Monday, 29 July 2013


This is a picture of The Beatles that I bet many of you haven’t seen. It’s the original concept for what became the infamous butcher cover for the initial pressings of the US LP “Yesterday and Today.” The idea was to give the impression that the woman was being disemboweled. Pleasant, eh?
The Beatles hated the way Capitol in America put out their records, and they felt their material was being butchered. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was the first LP that was released exactly as it was in the UK. Well, almost. It was missing the inner groove at the end of side 2

The story of the "butcher cover" has become the stuff of rock legend. Photographer Robert Whitaker was the Beatles' photographer between 1964 and 1966 and came up with the idea for this photo shoot. The Beatles were at the height of their fame and Whitaker bore witness to the hordes of screaming fans and prostrating females, and he wanted to shoot a concept image referencing the celebrity idolatry. Whitaker was also an admirerer of Salvador Dali and surrealism, which influenced his vision. The Beatles were game for the shoot, so Whitaker ran around to butcher shops to find the meat and then had to find the baby dolls and dismember them. "It was a lot of work.''
The photo wasn't originally intended for an album cover. It was meant to be part of a triptych, with the above image the last in the series. The plan was to doctor the image to include halos over the Beatles' heads, referencing religious iconography. Surprisingly, the image landed on the cover of the Capitol Records release of Yesterday and Today. Capitol ended up recalling the cover; they were feeling especially skittish in the wake of John Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" comment.
A new cover for the album was produced and many of the "butcher covers" were destroyed. However, the record company eventually decided it would be cheaper to paste the new cover photo over the old one and once this leaked to the public, fans tried to steam the new cover off to see if the "butcher cover" was underneath. Needless to say, the original "butcher cover" has become a valuable collectable item.

The Real Butcher concept

Whitaker had the idea of creating a satirical commentary on The Beatles' fame, inspired by the German surrealist Hans Bellmer's images of dismembered doll and mannequin parts.
I did a photograph of the Beatles covered in raw meat, dolls and false teeth. Putting meat, dolls and false teeth with The Beatles is essentially part of the same thing, the breakdown of what is regarded as normal. The actual conception for what I still call "Somnambulant Adventure" was Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. He comes across people worshipping a golden calf. All over the world I'd watched people worshiping like idols, like gods, four Beatles. To me they were just stock standard normal people. But this emotion that fans poured on them made me wonder where Christianity was heading.
Robert Whitaker
It was later claimed that the photographs were intended as a protest by The Beatles on their treatment by the press and public, and Capitol Records' insistence on reordering their album tracks for the American market, but Whitaker later denied this, saying it was entirely his idea.
Q: How did that photo, featuring the Beatles among slabs of meat and decapitated dolls, come about? Was it your idea or the Beatles'?
Robert Whitaker: It was mine. Absolutely. It was part of three pictures that should have gone into an icon. And it was a rough. If you could imagine, the background of that picture should have been all gold. Around the heads would have gone silver halos, jewelled. Then there are two other pictures that are in the book [The Unseen Beatles], but not in colour.
Q: How did you prepare for the shoot?
It was hard work. I had to go to the local butcher and get pork. I had to go to a doll factory and find the dolls. I had to go to an eye factory and find the eyes. False teeth. There's a lot in that photograph. I think John's almost-last written words were about that particular cover; that was pointed out to me by Martin Harrison, who wrote the text to my book. I didn't even know that, but I'm learning a lot.
Q: Why meat and dolls? There's been a lot of conjecture over the years about what that photo meant. The most popular theory is that it was a protest by the Beatles against Capitol Records for supposedly "butchering" their records in the States.
Rubbish, absolute nonsense. If the trilogy or triptych of the three photographs had ever come together, it would have made sense. There is another set of photos in the book which is the Beatles with a girl with her back toward you, hanging on to sausages. Those sausages were meant to be an umbilical cord. Does this start to open a few chapters?
Q: Were you aware when you shot it that Capitol Records was going to use it as a record cover?
Q: Were you upset when they did and then when they pulled it and replaced it with another photo?
Well, I shot that photo too, of them sitting on a trunk, the one that they pasted over it. I fairly remember being bewildered by the whole thing. I had no reason to be bewildered by it, purely and simply, because it could certainly be construed as a fairly shocking collection of bits and pieces to stick on a group of people and represent that in this country.
Robert Whitaker
Goldmine magazine, 15 November 1991
The triptych as intended by Whitaker was to be retouched to make The Beatles appear as religious icons. The decoration was intended to contrast with the earthiness of the meat and dummies, underlining the group's normality beneath their fame.
The cover was an unfinished concept. It was just one of a series of photographs that would have made up a gate-fold cover. Behind the head of each Beatle would have been a golden halo and in the halo would have been placed a semi-precious stone. Then the background would have contained more gold, so it was rather like a Russian icon. It was just after John Lennon had said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. In a material world that was an extremely true statement.
Robert Whitaker
Out-takes from the session, included in Whitaker's book The Unseen Beatles, indicate the form the triptych was to take. The first photograph shows the group facing a woman standing with her back to the camera, with her hands raised in surprise or worship. The Beatles held a string of sausages, intended to symbolise an umbilical cord, to emphasise that the group were born like everybody else.
The triptych's centre panel is the image now known as the 'butcher' photograph, and shows The Beatles dressed in butchers' white coats, surrounded by slabs of meat and doll parts.
The final panel was an image of George Harrison standing behind a seated John Lennon, holding a hammer as if he was driving nails into Lennon's head. This was intended to underline that The Beatles were real and substantial, not idols to worship.
The butcher photograph was used in advertisements for Paperback Writer in the British music press before it appeared on the cover of the Capitol Records compilation Yesterday... And Today.
Capitol pressed the cover in early June 1966, but upon its release that month it was swiftly recalled after an outcry from record retailers. Nervous after Lennon's comments about The Beatles being "more popular than Jesus", the label issued letters of apology and hastily issued the album with a replacement cover, also taken by Whitaker.
Eventually it was decided that it would be cheaper to paste the new cover shot over the withdrawn butcher sleeves. Unpeeled copies are now highly sought-after by collectors; however, the most valuable are the original 'first state' versions, particularly the stereo pressings.

I am going to devote a new section to this LP cover with all the pictures taken at the session, its an interesting concept album, as it was only just before the Revolver and the 'first' concept album of Sgt Peppers.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fulford Arms 13th July - Beatlefest!!

Just checked with Edwin about this saturdays Beatles music day at the Fulford Arms in York and here is his response:

Hi Chris, - yep its still on !!!!

We are starting the day with a big screen showing of Hard days Night about 2pm, followed by music from 4pm. We are also creating a giant Sgt Peppers Album cover for folks to help create and have their pics taken in and ending the day with a Beatles sing a long. - phew.

Bring some sun cream. Ed

The York based 'Pepper Hearts' are the lead act (here is their web page address, check them out: ).

So get yer collarless suits out, yer Sgt Pepper outfits or yer kaftans and silk flairs and get on down there - it sounds like its gonna be a 'fab' and 'gear' day...  (is that too much?)

Here's what the Fulford Arms gigguide webpage has to say about the day...
Sat 13th – EDSTOCK SUMMER FESTIVAL – This is gonna be one hell of a day as the Edstock Xmas Festival comes to summer with a special themed event to commemorate 50 years since The Beatles played in York. Fun includes watching A Hard Days Night movie to start the day; creating a modern version of Sgt Peppers famous album cover in the beer garden; Record Graveyard, magic with Adrian Salamon; a Beatles Quiz and open mic. Music from the Johnnie White Band; Lisa B, Headway; Sundog (feat: Stolen Earth’s Heidi Widdop in a rarely seen duo); Captains Of Industry; The Surf Sluts; Herb Helpless and the Marijuana Brass with the jewel in the crown being York’s own Beatles tribute band The Pepperhearts. 2pm-late. Children welcome until 8pm.


Monday, 1 July 2013

I am still here!!

 Hi.... yes, i have not been abducted by aliens, or been recruited by a religious sect or even been on an extended holiday!

Just been mega busy over June with my 'other' society, the Battle of Stamford Bridge. I had a few shows to attend and had to design and produce a massive Timeline exhibition for the Stamford Bridge History Open Day event we had organised in the village..... but all done for now, - so got time to catch up with my other business...

I have got lots of news and snippets to add so watch this space, and also want to promote the following festival event in July: I'm going, so get yerself there, lets hope its a luvverly summers day!

''Hi Chris, I organise a mini festival every year called Edstock,(Huddstock, madstock, Fifestock.. you get the picture) we knew the beatles link to the rialto was to be our theme so we are having our event at the Fulford arms (nearest venue to original site).

The gig is on Sat 13th July and runs all day with many local musicians playing Beatles songs. Headlining are the Pepperhearts and the whole event is FREE, Radio york have expressed interest and MinsterFM are going to interview me, also written to Look North (you never know!)  we would love to have people bring tickets, programmes etc. and we will award prizes.

There is even going to be a Beatles menu.
Cheers Edwin''

Saw this in last weeks papers, I will add it to the 'Beatles Cars' page when I get round to doing it...

''John Lennon’s first car, a 1965 Ferrari 330GT, is heading to a Bonhams auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 12, 2013. Finished in Azzuro blue paint, the classic Ferrari also has a matching blue interior and was priced at a little over $10,000 (£6,500) in February 1965. Lennon would own the car until October 1967, putting on over 20,000 miles.''

Apparently he got it in 1965 after passing his driving test and had it for about 3 years, well its now up for auction so will no doubt it be hyper-inflated for the is nice tho... never seen any pictures of Lennon in it or driving it, he never liked driving any way and usually had his live-in chaffeur drive him around most of the time.

The one time he did drive himself was when he crashed in 1969 whilst holidaying in Scotland with Yoko her daughter Kyoko and his son Julian. John crashed his white British Leyland Austin Maxi car in Golspie in the Highlands, Lennon was a notoriously bad driver who had rarely been behind the wheel since passing his test in 1965. He was poor at navigating roads and often failed to notice other traffic. The roads around Golspie were narrow, and Lennon lost control of the car, driving it into a roadside ditch.

He, Ono and Kyoko sustained cuts to the face and Ono's back was injured. They were taken to Golspie's Lawson Memorial Hospital where Lennon was given 17 facial stitches, Ono 14 in her forehead, and Kyoko four.  Julian Lennon was treated for shock but was otherwise unhurt. He was taken to stay with Lennon's Aunt Mater in Durness, around 50 miles away, before his mother took him back to London the following day. When she arrived at the hospital to demand an explanation from Lennon he refused to see her.

Lennon remained in hospital for five days. He later told reporters, "If you're going to have a car crash, try to arrange for it to happen in the Highlands. The hospital there was just great."

Although Lennon was never intending to attend, 1 July was the first official day of recording for what became the Abbey Road album. The crash further delayed his return to London, and after being discharged from hospital he spent three days at home before finally rejoining The Beatles on 9 July.

Lennon later had the car crushed into a cube and exhibited it on his lawn at Tittenhurst Park.