in and let us stay in the balcony. While we were waiting to be seated (or standed?) we were instructed to wait in a private bar. Denny came in and was signing autographs for everyone. He signed a magazine we had purchased with Wings on the cover for each of us. Doylene had him sign the page he was on; Susie had him sign the cover. He decided to sign Susie’s right on Paul’s face! All I could think of was “I paid 45p ($1.00) for that magazine and I can’t afford to go buy it again” so when it came to my turn and I saw his pen heading towards Paul’s face, I scolded him and said, “Not on his face!” “Oh! Is it okay if I sign on his hand?” “Yeh.” We all stood in the balcony together and had a fantastic time! As I said before, we were still close, even though we were in the balcony, and our telephoto lenses helped a lot too. We were all making comments, singing along and having fun clicking away with our cameras. Pau was really having a good time too and it was the best audience (Paul said so too). This was one of my favorite shows and a good memory. The next day was a “day off” but we had heard a rumor that Paul was going to give a special concert on the Royal Iris (a ferry), so we decided it was worth checking into although we doubted that it was true. Still we could take a few photographs of the Mersey.
Liverpool. November 27, 1979
We went down to the Peirhead around 2:30 and a man selling newspapers said, “Do you know that Paul McCartney is going on the Royal Iris at 3:00?” He explained that it was a press conference. Barb and Mary Ann were already there (after having been told about the press conference by Alan Williams’ associate, who they had had lunch with earlier). The Royal Iris is the same ferry that the Beatles posed on in 1963. The ferry was covered with Wings posters and all the bodyguards were there dressed in tuxedos, so we knew that the press conference was a reality. The docks were packed with photographers and locals who wanted to see Paul, as well as people simply waiting to take a ferry across the river. It was so exciting, and made me feel so nostalgic to see Paul on the docks, all the press, people buzzing with excited chatter and anticipation—just like the old days. The bus pulled up onto a nearby dock, and they all walked to the Royal Iris while all the photographers snapped away and got in our way. The bodyguards were really annoying and kept pushing us, but somehow Doylene and I managed to get away from all that, and we were able to watch without too much of a hassle. What got to us was that after getting in our way, the photographers were allowed n to the ferry for a regular photo session. Still, I was happy to be so lucky to even be there to begin with! Nothing could make me feel down at that moment. A few minutes later, while the ferry was still in dock, I heard a girl yelling, “Paul! Look down here!” And suddenly realized that the whole band was on the top deck for a photo session.
I noticed a gang-plank near the ferry that we could climb up and get closer to where Paul was. So Doylene and I did that. Paul was posing for all the photographers alone, and then the rest of Wings joined him. Paul would make the photographers wait while he waved and smiled at all the fans. Linda was going by and we said “hello!” and she asked me if I were enjoying myself. Then she posed for photos for us by picking her nose (needless to say, we didn’t bother clicking the shutters). This session seemed to be going on for a long time, so Doylene and I quickly got out our telephoto lenses (fumbling like mad) to get some closer photos. Paul kept looking over at us, waving, giving us the thumbs up sign. It was fantastic! We were so happy! The ferry began to leave the docks for its journey across the Mersey (Paul was singing “Ferry Across the Mersey” – it was all so nostalgic!)
They returned about a half hour later and as Paul was leaving the ferry he began singing “Mull of Kintyre” as if he were drunk! (They had been drinking tea on the ferry). The crowd was even bigger than when he first got on the ferry but we followed him to the bus which we weren’t supposed to do, but that never stopped us before. Doylene and I were laughing and tripping over each other’s feet in the midst of all the excitement and Steve Holly was watching us making fools out of ourselves. At least we gave him a good laugh!
We went over to the side of the bus Paul was on, and waved back and forth at each other. Little did we know at the time that there was a photographer getting a real charge out of watching us watch Paul and he was click away like mad! What gets me about this whole press conference scene is that of all the photographs taken, we only got to see a few. Who knows where the rest are? For this, we were trampled on so the press could get their photos. Photos that were never even printed. But, it was a wonderful experience, especially when we didn’t expect it to happen. A definite highlight of the tour! That night we watched two Wings specials on TV and the news showed a little bit of the press conference. Hope that America will be able to show these specials. They were great.