Tag Archives: The Beatles

The Beatles + Savile Row? Yes!

9 Jan
On the 1969 album, Abbey Road, three of four Beatles wore Tommy Nutter suits.

On the 1969 album, Abbey Road, three of four Beatles wore Tommy Nutter suits.

Part two of our Savile Row series has links to a well-loved and heavily-influential band that shaped our modern musical world – The Beatles.

Back in the day, the “I buried Paul” phrase heard at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever” claimed by conspiracy theorists to mean that Paul McCartney was dead, was supported by the image of Paul walking in bare feet across Abbey Road outside of Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles recorded. The idea was that John, in white, symbolized the preacher, Ringo in black, the undertaker or a mourner, Paul, presumed deceased (with a secret imposter taking his place in life and in the studio) in bare feet, and George in hard-wearing denim, the gravedigger.

Complete crap, of course. It turns out that the three of the four Beatles wore Tommy Nutter suits, the rebel tailor of Savile Row.

(Have a look at this interesting page with a short video about the famous cross walk, or “zebra crossing”.)

Nutter, together with his expert cutter, Edward Sexton, opened the influential Nutters of Savile Row in 1969. Nutter’s was a solid symbol of Swinging London – the shop had financial backing from singer Cilla Black (who also worked with Beatles producer George Martin and recorded in Abbey Road studios) and her husband Bobby Willis, who happened to be the Managing Director of the Beatles’ Apple Corps, Peter Brown, board member of Apple Corps and a one-time assistant to Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, and lawyer, James Vallance-White.

“Tommy was a one-man revolution, single-handedly responsible for introducing fashion to Savile Row, whilst committing the equally audacious act of inviting the fairer sex to share a world that had previously been the preserve of gentlemen.” (Source)

Nutter and Sexton were famous for their modern bespoke suits with wide lapels, and flared jackets nipped in a the waist, with accompanying flared trousers in bold colours and patterns that catered to posh businessmen and rock stars. Timothy Everest, then a young man who apprenticed with Nutter interviewed with The Arbuturian, said, “Tommy was very good at articulating to a new audience what bespoke was all about.” 

Nice, but their clientele, especially during the late 60s, were unpredictable even at the upscale Mayfair address: “Tommy came to work one morning to find John Lennon and Yoko Ono standing naked in his shop window, and was later called over to Apple Studios to hear Hey Jude before it was released. “Paul and John asked him what he thought and he said it was a load of sh*t.”” 

Location, location, location

Carnaby Street, the leader of Swinging Sixties fashion was just a few blocks away from Savile Row. Carnaby Street was wildly popular among young people, offering cool mod gear by designers like Mary Quant in shops like Lord John. These young, hip, up-to-the-minute disposable fashions were quite different from the quality of the Savile Row tailors, but times were changing, and so were the neighbours.

The Beatles took over 3 Savile Row in 1969, setting up the offices of Apple Corps, each Beatle taking his own office in the five-storey building, a former gentleman’s club. It was here, or rather, the roof of #3 that became the stage for their final live performance and the Let It Be film that came of it.

For an excellent account of the day and the performance, see this link on the Beatles Bible webpage, and enjoy the music, recorded on the roof of Apple Corps, shocking bespoke-wearing business men and delighting fans who climbed up on their own roofs to see and hear this fantastic spectacle!

PS – Paul kicked off his shoes before walking on the zebra crossing because that day in August was warm

Davy Jones

8 Mar

This week, we lost one of the good ones. Davy Jones, the former singer of The Monkees died at the age of 66 of a massive heart attack. He leaves behind a lifetime of talent, loads of laughs, and a million broken teenage hearts.

Davy was born in Manchester, England and began his career on the much-loved series, Coronation Street, then took the part of the Artful Dodger in the London West End production of Oliver! which brought him fully into the entertainment fold (he was nominated for a Tony award for his role in the New York production). He appeared on the same Ed Sullivan Show as the Beatles in 1964, you know, their first US television appearance where masses of hysterical teenaged girls drowned them out.

“I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that,” Jones said of the evening.

In 1966, Jones auditioned for a new series that followed the adventures of The Monkees, a music group trying to break into the rock and roll world. The Monkees were really the first corporate pop group, a fabricated American version of The Beatles, made complete by Davy Jones, the clever, handsome Brit. The group had some very catchy music, often written by the best songwriters of the period: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, and the group’s own Michael Nesmith, and the series won two Emmy Awards in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy (James Frawley).

I watched re-runs of The Monkees TV show when I was a kid and I inherited my one-time Davy Jones-crazed aunt Betsy’s Monkee records, so I have my own happy memories of Davy and his gang of wacky band mates. Betsy, like millions of pubescent girls worldwide, went mad for Davy, plastering his pin-up face on their bedroom walls and dreaming that she was actually the one he was singing about when he crooned, “I’ll be true to you, yes I will”.

I got hate letters from girls all over America because I wouldn’t go to the prom with them.
-Davy Jones

He sang heart-felt ballads and he could shake a mean maraca; he was the kind of fella any girl would fall for – deep brown saucer eyes, thick dark hair, a beautiful face, a sharp wit, and a charming British accent. Davy was just as sweet, just as cute, and caused just as much teenage hysteria as our modern adolescent heart-throb, Justin Bieber. These two share another commonality – their stature. Standing a compact 5’5, Justin is only 3″ taller than Davy was.

Davy was so small that he sometimes served as a prop on The Monkees series.

Short

“I’ve always thought if all the show business success hadn’t happened, I’d have been a world champion jockey. It’s in my blood,” Davy said in 1996.

In Davy’s case, his small stature helped him become an accomplished horseman, though most people might argue that taller is better. In a publication I used to do before I started this blog, I devoted one issue to men’s height. Through my research, I developed a theory about why the western world has a hate on for small men, and I think that Britain’s George III is responsible. When the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, threatened England, caricatures of the French leader being small and weak in comparison to the larger, stronger British monarch began to appear in newspapers, colouring society’s view of short men. The truth is that Napoleon stood at a very average 5’6 for the time, while George stood somewhere around 5’11, and he saw this as a point of ridicule. Short men have been in the dog house ever since (source).

For the record, there is no correlation between height and intelligence; short men are just as able and just as intelligent as tall men, but because we have been socially conditioned perhaps by George III’s political posturing, things aren’t so great for short guys.

I learned  more about the short man’s plight in the survey I did for the height issue, finding that of the men surveyed, those under 5’7 reported height discrimination. Short men complained of problems buying clothes, feeling overlooked, and being socially perceived as being “less than” a taller man. It’s understood that shorter men suffer in life, work, and love, making less money than taller men and working extra hard to attract women. (Read this blog about dating short men by a short man.)

I had a conversation about height with a 5’7 foot male friend the other night who uses internet dating sites. He complained about the profiles on these sites being full of women who insist on meeting tall men only, making my shorter friend feel bad and “rejected”.

Seeing as though our culture neglects short men already, I can see why a short man might be hurt by a height exclusion, so, in support of my small brothers, I’m going to make an admission: I am 5’2, I prefer short men, and I have height restrictions when it comes to dating too. Nothing personal, but the closer a guy is to 6′, the less attractive he is to me as a romantic partner. When I used dating sites and saw an interesting face, I’d check his height and if he was too tall, I passed. It’s a proportion thing for me. I know that I am not alone when I say that I cannot think of anything more attractive than a compact, self-assured man. Believe me, fellas, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of women who dig short guys. (Read this blog about dating short men by a woman who likes smaller men.)

Davy Jones was one of the first men who made being short sexy, passing the torch to short men like Tom Cruise, Prince, Jason Priestly, and Elijah Wood who have all been very successful in their careers and in their romantic lives. With three wives, four children, and an entertainment career spanning over 50 years, little Davy did pretty well for himself. He didn’t suffer from “short man’s syndrome”, walking around with a chip on his shoulder or shivering in insecurity over his small stature; Davy didn’t have anything to prove, he just enjoyed himself and believed in himself, and it’s that confidence that makes a short guy shine.

Thanks Davy.