45 Years Ago Today — Fri., 4/26/1974 — The Start of the Most Important Weekend In ‘Beatlefest’ History!



This is my story (short version)
Little did I know on Friday morning, April 26, 1974 that I would hear an announcement that would forever alter my life’s direction. It started out pretty ordinary. I took the bus from NJ to NYC and headed over to Sam Goody, the flagship store of the biggest record chain in the area. By total coincidence, we were having a special on all Beatles albums that week, and I had all my staff wearing special 10th Anniversary Beatles shirts provided only to my store by Capitol Records.


It was when I returned home that evening when I turned on the radio to WABC and heard THAT announcement: John Lennon and Harry Nilsson would be appearing with Cousin Bruce in Central Park on Sunday (4/28/74) to support the 1st ever March of Dimes event. That is when I realized I was going to meet John to tell him my idea of a 10th Anniversary celebration of The Beatles Arrival in America! I had already thought of the idea at the end of November, 1973 and booked the Commodore Hotel for the weekend of September 7-8, 1974. The only thing missing was getting permission to honor The Beatles (I was an idealistic 26 year old). Of course, everybody thought I was nuts, but, apparently, that didn’t stop me!


I won’t go into the details here of how I found out (I have told this story before), but I did find out where John and Harry were staying. After their 15-20 minute talk with Cousin Brucie in Central Park in front of 100,000 people, I went to their hotel and knocked on the door. Harry graciously let me in, I told John about my idea. He said, “I’m all for it. I’m a Beatles Fan, too!”


So, within about 40 hours of hearing that announcement — 45 years ago today — I was sitting with John in his suite actually telling him all about my convention idea in detail! After that weekend, I was taken a lot more seriously and just over four months later, it happened. All of The Beatles donated musical instruments for our Charity Raffle, but John wanted to personally come down on the Sunday evening to pick the winner of his signed guitar. Yes, folks, it really did almost happen! Alas, he changed his mind and went up to his farm for the rest of the weekend. To this day, it was the biggest secret I EVER had to keep!


Have a great weekend!!

Peace and Love,

Mark Lapidos


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.


There is No Try

It’s a film classic: the moment that Yoda advises young Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.”


It’s truly the motto that John Lennon lived by. He was completely and utterly committed to “the toppermost of the poppermost,” in a never-say-die way that permitted no room for failure. John was determined.


In fact, after The Beatles returned from Hamburg in December of 1960, Paul’s father convinced him to return to school and complete his teacher-training. George took a job as an electrician’s mate, and Pete began playing gigs with various groups around Liverpool with whom he was friendly. For The Beatles, it was almost the end.


But Johnny Lennon – his eyes on the prize – went door-to -door, dragging his band members back to their raison d’etre. “What’re y’doin’???” he exhorted them. “Y’can’t get a fuggin’ job! There’s no time for it! We’re goin’ to be bigger’n Elvis! We’re goin’ to the toppermost of the fuggin’ poppermost!” And so, they surrendered: dropped out of school, gave up the job, zeroed in on one band: pledged their allegiance. It was a decision to do, not to try.


Soooo…each year for the last 12 years, I’ve written to you, urging you to come to The Fest for Beatles Fans. And each year, you read this familiar blog (in its many forms) and say, “Man, I gotta do that! Next year I totally am gonna be there…for sure.” And then year becomes year, and you only try. You never do.


And you know what? You are missing one of the happiest, brightest moments in any Beatles fan’s life. You are relinquishing some of the most priceless, unforgettable events a fan could experience…such as:


Chatting face-to-face with Ringo’s producer and friend, Mark Hudson, and then watching him rock the stage on Saturday night, performing “Working Class Hero” in a mad, mad, mad, mad way that would make our John so proud!


Hearing noted Beatles author Bruce Spizer talk at noon on Saturday about Sgt. Pepper and its impact not only on the Sixties, but also on the lives of thousands (millions?) today.


Dancing with your family (children are oh-so-welcome!!!!) on Friday night to the magnificent sounds of the live band, “Liverpool.”


Shopping in the vast marketplace where gorgeous Beatles jewelry, clothing, T-shirts, room furnishings, and rare collectibles are displayed here, there, and everywhere. Talking with distinguished authors such as Dr. Ken Womack, Lanea Stagg, Dr. Kit O’Toole, Vivek Tiwary, Aaron Krerowicz, Robert Rodriguez, Jorie Gracen, and Simon Weitzman.


Being present for the showing of author David Bedford’s new film, Looking for Lennon…sitting back and enjoying this magnificent work up close and personal!


Meeting Ringo’s musical director, Mark Rivera! Meeting John Lennon’s immigration attorney, Leon Wildes! Good grief! Enough said, right???? That’s huge!


Taking part in the fun-filled Beatles Trivia contest led by noted Beatles writers Al Sussman and Tom Frangione. (You’ll also want to get a copy of Al’s book!)


Sitting on the floor or in the folding chairs under the stairs and singing along (or playing along on your guitar, tambourine, uke, or whatever) as the “pop-up bands” stay up all night long, performing every Beatles song ever written…and doing it beautifully, I might add.


Hearing Laurence Juber, Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell, and Steve Holley bring Wings back to life before your very eyes on the Saturday night and Sunday night stages! A rare reunion indeed!


Enjoying a lively (and I do mean lively) interview with comedian Neil Innes of The Ruttles! OMGosh!


Taking a virtual tour of Liverpool to rare places “Off the Beatle-n Path” with me (Jude Southerland Kessler, as it were) on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. You’ll see historical spots in The Beatles’ career that few have ever glimpsed!


Blinking back a tear or two as you view Wally, Victoria, and Deco’s stunning tribute to Brian Epstein!


Attending the lively Women Historians’ Panel with Beatles experts Susan Ryan, Sara Schmidt, Allison Boron, Erika White, Kit O’Toole, Tina Kukula, Karen Duchaj, and Kathryn Cox as they discuss “The Sixth Beatle” (on Saturday) and “The Beatles’ Activism” (on Sunday).


Stopping by the Marketplace to try on and place your order for authentic Beatles suits, jackets, and other clothing hand-tailored by Russ Lease!


Strolling through the impressive art gallery of Eric Cash…and selecting a lovely and valuable piece to adopt for your very own.


Spending Sunday afternoon rockin’ out to the fab-tastic sound of The Weeklings!


Living a moment in history with George Harrison’s sister, Louise Harrison.


Listening and taking part in Wally Podrazik’s well-organized, insightful panel discussions with some of the most respected Beatles experts in the world: Robert Rodriguez, Chuck Gunderson, Bruce Spizer, Al Sussman, and many others.


Talking with Ringo’s official photographer, Rob Shanahan, as you peruse his gallery of rare, magnificent photos.


Being “there” for the first appearances of many new faces on The Beatles scene including poet Terri Whitney, author Greg Sterlace, and Chicago Beatles Fan Club organizer Marti Edwards.


And that is just a smidgen of the magic that unfolds when The Fest shines on!


If you’re going to say, “Okay, sure, I’ll try to be there,” don’t. Stop. DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. In John Lennon fashion, I’m knocking on your door. I am begging you to halt that work-a-day electrician’s mate job (at least for the weekend) and set your sights on something better.


I’m pleading with you to drop that mundane class (for three days only!) and opt for pure joy. I am asking you to give yourself the gift of a lifetime…a gift of memories and friendships to take home with you…smiles, sighs, songs, and stories. The Fest for Beatles Fans is sincerely the “toppermost of the poppermost.” Be there…DO!

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.


Lure of the Old, need for the New

Revolver played out in the last clicking grooves of the album, and I turned to Emily Moss with a sigh. “John Lennon has lost his mind,” I shivered, quite mournfully. And we sat in silence.


Trying desperately to find something to like on the new Beatles LP, we played it over again – Emily and I latching on to “For No One” and “Eleanor Rigby,” even though we were dyed-in-the-wool “John girls.” We felt like traitors. We felt abandoned. “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “She Said, She Said” were train wrecks.


“Bloody awful,” Emily feigned in a British accent, pretending to be one of the Beatlettes. And I gulped and nodded.


Forty years later, I read Robert Rodriguez’s insightful book, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-imagined Rock’n’Roll, and at last, I got it!! I finally, finally understood the necessity for Revolver – the need for change and growth, the imperative for The Beatles to move beyond the “yeah, yeah, yeah’s” into a wider dimension of creativity. At last, I understood and accepted everything that happened, post-Rubber Soul.


People despise change. And I’m one of them.


Recently, Campbell’s Corporation changed the label on their “Pork’n’ Beans”…after 40 full years. I almost wept…although how that label affects me personally, I’m not quite sure.


And when I saw the utter remodel of The Grapes in Liverpool (it looks NOTHING like The Grapes that The Beatles frequented…nothing at all), I flew into a Mimi Smith swivet of the first order. Furious!


But without change, only one thing is certain: decay, death. We have to keep growing.


The Fest for Beatles Fans in New York and Chicago changed this past year. We added the Apple Jam Stage, the Faboratory, the skipping club, Beatles nap time, the Beatles hike, and more. We moved into new territory. Some people “read the Rodriguez book” (as I now say when I’m talking about coming into a new understanding of something), and they were on board with the additions to our standard fare. Others are still sitting at the turntable with Emily Moss, completely dismayed.


What The Beatles became with the advent of Revolver was a new band, a band with colors where their grey suits had once been, a band with foreign instruments where once there had only been harmonicas, drums, and guitars (with an occasional George Martin piano or two). The Beatles beat the box all to hell. They pushed away the boundaries of “same ole, same ole” and strode boldly into tomorrow.


And in pushing, experimenting, trying new things, and reaching out, they grew.


The usual is comfortable, and we still have much of that at The Fest. I’m solidly in the camp that still wants Mark Hudson to sing “Working Class Hero.” I LOVE it!!!! I still love the Marketplace, Liverpool’s concerts every night, Bob Abdou and the puppets, and the singing of “Hey Jude!” I cherish tradition. It frames me.


But “havin’ read the [Rodriguez] book,” I’m open to the possibility that the future may be better if we add, accept, adopt, and embrace more. Want to try? Anyone with me? Yeah? (yeah, yeah…)


 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.


2015 Chicago Fest Recap

Dear Beatles Family,

WOW CHICAGOLAND, how we love you! What a Fest weekend that was!


John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it again…they brought us back together loving them to pieces and recognizing everything they’ve done for our lives! Celebrating 39 years in Chicago, chilling with our Fest Besties, learning new stuff, jamming all the while…we have all of you to thank for it.


At #ChiFest15, thousands of Beatlemaniacs from 32 states, Canada, Mexico, Italy, England, and Australia came together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ earth-shattering concert at Shea Stadium and the 50th Anniversary of Help! 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 Chicago Fest, check out the Fest’s Danny Abriano’s Facebook album HERE head, see Carol Lapidos of the Fest’s album HERE, and head HERE to scope out our fans album, and Michelle Your Belle just uploaded 600 pics from from her iPhone.


Also be sure to head to and subscribe to our YouTube page, where more than a dozen videos from the Chicago Fest have already gone up and many more are on the way!


(picture below from @liz_fletcher on Instagram)


The hotel started to fill with fans as early as Monday, and excitement built up as we set up the hotel. Lobby jams started, the Hyatt staff put on their own HELP! shirts, and fans explored the bustling and festive Hyatt Regency O’Hare, preparing for the fab three days that were to come.


The FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday, August 14 as fans came in from the heat and 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 Terry Sylvester, Bob Eubanks (who hosted the first ever Beatleywed Game!), Billy Kinsley, Jack Oliver, Louise Harrison, Mark Rivera, Dick Biondi (below with emcee Terri Hemmert), and Mark Hudson.




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 for a video of Liverpool performing “Please Please Me” and head HERE to see them perform “Old Brown Shoe.”





To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some amazing Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors. Eric Howell blew the crowd away while winning the Sound Alike contest singing ‘Something,’ and BEATLEJUICE (below) snagged the Battle of the Bands crown after performing an amazing version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ that included a string quartet. Head HERE to watch their winning performance.



Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung signs showing their gratitude to the Beatles…



The We All Shine On wall was new this year, to remember the people we love who we’ve lost. WOW, look at that diamond sky we created!



The FABoratory, our newest addition, where fans had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians, Mad Fab Scientists, and teachers, was such a blast. Thank you to all the FAB fans who created truly exciting new elements of the Fest with your out-of-the-box ideas! ‘I Met A Beatle For Real’ was the real life version of Sara Schmidt’s blog, and boy were there some juicy stories of Beatle-meeting. Willa and Libby brought an awesome hand-painted face-hole exhibit called ‘I Saw The Photograph,’ and Lanea Stagg made the most delicious truffles in the world for us with her ‘Savoy Truffle’ culinary experience! We did an improv reenactment of The Beatles meeting Elvis with Ivor Davis, sideburns and all. Beatles bubbles were blown with Jeanie McNicol, and ‘Beatles Beat The Clock’ with Bob Abdou got super whipped-creamy, pie-in-the-face style at the end.


Photo below is on Her Majesty’s Throni, c/o of @paypay_beela12 on Instagram.



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


School of Rock Chicago took to the stage on Saturday afternoon (head HERE to see them perform ‘Dig A Pony’), and Girls Next Door A Cappella from the University of Illinois performed on Saturday night –- singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a surprised and delighted Louise Harrison and performing a chills-inducing version of ‘Because.’




Later on Saturday night, Ron Aprea, who played sax on John Lennon’s Walls and Bridges LP, joined Liverpool as they tore through a sizzling version of ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night.’ See the video HERE.



On Sunday, The Weeklings played a rollicking set that featured songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and other Beatles cuts.



That wasn’t all…


The Apple Jam Stage made its Chicago Fest debut, where an amazing assortment of solo artists, bands, and DJs rocked all weekend long!


After Michelle My Pelle and DJ Sun Queen & DJ Madonna got the party started on Friday night, Scott Erickson performed deep cuts on both Saturday and Sunday, GiGi Wong-Monaco hosted a ukulele strum, Nick Peay played Beatles tunes on acoustic on Saturday and uke on Sunday, and Phil Angotti & Friends brought the house down with their McCartney-centric show on Saturday and their Lennon-centric show on Sunday. Also delighting fans on the Apple Jam Stage were School of Rock (after their main stage appearance), Sgt. Sauerkraut’s Polka Band, and the Yellow Submorons.


On both Saturday and Sunday, after the scheduled performances had concluded, the Apple Jam Stage opened up for the fans, who jammed into the wee hours of the morning.



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 art by professionals, amateurs, and kids, all who took home prizes. Of the many entries in the professional division, Sandra Ragan took home the top prize for her broken glass and ink Abbey Road art. The giant crocheted Beatles flag by Jessica DeJardin took top honors in the amateur division, and Cameron Hicks’ mixed media with melted crayons piece won the top prize for the kids division. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.



The Chicago Fest was home to two Beatles marketplaces, the weekend home of 20 of the best Beatles authors in the world, and Terri Hemmert of WXRT, our amazing emcee.


When Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading (at our fourth annual Beatles Animal Parade which included the new Martha puppet), 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, Jeff Augsburger), and more.





Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes for adults and kids, intro sessions to Cosmic Consciousness with the teachers of Transcendental Meditation, Beatles Zumba with GiGi, Deco’s Poetry Jam, and the Ashram’s highlight of the weekend… a talk with Louise Harrison about spirituality — from George’s perspective and her own. “Whatever you do, do it with purity of purpose” Louise told us was one of George’s foundational beliefs and teachings.



Other highlights from the weekend were We Can Write It Out with Mark Hudson, Live Beatles Trivia hosted by Wally Podrazik and Joan Moran, Name That Tune hosted by Al Sussman and Tom Frangione, Lorie Nolte winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, nightly Fest recap songs with Danny Donuts (this time with a little HELP! from the FABoratory), a reenactment of Help!, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show that accompanied the concerts on Saturday and Sunday.





The amount of Beatles knowledge shared over the weekend by authors/historians Wally Podrazik, Vivek Tiwary, Bruce Spizer, Jude Southerland Kessler, Chuck Gunderson, Andrew Grant Jackson, Paul Skellett, Simon Weitzman, David Schwensen, Dee Elias, Jim Berkenstadt, Jorie Gracen, Jill Davis, Tom Frangione, Al Sussman, Susan Ryan, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Buskin, Anthony Robustelli, Kit O’Toole, and Lanea Stagg was nothing short of incredible!



As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as was that night’s concert that saw Liverpool play all of the Beatles songs from the Help! film and other Beatles cuts before the stage opened to sax men Mark Rivera and Ron Aprea, Terry Sylvester, Billy Kinsley, and the incomparable Mark Hudson.




Drew, John, Glen, and Chris of Liverpool were fantastic all weekend, kicking things off with the Dance Party on Friday night, playing the entire 1965 Shea Stadium set (50 years to the day!) and more on Saturday, and finishing things up in thrilling fashion on Sunday night after performing all the songs from the ‘Help!’ film and more as Mark Lapidos thrilled everyone while taking to the stage to sing ‘Charlie Brown’ with Mark Rivera, Mark Hudson (The Three Markies) and Liverpool. It was a special moment. Then, everyone came on stage to join in the traditional finale of ‘Hey Jude.’


Head HERE to watch Liverpool wrap up the 1965 Shea Stadium set with ‘I’m Down’…


Head HERE to watch Mark Lapidos join in on the fun with ‘Charlie Brown’…




After the Chicago Fest officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with Festers playing outside in the front of the hotel until the sun came up and people started going about their Monday morning business. This is a new 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 #ChiFest15 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 Hyatt Regency O’Hare, who did a terrific job hosting the Fest, especially Deb. 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 39th summer in Chicago.



We are already gearing up for the New York Metro Fest, taking place April 15 to 17 at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York. Details will be released at TheFest.com in late-October, so keep an eye out! Hotel rooms are now available, so be sure to call (914) 939-6300 to book yours!


Hey Jude was released 47 years ago today

From Fest Founder/Director Mark Lapidos…


Monday August 26, 1968 at around 10:30AM
Kutsher’s Country Club, Monticello, New York


I was working as a waiter in the children’s dining room and was taking my typical morning break between breakfast and lunch, going back to my room, turning on my transistor radio and more often than not, nodding off a bit.


Well on this morning I heard a brand new Beatles song and it woke me up. It mesmerized me. But in the coda my brain cells were going on and off. I remember thinking ‘how long is this song,’ then coming back to it a minute (or perhaps only seconds) later and it was still going! After lunch I had a full listen, and here we are 47 years later and it is still my favorite song of all time — Hey Jude.


To me, the single (with ‘Revolution’ as the b-side) had the power and impact of an entire Beatles album. I don’t know how else to explain it.


If I drove to my college classes and Hey Jude was on the radio, I always waited for the song to finish before heading in. I still do (but not always). It has had a profound effect on my life. Three months later, the Beatles put out a double album with 30 songs on it, but they had the class to not include the single on the album. Wonder how Capitol must have felt about that.


Instant Karma or Instant Nirvana

What are you waiting for? When will you use…


  • The “good china and crystal”
  • That lonesome dining room
  • That special, expensive outfit you’ve been saving


What are you waiting for? When will you…


  • Buy the dream house you’ve always talked about…or at least try to
  • Go on that vacation the two of you have always planned


For 31 years, I taught aerobics and for 31 years, people sheepishly said to me, “I want to take your class…and I will, when I lose weight!” WHAT??? Wasn’t taking my class THE way to lose weight? Wasn’t that what my class was all about? What were they waiting for? I never knew.


For 25 years, my Office Manager at the Independence YMCA in Kansas City told me that she and her husband were going away on a magical two-week cruise. And each year, they postponed…until the day that she found him collapsed on the kitchen floor. Three days later, all hope of a cruise was gone.


For 14 years, my mom said that she wanted to go back to New York City one more time. And then a heart attack took away her option.


What are you waiting for?


Robert Ingersoll once famously said, “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.”


And John Lennon warned us:


Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head!
You better get yourself together…
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead.
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love?
What on earth you tryin’ to do?
It’s up to you, yeah you!!!


Wise man, John.


So here’s the bottom line: In 28 days, Beatles fans from all over the world will be gathering at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago’s lovely suburbs.


We’ll gather to listen to the lads’ music being broadcast over that elegant hotel’s sound system, to sit by the open fire in the Red Bar and reminisce about our “Hard Day’s Nights,” and to sit in the lobby – all of us singing the old songs to a spur-of-the-moment band of guitars and tambourines.


We’ll shop in the huge Marketplace for t-shirts, bracelets, rare photos, old books, and collectibles. We’ll dance the night away to the sounds of amazing Beatles cover band Liverpool. We’ll sit in on panel with Beatles experts Bruce Spizer, Chuck Gunderson, Kit O’Toole, Al Sussman, Jim Berkenstadt, and Susan Ryan.


We’ll hear presentations from revered authors Robert Rodriguez, Anthony Robustelli, Lanea Stagg, and Dave Schwensen. And we’ll get our groove on in the exciting new “FABoratory” where Beatles Yoga, creative art projects, and live music is only the beginning of the fun.


You could be there. You could go crazy at the Saturday or Sunday night concert with Mark Rivera, Billy Kingsley of The Merseybeats, Terry Sylvester of The Hollies, and the ultimate rocker, Mark Hudson!


You could wear ‘60s clothes and meet the former head of Apple Records, Jack Oliver. You could chat with charming Ivor Davis, who toured with The Beatles in 1964. You could talk face-to-face with the charismatic man who brought The Beatles to America three times, Bob Eubanks. You could grab a Starbucks and watch all the Beatles movies your heart desires or introduce yourself to Ringo Starr’s photographer Rob Shanahan while you enjoy his amazing photos of Ringo, Paul, and so many others.


Or… it could be the weekend you clean out the garage and sleep on the sofa to re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory,” all the while promising yourself that next year, you’ll make The Fest happen.


The choice is yours.


The last thing my mother taught me was this: You may never get another chance. Follow your dreams now. Right now.


Instant Karma or Instant Nirvana? Choose.


 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.


To Serve is to Rule

Mal Evans used to repeat frequently with a soft, knowing smile, “To serve is to rule.” He realized the power that came from being efficient, hard-working, dependable, and trustworthy. He knew the invaluable strength of being a person people can trust.


Mal didn’t do “earth-shaking” things. He set up Ringo’s kit and the boys’ amplifiers. He carried equipment in; he carried equipment out. He fetched tea from the EMI canteen. He shouldered the boys through crowds when necessary – and he shouldered their worries when he could. He listened. He kept Beatles secrets. But most of all, he invested himself in someone else’s future. And for The Beatles, that was more than enough. Mal’s role was crucial.


George Harrison said, “He loved his job; he was brilliant, and I often regret he got killed. Right to this day, I keep thinking, ‘Mal, where are you?’…he was such good fun, but he was also very helpful. He could do everything…and he always had everything. He was one of those people who loved what he was doing and didn’t have any problem about service. Everybody serves somebody in one way or another but some people don’t like the idea. [Mal] was very humble, but not without dignity.” For George and for all of The Beatles, Mal Evans was “the gentle giant.”


The Fest for Beatles Fans succeeds because we are blessed to have many gentle giants who help Mark, Carol, Michelle, and Jessica bring it to life two (and sometimes three) times a year. The Fest Family is blessed with a long-trusted staff of experts and artists who year after year “do their thing” to make the three jam-packed days smooth, seamless, and 100% fun! These behind-the-scenes folks put sparkle in the concerts, structure in the Marketplace, security in the entrances and exits, artwork in the lobbies and gathering rooms, questions in our interviews, and both sight and sound in the video/lecture/discussion rooms. Without our fest staff and volunteers, the fest could not exist. They are the people we trust to bring the Lapidos family’s ideas and concepts to fruition.


Many of you know the people I’m talking about…and you appreciate all they do, year after year. So, I’m going to ask you to write in and say “thank you” in the comments below. And I’m going to ask you to nominate one individual for a prize package of: 1) a signed/dated First Edition of Shoulda Been There (Vol. 1 in The John Lennon Series), 2) a signed/dated First Edition of She Loves You (Vol. 3 in The John Lennon Series), a signed/dated “Doors Of Liverpool” art poster, and a John Lennon portrait T-shirt by Rande Kessler. The staff member or volunteer who gets the most “thank you notes” and nominations from you in the next 14 days will win the honor of being our first Fest for Beatles Fans Mal Evans Service Award Winner!


However, we know that all of our staff members and volunteers are already prize winners. Over the years, they’ve won our respect, appreciation, and devotion. Year after year, I look forward to seeing these seemingly tireless men and women who are awake before I am and still going strong when I go to sleep…who’ve arrived days before I arrive at the Fest…and who stay to take it all down and pack it all up when I’m in the car, headed home for Louisiana. These men and women who comprise our Fest Family are our heroes. Let’s take a moment or so to tell them. I know George is glad he had the opportunity to tell Mal. You just never know.


And from me to everyone in our Fest Family, thank you. You may serve, but very truly…YOU RULE!!!


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


Cynthia Lennon: Shine On

At the New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans two weeks ago, I delivered a talk called  “Cynthia Lennon: the Real Fifth Beatle.” And with all my heart, I believe she was just that.


She was there in the basement of The Jacaranda, holding John’s microphone for him (well, a mic duct taped to a broom) in 1959…long before Stu or Brian or Pete or George Martin ever appeared on the scene. She lovingly told John that he was “too big for Liverpool” as she watched him rehearse with Paul and George in Room 21 at Liverpool College of Art during those lunchtime sessions of 1959 and 1960. And unswervingly, she believed in his destiny to achieve “the toppermost of the poppermost” long before the Beatlettes (or even the Wooden Tops) existed. Cynthia was the first to understand and cherish John’s dream.


When Cynthia found out the she was pregnant, John immediately (immediately!) offered to marry her. And had she pressed him to leave the band and become a “proper husband and father,” I believe he would have been just as dutiful in doing “the right thing.” But Cynthia never asked that of John.


Instead, Cyn spent her honeymoon night alone – moving in to Brian’s Falkner Street flat and making a home for John, even though he had offered to take her along with him that evening to his gig. Cynthia refused. She chose to remain in the background and to shun the limelight and to give John a home to which he could always come when he was tired, frustrated, and in need of love.


During the year (August 1962-August 1963) that Brian forbade her to appear with John in public, Cynthia acted accordingly and vanished from sight to help her husband’s career. She ran from reporters. She shielded her husband and her son. She pushed her needs aside and endured aching loneliness so that The Beatles could grow and emerge as the stars she knew they were to be.


When girlfriends joined the troupe of Beatles – as did Maureen Cox – Cynthia befriended them and made them feel welcome. She worked side-by-side with Freda Kelly to answer John’s fan mail, and she endured the torrent of fans in Emperor’s Gate for much longer than was humanly possible. Cynthia did whatever John needed her to do to help him achieve the life for which he longed.


Did John love Cynthia? Devotedly.


In January of 1964, The Beatles were appearing for three weeks in Paris. During that time, they got one day (one day!) off. The other three Beatles spent that day sight-seeing and sleeping and having a grand ole time. John flew back to London for that 24 hours to spend the time with Cyn. It was worth it to him. She recharged him and inspired him and made him whole.


And on that one day in which they were together, John invited Cyn to come along with him on his first American visit in February of 1964, even though Brian had forbidden him to ask his wife along. John wanted Cynthia to share in the excitement and the joy of his success – a success that her devotion had made possible. And she accepted. At Ed Sullivan, Carnegie Hall, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Cynthia was there.


In America, reporters tried to get her to talk. She would not. She stayed in the shadows and let her husband take the bows. She made her life about John and about John’s son, her beloved Julian. And even when she wrote her first book, A Twist of Lennon, she minimized John’s faults and played up his strengths. She was his best friend.


In Lennon Revealed, Larry Kane writes, “The romance between Cynthia Powell and John Lennon, somewhat forgotten in the modern era of Lennon remembrances – and often ignored when it was in full bloom – is a significant one for the young artist. Although the marriage was prematurely instigated by the pregnancy that brought Julian to life, there is no question that Cynthia was John’s first real and intense romantic love and that her role in his early days of creativity with The Beatles cannot be discounted.”


And Tony Bramwell, Kane notes, adds, “Cynthia was beautiful, physically and on the inside. Although she knew he was apt to find love on the road, she was totally dedicated to his success, and I might add, influential. He was insecure and Cynthia was always there to pump him up, to buttress…his weak side. She was a wonderful mother who loved John deeply.”


John’s indiscretions were ignored by Cynthia. His anger was forgiven. His focus on his career rather than his marriage was never even considered a problem to his adoring wife. Cynthia wanted the best for John, always. And that kind of unconditional love sparked “When I Get Home,” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “I Call Your Name” and “It Won’t Be Long” and so many more. Even when Beatlemania began to take its toll on their marriage, John penned the haunting “It’s Only Love” for his Cyn.


Today the world has lost the Fifth Beatle. But more importantly, it has lost a true lady who made “night time bright, very bright.” Cynthia Lennon will always shine on.