The more I listened to it, the more I decided I didn't like the guitar sound I had. It was crap

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The Continental

To complete their new single 'Help!' a flip-side was needed. 'I'm Down' was recorded with McCartney tearing through one of his best rocking vocal performances to date. The song featured another new instrument, a Vox Continental Portable organ, which Lennon played. Later he would use it for live performances of the song, too.

Production of the British-made solid-state Continental began in 1962, although in years to come Vox would manufacture their organs m Italy. The Continental Portable model that The Beatles used had a four-octave keyboard. Wood-weighted black and white keys, reversed from the conventional arrangement so that the main notes were black, along with a detachable chrome Z-shape frame stand and bright orange top helped to give the Continental its classic 1960s futuristic look. The Continental Portable retailed for £262/10/- (£262.50, about $735 then; around £3,030 or $4,250 in today's money).

The unique full-toned voice of the Continental organ, with built-in vibrato, was popular not only with The Beatles but became a key sound with other British groups such as The Dave Clark Five, Manfred Mann, The Zombies and, most notably, The Animals and their hit 'The House Of The Rising Sun' with Alan Price on Continental. The Continental can also be heard on a number of American hit records by groups including Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Blues Magoos, and especially on the Question Mark & The Mysterians hit '96 Tears'. Yet again The Beatles had popularised a distinctive new voice in pop music. As with the Rickenbacker 12-strmg guitar, the sound of the Vox Continental organ became virtually synonymous with the 1960s.

As always, Epstein kept the group working at a keen pace. A brief 14-day tour of mainland Europe was next, with slops in France, Italy and Spain, commencing in Paris on June 20th. After two shows there the group travelled to Lyon for two more performances on June 22nd, and from there to Milan, Italy, where they performed another two shows. Further concerts occurred the following day in Genoa, Italy, and then four shows in Rome on June 27th and 28th. From Italy they flew back to France for a performance in Nice, after which they went to Madrid, Spain, for a single show in a bullring on July 2nd and then one more concert, in Barcelona, on July 3rd.

Equipment was unchanged: Harrison favoured his Gretsch Tennessean, alternating with his Rickenbacker 12-string and keeping his Gretsch Country Gent close by as a spare. Lennon used his Rickenbacker 325, with J-160E as back-up, and played harmonica with his harp harness on 'I'm A Loser'. Both guitarists used their Vox AC-100 amp rigs. McCartney played his '63 Hofner bass with his refinished '61 along as a spare, going through his Vox AC-100 bass rig. Starr played on his trusty Ludwig 22-inch-bass kit, as for the '64 US tour, and with the same number-four drop-T Beatles logo drum-head.

While in Spain, Lennon acquired a new guitar. A report from the time said it was Lennon who did most shopping during the European tour. "He bought loads of hats and a Spanish guitar," ran the item. "He didn't intend to buy any new instruments but the maker brought the guitar he had just finished to The Beatles' hotel in Madrid and John decided that he would add it to his collection." 6 Lennon was first pictured using his new standard-size Spanish-made classical guitar in the studio during the autumn 1965 Rubber Soul sessions. Through the years he would use it on a few Beatle recordings, as we shall see.

George loses a Gretsch

Back in England, the group attended the July 29th royal premiere of Help! held at the London Pavilion cinema on Piccadilly Circus. Next on the agenda was to prepare for another American tour. So the day after the premiere, the group held a private rehearsal on the stage of the Epstein-run Saville Theatre in London. Here the group ran through songs for fwo important upcoming television programmes as well as their imminent US tour.

The Framus Hootenanny 12-string, played here by George: was used on many sessions throughout 1965, including 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' and 'Help!'

he first of the TV shows, on the following Sunday, was Blackpool Night Out for British ABC. After the Saville Theatre rehearsals the group travelled up to the Lancashire town, just north of Liverpool, but during the journey an incident occurred that depleted the group's instrument collection. The colourful story is told by Beatles' chauffeur Alf Bicknell.

"Prior to leaving," recalls Alf, "roadie Mal Evans had gone on ahead and left me with two guitars, a Rickenbacker and a Country Gentleman. I had to strap these on to the back of the car, because it was very rare for me ever to carry anything like this. We'd left London and probably travelled about 30 or 40 miles, and it was getting a little dark. We passed a big heavy truck, and a few hundred yards down the road Ringo says to me, 'Alf, I think some guy following us is flashing his lights at you.' I pulled over and stopped, got out, and went back to the guy. He said, 'You've just lost a banjo.' So I walked to the back of the car. The straps had broken and one of the guitars was gone."

John Lennon,

reportedly after five minutes on a Mellotron

Bicknell saw that the Rickenbacker case was still in place. By this time road manager Neil Aspinall had got out of the car to have a look. Bicknell wondered aloud what they were going to do. "I asked Neil if he was going to tell them what had happened. He said no, so we stood there arguing for several minutes, not knowing what to say. So then I walked around and opened the passenger door. I leaned in and said, 'John, we just lost a banjo,' trying to make light of it. So he leaned forward and with a whimsical smile on his face said, 'Alf, if you can find the guitar, you can have a bonus.' I said, 'Thanks, John. What's that?' And he says, 'You could have your job back.'"

There then followed some complicated and, for Bicknell, agonising moments as he re-traced their steps and searched for the missing Gretsch. "We found it," he remembers, "which was quite a surprise to everybody. We found a piece here and a piece there and pieces all over. The guitar and its case were smashed to bits. I'm convinced it was the big truck we passed that ran over it. We never even bothered to pick it up, but just left it there lying in the street, because by now we were pushed for time. Nobody blamed me after that - nothing more was said about it. It just turned out to be one big joke." 7 The guitar lost was Harrison's first Gretsch Country Gentleman, with the dual "screw-down" mutes, which by this time was carried only as a spare. The guitarist's favoured Country Gentleman, his second, with dual "flip-up" mutes, managed to survive with Harrison throughout the remainder of 1965.

The Beatles themselves arrived safely in Blackpool and spent the afternoon of Sunday August 1st on-stage at the city's ABC Theatre rehearsing for the evening's live performance. They played six songs: 'I'm Down', 'Act Naturally', 'I Feel Fine', 'Ticket To Ride', 'Yesterday' and 'Help!', the last four of which can be heard on Anthology 2. The group had their familiar backline for the show, as used during the recent European tour. Lennon and Harrison played through their Vox AC-100 guitar amps and McCartney through his Vox AC-100 bass rig. Harrison used his Gretsch Tennessean, alternating with his Rickenbacker 12-string, and with his second Gretsch Country Gentleman as a spare. Lennon played his Rickenbacker 325, while McCartney used his trustv '63 Hofner bass. Starr played the 22-inch-bass Ludwig kit with number-four drop-T logo. But there were also a few additions to the live equipment. For the first lime 'Yesterday' was performed live, for which McCartney played his Epiphone Texan, accompanied by a string quartet. For 'I'm Down' Lennon sat and played the Vox Continental Portable organ, which was plugged into a Vox AC-30 amp-and-speaker combo.

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