Today in Beatles history: Free As A Bird premieres

On today’s date in 1995, the first part of The Beatles Anthology premiered on ABC…
 
Remembers Fest Founder Mark Lapidos:
 
It was a Sunday night and the excitement was building all evening as they kept promoting the first new Beatles song in 25 years. Of course it was ‘Free As A Bird,’ and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It aired at the end of the show with the promo film, which blew everybody away with all those Beatles references. It received blanket coverage and airplay the next day on almost every radio station and newscast in the country.
 
Capitol even arranged for Beatles Anthology 1 to be in the stores on the next day (Monday), not Tuesday as had been the case for decades. It was a monumental effort to make that happen, and the CD went to #1 and sold a staggering 3 1/2 million copies. ‘Free As a Bird’ would have gone right to #1 as well, but the single was delayed and not released until December.
 
Remembers Fest Social Media Manager Danny Abriano:
 
I had recently turned 12 years old, but I was already a Beatles fanatic by the time Part One of the Anthology aired in 1995. With the internet in its infancy and social media nonexistent, there were no leaks or unauthorized sneak previews of ‘Free As A Bird,’ making the premiere at the end of the night on ABC an incredible and unique experience.
 
As soon as the Anthology 1 album was released, I grabbed my copy – on double-cassette. ‘Free As A Bird’ was the first song on the album, and I played the hell out of that song and pretty much everything else on Anthology 1. For someone who wasn’t around when the Beatles were together, seeing and hearing Paul, George, and Ringo play a new song with John was truly amazing.
 
Here’s the ‘Free As A Bird’ video, interspersed with some behind the scenes moments >>

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Chicago FEST 2014 Wrap Up! Next Stop – L.A.

Dear Beatles Family,
 
What a WEEKEND that was! Last weekend, over 4,000 Beatles fans from 30 states and two continents came together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America. We love you all. This is our collective recap…

If you get to the bottom of this and these pics aren’t enough for your vicarious re-living of Chicago Fest, check out all these FACEBOOK ALBUMS:

Carol Lapidos Cam // Danny Abriano Cam1 Cam2 // Michelle Joni Cam1 Cam 2

FAN CAM <—- <—-THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. Keep on sharing your #ChiFest14 pics!

Some of the fan-decorated doors throughout the hotel

The Fest began on Friday, August 15, when the hotel started to fill with fans who gathered for afternoon jams, to decorate their hotel room doors, and to play and belt out songs of the best band that ever was.
 
For this email we’re using lots of FAN CAM pics! The following one is a la @d_davis78. Keep adding them and use hashtag #ChiFest14

From @d_davis78 on Instagram

With the beloved Terri Hemmert serving as emcee (who just posted this pic of having dinner with a Monkee and the XRT radio winners!)…

MC Terri Hemmert with Micky Dolenz and the contest winners

…the Fest officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday as fans came streaming through the lobby and entered the ballroom as the weekend began. Along with our fantastic band ,Liverpool, our musical guests included Peter Noone, Micky Dolenz, Mike Pender of the Searchers, Laurence Juber, Mark Rivera, and Mark Hudson. Friday night continued on with the 60s Dance Party and dress up contest.

Liverpool

After the dance floor cleared, Fest Founder Mark Lapidos shared his story of meeting John Lennon and starting Beatlefest in 1974, with all the bells and whistles. Tom Frangione, one of our moderators, assisted. Now that’s a story to tell over and over again!

Mark Lapidos and Tom Frangione

To go along with our spectacular musical guests, the weekend also featured some of the best sound-alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors we’ve ever had in our 40 years of the Fest. Byrd emceed the sound-alike tryouts, and it was extremely difficult whittling the field down for Saturday night’s finals.

Cooper Moore during the Sound-Alike Finals

Ringer’s All-Starr Band during the Battle of the Beatles Bands

The sound-alike finals came down to 7-year-old mini-Beatle Cooper, the mother/daughter combination of Liv and Di, who sang a chills-inducing version of ‘Imagine,’ and Collin Berg, who won the contest with a great (harmonica included) version of ‘I Should Have Known Better.’
 
The Battle of the Bands proved to be a fierce competition, with Ringer’s All-Starr Band, The Ralleys, Eleanor and the Rigbys, and Pisces Fish emerging as the biggest threats for the crown. Ringer’s All-Starr Band, with an incredible Ringo impersonator, took home the honors once again this year.

The Gratitude Wall

Just like we had lots of new events and activities at our enormous New York City Fest in February, the Chicago Fest gave birth to some great new additions. Among them was our ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall,’ where fans wrote and hung hundreds of signs to answer the question “Why are you grateful for The Beatles — or anything else for that matter?”

One of the many notes on the Gratitude Wall

We are so GRATEFUL to all of you for being part of our Beatles family!

There was also a spur-of-the-moment Bed-In on Saturday afternoon that caused a peaceful stir in the Grand Foyer.

Saturday’s Bed-In

Fans jumped right into bed with Michelle My Pelle, the Beatles Cabaret Duet who also hosted the new Latenight Open Mic Night  on Friday and Saturday at midnight. That mic was rocking and rolling both nights, with impromptu bands forming, ballsy song renditions, and an epic dance party remix by DJ Madonna and Sun Queen. A new Fest tradition!

The Art Contest winners

Keeping with the grand scale of the weekend, the Beatles art contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly amazing art by professionals, amateurs, and kids – all who took home prizes. Of the many incredible entries in the professional division, John Kettman’s to scale Abbey Road crossing piece took home the prize (after serving as a great photo-op for pretty much every fan who crossed its path). And a triple prize winner, Gary Schwaller, with his album cover t-shirt quilt, a painting of John and Paul and the special artist pick, his John Lennon batik portrait. We thank Deco, (shown on the right) for doing such a great job with the Art Museum.

Carol Lapidos and Deco take a walk on Abbey Road

The Chicago Fest was home to two Beatles marketplaces, the weekend home of over 20 of the best Beatles authors in the world, and Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, who regaled us all with his Beatles knowledge.

Mark Lewisohn and his wife Anita

When attendees weren’t busy dancing, singing, and parading (at our third annual George Harrison Ukulele Parade), they took in one of Bob Abdou’s highly entertaining Beatles puppet shows, got memorabilia signed, toured the Photo (Nancy Lee Andrews and Rob Shanahan) and Art (Eric Cash) Exhibitions, and more.
 
Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured four yoga classes both Saturday and Sunday, intro sessions from the teachers of Transcendental Meditation, a Creative Song Journey, a Teen Chat, and more.

Yoga in the Beatles Ashram

Other highlights from the weekend were photographer Rob Shanahan, Eric Cash showing his amazing art, Beatles Karaoke with Terry Palmer (new this year), Live Beatles Trivia, Jeff Augsburger and David Rauh showing off their incredible Beatles exhibits, Viviana Adams of Porter, Texas winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and former American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart helping to bring Sunday’s hotel jam session to a close with us outside the Grand Ballroom.

Our LOVE giveaway announcement and winner

We had so many guest authors that we had the O’Hare Ballroom dedicated to only authors discussions, and the amount of Beatles knowledge that came out of those talks filled fans’ heads. From Vivek Tiwary, Chuck Gunderson, Ivor Davis, Jude Southerland Kessler and Richard Buskin, to regulars Bruce Spizer, David Bedford, Al Sussman and Robert Rodriguez (too many to mention) it was a collective WOW.
 
As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a highlight, as was that night’s raucous concert that saw Peter Noone and Micky Dolenz take the stage together as they brought the fans to their feet in a truly joyous scene.They performed ‘I’m Henry VIII I Am’ and ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’ (two Herman’s Hermits songs) together.

Micky Dolenz and Peter Noone on Sunday night

  And then they took a #SELFIE!!

Mike Pender of The Searchers made his first ever FEST appearance and performed A Hard Day’s Night with Liverpool. It was the first time in his career that he ever performed a Beatles song.

Mike Pender with Liverpool

Mark Rivera and Laurence Juber added a special touch of amazing musicianship. Speaking of Liverpool, let’s give a big shout out to Joe Bologna who did a great job subbing for Chris on Drums. Drew, Glen and John were spot on and had a blast performing a great variety of Beatles songs and then backing up all the special musical guests.

Mark Hudson, Laurence Juber, and Mark Rivera

Of course, the ball of energy known as Mark Hudson rocked the Grand Ballroom stage with fab musical jams on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The shows ended at around 12:30AM both nights and everyone went home singing!

Mark Lapidos did his “Here Comes The Sun” to usher out the weekend just after 4am on Sunday, but the party didn’t stop till 8 AM Monday morning, as we hippie’d on into the night, outside as the sun came up, greeting joggers and people in business suits starting their week.

It’s impossible to adequately capture the essence of the weekend in a few short pages, but we can say that the weekend was truly special for one reason: You.
 
The energy the fans brought all weekend was off the charts. From the jams that went on from the second the Fest kicked off on Friday until after it ended on Sunday, the Beatles-centric hotel room doors that were decorated, the energy that was brought during the concerts, and the happiness and love that made up the weekend…it was you guys who made the 2014 Chicago Fest what it was.

@SarahStarr is still rocking her wristband!

We are currently gathering all of the pictures and videos from The Fest, and we want to see all of yours too! As we did over the weekend, use the hashtag #chifest14 to share pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter (@Beatles_Fest), and post pictures on our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/thefest. Tons more pictures of all the guests, events, activities, and fans will be shared in emails, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and via email (send them to danny@thefest.com) in the coming days and weeks!
 
We’d also like to thank the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, who did a fantastic job hosting the Fest, especially Debra. Most of all, we want to offer another thank you to all the guests and fans who came to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in America and the 40th anniversary of the Fest for Beatles Fans with us.
 
We are already so excited for the next Fest, our first time back in Los Angeles in 14 years! It’s coming up October 10-12. Don’t miss this next epic Beatles weekend… get your ticket to ride!

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In their own words: were The Beatles ever ready to reunite?

Paul McCartney recently gave an interview where he addressed why The Beatles never reunited after the band broke up in 1970. Here’s what Paul had to say:
 

We’ve been through all the sort of joys and the horrors of being in a band. We’ve done everything we’ve wanted to do and if we now sort of get back together again, it could fall flat. We might not enjoy it, so why do it? As we say in England, ‘Leave ‘em laughing.’

 
For the legacy of the group, perhaps it’s best that they remained apart. However, it’s tantalizing to think of what the group may have been able to do if they had gotten back together at any point between their breakup and John Lennon’s death in 1980.
 
While Paul recently spoke about what was going through the heads of the broken up Beatles , John, Paul, and George in particular all addressed reunion questions in the years following the breakup…
 
John Lennon in 1975

It’s strange, because at one period when they’re asking me, I say ‘no, never, what the hell? Go back? Not me. And then it came to a period when I thought, ‘well, why not?’…everyone always envisions the stage show. To me, if we worked together (it would be) the studio again…when I’m saying that, I turn the paper and George is saying ‘not me.’ It’s never got to a position where each one of us has wanted to do it at the same time…the other question is ‘would it be worth it?’ That would be answered by if we wanted to do it. If we wanted to do it, then it’d be worth it.

 
George Harrison in 1976

We’re all leading our own lives. It’s been eight years, really, and I don’t think an ad in the paper is going to do the trick. We have to want it, personally, ourselves. And not just to make $50 million dollars or whatever the figure may be. We must do it because we want to be together as people first, and secondly, to be together for the music – and then everything else would fall into place. But at the moment everybody is doing their own lives, and it feels to me a bit like saying ‘please go back to school.’ You know, that (the first stint as Beatles) was like our apprenticeship.

 
Paul McCartney in July of 1980

For a long time now, the Beatles have been split up and – just the way things are – certain ones of us like playing together and stuff, but I don’t think John would ever be interested in kind of getting the group back together again. And the four of us individually wouldn’t be really interested in doing it, just because it’s – you can’t reheat a soufflé, as someone once said. Three of us got up at Eric Clapton’s wedding, with Eric and Ginger Baker and a bunch of loonies, but we’ve never played the four of us together since we’ve split up…I definitely know it’s not on…it’s not anything that would ever happen.

After John Lennon’s death, any potential reunion sadly became impossible.
 
Last year, Ringo Starr weighed in on whether or not the group would’ve gotten back together if John hadn’t been taken so violently in 1980 –
 

Don’t know. It’s a crazy question. But…I’d like to think, yes, we would. Paul still goes out with his band, I go out with mine and John would probably have been going out with his. George was not big on touring so I’m not sure about him. But who knows… it could have come together.

Of the four Beatles, it seems that John – at least in the interview he gave in 1975 – was the one who was most interested in a reunion. While listening to John speak, there are reservations, but he seems genuinely excited about the possibility.
 
George was a bit more cagey than John, but after listening to him speak, it felt as if he would’ve been open to the band getting back together as long as he felt the time was right.
 
Interestingly, it’s Paul – who seemed to be attached to the group the most while together – who was close to dismissive about there ever being a reunion. Perhaps Paul was letting his then-cold relationship with John get in the way of his true feelings. Perhaps he wasn’t.
 
Listening to John and George speak about a potential reunion, and reading about how Ringo felt, it seems that if John had lived and he and Paul had gotten over their differences, a reunion ultimately would’ve happened.

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The Curtain Rising: Brian Epstein’s Induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Ignore the above – this amazing piece is…
 
by Vivek J. Tiwary, author of ‘The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story’
 
April 11, 2014
 
“Best of all and far beyond anything money can buy, I love to lean on my elbows at the back of the stalls and watch the curtain rise on my artistes.” – Brian Epstein, 1964.
 
Yesterday afternoon, hours before he would induct Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my friend Peter Asher warned me that his induction speech would be short by necessity. I suspect Peter thought I’d be disappointed that Brian might not get his full due. And yet last night, Peter gave the most lovely, heartfelt, personal, poignant, and informative speech about Brian Epstein that the mainstream public has heard in years, perhaps since Paul McCartney told the BBC “If anyone was ‘The Fifth Beatle’ it was Brian” (and that was in 1999).
 
Speaking of Paul McCartney, let’s get this out of the way: There has been sentiment amongst Beatles’ fans ranging from confusion to complaint about McCartney’s not inducting Brian himself. Well, when Brian died his mother respectfully asked the Beatles not to join the funeral proceedings for fear that the event would become a media circus, focused on the Beatles when the moment should belong to Brian and the people who loved him. The same could be said of last night’s induction ceremony. With no disrespect to the fab Sir Paul, his presence wasn’t missed. Peter took the ball and knocked it from Shea Stadium to Candlestick Park.
 
Acknowledging Brian’s brilliant vision in being the first to believe in the Beatles, Peter then focused on Brian’s passion, faith, and unwavering persistence in
convincing an entirely disbelieving music industry—and the world in its wake — that the Beatles were destined to become not just international pop stars but
inspiring cultural icons and true artists. Peter spoke specifically of Brian’s intelligence as a manager, recognizing that early exposure was sometimes far
more important than the extra dollar, his savvy packaging and presentation of the Beatles, his wrangling control over the media to insure that each Beatles’
appearance was not just an appearance but an event. He read a note from Brian’s family who couldn’t be there in person, expressing delight at the induction and only regret that Brian’s brother Clive, his mother Queenie and his father Harry were not alive to witness it– and how proud they would have been. Peter even related a personal experience, observing a fleeting moment when Brian took a step back to enjoy some satisfaction in the success of his artists. Brian rarely gave himself those moments.
 
And Peter often reiterated Brian’s absolute commitment to realizing the Beatles’ wildest dreams—the fact that he considered this commitment his greatest responsibility in life, never wanting to let the band down—and the fact that in the final equation, he never failed them. It’s what made Brian Epstein an excellent manager, mentor, and friend. It’s why he deserves the title Paul gave him in 1999 of “The Fifth Beatle”. And why he deserves the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction last night.
 
All that being said, Peter’s daytime warning was still well heeded in experiencing the nighttime event. Brian’s induction was indeed brief and came at the very beginning of the ceremony. If you showed up a little late, you might have missed it. If you decided to get a drink before the big rock show, you might have missed
it. If your eyes were a bit dry that day and you blinked a little too long, you might have missed it. And that’s exactly how Brian would have wanted it. He would
have wanted to have been acknowledged and briefly celebrated, but not doted upon. And then he would have wanted to get the hell out of the way, to keep the focus on the artists who create the music.
 
That’s another quality of a great artist manager… and also illuminates why managers are usually the unsung heroes in their artists’ career histories. Indeed, it’s a credit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that they are now inducting artist managers. And it’s another music industry boundary that Brian Epstein has shattered, paving the way for others to follow in his wake.
 
(Last night’s second manager inductee, following fast on Brian’s heels, was his dear friend and ally Rolling Stones manger Andrew Loog Oldham).
 
And then the evening moved on, and was indeed all about the artists. For the next 5 hours, we were treated to a series of glorious music highlights. For me, these included Peter Gabriel’s gentlemanly acceptance and timeless performance, Tom Morello’s outrageously awesome KISS induction speech (and Paul Stanley’s back-atcha); Stevie Nicks having the time of her life giving a powerful vocal tribute to Linda Ronstadt; Yusuf Islam’s performance reminding me what a truly amazing artist Cat Stevens is (now that I’m a father, “Father and Son” blindsided me with unexpected joy and sadness); Bruuuuuce and the E Street Band schooling me on what it really means to be a band of brothers; Daryl Hall and John Oates clearly preferring to rock than talk (and throwing mad props to my second home Philly); Dave Grohl starting by gracefully thanking the many excellent Nirvana drummers that preceded him; and my teenage crushes Joan Jett and Kim Gordon tearing the house down by channeling Kurt Cobain for performances with Nirvana.
 
All eyes in the house were firmly glued to that stage… Except mine, which would frequently wander towards the back of the concert hall… Where swear I saw him for one fleeting moment—leaning on his elbows, a small smile creeping across his face, watching the curtain rise on the many artists inspired by the Beatles legacy he created and protected.
 
But then I blinked, and he was gone.
 
It’s just as well—Brian Epstein would have preferred me to face the music.
 
Congratulations to The Fifth Beatle Brian Epstein, on his well-deserved 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
 
You can visit Vivek J. Tiwary’s site – The Fifth Beatle – here >> www.thefifthbeatle.com
 
CLICK HERE to read Peter Asher’s induction speech.

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Peter Asher to induct Brian Epstein into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Thursday night

His entry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is long overdue, but Brian Epstein – the legendary manager of The Beatles – will finally get the recognition he deserves on Thursday night.
 
During a ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Epstein will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Doing the honors will be Peter Asher.
 
A titan of the music industry in his own right, Asher is looking forward to Thursday night. Some of his thoughts on Epstein:

Brian Epstein single handedly changed what it meant to be a rock and roll manager. Before Brian and the Beatles, the assumption was that a pop group’s career was destined to be short and their impact ephemeral. Just as the Beatles changed this whole notion with their brilliant music, so did Brian with his honesty, his belief, his commitment, his faith and his avoidance of the greed and short term thinking which was the norm. Before the Beatles, pop music was not supposed to be imporant – and before Brian no one treated the musicians that way either. He was charming and articulate but in the end his ability to make others believe (as he did) that the Beatles were the best band in the world stemmed from his own absolute conviction that it was true. And fifty years later it is clearer than ever that he was absolutely right! I was proud to know Brian – and when I became a manager myself I looked to his determination, loyalty and style for inspiration.
 

In addition to doing the honors for Brian Epstein, Asher will also be inducting former Rolling Stones manager – and past FEST guest – Andrew Loog Oldham. Asher’s thoughts:

I shall pay tribute to the achievements of these two brilliant men (both friends of mine) as best I can…Brian will be sorely missed as always and Andrew has chosen not to attend but am thrilled to have the privilege of inducting them both into this illustrious organization.
The induction being filmed on Thursday night will air on HBO on May 31st.
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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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