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"We're Going to See the Beatles!": An Oral History of Beatlemania as Told by the Fans Who Were There Paperback – April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Almost 45 years after Beatlemania swept the U.S., memories of the Beatles' legendary U.S. invasion during the mid-1960s remain fresh in the minds of those who were there. In this remarkably personal oral history of the Beatles in America, author and fan Berman (Best of the Britcoms: From Fawlty Towers to Absolutely Fabulous) tracked down 42 individuals from all over the country who cheered the Beatles at New York's JFK airport when they first landed in America, sat in The Ed Sullivan Show audience for the Beatles' live television debut, waited in line for hours (repeatedly) to see A Hard Day's Night, and attended concerts during the group's three chaotic U.S. tours. Bridging their tales with breezy narration, Berman succinctly recounts the Beatles' entire history, from 1963 through the solo years and the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. Though some of them have lapsed in their Beatle fanaticism, all of Berman's subjects realize the significance of their experiences and relate them with gusto. As put by Dale Ford, who saw the Beatles three times in San Francisco, including their final gig, "I was thinking to myself, 'Dale, savor this moment. This is gonna go down in history.' And it did."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When the Beatles first came to America, some girls stole maids’ uniforms at New York’s Plaza Hotel to try to see their idols. Chatty, precocious Linda Binns Liles, then 9, made her way to the press car in the train carrying the band from New York to Washington, D.C., and ended up talking to Ringo Starr for an hour. Such are the memories of the original Beatlemaniacs gathered in this oral history. Later fan recollections can be poignant. Debbie Levitt struck up a conversation with John Lennon as he and Yoko Ono left a coffee shop on the day he was shot to death. Many still can’t explain the hysteria of their fandom: “It was something that just came over us.” A document of historical import, this is also a mostly joyful celebration of an extraordinary phenomenon. Beatles fans, old and new, will adore it. --June Sawyers
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There are so many interesting stories in this book, showing the heights to which these young people would go to try to see their heroes, like dressing up in maid outfits at a hotel, running a police barricade, chasing limos, and doing jobs like cleaning a church to make money for concert tickets. I also liked how the fans interviewed did not come across as the typical nostalgic aging Boomers gassing on and on about how great it was to be young in the Sixties. These now-older fans aren't claiming they changed history or going on and on about how they lived through history being made; they're just honestly reflecting on what happened when they were younger, how grateful they are they were the right age at the right time, and what an exciting happy time that was for them.
That's where this book comes in. "We're Going to See the Beatles!" brought me right smack dab in the middle of all those crazy kids - mostly girls - who went mad for the Beatles and in so doing ushered in a new era of culture, music, and politics.
Yeah, we all know those cliches. And that's the charm of this book, because it avoids all those looking-back analyses, and also all those glimpses from the hanger-ons, and instead tells the story of the Beatles Invasion through the eyes and hearts of their young and frenzied fans. So while I missed all that, this book made me feel a part of it, and I got caught up in it as if it were happening all over again. I think Berman did an excellent job of piecing together the many first-hand accounts to tell this story directly, without weighing it down with unnecessary commentary. Sadly, it also brings you along for the downward arc of the Fabs, but so the story went, and getting that choking lump in my throat for Lennon's murder made me realize how captivating this story truly is, especially as told by those who lived and breathed it while it was happening.
If you missed seeing the Beatles, do not miss reading this book.
The book transports the reader back to a time in history when Beatlemania reigned and allows a birdseye view of what it meant to be a Beatles fan circa 1963-1970. The fervor of the fans is painted on every page in intimate detail.
For anyone who experienced Beatlemania first hand, or anyone attempting to answer the question "What was it like?" this book is THE authority on the subject.