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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P.S. We Love You

By Jude Southerland Kessler

A note to Mark and Carol Lapidos on the advent of the 41st annual Fest for Beatles Fans

 

My brilliant mother (the oh-so-quotable Maxine Southerland) used to warn me, “Jude, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” She believed that “Plans” (with a capital P) were useless unless one actually acted upon them. Worse than useless – a waste of time!

 

American author, Henry David Thoreau, strongly agreed, although – unfortunately for him – he never met Mrs. Maxine. Thoreau wrote, “If you have built your castles in the air…that is where they should be! Now, put the foundations under them!” In other words, dream…but then do.

 

The Beatles were living examples of that maxim. They were boys who dreamed big and then worked their ever-lovin’ guts out to make those far-flung dreams reality. They were tireless in their pursuit of “the toppermost of the poppermost,” working 10-12 hours a day without complaining to achieve their goal.

 

And it is the same with Mark and Carol Lapidos, the creators and directors of The Fest for Beatles Fans. Many of you have been to multiple fests without ever meeting Mark and Carol. You may have seen them handing out bracelets or fighting fires or greeting you warmly without even knowing whom you were addressing. They never make The Fest about them. In fact, they intentionally fade into the background to make sure that those three magical days in New Jersey (in March) and in Chicago (in August) are all about The Beatles.

 

But for 41 years now, this very happily married couple (a feat in itself in our age) and their two creative daughters, Michelle Joni and Jessica, have given their lives to the concept Mark dreamed up four decades ago. They have devoted themselves utterly to The Fest for Beatles Fans.

 

Forty-three years ago, Mark Lapidos had a dream. And without shying away or procrastinating or letting “life happen with its other plans,” Mark found a way to meet with John Lennon in New York City and ask John for his endorsement of this imagined festival celebrating the Fab Four. Mark tells this truly goose-bumpy story at the Fest for all to hear, so I won’t “spoil the party” by divulging the details. But suffice it to say, out of that courageous visit to John Lennon, the Fest for Beatles fans was born.

 

To my way of thinking, getting in to see John Lennon was coup enough. I struggle to get my interviews. It is thrilling to me to even visit with people who were part of The Beatles’ entourage! Give me a chauffeur, a Cavern Club doorman, a traveling journalist on one of The Beatles’ tours, and I’m in seventh heaven! But, Mark Lapidos took matters all the way to the top…straight to the man who conceived The Beatles, hand-picked his group, and kept them together in good times and in bad. Mark went to John Winston Lennon. To me, that is remarkable.

 

But Mr. L(apidos) did much, much more. He began planning the Fest, partnering with his fiancé and later, wife, to work long hours “eight days a week” to book hotels, schedule conference rooms, supply food and drink, check on parking conditions, secure noted speakers, book Beatles notables, haul merchandise to Fest sites, set up decorations, make certain that electrical and AV equipment was working, and hire an extensive staff of trusted, responsible, impressive Fest employees to work for months insuring that each event was a roaring success. And hey, I’m only touching on the proverbial tip of the iceberg! There is soooooo much more to carrying off a mammoth event such as this. So much more.

 

And listen, the thing is…Mark and Carol and Jessica and Michelle didn’t just do this for a year or five or ten. They made it happen (extremely well) year after year after year through times when babies were born, when parents passed away, when the economy was awful, when hotels fell into disrepair and new venues had to be sought, when equipment failed, when storms rocked the area, when they were happy, and when they were sad. They endured for 41 years, no matter what.

 

The Lapidos family has been giving Beatles fans “a home away from home” and a place to reunite for 41 years. Theirs isn’t a story of “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” Theirs is the story of “been there, DONE THAT!” But they don’t say that in a jaded, bored way. Nope, 41-years-in, they are still uber-excited to present the Fest to you, thrilled to say “a splendid time is guaranteed for all,” and “happy just to dance with you.” Their hearts are still 100% invested in the hands-on running of this wonderful festival. They care.

 

So, I want you to see their photo (below, with Joey Molland, Albert Lee, and Mark Hudson)…and I’m asking each of you to seek them out at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, Aug. 11-13 and thank them. I’m asking you, if you’d be so kind, to simply shake their hands or give them a hug and tell them from the heart how much you appreciate what they’ve given us all for lo these many years. I don’t think a simple “thank you” is out of order, do you?

 

And…ahem!!!!…if I were Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr, I would make it a point to show up one year and thank them as well…thank them for a lifetime of “putting the foundations under” a long-ago dream that has kept Beatles fans united, excited, and informed.

 

Mark and Carol, the Beatles authors of your Fests salute you! We are so proud to be associated with you. To us (although you are our age and younger, in many cases, than we are) you are our parents. You make us into family, and we love you! Thank you from our Beatle-y hearts.


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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2016 New York Metro Fest Recap!

Dear Beatles Family,

 

What a weekend we had at the Fest in New York!

 

John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it again…the unity and atmosphere over the weekend was truly remarkable to see, and we have YOU to thank for it.

 

At #FESTCHESTER, thousands of Beatlemaniacs came together at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th Anniversary of Revolver. This is our collective recap…

 

If you get to the bottom of this email and these pics aren’t enough for your vicarious re-living of the New York Metro Fest, our first album on Facebook from the Fest’s Danny Abriano is already up HERE, as is Michelle Joni’s first album HERE. We’ll be adding more albums in the coming days, so be on the lookout! We’ll also be putting together a fans album, so be sure to tag your pics with #FESTCHESTER if you haven’t already.

 

Also head to and subscribe to our YouTube page, where videos from the New York Metro Fest have already gone up and many more are on the way!

 

The hotel started to fill with fans early in the week, and excitement built up as we set up the hotel. Lobby jams started, Beatles music started pumping both inside and outside the hotel, and fans explored the spacious and serene Hilton Westchester, preparing for the fab three days that were to come.

 


 

The FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday, April 15 as fans brought their Beatley swagger with them to more than a dozen ballrooms throughout the hotel. Along with our band, Liverpool, perfectly recreating Beatles tracks note for note, our guests included PETER ASHER, CHAD AND JEREMY, BILLY J. KRAMER, MIKE PENDER, MARK RIVERA, MARK HUDSON, and LOUISE HARRISON, most of whom joined emcee KEN DASHOW of Q104.3 (he called himself “hopalong Ken” over the weekend) on Friday night for a chat.

 

 

 

 

Friday night continued on with the 60s Dress Up contest and Dance Party –- where LIVERPOOL treated Festers to three rocking sets of Beatles tunes.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

 

 

 

 

To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some amazing Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors. Fab Forward won the Battle of the Bands, while last year’s winners, Yesterday and Today, snagged second place.

 

 

 

 

Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung signs — both of the tongue in cheek and serious variety — showing their gratitude to the Beatles…

 

 

The FABoratory, one of our newest additions, where fans had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians, Mad Fab Scientists, and teachers, was such a blast…

 

 

The live music of the weekend wasn’t limited to the nighttime concerts…

 

PETER ASHER joined forces with CHAD AND JEREMY for two special musical memoir concerts

 

 

 

MIKE PENDER of The Searchers and BILLY J. KRAMER united for a concert on Saturday afternoon, featuring Billy’s hot band including the legendary Liberty Devitto on Drums. Billy J. also world premiered his autobiography, Do You Want To Know A Secret at the FEST, and has signed a bunch of copies for us to sell to those of you who couldn’t be there.

 

 

 

 

JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX, featuring members from John Lennon’s Elephant’s Memory band, rocked the house

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform “Slippin’ and Slidin'”

 

 

String quartet CELLOPHANE FLOWERS, featuring JEFF LUBIN, made their second Fest appearance, again wowing the crowd on two stages with their Beatles arrangements

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Penny Lane’

 

 

THE WEEKLINGS, playing songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and other Beatles cuts, took the stage on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘It Won’t Be Long’

 

 

And SCHOOL OF ROCK from Bedford, New York gave us a glimpse into the future with their performances on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’

 

 

The Apple Jam Stage, which has become an integral part of the Fest experience, rocked all weekend with New York jam band THE MEETLES, Fest staple THE BOOTLEGS, SCOTT ERICKSON playing deeper Beatles cut, JANNA PELLE tickling the ivories, Beatles mixes with DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA, MR. RAY’s children’s concert, 12-year-old guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire MOLLY JEANNE, JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (whose pipes and guitar playing are otherworldly), Criminal Trio BANDITS ON THE RUN, the incomparable MICHELLE JONI, CELLOPHANE FLOWERS (a teaser set before their main stage set), the uniquely talented OWL AND WOLF, BRUTE FORCE of King of Fuh fame, SCHOOL OF ROCK, enchanting trio TRIPLE G, and the supremely talented LENNON & KATIE of Youth Be Told.

 

HEAD HERE to see Jacqui Armbruster perform ‘Oh! Darling’

 

HEAD HERE to see Bandits On The Run perform ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’

 

HEAD HERE to see Triple G perform ‘Something’

 

 JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (with surprise drop-in MARK HUDSON)

SCOTT ERICKSON

THE MEETLES

DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA

 BANDITS ON THE RUN

TRIPLE G

LENNON & KATIE OF YOUTH BE TOLD

 

All weekend, after the scheduled performances had concluded, the Apple Jam Stage opened up for the fans, who jammed into the wee hours of the morning.

 

MARK RIVERA —  who was otherwise occupied, as Billy Joel’s sax player — was only able to make it on Saturday, but put on a tremendous performance with Liverpool

 

 

JON COBERT, who recorded with John Lennon, performed with JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX during their concert earlier on Saturday and joined in for the Musicians’ Forum

 

 

 

Meanwhile, jams were going strong all throughout the hotel all weekend long — sunrise to sundown and beyond…

 

 

As always, the Beatles art contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly great works by professionals, amateurs, and kids, all who took home prizes. In the Professional division, Eddie Colacci took first place for his 3D album covers, while Regina Gelfer’s ‘Celebrate the Beatles’ came in second. In the amateur division, Rachel Bremlist took first place for her Revolver mosaic, Nancy Lennon’s Yellow Submarine bathroom tower decoupage finished in second, and Gene Brady’s Help! silhouette finished third. For kids 16 and younger, Sophie Feldman took the top prize for her Paul at the piano pencil sketch. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.

 

 

 

At his 20th Fest, MR. PUPPET BOB ABDOU took to the main stage for a special performance and also led our fifth annual Beatles parade, which was Yellow Submarine-themed this year

 

 

The New York Metro Fest was also the weekend home to over a dozen Beatles authors and historians, including BRUCE SPIZER, VIVEK TIWARY, DAVID BEDFORD, JUDE SOUTHERLAND KESSLER, AL SUSSMAN, TOM FRANGIONE, CHUCK GUNDERSON, PIERS HEMMINGSEN, CANDY LEONARD, KIT O’TOOLE, JOHN KRUTH, MICHAEL STARR, ANTHONY ROBUSTELLI, KENNETH WOMACK, GREG STERLACE, AND JUDITH KRISTEN.

 

 

The Fest also featured the Marketplace and Vendor Room, where fans could get Every Little Beatles Thing they desired

 

 

 

Meanwhile, when Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading, they took in one of BOB ABDOU’s highly entertaining Beatles puppet shows, got memorabilia signed, watched a movie in the Beatles video room, sang Beatles karaoke, toured the photo, Beatles art, and memorabilia rooms (ROB SHANAHAN, NEAL GLASER, ERIC CASH), and more.

 

 

 

Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes for adults and kids, and intro sessions to Cosmic Consciousness with the teachers of Transcendental Meditation.

 

 

Other highlights from the weekend were Live Beatles Trivia and Name That Tune hosted by Al Sussman and Tom Frangione, a fan winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show that accompanied Liverpool’s performances.

 

For our sixth Annual Las Vegas Beatles Love Getaway Sweepstakes, the winner, was not present, but Michelle Joni phoned her from the stage and she was home. We all heard her very excited reaction. Pictured below is last year’s winner, Carl Maltzman, who told the crowd what a great time he had.

 

 

Below, Michelle Joni and Tom Frangione show the Spirit Foundation grand prize that Yoko sent for the FEST. And the winner of the prize poses for a pic

 

 

As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as were the Saturday and Sunday night concerts that saw LIVERPOOL play Revolver in its entirety and other Beatles cuts before the stage opened to MARK RIVERA, MIKE PENDER, BILLY J. KRAMER, and MARK HUDSON.

 

We also want to send out a huge THANK YOU to STEVE HOLLEY, who immediately jumped in upon hearing Chris had an accident over the winter and would not be fully ready to play the entire weekend. He did a fantastic job.

 

 

Drew, John, Glen, and Chris of Liverpool — with a little help from Steve Holley — were fantastic all weekend, kicking things off with the Dance Party on Friday night, playing Side 1 of Revolver and more on Saturday, and finishing things up in thrilling fashion on Sunday night by performing Side 2 of Revolver and even more Beatles cuts.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Love You To’

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’

 

 

 

 

MARK HUDSON then joined in and he and Liverpool tore through the jams — including an epic rendition of the Joe Cocker version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends — before wrapping things up with ‘Hey Jude.’

 

HEAD HERE to see Mark Hudson & Liverpool perform ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’

 

 

 

After the New York Metro Fest officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with Fest founder Mark Lapidos leading everyone in a rendition of “Here Comes The Sun” before Festers playing until the sun came up and people started going about their Monday morning business. This is our continued official tradition — join us next year!

 

The fans brought the energy all weekend, with the traditions of Fests gone by seamlessly intertwining with the new events and activities that spiced up the weekend.

 

We are still gathering all of the pictures and videos from The Fest to share, and we want to see all of yours, too! As we did over the weekend, use the hashtag #FESTCHESTER to share pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter (@Beatles_Fest), and post pictures on our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/thefest.

 

In addition to the albums that are already up, lots 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 Hilton Westchester, who did a terrific job hosting the Fest, especially Maura. Most of all, we want to offer another thank you to all the guests and fans who came to celebrate all things Beatles for our 42nd year in New York!

 

We are already gearing up for the Chicago Fest, taking place August 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinios. Details will be released at TheFest.com in late-May, so keep an eye out!

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The definitive Paul McCartney biography available at the Fest Shop!

Available for pre-order at the Fest Shop (publish date of May 3) is Paul McCartney: The Life, by Philip Norman.

 

The definitive biography of Paul, all copies ordered through the Fest will be bookplate signed by the author.

 

Paul has given Philip Norman his approval to write this book, opening doors to family and friends, making it the biography.

 

Since the age of twenty-one, Paul has lived  the ultimate rock-n-roll life played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul’s story is told by rock music’s foremost biographer (Shout and John Lennon: The Life) with McCartney’s consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. PAUL McCARTNEY: THE LIFE reveals the complex character behind the facade and sheds new light on his childhood–blighted by his mother’s death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music. Packed with hundreds of pages of new information and critical insights. Hardcover 864 Pages.

 

Author Philip Norman teases the book below…

 

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