Jackaboutguitars.com is once again quite pleased to present another Fantastic article from one of the BIGGEST BEATLES’ FANS on the planet – Facebook Pal, Actor, Voice Over Artist, and Writer, Mr. Eddie Deezen!
As time and space permit, Jackaboutguitars will continue to share some very cool articles on The Beatles during this fiftieth anniversary celebration year of The Beatles conquering America that Eddie has written for www.eddiedeezen.com – “The Official Eddie Deezen Website” and for neatorama.com where Eddie has done many way cool guest posts on The Beatles and a variety of other people and subjects.
Eddie Deezen is a character actor who is best known for his acting roles in Grease, Grease 2, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Surf II: The End of The Trilogy, 1941, Zapped!, WarGames, Disney’s Midnight Madness, and Punky Brewster, to name a few, as well as the voice of characters Lenny The Know It All in The Polar Express, Mandark in Dexter’s Laboratory on The Cartoon Network, Ned in Kim Possible, and Snipes The Magpie in Rock-A-Doodle.
Besides all of his Hollywood credits from being a talented character and voice actor, Eddie Deezen is a HUGE BEATLES FAN! His Beatles knowledge is nothing short of amazing.
THE BEATLES’ TROUBLESOME BUTCHER ALBUM COVER BY EDDIE DEEZEN
It was the spring of 1966 and Capitol Records, the Beatles’ U.S. record distribution company, wanted to issue a hodgepodge of recycled and leftover Beatles product and issue it as a “new album.” For the record (no pun intended), the Beatles always hated this cheesy procedure. The Beatles were not only great artists and musicians, but also perfectionists. They, unlike so many other recording artists, refused to ever foist off a cheap or downgraded product to their fans. Unlike other artists, on Beatles albums, there were no cheap “filler” tracks; each track was strong and relevant in its own right.
The Beatles had issued just six actual official albums by this time, but this was to be Capitol’s ninth of their recycled hodgepodge collection “albums.” These chintzy repackaged albums did indeed infuriate the Beatles, but their ruffled feathers were surely assuaged by the millions of dollars (or pounds) they collected from these cheap products, both as singers and composers (mostly John and Paul).
Capitol asked the band to give them a photo to grace the cover of this new collection album, to be titled Yesterday …and Today. On May 25th, 1966, the boys entered the rented photography studio of an Australian photographer named Bob Whitaker.
Whitaker was “a bit of a surrealist” who greatly admired a German artist named Hans Bellmer. Bellmer had authorized a then-controversial book called Die Puppe, which contained pictures of bizarrely dismembered dolls. Knowing of the Beatles’ short attention spans and hoping to create something new and original, Whitaker showed the boys the “interesting” props he had gathered together for the session. These consisted mainly of items culled from a butcher shop and a doll factory, i.e. white butcher smocks, lines of pungent sausage links, a birdcage, joints of raw meat, and several dismembered dolls.
The Beatles quickly got into the spirit of the session. Bizarre photos were taken of George hammering a nail into John’s head, John holding George’s head in a birdcage, all four holding a string of link sausages in front of a young girl, and John clutching a cardboard box with the number “2,000,000” written on it over Ringo’s head. But the piece de resistance was yet to come.
Whitaker posed John, Paul, and Ringo on a bench with George standing behind them. The boys were dressed in white butcher smocks, festooned with pieces of raw meat with dismembered dolls draped over them. George stands in the back holding a doll’s head.
It is almost certain that at the time this photo was taken, the Beatles had neither idea nor intention for it to grace the American album’s cover. The photo was, however, later chosen by the boys to be the album’s cover photo.
When Capitol president Alan Livingston received this image as the Beatles’ choice for the cover of Yesterday …and Today, he immediately put in a call to the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Livingston had already been inundated with objections to the butcher photo from his staff. Epstein politely informed Livingston that the photo was “the Beatles’ comment on the war.” When Livingston told him what was going on, Epstein promised he would ask the boys to reconsider. The next day, Epstein reported that “they absolutely insist that’s what they want.”
Alan Livingston was used to standing up to his artists’ unsatisfactory demands; he was no stranger to putting his foot down. But this was The Beatles, the number one recording stars in the world. So, against his better judgement, Livingston gave the green light to the “butcher cover,” as it was being referred to.
Several hundred advance copies of the “butcher cover” were issued to Capitol’s advance sales force. But “word came back very fast that dealers would not touch it.” They “would not put the album in their stores.” Unfortunately for Capitol Records, over a half-million copies (about 750,000, actually) of the album had already been printed up.
Interestingly, and oddly, the “butcher” photo had already been featured in a British