Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth
Click on the cover for information about the book. Available to order now.

30 October 2011

'Magic' Alex Dyke

BBC Radio Solent presenter Alex Dyke has invited me back on his show on Tuesday (1 November) to take part in the Big Hour feature from 12-1pm. You can listen live on 96.1FM or 103.8FM, or online here.

25 October 2011

British Beatles Fan Club review

Not only did they put us in touch with Mimi's nurse Lynne Varcoe and allow us to use their interview, but The British Beatles Fan Club magazine has given a Macca-style thumbs up to Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth.
Here's the text...

A wonderful 178 page book depicting The Beatles’ visits to Bournemouth and the surrounding area compiled by Nick Churchill, a journalist who has spent over 25 years working in and around Bournemouth.
There are some fascinating photographs included from their week of shows at the Gaumont in August 1963 (incidentally, outside of London this is where The Beatles played the most theatre shows during their career).
The With The Beatles album sleeve was also photographed here, at the Palace Court Hotel, and of course John bought his Aunt Mimi a house in Sandbanks, just outside of Bournemouth. All of this is wonderfully documented, including accompanying photographs and memorabilia. The chapter on Aunt Mimi is particularly fascinating – something I have not seen in any previous Beatle book. It includes a wonderful colour shot of John, Mimi and Julian at Sandbanks Ferry terminal.
The book moves on to solo Beatles performances in Bournemouth, from Paul McCartney and Wings in 1973, right up to the present day with Ringo’s recent gig there earlier this year.
All in all a new Beatle book that will please readers, particularly those local to Dorset and those who want to know more about Mimi (for me these pieces are the most interesting, which also include personal letters from Mimi to fans, after John’s passing).
There are some wonderful unseen photographs of The Beatles both as a group and solo artists, in this book.
Ernie Sutton

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth is available to order now from

22 October 2011

Purbeck! magazine review

The second issue of Purbeck! magazine includes a fine feature on Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth based on little more than the accident of geography that resulted in the author being brought up in that most beautiful part of South Dorset. 
The full text is reproduced below by kind permission.
Copies available here.

Nick Churchill is a son of Purbeck who joined our small stable of writers for this second edition. We knew he could string a few sentences together but it still came as a surprise when he mentioned, almost in passing, that he’d published a book – Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth.

The book itself is full of fascinating insights into the impact the Beatles made on the seaside resort town, but it’s also a treasure trove of memorabilia, peppered throughout with reproductions of original posters and tickets, album covers, news clippings and some fantastic, previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photos. The stories are told by the very people who were there - from the stars who shared the stage with the fabulous quartet, their fans, venue staff, and the reporters who covered the phenomenon as it took hold.

How he fits it all in to 174 pages is a magical mystery yet nothing feels crowded; visually it is a joy to behold and the cover is, appropriately, iconic sixties. A design classic.

You can be pretty sure there’ll be a few copies of Yeah Yeah Yeah heading up Liverpool way - no Beatleography is complete now Nick Churchill is a paperback writer.

By what route did this book come to arrive at our door? A long and winding one, of course. Growing up in sleepy Stoborough through the sixties and seventies, Nick felt ‘hundreds of miles away from anywhere to do with The Beatles.’ Sitting in his nowhereland, perhaps. ‘Or so I thought’. His parents had a hand in his early musical development. 
‘I don’t know why dad and mum had three Beatles singles in the radiogram because they weren’t fans, but those records constitute my earliest musical memories. I used to tape a hairbrush to the Ewbank carpet cleaner and sang along to I Want To Hold Your Hand, I Feel Fine and Can’t Buy Me Love so many times I still know the words by heart.’ Dig that ‘radiogram’, man.
Nick was less than two months old when The Beatles quit touring in August 1966 and didn’t become aware of the Bournemouth connection until a few years later.  ‘I first heard stories about Beatles’ concerts as a kid. They were always told by hairy hippy types with acoustic guitars and too many folk records - who had ‘grown out of all that’ Beatles business, but when pressed would reveal they’d
had such tremendous fun.’ His musical tastes reflect the years in which he matured, but the early influence stuck.
‘All through the punk rock wars and my immersion in the Mod revival, those songs stayed with me. They were there when I was dancing to Northern Soul all night and right at home next to later passions like The Stone Roses. By the time their mix of classic guitar pop and dance music’s sensibilities had morphed into Britpop, I was much less concerned with music of the moment and far happier in the broader church of sound to which The Beatles ministered. 
‘The Beatles also instilled in me a healthy distrust of heavy metal and it’s bratty American cousin, grunge. I Hate Myself and Want To Die? Not round our way, Kurt! 
‘By the time I heard the first Clash album I already knew about The Beatles having played in Bournemouth - so when Clash fans rioted in the Winter Gardens in 1977 and the town’s burghers called for punk rock to be banned, I knew
then it couldn’t have been much worse than Beatles fans wetting the seats more than a decade earlier.’
Ever the dedicated follower of fashion, his interest was piqued a few years later by ‘an old boy at Wareham Quay’ who had spotted the reference to The Beatles in the Lennon-esque Nelson Cap he’d worn as part of his teenage Mod regalia. His interlocutor happened to have been in the pub when John Lennon strolled in for refreshment – way back when. A few months after hearing this story, John
Lennon was shot in New York, which had a profound effect, as it did on many of us, on the young Nick.
‘Ever since then I’ve never been far from a Beatles story with a Dorset connection. There’s the waterside home John Lennon bought his beloved aunt Mimi at Sandbanks, the instantly recognisable half-shadow cover shot for With
The Beatles that was taken in the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth. George Harrison wrote his first song in the same hotel. I’ve seen American newsreel footage of the Winter Gardens concert and talked with people who met The Beatles, and met with McCartney’s ex Wings-man and sax player, Howie Casey, whose band Derry And The Seniors was on the bill the first time John, Paul and George played as the Silver Beetles. He reckoned they were rubbish, but after they joined him in the fleshpots of Hamburg a few months later they were well on their way to becoming the greatest band the world has ever known.’
As the stories mounted up, his interest grew, but that was as far as it went. After more than twenty years plying his trade in regional journalism, a pivotal moment occurred in his life. 
‘I was suddenly granted access to a cache of rare or previously unpublished photographs of The Beatles taken in Bournemouth. What else could I do but start writing?’

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth is available now from

18 October 2011

The Stage review

The Stage, Britain's newspaper for the entertainment industry, has published a great review of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth.
The text is below, or you can read it here.

Just as you thought you knew almost everything there was to know about The Beatles (if that’s your special interest) along comes a sparky new book linking them to a rather unlikely Dorset seaside resort.
Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth by Nick Churchill claims to contain “rare and previously unpublished Beatles pictures” — and the one on the cover certainly lives up to that claim. It shows the Fab Four in all their furry, wholesome youthfulness, each brandishing a stick of Bournemouth rock and pretending to bite it. Not exactly an image we’re used to.
And I bet you didn’t know that they played more gigs at Bournemouth’s Gaumont than at any other UK concert venue outside London or that Bournemouth was where John Lennon eventually bought his beloved Aunt Mimi a home?
The Beatles arrived in Bournemouth (in their new Ford Zephyr car) for the first time on 19 August 1963. They were there to do a week at Gaumont Cinema in Westover Road, playing two sets a night for six nights before moving on to a Sunday show in Blackpool. Harry Taylor was in the vanguard of the local press corps and it is predominantly his photographs - provided by his daughter Sandra who managed both his diary and his dark room - which make this book so fresh. There are lots of good backstage shots of the Beatles, and others, in their dressing room, reading the local paper, having dinner and so on. Also interesting is the archive material such as posters, handwritten notes and letters and newspaper articles.
The text, immaculately written by journalist Nick Churchill who has covered music and other topics for The Bournemouth Echo for over 25 years, gives a detailed account of the development of pop music in the Bournemouth area and the coverage of the Beatles’ work there. And it comprehensively follows through all other connections such as Aunt Mimi’s funeral in 1991 which was attended by Lennon’s first wife Cynthia as well as by Yoko Ono and Lennon’s five year old son, Sean. The other three Beatles and their families all sent flowers. I love the photograph (not by Taylor) of Lennon with his elder son Julian wearing his famous Afghan coat, looking magnificent… and clutching a bucket and spade.
Churchill is especially good at putting Beatles history into context. For example, he carefully traces Bournemouth-related links with other groups such as The Kinks and Billy J Kramer with whom they appeared at The Gaumont and elsewhere. There are also insights into sixties fans’ behaviour and management. The book includes many interviews with, and comments by, people who were there when the Beatles came to Bournemouth.
It is all this information which makes Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Beatles in Bournemouth a useful new contribution to Beatles study and a good read for anyone researching the development of post-war pop music in Britain. One for recommended reading list for any course which covers this ground, I think.
Susan Elkin
Copies of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth can be ordered here.

11 October 2011

Fatea Magazine review

The reception for Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth continues to be very positive and very kind. Here's the latest review, from Fatea magazine.

I guess trying to find a new angle for a Beatles book is a bit like hunting down the proverbial needle in the haystack, but "Yeah Yeah Yeah The Beatles & Bournemouth" seems to have managed that trick.
Ok, no disputing that Liverpool is number one in the Beatles connection list and with Abbey Road and EMI both being in London, that comes next, then there's the American connections, Indian mystics etc. But right there in the mix in Bournemouth, well Bournemouth and Poole.
There's an interesting set of bullets on the back cover of this Nick Churchill penned book:
* The Beatles played more theatre shows at the Bournemouth Gaumont than any other concert venue in the UK outside of London
* A tape of The Beatles at the Gaumont is the earliest known recording of their theatre show
* The iconic With The Beatles cover photo was taken in Bournemouth
* The first appearance of The Beatles on American TV was shot at the Winter Gardens Bournemouth
* John Lennon bought his Aunt Mimi a home just outside Bournemouth and was a regular visitor to the area.
But is that, combined with a whole series of rare and previously unpublished pictures enough to justify a 176 page tome covering those associations? The answer, an unequivocal yes. To put those shows in perspective, Bournemouth Gaumont sixteen, next highest venue, Empire Theatre Liverpool six. Listings and bill posters are, naturally, included amongst the regular pgotographs.
Whilst all books of this type have a certain amount of filler, the bands that played alongside The Beatles, The Beatles returning with their solo careers etc, Aunt Mimi's connection to the town, that brought John back on many occasions and helped keep some of the characters in the same place and Nick Churchill's excellent writing ensure all the threads join neatly together.
Without those interactions, "Yeah Yeah Yeah The Beatles & Bournemouth" would just be, they came, they played and they were photographed, but there is so much more to this. Lennon's relationship with the area is explored in a real depth and that is helped by clever use of the photos that in many ways were the inspiration for this book.
My initial thoughts when I heard about this book was what is the appeal going to be beyond the fans of the fab four and local music fans who may have been there at the time catching up on a few nostalgic memories, but having read the book, it's got a really wide appeal for any musicologist who wants to try and get an understanding of what happens to life and family when you are part of a global phenomenon.
It's here that Churchill really shows his strength, it wasn't always light and joy between Lennon and his aunt. Crack lines occasionally appeared, like when Lennon returned his MBE, but it's feeling through those movements that make this book such a good read.
Published: Natula Publications ISBN: 9781897887899
Neil King

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth can be ordered here.

8 October 2011

George in his own write

With so much attention focussed on Martin Scorsese's acclaimed documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, it seems fitting to pay tribute to George by reproducing the following excerpt from Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth
It relates the story of two letters written by George at the Palace Court Hotel in Bournemouth during The Beatles' six-day summer season at the Gaumont cinema in August 1963...

Written on Palace Court Hotel stationery, George sent a two-page letter to a fan called Boote that came up for auction a few years ago. Although they were still replying personally to fan letters, The Beatles had stopped doing so by the end of 1963.
Dear Boote
Thanks for your letter. I’m glad you like ‘She Loves You’ now… (we hope you dig it!)
Actually I, or any of the others for that matter, don’t like Jelly Babies, and the press must have made it up themselves!
I think we are in London more than Liverpool these days, because of Radio and Recording etc…
We don’t mind girls screaming in the noisy numbers, but I think we would prefer them to be a little quieter in the slow songs.
I don’t think you are too old to write fan letters.
As far as I know, we are not on the State Kilburn, but we are on the Albert Hall.
I am sorry I have got to write this letter like ‘Question Time’ but I haven’t got enough time to answer properly, so I hope you don’t mind.
Cheers for now
Love from
George Harrison xxx
In another letter written that week at the Palace Court, George revealed to a fan, Lynn Smith, that Ringo was scared of singing:
“The general public always seems to think that John, Paul and I shove Ringo at the back, don’t let him sing, smile, or do anything, which is not very true, as we are always telling him to sing... we even suggested him singing and dancing (as he can do all the dances) at the front of the stage... but Ringo wouldn’t do it, as I think he was a bit scared.”
He also complained again about the flying sweets.
We don’t like Jelly Babies, or Fruit Gums for that matter, so think how we feel standing on stage trying to dodge the stuff, before you throw some more at us. Couldn’t you eat them yourself, besides it is dangerous. I was hit in the eye once with a boiled sweet, and it’s not funny!”
It must have been an occupational hazard for the boys at the time as Beatles Monthly also reported Paul McCartney being hit in the eye by a jelly baby at the Gaumont. 

Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth is available now from

3 October 2011

Ob-La-DJ Dapper Dan

Chris Brown, the rock 'n' roll town crier, civic MC to the beautiful Dorset town of Wimborne Minster, also masquerades as DJ Dapper Dan whose weekly reggae show Skanking Delights is a highlights of Forest FM 92.3.
Last week he cunningly constructed a winning sequence of reggae covers of Beatles songs and said some lovely things about the publication of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth. The podcast is available to download here. Cheers Chris!

The newspaper said...

Saturday's Southern Daily Echo featured a TV & Leisure magazine cover story about Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth.
As many know the town's Beatles connection actually started in Southampton when Bournemouth-based reporter and photographer Tony Crawley and Harry Taylor were dispatched to interview French singer Louise Cordet who was appearing with The Beatles at Southampton Gaumont on 20 May 1963 - three months before they got to Bournemouth.
The report featured a selection of photos from the book including previously unpublished shots of The Beatles with Louise Cordet and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Here's the text from feature writer Keith Hamilton's article...

We loved them, yeah, yeah, yeah. Those cheeky, mop-headed, Fab Four hailed from Liverpool, but John, Paul, George, and Ringo also had close connections here in the south.
Think of The Beatles and immediately Merseyside and the Cavern Club come to mind, after all they were an irreverent bunch of Scousers who took the world by storm. But dig down into their story and it doesn’t take long to undercover fascinating links with Hampshire.
A new book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth by Nick Churchill, containing rare and previously unpublished photographs of the Beatles, is published on October 6 and is the definitive account of the connections between the greatest of all rock ’n’ roll groups and the seaside resort.
A wonderful nostalgic trip for the baby boomer generation, the book goes back over the years to those far off days of Beatle jackets, Beatlemania, Beatle haircuts, Beatle magazines and posters, and of course, the unforgettable music.
Back in the 1960s, Bournemouth was still part of Hampshire and the Beatles’ initial, highly significant shows did much to establish and form their characters. Hence the group can arguably be claimed as part of the county’s culture heritage.
It was on August 19, 1963 when The Beatles began a six-day season at the former Gaumont theatre in Bournemouth, performing twice nightly in a total of 12 shows before returning a few months later in November to appear at the Winter Gardens, a much bigger venue.
The following year they were back for two more dates, returning to the Gaumont on August 2 and October 30.
“Surprisingly, this means The Beatles played more shows at Bournemouth’s Gaumont, now
the Odeon, than at any other UK theatre outside London,’’ said Nick, a former journalist
on the Daily Echo’s sister newspaper in Bournemouth.
“A tape of a full Beatles concert recorded during their first visit to Bournemouth is the earliest known example of their theatre show.
“Despite the excellent quality of the recording it remains unreleased.’’
One of the great strengths of the new book is the remarkable pictures taken by local photographer, Harry “Flash’’ Taylor, images which, up to now, have never before been published.
“A larger than life figure, ‘Flash’ Harry moved from his native London during the Second World War and built landing craft in a factory on Poole Harbour,’’ said Nick.
“After the war he started to promote his photographic abilities towards the local press, and was always on hand to record the event whenever The Beatles were performing in the area.
“For instance, he was in Southampton when The Beatles were on stage at the old Gaumont Cinema, now the Mayflower Theatre, on May 20, 1963.
“It was then he took the photographs of the Beatles with Gerry and the Pacemakers.’’
By the time The Beatles appeared in Southampton they had had three hits, Love Me Do, Please Please Me, and their first number one, From Me to You. They began the tour co-headlining with Roy Orbison and closed the show every night.
The Beatles returned on December 13 the same year to perform the last concert of their autumn tour, while their final visit to Southampton’s Gaumont was on November 6, 1964.
During John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s first stay in Bournemouth, they released their third single, She Loves You, which stayed in the charts for 31 weeks, returning to number one when the group arrived back in November, 1963.
The rather stuffy, British establishment, at that time, found the refrain “yeah, yeah, yeah” controversial. National radio in the form of the BBC broadcast the single, but in some quarters it was seen to hail the collapse of civilised society”.
Some critics panned the song, dismissing the “yeah, yeah, yeah,’’ as “uncouth slang from a fad band’’, however, the “yeahs’’ were to have a great effect on The Beatles’ image. Indeed, in some parts of Europe, it was said, they became known as the Yeah-Yeahs.
While staying at the Palace Court Hotel that August, one of the band’s most iconic photo shoots took place, the half-shadow shot by Robert Freeman, which appeared on the sleeve of the second album, With The Beatles.
The occasion was a bittersweet time for George Harrison as he spent much of his time holed up in his hotel room suffering from a heavy cold, but during that week he wrote his first song for The Beatles, Don’t Bother Me.
The Winter Gardens shows on November 16, 1963 were filmed by crews from the three major US TV networks, CBS, NBC and ABC. Consequently, the first footage America saw of The Beatles was filmed in Bournemouth.
Although a one-off date, the two shows on August 2, 1964 were reported in Disc magazine and were also notable for the inclusion of The Kinks on the support bill.
Ray Davies has since recalled how John Lennon set out to intimidate the nervous Kinks and sparked the first battle of Britpop, the Blur versus Oasis of its day.
The Beatles’ final Bournemouth shows, in October 1964, were part of a UK tour, which saw them fly the flag for the music of black America with principal support act Mary Wells. She became the first Motown act to perform in the UK and the first female singer to open for The Beatles.
John Lennon enjoyed a close relationship with his Aunt Mimi, with whom he lived for most of his childhood, even though she could be highly dismissive of his musical ambitions, his girlfriends, and wives.
She often told teenager, John: “The guitar's all right, but you'll never make a living out of it’’.
Despite later losing touch with other family members, John kept in close contact and telephoned Aunt Mimi every week until his death in 1980. In the mid-1960s he bought her a waterside bungalow at Sandbanks, near Poole, where she lived until her death in 1991. Aunt Mimi’s house in Liverpool was later donated to the National Trust, and is now open to the public.
On various visits to Sandbanks, John was spotted by locals in either a Mini Cooper or, later, in his famous psychedelic Rolls-Royce.
He even visited in the run up to the release of Sgt Pepper when he was photographed with
Aunt Mimi and his son, Julian, at Sandbanks chain ferry.
In March 1969, just after Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman, John and Yoko Ono
announced they were to get married.
John sent his chauffeur, Les Anthony, to Southampton to ask if he and Yoko could marry at
sea, as related in The Ballad of John & Yoko, the Beatles’ final number one.
Finally, John’s two wives were together with their sons Julian and Sean at Poole Crematorium for Mimi’s funeral service.
- Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth is published by Natula Publications, and is available at