||On the Air with Tony Bramwell
||The Beatles Tribute Cruise
A little more about Tony Bramwell...
After the Beatles split, Tony Bramwell became an independent record promoter, representing artists including Bruce Springsteen and coordinating and promoting the music for films including Harry Saltzmann’s James Bonds (including Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”), Chariots of Fire, Dirty Dancing, and Ghost.
Here are some quotes and anecdotes from interviews with him.
Wxcerps from the Ear Candy Magazine Interview http://www.earcandymag.com/tonybramwell-2005.htm
E.C.: I just finished reading a book about the "Paul Is Dead" phenomena (TURN ME ON DEAD MAN- which we are reviewing in EAR CANDY). And this book mentions the phone call that you made to the radio station pretending to be Paul.
Tony Bramwell: Oh do they?
E.C.: It was great find reading your confession that it was YOU who called the radio station imitating Paul and that they used it for some kind of voice analysis to "prove" that there was indeed another Paul. I know that Paul told you to deal with it, and you discussed it with Derek Taylor (who seemed just annoyed at all the calls coming in to Apple). How exactly did that come about?
Tony Bramwell: It just got so tiresome, the phone calls and the constant harassment from the press and radio and media. I just got fed up with it. So I just put me Paul voice on and said, “No, me? I’m sitting here drinking a cup of tea” or whatever. Because Paul wasn’t being helpful because he was up in Scotland…and The Beatles had folded. When it became 24 hours a day, 24-7 or whatever you call it, just denying that Paul is dead, I just thought, “I can’t take any more of this” – so I pretended I was him. I can’t remember which disc jockey I even did it with, I think it was one in Canada or Miami or whatever.
E.C.: I wanted to ask about some of your film work of The Beatles. You did the promo for “A Day in the Life” correct?
Tony Bramwell: Yes.
E.C.: About 15 years ago, I got a bootleg copy of some Beatles videos and they had two versions of the "A Day in the Life" promo. Since you worked on that, how many versions were there?
Tony Bramwell: No, there was only one. Well, there was only one that I put together. I did all The Beatles promos, from “Help”, “I Feel Fine”, “We Can Work It Out”, “Ticket To Ride”. We made little films.
E.C.: Of all the famous people you have met. Who was the most memorable? I would reckon Buddy Holly?
Tony Bramwell: Well, The Beatles obviously. I liked meeting the idols we had when we were kids like Little Richard and the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. And Elvis…but Elvis by then had lost his shine. It was the ones when we were sort of “on the way up” and you met Gene Vincent and the idols we had when we were 10 years old. And it was cool to meet Dylan and all those other people, but they were never idols, the ones which I grew up with.
ON December 27, 1960, Liverpudlian Tony Bramwell caught the number 81 bus to go an see a little known group billed as The Beatles! Taking a seat at the front of the top floor, to his surprise, was his old friend George Harrison. Tony, who now lives in Totnes, hadn't seen him for a while, the last time was when he was a delivery boy for a local butchers. George was also going to the gig and Tony offered to carry his guitar.
It was as simple as that.
Having grown up with George, and also Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Tony was accepted into the team and given a key to one of the tightest-knit groups in musical history. He was there, right from the start on that cold December day, and right through to their split. Friends still when John was killed. And he had no idea, not the slightest clue, what lay just around the corner.
"At one stage The Beatles were so huge they couldn't go into the BBC or anywhere because of security, so we decided to make our own little videos.
"I used to make those for them, We Can Work It Out, Help, Ticket To Ride, I Feel Fine, the lot.
"In America, pop shows increased because of the success of The Beatles.
"I used to set up an outside broadcast unit on the Thames and shoot The Small Faces, Sandie Shaw, The Moody Blues, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Yardbirds and Herman's Hermits, whoever they liked and wanted a two-take video of.
"There was another band from Totnes called The Silkie, who John and Paul produced. They were the first band to do an album of all Bob Dylan covers.
"Bob was so proud that someone would want to do a cover of his songs and poems.
"So when he came to a concert and met up with Paul and John, all he wanted to talk about was this Totnes band called the Silkies.
"We had all forgotten them by then, but Dylan was really impressed.
"I still see Sylvia (Tatler) from Silkie occasionally in the supermarket."
Tony went on to run the UK's first independent record label and head up Brian's film unit.
He was the head of Apple Films and co-head of Apple Records at the time of The Beatles split.
Tony kept in close contact with Paul but said he struggled sometimes with John because of the relationship with Yoko. Just before he died, John called him but because of switchboard error, he missed it.
"I was running Polydor Records at the time and I think the call was to ask if 'Poly' would put out his fantasy album.
"It didn't have a record deal at the time. It might have been something else.
"I had been in New York not so long before and had met up with Bruce Springsteen, who was a mate of mine.
"He said that he would love to meet John. I tried to pair them up but the message came back from Yoko that
John was busy. This was a couple of weeks later.
"In New York, I had heard that John was doing things in the studios so, when I got back to England, I wrote to him straight away and asked if he was looking for a record deal.
"It was never replied to so I'm guessing that that's what was the call was about. I'll never really know."
He still keeps in touch with Paul.
"If he's doing a gig I will go along and have a drink.
"If he has a party he tends to invite me.
"He's a great guy. The Paul you see is the Paul you get. Unless you cross him badly, he is thumbs up, Paul. 'Alright mate, alright wack'."
Bramwell famously documented his mop-top years in his book Magical Mystery Tour: My Life With The Beatles, recommended by Sir Paul McCartney himself, saying: “If you want to know anything about the Beatles, ask Tony, he remembers it more than I do.”
Bramwell also launched Eva Cassidy, selling nine million albums after her death, but he never wondered much, he says, about any so-called lost Hendrix recordings – until now. “The music business is rife with that kind of mythology,” he says, “but, 15 years ago, the old Olympic Studios in Barnes, west London was being stripped out, having been bought by Virgin Records. Many of the greats had worked there. The Stones recorded six consecutive albums at Olympic; the Beatles, the Who, Led Zep, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had all recorded there.
“The new owners got all the old master tapes together, then contacted a few people to come down and pick them up. Those that were not collected were thrown into a skip . I lived only 100 yards from the studio and happened to be passing one day. I saw all this stuff lying in the skip and went inside to enquire. One of the engineers said no one had claimed it so they were chucking it away.
“I rooted around and found a whole pile of Hendrix stuff, some Rolling Stones, some Beatles, various other things. I knew all those people, they were my friends, so I thought I’d return it. I took a lot of the stuff away, most of which was Jimi’s. I went round to see Chas with about 20 master tapes, a bunch of multi-tracks, some titles I’d never even heard of, and gave them all to him.
“I didn’t want anything for it, I was just being a nice chap. Allen Klein, who was by then managing the Beatles, got hold of me and demanded their stuff. I’d also found some Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds recordings and I gave those to Bertie [Robert] Plant. A few months later, Chas himself was dead. I never knew what became of all those tapes but I’m pretty sure that most of it will still be out there. Maybe some of it has already fallen into the hands of the Hendrix family but not all.”
And in an email to me on how he met up with Bruce Springsteen:-
I had had a hit record with Andy Kim, Rock Me Gently, and he was managed by Mike Appel who also managed Bruce. Appel sent me Bruce’s Demos before he had made a record and I loved the songs so I got Manfred Mann to record Blinded By The Light and The Hollies to do Sandy and some other covers...
"I was then in L.A. with Phil Spector when Born To Run came out and spent the week with Bruce and he got The front covers of TIME & LIFE magazines and declared to be the future of Rockn Roll."
"When he first came to U.K. he stayed with me and I used to stay with him in New York and go to New Jersey with him and on the Rolling Thunder Tour with Dylan and all that lot."
"I also became friends with Little Miami Steve Van Zandt.. who is now in THE SOPRANOS tv show The technical Mafia advisor on the show is JOE PISTONE(Donnie Brasco) who is also a friend of mine. We all still keep in touch."