Weshalb man wissen sollte, dass Alvin Stardust früher Shane Fenton war – und was George Martin und die Beatles damit zu tun haben

Shane Fenton mit The Fentones

Shane Fenton mit seiner Begleitband The Fentones

Schon möglich, dass einem keine bewundernden Blick zufliegen, wenn man mal in einer Runde nebenbei einwirft, dass Alvin Stardust früher den Künstlernamen Shane Fenton trug und richtig Bernard William Jewry heisst. Wer jedoch ein wenig an der Geschichte der britischen Popmusik interessiert ist, sollte sich kurz mit Shane Fenton beschäftigen.

Shane Fenton spielte am Anfang der 60er-Jahre ein paar Songs für EMI Parlophone ein unter der Leitung des Beatles-Produzenten George Martin. Einige der Songs entstanden in den Abbey Road Studios. Die Musik von Shane Fenton und seiner Begleitband The Fentones war hauptsächlich rückwärts gerichtet, Richtung 50er-Jahre. Eine Mischung aus Rock ‘n’ Roll, Pop-Balladen und Rockabilly mit deutlichen Einflüssen von Buddy Holly und Eddie Cochran.

Nicht so originell wie die Beatles

Vom Stil und Repertoire her ist Shane Fenton mit Cliff Richard vergleichbar. Die Parallelen sind unüberhörbar, denn Fentons Begleitband The Fentones orientierten sich an Richards Begleitband The Shadows. Heraus sticht It’s All Over Now (1962) [Audio-Link], das mit einem einem starken Gitarrenriff fesselt und bis auf den Refrain moderner und rockiger klingt als das restliche Material. Es ist unschwer herauszuhören, dass die Fenton-Songs gleich produziert und aufgenommen wurden wie die frühen Beatles-Songs.

Hörenswert sind die Songs, da sie für eine Übergangsära stehen. Es war die Zeit, als die Beatles und Rolling Stones noch auf ihren Durchbruch warteten. Bald sollten sich die britischen Musiker von ihren US-amerikanischen Vorbildern emanzipieren. Die Musik von Fenton schwankt zwischen blossem Kopieren amerikanischer Vorbilder und eigenwilligeren, britischen Ansätzen, die dann von den Beatles origineller umgesetzt wurden.

Shane Fenton verschwand nach 1964 hinter die Kulissen des Musikgeschäfts. Er tauchte Anfang der 70er-Jahre als Alvin Stardust wieder auf und hatte einige Hits als Glam-Rocker. Die Songs von Shane Fenton und The Fentones sind auf iTunes erhältlich.

Shane Fenton singt «Somebody Else Not Me» im Film It’s All Happenning (1963).

Paul McCartney originally wrote “Let It Be” for Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, on stage, July 1989

Aretha Franklin (Photo: LIFE)

Paul McCartney wrote “Let It Be” for Aretha Franklin. He offered the song to her with the right of first release. Aretha recorded it, but then she hold up the release. So she only released it after the Beatles had a smash hit with it (according to Jerry Wexler and David Ritz in the liner notes to the CD “Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul”, 2007).

I think this story makes sense. “Let It Be” has a strong spiritual undertone and I imagine that Paul McCartney thought it a fitting song for Aretha Franklin who originated from gospel music.

There’s also a rare version of “Let It Be” by Tennessee Ernie Ford (thanks to Dusty Fingers for pointing this out), who during the later part of his career recorded many spiritual albums.

The Hair Of Old British Pop And Rock Stars: Does It Ever Turn Gray?

Mick Jagger

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“What a drag it is getting old.”

Paul McCartney

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“My hairdresser said I look great.”

Ozzy Osbourne

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“I’m glad that I don’t have white hair like the dog.”

Robert Plant

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“Don’t tell anyone that I had my hair dyed.”

Cliff Richard

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“Hey, I’m only seventy.”

Heinz Edelmann, Designer Of Beatles Animation Movie “Yellow Submarine”, Dies At 75


Photo by Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images

Heinz Edelmann, the designer of the Beatles animation movie Yellow Submarine died in Stuttgart, Germany on July 21 according to Stuttgarter Nachrichten Online (article in German).  He was 75 years old. See also examiner.com article ‘Yellow Submarine’ art director Heinz Edelmann dies.

The picture above shows Beatles Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison (1943 – 2001) posing with a cartoon cut-out of fellow Beatle John Lennon (1940 – 1980), at a press review of ‘Yellow Submarine’.

Perücken und billige Gitarren – Die Sweetles wünschen sich zum Geburtstag einen Beatle

“Die Sweetles” single cover

«Die Sweetles» kamen 1964 mit dem Song «Ich wünsch’ mir zum Geburtstag einen Beatle» in die deutsche Hitparade. Der Songschreiber und Komponist Christian Bruhn (Hey, hey Wickie) stand hinter dem Projekt.

Die Sängerinnen waren Peggy Peters (richtiger Name Christina Zakewski), Bruhns damalige Frau Charlotte Marian (richtiger Name Charlotte Bischoff) und die Sängerin/Schauspielerin Monika Grimm. Aus Peggy Peters wurde später Tina Rainford.

Um die Verbindung zu den Beatles deutlicher zu machen, sind auf dem Cover vier Frauen abgebildet. Man beachte die Perücken und die tollen Stromgitarren. Neugierig geworden? Weiteres zu den Sweetles und anderen europäischen Sängerinnnen der sechziger Jahre gibts auf Ready Steady Girls .

Playing The Drums For The British Stars Of The Sixties

British Studio Drummer Bobby Graham

British Studio Drummer Bobby Graham

No, British studio drummer Bobby Graham didn’t join the Beatles. When The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein asked him in 1962, if he was in interested in joining the band, Bobby Graham answered: “Why would I want to join a band in Liverpool that nobody has ever heard of?”. Had he joined The Beatles the British music scene would have lost one of its most versatile drummers.

Like many studio musicians, Bobby Graham is a jazz drummer at heart. But he lent his drumming skills to every kind of music. He played the drums for many great British acts of the nineteen-sixties. It’s him on You Really Got Me by The Kinks, for example. You can also hear him on records by Them, Pretty Things, The Walker Brothers, Lulu, and Dusty Springfield. If you’d like to know more about the records he played on, than check Bobby Graham’s discography.

On many recording dates Bobby Graham played together with guitarist Jimmy Page who later would join Led Zeppelin. Like in the music studios in the USA, also British producers relied on experienced and skilled musicians who could record fast and in any style. Studio time was too expensive to take any risks. Back then still most of the music was recorded live and you had maybe four tracks on an analogue tape machine. If somebody messed up it meant doing it all over again.There’s was now software that could edit mistakes easily.

Visit Bobby Graham’s website to get more insight into the hard working life of a British studio drummer.

Please Don’t Sing With The Dead

Natalie Cole did it again – on her latest album “Still Unforgettable” she sings a duet with her late father Nat King Cole. Thanks to refined audio techniques it is possible to combine a voice from old tapes with newly recorded voices and instruments. She has used this little gimmick before on her 1991 album “Unforgettable”. I just hope there won’t be any more of these eerie duets.

I don’t think it’s eerie because the singer Nat King Cole is dead. I listen to the voices of dead singer all the time. It’s eerie because the dead singer can’t control what’s happening to his work and it’s eerie that people don’t show any respect. It’s alright to re-issue material of dead artists, but there’s no point in cobbling together “new” songs. Unfortunately Natalie Cole is not the only one who loves to unearth the dead.

A similar thing happened to the late Buddy Holly. His record company managed to release several albums after his death. They took demonstration recordings and overdubbed them with additional instruments and backing vocals.

Even the Beatles couldn’t resist to jump on the “let’s-tinker-with-the-voice-of-the-dead-train”. In 1995 Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr took the song “Free As A Bird” that John Lennon had recorded at home in poor sound quality on a cassette. It’s just him singing and playing piano and it’s probably one of the weakest songs that John Lennon ever wrote.

Beatles, Free As A Bird That his singing is uninspired doesn’t make the song better. It’s not John Lennon’s fault, he was killed in 1980 and couldn’t prevent damage. The surviving Beatles added instruments to the home-recording and audio engineers managed to bring everything together. In the case of the Beatles greed is probably not the motive for committing this musical crime. Maybe it’s just bad taste.

Also soul singer Sam Cooke was not spared. Someone had the idea to violate his songs “Ain’t That Good News” and “Somebody Ease My Troublin’ Mind” on the Les Paul album “American Made World Played”. This album that claims to be a Les Paul album would be bad enough even without the overdubbed Sam Cooke songs, because there’s hardly any playing by guitarist legend Les Paul on it. I wonder how the producers managed to talk Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck into adding their guitars to the two Sam Cooke songs. And I wonder even more what Sam Cooke has to do with Les Paul.

Here’s my appeal to musicians, relatives of musicians and music producers: please don’t sing with the dead.