Friday, 21 May 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 61 (Top Five) AAA Ghost Stories

♫ It’s the witching hour, the curtains are drawn and there’s a strange noise coming from the radio...what, they’re playing the Spice Girls again?!? Anyway, if you can look past the material world around you and turn to the spiritual sky you might come across one or two breakthroughs from the spirit world (and I don’t mean the pub down the road). Now given what a hardworking and downright chatty lot the AAA are its hardly surprising that when they passover into the spirit world they aren’t done trying to help us listeners with our problems and spread their music round the world. There’s even been books by the two artists we feature below conducted from ‘beyond the grave’ (although the jury is still out over whether John Lennon or Jerry Garcia really are speaking through mediums about their new lives, given that neither of them published an autobiography in their lifetime). So read on s Alan’s Album Archives goes into the Twilight Zone (the one without vampires).

5) Jerry Garcia. Died: 1995. Ghost Story: Jerry’s spirit is as mischievous as his former self if DeadHeads living in nine states surrounding his place of death. Shortly after 4am that morning, when Jerry officially died in his sleep from the diabetes complications that had plagued him for years and left him in a coma in 1985, all electricity got inexplicably turned off in nine US states, with Jerry’s deathbed seemingly as the epicentre. Technicians never could discover what had caused the fault – was it perhaps Jerry’s cheeky way of saying goodbye to us all with one last electrical rush? A new invention called the world wide web – which presumably you’ve heard of, unless you’re picking this article up by telepathy – also shut off mysteriously for a full 19 hours a year to the day after Jerry’s death, during a national Deadhead day of mourning. Again, no reason for the mysterious black-out was ever discovered. Deadheads were and are, of course, the pioneers of rock fans on the web – was this Jerry’s way of saying thankyou and goodnight?

4) George Harrison. Died: 2001. Ghost story: Take it with a pinch of salt, but according to a poster on the Hampshire Ghost Club forum, Paul McCartney finally got his wish to collaborate on a song with his fellow Beatle in 2005 when George contacted him about writing a song. The track, speculatively called ‘Waiting For Your Friends To Go’ was mentioned by Paul in a BBC6 interview that year and said he very much felt like George was in the room with him. As yet, the song has yet to be released.  You do have to wonder, though, why George – presumably busy playing ukulele with his namesake Formby – would come back to Earth to write with Paul after refusing to throughout his solo career. You’d expect him to contact the other Travelling Wilburys first or even Ringo – peace and love, where are my royalties?!

3) John Lennon #1. Died: 1980. Ghost Story: In Tom Slemen’s excellent series ‘Haunted Liverpool’ (book no 7) the author recounts how seven separate eye-witnesses have recorded how as a 13-year-old boy John Lennon was given an eerie insight into his future life by a passing tramp. John, with his friends Kenny and Bobby (though strangely not his closest friend of the time Pete Shotton) were playing football in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park (the  one that’s meant to have a spooky past anyway, given the amount of carved symbols in the place that no one has yet deciphered). The unnamed tramp interrupted their game and promised to tell them some tales – strangely transfixed the lads are meant to have listened as he explained that ‘one of you three will be the most famous man in the world someday’. Unwilling to commit himself to which of the three he meant (Lennon hadn’t even taken up the guitar back then), the tramp led them to a bridge overlooking a railway line in Mossley Hill. The tramp then threw a tennis ball into the steam from a passing train, saying whoever caught the ball would be the one – despite being barged out of the way by the bigger lad Kenny, it was Lennon who caught the ball. Gloating to his friends, John turned round to speak to the tramp – who had mysteriously disappeared. 

2) John Lennon #2. Ghost Story: The whole story behind the Beatles’ reunion recording session, adding overdubs to the unfinished and unreleased Lennon song ‘Free As A Bird’ is eerie. First of all, each of the three remaining Beatles said independently that they felt Lennon’s spirit watching over them, following several unexplained noises coming from the recording equipment and various disturbances. Secondly, when they came to play back the end of the demo tape they found that Lennon had recorded a backwards tape message in 1979 – something he’d been well known for doing in the mid-60s as all readers of my ‘Revolver’ review will know well. The message ran either ‘my name’s John Lennon’ or ‘it’s turned out nice again’ depending who you ask (it sounds more like the latter to me, I must admit) – rather strange considering Lennon never did this with any other his other copious demos. Thirdly, stepping outside the studio to pose for an official photograph, the ‘threetles’ were joined at the last minute by a rare white peacock which came out of nowhere and spread his wings before the startled fabs, perfectly in shot. Now, if Lennon were to come back as anything then surely a peacock would be as good an emblem as any – and all fans know how important the colour white was to him. Spooky.

1) John Lennon #3. Ghost Story: Lennon’s ghost must be one of the most restless of all if the amount of people in touch with him are to be believed – although, frankly, that makes sense given how concered Lennon was with humanity in his lifetime. There’s even a psychic, Joe Power, from my home town of Ormskirk who claims to have gotten in touch with him! Other people to have spoken to him are: his son Julian, who when young was promised  by John that when he died he would come back to life and present him with a feather. During a film project in Australia Julian got friendly with some local aborigines and agreed to take part in an afterlife ceremony – and was handed a white feather by the elder tribesman. Liam Gallagher, too, claims to have seen Lennon’s ghost shortly before Oasis’ huge catapult to fame when the young unemployed singer was at a friend’s house in their hometown of Manchester. After feeling strange late one night, Liam sensed himself falling out of his body and then seeing himself lying on the bed, with John Lennon looking over him. Interestingly, Liam felt calm at the sight – perhaps the last time the Oasis frontman was ever calm! – and simply stared in awe at where he’d seen his idol.

 Finally, legendary medium Doris Stokes also claimed to be in contact with the Beatle in her third book ‘Innocent Voices In My Ear’ (pages 67-70). Naming Elton John as his ‘best friend’ Lennon came through after one of his friends had a sitting with the medium and he urged the friend to take up backing for her project with Yoko. John mentioned that he and Yoko had matching briefs made with their initials on and that she still owned four pairs of his spectacles some three years after his death – although Yoko has never said whether that’s true or not! Lennon also mentioned how proud he was of the ‘strawberry fields’ area in New York’s Central Park, not far from where he died, how he’d met up with two close pals Brian Jones and Brian Epstein and that he’d already been in contact with son Sean (seven at the time).Lennon also spoke of forgiving his killer Mark Chapman (‘after all, he wasn’t right in the head was he?’) and joking that going out in a blaze of publicity was the best he could have hoped for! Doris also sums Lennon’s spirit – both earthbound and otherwise – pretty well too: ‘He was a strange boy, he sounded cocky and rather arrogant, I’m afraid, but he was also concerned about helping the world’.   

That’s it from us for another week. Don’t have nightmares...make sure the Spice Girls aren’t coming on the radio any time soon! See you next issue!

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