Fans and Critics Celebrate ‘Revolver,’ Lennon’s Jesus Flap, and More than 50 Years of Beatlemania
August 11 was the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in Chicago to kick off their third U.S. tour, opening with pair of so-called “apology” press conferences amid the flap over Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remarks.
Lennon’s comments to London Evening Standard reporter Maureen Cleave about the band’s popularity, hero worship among fans, and Christianity were published in the U.K. on March 4, 1966, with little blowback.
But after U.S. teen fanzine Datebook published an excerpt taking what he said out of context, it sparked a firestorm of protest, especially in the Southern Bible Belt states, just two weeks before the band landed in Chicago.
on the August 11, 1966 “Jesus apology” press conferences in Chicago.
Fast-forwarding 50 years to this weekend in Chicago, the semi-annual Fest for Beatles Fans takes over the Hyatt Regency O’Hare August 12-14.
Special guests include Grammy-winning “Revolver” cover artist and Plastic Ono Band bassist Klaus Voorman; Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon, Apple and Linda Ronstadt renown and his touring partner Albert Lee, legendary guitarist with The Everly Brothers and Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band; and Louise Harrison, George’s older sister and author of “My Kid Brother’s Band…a.k.a. The Beatles.”
(Meanwhile, check out the very cool Lewisohn-narrated “Inside Abbey Road” interactive site created by Google.)
On September 15, a digitally restored, remastered edition of The Beatles’ legendary August 15, 1965 concert at New York’s Shea Stadium will screen exclusively in theaters. It was the first time a rock band played a stadium gig more than 55,000 people. Beatles manager Brian Epstein and impresario Ed Sullivan produced a 14-camera shoot on 35mm film, in color. Martin and Okell remastered the audio. Watch the official trailer below.
Both the Hollywood Bowl do-over and the She Stadium screenings are tied in with the biggest and most anticipated event this 50th year since Beatles 1966 – the September 16 world theatrical premiere of “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” film documentary by Oscar-winner Ron Howard. Hulu premieres the video as a stream for its subscribers two days later.
For first-generation fans including this writer, appreciation of The Beatles seems to deepen with time. As summer turns to autumn 2016, the band’s music and remarkable story are poised to reach and resonate with yet another new generation of Beatlemaniacs.
Santa Clarita journalist Stephen K. Peeples was the original, award-winning producer of “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series for the Westwood One Radio Network from 1988-1990. Peeples, a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992), is a veteran record industry media relations executive (Capitol Records, Elektra/Asylum Records, Westwood One, Rhino Entertainment, 1977-1998) and website content manager (Warner New Media, 1998-2001). He was music and entertainment features writer/columnist for the Santa Clarita Valley Signal (2004-2011), and The Signal’s award-winning online editor (2007-2011). He then wrote features for Santa Clarita’s KHTS-AM 1220 News (www.hometownstation.com) and SCVNews.com (2011-2016) and hosted, wrote and co-produced the WAVE-nominated “House Blend” music and interview show on SCV community TV station SCVTV (2010-2015). Peeples is Vice President/New Media & Editorial (Emeritus) with Los Angeles-based multimedia pop culture company Rare Cool Stuff Unltd. and CEO of Pet Me Happy Gifts & Treats. For more information, email skp (at) stephenkpeeples.com or visit https://www.stephenkpeeples.com.