sábado, 11 de agosto de 2012

Fest for Beatles Fans: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

In this undated file photograph British pop band The Beatles, John Lennon (left) Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison (right) pose for a photograph. The Fest for Beatles Fans runs through Aug. 12 in Rosemont, Ill.

For far longer than there were the Beatles, there has been the Fest for Beatles Fans — or, as it was originally named — Beatlefest.
In 1974, New Yorker Mark Lapidos had the idea of a convention to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Fab Four coming to America. He got the opportunity to meet John Lennon in a New York hotel, and ran the idea by him. Lennon’s response: “I’m all for it. I’m a Beatles fan, too.”
The main thrust of the Beatles’ recording career lasted only eight years, from “Love Me Do” in 1962 to their final No. 1 hit, “The Long and Winding Road” in 1970. But their extraordinary run of creativity and innovation left the fans wanting more.
Into the breach stepped the fest. Its mix of guests with ties to the Beatles, panel discussions, live music, soundalike contests, films and videos, auctions and a flea market was an immediate success in New York that September. There has been a New York-area fest every year since.
Lapidos brought the show to Chicago in 1977, and each year, more than 7,000 people of all ages come for a fab weekend. WXRT-FM radio personality Terri Hemmert attended the first Chicago event as a fan, then took over as emcee in 1978. Her love for the Beatles and for the fest have hit home with fans. One group greets her with “Good morning, Ranger Terri!” as she opens the festival each morning.
Over the years, the fest has brought to Chicago musical Beatle friends including Billy Preston, Billy J. Kramer, both Peter Asher and Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon and Wings members Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell and Lawrence Juber. Neil Innes of “Monty Python” and “The Rutles” fame has been here, as has actor Victor Spinetti, who appeared in both “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” Alistair Taylor, the Beatles’ “Mr. Fix-It,” had told his tales, and so has promoter Sam Leach, who booked the Beatles into some of their biggest Liverpool gigs.
It’s been a special event for Chicago Beatle fans for 35 years, and this year’s fest comes at a special time. With October comes the 50th anniversary of the release of “Love Me Do,” and you can bet festgoers will have a splendid time celebrating.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer.

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