Fifty-seven years ago this November (1963), December, into January 1964 and February, Beatles merchandising got jump-started.
NEMS (the band’s management company), not wanting to get involved with merchandising, organized a subsidiary company named Stramsact. They were to handle the U.K. and the rest of the world licensing rights for merchandise. Stramsact created its own subsidiary company called Seltaeb (Beatles spelled backward) to take care of licensing products in the U.S.
For the most part, starting in November, the licensing of everything from jewelry, dolls, shirts, games, egg-cups, blankets, chairs, food, perfume, fabric, garters, pompons, calendars, bedspreads, wigs, and much more started. Beatlemania, carried over to store shelves, was reaching a new level! Mass merchandising around the world would never be the same!
Back in the ’60s, parents all over the world were buying Beatles-related Christmas presents for their children and those children now have their own children and grandchildren too!
However, Brian Epstein was not the first candidate for the position of Beatles manager. A Liverpool-based promoter called Sam Leach, who regularly organised dances and live shows in local venues, frequently hired the Beatles. As he was giving them regular work and they were all very good friends, he suggested he should become their manager.
The group agreed and on the strength of a handshake with John Lennon, the group’s leader, he thought he’d secured the position as their first manager.
The Beatles Play Aldershot
On the 9th December 1961 Sam booked the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, about forty miles outside London. He paid for a full-page ad in the Aldershot News and expected a good turnout for the gig. However, he had paid by cheque and the newspaper would not insert the ad until the cheque had cleared.
The cheque didn’t clear in time and on that night only 18 people turned up to see the Beatles.
After the hiccup at Aldershot everything was going very well for a few weeks until Brian Epstein stepped into the frame. The Beatles, ever eager to climb the ladder of success, were tempted by Brian’s obvious wealth and promises of fame and fortune. With a heavy heart John Lennon had to break the news to Sam that they had signed with “Eppy”.
It seems incredible to think that it is 40 years since John Lennon was senselessly murdered in New York outside the Dakota building. I was 15 at the time and remember it clearly. My alarm/clock/ radio went off at the same time every morning. This time, on 9th December in the UK, the usual jingle music wasn’t playing on BBC Radio Merseyside. I just heard the radio click, and a voice saying, “John Lennon is dead…..” The rest was a bit of a blur. I was stunned.
At Least He Was 40
It is strange but I remember thinking that at least he was 40. After all, I was 15 and 40 seemed old. When I reached 40 and had 3 young children, I realised how young 40 was. It made it all the more poignant.
Let us try and remember the positives about his life and what he contributed to this world and our lives.
At the Beatles Bookstore, we are fortunate to have several authors who have been writing about John and studying his life.
Jude Kessler has dedicated many years, and has many in front of her, as she covers his whole life, in her own unique style.
One of those people who knew John personally in his formative years is Michael Hill. Michael became friends with John at Dovedale School aged 5, and accompanied John to Quarry Bank School. It was Michael who introduced John to the music of Little Richard, a moment that John said changed his life. Read his incredible story in “John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend.”
A brand new book to the Beatles Bookstore is “To Know John Lennon” by Aidan Prewett, which is a fascinating collection of interviews from people who personally knew John Lennon as Aidan tells us more about the real John Lennon.
If you want a different take on the John Lennon story, then Tony Broadbent’s great book, “The Only After 9:09”, named after John’s great rock ‘n’ roll song. It is a mystery story, joining fact with fiction into a great story!
Beatles Historian David Bedford to Release New Book
LIVERPOOL, England – Renowned Beatles historian and author David Bedford – a Liverpool native and lifelong resident of the city – is releasing his new book on 1 December, 2020.
The first of its kind, The Country of Liverpool delves into the strong yet often overlooked influence of country music on the Beatles. At the center of the story is Phil Brady, a Liverpool music legend who became the UK’s #1 country artist, and his personal scrapbook of memories.
“Phil’s story is essential to the country music scene in Liverpool,” says Bedford. “In fact, a lot of that story is untold – and its roots are at the heart of the Beatles’ recording career. The Quarrymen, the group that became the Beatles, were rooted in the skiffle music of Lonnie Donegan; the skiffle was rooted in American country and folk music. And John Lennon was a huge fan of country legend Hank Williams, too.”
That influence followed the band throughout their career and even after their breakup. Ringo Starr’s solo music probably leans the most towards country, though Paul McCartney and Wings and the others had their moments as well. As Bedford says, “Even die-hard fans of the Fabs and their solo work might be surprised at some of the country influences they didn’t realize were there.”
Bedford, who grew up in the Dingle near where Starr was born and also attended the same primary school as Starr and Alf Lennon (John’s father) did, has dedicated his life’s work to the music of Liverpool. He was a founder of the British Beatles Fan Club, is the author of multiple books including Liddypool, The Fab One-Hundred and Four and Finding the Fourth Beatle, and was associate producer on the film Looking for Lennon.
Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music in Liverpool, wrote the foreword for The Country of Liverpool and said, “This is a must-read not just for those interested in country music but for anyone with even a passing interest in Liverpool’s rich music history.” Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack, author of Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles and John Lennon: 1980, says The Country of Liverpool “provides a superb, granular history of Liverpool’s affinity for country music and roots music.” And John Lennon Series author Jude Southerland Kessler calls it essential for “Beatles fans and music scholars alike.”
The Country of Liverpool is 408 pages with full-color photos, and is available from Amazon and on beatlesbookstore.com. A select number of limited-edition signed copies are also available through: thecountryofliverpool.com
The Country of Liverpool
You can get the book in either Limited Edition Hardback, Softback and Black and White Softback too.
David Bedford is represented by 910 Public Relations, and is available for interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements. Copies of his book are available for review upon request. For more information, please contact email@example.com