The Rise and Fall of The Beatles’ Apple Boutique

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

The infamous Apple Boutique mural

There are some buildings and businesses in Beatles history which are so infamous and essential to their story, the musical associations and memories of which will long outlive the business or building itself. One of these could be the NEMS shop, the Epsteins’ business in Liverpool. AKA the shop where a “Raymond Jones” requested a copy of Tony Sheridan’s (and The Beatles’) ‘My Bonnie’, thus prompting Brian Epstein to discover The Beatles. Another of these in the infamous Apple Boutique, opened in 1967 around the birth of Apple Corps. The boutique is particularly well-known for a wildly psychedelic mural painted on its exterior. It, however, closed up shop less than a year later.

The Apple Boutique was situated on 94 Baker Street in London, and first opened its doors in December 1967. The concept behind the shop was to have everything in the shop for sale. A place of psychedelia, flower-power, gorgeous clothing and hippy-dom in general, Paul described it as “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things” when it opened. It’s documented that there was other reasoning, too, than just setting up a shop for the sake of it. They were told by Clive Epstein (Brian Epstein’s brother, who managed the band for a short while after Brian died) that if The Beatles didn’t spend a whole heap of money almost immediately, most of it would be lost to the taxman. They decided to open a business to spend the money, and decided that if they were going to do so, they might as well create a business about something they all liked. And hence how the Apple Boutique came about…

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

An invitation to the opening of the boutique

The Apple Boutique opened its doors for the first time on the 5th of December, 1967. There was an official opening party, with invitations like the above sent out to various people. These invitations told the invitee to come at 7:46, and that a fashion show will be at 8:16. Wikipedia points out the irony of these exact times, as the Apple Boutique was not exactly known for its organisational techniques (more on that later…) John and George were the only two Beatles who attended the opening, and since the shop didn’t have an alcohol licence, apple juice was the drink served at the night. The boutique was managed by John’s childhood friend, Pete Shotton, and Pattie Boyd’s sister Jenny.

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The Beatles were digging a Dutch design collective called The Fool, at the time. The Fool had painted John’s and George’s cars,and John’s and Paul’s pianos, and had designed the Sgt Pepper inner-sleeve… So it isn’t surprising that The Beatles decided to employ The Fool to help with the boutique. The design collective were given 100,000 pounds to stock and decorate the boutique.

In my humble opinion, the clothes that The Fool designed for the ill-fated boutique were absolutely exquisite! The shop was opened in the height of psychedelia and consequently, the clothes that were designed consisted of extravagant silks, velvet and vinyl of bright blues, pinks, reds, yellows and oranges, strings of colourful beads, bell-bottomed trousers (and sleeves!), gorgeous patterned textiles, crop tops, mini dresses, maxi skirts, kaftans…

Some designs...

Some designs…

More...

More…

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An original design

However, the tags attached to the clothing were made of silk. And the clothes themselves were also made of expensive threads. Due to this, the garments sold at the Apple Boutique were outrageously expensive. The boutique was often extremely busy, but actual purchases being made was quite rare. Theft, however, was alarming common in comparison. And it wasn’t just customers stealing the clothes — staff did, too. The shop was quickly losing money, probably because the entire business was so disorganised. Much like Apple Corps itself…

The expensive tags...

The expensive tags…

In 1968, a film called Hot Millions featured a scene filmed in the Apple Boutique. This scene provides one of the only ventures into the interior of the boutique, and also shows a couple of the designs:

However, the most famous thing about the Apple boutique is probably the mural painted on its exterior.

The mural.

The mural.

Fool member Barry Finch designed the mural for the leased shop, and got a bunch of art students to paint it on the facade of the building. The mural was inspired by a similar painting in Carnaby Street, though the Apple version was much more colourful. The mural gained the boutique a lot of attention, obviously!

However, the Westminster Council had not given The Beatles permission to paint the mural. Nor had the landlord of the building. Due to a bunch of complaints from other spoilsport shop-owners, they were told to paint over the mural. And when they didn’t, they were threatened with eviction. The mural was sadly painted over in minimalist white. Very much a sign of the generation gap.

After the mural

After the mural

Five months into to boutique venture, The Beatles bought up another ’60s boutique called Dandie Fashions, which had been frequented by themselves, The Stones and The Who in previous years. They renamed it Apple Tailoring. It closed down within a couple of months, with the boutique.

Dandie Fashions...

Dandie Fashions…

...into Apple Tailoring.

…into Apple Tailoring.

But the Apple Boutique wasn’t turning a profit. Theft was still way more common then actual purchases, and the shop venture was quickly sending The Beatles into bankruptcy. And so The Beatles decided to close down the boutique. But to get rid of the stock, they didn’t just have a sale or something of a similar ilk. On the closing day, everything in the shop was infamously to be given away. Apparently each customer was limited to 1 thing, but this wasn’t managed… By the end of the day, the shop was completely stripped.

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The building where the boutique was is now knocked down. In its place is now a Beatles memorabilia shop, and a Sherlock Holmes museum.

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Hope you all had a great week, and I shall post soon! Good day sunshine 🙂

 

‘Let It Be’/Imagine The Art Of John Lennon

I believe I've posted this before, but I just had to post it again 'cause it's so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming 'Help!'...

I believe I’ve posted this before, but I just had to post it again ’cause it’s so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming ‘Help!’…

I wasn’t too sure what to post today, but I have a couple of Beatle-y/Lennon-y happenings to write about, so here goes! Excuse me if this post is a little mish-mashy (not a word, tangerinetrees99 – not a word), but hope you can follow along!

MY BRAND-NEW LET IT BE DVD

As I’m sure I said in my last post, I ordered a Let It Be DVD, and (of course) the day after I posted, it arrived in the mail! It only had to come from Pasadena (a suburb of Adelaide), after all… I should probably note that the disc is a bootleg – as are all DVDs of Let It Be – so tangerinetrees99 was a very naughty girl 🙂 !! As you can see – as it is far from the official Apple Corps-released (well, not in the case of A Hard Day’s Night) reissues of the other Beatles films – it does not come in a fancy glossy-cardboard gatefold, a slip-cover and a booklet. It is only packaged in a very simple plastic case, with a cover which I assume is an amateur’s Photoshop job. It does have its own charm, though! I’ll post some pictures of it below, and then I’ll write about the film itself, which I watched yesterday.

The front cover

The front cover

The side

The side

The back - with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The back – with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some slightly incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The disc

The disc

And as for the film, I actually really enjoyed it! Despite popular belief, The Beatles are not fighting all the time (there is the famous George-and-Paul argument, after which George leaves the band for a few weeks – the latter is obviously not shown, though…), and they do smile at various points in the film. It was amazing to hear them coming up with songs such as ‘Two Of Us’ (I especially dig that electric version), ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (George was very sweet in that scene!) and ‘Across The Universe’ (again, it sounds groovy on John’s slightly-overdrive Epiphone Casino!). Heather McCartney seemed like a very cute little girl, too. And hearing Paul discuss wanting to begin touring again was interesting – John’s reaction to such mentions, too (sure, he was high on heroin at the time, so probably not a fair judgement – but still…). And of course, the Rooftop Concert! I have seen it in full once before (Mum and I YouTubed it back in January for its – *pauses to do maths sum* – forty-fifth anniversary), but last night was the first time I saw it properly, without trying to read lyrics, or wondering what song was which (that afternoon eight months ago was the first time I heard ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’). I actually heard Paul’s joking end to ‘Get Back’, for example (good one, Paul!)… So to end off, I really liked the film, and whilst probably no-one but hardcore Beatlemaniacs would find it enjoyable (they might enjoy it more than, erm, Magical Mystery Tour), I would certainly recommend it! This household is in order for another Beatles Movie Marathon, I think… 🙂

 

‘IMAGINE THE ART OF JOHN LENNON’ EXHIBITION

Also yesterday, I – along with my parents and my godfather – went to see the John Lennon art exhibit I also talked about last post! It was held at Hanrahan Studios – the former home/studio of prominent Australian artist Barbra Hanrahan, and Summer-house of her widowed partner, Jo Steele (a racing-car driver and sculptor) – which was a very nice venue, I must say. John’s works (or authorised prints of them) were displayed out in the large two-story studio, and there was a rather steady stream of people (whom I would assume are fellow Lennon Lovers) going through the exhibit. And my gosh, was John a talented artist! Most of the exhibition was made up of his gorgeous drawings – some very funny puns (his ‘Owls Hooting’ one, for example), some simple ink drawings of him and Yoko, some completely random yet still beautiful – however some were prints of his handwritten lyrics to certain Beatles/solo songs (i.e. ‘Drive My Car’ – found this interesting, as ‘DMC’ is a Paul song -, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Real Love’ and – of course – ‘Imagine’). Oh, and how could I forget – there was a genuinely-signed Beatles picture, too (for $25, 000, mind you)! As you can probably guess, the prints were very expensive, and most of which were somewhat over $1000. However, there were a few unframed prints of his handwritten lyrics to some Milk and Honey songs sitting on the floor, so we brought home a gorgeous print of the lyrics to ‘I’m Stepping Out’! Here is a picture of it below, and here is their website (which I think I posted before) on which you can look at some of the pictures (it won’t let me save images off it, so I can’t put them directly on here).

Here is our print - it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

Here is our print – it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

 

So there we go – my post for the week (I will post more in school holidays, I promise)! I ‘spose I should pause ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ (I’m listening to Beatles For Sale), and publish this. Have a fab day, and good day sunshine! 🙂

 

LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY!! (a.k.a. Thank You Mr. Postman Pt. 3)

Here it is - the sacred BluRay!

Here it is – the sacred BluRay!

I was going to post yesterday, about a Lennon-y happening in Adelaide that my mum discovered via her Facebook Newsfeed, but something stopped me from doing so (not that I’m complaining!). My mum was driving me home from school, and was telling me that she had checked our mailbox (which is usually my job, but she had done it earlier that day). I asked her if there was anything for me – I wasn’t expecting her answer, as the expected arrival date (according to Amazon – where I ordered it) for what came was August 4th. So, Mum implied that there was something for me, but it was addressed to her. I quickly clued on – my beautiful A Hard Day’s Night BluRay had landed in our letterbox! I squealed (as you do), and as soon as we arrived home, I ran through the house and found a cardboard box on our dining-room table. I reached into the box, and the above package came out. And that package is now going to receive a bit of a review from me!

THE PACKAGING

The British edition of A Hard Day’s Night – unlike its Australian counterpart – comes in a fancy slip-case, not unlike the ones that come with the official Apple Corps releases of Help! and Yellow Submarine. The words ‘THE BEATLES’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ are embossed, and stick out in comparison to the rest of the box. On the front cover, there is a famous still from the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ scene, in which they are chased around London. As many people will know, the cover was changed a few times, for which I am glad. If you have not seen the original cover (designed by some graphic design franchise called La Boca), be thankful – it was absolutely ATROCIOUS. But back onto the design that was used – on the back of slip-case, there is – obviously – the blurb, the credits, a list of the nine (nine!) special features and all the jargon-like information to do with the way it appears on the screen. Amongst that, though, is two rows of pictures from the A Hard Day’s Night album-cover photoshoot – however, some of these pictures are outakes that never actually appeared on the cover! Inside the slip-case, there’s nothing special (apart from the disc!) – just a standard BluRay cover, with the same appearance as the case it came in. Sadly, the BluRay does not come with a booklet, like Apple Corps releases of the other Beatles films and the US release of the above, but I don’t really mind. Oh, and the case feels nice, too – it seems almost waxy.

 

THE DISC

Oh my – A Hard Day’s Night in HD; oh my, does it look good! I used to watch AHDN through an unofficial, not-particularly-fabulous quality YouTube video, so seeing it so sharp was quite an experience. And I swear that certain parts of the film were cut out on YouTube, meaning that – despite the fact I have seen the film a good five times – last night was the first time I had seen it in full! I haven’t checked out the special features yet, but they look really good – I especially like the sound of the In Their Own Voices thing (’64 interviews with John, Paul, George and Ringo + behind-the-scenes footage) and the interview with Mark Lewisohn (the author of Tune In – or in other words, a keen Beatleologist). So to sum the above paragraph all up, I thought that film was fab enough the first times I saw it – now that I’ve seen it in HD, I love it even more!

Here some pictures of my copy – excuse the quality, as it is growing dark:

The side

The side

The back of the slip-case

The back of the slip-case

The BluRay case

The BluRay case

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

So as you can see, I’m very, very, VERY happy with the beautiful A Hard Day’s Night, especially now that I have my own copy (it has been out-of-print Down Under for about ten years)! And if you don’t already have a new remastered copy of this fab film, make sure you get one – you won’t be disappointed!

And as for that Lennon-y happening, there is an art exhibition of official prints of John’s work in Adelaide at the moment 🙂 ! I don’t really have time to write about it now, but I will be visiting in on Saturday thus will write about it then. For now, though, here is the link to their website, and be sure check out the exhibit if you’re a fellow Adelaidean! I knew that Johnny was a talented artist (for goodness’ sake – he went to Art School!), but I never knew he was that good until I saw the pictures on that website. Wow, John – you really were a genius (not that we didn’t all know that already)!

Oh, and I ordered  Let It Be off Ebay last night, so I will soon own all five Beatles films! I am really looking forward to seeing it, though – I know most people would find it depressing and boring (I might find it the former, as the band is falling apart – but I really still want to see it), but it sounds really interesting. And it includes the Rooftop Concert – come on; who doesn’t love that?! Until the weekend, though, good day sunshine from me! 🙂

Things We Polled Today…

A lovely picture of John and Paul!

A lovely picture of John and Paul! Don’t they look sweet? 🙂

Well – I haven’t done a poll in a while, have I? I also have some other things to write about today (i.e. Ron Howard’s upcoming Beatles doco – for which I cannot wait!), but to start off with – here’s a poll! It’s titled ‘Which Beatles’ period is your favourite’ (as you will see further down), and Option One will be ‘the early years’ – the Hamburg/Cavern Club Era (1960) ’till the A Hard Day’s Night sessions (1964), which includes Pete Best/Stu Sutcliffe, the ‘Love Me Do’/’P.S. I Love You’ sessions, the marathon 12-hour Please Please Me session and the With The Beatles sessions, plus the filming of A Hard Day’s Night and their Australian tour. Option Two will be the ‘middle years’ – the Beatles For Sale (late 1964) sessions ’till the Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine sessions (1968 – there’s a slight overlap, here, ‘cos both the film and album Yellow Submarine fit in with the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper/ Magical Mystery Tour, but were recorded around the time of ‘Lady Madonna’, which is considered as a part of their back-to-basics-rock-and-roll late material. I consider Yellow to be middle-period, but that’s only my opinion), which includes ‘Ticket To Ride’/’Yes It Is’, the album/film/single Help! (which includes classics such as the title track, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and – of course – ‘Yesterday’), Shea Stadium, Rubber Soul, ‘Paperback Writer’/’Rain’, the groundbreaking Revolver, the Sgt. Pepper sessions, plus (not-so-positive bits) the introduction of pot/LSD, the decision to stop touring (not that was necessarily a bad thing…) and the ‘Jesus remark’ (which was taken completely out of context). And then, the final option will be the ‘late years’, spanning from the ‘Lady Madonna’ sessions ’till the break-up – this involves India, introduction of Yoko and Linda, the White Album sessions, ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’, the Get Back/Let It Be sessions and Abbey Road, plus the mounds of arguments and the split ( 😦 ). If I had to choose, I would vote for the ‘middle years’ – my favourite albums (Revolver, Help!, Beatles For Sale and Rubber Soul) were all recorded in that period – plus the songs I favour – and (not that it matters) I think they looked the best around that period (not that they were bad-looking at any period – except for maybe Paul’s Let It Be beard…)! Oh, and one word: PSYCHEDELIA! But this isn’t a place for me to vote, ‘cos I’m putting it to you. So please choose, and I’d love to see which period is the most popular amongst the people who’ve seen past this large block of text and voted!

 

(And now for some more…)

As most Beatlemaniacs will have heard by now, acclaimed director and actor Ron Howard is both directing and producing a documentary on The Beatles’ touring years (1960 – 1966), which is scheduled for release in late-2015! Ron Howard (who – amongst other things – starred as Richie in Happy Days, plus is the creator behind Parenthood) is a self-proclaimed Beatlemaniac himself, and is being joined by Nigel Sinclair (who produced George Harrison: Living In The Material World); the two (according to Rolling Stone) have been granted access to the Apple Corps archives (I can only dream!), and are sourcing footage/photos/material from fans. For more information, here is the link to the article on The Beatles’ official website, which involves information on how to submit your material for the doco (anyone here got any??). You can find Rolling Stone‘s article (the most informative yet) on the upcoming feature here. And Sky News Australia’s two-bobs’-worth is here – whilst short, it contains a cool news-clip about the event! I cannot wait for this to be released, and I’ll be making sure I’m at the pre-viewing if it makes it to cinemas.

As for some other Beatle-y news, The Grammys’ Beatles tribute has been nominated for six Emmy awards! Let’s hope it wins some, ‘cos (in my opinion) watching Paul and Ringo re-unite is much more interesting than binge-watching Game Of Thrones (not that I’ve ever watched it)… And A Hard Day’s Night has been released on Australian iTunes stores (as of the 9th of this month), but it’s rated M. Why M?? I get that John snorts a bottle of coke (the cola kind…) in the train (‘But they hadn’t even done pot at this point, let alone cocaine,’ I protest), there are a few jokes of a sexual nature (Paul’s comment to the effect of, ‘He [Grandfather] could be in an orgy by now!’, John’s ‘Please can I have one to surge with?’ comment, what John and the girl are hinting at in the ‘she looks more like me than I do’ scene, and the stamp collection), and of course, the smoking – but M? Really?? I also read that the Australian BluRay isn’t particularly good, so I’m glad I got my UK export! Talking of my UK export…IT’S BEING SHIPPED ON MONDAY! I absolutely cannot wait for it to come!

Oh, and a big thank you to my good friend (you know who you are) for recommending an interesting book to me, earlier this year – I just finished it yesterday! But what book am I referring to, you ask? When We Wake, a dystopian novel written by New Zealander-come-Australian Karen Healey! The story is about a sixteen-year-old girl living in 2027 Melbourne named Tegan, who’s about to go on a climate-change-action protest with her best friend Alex and her boyfriend-as-of-the-night-before Dalmar. However, a sniper intervenes, and Tegan is shot dead. Tegan had donated her body to science some time before she died, though. She wakes up (as the first successful cryonics – the process of freezing someone who is dead, and then proceeding to try and revive them – patient) in 2128, and soon enough, she finds herself in the middle of the paparazzi, a medicinal-drug-smuggling plot, a secret – and possibly corrupt – government operation and a devout Christian cult, who want her dead. And of course, Tegan is a hardcore Beatlemaniac – her favourite is Ringo, but the majority of Beatles references are somewhat related to John 🙂 ; yay for Johnny! Sadly, though, George isn’t mentioned… However, I really enjoyed this read, and you can buy your own copy here. Again, thank you, my friend, and hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

And one more thing… if you haven’t already noticed, I’ve changed my sidebar widgets slightly! Please check out my profile, and see if you can guess what songs I’m punning on. Good day sunshine 🙂