The Beatles’ fourth studio album Beatles For Sale came out fifty years ago today in their homeland. Here in America, Capitol Records spread the new songs over two records, Beatles ’65 and Beatles VI. Beatles ’65, of course, was released on December 15, 1964. News to me. Their first gatefold LP came less than four months after their famous night with Bob Dylan and marijuana and the record shows the influence of both.
An interesting story recently surfaced about the title of the album without any proof of its accuracy. Last year, the story emerged of Margaret Svenson and a contest she entered to name the next Beatles album. She submitted the name “Beatles For Sale” and received a letter to meet the band “along with three other winners”. Unless they all picked “Beatles For Sale” and were all invited out of fairness….this is already sounding fishy, despite the photo of Margaret with the band (below). But not for several British papers that ran a story about a retired nurse, a sister of a friend of Margaret’s, who gave them an album to get signed by the band. The album went up for auction last year, expecting to fetch £2000-3000. It went for £11,100.00 ($17,400 US). I’m sure Boldon Auction House authenticated the signatures but ran the story about the album title too. There’s no evidence of such a contest.
Slightly more believable is the story of Betty Littlewood who went to see the band at Leeds on October 22, 1964. She handed over a photo with her name and address on the back for the band to autograph to…..whom? We don’t know. Was this common practice? Well, she received the photo back and, not only was it signed by John, but someone, presumably the doodle-prone Lennon, drew some mock ups of their, then, unreleased and, presumably, untitled album. Dig that Parlophone logo. Strangely enough, it too went up for auction last year, where it sold for £5,640 ($ 8,845 US)
Robert Freeman’s autumn scene cover photo fits the mood perfectly. The road-worn weary faces and self-depricating title say even more. Freeman’s third Beatles cover in a row was shot at Hyde Park in London near the Royal Albert Hall in the fall of 1964. An assistant held up a branch with leaves in front of the camera lens for some foreground bluriness. Paul McCartney recalled: “The album cover was rather nice: Robert Freeman’s photos. It was easy. We did a session lasting a couple of hours and had some reasonable pictures to use … The photographer would always be able to say to us, ‘Just show up,’ because we all wore the same kind of gear all the time. Black stuff; white shirts and big black scarves.”
Freeman climbed up into a tree for some shots that were used as the back cover. In America they became the front cover for The Early Beatles.
Short 90 second “making of” clip from the recent reissues. Paul comments on George’s turnip top hair.
Beatles For Sale era from the Anthology documentary
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