JAIMIE VERNON – It Was 50 Years Ago Today

Vernon_Penny_LaneI’ll be 50 years old on November 19th (send no cards, just cash, please). A half century of fun, frivolity and heart-ache. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of the former JFKand less of the latter. Annually, I chase the notoriety of the JFK assassination by three days…and every f*cking thing The Beatles have ever done. My moments of personal glory will always be overshadowed by what they did on my birthday in various years: 

Casbah1961 Beatles played the Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool
1962 Beatles played The Cavern Club (lunchtime), Smethwick Baths Ballroom, Staffordshire (evening) and Adelphi Ballroom, Staffordshire (Later that evening); “Love Me Do” sits at #24 on the Melody Maker singles chart.
1963 Beatles receive silver disc awards for the LPs ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘With The Beatles’ (which hadn’t been released), silver disc awards for the ‘Twist & Shout’ EP plus silver discs for each of the singles “Twist & Shout” and “She Loves You” during a tour stopover in Wolverhampton.
1964A Hard Days Night‘ sits at #1 on the Melody Maker album chart. 

Help1965Help‘ sits at #1 on the Melody Maker album chart.
1966 Paul McCartney and Jane Asher return from a trip to Kenya; ‘Revolver’ sits at #5 on the Melody Maker album chart.
1967 Paul McCartney and Jane Asher go to the Saville Theatre to see The Bee Gees, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Flowerpot Men and Tony Rivers & The Castaways;  ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sits at #2 on the Melody Maker album chart. Ironically, The Bee Gees would go on to disgrace Sgt. Pepper in an ill-advised movie of the same name.
1968 Ringo and Maureen Starr move from their Sunny Heights home in Weybridge to Brookfield in Elstead; “Hey Jude” sits at #13 on the Melody Maker singles chart.
1969 ‘Abbey Road’ sits at #1 on the Melody Maker album chart; “Something” sits at #12 on the Melody Maker singles chart. John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” sits at #19 on the Melody Maker singles chart.
1970Let It Be‘ sits at #20 on the Melody Maker album chart.

RAM1971 Paul McCartney’s ‘Ram‘ sits at #10 on the Melody Maker album chart.
1972 John Lennon’s ‘Sometime In New York City’ sits at #24 on the Melody Maker album chart.
1973 Ringo Starr’s ‘Photography’ sits at #13 on the Melody Maker singles chart; Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Helen Wheels” sits at #27 on the Melody Maker singles chart.
1974 Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Junior’s Farm” sits at #27 on the Melody Maker singles chart; Paul McCartney & Wings’ ‘Band On the Run’ sits at #5 on the Melody Maker albums chart; John Lennon’s ‘Walls & Bridges’ sits at #9 on the Melody Maker albums chart.
1975 John Lennon’s “Imagine” re-enters the Melody Maker singles chart and sits at #14.
1976 George Harrison releases the single “This Song” single and ’33 1/3′ LP in the UK
1986 Paul McCartney pre-tapes an appearance on Terry Wogan’s BBC show ‘Wogan’.
1989 Paul McCartney and band fly to the US in advance of their North American leg of two Virginsthe ‘Flowers in the Dirt’ tour.

The reason there is such an abundance of truly mind-numbingly mundane data about this band is that we were able to gauge their importance in changing the musical and cultural landscape in real time. Beethoven and Mozart weren’t embraced as true geniuses until after they were dead. The Beatles, on the other hand, grew up and split up in public and there’s been 40 years of op-ed analysis in dissecting their oeuvre, and in John & Yoko‘s instance, ovum.

Red discI came to the party late. I was 10 when I got a dose of the Red and the Blue ‘best of’ albums. Not a clunker of a track in the bunch. It wasn’t long before I was a Beatlemaniac…some 6 years after they’d split up. Late bloomer or not, they were the blue-print to making great pop music bar none. I’ve always believed that anyone wanting to become a rock star should be handed the Beatles songbook and forced to learn it…front to back. Hell, you can even take a course at the University of Liverpool and get a degree in Beatle-ology. Canadian singer-songwriter Mary Lou Zahalan did and she was in the first graduating class with a Beatles Master’s degree!

That’s some crazy assed pop culture meta shit right there, kids.

Roller_coverIn 2002 my label, Bullseye, was trying to decide what pop artist we could pay tribute album next – having already given a nod to 1970s under-appreciated artists such as Klaatu, The Sweet, and the Bay City Rollers. The answer was unanimous: The Beatles. With help from pop culture music writing guru Gary Pig Gold he put me in touch with the creme de la creme of the pop music world and I sent out invites to several hundred past and present music stars whose music had affected us in varying degrees.

Andrew GoldMuch to my surprise I got material from the still very much alive Andrew “Thank You For Being A Friend” Gold, Blood Sweat & Tears’ Al Kooper and even Alan Merrill (ex-The Arrows) – the man that wrote the Joan Jett hit “I Love Rock and Roll” – among other  familiar ‘names’. They too still felt indebted to The Beatles – and specifically for that memorable appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 that changed the world forever.

We also got material from a slew of lesser known power pop artists like The Lolas, The Andersons, and The Rockwells and people in my own camp at Bullseye including Jeff The Wackers Montreal StarJones (Red Rider), Tom Hooper (Grapes of Wrath), Frank Soda, Bob Segarini’s Cats & Dogs AND The Wackers, The Carpet Frogs, Goddo, The Kings, and two members of Klaatu – Terry Draper and Dee Long. Hell, I even did a version of “I Saw Her Standing There” on my own and “Fixing A Hole” with my brother-in-law.

Please Please MeThe total number of tracks sent in for submission was nearly 200. What to do with so many songs? Initially Gary Pig Gold and I thought about releasing a tribute to each Beatles UK album chronologically beginning with ‘Please Please Me‘ and ending with ‘Let It Be’ plus a collection of orphaned singles and B-sides and a la the two michael_whiteApple Records ‘Past Masters’ discs. Two releases a year would have allowed us to milk the idea for 6 or 7 years. But cooler heads prevailed as business interests dictated a short commitment period to getting in, selling up, and cashing out.

That didn’t go quite according to plan. It took until 2004 just to get the best of the songs picked and mastered (by the hard working Michael White of Led Zeppelin tribute band fame who also worked with Andrew Gold to give us “Got To Get You Into My Life”).

Front_Cover_FINALWe settled on a double disc of 50 songs entitled ‘It Was 40 Years Ago Today’. We also offered pre-order purchasers from our website to get an exclusive third disc with another 26 songs on it. Historic liner notes were supplied by Beatle expert Craig Cross from the UK.

We went with a simple ‘White Album’ motif designed by Frank “Fish” Levin of former Canadian synth pop band Eight Seconds fame (they reunited and gave us ‘Hey Jude’ as well)

The promo copies went out to the usual suspects globally plus Beatle-centric magazines. The planet melted down. We were flooded with requests for the CDs. With Paul McCartney Michael Jacksona batch going out to each of the participating artists and the marketing copies we burned through the first 1000 discs in about 6 weeks. We had to reprint. With the cost of mechanical royalties on each song paid to the Beatle publishers (that would be SONY/ATV and Michael Jackson) plus manufacturing costs, we were $25,000 deep and hadn’t so much as a sold one copy yet.

With a massive all star CD release concert at Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe in August 2004, we eventually sold out all of the next 1,000 discs and then, abruptly, we deleted the project. It was clear we’d never recoupe our expenses. One of the many ironies of a successful CD release is that many times it never returns a profit – a similar fate Copy of Anderson_CD_coverhappened with the Klaatu boxed set we put out in 2005 where we lost $2 on every package sold.

The label did have many successes after that including albums by Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) which was also a DVD release, Ronnie Hawkins’ 2006 comeback album, and Leo “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” Sayer’s ‘Voice In My Head’ co-written with Albert “It Never Rains In California” Hammond. Only Anderson ever out-sold that tribute project.

So, here I am in 2013 contemplating the rebirth of the record label as a digital-only internet portal and revisiting the Beatles tribute because I am proud of what that Beatle fansproject represented and sounded lik. In the last 48 hours I’ve managed to get permission from 68 of the original 76 artists to re-use their songs…plus nearly two dozen more NEW submissions. With no physical product constraints to bog us down financially, we can sell the songs for a cheap $0.69 cents which will cover the cost of mechanicals to the Beatle songwriters and give the artists and Bullseye a few pennies in our collective pockets. The material can also be released in bite-sized ‘digi-albums’ of 15 tracks each under $10. THIS is how you live in the digital world. This is how you keep those rabid Beatle fans’ appetites whetted between archival Beatle music digs. And so we shall in a few short weeks.

Any musicians interested in submitting a track – ABSOLUTELY FREE – contact me on Facebook or bullseyecanada@hotmail.com and join this fantastic celebration of the greatest act the 20th and 21st Century has ever known.

Editor’s Note: Though not a cover of a Beatle Song, this track addresses that magic moment when The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and influenced a generation to pick up guitars and change the world. Lyrically and musically, this captures that moment perfectly.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

2 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – It Was 50 Years Ago Today”

  1. Mark Vukovich Says:

    I feel ya….my birthday is the 20th…although 18 years your senior…old enough to be your Daddy Jamie…lol

  2. Fantastic read Jaimie…history, present, future…and happy upcoming Birthday!!!! 🙂

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