Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 21:18:14 GMT -5
POSTED BY vivektiwary ON 2/7/06 4:16 pm
Was Brian Epstein REALLY "The Fifth Beatle"? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Many people in The Beatles camp-- not to mention people who surrounded them-- have either laid claim to the title "The Fifth Beatle" or have been given that title by fans. Popular choices in addition to Epstein are producer George Martin, press agent Derek Taylor, early bassist Stu Sutcliffe, American radio DJ Murray the K, friend and collaborator Eric Clapton, tour manager and current head of Apple Neil Aspinall, and the list goes on...
But at a press conference in 1997, when specifically asked who was "The Fifth Beatle", Paul McCartney replied without hesitation:
"If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian."
That's the first time a Beatle has addressed the issue. And the only other time is when McCartney repeated his words on national television during the BBC's Arena documentary on Epstein...
And it's where my money lies. Brian was an integral part of the band's life-- both peronsally and professionally-- as my film will dramatize. But I also think Sir Paul picked his words carefully when he said "If anyone". The truth is, the Beatles were a four-peice band. End of story. I think there's a certain sadness that Brian could never really be "one of the boys" no matter what he did for them, no matter how close he was to them...
But IF ANYONE-- then Brian.
However, if anyone disagrees with Paul McCartney (and me, for what it's worth), let's talk about it here!
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 21:21:15 GMT -5
POSTED BY Moses Avalon ON (2/8/06 8:56 am)
Re: Was Brian Epstein REALLY "The Fifth Beatle"? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To me, George Martin will always be the 5th Beatle. He produced every one of their records (Let it Be, iffy). How many producers can say that about an artist they worked with? Very few. His contributions were integral to their sound. He defined the role of producer for many years to come, till Disco turned producers into businessmen. Of course being an ex-producer myself I’m biased to this viewpoint.
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2007 22:28:17 GMT -5 by christine~
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 21:50:41 GMT -5
POSTED BY sacbab ON 2/20/06 10:02 am
BE sure seems like the 5th beat in this official beatles cartoon-- they just refer to him as brian, and expect us to know who that is... also like the groups savior, tho i have a hard time swallowing that the beatles needed money :)
The episodes to look for ~ the only two with Brian references ~ would be "PLEASE MISTER POSTMAN" and "THANK YOU GIRL."
The "Brian" in "Thank You Girl," however, is only an unnamed, unseen man sitting in a pink chair All you can see is a hand holding a cigar. The voice is distinctly American. *groan*
Much more rewarding is the other episode. The boys refer to "Brian" in "Please Mister Postman" by his first name. The locale is Africa, and Ringo attempts to "wire" Brian Epstein by drumming on a log. *groan*
In any case, it is, as sacbab says, very gratifying to have a sort of proof that my memory is not faulty ~ I distinctly remember that Brian in the 60's was indeed totally well-known amongst Beatle fans, and the cartoon makers took for granted that everyone would recognize him by his first name immediately.
The general public knew who "Brian" was much more than they knew "George Martin" or any other of the Inner Circle. Brian was the primary one who kind of came with the Beatle package in the tour years. Ringo, John, Paul, George and Eppy.
It should still be that way ~ but too many people, starting with his own boys, have since dropped the ball on that one. :(
Last Edit: Apr 17, 2008 10:44:26 GMT -5 by christine~
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 21:53:07 GMT -5
POSTED BY sacbab ON 6/9/06 12:55 pm
ok, a moment of silence for billy preston... may he rest in peace.
...and now that's out of the way, PLEASE. give me a break! billy preston was an amazing musician and integral collaborator that deserves much respect and a place in music history... but he's no "fifth beatle" by a long shot!!!
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 22:07:38 GMT -5
POSTED BY eppylover ON 6/9/06 11:23 pm
Thank you, sacbab!
Yesterday I made a post on my LJ along those lines. I kinda feel like the lone ranger because I take it too seriously. That's only because I can't help imagining how Brian himself would feel about it all. He wanted SO MUCH to be one of them.
The pity is, many people unfamiliar with the whole Brian/Beatles phenomenon will read all the various "Fifth Beatle" stuff and won't know any better. They blindly go with what they read. It's frustrating.
Until now, there's just not enough oomph (YET) behind our campaign for "the man without whom" to make people out there realize the facts. (Dec 2007 edit ~ in the past six months or so, I've noticed a lot of headway being made in the respect-for-Brian department!)
If you want to hear ridiculous ~ in the biggest Beatles forum online, the BeatleLinks Fab Forum, many members there seem to treat the title as if it's some kind of popularity contest. And they get all bent out of shape if it's suggested that being the Fifth Beatle is not something that fans have a right to decide. It means nothing to them that The Beatles themselves (as Paul had indicated) had already decided that issue.
There was really no Fifth Beatle. But the closest anyone ever came ~ not counting the technicalities of the music itself ~ was Brian.
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 22:15:04 GMT -5
POSTED BY Fab4Bird ON 7/14/06 11:59 am
Brian was involved in the Beatles lives in so many different aspects, he HAS to be the 5th Beatle. Yes, George Martin was the next closest to the Beatles in the recording studio, & yes, Billy Preston PLAYED with them on record, but Brian was by their side in MANY different situations. He knew their personnal lives more than anyone else around them....he had to cater to their most personnal needs & whims...he knew their different personas more than anyone else....he was with them on the road, in their homes, venues, hotels, studios, television appearances, radio shows, planes, trains, automobiles, & probably places that the public will NEVER know about!! He participated in their most private moments as well as the administrative ones. Who else in their inner circle spent more time with them in so many different avenues?
Post by * See UserName In Post * on Dec 19, 2007 22:16:44 GMT -5
POSTED BY sacbab ON 9/13/07 9:46 am
Re: Was Brian Epstein REALLY "The Fifth Beatle"? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- you guys see jonathan lethem's piece about the fifth beatle? i've read it like 3 times and still am not sure what the hell he's getting at... but he sure writes pretty
WE HAPPY FAKES: Is pop music a trick, a revenge against the banality of daily life? Novelist Jonathan Lethem writes about his dance moves, his record collection and his obsession with the Fifth Beatle
By Jonathan Lethem Saturday September 1, 2007 Guardian
When I dance these days, I don't bend my knees as much as I used to. My knee-bends are more kabuki indications - don't blink or you'll miss them. The dancing I do now enciphers in shorthand the drops and knee-bends of my 20s - these were moves that, once I'd learned them, I drove into the ground. When I climb too many stairs, my knees remind me of old dancefloors in clubs in Berkeley and Oakland and San Francisco.
Other ghosts rustle in my dancing these days, muscle-quotes of ironised glam-kicks, Elvis Costello intentional-awkward heel-scoots and skids, a kind of sideways bunny-hop and mechanical stop and restart that reminds me of both the B-52s and a certain beer-swollen wooden-plank dormitory living-room floor in Vermont.
When I got to college I was already a dancer. In my freshman year of high school I seized that role for myself, first, and definitively, at a Manhattan loft party full of hip adults to which my father had brought me and my new girlfriend, my first girlfriend. When the dancefloor filled, not to be outdone by my father's friends, I began impulsively showing off in the midst of the dancers. An image is still fresh in my mind of the shaven-headed black man in a dashiki whose technique I glommed, or tried to: he bent at the waist, snapped his fingers and shook his bright dome as if in a self-amused trance. His obliviousness to our regard was what I wanted for myself, was what I wished to hijack on behalf of my own craven pursuit of regard. I began immediately shaking my head, not yet capable of observing the finer details, how his head-shaking must surely have been driven by less ostentatious but completely authoritative movements through his feet and hips, zones I'd yet to learn to activate. But my ears were open, I wasn't deaf to the music, I know I was in the kind of bodily rapture-in-sound where all real dancing begins. Alas, I was trying to lead my dance with my head, like trying to play a song's bass line on a pair of cymbals, or a triangle. Somehow I made this my trademark - no one intervened to advise me otherwise - and so I built my dancing body from the head-shake downward, like a Cheshire cat begun at the grin.
At grown-up parties in Brooklyn hippie communes, I gradually worked out my dancing on this basis, to the soundtrack of the Rolling Stones and Marvin Gaye and the first Devo record, which I smuggled in and was allowed to play sometimes, earning in the process a nickname: the Headman. As the Headman I became the mascot dancer of a band in my high school, three brothers and a bass player who called themselves Miller, Miller, Miller and Sloane. Their hit song, "Funky Family", a Jackson-5-ish A-side, was probably the song to which the Headman laboriously discovered his body - I danced to it at high-school parties and alone in my room, wearing out several copies of the Miller brothers' parents-financed 45.
The height of my dancing - the apogee, as I like to think of it - came in a club called Berkeley Square, in 1990 or 91. It was a day I'd spent free of my retail job, a day I'd spent at home discovering some new level of what my words could do - at the time I was writing a novel called As She Climbed Across the Table, a book I associate with my learning to take command of my sentences, to make them dance the way I wanted them to. In the evening, I went out dancing with some friends. In the middle of a strenuous sequence of songs, Prince's "Kiss" came on, and in letting that song take me over, course through my body like a drug, with my dancing perhaps perfectly poised between savvy intention and callow frenzy, I found myself pretty sure that I was dancing just about as well as anyone ever had. In fact, I had the thought at that moment that there might be my equal at sentence-writing roaming the earth, somewhere, and that the same could be said of my dancing, but that there was no one alive who could both write and dance the way I had that day. And I'm still almost convinced of it, I am.
The terms "jazz" and "rock'n'roll", as a great man once pointed out, are only blues musicians' slang for f**king. The whole history of pop, the half-century or more of intricate delirium, is, in other words, a joke about f**king, but for me it is a joke I grew up inside, a joke that was also a daydream, a shaggy-dog story, a surreal fable like Alice in Wonderland, a world I wanted to climb inside and flesh out with my own yearning. In other words, it's a bloody miracle I didn't turn out to be a rock critic. I'm still not entirely sure how I evaded the honour.
When I was younger, it was hard for me to keep the future and the past from collapsing - I used to mix up astronauts and dinosaurs, for instance. It was hard for me, too, thanks to the bohemian demi-monde in which I dwelled, the milieu of my parents and their friends, all of them with their astonishingly valuable and mistreated record collections, to believe, for instance, that Bob Dylan and the Beatles were not about 50 or 100 years old, as canonical as F Scott Fitzgerald or Walt Whitman, as revered as Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. The first time I learned there were human beings still alive - some of them my aunts and uncles - who still thought of rock'n'roll as "that noise", I laughed, feeling a kind of slap-happy disbelief. I was pretty sure everybody, for instance, knew that Paul wasn't "really" dead, but knew that some people had believed so for a while. And the quest for the identity of the "Fifth Beatle", which seemed to me an allegory of authenticity and collective identity as deep as a zen koan, represented an attempt to understand the world I'd been born into. The Fifth Beatle in particular haunted me like a ghost of crime, a Ross MacDonald investigation, where the façade of a life in the present peels away to expose the wild truths of the past, the impostures - some of them brave, some shameful - on which our contemporary reality was founded.
Who was "Murray the K"? What was payola? Do you mean to tell me that someone had to be paid to play rock'n'roll on the radio, that something unfair occurred, that the music has bought its way into our hearts? The idea of payola was in itself easy to conflate with the idea of "the hook", or the "irresistible hit record", or "Beatlemania", the sense that pop was a kind of trick, a perverse revenge against the banality of daily life dreamed up collectively by 10 or 15 delta bluesmen and a million or 100 million screaming 14-year-old girls. Maybe if a killer hook was like a bullet or a drug or a virus, we all lived in a world permanently drugged or psychedelically sick with fever, or dead and dreaming, like characters in a Philip K Dick novel.
If so, I was grateful to live on the drugged, feverish or dead side of the historical trauma. On the side of conspiracy theories stood Sutcliffe, Best, Epstein, Voorman, Preston - this sequence of suspects who were also victims, seeming to indict the magic circle of four heroes of some wrongdoing or at least misrepresentation. But these "Fifth Beatles" also seemed to confirm the four in their status as iconic survivors - probably no one else deserved to be a Beatle, that might be the answer. And Bob Dylan, as Jimi Hendrix apparently knew, was your grandmother - full of gravelly authority and punitive conscience, nowhere near as fun, but titanically arresting - he was your grandmother in a wolf's costume, for certain.
But soon enough I, too, was engaged in a kind of game of reverent scepticism, a weird pursuit of exposing the flimsiness of the cartoon world I loved, as if testing its authority. I remember the day I learned Ringo's drumming was "bad". So bad Paul had done some of it for him. Then - I recall it as if it was the very next thing I learned, like geometry leading to algebra - I read somewhere the beautiful thought that Ringo's role was to be our surrogate in the band, the Beatle who was also a fan of the Beatles, in awe of the "real ones" from the nearest possible proximity. So maybe there was no Fifth Beatle, maybe there wasn't even a fourth! It was somehow inevitable to note next that George was given a free ride in the other songwriters' wake (yet you also could sense he was stunted or thwarted or cheated).
John explained bitterly that he wrote the hook to "Taxman", George's "best" song, just as Ray Davies was quick to note he helped his brother with "Death of a Clown", Dave Davies's greatest hit. So the sham notion of a "democracy of talent" within these great groups, with its analogous utopian implications for collective action, could dissolve into sour cynicism: the presiding genius probably could have done just as well with any other supporting cast. Or, paradoxically, the reverse: the urge to pronounce the solo careers so thin and cheesy that the magic was proven to be in the lucky conjunction of a bunch of ordinary blokes, raised temporarily above their station as much by history and our love as by any personal agency; if the Beatles didn't exist we'd have had to invent them, and perhaps we did. Maybe the search for the Fifth Beatle was always destined to end, like the list of Time magazine's Person of the Year, with the conclusion that the Fifth Beatle is YOU. For evidence, one only needs to listen to The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Here was music to ride like a froth of sea foam atop a tsunami wave of adulation and yearning for, well, itself. What were little-girl-screams if not the essential heart of the Beatles' true sound, the human voice in a karaoke track consisting of the band itself? Getting by with a little help from my friends indeed.
Our urge to expose the trick is bound up in our mad love at being tricked, a kind of revenge of the seduced, and simultaneously a projection of our knowing selves into the space between the singer and the song. Jim Morrison and Michael Stipe, unmusical jesters, posturing poets, charlatans - yet imagine their bands shorn of them and you're left with forgettable garage-rock outfits, nobody Chuck Berry couldn't hustle up in time to play a quick gig and then steal back out of town. In fact, I watched the Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll! again recently and was struck by it as a kind of masochistic orgy of deconstruction, a taunt to the audience's regard for this so-called art form. Here's Keith Richards, hastening to expose the Rolling Stones as nothing but an accretion of Chuck Berry licks, and here's the man himself, so unimpressed by what his followers have wrought that he can't even seem to pay full attention. The film is constructed as a detective story, a series of clues leading to Johnnie Johnson, the piano player whose chords Berry transposed to create his great hooks, so that all of rock'n'roll is revealed as inconsequential at its birth, a handful of copped stride-piano flourishes. Berry presents a nihilistic face, utterly destructive of his own legend, and by the time of the climactic concert, the hapless and poignant Julian Lennon is brought out for our inspection as a good enough John-substitute - "He looks and sounds just like his father," Berry asserts, and we're horrified to find ourselves in agreement. Then Robert Cray is celebrated by Berry as looking just like him - like Chuck Berry. As these ersatz figures are paraded, we're pretty sure the film has confirmed the triple collapse of the Beatles, Stones and Berry, at least, and as the depressingly complacent middle-aged audience confirms, there's nothing left to do but party.
As the men who play on stage with him will hasten to explain to you, James Brown is, sadly, not a musician. His devoted and long-suffering players, all of whom revere their boss as a creator and star beyond all comparison, have confessed how they always sblack personed into their sleeves during his agonising and agonised organ solos. Here was the Godfather of Soul, the unmistakable pioneer of our whole rhythm-scape, derided as a kind of fake by his own collaborators, a half-assed Beethoven propped up by his orchestra.
In this role, weirdly, Brown's greatness is actually confirmed, since the notion of him as a kind of charlatan-presider over music he could never play himself exactly describes his role as bridge between the clown-jazz figures of Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway and the hip-hop musicians whose world he brought into being, as the scatting, grunting foreground presence against a landscape of sonic astonishments. The showman whose exhortations and shouts of surprise at the virtuosity of the soloists mark him as an MC or DJ who inserted himself into the band, a figure of pure will and egotism. He'd better be able to dance like a demon to dare to take that half-vicarious role in our steads - dance, or else scream, or suffer, or make us suffer, or even better, all of the above. This is where the figure of the punk from hell, the Iggy Pop or Sid Vicious whose authority derives from his ineptitude, spontaneity, embarrassment and pain, can weirdly seem an allegory for the whole history of pop itself - these three chords, these cheesy riffs, this off-key singing, this doggerel poetry, all of it, somehow, a bluesman's or jazz-man's joke taken way too seriously.
A real music would have some modesty, and we'd have a proper reverence for its history, a proper sense of its distance from ourselves. Our pop life, then, is maybe the collapse of musical expertise into raw expression - the collapse of singing into screaming, even when it's only the possibility of screaming, or the audience's screaming, or the guitar's. This, too, is why our pop life seems at every possible turn surrounded by the gestures of the pretender, the charlatan, those who dwell in the ocean of the vicarious in which these tender artefacts, these hit records and the stars who make them, swim: the child stars and karaoke stars and American Idols, whose degraded and ludicrous projection guiltily thrills us, the lip-synchers and air guitarists and mirror stars, the singers of those off-key Studio One covers of Motown songs, transcribed from the radio with the lyrics wrong, the one-shot bands, the garage bands, the party bands that luck into a contract. Even, dare I say it, those of us who stand here because we've kidded ourselves that our dancing or our writing, or both, makes us something like rock stars, somehow fit to slip into Wonderland - we Fifth Beatles, we happy fakes. We try to cover our embarrassment at how much we believe. For this whole story really is a naked egalitarian dream, isn't it?