Title: The Beatles Are Coming!
Author: Bruce Spizer
Publisher: 498 Productions
Price: $50 (Clearance deals available too)
I want to draw your attention to two books – a print book here and a digital book to be covered in a future review – written by an American author who may not be too well know to some of you in the UK and Europe. He is, though, one of the world’s foremost authorities on The Beatles. In fact, as we, in the UK, have Mark Lewisohn as a fount of Fab Four knowledge, the Americans have Mr Bruce Spizer. Such, in fact, is Spizer’s expertise on all things Beatles, that he was the primary expert source for the producers of the magnificent CD box set, The US Albums which I featured HERE. Indeed, it is The Beatles in the USA which is the principle target of Spizer’s research efforts and this book is just tome in a long list of superb tomes from this author that feature exacting textual details and beautiful illustrations within excellently produced covers. The sheer level of research and attention to detail from Spizer is a wonder to behold…audiophile indeed!
This print book covers the birth of Beatlemania in the USA and spans the events during the group’s stay as well and, this might be even more interest to fans, as the sequence of events that actually lead up to the visit.
There are many highlights to be read in this 246-page tome such as why Capitol Records turned the group down four times, why the group ended up on the Vee-Jay label which had always specialised in R&B and gospel, a focus on the first DJ in the USA to play a Beatles record and the first DJ to undertake the first interview as well as the first Beatle to perform before an American audience and why Ed Sullivan decided to book the band and who was responsible for starting Beatlemania, weeks before the band arrived. There are over 450 images and documents in the book, many previously unpublished.
Beatles fans and, especially, Beatles collectors are famous (infamous?) for their dedication to minutiae when it comes to collecting Beatles records. The subtle, even tiny variations between one similar record issue and another is often critical. This book covers this sort of thing too. So, for example, when The Beatles released the LP, Introducing The Beatles on the Vee-Jay label, you could find the album with the centre label sporting a Vee-Jay logo within an oval and the word Stereo positioned over it (a rare edition) or the mono edition with the Stereo word removed, others with the word Stereo to the right side (also rare) and mono editions with the logo in brackets (stereo and mono). That’s it? You kidding me? There was editions pressed by Southern Plastics and others by Monarch and…well, the variations go on and on (and on).
You could think, from the latter, that this book would be a tedious rant about trifles and subtleties but nothing could be further from the truth. There are plenty of fascinating Beatles stories and anecdotes and general cultural notes including the fierce competition between the chat shows of America hosted by the likes of Ed Sullivan, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson as well as a sample of some of the inane questions the poor Fabs had to face, on a regular basis, from the press. For example, to Ringo:
Reporter: Which do you consider the greatest danger to your careers: nuclear bombs or dandruff?
Ringo: Bombs. We’ve already got dandruff.