A Splendid Time Was Guaranteed (and Delivered) for All!

“And so, this is Christmas,

And what have you done?

Another year over,

A new one just begun…”

 

Usually, at the close of yet another year, when I hear John singing those words, I feel guilty. Maybe it’s my engrained American “work ethic” or perhaps I really never live up to my own expectations, but somehow in December, I look back and feel that I could have done more. But this once, I have to say…2018 was a pretty darned good year, all things considered. If we pause for a moment and look back together as a Fest Family, I think we’ll discover that we had quite a lot of spectacular moments to celebrate.

 

First, of course, there was the New Jersey Fest in which we were extremely fortunate to welcome Peter Asher, Billy J.Kramer, Jeremy Clyde, Neil Innes, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s hard-rockin’ Randy Bachman. Then, Fest favorites, Liverpool, The Weeklings, Mark Rivera, and Scott Erickson gave us a lot to write home about. It was a busy weekend, but now and again we stopped for a moment to take in the breathtaking view across the river: New York’s skyline. We absolutely love our new location!

 

Then…just a few weeks later, our own Michelle Joni Lapidos, released her first CD of songs, Swimming in Rainbows, produced by none other than the charismatic and beloved Mark Hudson. And Fest brother, Laurence Juber, performed with Michelle on several songs, making this LP a real “family affair.” If you missed Michelle Joni’s appearance on “She Said She Said,” radio show, give it a listen here.  She talks about the evolution of the LP and plays several tracks for you. Enjoy!

 

August was here before we knew it…and brought with it a brand-new book, Sound Images, from our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Ken Womack. (This is the second half of his incredible biography of Sir George Martin, entitled Maximum Volume.) Just weeks prior to the Chicago Fest, Ken premiered the book in England, and then, he came home to celebrate with us.

 

Similarly, I was thrilled to celebrate the release of Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series, Should Have Known Better, at the Fest with a Saturday morning launch party. No other celebration that I’ve ever had even begins to compare to that event — being surrounded by my Beatles friends and family was a once-in-a-lifetime! Thank you all!

 

The Chicago Fest was off the charts! Big crowds, big sales, big fun! Jack Douglas was a Guest Speaker for the first time, and yes, he was spectacular! Funny, engrossing, and full of great stories about his time with John Lennon…Jack kept us all engaged. And we were all blessed to hear from Geoff Emerick as well. We had no idea, as we listened to him share his stories of days with George Martin and the boys at EMI, that this would be the last time we’d spend together. Geoff had made plans to return to the Fest for Jersey 2019. Those of us who were privileged to share that time in Chicago with Geoff were so lucky. The Fest always offers rare moments like that…if we will only take time to enjoy them.

 

Ordinarily, at the close of the Chicago Fest, we say “goodbye” to one another for the year, but in 2018, there was more to come…as we applauded the 1968 magic that was “Yellow Submarine.” Many members of our Fest Family, all across America, were asked to speak in major metropolitan theaters, introducing the re-released film that was being served up to audiences in August and September. Dr. Kit O’Toole, Bruce Spizer, and I were just a few of the authors who were asked to give moviegoers the history of this incredible film and to set the stage for the new release.

 

Speaking of new releases, our Liddypool mate, Dave Bedford, graced us all with his third incredible book this fall. A comprehensive look at each and every person who furnished that all-important backbeat for The Beatles, Finding the Fourth Beatle was released in September, and it’s remarkable!

 

Then — anticipating yet another Golden Anniversary for “the lads from Liddypool” — our dear friend, Bruce Spizer, released a gorgeous new book entitled, The Beatles White Album and the Launch of Apple. Filled with rare images, fan remembrances, and a unique look at 1968 supplied by guest writers Al Sussman and Piers Hemmingsen, Spizer’s work is up to his usual high bar. It’s a keeper.

 

Soon after, Ken Mansfield treated us to his insider’s look at what happened on The Roof. Subtitled The Beatles’ Final Concert, Mansfield’s moment-by-moment remembrance lets us live out what transpired on that cold and windy London day when John, Paul, George, Ringo, and yes, Ken, too (“the man in the white coat”) took to the roof to sing their final goodbyes. Sigh.

 

Well, as if these family accomplishments weren’t enough, 2018 gave us yet a bit more! Most of our cast and crew were still looking forward to yet another incredible event: The White Album Conference at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.  This distinguished symposium, hosted by Dr. Ken Womack in honor of The White’s 50th birthday, was (quite happily) our third “fest” of the year — an off-site gathering of our group with Jim Berkenstadt, Lanea Stagg, Al Sussman, Susan and Jim Ryan, Scott Erickson, Tom Frangione, Bruce Spizer,  Vivek Tiwary, Gary Astridge, Dr. Kit O’Toole, Jerry Hammack, Wally Podrazik, Nicole and Jacob Michael, Aaron Krerowicz, Janet Davis, Eric Taros, Karen Duchaj, Robert Rodriguez, Anthony Robustelli, Dave Thurmaier, Allison Boron, Erika White, Walter Everett, Mark Brickley, and of course,  our fearless leaders Mark and Carol Lapidos all taking part! At the stroke of midnight on 8 November (12:01 a.m., Nov. 9), Mark and Carol made it possible for us to purchase the very first re-engineered CDs of the White — at an opening event listening party where Bruce Spizer and Scott Freiman shared insights into these wonderfully old, but vitally new and refreshed, tracks.

 

For four days, our group was enthralled by presentations from some of the best and finest in The Beatles’ World, including Sound Engineer, Chris Thomas; American Head of Apple, Ken Mansfield; co-traveler with The Beatles to Rishikesh, Paul Saltzman; and of course, Beatles’ Guru, Mark Lewisohn! We heard from Allan Kozinn, Ken Michaels, Walter Everett, Jeff Slate, The Fab 4 Free for All (Rob Leonard, Mitch Axelrod, and Tony Traguardo) and so many more! What an event it was! Hats off to Ken Womack for a stellar event!

 

And so, dear John, for once at the close of December, we’re smiling. We’ve given it our all in 2018! We’ve
“represented.” We’ve shown up. We’ve written. We’ve painted. We’ve researched. We’ve sung. We’ve celebrated. We’ve remembered. But most of all, we’ve continued to shine on. And that — I know you would say — is good enough.

 

However, there will be more!! To be continued in 2019…


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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Happiness is a Warm Cell Phone: Drake vs. The Beatles

Hi everyone! We hope to see you all at Monmouth University this week for the White Album conference featuring Mark Lapidos, Mark Lewisohn, Walter Everett, Ken Womack, Bruce Spizer, Al Sussman, Tom Frangione, Lanea Stagg (our featured blogger this week), Kit O’Toole, Susan and James Ryan, and me (Jude Southerland Kessler)…and SO many more.

 

To give you an idea of the kind of interesting topics that will be covered, here is Lanea Stagg’s comparison of The Beatles chart-blasting record to Drake, who claims to have surpassed The Beatles’ 1964 accomplishment of 5 songs in the Top Ten at once. Is it a valid claim? Has Drake stolen the crown from our Fabs? Read on…

 

This summer, news media outlets began reporting that pop star rapper, Drake, had surpassed The Beatles’ accomplishments on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart. Even last week it was reported that he surpassed another chart record belonging to The Fabs. I have been inclined to blame it solely on “Fake News.”

 

But, in an effort to be fair, I have opened my mind to Drake. According to pop music lovers today, 31-year-old Drake creates music which is a softer alternative to rap, bypassing hardcore gangster rap and infusing catchy love lines to hook the girls. I spoke with one 20-something male who explained to me that he didn’t like Drake’s music at first, but “girls like Drake … so eventually, the boys have to like Drake, because then they’re going to win the affection of the girls.” Does that sound familiar?

 

Today’s Top 100 Billboard charts have become a completely new environment for music artists. Music streaming and downloading have become an important component in the statistics collected to determine pop song success. It is fair to surmise that today’s metrics for determining chart success is not what we grew up with. On April 4, 1964, The Beatles held the top 5 slots on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart. The charts at that time were driven by record sales and radio play. Today’s charts, however, are driven by downloading and streaming with a little bit of radio and physical sales sprinkled in.

 

Donald S. Passman, wrote in his book All You Need to Know About the Music Business, “When the Beatles were around, there were horrible (accounting) records of who sold what. Nobody knew how many records were sold in retail, only how many were shipped to the store.” So even if the records went back to the company, the statistics were likely inflated. But at the same time, it was a lot more difficult for an artist to sell records and to get on the radio simply because there were physically fewer retail stores, radio stations and listening opportunities – there were no cell phones or social media. Today’s false inflation of sales data creates an inaccurate perception of chart success.

 

I found it quite interesting to look at how the charts are measured today and driven by consumer listening habits. I questioned how people are listening to music, interviewing and surveying 200+ college students in Columbia, Missouri. Here is what I found, and the data directly affects chart ratings:

 

99% of the group listen to music via cell phone.

46% of the 200 students use a free subscription like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube, etc.

42% use other paid subscriptions such as Apple Music, XM Radio, Amazon Prime, or Pandora;

20% actually purchase music via CD’s, iTunes, vinyl, etc. (which is shocking and exciting);

40% use the most popular paid subscription: Spotify.

 

Nearly all of the 128 students who purchase Spotify receive a discounted student rate: only $5 per month for unlimited music. This means they are allowed to stream and download millions of songs – 35 million to be exact. One student told me that Spotify has replaced listening to the radio. The music subscription creates its own playlists, and they tailor playlists based upon your past listening history. Spotify also sends listeners e-mails, i.e.: “Drake has a new album out.” And you can follow your friends and see what they are listening to as well.

 

Meanwhile back in 1964, Beatles fans were listening to The Fabs in conventional locations – in front of the only family television or on the radio in the family wagon, and who remembers that joyful scene in “That Thing You Do!” when the band heard their record for the first time on a transistor? A nostalgic, exciting moment – however, this mode of listening has all but disappeared.

 

So, what does this have to do with our topic? Drake vs. The Beatles?

 

Well, we all know that The Beatles climbed the charts – one physical record sale at a time. But for Drake, the climb to the top happened rapidly, via the aforementioned instant downloads.

 

Let’s take a look at this past summer, for example. On July 14, 2018, Drake “dominated” the Billboard “Hot 100” chart – seven spots in the Top 10 belonged to Drake. Multiple media outlets, and Drake himself, reported that he had “surpassed The Beatles’ record of five hit songs in the Top 10 at once.

 

However, a careful look at the facts will show us a bit of a difference. While The Beatles held spots 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Drake did not. Drake held spots 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9. One week later, Drake only held three tracks in the Top 10, at spots 1, 4, and 6.

 

It should be noted that on June 29, 2018, Drake released his 25-track disc titled “Scorpion,” and all 25 songs were on the Billboard “Top 100” chart immediately. So, when his entire disc of 25 songs was released, definitely the Spotify kids had it on their phones instantly – and so it gets tallied and accounted instantaneously.

 

Even the controversial media outlet BuzzFeed wrote on September 13, 2018, that “Spoofing Spotify by fans – (is) eroding the metrics of Billboard charts.” Remember that half of the students in my collegiate test group purchased Spotify for only $5/month. That allows them to download and stream all the music they can listen to (35 million songs!!) for only $5. Washington Post reporter, Travis Andrews, astutely observed, “The charts have struggled to come up with a streaming equivalent to an album purchase – or a song download. [But one must bear in mind that] it was harder to purchase The White Album than to put a stream of “Lemonade” on repeat, after all.”

 

The Senior Vice President of Charts and Data Development at Billboard magazine said this summer, “What we do is react to the marketplace around us. I think we are fairly nimble on downloading and even more so on streaming, to make sure we’re reflecting where the music consumer is going. Where that will end up, though…I don’t know.”

 

Why do charts matter, anyway? Charts matter mostly to record companies in terms of market share or clout. The music consumer isn’t as driven by the charts.

 

One example of record sale success overshadowing chart success happened in ’67 when “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were released as a double A-side 45-rpm. Early predictions were that this single would perpetuate The Beatles’ unprecedented achievement of 12 straight Number 1 singles in the UK. However, the 45 was not released as one single, but two. This divided the sales data between the two songs, and hence, Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” took the Number 1 spot on the “Hot 100” over our Fabs, breaking their four-year “roll” as George Martin called it. However, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane 45rpm sold 2.5 million copies, outselling Humperdinck two-to-one. Indeed, chart success in this case and many others does not guarantee either the superior sales success or music superiority of the record.

 

If you give Drake an honest, fair chance, it is apparent that he has achieved success. He is chart-topping. He is Grammy award-winning and platinum-selling, not to mention charming and charismatic. And oh yeahhis dad was the drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis. So, we can’t ignore that something is happening with this powerhouse. Many thought that The Beatles were a fad, so I try to consider that when I analyze today’s music trends. But in my opinion, Drake is primarily a brilliant marketer. Let’s give credit for Drake’s popularity where that credit is due: to downloading and streaming. Should we mark our calendars and plan for HIS “White Album” celebration in 50 years? Tomorrow never knows.

 

About our Guest Blogger:

Lanea Stagg is the author of the Recipe Records Cookbook Series: Recipe Records, Recipe Records-The 60s Edition, Recipe Records-A Culinary Tribute to The Beatles, and The Rolling Scones: Let’s Spend the Bite Together. The series combines music trivia, quips, quotes, and playlists with clever recipe titles that pay tribute to great music of many genres and decades.  In addition to the series, she has authored children’s books, a blog, and contributed to entertainment publications, along with co-hosting BlogTalkRadio program: “She Said She Said,” with Jude Southerland Kessler, the author of The John Lennon Series. Lanea will be giving a presentation on this topic at The White Album Conference next week at Monmouth University.

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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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Time for Christmas!

1964 was horrendous. The Beatles made a major motion picture, starred on numerous television specials, gave countless interviews, recorded two phenomenal LP’s, toured Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand, returned to Liverpool for a glorious movie fête, completed a 34-day North American Tour, touched each corner of the UK in their Autumn Tour, and appeared on tons of radio shows. And as for John – well, he’d also published and promoted his first book, In His Own Write. Truly, it was a schedule that no one would have believed possible, had The Beatles not actually accomplished it!

 

However, when October rolled around and the question arose of whether or not they should record their second annual Christmas record for the Fan Club, The Beatles were solidly on board. In fact, during the recording sessions for Beatles for Sale, they enthusiastically began work on the rare, collectible holiday flexi-disc that would be shipped to British Fan Club members only. (The American Fan Club would receive a less durable cardboard version.)

 

The boys realized that Brian had never approved of this project. In 1963, he’d fervidly protested to Tony Barrow that The Beatles had far too much to do to add a frivolous Christmas disc to their diaries. He’d felt the record a distraction from “business as usual” and tried to halt to it. But John, Paul, George, and Ringo had been adamant. They wanted to share Christmas with those who loved them.

 

Why?

 

Well, of course, all of the boys had been reared in the church. John, at one point, had been an altar server, and Paul had sung in the choir. However, throughout the 1964 North American Tour, the boys had been boldly professing that they were agnostic. Of course, there was as much “Maybe so…” as there was “Maybe not…” in the agnostic belief system, and perhaps that slim glimmer of faith inspired a certain devotion to the holiday. Or…perhaps the boys simply found this happy, celebration-filled season an apt occasion for wishing “good will toward men (and women).”

 

Whatever their motivation, The Beatles – despite an unbearable work schedule – found time to do something special for others during the holidays. They found a way.

 

To listen to what they had to say on the 1964 disc, tune in here:

 

 

Without shirking, each Beatle speaks. You hear (despite the script – John makes it clear that he’s reading prepared notes) their individual personalities and their unique takes on humor. Without skimping, the boys give the rarest gift of all: their time.

 

About a month ago, I pronounced that with Volume 4 in The John Lennon Series pressing down upon me and with a ton of research left to complete, I just couldn’t send out Christmas cards this year. I told my daughter-in-law that this one time, I simply couldn’t shop and wrap presents; I suggested that we’d hit the stores after Christmas and call it a day! I delayed hosting my husband’s office Christmas party until the book was complete. I pushed everything aside to do my work.

 

Then, my Lennon research led me to 26 October, 1964…the day The Beatles devoted precious EMI studio time to creating their treasured holiday record. And, the scene of those four boys standing together – laughing, singing, and finding joy in “the frivolous distraction” of Christmas cheer – stopped me dead in my tracks. I had become a Scrooge! Maybe you have, too.

 

Are we grumbling about the “responsibilities” of Christmas instead of reveling in making others smile? Are we irritated about the interruption of our work to spread the joy of the season? Are we “Bah Humbugging” our way through December instead of reaching out in love to those around us?

 

My schedule, I now realize, isn’t half as hectic as the 1964 schedule The Beatles endured. And yet, they found a way to sing silly carols, shout “Merry Crimble” and “Happy New Year” and foreshadow their belief in “love, love, love.” Once again, John, Paul, George, and Ringo have taught me how I should behave. We all need time for Christmas. Every one.


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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Two…Well okay, 30…of Us

A few days ago, I received a shocking e-mail from writer and “Rock’n’Roll Detective,” Jim Berkenstadt (author of The Beatle Who Vanished). Jim had been told by our dear friend, Bill Harry (founder of MerseyBeat and author of many Beatles books including The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia, The John Lennon Encyclopedia, etc.), that a website called NWCBooks.com was offering FREE downloads of the various books written by almost all of The Beatles authors who attend our Fests for Beatles Fans. As little as we make off of these volumes – most of us only write out of our passion for The Beatles, not to increase our income in any measurable way – now, we were going to make even less, thanks to the shameless rip-off of this criminal company.

 

In the 48 hours that have followed Bill Harry and Jim Berkenstadt’s revelation, two remarkable things have happened:

 

ONE…we discovered that NWCBooks.com is not actually giving customers free downloads of our books. It is using the registration information of greedy book hunters to steal their credit card information and financial identities onto their computers. When the “customers” go to that website, they are told that for 48 hours, they can download free books to their hearts’ content, but then after that, they will have to pay a minimal monthly fee, and yes, (you guessed it) they are asked to supply a credit card number. Once that credit card number is logged in, “Gotcha!” It’s a phishing scheme. A con. (As we say in Liverpool, NWC is a “Yeggman”…a thief.)

 

More about that later. As Paul Harvey used to say back in the Sixties, stay tuned for “the rest of the story.”

 

But TWO…something magical happened along the way to solving this problem. Berkenstadt wrote to all of our other Fest authors (Gunderson, Robustelli, Stagg, Womack, Schmidt, Sussman, O’Toole, Spizer, Boron, Berman, Whitney, Sterlace, Edelson, Duchaj, Leonard, Krerowicz, Buskin, Bedford, Rodriguez,) and I wrote to a few others (Hemmingsen, Baird, Lewisohn, and Davis) and together we circled the wagons.

 

Buskin, Leonard, and Robustelli immediately contacted publishers. Bedford located similar sites that were doing the exact same thing and alerted us all. (I’ll list those for you at the end of this blog.) My husband, Rande, e-mailed Book Baby – a large e-book company – and informed them that they were being ripped off; he got them involved. Berkenstadt sent all of the authors “Cease and Desist forms” to fill out and send in. Jim Berkenstadt also found a link to send to Google, to give them a “heads up” about this very serious problem. We all worked together to solve the dilemma.

 

And this is remarkable. We worked together. That isn’t typical of all artists (be they authors, musicians, dancers, painters, whatever). In many cases, artists are competitive. Often, they are isolated and jealous of others in their field. Primarily, they work alone.

 

But in The Beatles World (a world largely held together by Mark, Carol, Jessica, and Michelle Lapidos who throw two “class reunions” or “Thanksgiving weekends” for us each year), we are a family. We reach out to one another, encourage each other, help each other sell books at our booths, edit each other’s works, run ideas and historical mysteries by each other, ask for advice, introduce one another to primary sources that we’ve encountered along the way whom others have not met, encourage each other, and in this case, protect one another. For authors to band together in this way is rare. The love of The Beatles is evident in all we do and in all we are.

 

That is remarkable. And now…for the rest of the story.

 

Once we discovered that our PDF’s (or e-books) were not being downloaded free of charge – that this NWC was a scam, a phishing scheme – we could have sighed relief, shrugged, and walked away. I mean, the foul shenanigans didn’t really affect us at all. But none of us wanted to do that. Every single Beatles author was committed to sending out the paperwork and completing the email forms that stopped these criminals from taking advantage of those who loved The Beatles.

 

Hopefully, no one in our immediate Beatles family would have opted to cheat us by downloading free copies of our books, but there are others out in the world who might have done so. And using our books as bait to hurt someone was repulsive to us. Even though it didn’t affect us personally, our Fest for Beatles Fans authors continued to be proactive. To stop this.

 

That is the legacy of John, Paul, George and Ringo. We reach out to others in love. We act upon good intentions. We stand in the gap for our fellow man whether that means refusing to play for segregated audiences or visiting fans who were injured in the hospital (The Beatles actually did these things) or whether it means stopping criminals from preying upon those interested in The Fab Four.

 

Through this recent incident, I saw very clearly that the standards set by those four Liverpool boys are still being held high…fifty-five years later. We are indeed a special group of people. And whether we are Beatles fans or Beatles tribute musicians or Beatles vendors or Beatles authors, we never forget the unique friendship and love those boys held for one another. It is the legacy that binds us together today.


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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Not What I Appear To Be

John Lennon couldn’t get a word right. From childhood, he inadvertently mastered the art of being misunderstood. As early as Mosspits Kindergarten, John was expelled for belligerence, and by the time he made his way to Quarrybank Grammar (his high school), John was – as he flippantly phrased it – “sus-pen-dooed.”

 

Sure, there were plenty of times, I’m certain, when John was impudent, in his own right. He could dish out satirical taunts with the best of them. However, I firmly believe that quite often his reputation preceded him and that the bad press John received wasn’t always really deserved.

 

Take, for example, the famous quote attributed to our Mr. Lennon:

 

“Ringo isn’t the best drummer in Liverpool. He isn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles.”

 

I’ve heard this insult attributed to John on radio shows, in speeches, and during panel discussions filled with scholars. But the truth of the matter is, John never said this! And Beatles Guru Mark Lewisohn agrees. A few years ago, in fact, Lewisohn set out to prove that this awful quote was never uttered by John, and he carefully traced the comment to comedian Jasper Carrot in 1983.[i] As Lewisohn astutely pointed out, this was never the sort of thing John Lennon would have said.

 

What, then, did the real John Lennon have to say about Ringo’s drumming? Well, in The Anthology,[ii] he states quite clearly, “Ringo’s a damn good drummer. He was always a good drummer. He’s not technically good, but I think Ringo’s drumming is underrated the same way Paul’s bass playing is underrated…I think Ringo and Paul stand up anywhere with any of the rock musicians!”

 

Sadly, so few people repeat that quote.

 

I’m sure John wasn’t surprised that he was given, erm, “credit” for petulant phrases. On the 1964 tour, this sort of thing happened rather regularly. Take this interview that occurred in Cincinnati where (according to many biographers!) John sniped at a reporter who suggested that The Beatles should be able to handle the fans without police support. Time and again, you’ll read that John sneered at the man and spat, “Well, maybe you could. You’re fatter than us!” But here is what really occurred, transcribed from the Cincinnati press conference.

 

Reporter 4: You four ought to be able to handle the crowds without all the police presence. Why don’t you just walk right through?

George: (Incensed) Well, y’ can’t go leapin’ into a crowd of 30,000, can you?

Paul: (Smoking and trying to over-talk George, who is clearly agitated) You can’t go up the middle, y’know.

George: They’d pull you apart y’ see! So, for everybody’s sake…

Reporter 4: You ought to be able to handle it…

George: (Browned off) Well, maybe you could because you’re fatter ’n us!

John says not a word and looks away.[iii]

 

Similarly, just a few minutes later – according to the “experts” – John fired another angry retort at the press. But here is the actual exchange…and it’s not John who’s annoyed by a reporter’s inane question.

 

Reporter 5: What excuse do you have for your collar-length hair?

John: (Shrugging) It just grows out of our heads…

Paul: (Still irritated by the last question) We don’t need an excuse. You need an excuse![iv]

 

The room, of course, broke into waves of laughter, but John sighed, knowing that by morning, the interview’s sharp retorts would be credited to him. Any sarcastic comment immediately became his territory. When he rang Mimi back in Liverpool, and she fussed about his “overt rudeness” to the press, John would try to tell her it had been George’s observation this time or Paul’s remark. But no one would believe him, not even his own aunt.

 

So, it’s no surprise that by the summer of 1966, the American press and DJs across the country over-reacted to a very complicated and in-depth observation that John made to Maureen Cleave in a lengthy interview.[v] That comment – condensed by Datebook magazine into an arrogant sound-bite – became “the last straw for Lennon.” A victim of erroneous and out-of-context citing, John was attacked ferociously and forced to apologize over and over and over and over for something he didn’t actually say as it was reported. Pieces of his conversation had been left out of his comment. The full truth had been omitted.

 

The problem is that once a public figure develops a reputation for being “a bad boy” (or girl), the image is difficult to shrug off. And once the press turns on you, they rarely reverse the trend.

 

Let me hasten to say that the journalists who traveled with The Beatles during “the long and winding” 1964 North American Tour, to a man (or woman), loved John. Larry Kane said that John was The Beatle with whom he developed the closest relationship. And, so did Ivor Davis.[vi] And. most assuredly, Art Schreiber. Helen Shapiro will gladly tell you that on her 1963 tour, John did more to help her and bolster her spirits than any of the other Beatles. He was her friend.

 

Which only goes to show that getting to know someone rather than accusing them from a distance is the best policy. An old Native American adage says this: “Never judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” Translated, we find: “Never judge anyone until you have lived in his or her world for at least two months.” That’s a sound rule of thumb.

 

If only we could learn something important from the way John was treated by those who had no idea that he “was not what he appeared[ed] to be,” if only we could glean a truth from it…wouldn’t the world be a better place?

 


[i] “Who’s Sleeping in Groucho Marx’s Bed?” The London Times, 8 March 2013: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/whos-been-sleeping-in-groucho-marxs-bed-90qdw77pcjg

[ii] The Anthology, p. 81. Direct quote from John Lennon.

[iii] You can see this question being posed and answered here. http://www.cincinnati.com/videos/entertainment/music/2014/08/27/14706123/ Several sources including Miles, The Beatles Diary, Vol. 1, 162 and Badman, 119 blame John for this irritated line of patter. You can clearly see that John does not deliver the line. He says nothing. George is the one speaking.

[iv] Bracey, David. “What’s Future for Beatles?” Cincinnait Enquirer, 28 August 1964, found at: http://www.meetthebeatlesforreal.com/search?q=Cincinnati+1964 A brief transcript of this interview can be found in Badman’s The Beatles: Off the Record, 119. However, Badman credits John with the retort, “Well, it grows out of my head and John with “We don’t need an excuse. You need an excuse.”

[v] Cleave, Maureen, “How Does a Beatle Live?”

[vi] Davis, Ivor, The Beatles and Me on Tour, p. 83. Davis states, “I got to know and appreciate John the best.”


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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