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In an interview with BBC Radio 6 on Mar. 25, Paul McCartney revealed 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 Beck and 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 Costello on 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 McCartney soon 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 Chicago inspired 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 McCartney says he believes a vintage Liverpool police recruitment film dating from 1958 may very likely contain a glimpse of himself, Paul and John Lennon standing 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 Martin once 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 Starr and John Lennon and George Harrison's respective widows, Yoko Ono and 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 Lennon has 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 McCartney and Ringo Starr recording 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 Walsh with the comment, "And look out Joe W came out to play. What a day I'm having. Peace and love." The two surviving Beatles last recorded together for Ringo's Y Not album, released in 2010. Four days earlier on Feb. 15, Starr, McCartney, Walsh, Tom Hanks and Dave Grohl were 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 Projectors and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend with Dave Longstreth of 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 Berkenstadt about drummer Jimmie Nichol who once filled in for Ringo Starr on tour for 13 days in 1964 when Ringo became ill, have been secured by Alex Orbison and 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 Lennon and 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 McCarten and [Immersive Pictures chief] Josh Bratman to tell the story of two amazing global icons." McCarten is the author behind The Theory of Everything and an upcoming Winston Churchill biopic 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 McCartney has unveiled a rare demo on the web featuring Elvis Costello called "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 Starr that 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 Sugar and two versions are available to stream online: one by Ringo and friends Richard Page, Colin Hay and 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 McCartney filed 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 Petty and Prince have 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 Harrison announced 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 Starr did not play on that recording however, session musician Andy White filled 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 Lennon and Stella McCartney, got together on Jan. 10 at the Cotton Club in New York's Harlem. Stella, the daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney, was in New York for her pre-fall fashion show. On his Facebook page, Sean, the son of John Lennon and 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 Klein after 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 Vedder and Jay Z are 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 Letterman and George Lucas, with Usher and Samuel L. Jackson also rumoured. The news comes as Pres. Elect Donald Trump is 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 McCartneyPaul McCartney made a suprise New Year's Eve appearance with the Las Vegas band The Killers as they were performing in St. Barts for Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich McCartney 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 Beatles who 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 Harrison and 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 Best as 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, Sting and 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 Lennon before 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, Dion and 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 Roots providing backup vocals, lyrics from "Wonderful Christmastime" were delivered by Fallon, then animated versions of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and singer Tori Kelly before 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 Ono will 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 Cranston and Edward Norton will also be providing vocal tracks for the film. Meanwhile, classic videos by Yoko's deceased husband John Lennon have 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 Harrison and Ringo Starr in 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 McCartneyPaul McCartney revealed 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 Ono marked the anniversary of death of her husband John Lennon on 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 Vaughn and Gene Wilder. - Billboard...... The 59th Annual Grammy Awards nominees were announced on Dec. 6, and the Ron Howard-directed Beatles tour 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...... In other Beatles-related news, a rare copy of the Fab Four's "White Album" originally owned by Ringo Starr has topped a list of the world's most valuable vinyl records. The LP sold at auction in 2015 for £730,876. The list, compiled by LoveAntiques.com, also includes recordings by the formative Beatles band The Quarrymen ("That'll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger" - £100,000) at No. 2 and the Beatles' "Love Me Do" (£80,500) at No. 3. - NME...... Al BrodaxAl Brodax, the producer and co-writer of the Beatles' iconic animated 1968 film Yellow Submarine, died on Nov. 24 in Danbury, Conn. He was 90. In 1960, Mr. Brodax created and headed the television/motion picture division of King Features Syndicate, writing and producing more than 500 episodes of Popeye, Krazy Kat, Barney Google and The Beatles' cartoon series. In 1968, he was producer and co-writer of Yellow Submarine, winning more than 30 awards including the New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1969. Mr. Brodax went on to become the animation supervisor for ABC, producing the shows Make a Wish and Animals, Animals, Animals. In later years, he was a consultant for Marvel Comics. - The New York Times...... A terse letter written by John Lennon to Paul and Linda McCartney shortly after the breakup of the Beatles sold at auction for nearly $30,000 during a sale on Nov. 17 conducted by Boston-based RR Auction. RR says the letter is believed to have been written in 1971 in response to criticism Lennon received from Linda McCartney about his decision to not publicly announce his departure from the band. Filled with profanity and sometimes rambling, the letter reads "Do you really think most of today's art came about because of the Beatles? I don't believe you're that insane -- Paul -- do you believe that? When you stop believing it you might wake up!" - AP...... A letter from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney has been put up for auction to the highest bidder, with bidding expected to reach $20,000 (£16,000). The undated letter sees Lennon responding to prior correspondence from Linda which he says left him "wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it." Lennon writes in his letter: "I hope you realise what shit you and the rest of my 'kind and unselfish' friends laid on Yoko and me, since we've been together." Later in the letter, John goes on to say that doesn't "resent" his former Beatles bandmate but that he feels "sorry for him." He also wrongly predicts that the McCartneys' marriage would be over within two years. "It was likely written shortly before Lennon and Ono's departure for America," says RR Auction representative Robert Livingston. "The draft captures the intense rivalry between the two men in the months, and even years, surrounding the breakup of the Beatles." - New Musical Express...... Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney has taken part in the Mannequin Challenge craze, the latest viral sensation that follows the Ice Bucket Challenge and the Harlem Shake. In it, people film themselves holding poses and staying completely motionless -- like mannequins. There's usually music playing in the background and a lot of the videos so far have been soundtracked by hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles." Now McCartney has joined in with his own version, also soundtracked by Sremmurd's track. "Love those Black Beatles," read a caption accompanying Macca's Mannequin Challenge video on Nov. 10. In the clip, Sir Paul stands by his grand piano, one hand tickling the ivories and the other reached out, seemingly in mid-song rapture. As the camera pans around him, you can probably guess which line from Sremmurd's current Top 10 hit blares out: "Black Beatle, bitch/ Me and Paul McCartney related!" - Billboard...... Yoko Ono is among the many celebrities reacting to the largely unexpected election victory of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on Nov. 8. On Nov. 11, Yoko tweeted an audio clip after Trump's win -- a response that was utterly Ono, singing an emotive shriek of agony with anxious grunting and utter distress. "Dear Friends, I would like to share this message with you as my response to @realDonaldTrump." "That's an awesome quote," you can hear someone saying on the recording afterwards. - New Musical Express...... A man who bought a 45 rpm single of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band's single "Cold Turkey" for $10 as part of a sale of used items found in an attic has made quite a discovery -- a draft of a letter Lennon wrote to Queen Elizabeth II in 1969 protesting the UK's involvement in foreign wars. In the letter, Lennon states that he is returning his honorary MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal that all the Beatles received in 1965 "in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts." John Lennon"Cold Turkey," released in December 1969, peaked at No. 14 on the U.K. charts, and No. 30 on the U.S. charts. Lennon signed the note, "John Lennon of Bag," playing on the term "bagism" he and Ono coined during their late-'60s peace campaign as a way to satirize prejudice and stereotyping. The letter is not, however, the actual letter that Lennon sent to the Queen. A memorabilia expert says the draft was never sent probably due to smudged ink. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has yet to announce if he plans to sell the letter, which has an estimated value of £60,000 ($72,000). - Billboard/CNN...... In other Beatles-related news, a new Lego toy set based on the Fab Four's iconic Yellow Submarine movie went on sale on Nov. 1. In October, Lego fans and Beatles fans alike were sent into a frenzy when the new 550-piece Lego pack, which comes complete with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, along with the submarine itself and a miniature of Jeremy Hillary Boob from the animated 1968 movie, was announced. "The creation of the Yellow Submarine model was really my way of showing my affection for The Beatles, as well as trying to pay a small tribute to The Beatles phenomenon," said its sponsor, singer-songwriter Kevin Szeto. - New Musical Express...... Paul McCartney debuted a new song called "In the Blink of an Eye" across iTunes' international stores on Oct. 28, in advance pre-order listing of the soundtrack for the forthcoming animated film Ethel & Ernest. From the song's 60-second preview, its sound is reminiscent of McCartney's "(I Want To) Come Home," which he wrote for the 2009 Robert De Niro film Everybody's Fine. The album's advance track listings features a number of songs by Carl Davis, who collaborated with McCartney on "Liverpool Oratorio." The Ethel & Ernest film is adapted from a graphic novel by Raymond Briggs (The Snowman) about the lives of two Londoners and starring Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethlyn. - Billboard...... Yoko OnoIn other Beatles-related news, Yoko Ono has honored a reference to her in an old The Simpsons episode. A new piece created by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson for an exhibition curated by Ono at the Reykjavik Art Museum has the exact title and content of "a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man's hat," which was depicted in season five of The Simpsons when a Japanese conceptual artist who is clearly modelled on Ono pops into Mo's bar for a drink. Titled "YOKO ONO: ONE MORE STORY," the exhibition runs until Feb. 5. Meanwhile, three classic albums by Ono and featuring her late husband John Lennon are due to be reissued on Nov. 11. - New Musical Express  







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