Nostalgia played front and center during Sunday night’s The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute on CBS. Performers included Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons and a reunited Eurythmics, who brought Paul and Ringo to their feet with a fantastic cover of “Fool On The Hill.”
We thought we’d take the opportunity to pay our own tribute to some of the gay artists and colleagues the Fab Four worked with over the years, starting of course with manager Brian Epstein.
Here he is (far right) with the mop top crew at the premier of the film A Hard Day’s Night in 1962. While Brian never came out publicly, his sexuality was never a secret from the artists he worked with. In 1964, he signed a five year contract with The Beatles, giving him 10-15 percent of their income. Not chump change. Unfortunately, he also developed quite the drug habit through the ’60s (who can blame him) and in 1967, he died from a combination of drugs and alcohol.
In this photo, Billy Preston, long time keyboardist for the group, jams with Paul on microphone, Ringo in the background and John and George on the right. Billy performed on the albums “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road,” and is credited on the track “Get Back.” He also never came out publicly, but his sexuality was known among his friends and fellow artists.
George Harrison, Billy Preston, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger. Besides working with the Beatles and having a successful solo career, Preston also toured with the Rolling Stones from 1973-1976 as their primary keyboardist.
Billy Preston, George Harrison, United States President Gerald Ford and sitar player Ravi Shankar in the White House, December 13, 1974.
Gay photographer Angus McBean photographed The Beatles for their first album cover in 1963, Please Please Me. He photographed them again in 1968 for the planned recording “Get Back”, in the same place as he did in 1963, but with the lads older and hairier; “Get Back” eventually became “Let It Be” and a different image was chosen for the cover. After The Beatles broke up, recordings were released which featured material from 1962-1966, referred to by many as the “Red Album,” and a second release which featured material from 1967-1970, unofficially dubbed the “Blue Album.” An unused McBean photograph from 1963 was used for the “Red Album” cover and the image that he shot for the “Get Back” cover was used for the “Blue Album.”
In 1974, Lennon collaborated with Elton John, appearing on John’s single cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the b-side of which was Lennon’s “One Day at a Time.” In return, John was featured on “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” on Lennon’s Walls and Bridges album. Later that year, on Thanksgiving Day, in what would be Lennon’s last major live performance, the pair performed these two number 1 hits along with the Beatles classic “I Saw Her Standing There” at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lennon made the rare stage appearance with John and his band to keep the promise he made that he would appear on stage with John if “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” became a number 1 single.
At Sunday’s Grammy tribute, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart reunited to bring the house down with “Fool On The Hill.” Here is their performance:
Thanks to Bruce Beaudette.