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Any Major Bizarre Beatles

February 16th, 2024 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

With this month’s 60th anniversary of The Beatles’ invasion of the US with their three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, it seems suitable to recycle (with a couple of tweaks) this collection from 2014, which testifies to the hype there was around the band.

 

The Bulldoggs – John, Paul, George & Ringo (1964)
The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. It was seen by over 73 million viewers. They returned the following week, and on February 23, the show screened a recording from the February 9 session. And just like that, Beatlemania had gripped the US. A pair of British songwriters, Bill Crompton and Morgan Jones, took it upon themselves to educate the US public about their four compatriots by way of a rather poor pastiche of the Beatles sound, drawing on assorted yeah-yeah-yeah’s, whooo’s and Paul-screams and guitar chords which would be a staple of the new genre of Beatles-related songs.

The Hi-Riders – Stamp Out The Beatles (1964)
Obviously, not everybody was excited about these shaggy-haired louts from England invading the godfearing US of A to corrupt the virgins of the Land of the Free. It is said that Elvis Presley’s ever-charming manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, produced pro- and anti-Beatles merchandise to cash in on the split sentiments. By June 1964, The Hi-Riders arrived on the scene to deliver the promise to stamp out The Beatles. History shows that The Hi-Riders succeeded in their scheme, and went to on to become the biggest band in the world. Sixty years later, a blog named after a Steely Dan song compiled a playlist called Any Major Bizarre Hi-Riders.

Sonny Curtis – A Beatle I Want To Be (1964)
Given The Beatles obsession with Buddy Holly, it must have been a pretty cool tribute when Buddy’s successor as singer of The Crickets surfed the Beatles Invasion wave. Sonny Curtis, in the song he co-wrote with Lou Adler, even samples bits of their music as he sings and raps about “A little British bug from across the way, talks like Southern USA”. Curtis educates the listener about history (and in 1964, the year 1956 must have seemed a lifetime ago): “Remember what happened when Elvis came? One little wiggle and the whole world changed. So mamas and papas lend me your ear, lock up your daughters ’cause a Beatle is here.”

Bonnie Jo Mason (Cher) – Ringo, I Love You (1964)
A future star recording Beatles-related material under a different name was Cher, who in 1964 sought to buy into the Zeitgeist by declaring her love for the drummer. Before her brief stint as Bonnie Jo Mason, Cherilyn Sarkasian sang backing vocals on classics such as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Chiffons’ Da Doo Ron Ron and the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling — and it was the producer of those songs, Phil Spector, who co-wrote and produced Ringo, I Love You. After that, she recorded as plain Cherilyn and in a duo as Cleo to Sonny Bono’s Caesar. Within just over a year of releasing Ringo, I Love You, Sonny & Cher were stars. The flipside of the Ringo anthem was an instrumental titled Beatles Blues, a deliberately bad song placed on the B-side to deter DJs from ignoring the A-side, as they often did. The ploy backfired: apparently radio DJs were thrown by Bonnie Jo’s deep voice and refused to play what they thought was a gay declaration of affection for the Beatles drummer..

Ella Fitzgerald – Ringo Beat (1964)
There were loads of Ringo-themed songs in the mid-’60s, apparently some 50 of them. They included The Rainbows’ My Ringo, Christine Hunter’s Santa, Bring Me Ringo, Treat Him Tender, Maureen by Angie & The Chicklettes, Al Fisher & Lou Marks’ Ringo Ringo Little Star, Three Blond Mice’s Ringo Bells, The Whippets’ Go Go Go With Ringo, Neil Sheppard’s You Can’t Go Far Without A Guitar (Unless You’re Ringo Starr), Ringo Did It by Veronica Lee, I Want To Kiss Ringo Goodbye by Penny Valentine, and Bingo Ringo by Daws Butler (who voiced Huckleberry Hound). Even Ella Fitzgerald got in on the act with Ringo Beat, a rather nice number written by Ella herself (one of her 27 compositions), which naturally features a “yeah yeah” reference and namechecks other contemporary popsters..

The Young World Singers – Ringo For President (1964)
Released in August 1964, the Young World Singers in their cover of the vile Rolf Harris’ song sought to offer an alternative to Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in that year’s elections for US president, evidently oblivious to the rule that disqualifies those not born in the United States from standing as candidates. And since Ringo was a Kenyan Muslim… In any case, it is doubtful that Ringo, who has acknowledged his limitations in intellectual pursuits, would have been a great president (though the US voters elected a man of even less cerebral qualities to the presidency in 2004).

Of course, it wasn’t cleverness the Young World Singers and the others engaged in the Ringo For President campaign were looking for in their candidate: “He’s our candidate ’cause he makes us feel so great. We could talk about war out on the big dance floor. Oh my gee, oh my gingo…if I could vote, I’d vote for Ringo!” Asked at a press conference in August 1964 about the Ringo For President campaign, Starr admitted: “I’m not sort of politically minded.” Asked whether he would appoint the other Beatles to his cabinet, the conversation descends into a typical Beatlesque farce, with George interjecting: “I could be the door”, and John nominating himself to serve as the cupboard.

Don Bowman – The Other Ringo (1966)
In the early ’60s, there was a popular cowboy hit titled Ringo, recorded by Bonanza star Lorne Green (the Cartwright patriarch), which Don Bowman parodied to coincide with the height of Beatlemania. Bowman notes the death of the old Ringo and the rise of the Beatle by the same name. He seems to be taken particularly with the length of Ringo’s hair. Bowman, who died in 2013, was a country singer, comedian, TV presenter and DJ who recorded this rather amusing novelty number for his 1966 LP titled Funny Way To Make An Album, which also included a song called Freddy Four Toes. Bowman clearly did not compromise his comedy with artistic credibility: other LPs were titled Fresh From The Funny Farm (1965), Recorded Almost Live (1966), Support Your Local Prison (1967) and Still Fighting Mental Health (1979).

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Dick Lord – Like Ringo (1965)
Don Bowman wasn’t the only one to make the connection between Lorne Greene’s hit and the Beatles drummer. The magnificently-named Dick Lord was not a porn actor but a comedian. At the time of recording Like Ringo, Dick Lord was a close friend of the great Bobby Darin. In the song, Dick Lord’s girlfriend is rather obsessed with the Beatles drummer, and Dick Lord’s exasperation at being rejected by the obsessed fan turns to ingenuity as he adopts the Ringo look. Eventually Dick Lord’s girlfriend returns to Dick Lord, informing him tearfully that her Ringo infatuation is over. A great punchline awaits, and I shall not spoil it..

The Bon Bons – What’s Wrong With Ringo? (1964)
A persistent rumour has it that the Bon Bons were the Shangri-Las by another name. It is, alas, not true. What’s Wrong With Ringo was released before the Shangri-Las’ debut single, Remember (Walking In The Sand), was issued on Red Birds Records in September 1964. The Ringo song was released on the Coral label, the Decca subsidiary that had also issued records by Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and The Vogues, but never had the Weiss and Ganser sisters under contract.

The Ringo song was not the Bon Bons’ only release; also in 1964 Coral issued the follow-up single Everybody Wants My Boyfriend. Anyway, the question of the song’s title concerns the shortage of Beatles songs sung by Ringo. It seems the record-buying public did not share their concern, and so ignored this quite catchy girl-group record (which includes, of course, the “yeah yeah yeah yeah” thing).

The Swans – The Boy With The Beatle Hair (1964)
The Twiliters – My Beatle Haircut (1964)
When The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in New York in February 1964, they held a press conference, with a Pan Am sign providing the backround. An intrepid reporter asked whether the boys would get a haircut during their stay in the States. John, Paul and Ringo just about avoided responding with the words: “Fuck off.” George Harrison deadpanned: “No, I had one yesterday.” The obsession with the Fabs’ mushroom-heads was intense. Little did those who were exited about these hairdos know what hirsute transgressions were to come before the next Olympics would be held.

Buying into that obsession about hair were a soul duo called The Swans and the better-known doo wop group The Twiliters. The Swans were Jeanne and Tina Thomas, and their song about the boy with the Beatle hair was co-written by Kenneth Gamble, future Philly soul supremo. Jeanne/Tina adore the boy with the Beatle hairstyle and wish he’d come and talk to her at school. Maybe the by is the lead singer of The Twiliters, who will defy all to continue wearing his Beatle haircut.

Frank Sinatra – Maureen Is A Champ (1968)
This tribute to Mrs Ringo is not only a great novelty item, but also something of a historical artifact: it’s the first record to be catalogued on the Beatles’ Apple label — its number being Apple 1 (Hey Jude was the first Apple release, but it wasn’t catalogued). Only a few copies, some say only one, of Maureen Is A Champ were made on acetate before the master tape was destroyed, because this was a private recording to mark Maureen’s 22nd birthday.

Maureen was a big Sinatra fan, so a train of events was set in motion, apparently by Beatles business manager Peter Brown, which involved the great Sammy Cahn rewriting Lorenz Hart’s lyrics for The Lady Is A Tramp, and Frank Sinatra — who by that point was a Beatles fan (and covered several of their songs) — singing the reworked number, with Cahn on piano. We can assume that when Ringo presented his wife with that special record on 4 August 1968, she probably was quite pleased.

Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) – John, You Went Too Far This Time (1968)
Before she became famous as an actress, including her singing role as country singer Loretta Lynn, Sissy Spacek tried to become a folk singer, releasing a solitary single under the trite moniker Rainbo (which she apparently disliked) before being fired by her label for not being a best-seller. The John whom Sissy Rainbow addresses on this breathtakingly bad record would be Mr Lennon, and his transgression would be letting it all hang out post-coitally on the cover of Two Virgins, his avant garde nonsense recorded with Yoko Ono, who also appears naked on the cover.

Sissy loves John and forgives him many things, but she is not one who would endorse exhibitions of public nudity — and in this particular instance I am inclined to concur with her, purely on aesthetic grounds. John and Yoko were not attractive naked people. But if Lennon went too far on a record sleeve, then Spacek (and the chaps who wrote this bizarre thing, John Marshall and Ronald Dulka) overstepped the boundaries of musical decency with that chorus, which supposedly was meant to evoke the Beatles sound.

In 1983 Spacek released a full country album, titled Hangin’ Up My Heart. She was fully clothed on the cover.

Mystery Tour – Ballad Of Paul (1969)
Terry Knight – Saint Paul (1964)

The initial Paul Is Dead rumour preceded the release of Abbey Road by a week. The album’s cover “confirmed” that Macca was indeed dead, but the story began with an error-filled student newspaper article publishd on 18 September 1969 by one Tim Harper for the Drake University’s Times-Delphic. From Harper’s fertile imagination sprang a wild conspiracy theory which caused quite a hysteria. There is an 8-CD series of radio recordings covering in detail the reaction to Paul’s death. The moderately talented Mystery Tour (yes, Mystery Tour) explained why the evidence of Paul’s death, with reference to the Abbey Road cover, of course (apparently left-handers are incapable of smoking with their right hand). We also learn that “John Lennon is a holy man [who]provided lots of clues” as to the conspiracy of Paul’s death and its cover-up. This site has all the answers: it was them Rolling Stones wot dun Paul in, Constable.

Record producer and general music pusher Terry Knight’s single came out before the Paul Is Dead hoax started. He had met the Beatles at a fraught time during the White Album sessions in 1968. Convinced that the Beatles would break up soon, he wrote Saint Paul. His single was released in May 1969, before Harper’s article. Once the rumour had gathered pace, however, Knight’s single was presented as an obituary to Paul, feeding the rumour mill further. Knight himself became the subject of obituaries when he was murdered in 2004 while protecting his daughter from a clearly unsuitable boyfriend.

Mae West – Twist And Shout (1967)
Mae West – Day Tipper (1967)

We’re having Mae West warbling Twist And Shout, so how might the septuagenarian top that? Why, by doing Day Tripper, of course. Her interpretation, as it turned out, was unnecessary, because time has shown the Beatles’ original to be quite adequate, even without the sub-Jimi Hendrix antics at 1:13, which morph into a Chuck Berry-lite solo, and Ms West’s seductive moanings. Her 1966 cover of From Me To You appeared on Please Please Me Recovered.

Big Daddy – A Day In The Life (1992)
Big Daddy aren’t really bizarre; they are inventive re-interpreters of Beatles songs. Still, one has to arrive at the idea to cover A Day In The Life in the style of Buddy Holly, and have balls of steel to end the song with what sounds like a crash.

Keith Moon – When I’m Sixty-Four (1976)
In 1976, The Who’s drummer and Beatles pal Keith Moon contributed his take on McCartney’s music hall number to a documentary titled All This and World War II. The docu scored World War II footage with covers of Beatles songs, by some of music greatest names of the time, including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Status Quo, Leo Sayer, Bryan Ferry and so on. And Keith Moon, who quite cleverly recreated the recorded sound of the 1920s for McCartney’s music hall number from Sgt Pepper’s. Except that even in the 1920s, singers were expected to be able to hold a tune. As for the documentary, the concept was to contrast the innocence of The Beatles’ music with the harsh realities of war. Which is an idea one can have but need not necessarily put into practice.

Peter Sellers – She Loves You (1965)
Peter Sellers — a Goon Show alumnus, of course — recorded a series of comedy versions of Beatles songs, some funnier than others, in 1965. His masterpiece is his teutonic take on She Loves You, performed in the character of Dr Strangelove, whose 60th anniversary we are also observing this year (“She said you hhhuuurrrrt her so”… “Gut!”). Recorded some time around 1965, it was released only in 1981..

Peter Sellers – A Hard Day’s Night (1965)
Sellers performs A Hard Day’s Night in the manner of Laurence Olivier as Shakespeare’s Richard III. Released as a single in late 1965 (backed with his take on Help), it reached #14 in the British charts in early 1966. It was obviously too early for Nazi spoofs.

Mrs Miller – A Hard Day’s Night (1966)
Bless Mrs Miller. She was serious and entirely unironic about her singing, but also possessed the self-awareness to know that she was a bit of a joke. She did her limited best, and was aware that there was no consensual admiration of her singing chops. Though she never intended to create comedy — she was motivated to disseminate her art widely as a way of inspiring others — she knew that her cult status was based on listeners deriving amusement from her stylings. Her version of Hard Day’s Night is notable for her lapses in timing and the aggressive licence she takes with reaching the right notes.

The Woofers And Tweeters Ensemble – Love Me Do (1983)
The torture began with an outfit called The Bulldogs, and it ends with canines barking Love Me Do, supported by assorted farm animals. It’s one of the better musical moments on this collection.

This collection fits on a standard CD-R (if you really must), includes a home-whooo’d covers, and the above text in PDF. PW in comments.

GET IT!

More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    January 27th, 2014 at 17:56 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. lugworm
    January 29th, 2014 at 23:36 | #2

    Interesting and entertaining, also memory jogging. Thank you for the post.

  3. groundhum
    January 31st, 2014 at 20:14 | #3

    For putting together this compilation, you will undoubtedly be canonized. Thanks.

  4. Rhod
    February 2nd, 2014 at 03:17 | #4

    Great share. A very interesting mix of eclectic songs.

    Regards

    Rhod

  5. Stevo
    February 2nd, 2014 at 21:43 | #5

    Thanks much for this – (mostly) looking forward to hearing some of these gems. I have heard some, but having these in one place will make for an interesting listen.

  6. February 5th, 2014 at 06:50 | #6

    Great collection, thanks!

  7. rat-a-tat-tat
    February 16th, 2024 at 18:59 | #7

    This once is for the ages. Hall of Fame.
    Thank you for reviving it from your original 2014 post.

  8. February 18th, 2024 at 06:40 | #8

    The take away message is that people really had a hard time accepting the Beatles haircut.
    Nice collection. Thanks.

  9. Lord Carrett
    February 28th, 2024 at 07:05 | #9

    Fantastic post! Thank you!

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