God’s eye view

Michael Gerber
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Beatles from above, 1965

God’s Eye View of our guys.

If you can’t identify this occasion within ten seconds, you’re probably here by mistake. I wonder how it was taken? Michael Lindsay-Hogg, hanging by his toes from a dirigible?

EDIT: So I suppose I must excommunicate myself– it’s not the rooftop at all! Where and when exactly is a matter of debate, which can be sampled in the Comments. Now, where is that hairshirt of mine? (Made of JohnandYoko’s hair; I pilfered it from Michael X.)

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  1. Avatar Dan wrote:

    This isn’t from the Let It Be sessions–the amps and instruments and clothing all suggest ’64-5. The floor with cables suggest it’s at Abbey Road, but the set up is like a live performance. Maybe they’re miming something for a promo film or AHDN?

  2. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Dan, I admit I was going on the source from which I got it, but based on your comment, I looked a bit more closely.

    Look at the piano, specfically at the right-hand edge near the keyboard. Looks like the LIB “Bluthner” piano to me.

  3. Avatar Dan wrote:

    Not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for on the right side of the piano to identify it, but might that piano have been at Abbey Road for a while? I.e. it could be the same piano a few years earlier.

    But here are the reasons it can’t be Let It Be era: Vox amps (AC-50 or AC-100s for guitar, T-60 for bass), not Fenders (looks like a Fender in front of the piano bench, but they didn’t use Voxes at all during the Let It Be era). Gibson J-160E in the stand on John’s side, Gretsch Country Gentleman on the ground next to Ringo, double bound Rickenbacker (probably George’s 12-string) in front of the drum riser, what looks like the backup left handed (look at the pickguard) Hofner bass behind the bass amp.

    It’s _certainly_ not the rooftop, because they’re too spread out, the floor material is wrong and they’re all wearing dark suits.
    Oh, and their standing in the wrong places: the only lefty in the picture is in the center (Paul would be on the right of a picture of the rooftop concert taken from this angle).

    The instrument lineup (no Epiphone Casinos to be found) and dark suits suggests AHDN era or a little after–classic Beatlemania.

    Is there a higher res version of this? What’s the source?

  4. Avatar Dan wrote:

    Your memory of the big logo is correct, but it wouldn’t be visible from above as it was on the side:


    I think you’re right that it’s Abbey Road because of the piano, when they used a keyboard live (“I’m Down” if memory serves), John pounded away on a Vox Continental organ.

    But despite the hallmarks of Abbey Road (piano, floor) and studio recording in general (mics on the instruments, actual cable runs and what looks like a DI box over on the left), they’re set up like they’re playing live, all in a line facing one direction and with all the extra guitars in stands, which they wouldn’t have done for any normal recording session. Hence my suggestion that it was for filming purposes–“make it look like you’re recording boys!” Probably some time grubbing around in Lewisohn could dig up one or more possibilities…I’m tight on time this week, but will try to remember to look come the weekend.

  5. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Dan, I bow to your clearly superior knowledge. Wasn’t there a piano in “Let It Be” with Bluthner prominently painted in white on the side, near the keyboard? It’s been so long since I’ve seen that film.

    I’ve emailed the webmaster at where I saw it, and will report back when I know.

    Could it be Studio One, the big one? Where did the guys ever have a piano onstage?

  6. I can’t verify this but I think it’s from a Paris show, early ’65 — I’m away from home and don’t have my books so can’t look up the date. But there is footage from this show, taped for French TV, in the Anthology: John doing his retarded stomp and clap. And a photo from Carr-Tyler’s Illustrated Record showing John blowing on a harmonica, from the same show. The floor was this same kind of unvarnished wooden plank. The piano upstage would have been for an opening act, or perhaps for the use of whatever orchestras or jazz bands passed through the venue.

  7. Avatar Pete wrote:

    It’s definitely Paris, June 1965.

    You can see the same stage layout in the videos of the gig

    Presumably the piano was on stage for a support act.

  8. Avatar Pete wrote:

    It’s definitely Paris, June 1965.

    You can see exactly the same stage layout in the videos of the show

    Presumably the piano had been used by a support act.

  9. Avatar Pete wrote:

    A follow-up to my earlier comment ….
    Having just watched the video of the Paris 65 show, that picture was probably taken during a song such as Ticket To Ride or I’m A Loser, where John and Paul are both singing through the mic at the left of the stage, with George on his own at the right. At the end of Ticket To Ride all three step away from the mics, McCartney goes towards the centre of the stage and they bow, so the pic could be just before the bow. Or it may be in the guitar solo of I’m A Loser, when all three are again back from the microphones.

  10. Avatar Dan wrote:

    (Posted this the other day, but it looks like it got eaten…)

    Devin (& now Pete) got it–it’s almost certainly Paris ’65, 20 June by most sources. I showed this to my friend Peter and he did the leg work of finding:

    1) Video on YouTube (search for “beatles palais sport”) or here: http://manuelbeatlogs.blogspot.com/2008/09/beatles-live-in-paris-1965.html for a bit higher quality (and a side shot of the stage setup that is quite clearly exactly the same as the overhead shot). The video is about the quality you’d expect but the sound is really good for the era. The video confirms that the shot from above caught a relatively rare moment with Paul in the center and no one at a vocal mic.

    2) A higher quality copy of the shot from above: http://agaudi.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/los-beatles-desde-arriba/ (click on the pic for the higher res). This points up a few more things: all the amps are double mic’d (presumably one for the PA and one for the recording/broadcast which is how things were done in those days), the piano is mic’d (which suggests it was used, tho’ I haven’t found video evidence of this) and the picture was scanned out of a book, where it appeared across 2 pages. If you look just to Paul’s left and in front of him you’ll see a dark patch around some cables. This is where the person who cleaned up the pic couldn’t conceal the seam between the pages. If you follow this line down the picture, you’ll find that part of George’s Rickenbacker is missing and Ringo’s floor tom isn’t perfectly circular due the deformation of scanning an open book.

    The big remaining mystery is the presence of that Fender amp near the piano (the Beatles didn’t use Fenders in this era). I don’t see any cords leading away from the input jacks, so my guess is that it’s not in use and may in fact belong to the opening act, which sources say was the Yardbirds on this particular night. Since there were afternoon and evening shows, it may have just been left there if it wasn’t going to be in the Beatles way.


  11. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    “If you can’t identify this occasion within ten seconds, you’re probably here by mistake.”

    Does this mean YOU’RE here by mistake?

  12. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Yes, Anonymous, yes it does. Who are these “Beatles” everybody’s talking about? What the hell is this blog doing on my computer?

    Who am I? What is this “reality” you speak of?

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