By the power of email, author Nick Churchill was interviewed by the highly rated Comic Books and Movie Reviews website this week. The text is reproduced below by kind permission or you can read it in situ here.
Do you know what? I was always confused by the Beatles song 'Money Can't Buy Me Love'. Well, I just presumed that it was about a bad past experience that the band once had, with a disgruntled prostitute in Hamburg. How the hell was I suppose to figure out that it was about the eminent social reforms in Greece, complied with a subliminal message about smoked beetroot!!! True story - my mate, Nick Churchill, told it to me, just before he started to tell me about his Bournemouth and Beatles book, ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’.
For more than over 25 years now, writer, Nick Churchill has been writing professionally about music and many other things in the public eye – most of them for the Daily Echo in Bournemouth. He is a passionate music fan with broadening tastes, as well as having a love for film, theatre, art, and literature. Presently, he is 45 years old and lives in a Dorset village with his partner, who, in conjunction with his 17-year-old son, Jack, has been kind enough to pull him back whenever he has gotten lost in Pepperland whilst writing his book.
What now follows is an interview I conducted with Nick about his book.
CBAMR: What book?
NC: Now ‘this book’ – entitled ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ – is the definitive account of the many and unexpected connections between a small town on the south coast of England and the greatest rock 'n' roll group the world has ever seen. It's a kind of biography of the relationship, plotting the story of both parties before they met and after the stopped seeing one another. The connection goes back to the very first time John, Paul, and George, played together as the Silver Beetles right up to the funeral of John's aunt Mimi in 1991 – which was attended by Cynthia, Julian, Yoko, and Sean. Also, the subsequent sale and eventual destruction in 1994, of the home John had bought for her at Sandbanks - back in 1965. John was a frequent visitor until he and Yoko left for New York in 1971, enjoying boat trips around Poole Harbour and up the River Frome to Wareham ('picture yourself on a boat on a river...'!) and called it 'one of the loveliest places I know'.
CBAMR: In your opinion, which Beatles song best represents 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah', and why?
NC: Now there are a couple of contenders, but I would have to say it is ‘She Loves You’. The title of the book is taken from the song's refrain and was chosen because ‘She Loves You’ was released on the Friday of The Beatles' six day summer season of shows at the Bournemouth Gaumont from 19-24 August 1963. Although they were already big news and chart topping stars, those shows were among last they played before full scale Beatlemania broke out. All week they introduced ‘She Loves You’ as their new single and encouraged the audience to buy it. After it came out on Friday 23 August 1963, it went on to become their biggest selling UK single – and still is.
The sound of them singing 'yeah yeah yeah' became shorthand for Beatlemania as it headed for the number one spot. They played two shows a day for six days and while they were certainly lively, with some screaming, not all of them were sold out.
A recording of one of the shows captured the band on great form - their version of ‘Baby It's You’ is particularly impressive with its close harmonies and John's chilling lead vocal. The point being, you can actually hear them play and understand the banter with the audience. The term Beatlemania was coined by the Daily Mirror just two weeks before they came back to Bournemouth to play the much larger Winter Gardens venue on 16 November 1963. By then the screaming in the audience all but drowned out the band.
The Beatles went on the play more shows (16 in total) at the Bournemouth Gaumont than any other UK theatre outside London.
CBAMR: If Bournemouth was a Beatle, which one would this costal town be, and why?
NC: That's an interesting question. Much like The Beatles, Bournemouth has many different faces. It's quite a young town (it celebrated its bicentenary in 2010) and can't boast the thousand years of history of its neighbours Poole and Christchurch. Like John, it can be brash, a little wild and irreverent, not always getting things right but brim-full of the confidence to try. Like Paul, it is charming, sweet but fiercely ambitious and quite calculating in its methods. Like George, it has a quite confidence with a mysterious side that has seen literary figures like Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Percy Florence Shelley and Paul Verlaine drawn to the town. Like Ringo, Bournemouth likes a good time, is generally cheerful and holds a rock solid beat. It could also be Brian – whose father, Harry, died in Bournemouth in 1967 – because it is naturally conservative, profitable and shrewd.
CBAMR: What was the main reason for you to write this book?
NC: I grew up about 15 miles from Bournemouth and have been sharing stories about The Beatles playing in Bournemouth since I was a kid. I sang along to their records on the radiogram as a child and a fascination with their music and story stayed with me all throughout my youth and into my professional life as a journalist. A few years ago, a contact of mine bought a set of rare and unseen photos of The Beatles taken in Bournemouth at auction. The photos were by Harry Taylor, a freelance press photographer who had worked for the Bournemouth Echo and the Bournemouth Times in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He captured The Beatles in their dressing room, posing on a hotel balcony, at dinner, at a party, being interviewed etc. He had incredible access to the band and produced wonderful documentary-style photos. Coupled with the various significant connections between Bournemouth and The Beatles, the photos made a book the next obvious step. When I was made redundant by the Bournemouth Echo last Christmas, I suddenly found that I had the time to write the book as I established myself as a freelance writer.
CBAMR: Is there any exclusives in your book, that would make it any different to any of the other Beatles related publications?
NC: Many of the photos have never been seen before, or not seen since 1963 or 1964. Harry Taylor had incredible access to The Beatles and got some great photos that neither the Bournemouth Echo nor Bournemouth Times of the day made full use of. There are also the memories of photographer Tom Hanley and the day he spent with Mimi at her home – at John's request just before he left for New York – in 1971 photographing and generally making a fuss of her. The photos and story of David Stark's weekend at Mimi' house in 1981, a few months after John's death, have never been published before. There are various anecdotes about The Beatles, such as the fleet of ice cream vans used to distract fans as they were ferried from their hotel to the venue in August 1963, that have never been published before.
CBAMR: What is your favourite Beatles Album, and why?
NC: That's a tough question, it changes all the time. I've always loved ‘Revolver’ because it is their most complete record and a real triumph of creativity when you consider they were still touring when they wrote the songs and recorded the album. They had more time to spend on ‘Sgt Pepper’ and it shows, but on ‘Revolver’ they managed to meld so many musical ideas and produce great lyrics as well. They sound like they're enjoying their freedom as well. That said, ‘Rubber Soul’ comes close to it for exactly the same reasons - George's guitar playing is particularly effective. Lately I've given more time to earlier albums like ‘With the Beatles’ (the cover shot was taken at the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth) and ‘A Hard Day's Night’ which are more subtle than many people think – there's a lot of music going on there from country & western to show tunes as well as John's throat-ripping rock vocals. Abbey Road also has some splendid moments that makes me wonder what they cold have gone on to achieve had they stayed together.