The Songs the Beatles Gave Away was inspired by the 2009 BBC Radio 2 documentary of the same name on which Colin worked with Bob Harris and his wife, Trudie Myerscough-Harris. For his book, Bob and Trudie have kindly given Colin permission to access the interviews they conducted in 2008/9 with Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Cilla Black, Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax, Billy Hatton and others. Previously only small extracts from these exclusive interviews have ever been available, but now, for the first time, these gems are accessed in full.
Among the last interviews they gave, Sir George and Cilla spoke candidly about their work and experiences. To read their words is a moving reminder not only of their individual talents but of a period in recent musical history, the impact of which, still resonates to this day.
Since making the original Radio 2 documentary, Colin has been able to speak to artists who did not contribute directly to the programme, such as Billy J. Kramer, Peter Asher, Megan Davies of the Applejacks and John Clay who played with the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band in 1968 when Paul McCartney visited Saltaire, in Yorkshire, to record ‘Thingumybob’, an instrumental tune he had written especially for a brass band to play.
For extra background detail, and to further contextualise the songwriting of John, Paul and George, Colin has unearthed extensive interviews he conducted with Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann before he became custodian of the Lennon house in Liverpool in 2004. He has also spoken with eye-witness, and former member of the Plastic Ono Band, Alan White who played on many Apple recording sessions.
The Songs the Beatles Gave Away is illustrated with photographs of records culled from Colin’s private collection of original 45rpm vinyl singles, together with photographs kindly donated to the project by his friends, some of his own personal photographs, as well as many promotional photographs from the period.
While encompassing the origins of the Beatles as a group and the emergence of John, Paul and George as composers, the central focus of The Songs the Beatles Gave Away is on tunes John, Paul and George wrote for other artistes rather than just for The Beatles themselves. As such the stories featured here are not about ‘covers’ of songs the Beatles had already released. It is about songs the Beatles did not release commercially or even record at all during the active lifetime of the group. Such ‘giveaways’ were unique and each song and its singer are discussed in detail and side stories and background explored.
This is the first time a book focusing on this aspect of the Beatles’ legacy has been attempted.
About the author:
Born in Liverpool in 1949, author Colin Hall studied Law at the University of Liverpool before becoming a teacher. In 2004 he became the custodian of ‘Mendips’, John Lennon’s former home, in Woolton, Liverpool. The house was donated to the National Trust in 2002 by Yoko Ono Lennon. As custodian Colin has hosted thousands of visitors from around the world and famous visitors have included Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Brady, Debbie Harry and Clem Burke from Blondie, Klaus Voormann, Steve Van Zandt, Mark Hamill and Alan White.
Colin’s wife Sylvia was for many years the custodian of 20 Forthlin Road, the former Liverpool home of Sir Paul and his brother Michael McCartney. In 2017 Colin and Sylvia were Liverpool City Region’s ‘Tourism Stars of the Year’.
As a journalist Colin was a regular contributor to music publications What’s On In London and RnR.
In 2006 he was invited by his great friend, legendary music broadcaster and music historian, Bob Harris, to help research and contribute to the Sony award-winning BBC Radio 2 documentary, The Day John Met Paul. Its follow-up, The Songs The Beatles Gave Away was the inspiration for this book.
Colin’s first book Pre:Fab! was written in partnership with original Quarry Men drummer, Colin Hanton. Published in 2018, it tells the story of “One man, his drums, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison”. It has since been made into a feature length documentary by Stars North Films (USA) and was selected to open the 2022 Florida Film Festival.
Before working at Mendips, Colin managed the early careers of singer-songwriters Sam Genders (Tunng) and Liam Bailey (acclaimed UK recording artist).
Colin is also an Ambassador for the Buddy Holly Foundation UK.