To mark the 50th anniversary of its release, a digitally restored version of The Beatles first film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” will be released to theaters nationwide during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The film, shot and released at the height of Beatlemania and the beginning of the British Invasion that saw so many artists score hits here over the next two years, is regarded as a genuine British comedy and musical classic. Director Richard Lester caught the fun and excitement of The Beatles as the band hit London to perform live on a TV show.
The film showed all four Beatles to be natural actors in group scenes and individual vignettes behind the scenes backstage before the concert begins. Lester’s inspiring filming of the band and its music, both during the film and concluding concert, set the bar for music videos for decades to come.
MONTY PYTHON TO HIT THEATERS, TOO
The Monty Python comedy troupe’s farewell show of their 10 highly anticipated reunion shows at London’s 20,000-seat O2 Arena on July 20 will be broadcast in approximately 1,500 movie theaters around the world, reports Variety. Their last live performance together was staged 34 years ago, in 1980, at the Hollywood Bowl.
Popularity for the shows is through the roof, possibly because the five surviving members — John Cleese, Eric Idol, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam — announced that with this run they were disbanding forever.
The sixth original member, Graham Chapman, died of cancer at age 48, in 1989.
The first five O2 shows sold out in less than a minute and the remaining five were added shortly afterward.
BOB WEIR AND BILLY JOEL ON DRUG USE
Drugs and The Grateful Dead are synonymous with the band and its fans, right?
Bob Weir said he and his fellow Grateful Dead members were so worried about singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia’s heavy drug use that they considered holding an intervention. Weir revealed the infromation at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of a new documentary, “The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir.”
Eventually, the band opted to forego the intervention and simply do what they could for him without any confrontation and the possible hostile ramifications that could with that, Weir said.
Garcia ended up suffering a fatal heart attack while in rehab in Marin Country in August 1995 at age 53.
In the film, Weir talks of being Garcia’s “bag man,” the guy who held Garcia’s heroin, pot and cocaine. Garcia trusted him because Weir was a health nut who wouldn’t use any of the stash and would limit Garcia to a certain amount.
But Weir wasn’t drug or alcohol-free. After partying “fairly heavily that night” when The Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and “when the fog lifted,” he found himself literally under a table with Chuck Berry.
In a three-hour interview and intimate concert before 150 fans and other guests for Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show at NYC’s Cutting Room club, Billy Joel also divulged that he used heroin. The 64-year-old Piano Man said he tried it only once.
He used the experience as the inspiration for the song, “Scandinavian Skies,” which appeared on his 1982 double-platinum album, “The Nylon Curtain.”
He also noted that he has no plans to record any more music and that his latest recording was singing a recent duet in a Christmas song with 78-year-old Johnny Mathis.
KEITH RICHARDS COVERS BOB MARLEY FOR CHARITY
Working with a wide array of world musicians, Keith Richards recorded Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” and rerecorded a new version of “Words of Wonder,” a song he co-wrote with his X-Pensive Winos bandmates, drummer Steve Jordan and guitarist Waddy Wachtel. “Words of Wonder” initially appeared on the Rolling Stone’s 1992 solo album, “Main Offender.”
The songs will benefit and raise attention for Playing for Change, a nonprofit organization that helps build music and art schools for children around the world.
Among the musicians playing with Richards are American bluesman Keb’ Mo’ and Congolese-born reggae artist Mermans Mosengo as well as Jamaican reggae singer Shereita Lewis. The songs will appear on “Playing for Change 3: Songs Around the World,” which also includes contributions from Los Lobos, Toots and The Maytalls’ leader Toots Hibbert, Taj Mahal, Sara Bareilles and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ADDS EVERLY BROTHERS, RONSTADT, OTHERS
Every year, the Library of Congress adds 25 songs or albums to its National Recording Registry. These recordings must be at least a decade old and are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Among the Registry’s newest singles are “Cathy’s Clown” (1960) by The Everly Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” (1969), bluesman Elmore James’ 1951 recording of Robert Johnson’s 1936 “Dust My Broom,” Tim Buckley’s son Jeff Buckley’s 1994 recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah. ” Also jazz and big band leader Louis Jordan’s “Caledonia,” from 1946 that was the first record described by Billboard as “rock and roll,” and two versions of the Depression-era hit, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” that were each recorded in 1932 by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee,”
Among the selected albums are Linda Ronstadt’s 1974 smash, “Heart Like a Wheel,” soul singer-songwriter-producer Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from ‘Shaft’” soundtrack, U2’s “The Joshua Tree” (1987), hard bop jazz drummer Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland (Vols 1&2)” (1954) and “Carnegie Hall Concert with Buck Owens and His Buckaroos” (1966).
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.