The Final Days of The Beatles

The date was August 20, 1969. The Beatles were recording what was to be their final album, Abbey Road. The date is important (and historic), although the boys probably had no idea of its significance.

August 20, 1969, was the last time the four Beatles were together in the recording studio.

They were recording the final over-dubs of John's song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," a stark, raw love song written by John. The band's final session was spent working on a fervent love song to Yoko Ono.

The Last Photo Session

Two days later, on August 22, on the grounds of John's estate, the foursome gathered at for the last Beatles photo session—the final "official" gathering together of the Fab Four.

Photos of that historic day reveal four bedraggled, weary-looking musicians. John is seen wearing a dark cowboy-like hat, sporting a bushy, thick beard. He looks pencil-thin, probably the result of his recent heroin use (among other drugs).

George and Ringo are bearded, too. George especially looks as if he'd rather be anywhere else.

As usual, Paul puts up the best social face, clean shaven, upbeat, and in some shots he's smiling. He even brought his pet sheepdog, Martha, to this last photo session.

Yoko was there, stuck at John's side, and the session included several shots of her clinging to her almost unrecognizable husband.

George's wife, Patti, may have realized the significance of the moment; she went around with a hand-held camera, filming snippets of the event for posterity.

The Last Meeting

In the middle of September, the four Beatles gathered together for a business meeting at Apple Studios. It happened sometime between September 15 and 19, 1969—this was the final time all four Beatles were together in the same room.

John and George spent much of the meeting bickering over George's contributions to future Beatles albums. George was fed up with taking a back seat to the all-powerful Lennon-McCartney team.The band's "one-for-all" spirit that had always held them together had evaporated. They were coming apart at the seams.

On September 20th, the end officially came.

John, Paul, and Ringo (George had left town to visit his sick mother) along with Yoko and various associates, aides and managers gathered in the meeting room. Paul started discussing possible plans for the Beatles future. He suggested the band go back and play small clubs under a pseudonym. Perhaps they'd use a name like "Ricky and the Red Streaks."

But John exploded. "I want a divorce. Like the one i got from Cynthia" [his first wife]. According to Paul, everyone went pale. After a few heated words, John and Yoko walked out.

John, Yoko, and their manager Allen Klein drove off to eat at a local restaurant called The Pepper Mill. Yoko was to remember John's words to her in the car: "it's just you and me now."

Yoko, in a revealing interview, later remembered thinking to herself: "My god, those three have entertained him for the last ten years. Now it's just me!"

John Lennon was never to return to The Beatles.

(Although Paul recalled his shock at John's decision, Ringo said he was "relieved" by John's final words. Ringo probably knew the end was imminent and was glad John had made it clear and unmistakable.)

The Last Session

Finally, on January 3, 1970, Paul, George and Ringo got together for one last recording session at the Abbey Road Studio Two. They were working on George's song "I Me Mine." John was in Denmark with Yoko at the time.

George laconically announced, "You will have heard that Dave Dee is no longer with us, but Micky and Tich and I would just like to carry on the good work that's always been done in Number Two."

(Dave Dee, Beaky, Micky and Tich were a popular singing group at the time).

And so it was—the final "Beatles" recording session at Abbey Road studios was conducted without John, who had started the group, and whose original "Quarrymen" were the genesis of The Beatles.

George's Lennon-less "I, Me, Mine" was included on The Beatles Let It Be album.

Paul, George and Ringo reunited 24 years later to record "Free as a Bird" for the much-anticipated Beatles Anthology. Of course, after his tragic death in 1980, John was missing again.


Eddie Deezen has appeared in over 30 motion pictures, including Grease, WarGames, 1941, and The Polar Express. He's also been featured in several TV shows, including Magnum PI, The Facts of Life, and The Gong Show. And he's done thousands of voice-overs for radio and cartoons, such as Dexter's Laboratory and Family Guy. Eddie is a self-confessed Beatles nut and has read over 600 books on The Fab Four. He'll be contributing a handful of Beatles stories to mentalfloss.com. Make him feel welcome!

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

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2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

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Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

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3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

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Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

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4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

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Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

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5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
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Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

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6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
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Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

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7. UNA GRILL; $139

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MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

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8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

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9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

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Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

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10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
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Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

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11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
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Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

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12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

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Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

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13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

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Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

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14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

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Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

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15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

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Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

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16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

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17. HAMMOCK; $174

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Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

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18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
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Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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