In December 1960, Charles ‘Chas’ Newby was temporarily the bassist for The Beatles. The members of The Beatles had returned from their first trip to Germany in early December, except for bassist Stuart Sutcliffe who stayed behind in Hamburg with a cold. Sutcliffe didn’t return back to Liverpool until January 20, 1961, with airfare money borrowed from his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr. In the meantime Newby, a friend and former band mate of Pete Best (in The Blackjacks and skiffle group The Barmen), filled in on bass for three gigs with the Beatles.
In the book Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles, Newby said this about his start in music – “I started playing acoustic guitar and then progressed to the bass guitar. I never wanted to be a professional musician – I had always longed to be a scientist.” In fact, during his brief stint with the Beatles, Chas was on vacation from a university he was attending. John Lennon asked him to go with the Beatles to Germany when they were to make their second trip there, but he chose to return to the university instead. Newby would later become a Mathematics teacher at Droitwich Spa High School in Worcestershire, England.
When Stuart Sutcliffe left the band in August 1961, Paul McCartney switched from guitar to bass to permanently fill that vacancy. It’s interesting to note that like Paul, Chas is also a left-handed bass player. And not only that, they share the same birthday (June 18) with Chas being one year, to the day, older than Paul.
“With a Little Help from My Friends” was briefly called “Bad Finger Boogie” during the early writing stage. Later it was titled “A Little Help from My Friends” and then finally “With a Little Help from My Friends”. The working title of “Bad Finger Boogie” came about because John Lennon had been forced to rely on his middle finger when playing the song’s piano part, having injured his forefinger earlier.
The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney specifically for drummer Ringo Starr to sing for the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“Bad Finger Boogie” would later be the inspiration for the band name Badfinger. At the time, Badfinger had a recording contract with the Beatles’ Apple Records label. Some of the Apple staff were wanting to rename the band formerly known as The Iveys. Apple’s Neil Aspinall said, “Badfinger just popped in my head. It was from an old Lennon thing. He was playing the piano and he had a bad finger so he called the piece he was playing ‘Bad Finger Boogie’ (which evolved into ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’)”.
Badfinger member Joey Molland said this, “Well, I believe it was a working title to the song “With A Little Help From My Friends.” I think John Lennon played piano on the Rhodes and after that they thought he wasn’t the greatest pianist in the world, so they called it “Bad Finger Boogie.” So, that “Bad Finger Boogie” was roaming around the offices. It was Neil Aspinall who suggested Badfinger.”
The cover illustration for the Revolver album was created by artist and bassist Klaus Voormann. German-born Voormann was a friend of the Beatles, dating back to their early days when they played at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. In 1966, Voormann was asked by John Lennon to design the album sleeve for Revolver. Klaus came up with a “scrapbook collage” for the cover. The band and their manager, Brian Epstein, loved the result. Voormann was paid £40 for the design. He would later receive a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for this work.
Over 20 years later, Voormann would design the cover art for George Harrison’s 1988 single, “When We Was Fab”. This design included the image of Harrison from the Revolver cover along with an updated drawing in the same style.
In 1995, Voormann designed the covers for The Beatles Anthology albums for Apple Records. He, and fellow artist Alfons Kiefer, painted the covers.
Klaus was the bassist for the British band Manfred Mann, and later a session player and record producer. He occasionally played bass with some of the ex-Beatles’, either for studio recordings or live performances, and was a member of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band.
The first single by an ex-Beatle to reach number one was “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison. Released in November 1970 in the US, and January 1971 in the UK, the song reached number one on the charts in both countries, as well as in a few others.
“My Sweet Lord” appeared on Harrison’s number one hit triple album All Things Must Pass. George wrote the song in December 1969, while he and Billy Preston were in Copenhagen, Denmark. Originally intended as a song for Preston, Billy’s version appeared on his album Encouraging Words. He had a minor hit with the single in early 1970.
Harrison was involved in a lengthy legal battle due to musical similarities between “My Sweet Lord” and The Chiffons’ song “He’s So Fine”. A U.S. federal court decision in the case found that Harrison “subconsciously” copied the earlier song. He had to surrender the majority of royalties from “My Sweet Lord” and a cut of royalties from his All Things Must Pass album. In something of a twist, George would eventually buy the rights to “He’s So Fine”.
After George Harrison’s death from cancer in late 2001, “My Sweet Lord” reached number one again on the UK charts when it was reissued in January 2002.