Tag Archives: The Beatles

Their music is timeless

Here’s a quickie quiz for you: How many popular music acts can you name where children generations removed from their time in the spotlight can remember every lyric to every song they seemingly ever recorded?

Time’s up. I can think of one: The Beatles.

OK. Maybe there are others.

Still, it makes today such a special day in popular culture history. Sixty years ago this evening, TV variety show host Ed Sullivan introduced John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to America: Here are … The Beatles!

I was among the millions of youngsters who watched ’em that night in our living room.

I’ve been singing their songs ever since. So have my sons and maybe one day so will my granddaughter.

Sir Paul is (gulp!) 80?

As a general rule I don’t use this blog to comment on public figures’ birthdays.

Today, though, I will make an exception and offer a brief salute to a musician who helped raise me, who helped guide my musical taste well into adulthood. I refer to the 80th birthday of Sir James Paul McCartney.

You know who he is. He comprised one-fourth of the world’s greatest band, The Beatles, along with the late John Lennon, the late George Harrison, and Sir Ringo Starr.

I have seen Sir Paul perform three times. First time was in 1965, in Portland, Ore., at the Memorial Coliseum; he played with his aforementioned bandmates. The second time was in 1993 at the Houston Astrodome, where he performed as a “solo” act with his band. The third time was in 2019 at Globe-Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

As I have noted many times over many years, the boy can still play. He can still rock ‘n roll with the best of ’em.

To think he’s 80 years young and still going strong … wow!

They say it’s your birthday, Sir Paul. Thanks for all you did to make me the man I am today.


Music ‘died’ on this date

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “the music died” the day Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens perished in that plane crash in Iowa.

For me, the music died the night that the lunatic stepped out of the shadows on Dec. 8, 1980, assumed what the cops called “a combat stance” and emptied his pistol into John Lennon’s back. The guy who founded the world’s greatest rock ‘n roll band died shortly afterward at Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

I have refused over the 41 years since that tragedy to avoid even mentioning the assassin’s name. He got a life sentence for the murder. God forbid he ever gets paroled.

As for Lennon’s legacy and memory, it lives on in the music he crafted with The Beatles and in what he did as a solo artist in the brief span of time since his band broke apart.

John Lennon was 40 years old when his life ended. I, along with other fans of his, have wondered what kind of music he would have produced had he been given the chance to live a full life. We cannot know the answer. I will conjecture that it would have been great, given what we knew he was capable of producing.

And, yes, I watched the six-hour “Get Back” documentary. Indeed, I am likely to watch it many times for as long as I can. It fills me with joy at seeing The Beatles relishing their time together as they wrote and recorded their final album. It also fills me with sadness knowing that in January 1969, when the filming took place, that John Lennon only had 11 more years on this good Earth.

I will miss John Lennon for as long as I live.


Oh, Charlie could play the drums

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am entering a state of mourning over the news I have just received.

Charlie Watts, a serious rock ‘n roll legend, has died at the age of 80.

Those of us of a certain age grew up with Charlie and his band mates. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Rolling Stones. Even though The Beatles were my favorite band while I was growing up, I also grew to love the Stones.

Charlie and his pals – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, the late Brian Jones and Bill Wyman – set the table nicely for a lot of us as they rocked out hard. Jones died tragically; he was replaced for a time by Mick Taylor, who then was succeeded by Ronnie Wood. Wyman, the bassist, retired and the Stones never have officially “replaced” Wyman with a fifth band member.

But Charlie kept the beat. He did so without a lot of flash. Nor with what I would call a lot of “rock ‘n roll faces.”

He just played them drums, man.

Charlie was thought to be a reluctant rock star. He didn’t make a lot of headlines the way, oh, Jagger and Richards have done over many decades. Charlie was married to the same woman for more than 50 years. As near as I can tell, he didn’t partake in a lot of the hot-blooded nonsense normally associated with the Rolling Stones.

He just played the drums.

I have attended one Rolling Stones concert. That was in 1994 at the Cotton Bowl at the Dallas Fairgrounds. My son procured two tickets. We had seats on the floor of the stadium about 30 rows back from the stage. I want to relate a brief tale about the setup of that show that tells you a bit about what Charlie Watts meant to those of us who enjoyed watching and listening to the Rolling Stones.

Bryan Adams was one of the opening acts. Adams performed all of his hits. He rocked the stadium hard. His drummer sat behind this monstrous set containing all kinds of percussion instruments: various drums, chimes, cymbals … all that stuff. When the Adams set finished, the stage crew rolled the drummer’s set off the stage.

Then they brought out Charlie’s drum set. If memory serves, it had a snare, a tom and a base, along with two cymbals and a “high-hat.” That’s it, man! The crowd wanted to see Charlie play the drums. We didn’t want to just hear him as he sat behind some monstrous percussion assembly … right?

After a few minutes, the stage went dark, it filled with smoke and then we could hear the drums starting to pound.

The lights came back on and there was Charlie – along with the rest of the Stones – launching into “Not A Fade Away,” one of the Stones’ earliest hits.

Charlie could play them drums. I will miss him terribly.

Note: This blog was published initially on KETR.org.

Just like dear ol’ Dad

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, how I hate acknowledging this, but I must do so.

I am becoming my father.

A Facebook acquaintance of mine noted overnight that he is “getting old,” based on his supposed ignorance of the new artists being honored at this past weekend’s Grammy Awards. Hey, I feel his pain.

Indeed, I am beginning to feel more like my late Dad all the time, as I, too, know next to nothing about the music that is filling young people’s ears these days.

OK, I know who Beyonce is. Same for Taylor Swift. I know the name Billie Eilish. Beyond that, well … I’m lost.

Dad was the same way when my sisters and I began listening to our version of popular music back in the old days. He couldn’t understand our fascination with The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Temptations, the Four Tops … and on and on. I cannot leave Elvis out. Dad was a Big Band kinda guy. He loved Bennie Goodman, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich.

Those acts of my youth I just mentioned? Their music is still relevant even today. It’s because the 1960s was a very special era in so many ways. The music holds up and I venture to guess that many of today’s artists look back at the contributions of those old fogies with some semblance of awe. If they don’t, well, shame on ’em.

I’ll share this one tiny example of what I mean. My son and I attended a Paul McCartney concert in 2019; we were among 50,000 or so fans packed into Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The opening number? “A Hard Day’s Night,” recorded by The Beatles in 1964. I could see boys and girls all around me singing right along with Sir Paul; they knew the words to a song that was penned perhaps before their parents were born!

Dad departed this good Earth in 1980. I cannot even imagine how he would react to this 21st-century version of popular music. I know, though, that as much as I have tried to become my own man as I have entered my eighth decade of life, some things do remind me that at least one level, I am just like dear ol’ Dad.

Imagine he had lived

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am recalling today a stroll my wife and I took some years ago in New York City.

We ventured to Central Park and found the memorial a grieving widow worked to have installed in the park. She called it “Strawberry Fields,” which happened to part of the title of a song that her late husband composed in the 1960s.

John Lennon died 40 years ago today at the hands of an assassin who ambushed him outside the apartment complex where Lennon lived with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their young son, Sean.

I won’t type the name of the lunatic who killed my favorite Beatle … because you know it already and I won’t sully this text with it.

Our stroll took us eventually to the Dakota, where we stood across the street and peered toward the gate where the gunman opened fire on John Lennon. That moment, looking at the murder scene, sent chills through me.

That was then. Four decades later I still grieve the loss of a musical genius and one of the bandmates who helped raise me.

If only John Lennon had been given a chance to live a long, joyful and music-filled life.

Happy birthday, John

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well, what does one say about a birthday commemorating one of modern culture’s most iconic figures?

Happy birthday? Sure, why not?

Today is John Lennon’s 80th birthday. You’ve heard of him, yes? He founded the band that in the early 1960s transformed popular music forever. Their music still stands, nearly six decades later.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. I guess it had something to do with our shared names. Hey, I was a kid when The Beatles stormed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the ensuing years — brief as they were — The Beatles helped raise me. I have said for years that John Lennon and  his pals were a big part of my life. He and his best pal in the group, Paul McCartney, wrote arguably the most classic music of that — or perhaps any — cultural era.

John Lennon’s life ended tragically. We’re going to mark that date in December, 40 years after that a**hole shot John to death in front of his wife and at the front door of his New York City apartment complex. Not too many years ago, my wife and I visited NYC. We stood in front of the Dakota Building where John’s life ended; we walked through Central Park and saw the Strawberry Fields exhibit dedicated to John Lennon’s memory. It all filled with me with profound sadness.

John Lennon was a complex man, but oh how he could write and then sing the songs that will last until the end of time.

I miss him to this day.

Happy birthday, John … and thank you for helping me grow up along the way.

It’s been 50 years, really?

Oh, man. I cannot believe this got past me … but it did.

On April 10, 1970 — that’s 50 years ago, folks — Paul McCartney announced casually in an interview that The Beatles had broken up. The music ended. The greatest rock ‘n roll band in history was no more.

That’s how it came about. Paul McCartney told us.

I have said before that the group founded by John Lennon, who then asked Paul McCartney to join him, who then brought along George Harrison to play with the two of them and then hired Ringo Starr to replace the drummer that none of them liked … they helped raise me.

I saw their performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. I followed them closely. I came of age about that time. Their music would end up fueling the my musical taste right on through to the present day.

They recorded so many great songs. They wrote such wonderful music. They, indeed, helped a generation of young people come of age. They helped raise us all.

Of all the music I have heard over the years, one song stands out. It is the only song I remember where I was when I heard it for the first time. It was the second half of a song I heard initially in September 1968. I turned on a transistor radio in a U.S. Army barracks in Fort Lewis, Wash. I listened to the end of a song that went on seemingly forever. It was “Hey Jude.”

I fell in love with that melody. On the spot. Right then and there.

It became a sort of anthem for me. I cannot hear it enough.

Less than two years after hearing what I consider to be the greatest song ever recorded, they would call it quits. They went their separate ways.

It was — gulp! — 50 years ago. Wow! I still miss those guys.

Still missing this iconic musician after all these years

I am one of the few Americans who was not watching “Monday Night Football” the night we all got the shocking news.

Howard Cosell, a friend of John Lennon, told the world that a gunman shot John “twice in the back,” that he was “rushed to Roosevelt Hospital … dead on arrival.”

I was watching an NBC show that night 39 years ago. They, too, broke in and stunned the world.

Oh, how I still miss this man. He was just 40 years of age when his comeback from a five-year hiatus from public view came to its tragic end. I am left to wonder, as are all fans of John Lennon’s enormous talent, what kind of legacy would he have built had he been allowed to live.

The man who essentially founded The Beatles led this band of musicians into the cultural stratosphere. Sure, he had plenty talent playing alongside. The careers of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison all flourished after the band ended its professional existence in 1970. The three surviving members of the band collaborated in 1995 to finish a couple of songs that John had written; they released them that year with “Free As a Bird” being named the top single of the year. I remember the Grammy award presenter declaring, “I can’t believe this: 25 years after they broke up … the winner is The Beatles!

George, too, is now gone.

John Lennon’s legacy already is rich. We are left only now with the memory of what he was able to accomplish as a musician, a songwriter and an advocate for peace, and ponder what might have happened had fate not intervened that night in New York City.

As for the gunman who took him from us, well … may he continue to rot in prison.

What if John Lennon had lived?

I am acutely aware that today would have been John Lennon’s birthday. He would have turned 79. He didn’t make it nearly that far into his life.

A gunman ended it all for John in December 1980. He died at 40.

I want to take the opportunity today while marking John Lennon’s birthday to take stock of what might have transpired had this genius been allowed to live. We, of course, cannot know with any certainty.

I’ll let my heart speak for a brief moment.

My ticker tells me John Lennon would have continued to make memorable music. He would have written lyrics that stand the test of time. He would have built on his already priceless body of work, most of it of course in tandem with his songwriting partner, Sir Paul McCartney. Might they have reconciled enough to re-form their partnership? Oh, one only can hope they might.

Hey, it’s also quite possible that John Lennon would have been knighted just as Sir Paul and Sir Richard Starkey — aka Ringo Starr — have been honored by their queen. I only can imagine the statement a Sir John Lennon would have issued upon getting this honor from the crown. I’ll add as well that George Harrison, who died in 2001, deserved to be knighted. Alas, it won’t happen.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. It might be only because we shared the same name. In reality, I was drawn by his quirkiness, his snarky approach to celebrity and his biting wit.

The boy could sing, too.

All of this is my way of wishing fate had dealt John Lennon a better hand than what he was forced to play.

I will miss this genius forever. Happy birthday, John.