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Beatles lecture draws large Malibu crowd
The year was 1967.
America was on the cusp of a cultural revolution as a controversial war waged incessantly on, the hippie generation was taking a stronghold, and a season of love began.
A revolution of a different kind was impending as well.
The Beatles, already known to most as a phenomenal band, were on the verge of exploding onto the music scene internationally, changing the genre of rock ‘n’ roll and how many viewed music forever.
Scott Freiman, composer, musician, and software engineer, took a thrilled audience on a long and winding road as he shared backstage moments, trials and travails the Beatles dealt with and endured, and some surprising moments and facts about how it all began, and how the iconic band prolifically produced phenomenal music during the magic year of 1967.
Freiman’s “Roll Up! Deconstructing The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour,” came to the Malibu Library Speakers Series on Jan. 31 in Malibu.
Freiman, a graduate of the Yale, is both a computer scientist and a composer. His multimedia presentation thrilled and intrigued.
“Fifty years ago, 1967, was one of the most phenomenal years,” Freiman said as he began what would prove to be a riveting presentation. “That was the year of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ ‘Penny Lane,’ the first worldwide satellite performance by the BBC where the Beatles sang ‘All You Need is Love,’ the Beatles’ making of a movie, among other things.”
Freiman first ran through a brief history of the Beatles.
How in 1960, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best played in seedy clubs in Hamburg and Liverpool. How the Beatles met Brian Epstein in 1961. Epstein cleaned up their act and promised a record deal if Best was replaced by Ringo Starr on drums. Soon, the magic team was in place as George Martin signed on as the band’s producer in 1962.
“After EMI’s Parlophone label turned out ‘Please Please Me’ in 1963, Martin knew he had a huge success on his hands,” Freiman said.
Freiman recounted how in 1964, the Beatles conquered America, went on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” released “A Hard Day’s Night” and issued a feature film of that name.
“In 1965, they expanded their musical palate by doing such things as using strings on ‘Yesterday,’” Freiman said.
Freiman noted that Geoff Emerick, the Beatles’ engineer who worked on many of their albums and who later worked with McCartney after the Beatles split up, was enormously instrumental to the band’s success.
“Geoff Emerick worked on the ‘Revolver’ album and the song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ He worked on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘Abbey Road,’” Freiman said. “The fact that the Beatles’ music sounds so good 50 years later has a lot to do with Geoff Emerick.”
In 1965 and 1966, the Beatles shuttled around the world playing stadiums, often almost being accosted by adoring fans, and dealing with lousy loudspeakers and jet lag, Freiman said. What appeared to the masses as a wonderful lifestyle was wearing and worrisome for the musicians.
“In 1966, the Beatles flew to Japan to play in the Budokan Theater. It was not a great experience. The Budokan is a stadium known for martial arts, so not everyone was pleased they performed there,” Freiman said. “In the Philippines, the Beatles were scared to be there because Imelda Marcos, the Queen, was offended that they did not show up for a Queen’s lunch. The Beatles actually feared for their life as they left the next day. Brian Epstein broke out in hives on the plane.”
Frieman explained that a 1966 tour of North America was equally stressful because John Lennon had made a controversial remark to the effect that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. His remark engendered furor, irritating the KKK and others. The tour was fun for the Beatles as they dealt with protests and zig-zagged the United States in a seemingly endless tour where they encountered lousy speakers and crowds that could not hear them.
Freiman recounted that Lennon took a respite in the fall of 1966, sojourning to the southern Spanish town of Almería in Andalusia. There, while filming “How I Won the War,” by Richard Lester, Lennon got a haircut and adopted his iconic sunglasses.
Finding the cacophony of live touring overwhelming, the Beatles retreated into the Abbey Road studio, where they matured even more as musicians.
Freiman’s magic was on display as he segued from recording to recording, giving details and minutia about each iteration of the song until the final version.
His brilliance is that he can, as the title to his multimedia production states, “deconstruct” the Beatles’ works, sharing intimate details of the chords, melodies, choruses as they evolved and were modified from the initial composing efforts to the final studio-produced song.
For more information on Freiman, visit www.beatleslectures.com.