Latest Beatles News

Paul McCartneyannounced on Apr. 25 that he'll be bringing his One on One Tour back to North America this summer with a schedule of 14 concerts set to kick off in Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena on July 5.Paul McCartneyOther cities on the tour, many of which Sir Paul will be playing in for the first time ever, include Tampa (7/10), Duluth, Minn. (7/13), Bossier City, La. (7/15), Wichita, Kan. (7/19), Des Moines, Ia. (7/21), Omaha, Neb. (7/23), Tinley Park, Ill. (7/25), Newark, N.J. (7/11), New York's Madison Square Garden (7/15), Brooklyn's Barclays Center (7/19), Syracuse, N.Y. (7/23) and Uniondale, N.Y. (7/26) before wrapping on Oct. 1 at Detroit's Little Ceasars Arena. McCartney recently announced that his next studio album, his followup to 2013's New, will be co-produced with Adeleproducer Greg Kurstin. - Stereogum.com ...... In other Beatles-related news, Ringo Starris offering two lucky fans the chance to have brunch with him as part of his charity campaign with Omaze, which benefits the David Lynch Foundation, a non-profit organization that reduces trauma and toxic stress among at-risk populations. Starr will play host to one charitable fan (and a friend of their choice) at his 77th birthday brunch on the July 7 in LA. All you have to do is donate a minimum of $10 to Ringo's Omaze campaign. Starr made the announcement in a video, in which he also encouraged everyone to take a little time out on his July 7 birthday to spread a little "peace and love." Winners will be flown to the event, where they'll become part of Starr's inner-circle to dine in style with other VIP guests in front of the world-renowned Capitol Records building. - New Musical Express ......David Peel David Peel, the anti-establishment New York street singer and political activist known for his songs about marijuana and John Lennon, died on Apr. 6 after suffering a massive heart attack on Mar. 31. He was 73. Peel, real name David Rosario, released his first two albums, The American Revolution and Have a Marijuana, on Elektra Records in 1968 and 1970, respectively. Peel met up with Lennon and Yoko Onowhen they were being shown around Greenwich Village in 1972. He was signed to the Beatles ' Apple Records label and recorded an album produced by Lennon and Ono called The Pope Smokes Dope that was released in 1972 and immediately caused controversy because of its title. Peel also made a guest appearance on the Lennon-produced, self-titled Elephant's Memory album for the band that backed Lennon. Two of his eclectic albums made the Billboard 200 albums chart: Have a Marijuana peaked at No. 186 in 1969, while The Pope Smokes Dope peaked at No 191 in 1972. His later solo albums included tributes to Lennon: John Lennon for President and John Lennon Forever, plus Bring Back The Beatles and Long Live The Grateful Dead. - Billboard ...... The Beatles' Apple Corps. officially announced on Apr. 5 that the band's classic 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band will be getting a special anniversary reissue on May 26 in several CD and vinyl packages to feature new audio mixes of the album and a special super deluxe six-disc set full of unreleased outtakes. Fans will be able to choose from four separate offerings, including a newly remixed single disc of the original album, a two-LP vinyl set with the album and a second disc of collected outtakes in the same order as the album and a two-disc CD version with a second disc of complete early takes from the album in the same sequence plus outtakes of "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," the two-sided single released before the album. The six-CD deluxe set will be housed in a box and include the original remixed album, two discs of outtakes in chronological order of their first recording date and a CD of the original mono mixes of the album. "It's crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art," says Paul McCartneyin the introduction to the book in the deluxe set. The album won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and was selected in 2003 by the Library of Congress for its National Recording Registry as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." Additionally, for Record Store Day on Apr. 22, the Beatles said today they will release a limited edition vinyl single of "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever." - Billboard/NME ......George HarrisonIn other Beatles news, George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrisonand their son Dhani Harrisonrecently hosted a 74th birthday tribute to George at Los Angeles' Subliminal Gallery. The event also marked the launch of a new "extended edition" of Harrison's 1980 classic memoir I Me Mine with new lyrics, writings and photos, which was published on Feb. 21, as well as a new 13-album Harrison vinyl box set, The Vinyl Collection. "The book is as complete as we could make it," Olivia says. "I've been trying to do it for three or four years." Olivia added that she recently discovered a lost George song called "Hey Ringo" in a piano bench in an envelope. "They think it was from around 1970 or 1971. "I'm going to get it framed and give it to him because it's really sweet... Ringo was totally surprised and really happy. What a gift to have all these years later." - Billboard ...... Paul McCartneyhas responded to Sony/ATV's suggestion that he brought an "unripe" lawsuit seeking confirmation he'll reclaim rights to Beatlessongs in 2018. In a letter to the judge on Mar. 29, McCartney's lawyer Michael Jacobs writes, "Delay would not simplify the parties' dispute, but it would prejudice McCartney. As long as Sony/ATV refuses to disavow any right to sue for breach of contract, McCartney has a cloud over the title to his works, which devalues his rights." McCartney sued Sony/ATV in January and looked for assurance that under 304(c) of the U.S. Copyright Act, he has the ability to grab back rights to works by serving a notice of termination. The legendary former Beatle expects to do so in 2018, but he's worried, due to a case involving a Sony affiliate over in the U.K. There, an English court ruled that Duran Duran's contractual promise to not transfer its interest in copyrights foreclosed the band's ability to terminate a grant of rights. The British justice believes it isn't necessary to heed an aspect of American copyright law that states that termination of a grant "may be effected notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary." - The Hollywood Reporter ...... In an interview with BBC Radio 6 on Mar. 25, Paul McCartneyrevealed he's working on a new album with producer Greg Kurstin, who McCartney previously worked with for a song for an animated film. "I'm making a new album, which is great fun. I'm in the middle of that," Sir Paul said. "I'm working with a producer who I first worked with two years ago on a thing, a piece of music I'm doing for an animated film. And since then he went on to work with Beckand got best album of the year," he continued. "Then he went on to work with Adele. He just got song of the year, record of the year with Adele. And just got producer of the year. So my only worry is people are going to go, 'Uhhhhh, there's Paul going with the flavor of the month.' You know, I suppose you always think the worst of it. But he's a great guy. Greg is musical and he's great to work with."Paul McCartneyMcCartney, who has not scheduled a release date for the upcoming album, released a deluxe version of his 1989 solo album Flowers in the Dirt with previously unheard demos from the recording sessions with Elvis Costelloon Mar. 24, and has announced plans to tour Japan in 2017. Macca also paid tribute to the late Chuck Berry, who was a major influence on the Beatles. "He came to one of our concerts when we were playing in St. Louis, which is his home town. And he came round backstage. It was great to meet him and just be able to tell him what a fan I was," he said. - Billboard ...... In other Beatles-related news, Pete Shotton, a childhood friend and early bandmate of John Lennon, died of a heart attack in Liverpool, England, on Mar. 24 at age 75. "My memories of the two of us go back so far that I barely remember a time when there was no John Lennon in my life," Shotton wrote in his 1983 autobiography In My Life. Shotton, who lived around the corner from John, says he approached Paul McCartneysoon after he'd met Lennon about an idea to join the pre-Beatles group The Quarrymen, which then included both him and Lennon. "By the way, I've been talking to John about it and we thought maybe you'd like to join the group." He wrote that McCartney thought for a minute, then said, "Oh, all right," and took off on his bicycle to go home. Shotton also played a role in the creation of two Beatles songs: "Eleanor Rigby" and "I Am the Walrus." Shotton said he suggested the name "Father McKenzie" when McCartney was trying to come up with the name of a cleric for the song. It was also his idea, he says, to have Rigby die at the end of the song, a suggestion he writes was originally rejected by Lennon. Lennon later gave Shotton a job managing the Apple Botique, which lasted just over six months before closing in 1968, and the pair remained friends until Lennon's death in 1980. - Billboard ...... The Beatles' hometown of Liverpool, England announced on Mar. 22 that it is preparing to celebrate the half-centenary of the band's seminal 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Liverpool authorities have commissioned 13 artists to create works based on the album's 13 tracks, including choreographer Mark Morris' dance tribute to the title song, cabaret artist Meow Meow's "outlandish procession" based on "Lovely Rita" and a mural by U.S. artist Judy Chicagoinspired by "Fixing a Hole." There will also be a singalong by 64 choirs of the jaunty "When I'm Sixty-Four." The works will have their world premieres at venues across Liverpool between May 25 and June 16. On June 1 -- the anniversary of the album's release -- the city will host a fireworks extravaganza by French pyrotechnic artist Christophe Berthonneau. - AP ...... Paul McCartney's brother Michael McCartneysays he believes a vintage Liverpool police recruitment film dating from 1958 may very likely contain a glimpse of himself, Paul and John Lennonstanding on the rooftop of the McCartneys' home at 20 Forthlin Road watching the annual Police Horse and dog display. The footage was discovered by Liverpudlian Peter Hodgson, who posted on Facebook, "I love watching old films about Liverpool on You Tube and I made the connection with Forthlin Road when I saw the Mather Avenue police show footage... I found the information on a Merseyside Police website which confirmed it was 1958." Michael McCartney then told the Liverpool Echo that he believes it "could definitely be us... It was a really big occasion in Liverpool and that's what we used to do every summer" -- take deck chairs and climb onto the concrete shed and watch a free show. And I think there is every chance John would have been there that year -- absolutely. His friend, Pete Shotton, was a police cadet. And George [Harrison]could easily have been there, too. It's bloody mad -- absolutely fascinating and unbelievable!" Although the images of the people in question are to tiny for a positive identification, if it is indeed Paul McCartney and John Lennon it would be the earliest known film appearance of any of the group members. - Billboard ...... In related news, Sony/ATV Music Publishing is telling a UK judge that Sir Paul's lawsuit to reclaim rights to songs he authored as a member of the Beatles is "unripe" and "clearly forum-shopping." McCartney filed suit against Sony January, suing to confirm that under the termination provisions of U.S. copyright law, he gets to recapture his share of the copyright in the UK. If McCartney is successful, he will have terminated a copyright grant 18 months hence. Sony is asking the UK court to dismiss this case, and allow the UK court to determine relevant issues of UK contract law. Meanwhile, McCartney has unveiled the previously unheard demo for "Distractions" from his 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt, which will drop as a deluxe reissue on Mar. 24. Recorded and mixed by McCartney at Rude Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland, in 1987, "Distractions" was a key track on side one of Flowers in the Dirt. - Billboard/New Musical Express ......The BeatlesThe UK paper The London Sunday Times is reporting that a 50th anniversary deluxe re-release of the Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album is being planned for later in 2017. This special edition will reportedly include the songs "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane," which were originally planned to be included in the album, but were released as a double A-side single instead under pressure from record company EMI. Because the Beatles used to not include singles on albums, the two songs didn't end on up Sgt. Pepper, a decision that Beatles producer George Martinonce called "a truly terrible mistake." More details about the re-release are being kept secret, but all parties involved have co-operated fully, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starrand John Lennonand George Harrison's respective widows, Yoko Onoand Olivia Harrison. The re-release is set for June 1, exactly fifty years after the original. - The London Sunday TImes ...... In other Beatles-related news, John Lennon and Yoko Ono's son Sean Lennonhas shared a recording of a song called "Bird Song" that he co-wrote with recently deceased actress/writer Carrie Fisher. Lennon and Fisher were good friends, with the musician calling her "one of the best and closest friends I've ever had in my life" in an Instagram post after her death. On Mar. 6, Sean shared the song on Instagram, explaining it was about "staying up too late and hearing the birds sing." "Carrie and I wrote this song years ago," Lennon wrote. "When she died I just felt I had to record it. This is only a demo unmixed, we only had a few hours to record it. But the lyrics she wrote with me I think are marvelous." - New Musical Express ...... U.K. designer Alan Aldridge, who contributed to and compiled the classic Beatles-themed book The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, has died at age 73. Aldridge is possibly best known for the picture book The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973), a series of illustrations of anthropomorphic insects and other creatures, which he created in collaboration with William Plomer, who wrote the accompanying verses. Aldridge's other works include The Penguin Book of Comics (1967), Bernie Taupin: The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John (1976), and The Adventures and Brave Deeds of the Ship's Cat on the Spanish Maine (1977), and The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge (2009). - Goodreads.com ...... A picture of Paul McCartneyand Ringo Starrrecording together at Ringo's home studio was posted on Twitter by Starr on Feb. 19, and Starr's publicist has confirmed McCartney was there to contribute to Ringo's forthcoming album. "Thanks for coming over man and playing Great bass. I love you man peace and love," posted Ringo, who also posted a separate picture of himself, Paul and Joe Walshwith the comment, "And look out Joe W came out to play. What a day I'm having. Peace and love." The two surviving Beatleslast recorded together for Ringo's Y Not album, released in 2010. Four days earlier on Feb. 15, Starr, McCartney, Walsh, Tom Hanksand Dave Grohlwere spotted at at the Giorgio Baldi restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif. - Billboard/New Musical Express ...... In related news, a new song featuring Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Dirty Projectorsand Ezra Koenigof Vampire Weekendwith Dave Longstrethof the Dirty Projectors producing. McCartney previously teamed up with Kanye West for the collaborative song "FourFiveSeconds" which also featured Rihanna. The bridge of that song was written by Longstreth. - NME ......The BeatlesElsewhere on the Fab Four front, the movie rights for The Beatle Who Vanished, a book by author Jim Berkenstadtabout drummer Jimmie Nicholwho once filled in for Ringo Starr on tour for 13 days in 1964 when Ringo became ill, have been secured by Alex Orbisonand Ashley Hamilton's 449 Productions. Alex Orbison is the son of rock and roll legend Roy Orbison, for whom the Beatles once opened for on tour before they shot to fame. Berkenstadt's book, first published in 2013, included accounts of Nichol's time with the Beatles, his pre- and post-Beatles career and included many archival photos. After his short tenure in the Beatles, Jimmie Nicol stayed in the music business playing with many groups, including Peter & Gordon, but mostly obscure bands. He has since avoided the spotlight. Alex Orbison says he is also planning a film on his father's life. - Billboard ...... High profile movie producer Michael De Luca( Captain Phillips, Moneyball, The Social Network ) is working on a new, currently-untitled movie about the relationship between John Lennonand Yoko Ono, as well as their antiwar efforts. "The story will focus on ripe and relevant themes of love, courage and activism in the U.S. -- with the intention of inspiring today's youth to stand up for and have a clear vision for the world they want," De Luca said in a statement on Feb. 1.John LennonYoko Ono"I am also honored and privileged to be working with Yoko Ono, [writer] Anthony McCartenand [Immersive Pictures chief] Josh Bratmanto tell the story of two amazing global icons." McCarten is the author behind The Theory of Everything and an upcoming Winston Churchillbiopic starring Gary Oldman. During their 11-year marriage, John and Yoko collaborated on multiple creative projects, including what would become Lennon's final solo effort, 1980's Double Fantasy. In 2016, Yoko Ono reissued three of her albums from the 1970s, the start of a full reissue campaign of her music. - The Hollywood Reporter ...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartneyhas unveiled a rare demo on the web featuring Elvis Costellocalled "Twenty Fine Fingers" as part of his ongoing Archive Collection. "Twenty Fine Fingers" is the first of nine demo tracks from the sessions for Macca's 1989 solo album, Flowers In the Dirt, that are set to be released in 2017. McCartney and Costello collaborated on four of Flowers In the Dirt 's 12 tracks, with Costello credited as a featured artist on the song "You Want Her Too." While "Twenty Fine Fingers" has already featured on McCartney bootlegs since Flowers In the Dirt was released (incorrectly titled as "Twenty-Five Fingers"), this is the first time that the demo has been officially released by its creator. A deluxe reissue of Flowers In the Dirt is set to drop on Mar. 24, which will contain eight other McCartney/Costello demos in addition to "Twenty Fine Fingers." A super deluxe version will contain a bonus DVD, 64-page photo book, and many other extras. - New Musical Express ......Ringo Starr"Now the Time Has Come," a song featuring Ringo Starrthat debuted in September 2016 for the annual International Day of Peace, is being made available as a free download for the first time. The song was created by Starr and producer Bruce Sugarand two versions are available to stream online: one by Ringo and friends Richard Page, Colin Hayand Billy Valentine, and another with Ringo and friends and Latin artist Fonseca. The song's lyrics include the line: "Now the time has come/Time has come for everyone/To lay down all your guns/And let the light of love shine on and on." Ringo has celebrated "peace and love" annually since 2008 on his July 7 birthday, and International Day of Peace ("Peace Day") is observed around the world each year on Sept. 21. It was established in 1981 by United Nations resolution 36/37 as a day devoted to "commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples." - Billboard ...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartneyfiled suit in New York on Jan. 18 against Sony/ATV with the aim of getting a declaratory judgment that states he will soon regain his copyright ownership share of songs he created as a member of the Beatles. In what could become one of the most important legal battles in the music industry this decade, Sir Paul is looking to leverage the termination provisions of the Copyright Act, which was passed by Congress in 1976 and increased the period that works are under copyright protection, and in recognition of authors who had signed over their rights to publishers and studios without much bargaining power. The bill allowed such authors 35 years hence to reclaim rights in the latter stages of a copyright term, and artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Pettyand Princehave used the mere threat of termination to negotiate new deals and better compensation arrangements. The lawsuit notes that McCartney has been serving and recording termination notices for nearly a decade. Represented by attorneys at Morrison & Foerster, he now expects to recover copyright interests as soon as Oct. 5, 2018. Sony/ATV issued a statement saying they "are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit which we believe is both unnecessary and premature" and that they have "collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon's Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalog's long-term value." - Billboard ......George HarrisonThe estate of George Harrisonannounced on Jan. 17 that a box set of Harrison's vinyl albums will be released in Feb. 2017. George Harrison - The Vinyl Collection will feature the vinyl albums reproduced as they were originally released and in their original cover sleeves, and the albums were remastered from the original analog master tapes at Capitol Studios. The set will also include the two-LP set Live In Japan along with set exclusives of two 12" single picture discs of '80s hit singles "When We Was Fab" and "Got My Mind Set On You." The albums will also be available separately, though Harrison's 1970 triple-LP masterwork All Things Must Pass will be a limited-edition release, the estate said. - Billboard ...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, the drum kit used by the Beatles on "Love Me Do," their first No. 1 US single in 1964, will be auctioned by Nate D. Auctions on Jan. 26, with bidding beginning at $75,000 (£60,598). Ringo Starrdid not play on that recording however, session musician Andy Whitefilled in for Ringo in what was only Starr's second session with the band. The drum skin of the bass drum has White's name, the song title and The Beatles' logo on it, as well as drum maker Ludwig's name. - New Musical Express, 1/21/17...... Two offspring of the Beatles-- Sean Lennonand Stella McCartney, got together on Jan. 10 at the Cotton Club in New York's Harlem. Stella, the daughter of Pauland Linda McCartney, was in New York for her pre-fall fashion show. On his Facebook page, Sean, the son of John Lennonand Yoko Ono, made a comment on a picture from the show, "At @stellamccartney Cotton Club bash the other night. Was nice to see the familams." Stella has made a name for herself as one of the world's top fashion designers, and her famous dad has often attended her fashion shows. - Billboard ...... Alex "Magic Alex" Mardas, who was once dubbed The Beatles' technological guru, has died at age 74 in Greece. Mardas was reportedly found dead in his apartment of natural causes on Jan. 12, and reportedly had been dead for several days before his body was found. While most of Magic Alex's inventions for the Fab Four were failures or didn't deliver what he promised, some of his ideas were way before their time. Some of his ideas had foresight, like the phone that dialed by voice recognition and displayed the numbers of callers. But then there were others, like the electronic brooches that made noise and flashed in no particular order, an artificial sun that used laser beams, and the invisible curtain that used ultrasonic vibrations to "screen" the Beatles from their fans. "I invented a large number of electronic devices, none of which had anything to do with music of the business of the Beatles," Mardas told the New York Times in 2010. "It must be remembered that none of these had even been thought about by others at the time, although most of them are now in common use," citing an electronic camera and a "memory phone" among them." When The Beatles began Apple Corps in 1968, Mardas was hired to head Apple Electronics, and was also chosen to design lighting for the band's newly opened Apple Boutique and reportedly tried to help them buy a Greek island. A year later, he was pushed out by the band's new business manager Allen Kleinafter failing to properly put together a planned 78-track recording studio for them at Apple. - Billboard ...... A bevy of A-list musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Eddie Vedderand Jay Zare set to perform at Pres. Barack Obama's final White House party on Jan. 6 in Washington before the 44th president ends his term on Jan. 20. The final "grown up" party as the Obamas describe it will also include close friends and major donors, including Chance the Rapper, Bradley Cooper, JJ Abrams, David Lettermanand George Lucas, with Usherand Samuel L. Jacksonalso rumoured. The news comes as Pres. Elect Donald Trumpis reportedly struggling to book artists to perform at his upcoming inaugural ball, whose only name artist so far is 2010 America's Got Talent finalist Jackie Evancho, who is set to perform the US national anthem. - New Musical Express ......Paul McCartney Paul McCartneymade a suprise New Year's Eve appearance with the Las Vegas band The Killersas they were performing in St. Barts for Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman AbramovichMcCartney played one of his old band's songs, "Helter Skelter," with The Killers, and on New Year's Day he posted a holiday message on his website, writing "Happy New Year's Day. May this year be a happy and peaceful one for you and your family and everyone around the world. Love Paul." On Dec. 31, Sir Paul has confirmed his first live dates in 2017 will be in Japan in April. - NME ...... Allan Williams, the first manager of the Beatleswho became known as "The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away" from the title of his gritty autobiography, died in Liverpool on Dec. 30. He was 86. In the early 1960s, Mr. Williams opened a coffee bar in Liverpool called The Jacaranda where he first met Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrisonand Stuart Sutcliffe, and personally drove the van to take the young band to Hamburg in 1960, where they gained the vital showbusiness experience that led to their emergence on the world stage. Mr. Williams helped the band get other gigs as well, including a short tour of Scotland with Johnny Gentle, but he and the Beatles got into a dispute after the group took on an extended engagement at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg and refused to pay Mr. Williams the commission he believed he was owed. The dispute was the beginning of the end of their association, and when the group returned to Liverpool, now with Pete Bestas drummer, they came to the attention of Brian Epstein, who was running a local record shop. Epstein told Williams he was thinking of managing the Beatles. Mr. Williams told him about the commission dispute and how unpredictable they were. "Yes, yes, Allan you're right," Epstein told him, "but I feel here (tapping his chest) that together the Beatles and I could make something really big. So big that ..." Years later, Mr. Williams worked to get tapes of the Beatles recorded while they were playing at the Star-Club in Hamburg released. The Beatles later won a court case to have the tapes taken off the market. In more recent years, he met with groups of Beatles fans traveling through Liverpool. Beatles historians note that although Mr. Williams wasn't the person who could mold the band into the phenomenon they became, his decision to send them to Hamburg allowed them to transform themselves from a mediocre dance band into the tight, hard-rocking group that mesmerized the world. Williams' death marks the second passing in recent weeks of someone closely associated with the early days of the Beatles. Sam Leach, who booked many early Beatles shows, died Dec. 21 after a long illness. - Billboard ......Yoko OnoA new video for a song called "We Are Not Afraid" that raises fund for victims of religious and political violence around the world has attracted the participation of the likes of Yoko Ono, Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro, Stingand Patti Smith, among others. Ono became the first to agree to participate after her photographer friend Bob Gruen, who snapped many iconic photos of her and John Lennonbefore Lennon's 1980 death, brought the project to Yoko's attention. "(Yoko) immediately offered to put together the long form 'We Are Not Afraid' video when told of our plan. And for that we are deeply grateful," said creator-organizer Steve Weitzman in a statement. Weitzman says the eight-minute video was expanded from its original planned four-minute length because so many celebrities, which also include Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Browne, Chuck D, Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt, Debbie Harry, Dionand Elvis Costello, signed on. The video, which premiered in November, shows the stars holding signs with the song title and the music was written by Nigerian singer-songwriter Majek Fashek. It is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and other major outlets, with proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW). "It's a positive statement in a negative world," said Bob Gruen in a statement. "I hope it becomes something that inspires people around the world to do their own versions. You shouldn't go through life being afraid." Yoko Ono adds, "We're all together now!" More info can be found at the wearenotafraid.net website. - Billboard .... An a cappella version of Paul McCartney's yuletide ditty "Wonderful Christmastime" featuring the former Beatle himself was aired on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Dec. 20. With host Jimmy Fallon's house band The Rootsproviding backup vocals, lyrics from "Wonderful Christmastime" were delivered by Fallon, then animated versions of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlaneand singer Tori Kellybefore Macca appeared to finish the song, which was first released in 1979. McConaughey, Witherspoon, Johansson, MacFarlane and Kelly are all starring in the new animated film Sing. - New Musical Express ...... In other Beatles-related news, Yoko Onowill appear in the cast of director Wes Anderson's next film, an animated movie called Isle of Dogs about a group of dogs living on an island. Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johannson, Bryan Cranstonand Edward Nortonwill also be providing vocal tracks for the film. Meanwhile, classic videos by Yoko's deceased husband John Lennonhave been added to YouTube, just in time for Christmas. Solo songs by John including "Imagine," "Jealous Guy" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" are among the over 20 clips now streaming on the popular online video service for free. "Happy Holidays! love, yoko," wrote Ono as she shared the news on Twitter on Dec. 18. - Billboard/NME ...... In still more Beatles news, a French fan of the Fab Four has announced he will sell 15,000 items of Beatles memorabilia in hopes that it will pay for his retirement. Jacques Volcouve will put his collection of records, signed books, posters, autographs and figurines up for auction at the prestigious Drouot auction house in Paris on March 18, 2017. "The Beatlemania bug bit me and I was never cured of it," Volcouve told the paper The Observer. Volcouve says he has met Paul McCartney, George Harrisonand Ringo Starrin person and claims to have met Yoko Ono. "I hope the sale will give me enough money to live on decently until I die, and my collection will have a new life with someone else," he said. - NME ......Paul McCartney Paul McCartneyrevealed on Dec. 15 that his 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt will be reissued in the US on Mar. 24, 2017. The release will be the first under his new deal with Capitol Records, which was announced in August, and Capitol says the reissue was personally supervised by McCartney. It will include a wealth of previously unheard demos and be available in a 2-CD special edition, on vinyl over 2 LPs and a deluxe edition with 3 CDs and a DVD plus books. Digital downloads will be made available of all tracks. The deluxe edition will include the 13-track album remastered at Abbey Road Studios and two added discs with 18 bonus tracks of previously unreleased demos, both the original and 1988 demo versions done by McCartney and his co-writer of several songs on the album, Elvis Costello. "I hadn't listened to [the demos] in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out," McCartney said in a statement. "We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment's finally arrived," he added. - Billboard ...... Yoko Onomarked the anniversary of death of her husband John Lennonon Dec. 8 by posting a powerful plea for gun control on her website. "Dear Friends," she wrote.Yoko Ono"Every day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. We are turning this beautiful country into a War Zone. Together, let's bring back America, the green land of Peace. The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 36 years, our son Sean and I still miss him." Yoko also posted a photo of John's blood-stained glasses to drive the point home. The couple's son, Sean Lennon, also posted a tribute in memory of his dad, as did the surviving Beatles and other figures from the music and arts world. - New Musical Express ...... In other Beatles-related news, a Twitter user named Chris Barker has refashioned the Fab Four's iconic Sgt. Pepper 's album cover to honor the many music icons that have passed in 2016. Among the faces on "christhebarker"'s cover are: David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Sir George Martin, Leon Russell, Keith Emerson, Maurice White, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Robert Vaughnand Gene Wilder. - Billboard ...... The 59th Annual Grammy Awards nominees were announced on Dec. 6, and the Ron Howard-directed Beatlestour documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week received a Best Music Film nomination. Paul McCartney's deluxe Tug of War reissue also got a nod for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package. - Billbaord ...... A new picture book inspired by John Lennon's 1971 world peace anthem "Imagine" is set for release on Sept. 21, 2017, the United Nations' International Day of Peace. Authorized by Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, the book will be released in partnership with Amnesty International, which will receive some of the proceeds. ith illustrations by Jean Jullien, the book will feature Lennon's lyrics as it tells of a young pigeon's mission to advocate for peace. - AP





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