Celebrating the Golden of the White Album

Here is Jude Southerland Kessler’s latest Blog:

The Beatles’ THE WHITE ALBUM: An International Symposium Conference

 

One of the joys of writing this blog is sharing with you the biggest events around us in The Beatles World. It’s even more rewarding when those special events involve members of our own close-knit Fest family, as well as those we’ve been fortunate to highlight through the years as Honored Guests at the Fest.

 

Such an event is now on the horizon. It will take place November 8-11, 2018, at Monmouth University, located in West Long Branch, New Jersey…only a good “Stones throw” (try Mick, he’s light) from our own New Jersey Fest location. The Beatles’ THE WHITE ALBUM: An International Symposium – a virtual collection of Beatles’ “Who’s Who” from all over the globe – will take place in association with the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music on lovely Monmouth University Campus. And what a landmark event it promises to be!

 

In fact, our own fearless leader, Mark Lapidos, will be front and center! And the impressive cast of distinguished lecturers and authors around him include people whom Mark has hand-selected, through the years, to keynote at the Fest as well as familiar faces from our own Fest family! These include:

 

* the over-awing Beatles Guru himself, author, Mark Lewisohn

 

* the former U.S Manager of Apple Records and author, Ken Mansfield

 

* GRAMMY award-winning engineer (who graced the Chicago Fest this year), Geoff Emerick

 

* noted Beatles music theorist and author, Walter Everett

 

*the most respected name in Beatles discography, author Bruce Spizer

 

* award-winning Beatles music author and host of the “Something About The Beatles” podcast, Robert Rodriguez

 

* historian and author of the 9-volume John Lennon Series, Jude Southerland Kessler

 

* author and rock myth-buster, a.k.a. The Rock’n’Roll Detective, Jim Berkenstadt

 

* author of The Recipe Records Series and co-host of the “She Said She Said” podcast, Lanea Stagg

 

* author, associate editor of Beatlefan magazine, and host of the “Bottomless Soul” show, Dr. Kit O’Toole

 

* author and Executive Editor for Beatlefan magazine, Al Sussman

 

Indeed, there are so many distinguished writers who will be attending this conference that it’s almost overwhelming! And we are extremely proud to have so many from the Fest in attendance.

 

There is also a plethora of Beatles experts slated to speak who have been joyfully included for their stellar research and unique, outstanding roles in the music world. These include:

 

* Allan Kozinn, immensely-respected music writer for The New York Times, High Fidelity, and the New York Observer and co-host of the “Things We Said Today” podcast

 

* Scott Freiman, whose “Deconstructing The Beatles” programs are highly-sought-after

 

* renowned record producer, Chris Thomas, who worked with Sir George Martin at AIR and was part of the production team of The White Album

 

* author Richard Buskin and Eric Taros who co-host the “Swinging Through the Sixties” podcast

 

* author and Beatles music expert, Tim Riley

 

* author and contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield

 

And, of course, we are especially proud of….drum roll, please…the man who conceived this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of Beatles greats and brought it to life: author of the highly-acclaimed biographies of Sir George Martin (Vol. 1, Maximum Volume and Vol. 2, Sound Pictures), Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University, and long-time friend of the Fest, Dr. Kenneth Womack.

 

Ken has planned a weekend for symposium attendees that will be unlike any other symposium to date. “We look forward to welcoming so many music fans and Beatles scholars to Monmouth University, where we will be celebrating the landmark recording and release of The White Album,” said Ken. “West Long Branch, New Jersey, will be the place to be for Beatlemaniacs in November!”

 

On Tuesday, 6 November, area fans will be happy to join Ken and Mark Lewisohn for Monmouth University’s “Tuesday Night Record Club.” And you guessed it: that month’s LP will be none other than The White Album. Then, on Thursday, 8 November, there is a pre-conference bus tour of famous rock’n’roll sites along the Jersey Shore led by authors Jean Mikle and Stan Goldstein. Attendees will get to see Asbury Park’s Stone Pony and Paramount Theater…and will, of course, zip over to Belmar for a rare photo op at 10th Avenue and E Street. Classic!

 

Also on the 8th, The Weeklings will perform, with several very special tributes to The White Album. And throughout the weekend, iconic films such as Paul Saltzman’s The Beatles in India and Jerry Zolten and Dick Boak’s Ballad of the Dreadnaught (the history of Martin acoustic guitars) will be shown.

 

In addition to all of the great talks from Beatles experts and scholars, Monmouth University will also be hosting music and recording demonstration rooms where attendees can learn more about how the bandmates and their production team performed and recorded some of the songs on The White Album.

 

If attendees can find a wee smidgen of spare time in between the incredible presentations, films, bands, and tours, they will also want to spend some time browsing through the Bruce Springsteen Archives. This collection of 35,000 items from 47 countries across the globe is truly mind-boggling! Besides honoring native son, Springsteen, the archive also houses memorabilia from Frank Sinatra, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams.

 

So…right now… STOP whatever you are doing and say this into your computer/phone/Alexa calendar app: “Attend THE WHITE ALBUM Symposium Conference, Monmouth University, Nov. 8-11.” Then hesitate no more. Go to https://www.monmouth.edu/the-white-album/#details for more details about hotels and travel. On September 21st, individual pay passes and tickets to the keynote addresses will be available for non-presenters. So be sure to check back on the 21st to book your ticket to ride at the conference!

 

This IS a “reeeeally big shooow,” an event that you mustn’t miss. Don’t pass it by (don’t make me cry, don’t make me blue…). Be there! It will be a weekend you’ll talk about for years to come!

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Hey Jude Released 50 Years Ago Today

Apple Records was an experiment of idealism in 1968. On this date, Monday, August 26, 1968, Apple released its “First Four” Singles – Hey Jude/Revolution, Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin, Sour Milk Sea by Jackie Lomax, and Thingumybob. A major record company could release hundreds of songs in a year and not have the success of this new upstart company. Three of these songs are true standards and truly loved by everyone. Derek Taylor even predicted Mary Hopkin’s vocal gem would become a standard at weddings forever!

But I wanted to write about Hey Jude today. I was a waiter at Kutsher’s Country Club, Monticello, NY, and usually napped after breakfast (with my radio on, of course). I was half asleep when the song came on. It was a Twilight Zone moment. I was in and out of sleep and the song seemed like it was going for an hour! I could barely get my head around what I had just heard. I knew it was a new Beatles song of course, but how long was it on for? After lunch I rushed back to wait for it again (did not have to wait long at all!) It really hit me like a ton of bricks. I was totally amazed and knocked out by it. Two weeks later, it shot right up to #2 on WABC in NYC. Cousin Brucie said the switchboard was overloaded with fans yelling why it wasn’t #1. He apologized on air for it. It was Number One for the next two months, knocked out of the top slot by…you guessed it… Those Were The Days. To me it was much more than a single. It was like an entire album in one song. I was late to many of my classes in my senior year at Adelphi U. I just couldn’t turn the song off the radio while Hey Jude played, even thought I had the single on my turntable until the White Album came out 3 months later. And the ‘b side’ (Revolution) was not too shabby. Paul and John were at the height of their creativity. Hey Jude is my favorite song of all time and it usually ends up at #2 in the Classic rock fan voting for Greatest Song Ever (Stairway to Heaven has that honor, but not in my book). 50 years later, I still never, ever get tired of hearing it. I imagine I never will…na na na nanana na.

Peace and Love,
Mark

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WHY We Fest…

WHY We Fest…

 

By Jude Southerland Kessler

https://www.johnlennonseries.com

 

A decade ago or more, it seemed as if ages and ages crawled by between Fests. The span of time between the New Jersey and Chicago events dragged on forever! But now, the days seem to fly by, and I’ve barely unpacked before it’s time to find my Beatles sweatshirts, buttons, hats, and paraphernalia…and head right back again.

“You’re going to another Fest?” my hairdresser said (as I asked her to “put the fire back in those locks!”).

“Yep, as fast as my car can drive me!” I smiled.

“But…I mean…don’t you get tired of…it’s just…you go all the time, it seems like.”

“Well,” I really thought about it for a moment, “I know it seems that way to an outsider, but to those of us in what we call ‘The Fest Family,’ there can never be too many in a year. It’s never enough…”

Why?” She skeptically closed one eye at me. “What’s so special? Why do you…um, fest?”

And just like that, the question was on the table.

I mumbled my pat answer – I said that the Fest was like Thanksgiving for all of us. But, over the next few days, I really began mulling her question over. I thought about it as I mowed the yard, planned my book release party, drove to the grocery store, and worked on my Chicago presentations. And the answer finally came to me one night as I was running…a direct answer, in fact, – not from our own Liddypool boys – but from the Eagles!

They sang the answer into my earbuds…those haunting, beautifully immortal words from “Hotel California: “Some dance to remember…some dance to forget.” Yes, that was it! Dead right!

At times, we go to the Fest for Beatles Fans to remember…to recall the night we sat glued to our parents’ enormous black’n’white TV set while Ed Sullivan swept his arm across his body and shouted, “The Beatles!” We Fest to remember how it felt to see John, Paul, George, and Ringo scamper quickly off the concert stage after what we presumed (though no one could hear a note) was “Long Tall Sally.” We Fest to conjure up that rush we felt when the needle hit the first groove of Sgt. Pepper….to relive those Christmas mornings when even the shiny foil paper and full satin bows failed to disguise the latest Capitol album from our Fab Four.

We Fest to remember who we are…not grandparents or businesspeople or mothers or fathers or husbands or wives…but our truest selves: that young man proudly wearing the pale grey, pocketless jacket, Cuban heels, and “long hair” of his heroes; the giddy girl skipping school to trek out to JFK; the frightened but determined school reporter penning the essay defending John Lennon against the out-of-context Datebook quote…and ending up in the principal’s office for being so “disappointingly radical.” At The Fest, we are still the young, bright-eyed Sam Goody employee counting the seconds ’til the stroke of midnight when the next Parlophone LP will finally be released! We are the still young mother singing a “No Reply” lullaby to her child or the scared young dad pacing with his baby in the dark and weakly crooning, “Beautiful Boy.”

At the Fest, we return to who we are. We cross the barrier of time and age. We become US again.

A few years ago, I was crossing the Chicago lobby when someone shouted at me, “Hey Lennon Chick!” I chuckled. I wasn’t offended…or insulted or diminished or threatened. Instead, I smiled to know that someone saw me for who I was…not a studious author buried in research, manuscripts, and conference presentations…but a fan who loved John Lennon and wasn’t afraid to let the world know it.

Indeed, we Fest to remember.

But just as importantly, we Fest to forget.

“The world is too much with us, late and soon,” wrote British poet, William Wordsworth. Indeed, day after bitter day, we are being pummeled by the world…by politics, divisiveness, anger, and hatred. There are dark accusations lurking around every corner and enough suspicion and blame to make even Kent State look tame. Our world is madly enraged.

And so, we Fest to retreat from it all. We need to hear, “Give Peace a Chance” and “Love is All You Need.” We need to “Come Together” and “Let it Be.” We need to find common ground instead of fault. We need to hug our friends on both sides of the aisle and find in each other’s eyes a bond and not a barrier. We Fest to forget…if only for one weekend.

In many ways, I think, the quick, pat answer that I tossed out to my hairdresser was accurate. The Fest is my Thanksgiving (and yours) – a chance to sit down and share deep dish pizza at Giordano’s with a loud, rowdy group of people we love. It’s our chance to catch up on their lives and to tell stories of our own. We Fest to cry on each other’s shoulders and share the photos in our phones and stay up too late and tell too many corny jokes and secrets. Without a doubt, the Fest is our Thanksgiving.

But more than that, it’s the place at the end of the long and winding road where we are happy just to dance…some to remember, some to forget.

I hope to see you in Chicago. You can wear your favorite jeans or bell-bottoms. I’ll wear those same, old be-jeweled flip-flops that enable me to stand for 11 hours in my booth. I know you’ll still believe that Paul is the genius. And I’ll believe it’s John…and secretly, we’ll both agree that it took “two to tango.” But we’ll never admit that out loud. We’ll stick to our guns, because we’ll be at the Fest. And at the Fest, we aren’t grandparents or businesspeople or mothers or fathers or husbands or wives. We are BEATLES FANS…and that, dear friends, is what calls us to the dance.

 

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Carry That Weight a Long Time

When our lush, wax-leaf Ligustrum limbed out over the wall into our neighbor’s pool, I smiled and offered to take care of the intrusion for her. My husband, Rande – I chirped – would climb up and cut the limbs back. (Any excuse to use the trusty chain saw, right?) And I would enjoy “suntan aerobics” by dragging the branches across two yards to the street dumping point.

 

At first, it was a brilliant idea! Rande was whirring (and sweating) away, experiencing the ultimate joy of power tools, and I was getting a fantastic workout, hauling gigantic limbs. But the first half hour turned into an hour and then, it was two hours, and I began to sing, “Boy, you’re going to carry that weight, carry that weight a long time!” Some 50-odd years after The Beatles penned those lyrics, I began to understand their real meaning.

 

You know, it’s fairly easy to carry something – even something heavy – for a short duration. If there’s an end in sight, you can do it! You just grit your teeth, lift with your legs, breathe, and go for it.

 

But when you have to carry a weight a long time, that’s a completely different story. It takes real character to endure the long haul.

 

I just finished writing Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series after four years of some pretty intense research, writing, and editing. And, in this last year as the worked stretched on and on and on, I began to doubt that I could carry that weight any longer…even though my husband and best friend, Lanea, were working right along with me – even though I had great editors and a wonderful research assistant. Still, the work seemed overwhelming…even unendurable, at points. For the first time in my life, I considered giving up.

 

But I had a great role model in perseverance: The Beatles. No one I’ve ever known could do it better. Just in 1964 alone, the boys steeled themselves to complete two LP’s; the film, “A Hard Day’s Night”; a World Tour, a lengthy North American Tour, and a “no frills” Autumn U.K. Tour…all the while writing songs, giving interviews, starring on TV specials, doing radio shows, and even performing an aerial ballet at “The Night of 100 Stars.” And though, by December, they were truly knackered – bone weary – somehow, they found the verve to do it all again in 1965.

 

What was The Beatles’ secret? My theory is that they were able to endure because they knew what was required of them was important and necessary. Those who survive do so because they realize that if they want to reach “the toppermost of the poppermost,” they must be constantly “workin’ like a dog,” “eight days a week.”

 

You see, I think our most difficult struggles are important ones. We live through chemo to cure the cancer. We accept the disorder and loneliness of moving to a new location to find that new career or new school or new life. We take the pain of a dissolved relationship to move ahead into a new hope. We work without sleep, ’round the clock, to create something that will last. Carrying the weight generally means that we are constructing tomorrow – that we are hauling in immense building blocks for something worthwhile. And that’s never easy.

 

One of the hardest parts of long-suffering (of “carrying the weight a long time”) is the feeling that no one else is hurting the way we’re hurting – that everyone else is leading a better and/or happier life and that we, alone, are in constant pain. But that is never true.

 

Attending church with my son and daughter-in-law two Christmas Eves ago, each family was given a book written by one of the pastors at the church. It was entitled Everyone’s Perfect (Until You Get to Know Them). I so love that title and the truth in its premise.

 

I sincerely believe that ALL (and yes, I mean ALL) of the people whom we eye enviously (you know, those folks who are sailing blissfully through life while we struggle under the load), are secretly carrying a tremendous weight as well. They may disguise it, but they are heavy-laden, in some form or another, just as we are.

 

Tonight, I heard a brilliant quote from newsman, Brit Hume. He said, “Every person you know is dealing with something you don’t know about. Be kind. Be very kind.” Every. Person. You. Know.

 

Each and every individual has a burden. No one is exempt.

 

We’re in this together, and we all share the same fate: that is, we must keep going. We must keep moving forward, keep trying, keep trudging toward the goal line. The Beatles didn’t say, “We suggest you carry the weight,” or “We think you should carry the weight,” or “It would be nice if you carried the weight…” No, they said, “Boy, you’re GOING TO carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.” It was a flat statement of fact: you will do this. This will happen. This must be.

 

Our boys, as always, were quite right. Our lives consist of putting one foot in front of another. Our days are built upon the motto, “Keep on keepin’ on.” Life is certainly no picnic, no simple chore. But knowing we’re all in this together, it’s something we can do. We get by with a little help from our friends.


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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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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Old Friends, Bookends… Today I Turn 70

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

All you need is love,

Mark Lapidos

A baby boomer and very proud of it

 

Written January 19, 2018 5:30AM            

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It’s Not Always Going to Be This Grey

Paul Simon depicted this season best: “…and the sky is a hazy shade of winter…”

 

Yes, even in generally sunny and mild Louisiana, this afternoon, it was a crushing 22 degrees. Almost as soon as the sky brightened, it fell back into darkness. These are short and bitter days: full-on winter.

 

Yet, in the midst of this unbearable cold, I read in my gardener’s journal that I should be out planting. I’m late putting in kale. My pansies are long overdue. And, if I want daffodils, jonquils, or tulips for spring, they must go into the frozen ground this week. I need to dig out my gloves and spade, bundle up, and get to work. But in the freezing darkness, I must admit, I have little motivation.

 

Then, I think of George Harrison. I think of George in those dim and sunless days after The White Album, when (for the most part) his genius was ignored and his contributions to The Beatles, largely overlooked. It was “the winter of [his] discontent,” but in those seemingly barren days, instead of despairing, George began planting.

 

When John and Paul shrugged him off and pushed their own projects forward, it would have been easy for George to doubt himself. It would have been reasonable for George to buy into the attitude that he was “second best.” (Or third best, as it were.) Instead, continuing to believe in himself and in his ability to be fruitful, George used that fallow time to begin writing “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t It a Pity?” and “What is Life.” Fully confident that “it’s not always going to be this grey,” George began quietly preparing for a bright harvest that would shock those who had swept him aside.

 

He began penning, editing, and improving the songs that would – almost two years later – grace his double GRAMMY-nominated (for “Best Album of the Year” and “Best Single of the Year”) album. He began creating All Things Must Pass. In a very dark time, George quietly tilled the fertile soil of his imagination, carefully planting seeds that would flourish into that triple-album bearing the greatest creative work of his career.

 

In a wry twist of fate, had The Beatles embraced George’s plethora of compositions during 1968 and 1969, the accomplished Harrison would not have compiled the elegant and varied catalog that fills All Things Must Pass. As music critic Ritchie Unterberger adeptly observed, the album was filled with “[George Harrison’s] backlog of unused compositions from the late Beatles era.” Indeed, the “shadowy winter” that engulfed George’s last two years as a Beatle was necessary; it furnished a quiet time for him to create a genius solo album.

 

And so, like George, I resolve to plant. I resolve to make the most of an uncomfortable, bleak, and lonely season. Instead of letting darkness defeat me, I resolve to use it as an instrument to come back stronger, more vibrant – full of fragrant blooms.

 

I wish you a time for planting, too. I wish you a New Year full of quiet moments in which to plan and grow. May every season of 2018 be used to good purpose…even the most frozen moments that seem to have no potential. George found them a blessing. May we as well.

 

Listen to George’s title track, “All Things Must Pass” here…


1. Shakespeare, William, from Richard III

2. From “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison on the All Things Must Pass LP, 1970.

3. Richie Unterberger, Review: All Things Must Pass LP, AllMusic.com, https://www.allmusic.com/album/all-things-must-pass-mw0000194979


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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