NAMM 2017: The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus

I know it’s been several weeks since I last posted a blog, but a friend of mine kind of lit a fire under my ass and so here it is. I need to apologize ahead of time for the lack of audio in this video. That’ll teach me not to preview the video before leaving NAMM 2017! Yes, I’m really embarrassed that this didn’t come out right. I believe the mic wasn’t properly plugged into my iPad. Also, the initial feedback you’ll hear fades away…so bear with it.

20170119_1339501The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is absolutely amazing! From the outside, there is no clue as to how extensive the inside is. This is an entire recording studio on wheels! The bus travels to schools from coast to coast in the U.S., teaching kids how to record music, engineer and make videos. And this is its 20th anniversary doing so!

As the video opens, our host Ryan sits at the main console and to his right, you’ll see his image on a computer screen. That’s because the bus is filled with video cameras. Not just for security reasons, but for also recording music videos. After a few minutes, Ryan gets up and goes into the second section of the bus and closes the door behind him to demonstrate that each of the three sections of the bus are sound proof. In the second section are the drums. In the third section of the bus you’ll notice a lot of curtains are hung. When they are all fully spread out, they become a green screen for shooting videos with any background the artist my choose to use. The third section is also where the the employees sleep while traveling all year round with the bus. The bus sleeps three and Ryan at one point spent over 4.5 years traveling on the bus. (note: every other night they sleep in a hotel so they can shower and get a proper meal!) 20170119_1055521

There are a lot of corporate sponsors that make this bus what it is, but you can also donate to help keep it on the road. Yoko Ono has donated to the bus and Sean Lennon has visited the bus (Julian has not…yet.) There’s even a John Lennon Educational Tour Bus in England now.

For more information on the bus and it’s schedule, go to: www.LennonBus.org. If you’re an educator, you can also request that the bus visit your school.

You can also Follow and LIKE them on Facebook!

 

 

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NAMM 2017: Gretsch and George Harrison

My cameraman started a little early on this video and I’m too lazy to edit the first five seconds out, but it just goes to show why I’m usually behind the camera!

img_0151Thank you to Joe Carducci, the Product Marketing Specialist at Gretsch Guitars, for taking several minutes out of his day to tell us the story about hoe George Harrison acquired his first Gretsch Duo Jett guitar and how the company set out to replicate every detail of it.

 

 

 

 

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NAMM 2017: Rickenbacker and The Beatles

At NAMM 2017, I had the privilege to talk with John Hall, the CEO of Rickenbacker Guitars, about his father meeting the Beatles in 1964 and about presenting Paul McCartney with a custom left handed bass guitar.

 

 

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NAMM 2017: Ludwig Drums and Ringo Starr

I spent two days last week at the NAMM 2017 convention in Anaheim, CA.

NAMM = National Association of Music Merchants.

It’s not open to the public, but I got in as a member of the media in search of all things Beatles related. Here’s one of several interviews I did … thank Jim Catalano from Ludwig Drums.

 

 

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Book Review: “At John Lennon’s house” by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo

At John Lennon’s house by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo was recommended to me by a friend and fellow Beatle Freak, Thom Donovan. The book was originally written in Spanish (En casa de John Lennon) in 2005. Rosaura died several months after it’s publication, but it was translated to English and released as an e-book in 2013.

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

From 1976 until 1980, Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo worked for John Lennon and Yoko Ono as their housekeeper. According to the book, in June 2001, two reporters from TVG (Galician Television in Spain) were covering the annual Galician celebration in Newark, NJ when they stumbled upon a tambourine player. While interviewing her about when she came to America and her life here, she admitted to having previously been the housekeeper to John Lennon at one time. It was then that these two crafty reporters decided that Rosaura needed to write a book about her time with the Ono-Lennons!

The first thing to catch my eye in the book was Rosaura’s admission that this book in Yoko Ono approved. That immediately sets off bells and whistles in my skeptical head. It tells me that every word was scrutinized by Yoko and her lawyers. And in fact, both Yoko and her lawyer are mentioned in the dedication for “their exquisite attention”.

Rosaura says early on that this book was written to right all the wrongs that have been written about John and Yoko. She glosses over her daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. chores around the house while talking extensively about how apartment 72 is laid out, what color the rooms are painted and the contents of Sean’s bedroom and playroom.

In her story, John is a happy go lucky doting father who spends much of his time in his room playing guitar when he’s not sitting around smiling at his son, baking bread with Rosaura or asking her about her life in Spain. Sean is a happy child who loves her more than his own nanny and professes that she is his favorite. All the while, Yoko is happily conducting the family business during her days. But there are evil people working for them, including John Green, Fred Seaman and a nanny she called Lupa who would eventually get Rosaura fired.

Besides being hard to swallow, this book is poorly translated and edited. The typos and grammatical errors abound, which let me know that this was hastily edited for e-book format to squeeze out as many doubloons as possible from Rosaura’s rosy stories of the swell world inside the Dakota with the Ono-Lennon. There are many pages of photos included at the end of the book which some may find a bonus, but all in all, I found them just another way to capitalize on this tale. And for that reason…

I rate this boo, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “The Fall Guy: I was the double for Michael Caine & John Lennon” by Johnny Morris

I was contacted last month by a publishing rep from Gleneagle Books about reviewing The Fall Guy: I Was the Double for Michael Caine and John Lennon by Johnny Morris. I jumped at the chance and a copy arrived from London a week later. This book is not only a stunt man’s autobiography, but a look into the making of some of the greatest films of the 1960’s and 70’s.

John Morris‘ early childhood stories are very similar to that of Tommy Steele’s (Bermondsey Boy), both having grown up in the lower class London area and getting into scraps with other boys before ending up in the military and eventually achieving fame in show business in the late 50’s and 60’s. And both having ties to the Beatles.

The Fall Guy isn’t a very long book, taking only about 87 pages to tell his story, but it does include extensive pictures of his time as actor Sir Michael Caine’s stunt man, stand-in, sidekick and friend. There are also eight beautiful photos from John’s person collection of his time on the set of both Beatles film’s Help and A Hard Day’s Night where Mr. Morris worked as John Lennon’s double.

My greatest wish for this book is that there had been more time spent talking about his time as Lennon’s stand-in. The stories from his time on the Beatles films are short, while his decades long work as Michael Caine’s right hand man is understandably extensive. Mr. Morris gives a great behind the scenes look at the making of a film from another perspective besides the side of the glamorous stars.

If you’re a Beatles or John Lennon fan that has to know ‘everything’ about John and the Fab Four, you’re going to want to get a copy of The Fall Guy for your collection, even if just for the unique photos. In the meantime, I’d love to see one of my friends who are Beatles reporters (Hey…Steve Marinucci!) take some time to interview Johnny Morris and get a more in-depth story about his time on the set of Help! and A Hard Day’s Night. Or maybe he’ll turn up on stage being interviewed at a Fest for Beatles Fans in the near future (Hey…Mark Lapidos!). And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Bonus Book Review: “Spaceman” by Mike Massimino

I’m not a space junkie like some folks and I don’t remember sitting in front of the TV during the first moonwalk (but I was probably there). I caught an occasional glimpse of a Space Shuttle take off or landing, but I didn’t schedule my days around them.

No, I’m the person who knows Mike Massimino from his guest appearances on the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory. So when I saw his book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, available for free in exchange for a review on Blogging For Books, I snatched it up!

What a great to read, this book should be on everyone’s list of must read books. It’s written so that anyone can understand the studying, training and work involved in being a NASA astronaut. He describes his two missions to repair the Hubble telescope in layman’s terms that make you feel like you were there. And it’s written with humor and grace.

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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