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Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917, Spectre) has been given the green light to begin work on four separate feature films that will tell the individual stories of Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. In announcing the project on Feb. 20, Sony Pictures said the project will mark the first time the band's Apple Corps Ltd. and the two surviving group members and the families of the deceased two have given full access to life story and music rights for a scripted film. "I'm honored to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time, and excited to challenge the notion of what constitutes a trip to the movies," said Mendes in a statement. Mendes will direct the four stand-alone theatrical movies -- with each one told from one band member's point of view -- as well as intersecting to tell the full story of the Fab Four for the project, which promises to be "innovative and groundbreaking." - Billboard...... In other Beatles news, the British woman who found and returned Paul McCartney's long-lost bass guitar is now hoping that she may be in store for a reward. Cathy Guest found the bass in her attic following the death of her husband Hadyn, who Cathy believes in turn inherited the bass from his brother Graham. The 1961 Hofner 500/1 bass -- which has been dubbed the most important bass in history for its role in recording numerous Beatles hits including "Love Me Do," "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout" -- was stolen from the musician in 1972, only to be returned to him earlier in February. Speaking to the UK paper The Sun, Guest said that she slipped a hand-written letter into the guitar case before she returned it, explaining her financial situation as a single parent looking after two school children. "My husband inherited it when another family member died and he'd had it for years," she said. "He had no idea where it came from. He was a keen musician and used to play all the guitars at home, including Paul's bass. We both loved music and I still go to gigs every weekend." McCartney purchased the instrument in 1961 for £30 ($38) in Hamburg, Germany. Meanwhile, Paul's son James McCartney has announced his first new single since 2016. James posted on X on Feb. 12 that his new song "Beautiful" will be released on Feb. 23. James, a multi-instrumentalist who began releasing his own solo material in 2010, grew up contributing to recording sessions for his famous dad's albums Flaming Pie in 1997 and Driving Rain in 2001, as well as his mother Linda McCartney's 1998 release Wide Prairie. He released his debut LP, Me, in 2013, and followed up with 2016's The Blackberry Train. - New Musical Express...... WingsA 50th anniversary reissue of Paul McCartney and Wings's classic 1973 set Band on the Run has returned to the Billboard Hot 200 album chart after more than a decade. The album re-entered the Top Album Sales chart at No. 5, debuted at No. 7 on the Vinyl Albums tally, re-entered at No. 6 on Tastemaker Albums and debuted at No. 37 on Top Rock & Alternative Albums. On the overall Billboard 200 chart, where the album hit No. 1 in 1974, the set re-entered at No. 156 -- its first appearance on the chart since Jan. 1, 2011. The album sold 8,000 copies in the U.S. in the week ending Feb. 8 (up 14,681%) according to Luminate. The reissued Band on the Run is available in a number of formats, including a single-LP vinyl release cut at half-speed, a double-LP vinyl set at half-speed with a bonus "underdubbed" version of the album, and as a double-CD set (also with the underdubbed mixes). "This is Band on the Run in a way you've never heard before," McCartney said of the new remixes last December. "When you are making a song and putting on additional parts, like an extra guitar, that's an overdub. Well, this version of the album is the opposite, underdubbed." Meanwhile, Sir Paul reunited with pop sensation Taylor Swift for a short time during Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 11. The Beatles legend and the "All Too Well" singer had previously teamed up a few years ago for a wide-ranging conversation for Rolling Stone magazine's "Musicians on Musicians" series. Before that, McCartney has said that "Who Cares," an anti-bullying track from his 2018 solo album Egypt Station, was actually inspired by Swift and the fan connection she has. In still more Macca news, a five-year search by music instrument manufacturer Hofner has reunited Sir Paul with his beloved 1961 Hofner electric bass guitar that went missing a half century ago. McCartney had asked Hofner to help find the missing instrument that helped launch Beatlemania phenomenon in the early 1960s, according to Scott Jones, a journalist who teamed up with Hofner executive Nick Wass to track it down. McCartney bought the bass for about £30 ($37) in 1961 when the Beatles were developing their chops during a series of residencies in Hamburg, Germany. The instrument was played on the Beatles first two records and featured on hits such as "Love Me Do," "Twist and Shout," and "She Loves You." It was rumored to have been stolen around the time the Beatles were recording their final album, Let it Be, in 1969. But no one was sure when it went missing. The big break came in Sept. 2023 when sound engineer Ian Horne, who had worked with McCartney's band Wings, got in touch. He said the bass had been swiped from the back of his van one night in the Notting Hill section of London in 1972. Horne couldn't remember the date, but a former trainee reporter for a London newspaper got in touch and said he had written an article on the theft. Scott's wife Naomi Jones located the item in the British Library that provided the date and other details. They were then contacted by a person who said their father had stolen the bass. "The thief didn't set out to steal McCartney's instrument and panicked when he realized what he had," Jones said. The man ended up selling it to Ron Guest, landlord of the Admiral Blake pub, for a few pounds and some beers. As the Joneses were starting to look for relatives of Guest, word had already reached his family. His daughter-in-law contacted McCartney's studio. Cathy Guest said that the old bass that had been in her attic for years looked like the one they were looking for. It had been passed from Ron Guest to his oldest son, who died in car wreck, and then to a younger son, Haydn Guest, who was married to Cathy and died in 2020. The instrument was returned to McCartney in December and then it took about two months to authenticate it. The instrument is estimated to be worth £10 million ($12.6 million US). - Billboard/AP...... The BeatlesTo commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Beatles' legendary Feb. 9, 1964 appearance on America's The Ed Sullivan Show, toymaker MEGA/Mattel is releasing a one-of-a-kind construction set that replicates the "arrows" stage that was specially made for the broadcast, and includes four 2-inch posable micro-figures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, complete with swappable instruments. The 681-piece set is currently available for $79.99 at select Walmart stores, online at Walmart.co, and on the Beatles official website. The Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show launched the "British invasion" and birthed Beatlemania Stateside as the show received more than 50,000 ticket requests for the 728-seat studio. By comparison, Elvis Presley drove more than 7,000 ticket requests for his Sullivan show debut in 1957. The Beatles appeared on the show three times in 1964 and several other times over the next four years but stopped performing live on the show in 1966, opting instead for pre-taped performances. The band's final appearance on Sullivan show, a pre-taped performance, was on Mar. 1, 1970. - Billboard...... In a new interview with the UK's MOJO magazine, Paul McCartney credited Johnny Cash for inspiring him to form his '70s band Wings. "After the end of The Beatles I was faced with certain alternatives," Sir Paul says. "One was to give up music entirely and do God knows what. Another was to start a super-band with very famous people, Eric Clapton and so on. I didn't like either so I thought: 'How did The Beatles start?' It was a bunch of mates who didn't know what they were doing," he continued. "That's when I realised maybe there is a third alternative: to get a band that isn't massively famous, to not worry if we don't know what we're doing because we would form our character by learning along the way. It was a real act of faith. It was crazy, actually." Macca then said he watched Johnny Cash one night with his wife, Linda, and found his idea for a new band. "We were in bed one night," he said, "newly married, when Johnny Cash came on the telly with a new band he'd formed with Carl Perkins, a big hero of mine. There they were, playing with some country musicians I had never heard of, looking like they were having fun. I thought: here's Johnny, he's back, he's doing it. So I turned to Linda and said: Do you want to form a band? And she went: 'Sure.' That's how our relationship was. Do you want to go and live on a farm in Scotland? 'Why not?'" Wings are set to release the 50th anniversary reissue of their seminal album, Band On The Run, including some new "underdub" mixes, on Feb. 2. "This is Band on the Run in a way you've never heard before," said McCartney of the new mixes. "When you are making a song and putting on additional parts, like an extra guitar, that's an overdub. Well, this version of the album is the opposite, underdubbed." The new Band on the Run comes two months after the death of former Wings member Denny Laine on Dec. 5. - New Musical Express...... Paul McCartney's younger brother Mike McCartney has shared a health update after spending his 80th birthday in hospital. On Jan. 8, Mike shared a photo of himself on X/Twitter, aged 22, saying: "I'm now 80..can u believe! and haven't changed at all! You won't believe how I spent my 80th!" A week later, he then explained more on the same platform, telling followers: "I mentioned you wouldn't believe HOW I spent my 80th birthday didn't I? "The glorious celebrations were spent in our local hospital! The NHS nurses, doctors & staff were, as always magnificent. I'm now, thankfully out. Thanks to the NHS very much." In 2022, Mike McCartney backed plans to open up the pair's childhood home in Liverpool for unsigned artists to use as a base to write, perform and gain inspiration from. The Forthlin Sessions initiative will see artists chosen by Mike and local partners to write music at the same place where Paul and John Lennon forged their distinguished songwriting partnership. 20, Forthlin Road in Liverpool is where the pair wrote hits including "Saw Her Standing There" and "When I'm 64." The property is now owned by the National Trust. - New Musical Express...... Leon WildesLeon Wildes, a prominent immigration lawyer best known for his landmark, yearslong fight in the 1970s to prevent John Lennon from being deported and enable the former Beatle to receive permanent residency in the U.S., died on Jan. 8 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He was 90. Mr. Wildes' son -- immigration attorney and Englewood, N.J. Mayor Michael Wildes -- said his father had been in failing health after a series of strokes. "Dad felt he effectively lived the American Dream for a kid from Olyphant PA and spent his life facilitating the same experience for scores more," said Michael Wildes, who is also the managing partner for the firm his father helped start, Wildes & Weinberg. "He was beloved by his family, was extraordinarily humble, and beloved by our Bar." Leon Wildes was a graduate of the New York University School of Law who co-founded Wildes & Weinberg in 1960 and, by the end of the decade, had gained enough stature to serve as president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. His name would become part of musical and political history after an old law school classmate, Alan Kahn, called in 1972 and told him that Lennon and Yoko Ono needed his help getting their visas extended. Mr. Wildes agreed to meet with the couple at the Manhattan offices of Apple Records, the label founded by the Beatles in the late 1960s. But he did have one embarrassing confession about Lennon and his artist wife. "I have no idea who these people are," he told Kahn, later saying he misheard their names as "Jack Lemmon and Yoko Moto." What Mr. Wildes initially thought would be a formality turned into one of the most dramatic legal struggles of the era. John and Yoko had moved from England to New York City, trying to track down Ono's daughter from a previous marriage, Kyoko Chan Cox, whom her ex-husband had abducted. The couple also were active in the New Left politics of the time, opposing the Vietnam War and backing efforts to defeat Pres. Richard Nixon in his bid for re-election. With the minimum voting age lowered from 21 to 18, Lennon's plans included a 1972 tour of the U.S. that would potentially attract millions of young people. As government files later revealed, some Nixon supporters feared that Lennon could damage Nixon politically. In a Feb. 1972 memo sent to Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican and a member of a Senate subcommittee on internal security, aides recommended a "strategic countermeasure," terminating Lennon's visa. The government would also try to deport Ono, a Tokyo native, but she was granted permanent residency in 1973. Descended from European Jews, Mr. Wildes grew up in a small Pennsylvania community where he was often the only Jew in his class. He attended Yeshiva College as an undergraduate and became interested in immigration law after working with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in the late 1950s. Mr. Wildes published articles in the Cardozo Law Review among other journals and wrote a book on the Lennon case, John Lennon Vs. the USA, that was published in 2016. An opera fan when he was young, he would become fully vested in the Beatles universe, to the point of using "Imagine" as music when a caller to his office was placed on hold. He remained close to Yoko, appeared in the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon and even attended some Beatles conventions, among them the Chicago-based Fest for Beatles Fans. - Billboard, 1/13/24...... In a new interview with Record Collector magazine, '60s pop singing-songwriting legend Donovan revealed he used to hang out with the Beatles and pulled guitarist George Harrison to one side to teach him "a few tricks" so he could pen his own tunes after being "in the shadow" of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. "I became George's mentor for songwriting," the Scottish musician said. "He was in the shadow of John and Paul for so many years and I said, 'Look, I'll show you a few tricks, how to encourage the songs.' There's a way to encourage the song to come. You can tease it, like fishing. I told him how to play a chord then put your ear on the guitar, listen to the open chord and try a tempo. You can hear melodies, believe it or not. Melodies appear, but you've got to be quick to catch them." The "Sunshine Superman" hitmaker -- who was a prominent figure of the Flower Power era of the late '60s -- also recalled how "dangerous" it was playing shows with little security to stop fans ramming toward him or The Fab Four. "As soon as the last song was over, they'd turn the lights on, say goodnight, and get in their cars. And what would happen? The whole audience would swarm towards the stage. That became a big problem." - Music-News.com...... David LelandDavid Leland, a writer, director and actor who worked with George Harrison, Paul McCartney and the Travelling Wilburys over his five-decade career, passed away on Christmas Eve surrounded by his family, according to a press release. He was 82. Initially trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama and later moving into stage management and direction at the Crucible Theatre, Mr. Leland collaborated with British actors including Michael Palin and Terry Jones early in their careers, as well as an as-yet-undiscovered Victoria Wood, who wrote her first play, "Talent," for him to direct. He also gave Pierce Brosnan his first opportunity to act on stage in the British premiere of Tennessee Williams' "The Red Devil Battery Sign," which Mr. Leland directed. Mr. Leland was a close friend of George Harrison's and worked with him on several occasions, directing several Traveling Wilburys videos including "Handle With Care" and the 1988 film Checking Out, on which Harrison served as a producer. His other music video work included Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" (which also featured Harrison and Ringo Starr), and McCartney's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man." He also directed the documentary Concert For George (2003) following Harrison's own death, which was a concert film of a memorial concert event which took place at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring the remaining Beatles, Petty and Eric Clapton. Mr. Leland won a Grammy Award for his work, while the DVD was certified platinum eight times over. He also worked extensively as a screenwriter for both TV and film, with his film credits including Made In Britain (1982), Birth Of A Nation (1983) and Wish You Were Here (1987). The UK's BAFTA Awards posted a tribute to Mr. Leland on X/Twitter, saying they were "saddened" to hear of his death. Other tributes came from Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson and Monty Python's Terry Gillam. - NME, 1/2/24...... Speaking on his Paul McCartney: A Life in Lyrics podcast, Paul McCartney has admitted the Beatles classic "Let It Be" was subconsciously inspired by William Shakespeare's "Hamlet." "In those days [at school], I had to learn [Shakespeare] speeches off by heart. So I could still do a bit of 'to be or not to be', or 'O that this too too solid flesh'. And it had been pointed out to me recently that Hamlet, when he has been poisoned, he actually says, 'Let it be' - act five, scene two. He says 'Let be' the first time, then the second time he says, 'Had I but time -- as this fell sergeant, Death, Is strict in his arrest -- oh, I could tell you. But let it be Horatio.'" He added: "I was interested that I was exposed to those words during a time when I was studying Shakespeare so that years later the phrase appears to me in a dream with my mother saying it." Sir Paul, 81, previously explained how the idea for the song came to him in a dream about his mother during the intense writing sessions for the Beatles' 1968 "White Album." His mother Mary Patricia McCartney died of cancer in 1956, when he was 14. He later said: "It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing 'Let It Be'." In another interview, he clamed she said to him in the dream: "'It will be all right, just let it be.'" - Music-News.com...... Julian LennonJulian Lennon has spoken out about his relationship with his half-brother Sean Ono Lennon, saying that rumours of an alleged feud between them are "such bull." The elder son of John Lennon reflected on his relationship with his sibling during a new interview with Esquire, and shut down speculation that there was any feelings of rivalry between them. The conversation arose as he looked back at the red carpet premiere of the Beatles' 2021 documentary series Get Back, which he attended with Sean. Recalling the event, he explained that Sean initially had reservations about attending. "He felt overwhelming pressure. And I didn't particularly want to go. But he said he felt obligated to go," he told the magazine. "So, because I love him so much I said, 'Listen, I'm coming with you. We'll face the demons together.' And it's funny because there's always been, especially in the U.K. press, 'Lennon Sons Feuding,' this, that. We've never had a fight in our life. It's such bull." Julian also revealed that he's been "driven up the wall" by the Beatles' classic "Hey Jude." Paul McCartney wrote the 1968 non-album single about John's break-up with Julian's mother, Cynthia. The couple had separated and John began a relationship with Yoko Ono, whom he married in 1969. "It's a beautiful sentiment, no question about that, and I'm very thankful - but I've also been driven up the wall by it," he told Esquire. "I love the fact that he wrote a song about me and for Mum, but depending on what side of the bed one woke up on, and where you're hearing it, it can be a good or a slightly frustrating thing." - New Musical Express...... A 50th anniversary edition of Paul McCartney & Wings' acclaimed 1973 LP Band on the Run has been announced that will be available in a range of formats, including a set of "Underdubbed" mixes. These new unreleased rough mixes were made by Geoff Emerick and Pete Swettenham at AIR Studios on Oct. 14, 1973. "This is Band on the Run in a way you've never heard before," McCartney says of the new remixes. "When you are making a song and putting on additional parts, like an extra guitar, that's an overdub. Well, this version of the album is the opposite, underdubbed." The Band On The Run reissue will be available in vinyl, CD, digital and Dolby ATMOS formats. McCartney formed Wings in 1971, with himself and his wife Linda McCartney as the two permanent members. Band On The Run was Wings' third album, and went on to win multiple Grammy Awards and topped the charts in several countries including the UK. McCartney has been playing tracks from Band On The Run such as "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" and "Jet" on his current tour. He is now playing the South American leg of his international "Got Back" tour until Dec. 16, where he will finish in Rio de Janeiro. - New Musical Express...... Denny LaineEnglish rock musician Denny Laine, a co-founding former member of The Moody Blues and a member of the Paul McCartney-led '70s band Wings, died on Dec. 5 of a bacterial infection that followed a serious bout of Covid-19. He was 79. Laine's wife Elizabeth Hines posted the announcement on Instagram, stating that her husband had passed away due to Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). "My darling husband passed away peacefully early this morning," she began. "He and I both believed he would overcome his health setbacks and return to the rehabilitation center and eventually home. Unfortunately, his lung disease, Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), is unpredictable and aggressive; each infection weakened and damaged his lungs. He fought everyday. He was so strong and brave, never complained. All he wanted was to be home with me and his pet kitty, Charley, playing his gypsy guitar." Hines said Laine was "so very thankful" for the love and support he had received during his "health crisis." "It was my absolute honor and privilege to not only be his wife, but to care for him during his illness and vulnerability," she added. Born on Oct. 29, 1944 in Birmingham, Laine played in his first band The Diplomats (which featured ELO drummer Bev Bevans). From there, he would go on to found The Moody Blues in 1964 with singer Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas and drummer Graeme Edge, who died in 2021 aged 80. He sang on the band's cover of "Go Now," which would eventually top the UK charts and solidify their success. From there, Laine formed the Electric String Band, and would also play with Ginger Baker's Air Force. But it was a call from Paul McCartney that would see Laine join Wings, becoming a constant member of the band. It was he, Paul and his wife Linda that would go on to make their most celebrated album, Band On The Run, in 1973. Denny LaineWings officially wrapped by the 1980s, but Laine and McCartney stayed in touch, with Laine playing on Macca's Tug of War (1982) and Pipes of Peace (1983), in addition to co-writing the "Ebony and Ivory" B-side, "Rainclouds." After learning of Laine's death, Paul McCartney took to Instagram to mourn the loss: "I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when The Beatles toured with the Moody Blues," he wrote alongside a throwback picture of Laine. "Our two bands had a lot of respect for each other and a lot of fun together. Denny joined Wings at the outset. He was an outstanding vocalist and guitar player. His most famous performance is probably 'Go Now' an old Bessie Banks song which he would sing brilliantly. He and I wrote some songs together the most successful being 'Mull of Kintyre' which was a big hit in the Seventies. We had drifted apart but in recent years managed to re-establish our friendship and share memories of our times together." He continued, "Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people. He will be missed by all his fans and remembered with great fondness by his friends. I send my condolences and best wishes to his wife, Elizabeth and family. Peace and love Denny. It was a pleasure to know you. We are all going to miss you." Laine is survived by his widow Hines and his five children. - NME...... Rare and long-lost photos, contact sheets & original negatives of rock music legends including Paul and Linda McCartney, John Lennon, Joan Baez, The Supremes, The Carpenters, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Cliff and more are up for auction through Dec. 10 at entertainment.ha.com. Bidding is open on the Heritage Auction sale, which also features a treasure-trove of rare and some previously unseen images of music legends including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Donovan, Marianne Faithful, Tim Buckley and others shot by renowned music photographer and photojournalist Shepard Sherbell. Some of the items include the original negatives. The auction closes Dec. 10, 2023. All items come with a certificate of authenticity (COA) from Heritage Auctions. - M4G Media...... The Beatles are back at No. 1 on a Billboard airplay chart for the first time in over 50 years as their "final song" "Now and Then" jumped from the second to the top spot on the Adult Alternative Airplay tally dated Dec. 9. It's the band's first No. 1 on that particular survey, which began in 1996. The Beatles previously peaked at No. 11 on that chart with "Free as a Bird" that same year. The last time the group notched a No. 1 on a Billboard radio chart was 1970, when "Let It Be" (the Fab Four's sole other airplay leader) ruled Adult Contemporary for four weeks beginning that April. However the Beatles can boast their share of chart-toppers elsewhere, including a record 20 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Billed as the Beatles' final song, "Now and Then" was recorded as a demo in 1977 by John Lennon and finished at last by surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, among others, after multiple attempts via new technology to extract Lennon's vocals from the original demo, along with guitar parts from George Harrison. It's included on the reissues of the group's 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 compilations, initially released in 1973 and re-released Nov. 10. - Billboard...... John LennonIn other Beatles-related news, a new documentary series about the Dec. 8, 1980 assassination of John Lennon has a claim that Lennon's murderer Mark David Chapman apologized to his group after shooting Lennon dead outside of his New York City apartment block. According to a witness interviewed for the Apple TV+ docuseries, which begins streaming on Dec. 6, Chapman "actually apologized to us... He said: 'Gee I'm sorry I ruined your night'." The witness responded: "You gotta be kidding me, you just ruined your whole life." First announced in October, John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial examines the pre-meditated crime by the troubled Chapman and its aftermath, and its producers were "granted extensive Freedom of Information Act requests from the New York City Police Department, the Board of Parole and the District Attorney's office." It also features interviews with Lennon's friends and Chapman's defense lawyers, psychiatrists, detectives and prosecutors. It also makes use of previously unseen photos from the scene of the crime. The three-part series is narrated by actor Kiefer Sutherland. Its trailer has been shared on YouTube. - New Musical Express...... One of Paul McCartney's iconic Hofner bass guitars from the 1960's that the former Beatle gifted to a music executive in the 1990's is up for auction at GottaHaveRockandRoll.com. A photograph accompanying this guitar shows McCartney playing the bass with a clear photo-match to the signature on the body of the guitar. The music legend has signed the body of the guitar, "Paul McCartney waz here." The gem can be viewed at GottaHaveRockandRoll.com. - Music-News.com...... Rob ReinerMeanwhile, it has been revealed that McCartney and Elton John are set to appear in the upcoming sequel to the classic 1984 "mockumentary" comedy This Is Spinal Tap. Rob Reiner, who directed the original film starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, confirmed various guest stars in the sequel during an appearance on the UK-based Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with host Richard Herring. Speaking on the podcast about the sequel, which was announced in May 2022, Reiner said: "We're going to start shooting in the end of February. Everybody's back. Paul McCartney is joining us, and Elton John. And a few other surprises, Garth Brooks." Along with directing the sequel, Reiner is set to reprise his role as filmmaker Marty DiBergi. McKean, Guest and Shearer will all return as the fictional metal band, comprised of David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls respectively. Regarding the plot, the sequel looks set to see DiBergi shoot a second film for the band in a bid for redemption. The Spinal Tap sequel was originally slated to be released in March 2024 to coincide with the original film's 40th anniversary. With filming set to begin in February, however, it's unclear when the sequel will be released. - New Musical Express...... In other Beatles-related news, the Fab Four's "Red" and "Blue" compilation albums have re-entered Billboard's Top Album Sales chart (dated Nov. 25) at Nos. 6 and 5, respectively, following their expanded reissue on Nov. 10. The titles sold 22,000 and 24,000 in the week ending Nov. 16 in the U.S., according to Luminate. Each told sold less than 500 copies in the previous week. For both titles, it is their largest sales week since the week ending Dec. 24, 1994, when they sold 37,000 and 40,000, respectively. Upon their original release in 1973, the 1962-1966 album contained 26 songs, while 1967-1970 held 28 tunes. For the 2023 reissue, 21 songs were added to the two albums -- 12 songs on 1962-1966 and nine on 1967-1970. The latter's additional cuts include the recently released new single "Now and Then," which debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 - marking the Fab Four's 35th top 10-charting hit. - Billboard...... Dolly PartonDolly Parton has revealed that she sent a "love note" to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr asking them to contribute to a cover of the Beatles classic "Let It Be" for her new album RockStar. "I just sent them a love note through their managers, and I just said what I was doing. And I said, 'I didn't want to put you on the spot, but I'd love to have you sing with me on my rock album. And if you're interested, call me at this number'," Parton said in an interview with National Public Radio. "And [they] said, yes, we'd love to, and I was very honored and very proud and very humbled by that." A video for Dolly's version of "Let It Be" can be streamed on YouTube. Meanwhile, the Beatles have launched an official Christmas sweater ahead of the festive season through their Apple Corps Ltd. company. It pays homage to the band's iconic Abbey Road album cover, with the Fab Four wearing red Santa hats as they stride across the crossing near Abbey Road Studios in London. As described in a press release, the top is also "set in a winter wonderland surrounded by a snowscape scene and traditional Fair Isle Christmas motifs with The Beatles logo above" and the "subtle and stylish grey knit is finished with red sleeves and hems for a festive touch." UK Christmas sweater dealer Notjust clothing and Earth Merch have teamed up with Apple Corps to launch the new ethically-made jumper to celebrate the release of the Beatles' latest No. 1 hit "Now And Then." Priced at £44.99, the jumper is available now at the Notjust clothing site. In still more Fab Four news, Ringo Starr has dispelled the "terrible rumours" of John Lennon not singing on "Now and Then." Speaking with the AARP, the famous drummer also took a moment to dispel some rumors about the track's creation. "There were terrible rumors that it's not John, it's A.I., whatever bullshit people said," she said. "Paul and I would not have done that. It's a beautiful song and a nice way to finally close that door." "Now and Then" has become the group's first Billboard Top 10 since 1996. - New Musical Express/Billboard...... A selection of the Beatles' catalog has been added to YouTube Shorts for the first time. In total, 75 songs from the legendary band's recently reissued greatest hits compilations "The Red Album" and "The Blue Album" are now available on the platform, with the aim of introducing "a new generation of fans to the incredible history of one of the most important bands in modern music, opening up a whole new way for fans to creatively engage with their catalog." Also available on YouTube shorts is the recent single "Now And Then," the last track to feature all four Beatles members. The single, which was released Nov. 2, has topped the UK Charts 60 years after their first Number One. It is the band's 18th Number One single, with the last being 1969's "The Ballad Of John And Yoko." This feat means that the band now boast the longest period between an artist's first and last Number One single -- with their first being "From Me to You"' in May 1963 (60 years and six months ago). Previously, Elvis Presley held the record with 47 years and six months between his 1957 hit "All Shook Up" and a reissue of "It's Now or Never" that was released in 2005. - New Musical Express...... In an amazing Billboard chart feat, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have appeared together in the Top 10 of a Billboard chart 59 years after first appearing on the tally for the week of Dec. 12, 1964. On that date, the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" rose to No. 5 from No. 22 in its second week on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, jumping over the Stones' "Time Is on My Side," which held at No. 6. Now the two iconic bands are together again in the top 10 of a Billboard ranking, with the Beatles' "Now and Then" debuting at No. 9 on the Adult Alternative Airplay chart, dated Nov. 18, 2023, with the Stones' "Angry" reaching a new high of No. 6 in its ninth week on the list. "Now and Then" marks the Fab Four's first time in the Top 10 of a radio ranking since "Free As a Bird" debuted and peaked at No. 8, in the song's lone week in the top 10, on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart dated Dec. 9, 1995. "Now and Then" also marks the Beatles' first Top 10 song on the Adult Alternative Airplay chart. - Billboard...... The Beatles' "final song" "Now and Then" has debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Digital Song Sales chart dated Nov. 11. In the Oct. 27-Nov. 2 tracking week, "Now and Then" sold 16,000 downloads in the U.S., according to Luminate. The song also starts at No. 1 on Rock Digital Song Sales, and is Fab Four's first leader on each retail ranking. (The band's digital catalog was first made available in the iTunes Store in Nov. 2010.) Elsewhere, "Now and Then" starts at Nos. 7 and 11 on the multi-metric Hot Rock Songs and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts, respectively, with its sales and airplay also augmented by 2.3 million official U.S. streams Nov. 2. "Now and Then" is also heading for a U.K. No. 1 based on sales and streaming data captured from the first 48 hours in the chart week. It's in the pole position, outselling the rest of the top 5 combined, the Official Charts Company reports. If it holds its spot, "Now And Then" will become the band's 18th U.K. chart-leader, and their first in 54 years, since "The Ballad of John and Yoko" topped the weekly tally back in 1969. Peter JacksonMeanwhile, Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, who has directed and shared the official "Now and Then" video on YouTube, has suggested that more new music from The Beatles is "conceivable." Looking back at his time working on both the "Now and Then" and 2022 Get Back eight-hour docu-series projects, Jackson said that he thinks it is "conceivable" that more new music from the band could be developed. "We can take a performance from Get Back, separate John [Lennon] and George [Harrison], and then have Paul [McCartney] and Ringo [Starr] add a chorus or harmonies," he recently told London's Sunday Times, reflecting on the series which saw him sift through 60 hours of footage and 150 hours of audio. "You might end up with a decent song," he added. "But I haven't had conversations with Paul about that." - Billboard...... The highly anticipated "final" Beatles song, "Now And Then," was released on Nov. 2, 60 years after the release of the iconic British band's 1963 debut studio album Please Please Me. "Now and Then" can be streamed on Spotify.com, which this summer surviving Beatle Paul McCartney explained how Artificial Intelligence (AI) wold be used to complete it. "Can't say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created," McCartney wrote on X/Twitter. "It's all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings -- a process which has gone on for years." He later clarified his comments during a radio interview with the BBC, explaining that AI would be used to separate vocal tracks from background noise and instruments and "extricate" late bandmate John Lennon's vocals from an old recording for use on the final master of the song. A lovelorn guitar-centric rock ballad, "Now And Then" was originally written and recorded by Lennon around 1977 as a solo piano track. After his death in 1980, the unfinished demo floated in limbo -- at times being considered as a Beatles reunion single -- and was ultimately shelved for almost three decades. Now, the song will find a home on the expanded reissue of 1973's 1967-1970 compilation (aka "The Blue Album") -- currently slated for a Nov. 10 release -- and have the distinction of being the final Beatles song. The official video of "Now And Then," directed by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, has also been released and shared on YouTube. The poignant 12-minute film tells the story behind the band's "final" song and features exclusive footage and commentary from McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, as well as Sean Ono Lennon and director Jackson. - Billboard/NME...... The BeatlesPaul McCartney and Ringo Starr have announced details of the release of their "final song" "Now And Then," along with news of expanded reissues of their 1973 "Red" and "Blue" greatest hits albums. "Now and Then" will arrive on Nov. 2 at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT from Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe, and it marks the last song written by John Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Starr. McCartney and Starr finished the song together, more than 40 years after its inception. The double A-side single also includes a sweet full-circle moment, as it's paired with "Love Me Do," featuring the original cover art shot by Ed Ruscha. Both songs have been mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos. Additionally, a 12-minute Now and Then -- The Last Beatles Song documentary film will arrive on Nov. 1. The Oliver Murray-written doc will tell the story behind the track and will feature exclusive footage and commentary from McCartney, Starr and Harrison, as well as Sean Ono Lennon and The Beatles: Get Back director Peter Jackson. "Now and Then" begins in the late 1970s, when John recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home in New York's Dakota Building. In 1994, his wife, Yoko Ono Lennon, gave the recording to Paul, George and Ringo, along with John's demos for "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love." Those two songs were released as singles in 1995-96, reaching No. 6 and No. 11, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2022, Paul and Ringo set out to complete "Now and Then." In addition to John's vocal, the song includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by Harrison; Starr's new drum part; and bass, guitar and piano from McCartney, who also added a slide guitar solo inspired by George. "It was the closest we'll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It's far out," Starr said of the process in a press statement, with McCartney adding, "It's quite emotional. And we all play on it, it's a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven't heard, I think it's an exciting thing." Meanwhile, on Nov. 10, expanded editions of The Beatles/1962-1966 (often called "The Red Album") and The Beatles/1967-1970 ("The Blue Album") will be released in 2023 Edition packages by Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe. The original editions, released in 1973, three years after The Beatles' break-up, reached No. 3 and No. 1, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 200. - Billboard...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, the 1980 assassination of John Lennon is being documented in a new series by Apple TV+. John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial is narrated by actor Kiefer Sutherland and will look into the pre-meditated crime and its aftermath by troubled fan Mark David Chapman, who fatally shot the former Beatle outside of his New York City apartment block on Dec. 8, 1980. Makers of 3-part docu-series were "granted extensive Freedom of Information Act requests from the New York City Police Department, the Board of Parole and the District Attorney's office," according to a press release, and the series includes interviews with Lennon's friends and Chapman's defence lawyers, psychiatrists, detectives and prosecutors. A premiere date has not yet been confirmed. Chapman pleaded guilty to the crime. In 1981 he was ordered to receive psychiatric treatment and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. In 2021 he was denied parole for the 12th time. His story was previously dramatized onscreen in the 2007 film Chapter 27, which starred Jared Leto. - New Musical Express, 10/27/23...... George HarrisonA new George Harrison biography from Beatles biographer Philip Norman, George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle includes Harrison's sarcastic reaction to being stabbed 40 times in a 1999 incident at his home, which left the musician fighting for his life. The moment took place when George and his wife Olivia Harrison became victims of a home invasion, and upon hearing someone break into his home, the guitarist got out of bed to investigate. From there, he was soon confronted by a man named Michael Abram who was holding a knife. An altercation followed as Harrison attempted to wrestle the knife out of Abram's hands, however, the intruder managed to get on top of the Beatle and stabbed him 40 times. He only stopped upon being struck over the head with a lamp by Olivia. In the book, the incident is described in detail and it is also revealed how Harrison described the attack to his son Dhani Harrison with a darkly witty sense of humor. According to Dhani, Harrison described Abram by saying: "He wasn't a burglar and he certainly wasn't auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys." Harrison had already been diagnosed with cancer at the time, and of the 40 stab wounds, one punctured his lung. It was presumed by doctors that the attack worsened his condition. He died of cancer in 2001 -- two years after the incident. - New Musical Express...... Kicking off his 2023 tour of Australia, Paul McCartney played the Beatles classic "She's A Woman" for the first time in nearly 20 years at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Oct. 18. His first performance in over a year, the Adelaide gig spanned across nearly three hours and included a mix of his solo hits, as well as discography with the Beatles and Wings. "She's A Woman," originally the Fab Four's B-side to "I Feel Fine" and their last single release of 1964, was last played live by Macca in 2004. Elsewhere in the setlist, McCartney opened the show with "Can't Buy Me Love" -- the same as seen in previous dates of his "Got Back" tour -- before launcing into the Wings tracks "Junior's Farm" and "Letting Go." No tracks from his latest album McCartney III were featured in the 39-song setlist, although he did bring out songs such as "Come On To Me," "My Valentine," "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Dance Tonight" from his solo discography, and even an old pre-Beatles The Quarrymen number, "In Spite Of All The Danger." His "She's A Woman" performance has been shared on YouTube. The remaining dates of his Oz tour will continue on Oct. 21 in Melbourne; from there, he will also play shows in Newcastle, Sydney and Brisbane. The Australian dates will conclude with a gig at Heritage Bank Stadium, Gold Coast on Nov. 4. He will then make his way to Brazil for five shows, beginning on Nov. 30. In other McCartney news, the star has recently spoken about the Beatles' feelings towards Yoko Ono during a new episode of his new 12-part podcast series, McCartney: A Life In Lyrics -- stating that he saw her presence during the Beatles' recording sessions as "an interference in the workplace." "John and Yoko had got together and that was bound to have an effect on the dynamics of the group," McCartney said in an interview with poet Paul Muldoon. "Things like Yoko being literally in the middle of the recording session [were] something you had to deal with... Anything that disturbs us, is disturbing. We would allow this and not make a fuss. And yet at the same time, I don't think any of us particularly liked it." - New Musical Express, 10/19/23......The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceA Jimi Hendrix Experience cover of the title track of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album has been newly unearthed and released to the public for the first time. The track, which has been shared on YouTube, had its world premiere on the SiriusXM radio show Breakfast With the Beatles, which was guest hosted by former Rolling Stone editor David Fricke. "Here is the sound of the most exciting new group in the world, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, live in rock's greatest year -- and performing the opening theme song from The Beatles' Summer of Love masterpiece," Fricke said as he introduced the song. Fricke continued: "It is a pleasure and honour to play it, for the first time anywhere, on the Beatles Channel." The track serves as the lead song on the forthcoming album Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967, which is set for release on Nov. 10. The LP will also feature such JHE originals as "Purple Haze," "The Wind Cries Mary," "Foxey Lady" and "Fire," as well as covers of the likes of Howlin' Wolf ("Killing Floor"), Bob Dylan ("Like a Rolling Stone"), The Troggs ('Wild Thing") and Muddy Waters ("Catfish Blues"). According to legend, Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison were able to witness the Hendrix and his band cover their song mere days after the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the middle of 1967. Occurring at the Saville Theatre in London on June 4, Hendrix played the song for the pair backstage on a portable record player and then opened the show with the Jimi Hendrix Experience's own dramatic interpretation. - New Musical Express, 10/13/23...... Ringo StarrRingo Starr released a new four-song EP titled Rewind Forward on Oct. 13, which features a song written for Ringo by his former bandmate Paul McCartney. Ringo says his request to Paul to write a song for him came about during one of the pair's frequent conversations. "We were Facetiming each other -- we do that quite a bit -- and I say, 'I'm doing an EP. Write me a song.' And he said, 'OK,'" Starr told Billboard during a recent interview outside West Hollywood's famoust Sunset Marquis hotel. "And he not only wrote it, he's on bass, he's singing on it. He's all over it. He actually put his drums on it." But fans won't hear Sir Paul's drumming on the song: Starr may be the only musician in the world who could tell McCartney his contribution wasn't up to par. When asked how he rates McCartney as a drummer, Starr laughs and, without missing a beat, says, "I wiped him off completely and did it myself. It would be like me sending him a track and I'm on bass." This year also marks the 50th anniversary of "Photograph," the sweeping, nostalgic tune co-written by Starr and George Harrison that became Starr's first solo No. 1 hit in 1973. "We were on a yacht. We were at the Cannes Film Festival," Starr says of writing the song, but the details pretty much end there. "I've very little memory of whatever went on on that holiday," he says with a chuckle, before going into a sweet remembrance of working with Harrison over the years. "George was like my producer for awhile. He took care of me. He put the right chords in because I could only play three," he says. "There's a great piece of footage where I'm playing 'Octopus's Garden' and he's going [shouts] 'F!' I don't know where F is. 'G flat!' He's just shouting out these chords, laying on the settee. Look, I can play any song in the world as long as it's in C," Ringo says, laughing loudly at himself. Ringo has just wrapped the 2023 edition of his annual All-Starr Band tour, which includes such musicians as Colin Hay, Hamish Stuart and Edgar Winter. "We love it. I know the audience loves me. And I love them," Starr says. "And the band has only one rule: We're not there to be miserable. And I'll support you to the best of my ability and I expect the same from you. We do it for each other." - Billboard...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney took to Instagram on Oct. 9 to mark his 12th wedding anniversary to his wife Nancy Shevell. "Happy anniversary to my lovely wife, Nancy," the 81-year-old wrote alongside a photo of him and his wife, 63. Macca added in the caption, "Let's have a great one - Paul." Fans flooded the comments section with congratulatory messages for the couple, with one fan writing, "Congrats to the happy couple. Look'in good guys," while another commented, "Happy anniversary to my favorite Beatle and his wife." McCartney and businesswoman Shevell met in 2007. They tied the knot four years later in 2011 in London. - Music-News.com  






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