Turned Left at Greenland
On February 7, 1964, 54 years ago tomorrow, the Beatles landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport for the first time. Greeted by massive amounts of screaming fans and hordes of journalists, the band’s arrival in the States officially kicked off the British Invasion. To celebrate this most important of anniversaries, we’ll look at 5 Beatles books and 4 other Beatles related bits and bobs for fans to enjoy.
I Now Declare This Bridge Open
The Beatles Book is the ultimate reference for Beatles fans from the only authorized Beatles biographer, Hunter Davies. Davies spent 18 months with the band during 1967 and 1968 and had unparalleled access to the Fab Four. This book is a whopping 688 pages full information on just about everyone and everything related to The Beatles, and includes Davies’ personal artefacts and memorabilia. It’s a must have for any Beatlemaniac.
Though this doesn’t include actual posters you can hang up “Here, There and Everywhere” in your home, you’ll still be able to enjoy this collection of concert artwork by Tony Booth. Booth’s posters helped to promote The Beatles’ gigs in Liverpool (primarily at the famous The Cavern Club) in the early 1960s. You can learn even more about Booth in a wonderful BBC feature from a few years back.
This is a reprint of the original 1963 edition of the book, which happened to be one of the first publications on the band. It includes a personal introduction by The Beatles, black and white photos, and facts about each member. As The Beatles’ press officer, author Tony Barrow had inside access to the Fab Four, clearly evident in this collector’s item.
During the period from August 1960 to December 1962, the early version of The Beatles (the Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best era before Ringo joined the group) cut their musical teeth in Hamburg, Germany. The city at the time was known for “vice and criminal activity,” so it’s no wonder shenanigans ensued over the course of the band’s time there. The Beatles in Hamburg includes interviews with the band’s friends and contemporaries and is packed with photos of the band and the Hamburg scene.
Bob Spitz’s biography of the band is a detailed look at their history, coming in at 983 pages. If you think you can “Carry That Weight,” then it’s a definite must-read. Spitz follows the story of the band from their childhoods in Liverpool to their break-up in 1970. The book explores all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that went on behind the scenes and examines the darker side of The Beatles.
No, Actually, We’re Just Good Friends
The first film starring The Beatles and a very clean old man was one of my favorites as a child, and I still love it today. The Beatles play comical versions of themselves as they travel from Liverpool to London and prepare for a live performance. As you can imagine, hijinks ensue from the first second of the film and don’t let up until the very end. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, is one of Time magazines all-time great 100 films, and is 88th on The British Film Institute’s list of the greatest British films of the 20th century. It’s in my personal top ten.
On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their first historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing to an audience of 73 million Americans. This DVD collection includes the band’s first performance of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and 19 additional performances recorded between 1964 and 1965. The DVD also includes a 13-minute interview between Sullivan and the band in honor of the release of A Hard Day’s Night.
Freda Kelly was a Liverpool native who worked as The Beatles’ secretary (and ran their fan club) from before the band hit it big until after they split. This documentary is a delightful look at Kelly’s relationship with the band and the role she played in their journey. It’s the stuff that teenage dreams are made of.
This last item on my list is not easily accessible, but worth your time and money if you’re a huge Beatles fan. A few years ago, my family and I visited Liverpool and took the Magical Mystery Tour that’s run out of the famous Cavern Club. As all Beatles fans know, The Cavern Club is the legendary cellar where the Beatles and their contemporaries got their start playing Beat Music to young fans. You can still catch live music at the club, but the company that owns it also runs Beatles themed tours.
The two-hour Magical Mystery Tour takes fans around Liverpool on a bus that’s decorated to look like The Beatles’ bus of the same name. Fans see all the local hangouts of the young Beatles, including their childhood homes, Penny Lane, and Strawberry Field. Our guide was incredibly informative and it was a great way to see Liverpool. The tour ends at The Cavern Club and your ticket also grants free admission to the club after your tour.
They Loom Large in His Legend
I personally think The Beatles are England’s greatest gift to the world (after America, of course), so I’m always happy to celebrate a Beatles related occasion—even a 54th anniversary. Let me know your favorite Beatles song or moment in the comments section below!