“The Beatles Anthology 1” press conference

Monday, November 20, 1995

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From The Beatles Monthly N°237, January 1996:

EMI and Apple launched the Beatles’ Anthology 1 on Monday 20th November in a blaze of publicity unprecedented for a record release (well, unprecedented since the 20th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, the relaunch of the ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ or Live At The BBC, at least). The main event was the press conference for the world’s media, staged in the Lancaster Rooms at London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel. The conference was hosted by the managing director of the Parlophone label, Tony Wadsworth, and included a question-and-answer session with “a distinguish panel”, which comprised EMI’s Rupert Perry, George Martin, Derek Taylor, Jeff Lynne and Apple’s Neil Aspinall.

This aspect of the launch proved to be disappointing, however. Despite a capacity turnout of 400 journalists and cameramen, which unlike ITV’s launch for the television series on 12th November, ensured an atmosphere of excitement and expectation, the questions from the floor ranged from the banal to the trivial, and did little to inspire anything more than one-sentence answers from the panel. Only the occasional query proved relevant or of significant
interest, and Rupert Perry – who as the chairman of EMI in Europe is arguably one of the most important figures in the British music industry – wasn’t addressed once. One obvious highlight was the presence of the normally microphone- and camera-shy Neil Aspinall. When quizzed about his legendary low profile, Aspinall let his notoriously tough exterior
drop for a moment to admit: “lt’s not that I’ve deliberately avoided interviews. (yes, you have!. – ed.), it’s just that l’ve always felt that questions about the Beatles were better answered by themselves.

When asked where the Beatles were that day, Derek Taylor responded, “They are all at home, everywhere else but here.” When asked, as a fan, what he thought of the Beatles’ music, Aspinall replied: “l think the music’s great. I always did. From the very first time I saw them when they got back from Hamburg. That’s it. I think the music: is fantastic.” And when questioned as to why he didn’t produce ‘Free As A Bird‘, George Martin said, “Jeff Lynne has done a brilliant job, and having heard it now, l wish I had produced it. Because if anything, it would have given me thirty No.1s, instead of 29. I’ve been working on Anthology 1 all year, and if I had to choose between working on the single or the album, l’d have chosen Anthology, because it’s the bigger one.

The launch also included the press premiere of both the ‘Free As A Bird’ single and video (the song was played twice – to rounds of applause – once accompanied by a projected image of the single’s picture sleeve, and once by the video). There was also an exclusive film of Paul, George and Ringo, featuring interviews not included in the Anthology TV series.

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