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Fabulous Flip Sides In Memoriam – Yellow Submarine Animator Ron Campbell

Animator Ron Campbell is remembered, and Fanny’s June Millington looks back at the song “Hey Bulldog” on this “Yellow Submarine” film anniversary weekend
Ron Campbell, WMGK Classic Rock Art Show, Bensalem, PA, May 2013, photo by Alex Lowy Photography

Ron Campbell, WMGK Classic Rock Art Show, Bensalem, PA, May 2013, photo by Alex Lowy Photography

This weekend in 1968, the colorfully animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine debuted in the U.S. with animators including Ron Campbell, who passed away earlier this year at age 81. Being an animator is something that Campbell dreamed of since he was six years old when he learned that the short films of Tom & Jerry that he saw in the theaters were made from drawings which could come to life. In the 1960s he was a cartoonist for Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Krazy Kat, and was key in the animated series The Beatles, that ran from 1965 through 1969. Ringo Starr said to the other Beatles about the show, “Hey guys, they made me the idiot.” In 1968, when the Yellow Submarine film was running behind schedule, Campbell was brought in to save the day. His scenes included the “Sea of Time” sequence and scenes featuring Nowhere Man, Chief Blue Meanie and Max.

After Yellow Submarine, Campbell wrote and animated George of the Jungle and segments for Sesame Street. He animated, produced and directed several cartoons including The Smurfs, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and Rugrats. After retiring from animation, he focused his time on creating paintings based on his cartoon career, and touring with his paintings, meeting fans and creating new paintings at the shows.

Ron Campbell and Brianna Kurtz, Sunny FM Rock Art Show, Daytona Beach, FL, September 2011

Ron Campbell and Brianna Kurtz, Sunny FM Rock Art Show, Daytona Beach, FL, September 2011

Among Ron Campbell’s colorful creations at the art shows was his version of Abbey Road which drew upon the Yellow Submarine art style, combining these two 1969 Apple albums.

Ron Campbell’s “Abbey Road” painting in the “Yellow Submarine” art style

Ron Campbell’s “Abbey Road” painting in the “Yellow Submarine” art style

The Yellow Submarine soundtrack album included four new songs from The Beatles, the Lennon and McCartney compositions “All Together Now” and “Hey Bulldog” along with George Harrison’s “Only a Northern Song” and “It’s All Too Much” with a catchy bounce which would be echoed in 1972 on Three Dog Night’s “The Family of Man.”

1969 soundtrack album autographed by Ron Campbell in 2011

1969 soundtrack album autographed by Ron Campbell in 2011

The same year when Three Dog Night’s “The Family of Man” was a hit in the U.S., an Apple single was finally released in Europe from the Yellow Submarine album. The A side was the fun “All Together Now” with the flip side being the edgier “Hey Bulldog.”

Yellow picture sleeve

The Beatles

Flip side: Hey Bulldog

A side: All Together Now

Europe single debut: 1972


Yellow 45s

Back in the U.S., the quartet Fanny also released their version of that Beatles flip side on their 1972 album Fanny Hill and inserted an additional verse, which fit so well.

Back row: Jean Millington – bass, June Millington – guitar, Alice DeBuhr - drums, bottom: Nickey Barclay – keyboards, 1972

Back row: Jean Millington – bass, June Millington – guitar, Alice DeBuhr - drums, bottom: Nickey Barclay – keyboards, 1972

Goldmine spoke with Fanny’s June Millington about their version of “Hey Bulldog” and more.

GOLDMINE: I love your version of “Hey Bulldog” including your guitar solo. What made you decide to record this Beatles song?

JUNE MILLINGTON: The seduction and the power of the song overwhelmed all of us, so we put it on our list. We had been playing that song around town in small halls and clubs for months. Everything that we played wasn’t made up in the studio. We were very familiar with that track. We loved the words. I remember writing the extra verse at the house. It was so much fun, and the song really spoke to us. John Lennon wrote that song because he loved the James Bond theme song, which we didn’t know at the time. It sounds really powerful. John and Paul’s songs had really clever chordal arrangements. We couldn’t resist it. It may have been a fun throwaway song for The Beatles, but we took it seriously. I remember me, Jean and Nickey singing around one microphone. During those takes we did the animal sounds and had fun.

GM: It is powerful and fun, and I do like your extra hedgehog leapfrog verse, which fits so well. You have been touring a bit, supporting your new documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock. I know with The Go-Go’s just inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there is quite a movement to get Fanny inducted in the future.

Yellow Fanny doc

JM: As the documentary has moved from city to city, I have been very happy to join in question and answer sessions after the film in cities that I have been able to get to. I particularly like to perform with young bands at those events, too. One band was an all women group in Montreal. These bands are attacking Fanny music with such zeal and I get to sit in, and that’s really wonderful. I love hearing what they come up with. In Montreal they played “Ain’t That Peculiar.” I saw it on their list. I had a lot of trepidation about them doing it, but it turned out perfect. I love living through the reinterpretations of other bands doing Fanny. It is just fantastic! I also like performing solo, like I did in Boston. I had a ball playing songs including one that will be on our upcoming album, “Girls Don’t Dream.” In L.A., although Jean couldn’t be there and join, which I wish she could have, many Fanny members joined, Brie Howard, Patti Quatro, Alice DeBuhr along with other musicians including Sherry Rayn Barnett, who has also taken a lot of photos of us over the years.

GM: You mentioned the upcoming album. My favorite song from your prior album Fanny Walked the Earth was “When We Meet Her” where members of The Bangles joined you.

JM: Yes, a whole bunch of women joined on that one. It is a real anthem.

GM: Fanny has gone through health issues in recent years. I am happy for your cancer recovery. How is Jean doing?

JM: Jean had a stroke three years ago and it has impacted one side of her, which she has to work at all the time to try to get it to function. It is an uphill battle, but she is doing it. Thank God she is still here. It was close. I am thankful and I miss her every time I play because nobody plays like Jean.

GM: I remember when Jean was back in the Top 40 in 1975 with “Butter Boy.”

JM: Those were interesting times. Jean was in my house in Woodstock during an incredible snowstorm when everything was locked up. We were sitting, having coffee, and Hollywood called and said, “Get back here, you’ve got a hit!” Ha ha. I somehow got her to the airport in New York and she went back to L.A. and about a week later she asked if I would do the last tour with her and that is how I got reinvolved with playing with Fanny.

GM: I first became aware of Fanny fifty years ago. I was watching The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour with my dad. You played “Charity Ball.” I loved it and I bought the album.

JM: That had to totally galvanize you because there wasn’t anything like it. It makes me crazy, even now, when people say that they thought we were a gimmick. We didn’t think so. We worked so hard. We were totally serious about mastering the grooves and understanding the arrangements and vocal harmonies. We studied backup parts from Motown.

GM: In addition to your original compositions, you also did some wonderful covers.

JM: “Ain’t That Peculiar” is a case in point. The new album will include a song that I wrote during that period of time called “The Ballad of Fanny.” No one was interested at the time because we were Fanny, but now in retrospect it is really cool. There are songs from our past that we have rerecorded too.

GM: I am looking forward to joining you online for your Institute for the Musical Arts fundraiser show on the 20th.

JM: Thank you and I look forward to talking with you again next year about the new album.

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