Ladies and gentlemen it’s a good time to be a fan of the Fab Four. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy the treasure trove of Beatles-related products. Yes, it’s a bit money grubbing, and capitalistic of the Beatle-clan to be hawking goods that most of us do not need at all, but that’s always been part of the fun of being a Beatle fan.
Admit it to yourself, you collect the goods. Yes, some of this stuff may cost an arm and a leg sometimes. Yes, you have bought the same albums over and over, but there’s something alluring about having to collect it all.
Over the course of the next few days leading up to Christmas we will post our own reviews of the latest Beatle products to fill your xmas stockings. I wish we were able to report on new remastered releases, but that will have to wait for next year. We are a few days short of 12, so we will have more than one item on a few different days, so stay tuned.
For now though, these latest Beatle goods will have to suffice for our next Beatle fixes. Stay tuned tomorrow for the first in our series of the 12 Days of Beatle Christmas.
Here’s what we’ve read.
You’re not putting the porno in the paper are you?”
The comment, by the collector’s wife, pipes into the basement from upstairs. She’s joking, kind of.
Her husband has amassed one of the most comprehensive privately owned collections of Beatles paraphernalia. He keeps it in the basement of their Kansas City-area home. The ever-expanding bounty is an ongoing source of jovial consternation.
“The porno” is a reference to a prized item among his thousands — a framed line drawing by John Lennon.
Lennon, who was murdered 28 years ago today, produced a collection of intimate portraits of himself and wife, Yoko Ono, in the 1960s. They were confiscated by Scotland Yard (because of the sexual content).
The piece the collector owns is tucked into a corner of the basement, an attempt to hide it from their two children (though neither husband nor wife thinks they’ve been successful).
Because the memorabilia is valuable — priceless to Beatles fans — the location of this stash and the collector’s identity must remain secret. And you would never guess by driving by their split-level suburban home.
Along one basement wall are shelves with hundreds of albums, including the recalled “Yesterday and Today” album. The original cover depicted the Beatles in butcher smocks with raw meat and headless baby dolls. There is a complete set of the U.S.-issued sleeves for all the albums, the ones with pictures.
There is a framed tin template from which the highly recognizable Apple Records labels were stamped. Uncut Apple labels, unstamped Apple labels. Pictures, jigsaw puzzles, books, toys and lots of Beatles dolls — solid plastic, hollow and of cloth.
One-inch-square swatches of bed sheets, each slept on by a Beatle. Colgate-Palmolive soap dispensers of Ringo and Paul. George and John didn’t get one.
The artist’s original line drawings from the “Yellow Submarine” movie, bought from a London-based art dealer.
“Here’s something you haven’t seen.” Now he is rummaging through one of the many plastic tubs in the room.
This time, he’s digging out something not from a Beatle, but from the man who made the Beatles a household name in the U.S., Ed Sullivan. It’s a first-class menu from a 1964 Pan Am flight. A note inside, to the stewardess, was written and autographed by Sullivan.
The collection began with a gift from his mother, a 45 record of “Hey Jude.” He was 4. His mother had lived in London and liked the Beatles’ music.
“I was the easiest person to shop for after that,” he says.
Layered into the many scrapbooks are 1970s newspaper ads. On each, he checked off which albums he already had, which ones he desired as gifts.
By the time he was about 10, he had amassed quite a collection. Then one fateful day, he entered Caper’s Corner record store and spotted the imports section, releases from overseas with completely different covers and labels. A new world of Beatles items had just been marked.
“Now it makes me crazy when I see something in a book or a magazine that I don’t have,” he says.
“Crazy, that’s a good word, like obsessive,” his wife says with a smile.
But asking why someone would like the Beatles this much is throwing a red flag to your inability to comprehend such loyalty.
“It’s almost irritating to be asked,” he says.
Ditto for asking “why?” to his favorite Beatle and song — “George Harrison” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”