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The Beatles and New York, February 1964

By Gordon R. Thompson
When Pan Am flight 101, the “Jet Clipper Defiance,” touched down at the recently renamed John F. Kennedy Airport on 7 February 1964, the grieving angst that had gripped the Western world lifted, if just a little. What emerged from the darkness of the Boeing 707’s doorway was something so joyful, so deliciously irreverent that we forgot for a moment the tensions of the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, and the assassination of a young president. The sigh that North America released felt so deep that it sounded as one big exuberant scream of delight.

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From Me (the Beatles) to You (the Stones): April 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
After the success of the single “Please Please Me” and the release of the album Please Please Me, British fans and the press eagerly anticipated “From Me to You.” Fans had pre-ordered so many copies of the disk that when Parlophone did release R 5015 on 11 April 1963, the single immediately appeared in pop charts where it would stay for an amazing 21 weeks.

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The Beatles and “Please Please Me,” 11 January 1963

By Gordon R. Thompson
Although “Love Me Do” had been the Beatles’ induction into Britain’s recording industry, “Please Please Me” would bring them prominently into the nation’s consciousness. The songwriters, the band, the producer, and the manager all thought that they had finally found a winning formula. An advertisement in the New Musical Express proclaimed that the disc would be the “record of the year,” even as it raised a chuckle among industry insiders; but the hyperbole would prove prophetic.

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Alice’s top 10 OUPblog posts of 2012

By Alice Northover
One of the great advantages of being OUPblog editor is that I read practically everything that was published on the blog in 2012: the 1,088 articles, Q&As, quizzes, slideshows, podcasts, videos, and more from the smartest minds in the scholarly world. When I first attempted the list, I had 30 articles bookmarked and I’d only made it six months back. I’m sure I’ll hate myself for missing a piece tomorrow.

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Selling the Beatles, 1962

By Gordon R. Thompson
As a regional businessman and a fledgling band manager, Brian Epstein presumed that the Beatles’ record company (EMI’s Parlophone) and Lennon and McCartney’s publisher (Ardmore and Beechwood) would support the record. This presumption would prove false, however, and Epstein would need to draw on all of the resources he could spare if he were to make the disc a success.

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The Beatles and “Please Please Me,” November 1962

By Gordon Thompson
Fifty years ago, the Beatles recorded their arrangement of “Please Please Me,” a lilting lover’s complaint transformed into a burst of adolescent adrenaline. On 26 November 1962, after repeated attempts to capture just the right balance of frustration and anticipation, George Martin informed them over the studio intercom that they had just recorded their first number-one disc. But the path to the top of the charts would not be easy.

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The Beatles at EMI, September 1962

By Gordon R. Thompson
Fifty years ago, the Beatles entered EMI’s recording studios on Abbey Road for their first official recording session. Their June visit had gained them a recording contract, but had cost Pete Best his position when artist-and-repertoire manager George Martin winced at the drummer’s timing. With little ceremony, Lennon, McCartney, and especially Harrison recruited the best drummer in Liverpool — a mate who sometimes subbed for Best — and left the firing of Best to manager Brian Epstein. Thus, Ringo Starr ascended to the drummer’s throne.

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The Oxford Companion to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Many questioned how the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was going to make a mark after the spectacular Beijing Olympics only four years earlier. While Beijing presented the Chinese people moving as one body — dancing, marching, and presenting a united front to the world — the British answer was a chaotic and spirited ceremony, shifting from cricket matches to coordinated dance routines, Mr Bean’s comedic dream to a 100-foot Lord Voldemort.

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“I Hope They Don’t Think We’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll Outfit”: The Rolling Stones Debut, 12 July 1962

By Gordon Thompson
Fifty years ago, in one of London’s busiest shopping districts, the Rolling Stones stepped onto a stage for the first time, full of adolescent confidence and probably not a little performance anxiety. On this Thursday night, a crowd of friends and the curious came to support this muddle of middle-class English adolescents ambitiously exploring a relatively esoteric niche of American music. But everything about this first gig would portend a band that would be, a band that parents would hate and teens love, a band that would be ruthless in its pursuit of success.

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The Beatles at EMI: The Contract, 18 June 1962

By Gordon Thompson
Perhaps the most significant unresolved controversy surrounding the recording of the Beatles first single “Love Me Do” rests on the question of whether or not EMI had finalized a contract with them. To wit: on 6 June 1962, were the Beatles auditioning or were they already under contract? Documentation and personal memories conflict such that no single answer can claim to be definitive, even as the evidence suggests a nuanced social interplay between Parlophone’s George Martin and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

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The Beatles’ first visit to EMI, part 2

By Gordon Thompson
For the Beatles first visit to EMI, George Martin (the director of Parlophone Records) asked his associate Ron Richards to serve as the artist-and-repertoire manager, which involved rehearsing the band and running their session. Pop groups represented a normal part of Richards’ portfolio and clearly the Beatles didn’t rank high enough on Martin’s list of responsibilities to warrant his presence. That would eventually change, but on 6 June 1962, the Beatles presented only a blip on his radar.

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The Beatles’ first visit to EMI, part 1

By Gordon Thompson
Fifty years ago, the Beatles recorded for the first time in a building that would eventually bear the name of their last venture. On Wednesday, 6 June 1962, the most important rock band of the twentieth century auditioned at the EMI Recording Studios in Abbey Road, London.

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The Beatles Get a Second Chance, 9 May 1962

By Gordon Thompson
On this spring morning fifty years ago, Brian Epstein climbed the front steps and passed through the simple entrance of the EMI Recording Studios in St. John’s Wood, London, placing him on the other side of the looking glass. As a retailer, he had sold recordings made in these studios by Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham, and, more recently, Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The neophyte manager of the Beatles now eagerly anticipated the possibility of watching through the control room window as his “boys” joined that exclusive club.

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“Davy” Jones, actor and musician

By Gordon Thompson
As the Beatles made their historic debut on American television in February 1964, the cast of Oliver!, the actor playing the role of the Artful Dodger, and other acts on the show watched from the wings as the hysteria unfolded. Davy Jones had started his acting career on British television, making his debut appearance in the venerable Coronation Street followed by the gritty Liverpool police drama, Z-Cars.

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Brian Epstein and the quest for a contract

By Gordon Thompson
On a cold winter’s day in early 1962, Brian Epstein and the Beatles huddled together contemplating their failed bid for a Decca recording contract and the bitter aftertaste of rejection that left emptiness in their stomachs. But hunger can feed ambition. Disappointments would ensue, but almost immediately Epstein would be the proverbial right man in the right place at the right time and meet a string of people who were looking for something not quite exactly unlike the Beatles.

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