Old Friends, Bookends… Today I Turn 70

Woke up, Fell out of bed and decided to write this stream of consciousness as I celebrate this wonderful occasion of what it is like to be 70. I don’t know how long this will be, and I may ramble, but so be it. It occurred to me that it turns out that music has been at the center of my life from the beginning. My father, Danny, was a musician (sax player) and band leader. From my earliest days I loved music. My first records were 78 RPM at the birth of rock and roll. Listening to the top 40 stations we got a sprinkling of all the music that was popular at the time. Having the opportunity to see the popular artists of the time live on stage at Kutsher’s Country Club in the Catskills from 1957 where Dad would be the bandleader for the next 41 years. His only music idol was Louis Armstrong. I can remember when he played there in the summer of 1958.  There was Dad leading the band for this icon who later was named the greatest American musician of the 20thCentury. Meeting him backstage after the show was a moment that still hangs on my wall at home. My father and Louis shaking hands. His expression is one of pure joy. I must have felt something at that moment because it would happen to me in another 6 years.

 

We meet many people along the way, some become friends for awhile, some for life. Mike Quittman and I met at Kutsher’s that first summer and became friends, very competitive in all games – Ping Pong, Nok Hockey, then golf, the other love of my life. Mike and I used to go to all the shows together, seeing this wide variety of music and other entertainment. We sat at the side of the stage and I was always very proud to see Dad leading the band. Mike also loves music – 50s and 60s rock and roll and still does (though not to the same level). This 60 + year friendship is my oldest and we still get together and still go to concerts. I love you Mike.

 

January 6,1964 – That moment when I am grabbed by music bigtime and it never let go. I first heard I Want To Hold Your Hand. I just wrote about this 13 days ago, so will skip the details now, but I didn’t know at that moment, how one song and one band could truly alter the lives of an entire generation and beyond.

 

September, 1965 Off to Adelphi University. One of the first guys I met was Bob Stirber. He also played guitar, as I (and millions of others) did because of The Beatles. We weren’t roommates, but we certainly bonded quickly and became roommates and best friends by our second year. As our eyes and souls were being opened to a new world, we talked endlessly about everything. In 1969, we graduated and went to Europe for 2 months. First stop was London and 3 Savile Row, Friday, June 13. Now, Bob loved the Beatles but wasn’t in the same hard core fan category I was in. It was our first stop because I wanted to meet the Beatles and this was their office.  John walked out of the office to look at a Fireplace that was in a truck that had just driven up. I said hello, shook his hand, got his autograph, took some photos and had a nice short little conversation with him. Another bigtime life changing moment. I walked around London that evening looking at my hand and saying “ I shook one of god’s hands”. Clearly Bob thought I was overboard. I also said to Bob, I want to work for The Beatles! In Amsterdam, Bob buys a guitar and we spend most evenings playing Beatles music (and others) in parks in every city we visited. Their music was truly universal, wherever we went, even if they didn’t speak our language, they knew the songs. My only professional gig as a musician was with Bob at a school on Long Island. We were paid $20.00 each. Bob and I remained close but time and distance got in the way. He was an early advocate of eating organic foods and how to stay healthy. Bob didn’t make it to 70. He died of cancer almost 3 years ago. I love you and miss you, Bob.

 

August 15-17, 1969 – Woodstock. After returning from Europe a week earlier, in time to be the best man at my brother Howard’s wedding. I love my brother, Ilene and their entire family, but Howard didn’t get Dad’s genes when it comes to music. I did!! (We both got his love of golf, however.) So, I go up to Kutsher’s for the rest of the summer, only to find out that this little music festival was only 13 miles away! I went all three days and was exposed to so many great groups who I only knew their hits from. This was another one of those life changing moments. I decided that I have to work in the music industry. Yes, in 1969, my record collection was just beginning to change from singles to albums. Of course I had all the Beatles albums and some Stones too, but that suddenly changed.

 

October 1, 1969 – Out of College, Money Spent, See No Future, Pay No Rent. I head over to Sam Goody, the large record store chain in the east, to try to find a job. The Beatles got in the way. Abbey Road was released that very day and of course I had to immediately buy it and go home to listen to it, forgoing the job application idea. I am again overwhelmed with their music. My first thought was How did Paul McCartney know my exact situation in life at that exact moment? I don’t know, but he did. Next day I got a job at Sam Goody and found out I loved retail, especially selling music. It was certainly a lifestyle by then and I felt it.

 

Late, 1969 -Roger Berkley is hired as a part time record salesperson. We very quickly become friends. Roger was one of the first people I told of my idea in 1974 about Beatlefest. He was all in on it from day one. He ended up being the auctioneer at the first Fest and the announcer on the documentary we made, called Welcome to Pepperland. Roger and I have remained best of friends ever since. Roger used to live on the upper west side of NYC and would bump into John on numerous occasions. One such time was in 1979 about a week before a Fest, He asked John if he had a message for the fans. He said, Tell them, The Music was the Thing.  Roger is also a golf nut and his family has been part of the shows forever. Today, I am concerned about Roger. He has had a couple of surgeries this week and is in recovery. We all hope for a full recovery. We want the Roger we know and back. We have to be optimistic. I love you Roger.

 

August 17, 1975 – My first date with Carol. I brought my guitar, went out for Chinese food, came back and saw her record collection – Beatles, Concert for Bangladesh, Joni Mitchell, Aztec Two Step, and many others that adorned my own collection. Again it was a musical connection. Our second date was the second Beatlefest. We married in June, 1976. I walked down the aisle to my favorite song, Hey Jude. I played Here Comes The Sun to her during the wedding while in my White tuxedo. We are married 42 years and Carol is the love of my life.  Michelle is now 33 and is recording an album as I am writing this. Jessica turns 30 in a few months and is wise beyond their years. I love my family so much.

 

It just occurred to me yesterday, the words that John sent to us in 1979 Tell them, The Music was the Thing was not just about the Beatles, but in life itself. My longest friendships, my Father, my Mother, my Wife, had music at the core. A love of music is of monumental importance in my life. I remember Dad telling me how lucky he was to be able to play music for a living. He did what he loved the most (other than golf). Dad and John also shared their birthday – October 9th.  So there it is. My life as seen through these 70 year young eyes – my father’s words and John’s words (and of course, The Beatles) led me to a career which I absolutely love. And it is all centered around music! I am a very lucky man.

It has been a great thrill and honor to have personally met John, Paul, George and Ringo and almost everyone involved in the Beatles story. Presenting their friends and family at the conventions for the past 44 years, have given us all insight into just how their ‘team’ was so important to them. The friends we have made at the Fests over the years are much more than friends. Our staff are very much part of our extended family. I love you all very much. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

 

All you need is love,

Mark Lapidos

A baby boomer and very proud of it

 

Written January 19, 2018 5:30AM            

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John approved my FEST idea 41 years ago today!

April 28, 1974. It was a warm Sunday – 81 was the high for the day in New York’s Central Park. Warm enough to wear my new Beatles 10th Anniversary Promotional T-Shirt to listen to John Lennon and Harry Nilsson talk to Cousin Brucie on stage during the first March of Dimes event. (It wasn’t a walkathon the first year but it has been every year since.) I told this story in a very detailed manner at the three FESTS in 2014 and was thrilled and humbled by the response. I will not retell that today. I just wanted to say hi and to let you know it was the greatest non family day in my life. Getting to see John (and it was because of that shirt I was wearing!) that day was an absolute thrill and to actually sit down with him only minutes after his appearance, in his hotel suite to tell him my idea of a Beatles fans’ celebration – well, what could be better. I can still hear him say those words to me – “I’m All For It. I’m a Beatles Fan, Too!”  It was the day that permanently altered my life. It has been a thrill and an honor to be able to have presented 123 National Beatles FESTS all around the country since then. The best thing about the FESTS is the coming together of Beatles fans from all over the world to celebrate our common love for the Beatles. There can no longer be a doubt their music will live forever!

Peace and Love!

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Mark hears I Want To Hold Your Hand – 1st Time 1/6/64

It was fifty years ago today, January 6, 1964 that I first heard I Want To Hold Your Hand. It was a moment that forever changed my life and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the first day back from the two week Christmas/New Year’s vacation where i had no access to radio. I was listening to WABC on the Scott Muni Show. I was doing my homework and the song came on the radio. I got so excited. I never heard ANYTHING that sounded like that before. I wanted to know who it was. I was hooked before the song was over. Scottso came on and said that it was by a group from England called The Beatles. My first thought was ‘What a strange name!’ The very next day, Tuesday, was new survey day and I came home from school and it was #1. It was still #1 when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show almost five weeks later.

Mark Lapidos, January 6, 2014

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A Day to Celebrate and Remember John

John on the set of Help, 1965

33 years later, we still have trouble getting through this day. It was the most senseless moment in our lifetime. Yet, we must accept it and try to honor John the best way we can, through his music and message of Peace and Love. What can you do to further that powerful message to change the world for the better? Of course, our thoughts are always with Yoko, Sean and Julian on this day as well. So, go ahead, listen to a Breakfast With The Beatles show – all are saluting and celebrating John’s meteoric life today. His music is always going to be part of the fabric of our lives. And that alone, makes us want to Celebrate the life of John Lennon on this day. On a personal note, those times I spent with John ranks up near the top of my most cherished moments of my life. We all shine on…

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We Remember George

November 29th – On this day in 2001, George Harrison passed. 12 years of reflecting on his singular legacy he left on this planet doesn’t make it much easier. Yes we do have his incredible music to put a smile on our faces, to make us think about the world, and how we fit into it, to improve the human condition, to improve ourselves, and to enjoy life more! That, in itself, is an enormous achievement. On that note, we make our yearly plea to those of you who still smoke cigarettes. Smoking leads to lung cancer and this is what took George from us. He didn’t know it in the 50s when he became a teenager. But now everybody know that cigarettes kill people – 1,200 every day, just in U.S.. That is more than 430,000 people every year. And it doesn’t just affect the smokers, but thousands die every year from second hand smoke. So for those of you who still smoke, we urge you, on this day we remember George, to finally give them up and mean it this year. You and your family and friends who love you will be thankful. Now let’s all go listen to George’s music today.

Peace and love.

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Mark Lewisohn to sign more copies of Tune In

If you checked our facebook page yesterday, you already know that Mark Lewisohn signed a staggering 500 copies of his must have new book, Tune In: The Beatles All These Years, Volume 1. There were about 60 unsold, we sent out an email blast and they sold in 90 minutes. So many tried to purchase it last night, so I contacted Mark and asked if he would sign another 300 copies. He graciously said yes and it looks like they will be signed tomorrow. So if you haven’t ordered it yet, do not delay. This is the Beatles book that will go down as, perhaps the greatest Beatles book ever! And this is only Volume One – 932 pages that covers the ‘boys’ from the beginning through December 31, 1962. The publication date is next Tuesday. We start shipping out tomorrow so most will have their pre-ordered copies on or close to the 29th.  The photo is from yeesterday’s signing.

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“Out of College, Money Spent….” 10/1/1969

My Summer of ’69: Graduated college, went to Europe with my friend Bob, met John Lennon on 6/13/69 in front of the Apple offices. Walked around London all evening saying I want to work for The Beatles. Wandered for almost two months with a guitar and a wheel of Edam cheese, came back, went to my brother’s wedding, went to Woodstock, decided I had to be in the music business. October 1, 1969, I was out of college, my money was spent, I couldn’t find a job, and I lived at home (pay no rent). I decided to go to Sam Goody (large East Coast Record Chain) to try to get a job selling (Beatles) records. I walked into the store, and there it was, THAT cover, no writing, just an image of the four most recognized people on the planet walking across a street. Of course, I forgot all about asking about a job, bought the record (the actual one I am holding here – still in its original wrapping, just sliced open on the side) and went home to listen to it all night. “Out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent…” How did these four guys from Liverpool know EXACTLY where I was in my life on the exact day of its release?! I went back for an interview the next day, got the job, and was on my way to a wonderful 5 year career.

I may have “seen no future” then, but it was this job that led me to my idea of a 10th Anniversary Celebration of The Beatles Arrival in America.

“One sweet dream came true today! “

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Sold Out of Signed Copies of the Tune In Book!

9/11 – 6:00AM EDT: Because of the overwhelming response to our special offer of signed copies of Mark Lewisohn’s forthcoming book, Tune In, we have ended the offer. Mark can only sign so many copies in the time he will have while in NYC around the time of publication (10/29/13). We thank all of you for your response to what is going to be the biggest Beatles Book event since The Beatles Anthology Book was published 13 years ago. You may still pre-order the book but don’t expect it to arrive signed. We, and Mark thank you for such a positive response to his book. We also personally thank Mark for agreeing to sign such a large amount of books for our customers.

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39 Years Ago Today (9/7/1974) – First FEST

39 years ago today, Saturday, September 7, 1974, we opened the doors to our first Beatles Celebration – then called Beatlefest. It took place at the Commodore Hotel on 42nd Street in New York City. I didn’t know what to expect. My brain was overloading with details. Did I forget anything? Was everybody going to show up? Was John going to surprise everyone and show up to pick the winner of the signed guitar he donated for charity? An amazing calm came over me the moment I came down to the main ballroom and saw the entire ballroom completely filled with fans, and then I realized that all these fans were here because of my idea of a 10th Anniversary Celebration of The Beatles Arrival in America. 8,000 people showed up over that weekend. I was interviewed by the NY Times (it appeared in the 9/8/74 edition, plus we made the covers of both Rolling Stone and UK’s Meloday Maker. I had no idea I would put on another FEST the next year, but thanks to all the calls and letters we received, I did and it has been an annual event ever since. Soon after, we started holding them in other cities, too! Now 119 FESTS and all these years later, we find ourselves gearing up for our 40th Anniversary Celebration at the same site, now called the Grand Hyatt and on the EXACT 50th Anniversary of the days The Beatles Arrived in America and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 7-9, 2014. It has been quite a journey for the Lapidos Family, and the best part has been meeting so many other fans over the years and to have been able to present and meet guests who have been an integral part of The Beatles Story. Thank you for a wonderful 39 years, so far…

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