Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 12 x 12"
Painting #226, 2014
If there is a musical group that really need no introduction, it would be The Beatles. The band from Liverpool England was formed in 1960. They found success in early 1963 when "Please Please me" topped the UK charts. Their initial releases in America were on independent labels. By late 1963, Capitol Record introduced their music to the American public with their #1 single, "I want to hold your hand". The album, "Beatlemania! With the Beatles" was released in Canada on Capitol records on November 25, 1963.
The timing for this painting, although I almost missed the deadline was to mark the 50th anniversary of their first album release in the United States. "Introducing.....The Beatles" was released on January 10, 1964 by Vee-Jay Records. Capitol Records would release "Meet the Beatles" 10 days later, on January 20.
The enduring longevity of The Beatles, even if the band were only together for a decade can certainly be attributed to the various directions that they took musically, from pop, rock and roll, psychedelic and hard rock. But their song-writing abilities, especially the Lennon-McCartney collaboration was exceptionally remarkable. They were extremely prolific and studio albums were released in quick succession.
In 1968, the Beatles founded Apple Records as a creative outlet for the band while signing a select group of artists to the roster. In 1970, "Let it be" would be their last studio album recording. By this time, creative differences and tension between the band members caused the group to dissolve. The concept behind this painting creates a narrative of the band splitting up and each member carrying on with their individual solo projects. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all releases solo albums in 1970. During the following years, their solo recordings sometimes involved one or more of the other members as collaborators.
Their legions of fans remained hopeful that one day they would reunite, but when John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City in 1980, so did that dream.
When the band broke up, I was only 8 years old. My interest in music only started around age 12. While The Beatles' songs still played on the radio during my teens, I didn't truly appreciate their music until recently. This was probably due to the ever evolving music scene of the 1970's and reduced radio play. After the band broke up, several compilation albums were issued of their past recordings in greatest hits format, specific periods, anthologies and box set which became even more popular than their original recordings. The album 1, which was released in 2000 on the band's 30th anniversary of their break-up is a prime exemple. The record was a compilation of virtually all their number one singles in the UK and the USA. I bought it in 2011, when it was re-released digitally on iTunes re-entering the album charts at #1. The day I completed this painting on December 29, the album was specially price for the holidays and made yet another return on the iTunes charts at #24. That album has sold in excess of 33 million copies, bringing the total sales of the entire Beatles album discography to 600 millions copies sold, making them the most successful act in music history. On this LINK is a song catalogue, with many more singles that did not make it to number one and are among my favourites.
I purchased "Let it be" about five years ago on eBay for the sole purpose of making this painting. When I did the photo study, in order to see the side of the apple, it needed to be at an angle. I wanted the image to retain the format of a vinyl album jacket. With the help of Photoshop, I was able to crop it as if you are looking at it directly above, but the perspective of their faces is altered because of this. These are by far the best faces I have painted and this is attributed to the fact that I currently use an iPad to view my source material. I am able to see better. It is strange that the photograph of Ringo Starr that was used for the album cover appears to have a thumb or something obstructing the left lower frame. I worked on this painting for more than two months. I anticipated that doing portraiture would be challenging and it was, but the fact that they were all in the same tonal values on my source photo study did ease the process.
The Beatles legacy and influences on other musicians, songwriters, popular culture and in print are immeasurable and will continue to live on as their music as universal appeal and transcends many generations.