38: Beatles Myths

January 20, 2016

Podcast, Podcasting


In this Mythbusters episode of SATB, Richard and Robert examine an array of commonly believed stories about the Beatles that just don’t stand up to scrutiny. Songs include “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” 

January 2016 is here and so is the Something About The Beatles 2016 calendar – get yours here

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    14 Responses to “38: Beatles Myths”

    1. Laura L. Enright Says:

      This was REALLY interesting you guys. So much information, even published in books from long ago, revealed as perhaps not quite accurate. It’s fascinating to think that these “four lads from Liverpool” could create these sorts of urban legends. What other group can anyone name that has such a history, mythology, etc. to it.

      Another reason I love the Beatles.


    2. Paul T Says:

      Top show as usual guys – amazing that there is actually more myth than TRUTH it seems! Only thing I wrote down was George’s birthday, which was NOT 25 Feb but 24th – mebbe a stretch to call it a myth but there you go. You could fill another show with more of the same. Roll on TWICKENAM – no HAM.


    3. Andy Oz Says:

      Hey Guys, Great show as ever. As you are talking Beatle myths, can I bring up one you repeated? It’s the Diana Ross/Blackbird one. On Youtube you can currently find the relevant tape of Paul and Donovan rehearsing/mucking around (it’s titled “Paul McCartney Donovan -1968,1969”). At 3:55 in on this clip, Paul and Donovan have been singing “Blackbird” and the following dialogue takes place:

      Donovan: There’s so many blackbirds around now
      Paul: I said the same thing to Diana Ross the other night. She took offence. (laughs) Not really. (insistent) But I did mean it like that originally, I remember…
      Donovan: (surprised) Really?
      Paul: Yeah, I just sort of read something in the paper about riots and that. (illustrating) “Blackbird singing in the dead of night/ Take these broken wings and learn to fly/ All your life, you were only waiting..
      Donovan: (getting it) Ah.
      Paul:…for this moment to arrive.

      It is quite clear that Paul is not saying the song was originally about Diana Ross, he’s kidding, but his joke reminds him that it was actually inspired by a black civil rights riot. This is a contemporaneous, private recording, that shows Paul was not retrospectively making this up for “Many Years From Now” but telling Donovan at the time. Donovan, like everybody else later, was surprised to hear this, but it’s true! ,
      What’s really fascinating about this is that when Paul writes a “protest song” or at least song about a controversial subject while in The Beatles it’s so veiled that it is not recognised at all or ever brought up by it’s composer. If John Lennon had written a song about Black Civil Rights in 1968, you can bet you would know about it, but Paul has decided not to bring it up in any interviews at all. Perhaps with an eye to commerciality not controversy, he’s letting it remain as just a beautiful song about a blackbird. It’s not just that at all, but Paul didn’t reveal this until almost 30 years later!
      I would be fascinated to know if he ever told John what the song was about. John was very (“John Denver”) dismissive of it in the Playboy interview, but he did say he’d contributed a line (for some reason I’ve always assumed “take these sunken eyes and see”, but just speculating).
      Anyway, whatever you might think of Paul’s claims for “Mr Kite” or “Ticket to Ride” etc, when it come to Blackbird it’s on tape at the time as true.


    4. Dan Eilenberg Says:

      I don’t know if one can unequivocally assert that Lennon never said the remark about Ringo not [even] being the best drummer in the Beatles. It absolutely sounds likes something he would have said flippantly in response to such a brazenly stupid question about who the best drummer in the world is. I don’t have proof to offer but I personally believe it’s highly likely he said it. The problem is that ignorant people not recognizing Lennon was being facetious believe that he literally meant that Paul was a better drummer than Ringo. It’s all too much …


      • Us Says:

        And that’s the brilliance of the line – why it SOUNDS credible – is because it DOES sound like something he would’ve said; that’s why so many people cannot be convinced that there’s not a kernel of truth to it.

        The thing is, John and Ringo were particularly close, and John would NEVER have said such a hurtful utterance about a guy who was already chronically insecure about his skills (going back to the “Love Me Do” session). Every documented comment John ever had to publicly say about Ringo’s drumming was always laudatory.


    5. Ed Lutheran Says:

      guys,good to know John wasn’t guilty of causing Stu’s death! I couldn’t imagine how he could’ve carried that one around all his life. Great to hear the backing of “Lucy in”. Unusual sounds. Really like your show!


    6. The Applesauce Project Says:

      I always thought Klaatu sounded more like if Todd Rundgren had produced Queen and replaced Freddie as lead singer rather than The Beatles.


    7. Chris Says:

      Here are a few more debunked myths:
      1) Paul McCartney has said that when he first met John Lennon, that John was drunk and he could actually smell the alcohol on his breath. According to surviving members of the original Quarrymen, this is totally bogus. The only person in the group who could afford to buy alcohol was the group’s drummer, Colin Hanton. He drank Guinness and cider.

      2) When the Beatles got the EMI contract, it wasn’t George Martin, but Ron Richards they first played for. It wasn’t only George, but Ron, who was frustrated by Pete Best’s drumming. He says that in a documentary Pete put out on his life some years ago. He asked him to do something on the drums, and Pete couldn’t or wouldn’t get it to Ron’s satisfaction.

      3) It has long been believed that John’s great-grandfather, John “Jack” Lennon came to the United States in the late 19th century and joined a minstrel show. Further research has shown this to be false.

      4) John and Brian Epstein were not homosexual lovers. John thought of Brian as a father, because he saw very little of his real father.



      • John K. Walker Says:

        (I am just now semi-randomly catching up on these past episodes.) The other prevailing myth along those lines, which both Ringo and George Martin incorrectly perpetuate in ANTHOLOGY, was that GM hired Andy White before the Sept. 4, 1962 session, based on Pete Best’s inadequate performance in June (which was mainly overseen by Ron Richards). It is absolutely established in the EMI documentation that Ringo had HIS de facto audition first on 9-4-1962, and THEN Andy White was brought in a week later. This means, of course, that that Ringo was likewise rejected as a studio session drummer. Ironically, in the original cut of ANTHOLOGY, Paul gets the story right, saying that atypically, Ringo time was off. (This part does not appear in the released version.) There is also a video on YouTube of Pete Best’s recollection of having heard this back in Liverpool at the time, naturally evincing a slight bit of satisfaction. Lewisohn’s TURN ON says Ringo sort of went wild at the session, probably from nerves.


    8. Sean Says:

      John was addicted to heroin for 6 months and methadone for 6 years. Maybe he went back to heroin out of frustration with the methadone at some point in the 1970s but I’ve never read a thing about it.


      • Us Says:

        It was longer than that and sporadic. After having written a song proclaiming his having kicked the habit (at least six months of using, through the January 1969 Twickenham sessions; Yoko would suffer her second Lennon miscarriage in February 1969), he then performs that same song live for the first time while on smack. So now we’re taking it into the fall of 1969. We know he was struggling with methadone in 1972 – there’s the Keith Richards story, plus the efforts to kick THAT habit on the West Coast.

        But we know that Yoko struggled with relapses during those final years of John’s life, including 1980; there are also accounts of John purportedly kicking H in 1979 with the use of a “float tank.” As stated in the show, given the clear signs of some serious issues during those final five years (withdrawal from socializing, weight loss, conspicuously avoiding England though he was free to travel there) and proximity to an admitted user, it’s not much of a leap to conclude the odds favored the likelihood of a relapse. This isn’t meant as a judgment as much as an effort to examine the evidence with clarity.


    9. Billy Shears Says:

      Thanks for clarifying a lot of things, especially the Stu stories.


    10. J Neo Marvin Says:

      “I think your question is shit.”

      Such a German answer. I can even hear the accent. Love ya, Klaus.


    11. Rob W Says:

      The Bernard Purdie claim was laughable from the start! The other myths that are good to refute about Clapton playing guitar on more than While My Guitar…. I am always adamant that the Beatles NEVER used any session players for the Rock Combo instruments , guitars, bass or drums ( except Love Me Do, PS I Love You- Andy White)there is No Other Guitarists or bassists on a Beatle record but George, Paul or John, except Clapton on the one track…they were their own session players no Wrecking Crew or the British equivalent involved…


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