Monday, February 11, 2008

Hardest Working Band in Show Business

Some facts for young bands to dwell upon, taken from Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties, by Ian MacDonald, third edition (Chicago Review Press, 2007 [1994, 1997, 2005) -- an A Capella Book.

April: 1 gig.
May: 11 gigs.
June: 11 gigs.
July: 6 gigs.
August 17-October 3: 48 gigs at the Indra Club in Hamburg.
October 4-November 30: 58 gigs at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg.
December: 3 gigs.

TOTAL FOR 1960: 148 gigs.

January: 19 gigs.
February: 37 gigs (including their first at the Cavern Club).
March: 33 gigs.
April 1-July 1: 92 gigs at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg.
July: 25 gigs.
August: 34 gigs.
September: 31 gigs.
October: 19 gigs (with a 2-week holiday).
November: 34 gigs.
December: 27 gigs.

TOTAL FOR 1961: 351 gigs.

January: 31 gigs.
February: 35 gigs.
March: 37 gigs.
April: 11 gigs, then
April 13-May 31: 48 gigs at the Star-Club in Hamburg.
June: 25 gigs and a radio show.
July: 37 gigs.
August: 34 gigs.
September: 33 gigs.
October: 23 gigs, 2 TV shows, 1 radio show.
November: 17 gigs and 2 radio shows.
December: 20 gigs and 3 TV shows.

TOTAL FOR 1962: 351 gigs, 5 TV shows, 4 radio shows.

January: 24 gigs, 3 TV, 5 radio.
February: 30 gigs, 1 TV, 1 radio.
March: 27 gigs, 1 TV, 4 radio.
April: 20 gigs, 4 TV, 6 radio.
May: 17 gigs, 2 TV, 3 radio.
June: 21 gigs, 2 TV, 5 radio.
July: 10 gigs, 10 radio.
August: 13 gigs (including last of 274 at the Cavern), 3 TV, 2 radio.
September: 8 gigs, 1 TV, 6 radio.
October: 11 gigs, 5 TV, 4 radio.
November: 26 gigs, 11 TV, 3 radio.
December: 21 gigs, 4 TV, 4 radio.

TOTAL FOR 1963: 228 gigs, 37 TV shows, 53 radio shows.

January: 26 gigs, 1 TV, 5 radio.
February: 2 gigs, 6 TV, 3 radio.
March: no gigs (filming), 5 TV, 7 radio.
April: 2 gigs (filming), 7 TV, 2 radio.
May: 1 gig (holiday), 1 radio.
June: 17 gigs, 2 TV, 3 radio.
July: 5 gigs, 8 TV, 4 radio.
August: 14 gigs, 1 TV, 2 radio.
September: 21 gigs, 1 TV.
October: 36 gigs, 5 TV.
November: 18 gigs, 6 TV, 3 radio.
December: 16 gigs, 1 TV.
TOTAL FOR 1964: 158 gigs, 43 TV shows, 30 radio shows.

They played another 100-odd shows in 1965-66, but really they were done by then; the live act in later years was short and sloppy. That's a total, if MacDonalds's figures are correct, of 1,349 live shows in seven years. 200 shows a year is a heavy load, but think about 700 gigs in two years! And in those early days they weren't on and off in 20 minutes, either; they played for hours and hours seven days a week, two shows a day sometimes. Six hours a night in Hamburg.

And they recorded a dozen singles and six albums that you may be familiar with during that period, too. George Harrison wasn't yet 22 years old.


mj said...

Two shows seven days a week sounds like a lot of work.
I thought playing in a band was just happy fun!
We want to dream our way to the top not work.

Mr. Poe said...

For a lot of people, playing in a band--with all of the hard work--is "happy fun".

Besides, the bands that mourn the work that it takes to make it to the top aren't likely to ever make it there. You can feel when a band cares about their music, and that's what makes it great.

Oh, and practice makes perfect.

mj said...

Mr Poe,

I love you and I was just teasing.

Many wanna be musicians and a lot of them are great at what they do want to dream their way to stardom and forget that music is a lot of work. For some reason I know a lot of them.

There is nothing more fun to me than practicing and I'm just a silly armature. The thought of playing two shows a day would do me in so my admiration for real musicians is great.
My bad humor was not expressed well, sorry.

Mr. Poe said...

Message received, and duly noted.

Fnarf said...

Now, now, kids. No squabbling.

My intention was not pedagogical; I'm not suggesting that bands need to work harder. I'm just offering this up for your amazement: that's a lot of fuckin' gigs!

mj said...

I'm borrowing Collen's dictionary to look up pedagogical and I was just joking. I can't help it if you and Mr. Poe don't get my sophisticated humor.
xoxo to both of you... Don't gag!

Mr. Poe said...

I don't understand anything. I'm a fucking surplus. Kill me.

Gurldoggie said...

And you don't even mention the not-inconsequential amount of drugs they were taking, which makes the whole thing even more impressive.

Fnarf said...

I think the drugs made it possible; they were gobbling enormous quantities of speed during most of this time. Pot later, and acid, of course, but the Hamburg/Cavern days were speed, speed, speed.

Planet Mondo said...

Elvis seventies schedule was pretty punishing too