9 Things You Probably Don't Know About The Beatles

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Today is 09/09/09, and you know what that means!

The big Beatles: Rock Band release. (GET IT? Number 9, number 9, number 9...) To get you in the mood, here are 9 rather obscure facts about those four lads from Liverpool that we bet you don't know. (Nein?)

1. Before Lennon/McCartney there was McCartney/Lennon

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If you pick up a Beatles album today, you'll notice the songs are credited to Lennon-McCartney, in alphabetical order, thanks to a longstanding agreement between the two songwriters whereby each would get full credit no matter who came up with the tune or lyric first. But this alphabetical listing was not always the case. The credits on their first album, Please Please Me, list the eight original compositions to McCartney-Lennon. One reason for this could be that Paul McCartney wrote "P.S. I Love You" and "Love Me Do," the first two songs on the album. The McCartney-Lennon credit would appear twice more on McCartney's 1976 live album, Wings Over America, and once again on 2002's Back in the U.S., albeit much to Yoko Ono's disapproval.

2. The Ed Sullivan Show was not The Beatles' American TV debut

Picture 2For that matter, CBS can't really claim bragging rights, NBC can. Yes, it's true: NBC scooped CBS, as The Beatles made their American television debut on NBC's evening news show, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, not The Ed Sullivan Show, nor Walter Cronkite's evening news. Although virtually unknown in America at the time, the band was causing mass hysteria in England and all three U.S. television networks sent camera crews to film their November 16, 1963, concert in Bournemouth. NBC used the footage in a four-minute segment on November 18th, but CBS waited until November 22nd to air the story during its morning newscast with Mike Wallace. The network planned to air the story on its evening newscast as well, but just hours after the Beatles story was broadcast, Walter Cronkite broke the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. On December 10th, Cronkite aired the Beatles segment during prime-time, which set into motion the Beatlemania that culminated with their February 1964 performances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

3. Eric Clapton almost replaced George

zap_claptonAnd then there were three... For five days in January of 1969, the Fab Four were a lonesome trio. George Harrison, the "quiet Beatle," as the media called him, decided to bow out after months of personal differences with his fellow bandmates. A serious songwriter who penned classics like "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun," Harrison felt he was being ignored by Lennon and McCartney, who played his tunes with little enthusiasm. On January 10, 1969, Harrison finally had enough and quit the band. His announcement caused John Lennon to quip, "If he doesn't come back by Tuesday, we get Eric Clapton." Harrison, of course, came to his senses, and returned to the band on January 15th, allowing The Beatles to move forward with their recording of a little-know album called Abbey Road.

4. The initial album cover for Yesterday and Today was banned

602px-The_Beatles_-_Butcher_CoverThe Beatles' tenth Capitol album was unique not only for its rare mixes of tracks from Rubber Soul and Help, but for its controversial "butcher" cover. The original album artwork featured the four smiling members of the band dressed in white butchers' overalls covered with mutilated plastic baby dolls and slabs of raw meat. Original copies of the "butcher" cover were eventually pulled and replaced with a more fan-friendly photograph of the band. It was rumored that the Yesterday and Today cover was a response to the way Capitol Records had "butchered" their previous albums. Today, copies of the original album cover are in high demand and have been sold for as high as $10,500 at auction.

5. "She Said She Said" was inspired by an LSD trip with Peter Fonda

During a break from their American tour in late August 1965, The Beatles rented a house in Beverly Hills. Although the Spanish-style mansion was hidden from plain view, their address eventually became public knowledge and the LAPD had to be called in to ward off eager fans. Since it was impossible to leave home, the Beatles played host to dozens of musicians and actors, including the then-unknown Peter Fonda. The entire band, excluding Paul McCartney, dropped acid with Fonda. According to Lennon, the drug-induced Fonda kept telling the band, "I know what it's like to be dead" and "You're making me feel like I've never been born." Lennon would later use both phrases in the lyrics to "She Said She Said."

6. Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana

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It was Bob Dylan who introduced the Beatles to marijuana at the Delmonico Hotel in New York on August 28, 1964. The boys knew Dylan from a mutual friend and just assumed John, Ringo, Paul and George had smoked before, given their "I get high" lyrics in "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Dylan was unaware that the lyrics are actually "I can't hide," and was later informed that none of the Beatles had ever smoked marijuana. Guess Bob thought it was high time to change all that.

7. Paul McCartney met Yoko Ono before John did

Yoko Ono claims to have been introduced to John Lennon by a mutual friend at her November 9, 1966, art exhibit in London. According to Yoko, she had never heard of the Beatles and had to be told who John Lennon was. However, Paul McCartney, likes to tell a different story about how she and John met. It was late 1965 and Yoko had knocked on Sir Paul's door. She was helping John Cage, a personal friend of McCartney's, with a book he was working on, and wanted to include some of the Beatles' work. Paul declined her offer, but suggested that she see Lennon. Yoko took Paul's advice and Lennon wound up giving her the original handwritten lyrics to "The Word" from Rubber Soul. The lyrics were later reproduced in Cage's book Notations.

8. Yes, there was a "Fifth Beatle," and he was the inspiration for their mop tops

Picture 3The "Fifth Beatle" has become synonymous with people who were at one time closely associated with the Fab Four. But for fifteen months in the early 1960s The Beatles were, in fact, a quintet. Stuart Sutcliffe, an abstract painter and art school buddy of John Lennon's, was the original bassist for the band during their heady Hamburg days. Paul McCartney never thought Sutcliffe was talented enough (read: Paul was envious of Sutcliffe and Lennon's friendship). Although it was Sutcliffe and Lennon who named the band The Beatles (they were both fans of Buddy Holly and the Crickets), Sutcliffe eventually left the band in August 1961 to enroll in the Hamburg College of Art. The "Fifth Beatle" never lived long enough to see his former bandmates become an international success—he died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 21. Sutcliffe's tenure with the band, albeit brief, had a lasting effect on their image. He was the first to wear the famous "mop top" hairstyle, which Lennon and The Beatles adopted in Sutcliffe's honor shortly after his death. (In the photo, Sutcliffe is at the far right. Notice the band's original drummer, Pete Best. Ringo would not join the band until August of 1962.)

9. Let It Be was not their last album

Although it was released in 1970, a year after Abbey Road, Let It Be was actually recorded in early 1969, making it officially their penultimate album. Originally conceived as a back-to-roots record entitled Get Back, the band was unhappy with the version mixed by producer Glyn Johns and temporarily shelved the album to work on Abbey Road. After the success of Abbey Road, studio tapes from the Get Back sessions were given to the legendary Phil Spector. Spector created a new version of the album and finally released it as Let It Be in 1970. McCartney was upset with the finished copy, particularly Spector's mix of "The Long and Winding Road," which Paul had originally conceived as a spare piano ballad. It was the beginning of the end for The Beatles and the band broke up shortly before the album's release. In 2003, a new version of the album, titled Let It Be"¦ Naked was released. According to McCartney, the album's stripped down sound was what he had originally intended for the album.

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September 9, 2009 - 5:00am
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