Behind a Fabricated Beatles History

IMG_9303For stories about the Beatles, the line “It was 50 Years Ago Today” is destined to serve as a repeated hook for the better part of this decade.

Most immediately, it was, in fact, also the title of an international Beatles conference staged at Penn State Altoona to coincide with the anniversary of the group’s arrival in the U.S. and first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

At that conference, Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn presented a talk drawn from the research for his book Tune In, taking the story through 1962.

Appropriately, at another session of that same conference, I described a very different take on key events in Beatles history from 1962 as an example of “Inadvertent and Deliberate Deceptions.”

This one was most definitely a deliberate deception, offered as liner notes to an album.

Follow this link to read the behind-the-scenes details in a new Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik essay: The Untold Story of the “Untold Story” of the Beatles first recordings.

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The Untold Story of the “Untold Story” of the first Beatles recordings (by Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik)

IMG_8366 - CopySuppose, for the sake of a better story, you chose to deliberately ignore “inconvenient” facts and details that “got in the way”?

In the case of the Beatles, that has happened repeatedly over the past fifty years.

With professional pride, we have always said: Not with us.

Beatles writing “by Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik” has always been solidly anchored in facts. Beginning with our series of books in the mid-1970s, we’ve consistently verified accounts of the group members’ professional careers, to the best of our own U.S.-based abilities, back to the pre-Internet days. We’ve embraced the straight-laced and confirmed, rather than the fanciful.

With one exception.

We’re revealing it now because the time finally seems right.

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The Beatles on TV, Live in Your Living Room

IMG_9260The musical dam was already breaking when The Beatles stepped onto The Ed Sullivan Show stage on February 9, 1964.

On Billboard’s charts, the group had the country’s top single (I Want To Hold Your Hand). A pair of albums were on their way to the number one and two positions (Meet The Beatles; Introducing The Beatles).

Within two months, they would occupy the five top spots in the Hot 100 (the week of April 4), with Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and Please Please Me). It was a never-to-be-duplicated chart triumph.

Yet it was television that made the difference.

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Something Bigger, Better, and Live: The Tonys

The television watching theatre lover in me took great delight in the 67th annual Tony Awards program on June 9, 2013.

IMG_4554Live from Radio City Music Hall.

In particular, for the opening number, producer Ricky Kirshner, director Glenn Weiss, and host Neil Patrick Harris presented an exhilarating eight minutes of pure stage magic celebrating the event’s return to Radio City Music Hall.

Check out this link.

Just be prepared for the song “Bigger” to embed itself in your head.  Be sure to stay through the very end of the clip.

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Through the MBC Prism, Forward via the Past

In its first full year after cutting the ribbon to a new permanent home in downtown Chicago, the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) hosted events and personalities from all slices of media history.

Looking forward, through the prism of the classic past.

IMG_6054Some of the highlights of 2013:

In March, the Museum celebrated the 89th anniversary of the groundbreaking National Barn Dance radio program.

Moderator Stephen Parry (writer-producer of the PBS documentary The Hayloft Gang) welcomed scholars, guests, and those who were there “back in the day.”

The gathering took place at an early site of the WLS radio studios, west of Chicago’s Loop, as one of the last events at that old building.

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The Marriage Bill Right Next Door at UIC

It was perfect timing.

IMG_8994For the fall 2013 semester at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), I was teaching the course “Mass Media and Politics,” connecting the dots between campaigns, elections, and the push behind key contemporary issues.

On Wednesday afternoon, November 20, my students had the opportunity to see the results of the interplay of politics and the media first hand, in the UIC backyard.

That’s when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn officially signed into law Senate Bill 10 (“The Religious Freedom & Marriage Fairness Act”) in a public ceremony at the UIC Forum.

I was there, along with many of the students.

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Flashback to the 2013 Presidential Inauguration

IMG_5740 - CopyAfter nearly a year of polarizing politics, it is easy to forget that 2013 started fresh with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, beginning another four-year term.

No matter the party, a Presidential Inauguration represents a rare convergence of people gathered to witness a moment in history suffused with tradition and symbolism, shared with the world via the media. I have always respected that process.

In January 2013 I headed to D.C. to quietly help with media credentials, especially during the first distribution days. Also took the opportunity to see friends at such events as the Green Inaugural Ball at the multi-media Newseum.

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