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Something About the Beatles

Author: Evergreen Podcasts

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Hosted by award-winning author Robert Rodriguez, Something About The Beatles is an intelligent but entertaining examination of The Beatles' music and career. Smart, funny and surprising - just like the Fab Four.

294 Episodes
As part of the ongoing campaign in 2024 to look back at 1964, we present another conversation with first-gen fans, this time focusing on the Capitol issues as well as US Top 40 radio. Returning guests Elliot Easton and Dennis Diken (The Cars and The Smithereens respectively) are joined by Lee Abrams, radio visionary and co-founder of Sirius XM. We discuss their fandom as it unfolded in real time, the impact and influence of radio, as well as their takes on the US releases (and the Beach Boys too).  You can find Lee's writings here:  Something About The Beatles is an Evergreen podcast.
Returning guest (episodes 130 and 174) Ivor Davis is a British journalist who, in 1964, went on tour with The Beatles for the Daily Express, covering their North American dates while ghost-writing a column for George Harrison (having taken over the assignment from Derek Taylor). He did similar duties for the following year, and after which, he settled in California as west coast correspondent. His job saw him cover the Warren Commission findings, the gubernatorial campaign trail for Ronald Reagan (governor) and in 1968, Bobby Kennedy (whose murder Ivor was a witness to). The following year, Ivor was at the center of the Manson Family case when he became the first journalist to visit Spahn ranch, as well as the first writer to publish a book on the Tate-LaBianca murders, Five To Die. (We discussed this in the two previous shows.) Ivor was there when Bob Dylan introduced The Fabs to weed; he was also there when they met Elvis. In short, he's been around.  He first published his memoir of The Beatles' experience as The Beatles and Me On Tour ten years ago for the 50th; it's now been expanded and republished for the 60th anniversary. In his conversation, Ivor offers his observations from the current perspective, post Get Back and "Now and Then," as well as inner-circle personas he came to know along the way.  He also has a new true crime book out, The Devil in My Friend about a 1980s double murder in Malibu. You can find info on all at his website,
Beginning with the 2017 Sgt. Pepper 50th anniversary release, a series of deluxe reissues (The Beatles, Abbey Road, Let It Be, Revolver, 1962-1966, 1967-1970) featuring remixing and the application of MAL (“machine-assisted learning”) to deconstruct and re-assemble the master recordings have hit the streets. Supervised by engineer Sam Okell and Giles Martin, these issues have met with mixed reactions from fans, especially those who hold the original recordings sacrosanct. For some they are revelatory; for others, an abomination. I convened a 2-man panel of returning guests with expert ears to assess them. John Leckie (Abbey Road engineer for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pink Floyd and producer for Radiohead, XTC, The Stone Roses, The Verve, New Order) has one of the finest sets of ears in the business, as does producer/engineer/author Jerry Hammack (, whose newest work, The Beatles’ Recording Techniques: Recreating The Classic EMI Studios Sound In Your Home Studio, has just been published. This conversation is front-loaded with techie-talk, but soon finds its level with an analysis of the work done for these new sets and whether or not they achieved a clear-cut goal. For Jerry’s newest:
YEAH YEAH YEAH, we’ve been waiting 88 episode for this and it’s finally here!! In the 60s, The Beatles’ rise to fame would change the landscape of pop music and fandom forever. People were so excited to watch them, they’d urinate and scream so loud you’d struggle to hear the music. No one had ever seen fan culture or heard music like it. So it’s no surprise that we’re absolutely ecstatic to chat to Mark Lewisohn, arguably the world’s LEADING authority on the Beatles! So ecstatic that we’ve made a two part episode, so make sure you listen to that once you’re done with this one.
My guests are three very special ladies whom have all appeared on the show before, but this time, all three have memoirs out. Debbie Gendler was the first to appear on SATB (121: New York Stories) and her story as the 1st US fan (as far as I’m concerned) was initially laid out there. But now HER memoir has been published, I Saw Them Standing There: Adventures of an Original Fan During Beatlemania and Beyond.  Debbie joins returning guests Carol Tyler (146: Fab 4 Mania) and Sibbie O’Sullivan (273: My Private Lennon) as they react to each other’s books. What ensued though was something bigger than what we anticipated, as the notion of collating their stories and those of other 1st-generation fans into something bigger and grander took shape.  Something About The Beatles is now an Evergreen podcast.
Of the 73 million Americans who viewed The Beatles’ live debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, we know with absolute certainty that a high percentage had their lives changed forever – this is not hyperbole. And of those, many were moved to take up instruments or start bands. And of that fraction, a handful went on to stellar careers in music, producing art that became a part of our lives in the years to come.  Today’s guest is one such example. Elliot Easton was the lead guitarist in The Cars, but he was put on a path to music as a livelihood at the tender age of three; The Beatles merely codified the trajectory he was on. Elliot went on to hit virtually every checkmark a musician could desire: a successful career with hit singles and albums, induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, even recording with a Beatle. And Elliot also happens to be student of music and rock history, The Beatles especially. He comes to the show as a fellow fan as well as an artist inspired by The Beatles to live his dream.
As the first insider Beatles tell-all (not counting Francie Schwartz’s Body Count – because why would I) – 1983’s The Love You Make, a collaboration between Brian Epstein’s protege Peter Brown and today’s guest, shocked fans with what was perceived as an airing of dirty laundry. Drug use, infidelity, betrayal, wife-swapping, and overall bad behavior was chronicled in detail, and Brown’s insider status gave credence to the reporting. But many Beatle historians recognize the inaccuracies and questionable decision making, rendering what was once a best-selling book into something with considerably less esteem, to put it one way. But the original interviews with an array of insiders, many of them now dead, has arrived as a sort of unfiltered access to the source material. All You Need is Love is out now, and presents many witnesses, sum of questionable veracity, but with little comment, allowing the reader to judge their truthfulness for themselves.
At last: the SATB conversation with the man who brought The Beatles’ road manager’s long missing manuscript to press. Living The Beatles Legend is the story Mal wanted to tell before his life ended at 40 in Los Angeles in a hail of gunfire in 1976. But perhaps the wait was worth it to get his insider eye-witness story augmented by research and interviews Ken has conducted to fully flesh out the story.  This talk covers the first volume of this must-read book. Another volume, presenting the Evans photo archive and diaries, is due out later this year
Today is her 80th birthday, and given the attention being brought by the auction of some personal items through Christie's (see ), the time was right for a conversation. We made the most of the hour, given the demand for interviews right about now, but among the things discussed were:  Meeting George on the set of A Hard Day's Night Her views on how fans see her The Fool  Apple boutique   Rishikesh  Get Back Philip Norman The happiest time and more...
Listeners: you may recall my conversation with Robert Rosen (245), detailing the blocking of a pair of books by reputable authors that detailed the "househusband" years of John's life; it evolved out of an essay Robert wrote. Well, one of those writers is here to tell his story himself.  Michael Meideros was hired in 1977 to work on the indoor gardening at the Lennon's Dakota apartments. But as he performed his assigned tasks, his role grew to ad hoc personal assistant and eventually, archivist. His memoir, Barefoot in Nutopia, remains unpublished - yet. But Michael wanted to share some stories and insights and we're happy to have him, in what we project to be the first of at least two conversations. Subjects include day-to-day life, Yoko, Bermuda, Fred Seaman, and the night the unspeakable occurred, and its aftermath.
Picking up where we left off (259: Sgt. Pepper Olympiad ), lecturer/professor Gary Wenstrup and I resume the Olympiad series with a pair of releases featuring film score music, the 1967 Magical Mystery Tour EP/album and 1969's Yellow Submarine release. Owing to the unique issues, with the latter representing only four new Beatle songs and the former being a six-song double 7" set, we got creative with the tracks reviewed.  Previous installments can be found here. Gary Wenstrup's site is here.
There's no joy to be had in this subject, but it is an important topic for an open discussion. We have been fed a narrative for 43 years regarding the murder of John, yet there were aspects that either lacked detail or, upon closer inspection, made little sense. At least a couple of of authors have published books on the case, but documentary-maker David Whelan has approached the subject with fresh eyes, resulting in three years of research and interviews that he presents in Mind Games: The Assassination of John Lennon. He makes the case that virtually nothing we were ever told about what happened is supported by evidence and much is substantially contradicted. We managed to touch on only part of his research in this conversation, but you can learn more through the book, David's Substack site, and his YouTube channel.
The author of Shout: The Beatles In Their Time has brought out his third Beatles individual biography, forty plus years after the publication of his group one. George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle was put together tapping Norman's body of old interviews (with witnesses now beyond reach) as well as fresh research and new conversations (including his star witness, Pattie Boyd). The complexity of the subject matter is matched by the complexity of the narrator, who through series of unforced errors has led many a Beatle fan to view him with scorn. But SATB has always been about opening doors rather than shutting them, and if one is prepared to listen without prejudice, one can make up one's own mind on the value of what he has to say about George in this book.
We have discussed the insights of 1st gen fans who, frankly, were screamers in the presence of The Beatles (Debbie Gendler, author of this upcoming memoir and Carol Tyler, author of this one); see thisfor a detailed discussion.     Then there's Sibbie O'Sullivan - a high schooler when Deb and Carol were middle-schoolers. She too was swept up in the wave of mania in her native Maryland; like Deb, she witnessed an in-person Ed Sullivan Show taping, but unlike many girls, she did not scream. Her book, My Private Lennon: Explorations From A Fan Who Never Screamed, offers a series of essays, rich with insight and perceptive observations about her very personal fandom and what The Beatles meant to her, then and now. Leading the discussion is Dr. Allison Bumsted, who is cultivating a specialty in examinations of Beatles fandom.      An essay by Sibbie here.    Allison's review of Sibbie's book here.
This British journalist/author/screenwriter/playwright is a SATB fave and was heard most recently among the 21 guests in the "Now and Then" discussion. But here he is alone in the spotlight, recounting his fabulous life as a chronicler of creators and a creator himself. Check out his website for a full accounting of his works - - and this show for a discussion of his 2023 memoir.  Ray was friends with The Beatles and the screenwriter of THat'll Be The Day (1973), Ringo's finest film project. He discusses all and much more here.
The release of a new Beatle recording in our lifetime warrants a special approach. To that end, I assembled a group of some of your favorite podcast guests, plus a few new ones to discuss, critique, and analyze the new Beatle record. Folks representing a number of geographical and generational perspectives weigh in with their insights and observations. In alphabetical order, they are: Nancy Lee Andrews (Photographer and Author, A Dose of Rock 'n' Roll)  Dr. Allison Bumsted  Ray Connolly (British journalist and Beatles insider, author of Born At The Right Time and Being John Lennon, etc.) Richard Courtney (Beatles radio host and author, From Me To You) Dennis Diken (The Smithereens) Dr. Duncan Driver (University of Canberra) Dr. Christine Feldman-Barrett (Author, A Women's History of The Beatles)  Debbie Gendler (Author, I Saw Them Standing There) Glenn Greenberg (Author of Beatles bookazines) Cameron Greider (Musician and musicologist, ) Jerry Hammack  Chip Madinger Skylar Moody Dr. Sibbie O'Sullivan Dan Rivkin Luther Russell Arion Salazar Pat Sansone Carol Tyler Erin Weber Gary Wenstrup
The first half hour+ was taped live at The Fest in August 2023, as you can doubtless tell. The rest was done in the usual way, and you'll note we didn't necessarily cover everything we listed in great detail, but that's showbiz.  Here's Erin's list:   1. A Hard Day's Night film 2 and 3. The Internet. Two slots because I see it impacting the historiography in two major ways: First, it has vastly increased accessibility to primary sources and research materials that in previous decades were extremely difficult to find. Second, its fundamentally changed the fandom experience thru podcasts, discussion boards, etc.  4. Hunter Davies: The Beatles - An Authorized Biography 5. Lennon Remembers/Rolling Stone 6. Mark Lewisohn: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions 7. Philip Norman: Shout! 8. The Beatles Anthology (mainly the documentary, but the book, too).  9. Barry Miles: Many Years From Now 10. Christine Feldman Barrett's A Women's History of the Beatles   Here's mine:        Influential Red and Blue albums The Beatles: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler Shout! Lennon Remembers Here, There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick   Important The Beatles and The Historians by Erin Torkelson Weber Lewisohn Chronicles/Tune In Love Me Do by Michael Braun The Beatles: An Authorized Biography A Women's History of The Beatles   What's your list look like?
Between 1970 and 1979, George issued six studio albums (plus one triple-live one), followed by a second draft of his 1980 album the following year. Rock scribe Eoghan Lyng and I re-examine these works with fresh ears - we hope you will too.  Eoghan's book:
The Beatles were the end result of an array of confluences, circumstances and influences. On the short list near the very top (if not THE top) was American rocker Buddy Holly. In his short career, he wielded his influence on the budding Liverpool rockers in an array of ways, which returning guest Luther Russell and I discuss here. Though his time on earth was brief, the impact he made casts a long shadow, as he provided an unwitting blueprint on what a successful rock artist looked like, sounded like and could aspire to.
The author of Nowhere Man (2000) returns for a conversation prompted by the book's recent re-publication, augmented with an array of new material and appendices. Robert will also be making a rare personal appearance in St Louis on October 4th in St. Louis - details here.    Among the subjects we talked about this time round were:  May Pang Fred Seaman Early 1970s US politics and its coverage in Observation Post His upcoming book, tentatively titled No Future John's opinion of Double Fantasy Jack Douglas  John's murder The Manchurian Candidate Theory  Robert's purported role in John Lennon's murder   Robert's website and blog can be found here.