Friday, July 5, 2024

 Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans

Antonio G. Pereira  ©  2024  Antonio G. Pereira


        Mal Evans was Road Manager and a close associate of The Beatles (and along with Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor), privy to everything that went on around them, through the years of touring and live concerts, and after, when the band's focus was in the studio and advanced recording techniques; and finally the creation and demise of Apple Records and the final dissolution of The Beatles.

        During all of this Mal Evans kept a diary, that along with additional research by author Kenneth Womack, has been turned into this book. Mal Evans had started on an autobiography (with encouragement by the ex-Beatles and Neil Aspinall), and negotiations for it's publication, before he died. 

        Kenneth Womack's biography of Mal Evans is fascinating to read. For someone who remembers Mal Evans from film clips and books about the Beatles, his life story is told here in detail; and it is quite a revelation.  

        Malcolm Frederick Evans was born in Liverpool in 1935, the first of four children (he had three younger sisters) to a pretty well-to-do family. His father was a clerk who worked at the Liverpool Docks. Mal's first job was as a Telecommunications Engineer for the GPO. Having made friends with the Beatles in the Cavern before they became famous, he became a part time bouncer at the Cavern to earn extra cash for expenses of his wife and baby son Gary. Around this same period, Brian Epstein became manager of the Beatles and invited Mal to come work for Nems (his family's company), as The Beatles bodyguard. He soon made friends with Neil Aspinall, who drove the Beatles to their gigs in Liverpool and handled their equipment. Over time, as the Beatles career through Epstein's management of them, began to take off into enormous popularity in the U.K. and hit records after signing with EMI Parlophone and producer George Martin, Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall's jobs shifted; as Neil (who had studied in accountancy) began handling some of the business workload, and Mal took over as Road and Equipment manager of the Beatles transportation to gigs and instruments etc. By the time the Beatles debuted on Ed Sullivan in 1964 in the United States, after having gained tremendous popularity in England and the rest of Europe, everything was put into place like a well oiled machine; with the addition of Derek Taylor as Press Officer, later on in that year. The coverage of what went on during the touring years (especially behind the scenes), is very intricate and page turning material; keeping your interest in leaps and bounds, as the Beatles shooting star goes higher and higher. It takes a toll on Mal Evan's family life, as he tries to balance his time with them while working for the Beatles, but due to the demands he cannot; as his relationship with his family begins to unravel and deteriorate. By the time Apple Records is created, Mal eventually ventures into production, as the band he discovered and brought to the newly formed Apple, The Iveys, become Badfinger and become very successful. But by the time Badfinger finally break through with their participation in 'The Magic Christian' film soundtrack and their first album 'No Dice', Apple is falling apart. Mal Evans ends up leaving his family in England and re-locating to Los Angeles during the 1970s; during the time unfortunately, when drugs (in particular cocaine) were rampant in the film and entertainment industry. Mal, while still working at production and now songwriting, falls into drug abuse and heavy drinking. Although still in contact with and individually working for each of the ex-Beatles in different capacities, his life begins to drift. (There's an interesting photograph in this book of Mal, Ringo and John with R&B singer/songwriter Bobby Womack. {In the May 1974 issue of Black Stars Magazine during the 1970s, there was a cover story about Bobby Womack, in which his encounter in Los Angeles with John and Ringo was discussed; as well as a separate article about singer/composer Ann Peebles, where John and Ringo were mentioned again.  Far more curious, is whether Lennon (who made a specialty of singing his songs while in the Beatles) ever encountered R&B and Rock music singer/songwriter Larry Williams, while living in Los Angeles}. And apart from sporadic visits to England to visit his family and attempts at production on records by Badfinger (by now on their last legs) and a Keith Moon solo album that becomes a disaster, he slowly falls into a depression that culminates, after appearing in a David Frost 'Salute To The Beatles' in the U.K. and an appearance at the first Beatlefest in the U.S., and while working on his autobiography (which became this book) he has an altercation with the LAPD in which he is senselessly shot and killed. This book is an important addition to The Beatles Story because aside from it being a cautionary tale, (with the exception of Derek Taylor's two books, one {As Time Goes By} easily purchased, and the other {Fifty Years Adrift} only a rare collector's item, unless a major publisher decides to put it out again), and the fact that Neil Aspinall opted to never write a book, it is the only other one by a close associate.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024


Antonio G. Pereira  ©  2024  Antonio G. Pereira


        Soul Illustrated was a highly informative Arts and Culture Magazine that was published from 1968 to 1972. This is their Archive:

Friday, March 29, 2024

Confessions of A Rock N' Roll Name Dropper and In Your Mind: The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono
Antonio G. Pereira  ©  2024  Antonio G. Pereira 

        Well Folks, Folkies, Folkish and Folklike, even though I didn't realize it at the time, becoming aware of and purchasing these two books almost simultaneously, turned this into a double review. They are ' Confessions of A Rock N' Roll Name Dropper' by Laurie Kaye and 'In Your Mind: The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono' by Madeline Bocaro. Both thoughtful and well written interesting books.
        'Confessions of A Rock N' Roll Name Dropper' by Laurie Kaye is a very thoughtful and moving autobiography. It covers Laurie's life story growing up in Los Angeles, and how a love of music impacted her life. This is a book I think she could not have written until now. It was time for her to finally tell this story, and I'm glad she did. 
        Y'know it's funny, from reading this book I began to get a picture of the changes that were happening in this country during the almost two years I was away finishing College in Japan. I completely missed the disco music phase (aside from being here when Van McCoy's big hit 'The Hustle' was being played non-stop on radio and kicked off what became Disco Music). And as far as Punk Rock went, when Cable TV was first laid here in New York in 1972-73 ( they'd had Cable out in California for years) and we had Public Access stations C and D, you'd see all kinds of kooky programming by people (Including me. My last year of high school was spent in an alternative school (which were very popular then) in Greenwich Village (The Geranium School) that had a video production class (everything was on reel to reel then, using Porta Packs for filming) where each student had the opportunity to do a video project on a subject they wanted to shed light on. The one I did was on a local African Art Store, which I titled 'Sometime Nairobi New York, as a pun on John and Yoko's then current album 'Sometime In New York City'; and using some of Jimi Hendrix' music from Electric Ladyland as the soundtrack to spotlite some of the beautiful art pieces.) There was a program I used to watch every week on Public Access called, 'The Underground Tonight Show', that broadcasted out of The Cafe Wha? ; which Richie Havens had recently reopened. One of the bands (along with David Peel and The Lower East Side) that performed on there was a new band named 'Television', that four years later, became one of the premiere Punk Bands; but at the time were a watered down version of The Stones. As far as Punk Music went, from over in Japan and what I saw in ' Music Life', Punk was The Sex Pistols in England. And I must say, aside from 'God Save The Queen' and Television's first album, 'Marquee Moon' (surprisingly, a very good album), which I heard on Japanese radio, most of that Punk Music just made me scratch my head. I guess I just didn't get it. I also remember reading in the Mainichi News (just before Elvis Presley died), an article that had originally been published in a Russian Newspaper, and republished in the Mainichi News, prophetically stating that Elvis Presley was one of the most exploited artists on the planet, and didn't have much longer to live, being shocking to read at the time; although recent articles in the International Editions of Time and especially Newsweek, that covered his recent concerts, showed him in a poor light and referred to him as the 'Roly Poly King of Rock'. All of these memories came back to me from reading Laurie Kaye's book. Her life story (told from a West Coast perspective) I found fascinating. Her interest in Radio Programming and meeting popular Disc Jockey B. Mitchell Reed (who gave her winning tickets to see The Stones' Nicaraguan Benefit at the L.A. Forum, promoted by Bill Graham) who told her that with her voice, she'd make a good candidate for radio. Her wild experiences in college. Her time spent on the island of Bali in Indonesia teaching English As A Second Language, and finally her entre into the field of Radio at KFRC, and the people there who mentored and guided her into what became a career. Her stories of the artists she interviewed (three of them from The Beatles) after having co-created a widely heard and syndicated radio documentary on The Beatles; among them, first George Harrison, then Paul and Linda McCartney, and finally John Lennon and Yoko Ono, are a pleasure to read (I couldn't put the book down!). Good on you Laurie Kaye! Well worth reading!

        While reading 'In Your Mind: The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono' by Madeline Bocaro , I was brought back to when I purchased a small hardcover copy of Yoko Ono's book, 'Grapefruit' (with introduction by John Lennon, and a new Introduction by Yoko Ono; where she reminded me of a comical take on the type of writing John did in his books, 'In His Own Write' and 'A Spaniard In The Works'), that was republished by Simon and Schuster in 2000. I purchased that copy of 'Grapefruit', just before the local Tower Records (sadly and very much missed), went out of business in 2006. That book sat on a shelf with a couple of other books, all by itself, and seemed to say to me, 'pick me up and take a look and buy me'; which is what I did, and got quite a final sale discount. Of course, I had heard about 'Grapefruit' for decades, but never owned a copy. I took it home and enjoyed reading it over a couple of days. Yoko Ono's conceptual ideas were quite a challenge to understand, but as I went back to go over them again and again, the fascination with her ideas was what kept my interest.
        'In Your Mind' reminds me of an expanded continuation of a window into the creativity (and in this case) the life story of Yoko Ono. Although her work as a conceptual artist has not always been easy for me to understand, I think when she hooked up with John Lennon (as he was an artist as well as a musician), not only did her work become more accessible, I think his work as an artist was greatly influenced by her as well; interestingly as John's close friend Stu Sutcliffe had also influenced his work as an artist. (That might make an interesting comparison by someone one day). I think the blending of their talents was most apparent in their films and recordings together. Their films at that time period (late '68 through 1969) like, 'Smile' and 'Rape' 'Apotheosis' the immortal 'Imagine' (film and LP -1971), and their recordings, 'Two Virgins', ' Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions', 'The Wedding Album' and 'Live Peace In Toronto' (as well as their 1972 album, 'Sometime In New York City' , without forgetting their twin Plastic Ono Band albums (1970) and Yoko's albums, 'Fly' (1971) 'Approximately Infinite Universe' (1973) and 'Feeling The Space' (1974)) were, (in my opinion) groundbreaking. I do think a good deal of the criticism hurled at them then, smacked of outright racism ( see the 'Press Clippings' Booklet included in The Wedding Album Box Set) , and the insults coming from some of the people who identified themselves as 'Counterculture', pretty much spoke for itself at the time. 
        Frankly, I don't think it will get much better or more detailed than this book. This is quite a biography. Among several things I did not know, was that besides the weeklong set of live performances with a current Plastic Ono Band (John was in Los Angeles) at Kenny's Castaways in 1974, Yoko Ono also subsequently toured Japan with this band that same year.
        As someone who finished his College education ( the last quarter of my Junior Year and all of my Senior Year) in Japan, during a period (mid to late 1970s) when the Japanese were having a retrospective on the 60s era in their country, that began and lasted practically the whole time I lived there, for myself, it was a fascinating, once in a lifetime experience, and not likely to ever happen there again; along with the fact that John and Yoko (with a baby Sean), made an extended visit to Japan at that time, during which Yoko Ono conducted an entire solo interview on the NHK Television Network in Japanese. Instead of making this a complex chapter to chapter review of an extraordinary and unusual artist, I'll touch on a few instances that I remembered, that were sparked off by reading, 'In Your Mind'.
        Madeline Bocaro has written a biography of Yoko Ono's life and work, which I think in the years to come, will be THE reference book that people will use to either refer to for information or (if they are just curious and discovering her work for the first time), will be filled with wonder when they read it. This is a very readable book and obviously a labour of love. 
        A few things that should be mentioned. Having personally experienced the Japanese love for different kinds of music besides their own, I found it a little strange that Yoko Ono's interest in Jazz was not more detailed. I remember Sue Simmons (whose father John Simmons was a very accomplished Jazz bassist, who played with Ben Webster, Billie Holliday, Tadd Dameron, Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Erroll Garner and John Coltrane among others), having quite a fascinating brief, joyful and spirited conversation on remote on 'Live At Five' on NBC here in New York during the late 1980s with Ornette Coleman (when his career had a huge resurgence and his music became accessible to a wider audience), during which Yoko was mentioned by Ornette, and it was obvious that he had been good friends with and known Yoko Ono for quite a long time. The music Ornette (along with Albert Ayler and later on John Coltrane) had been making, the 60s continuum in the advancement of Modern Improvised Jazz, which began with the Birth of Be Bop, an existence of form, created by IDEAS, that have a HISTORY, should be pointed out as well. What's interesting about 'this area', is that 'The Lives of John Lennon' author Albert Goldman, along with quite a few of his Journalist friends, that date back to the very late '30s and 1940s, actually RESENTED the Charlie Parkers, Dizzy Gillespies, Bud Powells, Thelonious Monks, Miles Davis' etc.; as (with the exception of a few intelligent and open minded Music Critics like Leonard Feather (who was also a musician), Nat Hentoff and Ralph J. Gleason - not forgetting of course Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter (who ran guns for the French Underground during World War II) who came to this country and so loved the music and the musicians, that she became a champion of the music and a Patron To The Arts; having understood the freedom of thought, creativity and expression it represented), anything beyond Dixieland, went right over their heads. Ironically, when Be Bop became assimilated into Popular Culture years later (translated into easy to understand Doofus), Goldman and company ended up as 'Experts' and 'Authorities on Jazz' and 'Tenured Professors' of this music in Universities. 
        It should also be mentioned that the late Gil Noble, who hosted the program, 'Like It Is' on ABC here in New York for decades, had quite a fascinating and interesting interview with Clara Hale (who created Hale House up in Harlem during the 1970s, and was visited by (during the 1980s) among others, Mother Theresa and Princess Diana), on his show one Sunday, during which the discussion touched on then President (finger pointing HUAC and Joseph McCarthy participant and devotee, and while Governor of California, remembered for the immortal words directed at the poor, while hosting a barbeque at his ranch, "I hope they all get botulism" , and then there is the strange demise of San Jose Mercury Journalist Gary Webb  ) Ronald Reagan, and his wife, the designer dress wearing and completely out of touch ('Just Say No' and 'Stop The Madness') Nancy, having recently used the opportunity of an appearance on television, to make an obviously vain and dishonest attempt to co-opt what Clara Hale had been doing for years, long before Ron and Nancy were in the White House, into their agenda of Reshaping America; (and they looked and sounded ridiculous doing so).
        Clara Hale mentioned in passing to Gil Noble, that John Lennon and Yoko Ono had been donating money to Hale House for years; along with quietly coming up to visit.
        In the last section of 'In Your Mind', after John Lennon's passing, we see that Yoko Ono continues her work as an artist and as a musician; even performing with her son Sean, in a new version of the Plastic Ono Band. She also continued with the work she and John had started, The Spirit Foundation. Then there were the Exhibitions of John's Artwork. (In 1988, while visiting some friends in England and walking down Oxford Street in London one afternoon, I saw a giant poster on a light pole with a picture of John Lennon, advertising ' The John Lennon Exhibition', which took place and was presented by The Business Design Centre and Johnathan Poole Galleries from Sept. 20th - 25th, and which I attended all day long (if I remember correctly) on the second day when a Virgin/BBC film crew was there filming. It was a wonderful retrospective of John's artwork and films, of and with Yoko. I stayed until almost closing time and signed the Guest Book. A few years later, during the time I lived in Seattle, in Sept. of 2003 I also attended 'The Art of John Lennon Exhibition', at the Pacific Edge Gallery downtown. Again, a wonderful retrospective of John's work with Yoko.)
        In conclusion, what I find most fascinating about Madeline Bocaro's biography, is that you can turn to any section and catch a different glimpse of Yoko Ono's thought processes. Whimsical, thought provoking, humorous, deadly serious, questioning and probing. It's easy to understand why John Lennon and Yoko Ono found each other at the right time in history, when they both were searching and knew there was something they were destined to accomplish in their lifetimes. Well worth reading. BRAVO!

Friday, August 25, 2023

 The Beatles: On The Road 1964 - 1966 

Antonio G. Pereira  ©  2023  Antonio G. Pereira


        The Beatles: On The Road 1964 - 1966 by Harry Benson. Published by Taschen GmbH Here's another Coffee Table sized book. This one by British Photographer Harry Benson, who photographed The Beatles as they were becoming famous through the year 1964. From the residency at the Paris Olympia, the first U.S. visit (Ed Sullivan, Miami - The Beatles' visit to (then) Heavyweight Contender Cassius Clay's Gym Boxing Practice, during which resident wit, rapid fire mouth Lennon meets his match (soon to be Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Ali), and apparently Harry Benson is not amused), the filming of, 'A Hard Day's Night', the first leg of the European/Australian/New Zealand tour (with Jimmy Nicol sitting in for Ringo - who was in hospital), and finally, during the 1966 American Tour. Strangely, Harry Benson (since he had his own opinion and observation about the circumstances of the 'Beatles more Popular than Jesus Christ' controversy), offers no accompanying narrative to the Memphis Press Conference, which he photographed, other than gratuitously photographically descriptive. There are two incredible photographs of The Beatles walking towards the stage and enormous audience at Suffolk Downs Racetrack in Boston though, among other equally incredible photographs, like the obviously racially mixed audience in Chicago. The text in this book is multilingual, and is in English, German (Taschen, the Book Company, is in Koln) and French. The photographs are printed on top quality paper, so they look really good. Interesting record of a place and time in history. Well done! 

Saturday, July 8, 2023


Antonio G. Pereira  © 2023  Antonio G. Pereira


        Jimi by Janie Hendrix and John McDermott. Official 80th Birthday Edition. Published by Chronicle Chroma. An Imprint of Chronicle Books. 

        This is quite a gorgeous Coffee Table sized book. Beautifully designed and presented. To review, Janie Hendrix is Jimi Hendrix' sister, daughter by marriage (of Al Hendrix to her mother Ayako) and adopted and raised as his own child by Al Hendrix, when Jimi was away in Europe becoming a sensation. Though she was very young when Jimi returned to the United States, and they finally met in 1968, she remembers him very well, with love and fondness throughout this book. John McDermott first came to my attention through the magazine, International Musician and Recording World (a magazine which I became aware of in 1981, when Dan Foster, who worked with Caesar Glebbeek at the original Hendrix Information Centre in Amsterdam, Holland, and helped Glebbeek put together the original Hendrix Information Centre Booklet (of which I have a copy) shared his issue of International Musician and Recording World with me; as an article about Jimi Hendrix was in that particular edition. Later in the mid 1980s, I subscribed to the magazine, and that is where I first saw mention of John McDermott; who at the time was producing Promotional Videos for one of the better Hendrix copyist bands, named Jon Butcher Axis. I remember a big window display for their current album in the Sam Goody's that used to be across the street from Radio City Music Hall, the week they were appearing at The Bottom Line.

        This book, along with Chris Welch's book, 'Hendrix', and David Henderson's book, 'Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child of The Aquarian Age', as reference tools, will give you a complete, honest picture of Jimi Hendrix' life. Here, you will find no opportunistic, two bit Drug Counselling Expert Analysis stupidity disguised as Scholarship, or misguided, superimposed onto Hendrix, one dimensional Right Wing Pseudo-Patriotism. Just the facts. With the exception of the openly dishonest and mob connected (in both Britain and America) Michael Jeffrey (as well as the assorted shady characters and ass-kissers that worked for him), and the circumstances of Hendrix' death (still open to question as far as I'm concerned), this is as close to an honest assessment of Jimi Hendrix' life as you're going to get. A heartfelt thanks to all the people who contributed with their time, their thoughts and remembrances, to help put this book together. I think one Jimi Hendrix, would be quite surprised and moved, that so many people cared about him and his legacy of music, all these decades later.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Hendrix: The Ultimate Tribute - From The Makers of Classic Rock 

Antonio G. Pereira  © 2023  Antonio G. Pereira 


        My, my, my... Here's a new one. A Hendrix magazine called, 'Hendrix: The Ultimate Tribute (Third Edition). Y'know, it's stuff like this, that makes me glad Hendrix' father Al Hendrix waited and was smart enough to get a reputable Journalist, and wrote his own autobiography; telling his own family history, himself (My Son Jimi by Al Hendrix with Jas Obrecht -  After taking control of his son's Estate in court , and removing Alan Douglas, it's surprising that things like 'Hendrix: The Ultimate Tribute' (mostly rehashed junk - Apparently, nobody here seems to know how to write a historical piece on a great musician without being gratuitously salacious and juvenile.) still sees the light of day. Strange that in this 'Ultimate Tribute', no mention is made of Mitch Mitchell's story about Hendrix taking him to sit in at his friend Joe Tex' gig at Town Hall, during the Electric Ladyland sessions; that was related by Mitch in his autobiography (with John Platt), 'Inside The Experience' - Mitchell/dp/051757716X  (I might also add that the group that Mitchell was in before the Experience was Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, that used to regularly play in the Flamingo. Georgie Fame's group covered just about all of the current Soul and Jazz music being made during the mid-sixties era. So we're talking about everyone from Jimmy Smith to Motown and Stax. The Flamingo was quite a popular London Club, run by the Gunnell Brothers (Rik and Johnny), and was frequented by British West Indian and British enthusiasts; and on the weekends they were joined by Black American Servicemen from a Military Base outside London. So it was packed. Before the Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted playing at this same club, when Mitch took Jimi (with Chas) to see where he used to play, and Jimi no doubt ran into some Servicemen from the Base in the Flamingo, you can imagine the scene. Or can you? Perhaps someone here in 'Hendrix: The Ultimate Tribute' - From The Makers of Classic Rock', will find the time or 'interest', to follow this up and try to find some of the people who were there. My point being, when Mitch told this story in his book about Jimi's friend Joe Tex, Hendrix knew full well what he was doing when he took Mitch with him. Yes the 60's was quite an interesting era, that is, if you look at it that way.) And I guess nobody bothered to interview Lonnie Youngblood (who is very much alive - ), an old friend of Hendrix, that he jammed with at Small's Paradise in 1969. A photograph of that jam is on the cover of the LP 'Two Great Experiences Together'.  

Spare me.... 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

 Beatles/Dylan - Intersections '66

Antonio G. Pereira © 2023 Antonio G. Pereira


        Bob Dylan nearing the end of a World Tour in May 1966 in London, finishing up at Albert Hall, spends a night hanging out with John Lennon; during which D. A. Pennebaker  shoots some footage in the back of a limo for a projected film, Eat The Document. (The follow up to Don't Look Back: )This is the complete segment with Dylan and John Lennon: Dylan, near burnout, does two final shows at Albert Hall, attended by The Beatles and their wives and friends.  After which Dylan returns to the United States just before Blonde On Blonde is released, and aside from hanging out with The Rolling Stones during an after hours party in the Chelsea Hotel, when they play Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium in July, goes home up in Woodstock. At the end of July he has a motorcycle accident that puts him in the hospital, and is not seen for more than a year. The projected film, Eat The Document (aside from sporadic screenings over the decades) has never been officially released.  

        Meanwhile, The Beatles are finishing their new album Revolver and embarking on a World Tour of their own in June/July. In August they will do one more tour, in the United States. It will be their last: