Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer
April 24, 1976. Lorne Michaels offers the Beatles $3,000 to appear on Saturday Night Live, as a gag mocking the full-page ads taken out in the New York Times offering the Beatles millions of dollars to reunite and play in Shea Stadium. Unbeknownst to Michaels, both John Lennon and Paul McCartney are in New York City at the time, and see the sketch airing live. They consider actually going to the studio, but decide they are too tired.
May 15, 1976. Lorne Michaels does the sketch again, this time offering the Beatles $3,200 (claiming he has “sweetened the pot”). This time, again unbeknownst to Michaels, all four of the Beatles are in New York City. Lennon and McCartney again consider going down to the studio and performing, but again decide they are too tired. However, this time Ringo Starr knocks on their door at 12:15 AM with a round of coffees (”from the awful all-night Hungarian deli on Bleecker,” he would later elaborate in an interview the next day) and George Harrison in tow. Years later in an interview with Playboy, Lennon says “I’d told Ringo about it, see, and we thought it was hilarious, but figured that was it and we’d missed the shot. When Ringo saw the second sketch, he decided to force our hand.”
Starr cajoles the other three Beatles into traveling down to 30 Rockefeller to “crash” Saturday Night Live. (Onlookers later claimed that when they entered the studio through a rear entrance, two interns fainted.) At 12:50 AM, they go on-air before the studio audience. Halfway through “Let It Be,” their second song, George Harrison yells to Michaels offstage that “after the third, we’ll just keep going if that’s all right.” Michaels quickly negotiates additional airtime with NBC (which gleefully capitulates) and the result is a spontaneous, three-hour live televised concert, famous not only for obvious reasons but for a host of its own idiosyncrasies: Lennon getting the hiccups during “Help,” McCartney playfully changing two lines of “Lady Madonna” to “where’s our three thousand, or our thirty-two/got to realize that now the cheque is due,” and Starr inviting the horn section of the Saturday Night Live band onstage “so we can do With A Little Help [From My Friends] properly.”
The “Saturday Night reunion” instantly becomes one of the touchstones of modern television history.
1977. After the reunion concert, the Beatles lay low in the public eye for about eight months. Wings concludes its world tour uneventfully; Lennon and Starr “tinker around” in the studio for a few months. People gradually assume that the reunion concert was a one-off.
November 5, 1977. Apple Records, with no fanfare whatsoever, announces via press release that a new Beatles album, titled Eventually, will be released “in the near future.” A media firestorm ensues. Lennon and McCartney both admit in the days following that they have been “hard at work” on a new album, but that this album does not constitute a “full-on comeback.” All four Beatles repeatedly stress that the production of Eventually does not mean that the various members have stopped working on their solo projects. Lennon: “Who are you kidding? We’d kill each other if we did that. We already tried that.”
February 11th, 1978. Eventually is released simultaneously in the American and British markets. Some critics find significance in the fact that the first single off the album, “Blow Away,” is not a Lennon/McCartney collaboration but instead a George Harrison song; others find themselves underwhelmed and suggest that the Lennon/McCartney “Free As A Bird” should have been the first single instead. (”Free As A Bird” is released as the second single six weeks later.) Harrison, for his part, says that “Blow Away” was “a lot less of a rocker” before Lennon suggested an increase in tempo and “letting Ringo go nuts.” No music videos are produced for the album: Lennon says “no, that would be too much bother. We want to have fun with this. Work’s for our own stuff.”
July 11th, 1978. Six months after its initial release, Eventually goes septuple platinum.
December 14, 1980. Having “had a sit back” (Ringo) after Eventually’s staggering success and taken time to concentrate on their own projects and personal lives, the Beatles make their first televised appearance as a group since the SNL reunion, appearing on The Muppet Show. (Lennon leaves New York for the first time in six months to do the gig, eventually spending the entire month of December in England.) The episode is the highest rated episode of The Muppet Show in the show’s history and the most watched television program of the entire year, beating even the news coverage of the 1980 American presidential election. The undisputed highlight of the episode is the “battle of the bands” between the Beatles and the Electric Mayhem (although Starr says his duet with Fozzie the Bear remains his personal favorite moment). Jim Henson would later say that the Beatles episode “rejuvenated” his joy in working on the show, which by that point he had begun to feel was growing stale: the show continues for another seven seasons.
January 7th, 1981. Lennon, Harrison and Starr attend the funeral of a New Yorker named Mark David Chapman, who committed suicide in mid-December and whose apartment, after the fact, was revealed to be a shrine to the Beatles. “I just felt, you know, responsible somehow, like he died because of us,” says Starr, although he refuses to articulate further on this point. Harrison agrees: “it’s amazing to think how great an impact we can have sometimes. You just want it so that you don’t have this kind of impact.” Lennon says nothing.
read the full article here: http://mightygodking.com/i ...