Number Nine … things for which John Lennon was thankful

By Jude Southerland Kessler

The Beatles, not being American (of course), didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, per se. But somehow, as we near the close of the year, all of us tend to reflect on things for which we are grateful. And although John is so often caricatured as “John Lemon,” a tart and sardonic figure, he was, in reality, very appreciative of special people, moments, and belongings. After all, isn’t that what his song, “In My Life” is all about? Here are just a few precious elements of John’s journey here on earth things that he loved. Perhaps this will inspire you to make a similar list of your own.

 

And I think we can all begin by listing The Fest for Beatles Fans which draws us together twice a year as family…and for Mark, Carol, Tilly, and Michelle Joni, who very lovingly gave us this “Home Away From Home” in our lives.

 

  1. His Uncle Ge’rge – John was, for all intents and purposes, reared by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George. And although Mimi taught him valuable lessons about determination and duty and instilled in him a love of reading, it was Uncle Ge’rge (as John called him) who taught the little boy about love. Each night, when John was kindergarten age, Uncle George taught the boy to read from that evening’s Liverpool Echo. Despite Mimi’s fury, he took the child to the Disney picturedromes (films) that came to Liverpool. And George wired speakers up in the child’s bedroom so that John could listen to radio programs such as “Dick Barton, Special Agent” and later, “The Goon Show.” George Smith was an artist, like John, and he understood the child’s heart. John simply adored him.
  2. His sisters, Julia and Jacqui – John’s mother, Julia Stanley Lennon, (after relinquishing John to Mimi and George) went on to have her own family with John “Bobby” Dykins at 1 Blomfield Road, Allerton…about a mile from the place where John lived with his aunt and uncle. Julia and Bobby had two precious little girls named Julia and Jacqui. And when, as an older child, John found this out, he didn’t resent the fact that his sisters got to live with his mother while he did not. He loved his sisters, and they adored him. After Uncle George’s death in 1955, John started spending a good bit of time with his mother and his sisters, and they threw impromptu parties with ginger beer and cakes, and of course, rock’n’roll. The girls enjoyed the earliest band rehearsals of the Quarry Men in the Blomfield bathroom. John’s sisters were always there and always supportive of him. In fact, when The Beatles were fêted by Liverpool during the Northern Premiere of “A Hard Day’s Night,” John specifically asked for his sisters from the stage. They meant the world to him.
  3. His friends – John was never a loner. He always wanted to captain a group. And one of the earliest members of “his gang” was Pete Shotton. Pete lived near John in Woolton, and the two went to Quarrybank Grammar (high school) together. They were so close that people laughingly called them “Shennon and Lotton”…and they were a deadly duo full of mischief. Later, at Liverpool College of Art, John met his soul mate — a friend closer than any brother — Stuart Sutcliffe. Stu told John over and over that John would “never be just a rock’n’roller”…that John’s music would always be his form of art. So, Stu encouraged John to dress differently, write unique songs, and use his album covers as a form of artistic expression. The dramatic impact of Stuart Sutcliffe on The Beatles is absolutely immeasurable.

 

Of course, all of The Beatles were John’s mates. During John’s tenure at Liverpool College of Art, George was John’s “younger brother,” shadowing John everywhere he went! And once Ringo and Maureen had married and moved out to Weybridge, Surrey (where John and Cynthia lived in Kenwood), Ringo and John became close companions as well. Each of The Beatles mattered throughout John’s life, long after The Beatles had dissolved.

 

  1. Cynthia Powell Lennon – Cynthia was John’s girlfriend at Liverpool College of Art, his first wife, and the mother of his son, Julian Charles Lennon. In the early days — long before The Beatles were popular — Cynthia would hold John’s microphone, taped to a broomstick, as he practiced away in the dank Jacaranda Club basement. Cynthia was also one of the earliest Beatlettes in the Cavern Club. And even though John invited her to his gigs after they were married, Cyn (as John fondly called her) wanted her husband to shine alone in the limelight. She declined. Encouraging her love to chase his dreams of “the toppermost of the poppermost,” Cynthia waited at home, keeping John’s life on an even keel. Indeed, The Beatles’ friend, Tony Barrow, called Cynthia “John’s centre, his peace.”
  2. Books – Throughout his life, John was a voracious reader. He read two to three newspapers a day, as did his Aunt Mimi before him. In addition, John read at least one book a week. Beatles’ tours in 1964-1966 gave him plenty of “down time” to read — backstage, on airplanes, and in hotel rooms. And when he wasn’t writing song lyrics or doing interviews, John had his nose in “a bloomin’ booke.” As a child, he loved Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories and Lewis Carroll’s magical books, full of wordplay. As an adult, one of John’s favorite works was Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. But when asked, in interviews, what his favorite literary work was, John would often flash a devilish grin and say either In His Own Write or A Spaniard in the Works…his own award-winning literary creations.
  3. His many cats – In Eddie Deezen’s article, “John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady,” Deezen lists and describes each of the 16 cats that John owned during his lifetime. His earliest (in Mendips with Mimi and George) were Tich and Sam. Later, Cynthia and John had a cat sarcastically dubbed Mimi. In the 1970s, the lovely May Pang and John had two cats called Major and Minor. And those were but a few of Mr. L’s furry friends! Although John clearly adored felines, however, he also cherished his childhood mutt, Sally, who always nuzzled “his boy” when John was sad or lonely.
  4. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Bird’s Custard – John had simple breakfast tastes. He loved toast and tea. He loved Corn Flakes. And for dessert, the unbelievably delicious Bird’s Custard was always a hit. On tour, John ate so many backstage servings of steak and chips (fries) that he actually started to hate them after a time. But no matter how much of it he had, John always craved more Earl Grey Tea.
  5. American rock’n’roll of the 1950s – John turned 13 in 1953, so the music of the Fifties was his music! He loved all of the songs that eventually ended up on his 1970’s “Rock’n’Roll” album, including “You Can’t Catch Me” by Chuck Berry, Larry Williams’s “Bony Maronie,” and Little Richard’s hit, “Ready Teddy.” John’s cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” is considered one of his most poignant songs, and John (like all of The Beatles) loved the hits of American girl groups, such as the Shirelles. John’s mother, Julia, taught him to love the classic, “Angel Baby” and Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock.” No doubt about it, John Lennon was, musically, a true child of the Fifties.
  6. Television – Television didn’t become a household item until John’s teen years, but once he found it, he was hooked! He had the television on “as background noise” almost all of the time while living in New York. But he watched many programs as well, especially newscasts. John was quite savvy about current events, trends, and rock groups; he kept up with the latest crazes on “the telly.” In the 1970s, John mentioned the television in several of his solo songs, (“I’m Steppin’ Out” and “Dear Yoko”), and he often wrote his lyrics in bed while the telly droned on, in the background…lyrics, perhaps, like these:

 

“There are places I’ll remember,

All my life, though some have changed,

Some forever…not for better…

Some have gone, and some remain.

All these places had their moments

With lovers and friends I still can recall.

Some are dead, and some are living…

In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

 

With love…

Happy Thanksgiving!


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.




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Turn, Turn, Turn

I can still hear The Byrds’ crystalline, jingle-jangle sound as they brought Old Testament wisdom to life:

“For everything,

Turn, turn, turn…

There is a season,

Turn, turn, turn…

And a time to every purpose under heaven.”

The year that they took “Turn, Turn, Turn” to Number 1 on the charts, my mother was a Home Economics teacher at Bolton High School, Alexandria, Louisiana, and I was in the 6th grade, where I spent my days madly in love with The Beatles. For me, the Byrds’ song had a gorgeous melody and a real hook, but honestly, the words were kind of…well, scary. “A time to break down” made me uncomfortable. “A time to weep,” when gruesome reports of Vietnam filled the nightly news, scared me. And “a time to be born, a time to die” was terrifying. The lyrics were so foreign to me then, so far removed from the childlike emotions I understood.

But now, “a time to die,” has become all too real. I lost my remarkable mother five years ago, and my dad, three years after that. Three of my dearest friends in The Beatles World are mourning the loss of their moms right now. And many others of us have losses fresh in our memories. Our sweet Carol Lapidos, for example, posted on John Lennon’s birthday a “Happy Birthday!” to John and Sean…and to her dearly departed father-in-law, Mark’s dad, as well. All of us are missing someone cherished. All of us are learning — first-hand — about the complicated emotions intertwined in loss, mourning, and remembrance. All of us are finding our way in this new season.

In 1965, when I first heard the Byrds’ lovely and haunting rendition of the words from the book of Ecclesiastes, I knew so little about death. I had only lost a grandfather whom I had never had the opportunity to really know. But a year later, I lost my quiet and faithful companion, my sweet cocker spaniel, Beau…and the reality of “a finite existence” began to sink in. Separation and acceptance became more tangible than they had ever been, and I started to value the importance of memories. In 1966, I learned to grieve.

And at a mere 13-years-old, the one healing unguent that got me through the pain of loss was The Beatles. Their music made sadness bearable. Their sound assuaged pain. Getting lost in the melody of “This Boy” or “In My Life” stopped the tears. The Beatles were a panacea.

And you know what? Very little has changed. Today, my friends and I (all ardent Beatles fans) are calling upon the same balm to tend our wounds. Fifty years later, we are still turning to the soundtrack of our lives as we — the ones left behind in this place called Earth — recall, remember, and re-target our lives. The Beatles still seem, somehow, to understand as John spools out his own heartbreak in “Yes, It Is.” As the boys seem to offer “a way forward” in “I’ll Follow the Sun.” Their lyrics, though written for them and about them, somehow fit our lives so well. We feel an inexplicable kinship with these four lads from Liverpool, lads we’ve never met and yet, have always known.

In that vein, I sat down a few years ago and wrote a poem for a friend who was walking through her own “Valley of the Shadow.” I so hoped that the words would strengthen her heart, and today I hope that wherever you are on your journey, she and I can share them to touch your spirit as well.

They were

My safe place,

My known against the unknown,

My run-to, go-to shelter after midnight,

My flickering light up in the window,

Home.

Far back as I can go,

Far forward as I can imagine,

Reverse and forward,

Stop and pause…

They were always there:

A net beneath me,

A hiding place,

A room sequestered from the world

A vault where I could hide.

I huddled close beside them

And deftly hid my head,

With

Nowhere Man and Silver Hammer,

Mr. Moonlight, Lovely Rita,

Celebrated Mr. K

Performing feats on Saturday…

And standing in the gaps

Of the Helter Skelter in my brain.

Pretty little policemen, guard me.

Octopus’s garden, hide me.

I’m on my way home,

I’m on my way home…to you.

In the play-out tracks,

I heard they had a message

(Backwards perhaps and not in tune)

And I am there as well,

Covered in music,

Wrapped in lyrics,

Invisible…

Camouflaged…

Protected.

Sheltered in their sound

You can find me.

I am there,

Buffered.

If you are there with me…

Turn up the music. Turn up the hope. Turn up the volume and shout aloud these words that I would love to say to you in person: “You are not alone. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”

Winston Churchill said to all of us, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Remember that seasons change. Nothing stays the same. If you are in a season of distress, it will dispel. If you are in a season of pain, it will fall away. If you are in a season of sadness, hang tight. We are a Beatles family, and together, we can do what we need to do.

Turn, turn, turn…you can go on.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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And the Favorite Beatle is

By Jude Southerland Kessler

Over the last nine months, Recipe Records author Lanea Stagg and I have been asking our guests on the She Said She Said podcast one “bonus question” at the end of each interview: “Tell us who your favorite Beatle is and why?” And in posing this query, we’ve stumbled onto a trend.

Our female guests have all instantly piped up with a specific choice — generally Paul or Ringo, although once in a while, George, and even more infrequently, (the best Beatle!!) John. Our male guests, however, have tended to respond with a pause and then a response something like this: “Welllll, I don’t really have a favorite.” Or: “Hmmmm, it’s hard to separate the group. I mean, it takes all of them to make the music, right?” This “choosing a Beatle” question almost seemed foreign to them.

A month ago, I wrote an article for Culture-Sonar discussing the disappointing number of times that John Lennon’s songs are being aired on many Beatles streaming and radio stations…bemoaning the current “disappearing act of John Winston Lennon.” And the Facebook responses to this article’s observations were truly educational for me. Female readers answered with, “I’ve observed the same thing, and it’s aggravating!!” Or: “Well, Paul’s catalogue is much larger, so of course, he’s going to get more air time!” Or: “What if you were a George fan?! George was rarely heard from in the ‘fab days,’ much less now!!!!” You get the drift.

But my male readers (though not all!) saw my observations as rather “divisive.” One particularly well-written and insightful comment stated, “Interesting article, but I hate to hear the segregation of the songs through ’embryotic’ ownership. Beatles songs are Beatles songs. Start cutting them up and dishing them onto separate plates, and that is not how I want to remember them.” 

This comment really set me on my heels. It made me stop and think. Because “in my life,” as it were, The Beatles have always been very distinct individuals, openly competing with one another, and good-naturedly vying for the attention of their fans. (Think, for example, of John “hmphffing” disgustedly on Live at the BBC Vol. 1 when he reads aloud a piece of fan mail that says, “Love to the boys…especially Paul!”) From the very first day that I was introduced to The Beatles and was given, by my elementary school friends, only two hours (“until recess”) to “fall in love” with one of them, The Beatles have been quite separate and very individual. I have never thought of them as one indivisible unit.

In August, as I drove cross-country to the Chicago Fest, I mulled over my lifelong devotion to one particular Beatle (clearly, John) and about that similar “singular Beatle” response from my friends throughout junior high and high school. I smiled remembering that my friends and I, back “in the day,” readily identified ourselves as “John girls” or “George girls,” etc.  And even as adults, little has changed. In fact, not so long ago, Lanea Stagg and I aired a well-researched “John vs. George” debate on our She Said She Said podcast, discussing four of John’s songs from the White Album in contrast to four of George’s.  And we saw nothing amiss in the act of adamantly “standing by our man.”

Terry Crain, author of NEMS and the Business of Selling The Beatles in the U.S., 1964-1966, will tell you that merchandisers realized this “Favorite Beatle” phenomenon from Day One. Indeed, the entire purpose of selling “I LOVE PAUL” or “I LOVE RINGO” buttons was to make money off of female fans who quite definitely connected with one particular Fab.

Going back now to re-watch YouTube videos of The Beatles landing at various locations throughout the 1964 North American Tour, I see scads of female fans holding signs lauding one Beatle over another. I see girls passionately screaming not the word “Beatles!!!!!!!!!!!” but weeping and shouting, “George!” or “Ringooooo!” or “John!” or “Paul!” And I see those same girls wearing sweatshirts, T-shirts, buttons, and hair bands with their favorite Beatle boldly emblazoned on the garment. From these earliest days of Beatlemania, the great majority of female fans (though not all) were unashamedly choosing one Beatle and his songs over the others.

Once ensconced at the Chicago Fest last August, I began asking those who visited my booth in the Marketplace one question: “Do you have a favorite Beatle?” And just as I had begun to surmise, less than 10% of male fans identified with any Fab in particular. In fact, they looked at me with befuddled expressions and said things such as, “Well, I’m a drummer, so I guess I’d have to say, Ringo…but uh, really, I like them all.” Or: “Well, I like John’s straightforward approach to life, but I mean, I don’t have a favorite Beatle, per se.” The majority of them simply stated, “Nope, I like them all.”

Beatles historian, Sara Schmidt (author of Happiness is Seeing The Beatles: Beatlemania in St. Louis), who is currently writing a book on the Beatles Fan Clubs in America, recently told me, “At the Fests and other places, I usually give those attending my talks a free photo of one or all of The Beatles at the end of my presentations. And what I’ve discovered is: women almost always select a photo of one particular Beatle. They don’t bat an eye when I give them a choice. They say, “I’ll take George.” Or “Give me Ringo.” But men generally select a photo of the entire group.”

The Beatles knew this. In fact, in 1965 when 16 Magazine’s editor, Gloria Stavers, flew to the Bahamas to interview The Beatles on the set of “Help!”, she asked John Lennon, “To what do you attribute your incredible success with these scads and scads of female fans?” And John’s very direct response was, “Well, I’m a man, aren’t I?” Yes, indeed.

Undeniably, a sociological, sexual connection does exist between the four handsome, charismatic, and often flirtatious young men known as The Beatles and their female fans, while a great many male fans (though certainly not all) tend to be drawn to Beatles gear, Beatles discography, and that creative collective known as The Beatles who created Beatles music. That being said…The Beatles World is varied and colorful in its many textures, shades, and hues, and there are all sorts of variations in between the majorities. There are plenty of women who like the Fab Four for their music only and plenty of men who find The Beatles attractive.

And all of us, despite our unique vantage points, can agree on this: A song without Ringo’s “Match 10” force and power would be lacking. A song without Paul’s bass brilliance would miss something wonderful. A song without George’s magical lead would fall short. A song without John’s grit and extemporaneous genius would be ho-hum. The Beatles are undeniably different but equal.

And so are we. It takes the different but equal outlooks of males and females to create the extensive, over-awing fan base that has kept The Beatles “front and center” for nigh on 60 years now. We may view them in slightly different ways, but our devotion is the same. And when I raise objections about the small quota of John’s songs in the film Yesterday, it doesn’t negate my pride in the fact that a 2019 film is still lauding “The Boys” as unparalleled. Whether you view The Beatles as an inseparable group or as a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of unique, individual musicians, it matters not. In fact, what a “blah” world this would be if we all saw things identically. Like the horrid, same-same world that Charles Wallace, Meg, and Calvin encountered in Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle In Time, such an existence would be terrifying.

Let’s celebrate our differences and enjoy The Beatles as we will. There is no right way to sing “yeah, yeah, yeah.” There is no one direction to Strawberry Fields or Blue Jay Way. There is no single ticket for the Magical Mystery Tour. And thank goodness, there is room on the bus for everyone.

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45 years ago this weekend: The first Beatlefest

From Fest Founder Mark Lapidos…

SEPTEMBER 7, 1974 – 45 YEARS AGO THIS WEEKEND: We opened the doors to the first Beatlefest at the old Commodore Hotel on 42nd St, in NYC and Beatle fandom changed forever!!! I couldn’t possibly know at the time, because it was only a one convention idea! But, the public spoke and we listened! I can remember so clearly that Saturday morning. I was so nervous it made me sick. Not knowing what was going to happen, and how it will work out had caught up to me that morning. The program sheet was just printed the day before! The convention was set to start at 1PM.

At around 11AM, the doorbell to the suite rang. It was Tony King, VP of Apple and their official representative, who arrived with the films and the signed musical instruments from John, Paul and George. Ringo had sent signed drumsticks a few months beforehand. We chatted a bit before he took out 6 signed copies of The Penguin John Lennon book of his poetry. John wanted them to be auctioned off for the charity he designated – The Phoenix House Foundation (a drug rehab organization in upper Manhattan). He then took out a 7th book that John signed for me, with a wonderful inscription and some doodles, beginning with To Mark, September Beatlefest 1974! I was now coming out of my funk a bit.

It was Tony’s next utterance that lifted any anxieties or fears out of my being. He said, “John wants to come down tomorrow to pick the winner of his guitar.” I don’t remember my exact response, but this was a dream come true to the max! To say I was thrilled beyond belief is a major understatement!! I think I jumped up and told Tony I need to get ready to go downstairs. I arranged for John’s entrance through the kitchen and into the balcony overlooking the Grand Ballroom and had a microphone set up just for him. A NYC policeman who, by the rarest of coincidences, happened to be a childhood friend, who had come over to congratulate me, helped to make this happen. 1:00PM was upon me and I was on my way down to the ballroom. I stopped at the balcony floor, maybe 5 minutes after the doors opened and I looked out over the ledge. That moment in ingrained in my brain forever. I gazed at the completely and totally jammed packed ballroom full of Beatles fans and that it was I who had come up with this crazy idea. My energy level shot up to 100% and never stopped the entire weekend. Quick side story: The films were almost ready to start when someone asked me about the projectionist. A blank look come over me as that was a detail I hadn’t thought of. I can’t make this stuff up. At that moment in through the door a union projectionist comes in and said his boss read about the event and we were showing films. He said, “where do I go?”, and without a moment’s hesitation, I pointed to the projection area and off we went. John changed his mind and chose to go to his farm in upstate NY on the Sunday, but he was interviewed on that Saturday, and he mentioned me and the event (Lisa Robinson /Circus Magazine).

From this acorn of an idea, grew into an annual event here, and 3 years later in Chicago, plus ten other cities around the country over the years – 132 FESTS and counting! What we (my family and many who are like family to us) have created is like a Beatles Thanksgiving for many thousands of fans on any given weekend. This is the true joy of what we do!

Happy 45th Anniversary!!!

Peace and Love, 

Mark Lapidos



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Don’t you do it… Don’t you dare

By Jude Southerland Kessler, special to the Fest Blog

“Don’t you do it…don’t you dare!” is the very phrase that inspired…

 

  • My nine-year-old decision to jump from the top of Mom’s Mimosa tree…a fall that sprained both my ankles, in the very first week of summer.
  • My “rash” decision to move far away from my Louisiana family and friends to reside in Maryland where my boyfriend, Rande, was going to the Naval Academy. (Rande and I have now been married 40 years.)
  • And my decision to write “yet another” biography about John Lennon in the face of various groans and moans of: “Haven’t we had enough of such books already?”

 

Being dared NOT to do something has two out of three times worked wonders “in my life.” Indeed, quite often, daring someone NOT to do something produces miraculous results. So, let me give it a go!

 

Don’t do it!!!! Don’t leave your soft, slightly stained sofa and your “25% More! Free!” bag of Fritos Originals (which explains your greasy remote) to actually get up, get packed, and attend the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Aug. 9-11. Please…stay seated!! Relax into your comfy nest of cookie crumbs and lint, and nestle in for yet another riveting episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It’s so much simpler. And besides, who needs a whole “weekend of unforgettable,” eh? Not you, right? You’re past all that!

 

Don’t do it…don’t be in the Main Stage Ballroom when the oh-so-knowledgeable Mark Lewisohn awes us with his Beatles acumen. I was privileged to hear him talk last November and suffice it to say, I actually offered him $200 for a mere copy of his notes! His talk is that good. No, let’s be honest: it’s better. Mr. Lewisohn is, of course, the author of The Beatles: All These Years, Volume One — Tune In, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, The Beatles Recording Sessions, The Beatles: Day by Day, and so many other respected works. But even his Beatles compendiums pale a mite in the face of his live presentations! And that poses a dilemma: you see, instead of relaxing into the cat hair and pistachio shells on your sofa, you’d actually be sitting on the edge of your seat, locked onto Mr. L’s two talks — one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

 

So, I must ask: Do you really need that? Is hearing the world’s #1 Beatles Guru worth the effort of tossing a toothbrush and a change of clothes into a valise? Is it worth the risk inherent in getting out with fellow Beatles fans who are learning and nodding and being utterly entertained? I shouldn’t think so! Not really.

 

So…don’t do it. Don’t you dare! Slip into your sweat pants and open another carton of “Chunky Monkey.” It’s the wiser move.

 

Safe at home, you’ll tactfully avoid a full hour with iconic drummer, Alan White, who literally on the spur-of-the-moment (the day before, in fact) agreed to join John and Yoko on stage at their 1969 Toronto Rock’n’Roll Festival performance. Who wants to hear about that experience, yeah? Who wants to sit at the feet of someone who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with John as “Instant Karma” was being recorded…or with George Harrison during the making of All Things Must Pass?  Why subject yourself to that sort of once-in-a-lifetime experience? Not when you can revisit “Charles in Charge” or “Malcolm in the Middle” or settle in for a cozy afternoon of “Home Alone.” Don’t do it. Don’t you very dare!

 

And furthermore, DO NOT even think of taking my seat at the Jeremy Clyde concert! Back off, sir! I’ve claimed that prime location where I can best hear Jeremy croon “A Summer Song” and “Willow Weep for Me.”  But most of all, I want to lean in and hear him reminisce about his days with The Beatles. I want to absorb the magic of 1964 and 1965. I want to be transported back to Swingin’ London — to soak in every fascinating detail about what Americans dubbed, “The British Invasion.” No, no, that sort of thing’s not for you! Keep in mind “that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.” (Exactly the song I’d like to hear!) So, why don’t you clean out the garage or trim the lawn instead? Go right ahead…leave the magic all to me.

 

Don’t dare set foot in the Hyatt Regency O’Hare while Ken Mansfield (one of the friendliest men on planet Earth) is walking about, shaking hands, and happily answering Beatles questions. Don’t settle in as he brings the world of Apple Records, U.S., to life or talks about his time in London with The Beatles…or shares the story of that amazing afternoon that The Beatles (and Ken) took to The Roof (Ken’s best-selling book) to “pass the [last] audition.” Ken was there for so many remarkable Beatles landmarks, and he will make you feel as if you’re there as well. Do you need that sort of enchanted afternoon? Not you! You’re the practical sort! There’s a hedge to be trimmed. Get to it!

 

In fact, I can’t think of one single reason why you’d enjoy sitting amongst other Beatles fans in the lobby and singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”…or why you’d have fun going back in time with me (at Sunday morning’s Early Bird presentation) to attend John Lennon’s 1964 Foyles Literary Luncheon, to discover why he muttered “You’ve got a lucky face.” I mean, sure, yeah, it’s a touching and fascinating story…but you? You’ve better things to do.

 

Attending the Aug. 9-11 Chicago Fest can only mean one thing for you: fab fun! And who needs it? Really!  I mean, you’d be one of the very first to hear Beatles music expert, Bruce Spizer, introduce his hot-off-the-press, new book, The Beatles Get Back to Abbey Road! And you’d get to hear Wings’ Laurence Juber, Steve Holley, and Denny Laine rock the stage at the Saturday night concert! You’d get the opportunity to challenge yourself at Al Sussman and Tom Frangione’s “Beatles Trivia” contest, and you’d get to hear Kit O’Toole and gifted musician, Scott Erickson, explore the Esher Demo versions of your favorite White Album songs. You’d only find yourself shopping in the Marketplace, enjoying Beatles yoga in the Faboratory, cheering at the Battle of The Bands, and sitting in front of the Red Bar fireplace and sipping a glass of wine. None of that is productive, son. Not while there’s so much you could do:

 

  • You could scan old photos into jpeg files.
  • You could air out the autumn clothes.
  • You could strip that old wallcovering.
  • And of course, you could always indulge in the evening news. (God forbid!)

 

Or (and I’m certainly not endorsing this!) you could choose to enjoy “The Weekend of You”…a weekend of wearing your Beatles pins and T-shirts and socks and kecks…a weekend of wearing your Beatles smile! You could star in an impromptu, all-night Sing-Along or attend the late, late experts’ panel or hunker over an iced bourbon, hotly debating which album is better, the Capitol “Help!” or the EMI version. You could rock with The Weeklings…and dance to Liverpool! You could purchase the BEST Christmas present ever from Beatles artist, Eric Cash. And you could party late, sleep late, laugh out loud (unabbreviated), and have the time of your life!

 

The only problem is, the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans would create memory: a memory you’d have to cherish for years. A memory you’d have to tell people about at the office, on the train, and at family reunions. A memory you’d have to carry with you, long after you’re 64!

 

It would be unique and special, your time at the Fest. So, unless your life needs something warm and wonderful and memorable and completely fantastic…best to avoid it at all costs. I promise that you’d fall in the love with The Fest for Beatles Fans, and, you’d want to go back. So, just don’t risk it. No, indeed.

 

Don’t you do it. Don’t you dare.

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It was January something or other

By Guest Blogger Michael Byrne

 

It was January something or other, 1964. I had just turned 9-years-old the previous September and was in the fourth grade. My family lived in a small town near Philadelphia called Morrisville, Pennsylvania.

 

The Phillies weren’t turning out very good teams, so like a lot of boys my age, my heroes were the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle and Roger Marris and astronaut, John Glenn, who had recently become the first American to orbit the earth.

 

My brother and sister are 8 and 9 years older than I, so I heard a lot of their music around the house. Their favorites included early Motown; rockers like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, and Little Richard; the Beach Boys and others. So, as you can see, I was exposed to some really great music as a little kid.

 

My parents were very musical, too. My Mom was a wonderful singer and my Dad was a self-taught organist. There was lots of music in my life!

 

I had asked for and received a transistor radio that Christmas, and after returning from school in the afternoon, was eager most days to walk  beneath “the blue suburban skies” with it held up to my ear, listening to WFIL, WABC and WIBG…hoping to hear my favorite songs.

 

At that time, “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen was the Number One song just about everywhere in the USA, and I loved it! I could listen to that song over and over again. I really didn’t want to hear much else. So, each week, I’d wait to hear the countdown to the #1 song. I was sure it would be that song with the great beat and the lyrics no one could understand.

 

This particular January week however, would be different…WABC’s afternoon DJ, Dan Ingram, informed listeners that there was a new Number One song on the charts. It had shot up to Number One out of almost nowhere, and the phone lines were on fire with requests to hear it! This annoyed me as I really liked “Louie, Louie” and couldn’t believe anything could be better than that song, but I stayed tuned in just to see what all the fuss was about.

 

“It’s now Number One…on 77 WABC!” I still remember that little intro jingle…

 

Well, the first three notes of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” smacked me right in the face. I literally stopped dead in my tracks and listened to something I had never heard before. It was such an exciting sound! The vocals, the drums, the build-up at the end of the “middle eight”: “I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I CAN’T HIDE……..!!! Wow! Incredible!

 

When it was over, Dan Ingram talked about this new band called The Beatles and how they were from England and how they were going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show in just a few weeks and how they were so different and…I swear to God, I turned around and ran home, bursting in the front door yelling, “Mom, Mom I just heard the greatest song I have ever heard on the radio and the band is… and they’re gonna be on…and can we please watch it?”

 

She was so cool and said, “Of course, we can.” (We watched Ed Sullivan every week anyway.) Settle down now.”

 

As the weeks leading up to February 7, 1964 passed, I heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” many times, and its power never faded (and still hasn’t, for me). So, when the nightly news showed pictures of the airport press conference and the wild scenes outside The Beatles’ hotel, the whole thing became even more compelling! They looked incredibly cool, and they were so funny.

 

Q: “Are you going to get a haircut while you’re here?”

 

George: “I had one yesterday”.

 

(Hahaha.)

 

Q: “There’s some doubt that you can actually play; can you play for us?”

 

John: “No, we need money first.”

 

(Too cool!)

 

The radio stations also began playing other Beatles songs: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Twist and Shout,” “All My Loving,” and “Please, Please Me”.

 

My Mom bought me Meet the Beatles. She was the coolest! I played it every day after school, and she didn’t complain at all. In fact, she liked it! She thought they were great. Of course, that hair was “ridiculous,” wasn’t it?

 

The 9 February Ed Sullivan performance was, of course, incredible, and it’s all anyone in school talked about for weeks! My life changed that day that I first heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio. I will never forget it. Eventually, I became a musician myself, and I continue to play and write music to this day.

 

The Beatles and their music, style, and talent became a major influence on my life.

 

Their message was clear… “Love is all you need.”

 

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole world got it?

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From Us To You… Cheers, Bruce!

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

In case you missed the really big celebration in Beatlefan magazine (“Beatles, Roaches Launch a 20-Year Journey”), on Sirius radio, and on podcasts such as the “She Said She Said” show on BlogTalk Radio, the Fest for Beatles Fans’ own Bruce Spizer is being lauded and applauded across the nation. It’s his anniversary!

 

Over the last 20 years, Bruce has built a reputation as the most respected Beatles music expert in the world, or as the Fest family fondly refers to him, “The Beatleseffin’pedia.” Despite the fact that he is a very busy New Orleans tax attorney, Spizer has written nine books establishing his well-deserved creds as the “go to guy” on the Beatles recordings, records, and record promotions. He has covered almost every aspect of Beatles music history in these distinguished volumes:

 

Beatles Records on Vee-Jay (1998)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 1 (2000)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 2 (2000)

The Beatles on Apple Records (2003)

The Beatles are Coming! (2003)

The Beatles Solo on Apple Records (2005)

The Beatles Swan Song (2007)

Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records (2011)

The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective (2017)

 

Never intentionally setting out to write a book, Bruce’s personal investigation into authentic 1960s Beatles pressings (when his record collection was destroyed and needed to be replaced) revealed a wealth of intricate information. The more Bruce learned in his quest, the more convinced he became that there was a need for an accurate, detailed book covering The Beatles on the Vee-Jay label – and on the intricate legal battle surrounding the company’s dealing with the Fab Four. Therefore, in 1998, he published that very book. And in doing so, Spizer started a tradition that will not slow or stop. His books are requested…in fact, popularly demanded…by knowledgeable Beatles fans who want to learn more.

 

Almost the second his Vee-Jay book hit the stands, Fest goers were “wink-wink-nudge-nudging” Bruce with, “So, when’s the Capitol book coming out?” And once Spizer had given them “the Capitol book,” his readers (and they are many…his books have grossed $2 million since their inception) were clamouring for “the Apple book.” For Spizer, there was no resting on one’s laurels. He had to keep writing.

 

In 2007, Spizer released a volume that he was certain would tie up all loose ends, covering (he thought) every remaining shred of information about Beatles recordings – everything that he had not previously discussed. One of those topics was The Beatles’ catalogue on Swan records. So cleverly, Spizer entitled this “final, final, infinity final” work, The Beatles Swan Song. Except, of course, that it wasn’t. Spizer may have wanted this definitive volume to be the swan song of his author-itative career, but he wasn’t permitted to relax yet: fans wanted the complete Parlophone story as well. They were insistent that The Beatleseffin’pedia tackle it from A to Zed. So, Spizer did just that, releasing in 2011, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records.

 

Yes, it is…it’s clear that Beatles fans and music aficionados can’t get enough of the painstaking detail which Bruce Spizer provides. He hunts down myths about Beatles music and summarily dispels them. He speaks with primary sources, such as Walter Cronkite (who wrote the Foreword for The Beatles Are Coming!), and he sets right past errors. Bruce has said on many occasions that, “A worthy book about The Beatles can’t be a mere collection of quotes and facts from other previous works patched together…a good book must provide new research and cover new territory.” And that, Bruce has done.

 

But there’s more to Bruce’s story…the personal side…because for those of us who call The Fest for Beatles Fans our home, Bruce is family. Well-known for his Saturday noon Main Stage kick-off presentations and his Friday night panels with Al Sussman, Tom Frangione, Chuck Gunderson, and many others, Bruce has always been integral to The Fest…a tradition we all anticipate and enjoy.

 

It was at the 2004 New Jersey Fest that a novice author named Jude Southerland Kessler listened intently to Bruce’s speech and then went up to ask him about The Quarrymen’s 1957 competition at the Liverpool Empire against (amongst other skiffle bands) The Sunnyside Skiffle group. “Mr. Spizer,” I wondered, “I know that the lead singer for The Sunnyside Skiffle group – who defeated The Quarrymen that day – was energetic Nicky Cuff. But who were the other members of the group?” At that moment, Bruce Spizer did two things that impressed me tremendously: First, he admitted he didn’t know. (Many experts would have “bulled their way” through with a flimsy answer.) And secondly, he suggested that I get in touch with Radio Merseyside and ask them for assistance with my mission.

 

So, I did. I e-mailed Radio Merseyside and explained that I was writing John Lennon’s biography in narrative form and needed to know a bit about each member of the vivacious, charismatic skiffle band that had bested the ingenue Quarrymen in June 1957. I explained that, if possible, I needed to speak with someone from the band: to discover exactly why the earliest version of The Beatles had fallen short that fateful day. Well, Radio Merseyside did what Bruce knew they would do. They ran a contest to “Help the American Author” – and happily, that contest ended in a direct overseas call to me from Nicky Cuff himself!

 

As I chatted with Cuff – the leader of the band who’d taught John Lennon that rock’n’roll involved much more than just singing a song – I finally understood the old adage, “The bigger they are, the nicer they are.” Cuff was quite gracious. And though there was nothing “in it” for him, well-established author, Bruce Spizer, had also been extremely generous. He’d taken time to help an unknown. He helped me uncover information I truly needed, despite the fact that he didn’t know me or my work.

 

Bruce’s brilliant notion of ringing up Radio Merseyside came naturally, of course, because that is exactly the kind of in-depth scholarship he regularly practices. It’s Spizer’s “extra mile” – the path he consistently takes to uncover little-known facts.  Indeed, his thorough, comprehensive, “no stone unturned” research has always met with great respect from his fellow authors and with admiration from the fans and readers as well. For the last twenty years, we’ve all said, “Good on yer, son!” Moreover, we’ve continued to ask for “More, more, more!”

 

So today, Bruce, we salute you on this 20th anniversary and look forward to the books to come. You simply can’t stop now! As John would say, “Y’er on a rock’n’roll!”



Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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The Fest For Beatles Fans: I Dare You!!!

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

It was the hot “self-help” book of the Sixties. Although William H. Danforth had penned it in 1931, I Dare You came into its own during the late Fifties and early 1960s. I got my red leather copy in 1965 – a present from my parents upon my elementary school graduation.

 

In this slim motivational volume, Danforth – the founder of the Ralston Purina dog food company – challenged young people to reach for the very best in life by “fulfilling their full potential through his strategies of becoming a more risk-taking person.” He dared people to find the best in life by seeking the path not taken, by trying new things and seeing the world in diverse and challenging ways. Well, very soon you’ll have a chance to be a Danforth devotee!

 

Next weekend, you will arrive at the New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans…something you’ve done three times, ten times, or perhaps even thirty times before (or more!). You’ll be wearing that sweatshirt and those buttons; you know, the ones you always wear. You’ll hang out with the same friends and plan to attend the same presentations you’ve attended since you learned to master the hand-clap pattern in “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” You’ll do the exact same things in the exact same way and then squinch your eyes up and whine, “Awww, things aren’t as good as they used to be. This is just the same ole, same ole. Ugh!”

 

But wait! Hold on a minute. In honor of Mr. Danforth, I DARE YOU!

 

I dare you to approach the Fest boldly this year…to try Something New. I dare you (like Thoreau in the Walden Pond woods) to come to the Fest to live intentionally…to set out with a conscious determination to test some unique experiences.

 

In fact, here are Number 9 Fun Adventures that I recommend. (There are tons of others…these are just a few that caught my eye!)

 

  1. I’m sure you know that 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ days in Rishikesh…that adventurous time that they spent in the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And to commemorate that direction-changing event in their lives, come to the Fest with loose comfy clothes (a lightweight sweat suit or yoga pants and a loose top will be just fine) and try a yoga class. If you have children, there is a children’s yoga class as well…attend with them and have fun. I dare you!
  2. The Fest has a wealth of live music that you have probably never heard! For example, plan to see Scott Erickson celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Traveling Wilburys by performing their Volume 1 in its entirety. If you’ve never heard Scott before, you’ve missed a treat. Seek him out.

 

Or, maybe you’d enjoy the mellow and gutsy stylings of Jacqui Armbruster. Check out her performance of “Come Together” at last year’s Fest.  Yeah, she’s great! And thus far, you’ve missed out! I dare you!

 

  1. Okay, you might not be a whiz kid, but you will LOVE seeing the people who are when Tom Frangione and Al Sussman host two great contests: “Beatles Trivia” and “Beatles Name that Tune.” The competitions range from easy to difficult, so “There’s a Place” for you. I promise. But even if you don’t participate (and I dare you to try), you will be wowed at those who do!! It’s lively and fast-paced! Give it a go!
  2. Need a less stressful change of pace? Well, Neal Glaser has the solution. Stroll through his art exhibit featuring the art of John, Paul, and Ringo. Not only are the incredible pieces that Glaser displays rare and amazing, but many are signed, and they’re available for purchase. Will you go home with an original McCartney? I dare you!
  3. Here’s a tip “From Me to You.” Did you know that there is a Sgt. Pepper juke box on display at the Fest? Find it and have your photo made beside it! (Or take a selfie.) In fact, why not stage a “Photography Contest” with a friend? Compete to see who (on one given afternoon) can capture the most unusual, artistic, or memory-filled photos. Agree beforehand on a prize for the winner, and get out there! IDY!
  4. One of The Quarrymen’s first “real gigs” (Saturday, 22 June 1957) was their appearance at the Roseberry Street Carnival in Liverpool 8 supervised by Mrs. Marjorie Roberts. And what a performance it was! John was so “on fire” that a group of breathless girls gathered at the foot of the stage…and the Hatherley Street gang (quite jealous that their birds were agog over Lennon) threatened to “smash The Beatles up.” Fortunately, young Charles Roberts was able to locate his mother and convince her to walk The Quarrymen off stage and into the safety of her home, where the boys remained until “the coast was clear.” Well, Charles Roberts himself will be at the New York Metro Fest! Meet him! Find him in the Marketplace and say hello! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – work with me, people! 😊 IDY!
  5. There are so many authors – biographers, Beatles music experts, Beatles film gurus, etc. – who travel hundreds (in my case, thousands) of miles to attend the Fest and speak in their area of expertise. So, this year, baby, branch out! Attend a presentation by someone you haven’t heard before! Have you heard Dave Bedford talk about his bold, new book, Finding the Fourth Beatle? Heard Jerry Hammack talk about the intricacies of The Beatles’ recording sessions? Have you ever taken my trip of unusual Liverpool sites at the “Early Bird” presentation on Saturday morning? Have you attended the Historians panel with Fest emcee and Beatles DVD host, Susan Ryan; author, Kit O’Toole; Rebeat Editor Allison Boron, and many other distinguished Beatles experts? (This year, they’ll be discussing The White Album on the advent of its 50th Anniversary!) Don’t be Decca Records and reject the unknown…I dare you to experience an author to whom you’ve never given an ear.
  6. Now, this one takes a bit o’ bravery…or a few drinks. Gather a group of friends and head over to the Beatles Karaoke room. If you go in with a friendly group, this can only be a blast! You know the lyrics. (Look up the number.) Get in there and “SANG” your heart out! Try it. I dare you!
  7. I’m sure you’ve heard their weekly online Beatles discussion group, but have you ever seen the “Fab Four Free 4 All” in person? This year, all three members will be on hand at the Fest, and hence, you are in for a treat! When Rob Leonard, Mitch Axelrod, and Tony Traguardo get together anything can happen, and does!!! They debate and discuss Beatles issues, head-on. Plan to see it all transpire! IDY…

 

Admittedly, this is only a wee smattering of the incredible things to do at next week’s Fest! I mean, the wealth of Beatles primary sources – from Gary Van Scyoc who was in Elephant’s Memory Band and will be performing in Jeff Slate’s Birds of Paradox to Billy J. Kramer to Jon Cobert to Mark Rivera – is unequalled at any Beatles gathering anywhere in the world! And the nostalgically wonderful things to do throughout the weekend (i.e., dress up in Sixties garb, dance the night away, and join the bands all over the hotel for pop-up singalongs) are extensive! In fact, here is a link to the entire schedule for the weekend to come. Read it and find a few treasures of your own.

 

I dare you to go “Steppin’ Out.” I dare you to make each day at the Fest even better than “The Night Before.” I dare you to have the time of your life!

 

And if you can do it, then I can do it! Next week, I’ll join you. I’ll plan to break a few rules and make “all work and no play Jude” a less-than-dull girl. Shall we do this together? We shall. I very dare us!



Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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May “A Paul” Fall Over The Land

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

IT happened just after the Superbowl.

 

After four hours of knuckle-gnawing, hair-raising, supreme gridiron action…interrupted only by a halftime that piled choreography atop an incredible light show and special effects…after four hours of superb athletic play dolloped liberally with hilarious (Danny DeVito as a brash, red M & M) and extremely touching commercials (such as Verizon’s “Answering the Call” tribute to first responders), I took a breather. To calm and unwind, I found my quiet computer and sat down to handle some business posts on Facebook.

 

And there I found them…The Naysayers. They were alive and well, despite the joy of the evening’s incredible offerings, and they were quite vocal:

“Justin Timberlake did nothing for me!”

“The commercials were a big, fat yawn.”

“The refs were awful.”

“The halftime show was the worst to date!”

“I’m not one bit impressed.”

“What happened to all the great commercials we used to have?”

 

I could barely believe my eyes. Had these people witnessed the same game I’d just seen? Had they watched the heartfelt Busch “Stand by You” commercial? Had they taken a bathroom break during the brilliant “We Will Rock You” Ford Ram Vikings ad? Had they not sat on the edge of their couches and shouted at the television as I had? Or had the worst finally transpired…had we morphed into a world conditioned to gripe and grouse, 24/7??

 

At that very moment, IT happened…yes, indeed it did. This ardent John Lennon devotee was driven straightaway into the emotional camp of Paul McCartney! In the blink of an eye.

 

I’m here to stand up and shout: The world needs more Pauls. The world needs more smiles, more “thumbs up,” more tact and kindness. The world need more brave faces. We need more “let it be.”

 

From Day One, The Beatles recognized that Paul was a great asset, and not just as a musician. Of the four boys, McCartney was by far the best-equipped to handle their public relations, to smooth rough corners, to manage sticky situations. In his book, Beatlemania: The Real Story of The Beatles U.K. Tours: 1963-1965, author Martin Creasy writes: “McCartney had an in-built sense of exactly the right or wrong thing for a Beatle to say at any given moment. Among all his other talents, Paul was the PR heavyweight who rarely, if ever, let slip anything that could damage the group’s reputation. He soon realised that unguarded moments…could result in unwelcome headlines.”[i]

 

But even before there were headlines, Paul was busy making life rosy for the other Beatles. On their first tour with Johnny Gentle to Scotland (in May 1960), the Beatles minibus unfortunately rear-ended a car that was legally stopped at a four-way crossing. Two very startled and scared elderly ladies sat in the damaged car, shocked at this assault by a van of teenagers. The Beatles, for their part, were injured (especially drummer, Tommy Moore) and very afraid of the legal ramifications. Paul was immediately elected to get out and make everything right.

 

Now, I ask you, how does one explain careening into the back of a cautiously stopped vehicle? How does one make the officious ramming of a sedan driven by two sweet, old grandmas acceptable? I have no clue, but Paul did. He smiled and gestured and was his affable self…and within minutes, the ladies were feeling sorry for the skinny, tired, young entertainer whose driver was falling asleep from an extreme dearth of rest. Paul made it all okay.

 

On the few occasions when Paul wasn’t at the “Happy Helm” of The Beatles, the center began to fly apart. No one is sure what miffed Paul into silence at the Cleveland press conference during the North American Tour of 1964, but miffed he was. He sat at the press conference table and doodled away, saying not a word to anyone. (Well, once he snarled at John when John suggested that their education in Liverpool wasn’t the best. But other than this singular flare, Paul sketched and kept his head down.) And though easy-going Ringo tried his best to fill in the large gap left by the muted Gregarious Beatle, Ringo struggled. George and John, of course, were as honest and forthright as ever. It was a very tense, touch-and-go afternoon.

 

You see, we need those who mend fences. We need those who bite their tongues, now and again. We need those who try to compromise or see the good in the opposite viewpoint. We need the Pauls who find something happy in every situation…the Pauls who elect not to fight at every bend in the road, but who make life easier on all around, simply by refusing to complain.

 

I thrive on John Lennon’s biting satire and commentary. I love George Harrison’s blunt honesty. I adore Ringo’s mournful complaints when he’s attacked with scissors or girls who steal his medals and rend his clothing. Like most people, I cherish the frankness of The Beatles, the brash sincerity that made them so trusted and thus, beloved.

 

But every once in a while, I wish we could all take a large dose of Sir Macca’s positive approach and “can do” outlook. I wish we could all make an effort to say, “Good Day, Sunshine” and really mean it.

 

It seems to me, we could all use that Macca miracle drug…uh, yesterday. Seeing Sir Paul in concert, it’s a cinch to observe his zest for living, his utter enthusiasm. No one would guess him a day over 50, much less 70! Why? Because being joyous defeats age; it reverses wear and tear. It invigorates and rejuvenates. It refreshes. (Exactly why Sir Mc was an ideal Superbowl halftime performer in 2005!)[ii]

 

So, I fervently pray that somehow “a Paul” may fall over our land, as it were. We need something to laugh about…and it’s that (instead of money) that I want.

 

[i] Creasy, Beatlemania: The Real Story of The Beatles U.K. Tours, 1963-1965, p. 290.

[ii] To see Sir Paul McCartney perform his full 2005 Superbowl Halftime Show, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QWw0WM_dos



Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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He Was Always “Sir Ringo” to Us!

By Jude Southerland Kessler and members of our Fest family

 

Sir Ringo Starr. Sir Richard Starkey. Either way, it has a lovely (Dare I say it?) ring to it! And there’s an appendage that seems to be attached to the title, whenever a Beatles fan utters it. It goes like this, “Sir Richard Starkey, About Damn Time.” Right?

 

For ages, those of us in the Beatles world have held our Ring in the highest esteem and have always known him to be rock’n’roll royalty. And our reasons for placing him in the category of “The Elite” are as many and varied as there are fans. Let’s hear from a few special people in our Fest for Beatles Fans family and discover what they remember most and best about Sir Ringo:

 

From David Bedford of The Dingle (where Ringo grew up) area of Liverpool and author of the upcoming book Finding The Fourth Beatle:

 

Ringo was the first Beatle I knew about as I grew up in the Dingle near Madryn Street where he was born, and I attended the same primary school, St. Silas that he had. The Dingle was a tough place to live back in the 40s and 50s.

 

He had such a hard childhood, with his father leaving home when Richy was only 3. He then nearly died from illness at the age of 7, missed a lot of school, contracted tuberculosis at 13 and was so ill. And yet, he emerged from this backdrop of adversity to become one of the most respected drummers of all time, and not just because he was a Beatle!

 

Having studied his drumming for my new book Finding the Fourth Beatle, I can now truly appreciate what he contributed to The Beatles and their sound. 

 

Don’t let anyone tell you he was lucky. He wasn’t! Finally he is getting the recognition he deserves. Arise, Sir Richy of Dingle.

 

From our fearless leader, Mr. Mark Lapidos, founder of The Fest for Beatles Fans:

 

What’s my favorite Sir Ringo Moment? Well, ‘I’m a Mocker’ does it for me! Also, on Ringo’s 70th birthday when Paul surprised him. Ringo ran and then sort of leaped onto his kit to join his ‘brother’ for “Birthday.” A most magical moment!”

 

From Nicole Michael of 910 Public Relations (a lifelong Ringo fan):

 

Sir Ringo is not afraid to be authentic. In several well-known interviews, he cries. I love a sentimentalist, and can totally relate to his just letting the emotions flow. He’s not dictated by a PR machine, he is himself. This is not more obvious than in his Twitter feed (by the way, everyone should read this article on the 19 reasons you should be following Ringo on Twitter!). A lot of people say Ringo was just lucky, but I say not only is he very talented, he is also honest and grateful.”

 

From author, Lanea Stagg, of The Recipe Records Series, including Recipe Records: A Tribute to The Beatles:

 

My mother should know. She always told me that Ringo was the Beatle that ALL the girls loved when the boys invaded America! Ringo’s one liners, or Ringo-isms, endeared him to his brothers John, Paul and George. They presented his charming phrases to the world: “tomorrow never knows,” “eight days a week” and “a hard day’s night!” The many interviews I’ve seen with Ring have only cemented the fact that he was genuine and loving and wished for love and peace. It is impossible not to love that “bundle of joy!”  

 

From Danny Abriano, who keeps our Fest for Beatles Fans social media and website running smoothly, and helps plan each Fest — including booking the Apple Jam Stage:

 

My favorite Ringo moment was being at his 70th birthday at Radio City when Paul showed up and the two of them played “Birthday” together! After Ringo’s set was over, I noticed a stagehand run out and place Paul’s iconic bass in the middle of the stage. I turned to the person I was with and let them know what was about to happen, even though I couldn’t quite believe it. Within seconds, Paul ran out, the place went ballistic (it was literally shaking), Ringo came back out and ran to his kit, and the song started, with Paul belting it out as if it was 1968. It was an unreal experience. For someone my age (I was born in 1983), seeing two Beatles playing together live was something I didn’t think I’d ever witness.

 

From Marti Edwards, author of 16 in 64: The Beatles and The Baby Boomers:

 

My most precious memory of Ringo was during their 1964 Press Conference in Chicago.  I was 16 years old then and our Beatles Fan Club was in attendance to present a plaque to the Beatles. When they entered the room, the press ran to take photos and ask questions. By the time we reached that side of the room, the Beatles were already talking to reporters. Peering over heads, I caught a glimpse of George, John and Paul, but didn’t see Ringo. I asked my friend where the heck was Ringo. The fellow standing directly in front of me turned and said, “Here I am darling” and gave me a hug.  I almost fainted…It was Ringo!  Thank you for the wonderful Ringo moment.  Big hugs to you, Ringo, fifty-four years later.

 

From Al Sussman, author of Changin’ Times: 101 Days That Shaped a Generation and lifelong Fest Family member:

 

Ringo was the final piece of the puzzle, transforming The Beatles from a popular Merseyside band to the group that changed the course of music history. If you need proof, watch Ringo playing like a man possessed for The Beatles’ first American concert and saying afterward, “I could have played for this crowd for hours!”

 

From Sara Schmidt, author of Happiness is Seeing The Beatles: Beatlemania in St. Louis:

 

As a Second Generation Beatles fan, I grew up with a Ringo loving mom. My mom, Coral, has loved Ringo Starr from the moment she first saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Throughout my life, I have always heard the praises of Ringo. (How he is the best drummer, sings the songs so much better than the cover versions of them, he is the funniest, the nicest, and the cutest.) And while I am a John girl myself, I have always had a soft spot for Ringo because my mom has always loved him. My favorite Ringo memory was when my mom and I saw Ringo in concert in 2014. We had great seats, 4th row center. At the last Fest that we had attended, my mom had bought a T-shirt from Mark Hudson that said, “Ringo Rocks!” In the middle of singing “Yellow Submarine,” Ringo noticed my mom’s shirt and made a motion across his chest to signal that he had read the shirt and then gave a “thumbs up.” My mom was thrilled beyond belief! Ringo actually noticed her 50 years after she first noticed him! I think it is great how Ringo goes out of his way at his concerts to wave or give a peace sign to as many fans in the audience that he can. As my mom’s shirt said – Ringo Rocks!  

 

From Jim Berkenstadt, the Rock’n’Roll Detective and author of The Beatle Who Vanished, the story of Jimmie Nicol:

 

For me, meeting Ringo was a big moment. I was invited to the Vegas premier of The Beatles “Love” show by Neil Aspinall. (I had worked on the show project.) 

 

At The Beatles After Party, I was chatting with Jim Keltner and John Densmore (drummer for The Doors). Ringo came up to say hello (to the drummers, not me. LOL) He said something like, “Oh, I didn’t know we were having a drummers’ convention.” I said to Jim Keltner, “I must have died and gone to drummer’s heaven!” Keltner is a fan too, so he understands. It was just a nice, relaxed chat. I just got to hang, say hello, and mostly listen to these amazing musicians. Needless to say we all talked about how much we loved the show.

 

From Tom Frangione, co-host of the Fab Fourum on Sirius XM Radio and lifelong Fest Family member:

 

Generally, my favorite thing about Ringo is the nearly 30-year running All Starr Band franchise. Got to see so many musicians I might not have ever gotten out to catch in concert. Seeing Ringo play so many styles of music and jam with the likes of Joe Walsh, Dave Edmunds, Felix Cavaliere, Billy Preston, Peter Frampton, and so many more has made for so many great memories!

 

BEST MOMENT – 7/7/2010 – All Starr’s do a concert on Ringo’s 70th birthday and Paul shows up to play – what else – “Birthday”! Place went crazy – TOTAL BEATLEMANIA!!!!

 

From Dr. Kit O’Toole, author of Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through The Beatles Lesser Known Tracks:

 

Ringo’s showmanship as a solo artist has grown more and more electric. I remember the Grammy Awards Salute to the Beatles TV special—when he bounded onstage to perform his solo spot, he OWNED that room. Wearing a radiant smile, Ringo ran up and down the stage, leading the ecstatic audience in singalongs and infusing the room with joy. Seeing an over 75-year old enthrall an audience of all ages?  THAT’S an inspiration.

 

From Ken Womack, author of Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer Sir George Martin, Vol. 1:

 

My favorite memory involves George Martin, who always felt bad about the way Ringo was welcomed into EMI Studios in the wake of Pete Best’s ouster and the manifestation of studio drummer Andy White. Years later, George would note that Ringo never complained in the studio, working for hours on end behind his kit as the others worked out their ideas, only making a small handful of errors in all of that time. It’s an astounding record, really, and a great tribute to Ringo’s sense of his craft.

 

From Susan Derbacher, lifelong Fest Family member and illustrator for Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series, Should Have Known Better:

 

One of my favorite Ringo quotes/comments is taken from an interview years ago: “First and foremost I am a drummer. After that I am other things.” In his self-effacing way, Ringo reveals what he hopes will be his legacy unaware at the time perhaps of the huge impact and imprint he and his band mates had left on the world. Everlasting indeed! A perfect example of this was witnessed the first time I saw Ringo live with his first All-Starr Band in 1989. Elated to see a Beatle in concert for the very first time (my 2nd being Paul in July 1990), I was struck at how he was simply just a part of the band. (Front and center when needed, but happy to be nicely tucked behind his kit as he transferred the spotlight to the other band members as they sang and soloed through their hits.) I have seen several incarnations of the All-Starrs through the years, and it is always an evening to sit back and enjoy an evening of Peace, Love, great music, and incredible moments. Sir Richard Starkey: a great drummer and humanitarian…and always unforgettable!

 

From Jacob Michael, Chicago Fest family member and editor for The John Lennon Series:

 

My favorite Ringo memory is probably seeing him on-screen for the first time in A Hard Day’s Night. I was only 11 years old and already a fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and that style of British humor, so I fell in love with The Beatles’ display of wit and their constant one-liners in that film. And I remember thinking that Ringo in particular had such a wonderfully dry and droll sense of humor. To this day I find myself randomly quoting his lines from that film: “She’ll only reject me in the end, and I’ll be frus-trated”; “hiding behind a smokescreen of bourgeois cliches!”; “well if he’s your grandfather, who knows, hahahahah!”

 

From Jerry Hammack, author of The Beatles Recording Reference Manual:

 

It’s 1967 in the pine paneled, shag carpeted rec room of my grandmother’s house in the south end of Seattle. She had let me stay up late because the midnight matinee on channel 4 was A Hard Day’s Night and she knows how much I love The Beatles. So, I’m camped a couple inches from that glorious 20″ black and white cathode ray tube, and there’s Ringo, making me laugh while he rocks my cowpoke pj’s off – with his hideous great hooter, and his poor little head, trembling under the weight of it! To this day, he still rocks me and he makes me laugh. 

 

Finally, from Suzie Duchateau, Chicago Fest family member:

 

I think socially/emotionally, Ringo made out the best of the four. Being an only child and spending many years “in hospital” as a youngster, I think he found a band of brothers in the other three – an instant family. As he missed much schooling in his formative years because of his health, he was not extremely “book smart,” and I think he could come off as a bit unfriendly to outsiders and let the others do the talking a lot. With the Beatles, however, he knew he was never judged and wasn’t made to feel that he didn’t measure up. He could just be himself and not think before he spoke. He was with family.  

 

Ringo, you are still with family, but these days, the family is quite large: worldwide. From Michael Quinn in Italy to Gabor Peterdi in Hungary to Adam Forrest in California, we love you and are so very proud. We read Dave Bedford’s words and tear up because we, too, feel a part of who you are and what you’ve done. And over the past fifty or so years, we’ve all been immensely honored to take the journey with you. Peace and Love – may they be yours, Sir Ringo.



Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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