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Miming
17 March 2010
3.07am
McLerristarr
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On quite a few TV programmes The Beatles mime to their music but on some they don't. Why is this? Do certain programmes allow it and others don't? I read that originally the BBC had an anti-miming policy. Why didn't The Beatles always perform the songs live? They were certainly capable of it. Why did they apparantly perform live vocals for Hey Jude and Revolution but not peform live instruments?

What do people think of their various miming efforts?

Also, how do you mime to the drums? I've never understood that.

Comments...

17 March 2010
10.20am
Joe
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Good question. I don't know for sure but I'll give it a go.

In the UK in the 60s live music was more strictly controlled by broadcast and musicians' trade unions. There were limits for playing too much recorded music on radio, for example, which is why there were so many live sessions recorded. That's not related directly to the miming issue but might help illustrate how things were different then.

I don't know if TV and radio had similar union rules, but I think it's the reason why they did live vocals for Hey Jude/Revolution - to fool people into thinking it was a live performance.

I suspect, though, that with a lot of the music shows in the 60s they couldn't afford to accommodate all the various bands' kit, mic them all up and provide decent recordings. It was far easier and cheaper to bring the groups in with their instruments, sit them up on a stage and film them with nothing plugged in. Bear in mind that The Beatles often did two or three songs on programmes that featured a lot of other performers (think Ready Steady Go! or Top Of The Pops).

That contradicts my earlier claims about unions' limits on pre-recorded music, however, so I'm really not sure what the deal was with TV. Anyone else have more info?

As for miming to the drums, it's easy if there aren't any microphones on your kit.

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17 March 2010
10.25am
McLerristarr
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Joe said:

Good question. I don't know for sure but I'll give it a go.

In the UK in the 60s live music was more strictly controlled by broadcast and musicians' trade unions. There were limits for playing too much recorded music on radio, for example, which is why there were so many live sessions recorded. That's not related directly to the miming issue but might help illustrate how things were different then.

I don't know if TV and radio had similar union rules, but I think it's the reason why they did live vocals for Hey Jude/Revolution - to fool people into thinking it was a live performance.

I suspect, though, that with a lot of the music shows in the 60s they couldn't afford to accommodate all the various bands' kit, mic them all up and provide decent recordings. It was far easier and cheaper to bring the groups in with their instruments, sit them up on a stage and film them with nothing plugged in. Bear in mind that The Beatles often did two or three songs on programmes that featured a lot of other performers (think Ready Steady Go! or Top Of The Pops).

That contradicts my earlier claims about unions' limits on pre-recorded music, however, so I'm really not sure what the deal was with TV. Anyone else have more info?

As for miming to the drums, it's easy if there aren't any microphones on your kit.


 

Thanks for that info.

I guess you're right with the drums. I don't think I've ever heard drums in large spaces without mics, I've only heard drums with mics or in relatively small spaces (like my garage).

17 March 2010
12.59pm
mjb
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I think you're right Joe - it was all about time constraints and resources - not to mention costs!

I think it all changed around 1967 because if I remember correctly the BBC banned Hello Goodbye from being shown as they were miming and that upset the Union (as you stated).

If you go back through the Top of the Pops archives you'll notice there came a period where groups started performing live - or at least sang to a pre-recorded backing track which seemed to be acceptable.

"If we feel our heads starting to swell.....we just look at Ringo!"
17 March 2010
1.06pm
mjb
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This about Top of the Pops :

Miming

Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966 — just after the

show had been moved to London — and after discussions with the Musicians' Union, miming was banned.

After a few weeks during which some bands' attempts to play as well as on their records were somewhat lacking, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted – as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. The TOTP Orchestra, led by Johnny Pearson augmented the tracks when necessary. This set-up continued until 1980, when a protracted Musicians' Union strike resulted in the dropping of the live orchestra altogether and the use of pre-recorded tracks only. This accounts for a number of acts who never appeared on the show due to their reluctance to perform in this way.

Highlights have included Jimi Hendrix who, on hearing someone else's track being played by mistake (in the days of live broadcast), mumbled "I don't know the words to that one, man", Shane MacGowan of the Pogues' drunken performance of "Fairytale of New York", a performance of "Roll with It" by Oasis in which Noel and Liam Gallagher exchanged roles with Noel miming to Liam's singing track and Liam pretending to play guitar, and John Peel's appearance as the mandolin soloist for Rod

Stewart on "Maggie May". Two other memorable incidents included performances by Marillion; an appearance for "Garden Party" saw Fish miming perfectly except for the line "I'm miming" (which was changed from the original "I'm fucking" for broadcast

purposes), when he simply pointed at his closed lips. Two years later, Fish lost his voice prior to an appearance for "Lavender" and, despite only needing to mime, had the lyrics placed on large pieces of card and flipped them over in time with the recorded version.

For virtually the whole "Live Sound" period, the Sound Supervisor was the late Dickie Chamberlain, who skillfully reproduced the sound of the original discs with a fraction of the kit available in the recording studios.

The miming policy also led to the occasional technical hitch. A famous example of this is the performance of "Martha's Harbour" in 1988 by All About Eve where the televised audience could hear the song but the band could not. As the opening verse of the song beamed out of the nation's television sets, the unknowing lead singer Julianne Regan remained silent on a stool on stage while Tim Bricheno (the only other band member present) did not play his guitar. An unseen stagehand apparently prompted them that something was wrong in time to mime along to the second verse. The band were invited back the following week, and chose to sing live.

Another hitch was Simon Le Bon singing with Duran Duran. He was posing with his microphone which promptly flew off the stage and he was left to sing into a microphone stand…he just shrugged his shoulders and carried on. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. had such difficulty miming "Orange Crush" on the show, he used a megaphone to cover his mouth throughout the performance.

In 1980, the then fledgling heavy metal superstars Iron Maiden became the first band to play live on the show since The Who

in 1972, when they refused to mime to their single "Running Free".

For a few years from 1991 the show adopted a live vocal to pre-recorded backing track policy. Kurt Cobain on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" dropped his voice an octave and changed the opening line to "Load up on drugs, kill your friends"; the band also made it very clear that they were not playing their instruments. (Kurt later said during an interview that he wanted to sound more like Morrissey during the performance). It also exposed a number of poor live singers, and was dropped as a general rule. It was not helped by the fact that it coincided with a sudden upsurge of chart success for dance tracks which were heavily sample-based and whose sound could not easily be reproduced in a TV studio – sampled vocals from other tracks had to be sung live.

One example of an artist who was exposed as a poor live singer was Kelly Overett of the Italian Eurodance act Cappella.

During a 1994 performance on the show she sang "Move on Baby," but it was evident that her performance on the show would

also lead to questions about whether she actually sang on the group's songs. Those questions would later be answered several months later when Overett was dropped by Cappella and having admitted that she never sang on any of their recordings.

t.A.T.u used playback for Yulia Volkova because of her vocal fold cyst in 2003 when performing "Not Gonna Get Us".

In its final few years miming had become less and less common, especially for bands, as studio technology became more reliable and artists were given the freedom to choose their performance style. Former Executive Producer, Andi Peters, stated that there was "no policy" on miming and said that it was entirely up to the performer if they wanted to sing live or mime.

"If we feel our heads starting to swell.....we just look at Ringo!"
17 March 2010
1.06pm
McLerristarr
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Carnegie Hall
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13 November 2009
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Why did The Beatles mime to a pre-recorded backing track on Around The Beatles? Was it simply because they wanted to do a live performance but wanted it to be perfect because it was a TV production? I'm sure time restraints came into it as well, it would have been easier to have a recording session for the music than to keep redoing takes for the TV programme.

I guess I answered my own question. a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

17 March 2010
1.14pm
McLerristarr
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Carnegie Hall
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Member Since:
13 November 2009
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mjb said:

This about Top of the Pops :

Miming

Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966 — just after the

show had been moved to London — and after discussions with the Musicians' Union, miming was banned.

After a few weeks during which some bands' attempts to play as well as on their records were somewhat lacking, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted – as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. The TOTP Orchestra, led by Johnny Pearson augmented the tracks when necessary. This set-up continued until 1980, when a protracted Musicians' Union strike resulted in the dropping of the live orchestra altogether and the use of pre-recorded tracks only. This accounts for a number of acts who never appeared on the show due to their reluctance to perform in this way.

Highlights have included Jimi Hendrix who, on hearing someone else's track being played by mistake (in the days of live broadcast), mumbled "I don't know the words to that one, man", Shane MacGowan of the Pogues' drunken performance of "Fairytale of New York", a performance of "Roll with It" by Oasis in which Noel and Liam Gallagher exchanged roles with Noel miming to Liam's singing track and Liam pretending to play guitar, and John Peel's appearance as the mandolin soloist for Rod

Stewart on "Maggie May". Two other memorable incidents included performances by Marillion; an appearance for "Garden Party" saw Fish miming perfectly except for the line "I'm miming" (which was changed from the original "I'm fucking" for broadcast

purposes), when he simply pointed at his closed lips. Two years later, Fish lost his voice prior to an appearance for "Lavender" and, despite only needing to mime, had the lyrics placed on large pieces of card and flipped them over in time with the recorded version.

For virtually the whole "Live Sound" period, the Sound Supervisor was the late Dickie Chamberlain, who skillfully reproduced the sound of the original discs with a fraction of the kit available in the recording studios.

The miming policy also led to the occasional technical hitch. A famous example of this is the performance of "Martha's Harbour" in 1988 by All About Eve where the televised audience could hear the song but the band could not. As the opening verse of the song beamed out of the nation's television sets, the unknowing lead singer Julianne Regan remained silent on a stool on stage while Tim Bricheno (the only other band member present) did not play his guitar. An unseen stagehand apparently prompted them that something was wrong in time to mime along to the second verse. The band were invited back the following week, and chose to sing live.

Another hitch was Simon Le Bon singing with Duran Duran. He was posing with his microphone which promptly flew off the stage and he was left to sing into a microphone stand…he just shrugged his shoulders and carried on. Michael Stipe of R.E.M. had such difficulty miming "Orange Crush" on the show, he used a megaphone to cover his mouth throughout the performance.

In 1980, the then fledgling heavy metal superstars Iron Maiden became the first band to play live on the show since The Who

in 1972, when they refused to mime to their single "Running Free".

For a few years from 1991 the show adopted a live vocal to pre-recorded backing track policy. Kurt Cobain on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" dropped his voice an octave and changed the opening line to "Load up on drugs, kill your friends"; the band also made it very clear that they were not playing their instruments. (Kurt later said during an interview that he wanted to sound more like Morrissey during the performance). It also exposed a number of poor live singers, and was dropped as a general rule. It was not helped by the fact that it coincided with a sudden upsurge of chart success for dance tracks which were heavily sample-based and whose sound could not easily be reproduced in a TV studio – sampled vocals from other tracks had to be sung live.

One example of an artist who was exposed as a poor live singer was Kelly Overett of the Italian Eurodance act Cappella.

During a 1994 performance on the show she sang "Move on Baby," but it was evident that her performance on the show would

also lead to questions about whether she actually sang on the group's songs. Those questions would later be answered several months later when Overett was dropped by Cappella and having admitted that she never sang on any of their recordings.

t.A.T.u used playback for Yulia Volkova because of her vocal fold cyst in 2003 when performing "Not Gonna Get Us".

In its final few years miming had become less and less common, especially for bands, as studio technology became more reliable and artists were given the freedom to choose their performance style. Former Executive Producer, Andi Peters, stated that there was "no policy" on miming and said that it was entirely up to the performer if they wanted to sing live or mime.


 

Ha, it's interesting to read some of those stories. I read another one on Wikipedia about Band Aid miming to Do They Know It's Christmas? Bono didn't show up so Paul Weller mimed to his voice. That must have looked odd.

 

17 March 2010
2.39pm
Joe
Pepperland
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Yeah, I remember seeing that when it first screened. It did look a little odd but Top Of The Pops was so full of miming in the 1980s it barely made an impact. See for yourself:

Please don't spoil my day; I'm miles away

Can buy me love! Please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

18 March 2010
8.55am
McLerristarr
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13 November 2009
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 Joe said:

Yeah, I remember seeing that when it first screened. It did look a little odd but Top Of The Pops was so full of miming in the 1980s it barely made an impact. See for yourself:


 

Won't play on this site apparently but I'll look it up on YouTube. Thanks.

13 September 2013
12.08pm
sheldi
A Beginning
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22 August 2013
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I've filmed videos in whatever band I've been in, you don't half feel like a right idiot when you're miming ... pretending to play guitar and looking like a goldfish when you're miming vocals ...

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