Fab Four Exhibits, LLC has partnered with the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles for "Ladies and Gentlemen...
The Beatles!", an interactive, artifact-driven exhibit created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America and also the 50th anniversaries of the group's three North American visits (1964-1966). Though the 50th anniversaries and the exhibit's initial 3-year sweep of the United States are now behind us, our partnership with the Grammy Museum continues on with exhibit stops overseas in 2018 and a return trip to the States in 2019.
The Fab Four Exhibits, LLC partners have worked closely with the Grammy Museum team throughout all stages of planning, from concept and layout to the final presentation, including the creation of artifact captions and text boards. The vast majority of the artifacts on display in this exhibit belong to the four FFE partners, with a few outside loans and additional pieces from the Grammy Museum holdings. We're proud to be an integral part of the only Beatles exhibit currently touring the country to celebrate the Beatles' North American experience!
Read the interview with the Fab Four Exhibits partners below!
The Exhibit Tour Schedule
Where We've Been:
The New York Library For The Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York City
February 5 - May 10, 2014
The Midwest Music Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 5 - September 7, 2014
HistoryMiami, Miami, Florida
October 8, 2014 - January 18, 2015
The Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
February 4 - May 25, 2015
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum (the LBJ Presidential Library), Austin, Texas
June 13, 2015 - January 10, 2016
The new Grammy Museum, Cleveland, Mississippi
March 5 - June 12, 2016
The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, downtown Los Angeles, California
July 1 - September 5, 2016
The William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
October 8, 2016 - April 2, 2017
Yurakucho Infos 1F
3-8-3, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
November 18, 2017 - January 28, 2018
ATC Special Venue ITM 2 F
2-1-10 Minami Kohoku, Suminoe-ku
(2 Chome-1-10 Nankokita, Suminoe Ward)
Osaka-shi (Osaka), Japan
February 10 - April 8, 2018
The Oregon Historical Society Museum, downtown Portland, Oregon
May 10 - November 12, 2019
Where We're Going:
More venues to be announced!
Check back for updates!
Beatles exhibit in NYC: Interviews with collectors
reveal life-long dedication
Reprinted with kind permission from Shelley Germeaux,
John Lennon Examiner, February 25, 2014
The original article: interviews-with-collectors-
An extensive exhibit called “Ladies and Gentlemen…the Beatles!” opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in New York City February 6, 2014. This is the opening debut for the much-anticipated exhibit, which will be at the library until May 10, 2014. The project is a combined effort between the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live and the private collectors forming Fab Four Exhibits, LLC. Russ Lease, Mark Naboshek, Jeff Augsburger and Chuck Gunderson have formed the company to become the very first travelling Beatles exhibit, the only one of its kind. We have interviewed Russ, Mark and Chuck about the idea for this unique exhibit, how they got started collecting, and what inspired them to invest their passions, time and money into all these Beatles artifacts.
We attended the exhibit during its opening weekend and really enjoyed it. Upon entering, you are instantly transported back in time to 1964, greeted by a large stage displaying vintage instruments -- just like the Beatles used --- from 1964. Next you see several microphones on stands with the Pan Am logo in the background, emulating the first press conference at JFK, while video of the press conference plays behind it.
Video clips play throughout the exhibit, from “It Was 40 Years Ago Today – the Beatles Invade America”, the “Ed Sullivan Show”, “Good Ol’ Freda”, and CBS News. Many interview clips are also shown, featuring Ringo Starr, and musicians such as Geoff Emerick, Ozzy Osborne, and Rick Nielson. Photos by Bob Bonis are also displayed.
There is a wall full of Beatles memorabilia, clothing and toys that were offered in 1964, and a faux teenaged girl’s bedroom full of posters and Beatles albums. Ringo Starr’s Beatles drumhead, used for all three Sullivan shows and the Washington and Carnegie Hall concerts, (as well as the whole first U.S. visit) is there, along with Paul McCartney’s Shea Stadium jacket from 1965, and the 425 Rickenbacker that George Harrison played on “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” (Yes, George's, not John's, says Russ Lease. "He purchased it while visiting his sister Louise in America in 1963.")
Besides Beatles’ autographs, set lists and other rare items are here; and as Mark points out below, two items used in the Washington Coliseum concert have been “reunited for the first time in fifty years” at this exhibit: Ringo’s drum head and the set list! One display definitely caught our eye: forged autographs of the Beatles----by the other three Beatles. What? See what Russ Lease says about that below.
HERE IS OUR INTERVIEW WITH MARK, RUSS AND CHUCK:
Lennon Examiner: How did this exhibit become a reality, how did you decide to put this together?
Chuck Gunderson: Well, this has been a dream for our team for the last 8 years. We all thought, "Why has there never been a proper traveling exhibition on the Beatles? We have King Tut, Titanic, Princess Di?-but nothing on the greatest most talked about and listened to band in the history of popular culture?" I can't tell you the number of doors we knocked, people we discussed the project with, and meetings we had across the country to get this off the ground. Everyone "in the business of Exhibitions" thought it was a great idea, but no one would commit to it. It finally took the Grammy to see the vision and partner with us in the exhibition. We have already had inquiries from around the world including China. It's a very narrow focused exhibit-just the American years basically, but it's a start and can hopefully be expanded in the future.
Mark Naboshek: We've worked for over a year with the Grammy Museum people and were involved with the concept and layout of the exhibit as well as the writing of the text displays and captions; i.e., the four of us didn't just lend 99% of the pieces that comprise the exhibit, we worked with them on everything.
Russ Lease: We just heard back from the NYPL that the exhibit has drawn over 12,000 people the last two weeks and is on track to smash the attendance record for the gallery!
LE: One surprise was that a Beatle would sign his autograph, then forge the other three Beatles’ signatures on the same paper, to get sets of autographs out efficiently. What else do you know about that, and what years did they do that?
Russ: It was a pretty rare occurrence that they were each in a position where they would actually forge the others’ signatures. Individual sets of forgeries by a "real" Beatle do come up for auction maybe once every few years, so it's obvious they almost never did it. Once I acquired McCartney's, I set out to complete the set by having an example from each Beatle. It took me six years of scouring the auction houses and what was available online. It was finding the Lennon example that took most of that time. The Lennon one I own is still the only set of forgeries I have ever seen by him.
LE: Ringo has a great promo video in the exhibit. Any idea why Paul isn’t featured?
Russ: Yeah, that video originated from his own Grammy museum exhibit “Peace and Love” out in L.A. The Grammy doesn't have McCartney footage yet.
Mark: Paul is the only Beatle who hasn't had an exhibit at the Grammy Museum yet.
LE: How many years have you guys been collecting, and how much money do you think you’ve spent up to this point in total?
Chuck: I started collecting after I attended my first Beatlefest in L.A. in 1979. I started with mass-produced stuff-bumperstickers, keychains, it was all I could afford! Once I had some disposable income I set my sights on concert memorabilia, knowing I would go broke if I collected everything related to the Beatles. Along with hundreds of items from the North American tours, I loaned a few rare pieces including the earliest known set list that was penned by Paul in 1960. It's a fascinating look at what their early stage repertoire consisted of---lot of Elvis, Perkins, Holly and Little Richard tunes.
Russ: Well, I can't speak for Chuck, Jeff, and Mark, but I've been collecting for about 37 years. I only have the major pieces I have because I got in so early (mid/late 70's) when things were somewhat affordable. I cringe when I think of all the stuff that I was one of the last bidders on and let get away from me. I've probably invested around $100,000 into the collection, but it's now worth many times that.
Mark: I've been collecting the Beatles since the fall of 1970 when I was 18 and started college at the University of Texas at Austin. I'll turn 62 on March 17th. So I've been at it for nearly 44 years, starting literally a few short months after the Beatles announced their breakup. I started as a record collector and stuck almost exclusively to records until around 1985 when I wanted more variety. (How many copies of "She Loves You" did I need?)
To answer your question about how much money I've spent on my collection, well, that's impossible to say. I can tell you that I've never spent more than $5,000 for any single item -- and the $5,000 I refer to was what I paid in late 1994 for the Washington Coliseum set list. Interestingly, most of my top pieces were acquired from the original owners, not at auction. I've very rarely ever bid in the major auctions. I've built my collection through a combination of knowledge, initiative, persistence, good timing, common sense and dumb luck -- along with whatever money I could muster! I've been very fortunate.
One other thing I'd like to point out is that the exhibit reunites two of the artifacts used on stage at the first American concert at the Washington Coliseum (February 11, 1964). At that concert, my original Lennon-penned Washington Coliseum set list was sitting atop one of the two Vox amps on stage just a few feet from Ringo's original Beatles drop-T logo drum head -- the one used throughout the Beatles' first U.S. visit in February '64 and which has belonged to Russ for the past twenty years. Now, 50 years later, those two pieces are once again resting just a few feet apart in the exhibit, though most people probably won't make that connection!
LE: What is the inspiration behind collecting these rare items?
Russ: Well, it's part passion for the band and the fun of building the collection AND part investment decision. I have always followed the market value of Beatle related artifacts and they have continued to steadily go up through all these decades. Investment-wise I've done quite well, and immensely enjoyed it at the same time.
Mark: I've never collected for the value or investment reasons, though it's nice to know that there's value in my collection. I've collected these past 44 years because I love the band, I love their back-story, I love their personalities, their humor and, of course, I love the music. If I didn't love the band, I would never have collected. They've been pure joy for me as a fan since I watched their live American debut on the Sullivan show at age 11 -- and they've given me a wonderful hobby (and equally wonderful like-minded friends) for the past four decades. I don't consider myself as much a collector as I do an archivist. I like to think I'm playing some small role in preserving the legacy of the group by collecting the history they left behind.
THE COLLECTION PROCESS OVER THE YEARS
Mark Naboshek gave us an in-depth look at his thought process while building his collection over the years. He talked about how he started with records, moved on to toys, then paper items like tickets and programs. It is a fascinating look at collecting Beatles memorabilia:
Mark: I first collected records, then turned to the toys because they were on the market for a much shorter period of time and I loved the fact that the toys represented a period of time when merchandisers and manufacturers saw the Beatles as a flash-in-the-pan act that wouldn't last six months. I then turned to the rarer paper items, like concert tickets (1961-66), rare programs (like British programs from 1962-63 and rarities like the Paris Olympia program from January 1964, the Philippines '66 ticket and program, the film world premiere programs and tickets, etc.) as well as handbills from 1961-62.
I began to specialize (as my money allowed) in pieces from the 1960-1962 period when they were still essentially a local Liverpool band. I found appeal in items that still existed from their pre-fame era when it was unusual for anyone to save things related to the Beatles. After 1964, everything was saved, but early pieces typically weren't because they hadn't yet achieved their fame.
Over the years, I even became friends with people like Ian James (Paul's best friend and classmate from the Liverpool Institute who taught him his first guitar chords) and Michael Hill (John Lennon's friend from Dovedale and Quarry Bank, who introduced John to the music of artists like Little Richard through his record collection). I was able to get items like school photos and records from these two gentlemen.
Luckily for the 23 years between 1986 and 2009, I had a steady freelance writing gig (outside of my day job as an advertising writer) that enabled me to build a "mad money" fund specifically for Beatles purchases. It wasn't huge money, but it did allow me to add some amazing pieces to my collection.
LE: Is your entire collection featured in the exhibit? Or is there more?
Mark: We offered hundreds (if not thousands) of pieces to the Grammy Museum for this exhibit, but they initially chose only 200 pieces. We compromised at around 400. The Grammy Museum staff didn't want to overwhelm people with too many pieces and we also had to keep in mind that the exhibit is a traveling exhibit that will be packed up and moved every three months. We had to keep it manageable. This is also one reason why it was decided to give the exhibit a "Beatles In America" theme. A "birth to breakup" exhibit would have been too involved and a "Beatles In America, 1964-66" theme made more sense in light of the 50th anniversary. Because the exhibit will travel to a different city every three months until the end of 2016, it will coincide with the 50th anniversary of all three North American tours as well.
For instance, there is only one original Mersey Beat newspaper on display, the famous "Top Poll" issue from January 1962 (which belongs to Russ). I loaned (and sent) several other issues that are not on display, including #2 from July 1961, the first time the Beatles had ever been a front page story and the first time the famous Astrid fairground photo from Hamburg was ever published; the issue from May-June 1962 with a Pete Best cover photo representing the announcement of the Beatles' artist test (audition) with EMI; and also a September-October issue of Mersey Beat with the Beatles on the cover, announcing their first record released with EMI ("Love Me Do"). I would hope that when the exhibit travels to venues where we'll have more exhibit space that these will be put on display along with the "Top Poll" issue.
For more information on Fab Four Exhibits, LLC: There are several sections to view on this web site. This is not specifically about the Grammy exhibit, but rather about the four of us and our holdings and backgrounds. However, there is a section about the Grammy Museum exhibit that's in progress.
Many thanks to Russ, Mark and Chuck for their insights into this exhibit!