Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!
A Beatles traveling exhibition presented by the Grammy Museum and Fab Four Exhibits, LLC
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Little Rock, Arkansas
October 8, 2016 - April 2, 2017
As in Los Angeles, the public opening at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock
(October 8) preceded the VIP reception, which took place on Friday evening, October 14th.
The festivities continued the following day, Saturday, October 15th, with lectures by Beatles
author Bruce Spizer and Fab Four Exhibits partner/author Chuck Gunderson.
Cocktail reception and concert, Friday evening, October 14, 2016
Fab Four Exhibits partners Chuck Gunderson and Russ Lease attended the opening reception, conducting press tours and giving talks in the afternoon and welcoming the crowd of invited guests in early evening. The exhibit was acknowledged by former President Bill Clinton, who welcomed VIP guests and museum patrons with a special Facetime video message. A little later in the evening, guests were treated to a concert by Liverpool Legends.
Former President Bill Clinton extended a warm welcome to Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles! and the exhibit's gala guests. He spoke about his love of the Beatles, their influence on pop music and also about the exhibit itself. Chuck Gunderson took this photo as the video played.
Also present at the opening gala was George Harrison's older sister, Louise Harrison, who spoke to the crowd about her memories of "The Boys". She was at the Library to present a concert by "The Liverpool Legends", the nationally-known Beatles cover band she represents.
A Grammy Museum and Fab Four Exhibits welcome
Scott Goldman, the incoming Executive Director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, made a few opening remarks
about the Grammy organization and the exhibit...
...before turning the podium over to Fab Four Exhibits partner Russ Lease (shown above and below), who went into more detail about the exhibit,
its mission and its treasury of Beatles memorabilia and artifacts.
A gala celebration of the Beatles' music: Liverpool Legends in concert!
Louise Harrison recruited the members of Liverpool Legends, the only Beatles cover band with a family connection to the Beatles. The group posed outside the Clinton Presidential Library before the evening's performance in front of a very energetic audience of mostly Baby Boomers. The band was introduced by Lena Moore, Deputy Executive Director of the Clinton Foundation (shown below). By the end of the show, the SRO crowd was dancing
in the aisles and in front of the stage.
A chance encounter with a Beatles fan favorite! October 16, 2016
Good Ol' Freda!
As he was waiting at Little Rock's Clinton National Airport for his flight home to San Diego, Fab Four Exhibits partner Chuck Gunderson had a chance encounter with Freda Kelly, a confidant of the Beatles and their Fan Club secretary from 1962-1972. Freda has also been a good friend to the Fab Four Exhibits partners for several years.
Educational programs, Wednesday and Thursday,
November 9-10, 2016
In keeping with the educational programs of both the Clinton Library and the Grammy Museum, two workshops inspired by "Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!" were held in November: the Arkansas Arts Educators Association Educator Workshop and the Young Entrepreneur Student Workshop. FFE partner Chuck Gunderson returned to Little Rock and participated in both sessions, one for educators and one for students, discussing the Beatles' far-reaching influence and conducting group tours of the exhibit. Below, a new generation of Beatles fans is groomed as a group of high-schoolers tour the exhibit.
"Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!" at the Clinton Library!
The exhibit entrance.
Welcome to the Pan Am Lounge!
The perfect spot for a photo op.
The Clinton Library's interpretation of the Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show stage set-up.
In the case at left above, the Beatles' foray into the world of film is celebrated with memorabilia from their feature films "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" as well as the feature short "The Beatles Come To Town". This case features the suit Ringo Starr wore in the first thirty minutes of "A Hard Day's Night". At right, a display of American tour artifacts, including Paul McCartney's original Shea Stadium concert jacket from 1965.
On the left, a tribute to the Beatles' musical influences. On the right, a display case focused on the Beatles' early years features pieces dated as early as 1961 and tells the story of the group's ascent to fame in Great Britain in 1963, leading up to their first trip to America in February 1964.
Paul McCartney's Shea Stadium concert jacket is the centerpiece for a display of 1965 and 1966 artifacts.
Above: Putting the Beatles on the map:
Original unused tickets from each of the group's three North American tours, 1964-1966.
Paul McCartney's original handwritten lyrics to his 1964 composition, "What You're Doing".
George Harrison letter written from the Star-Club in Hamburg in May 1962 to a Beatles fan and Cavern Club regular.
A drum lesson with Ringo Starr. One of the many interactive displays at the exhibit.
The Edwardian-style suit that Ringo Starr wore on the cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road LP in 1969...
In the foreground, the Woolworth's window, filled with Beatles mass-produced merchandise. In the distance, a display
case highlighting mementos of
the Beatles' three North American tours.
The original guitars owned and played by Beatles influences Buddy Holly and
A Tale of Two Set Lists:
Above: The earliest surviving Beatles set list,
handwritten by a teenaged Paul McCartney for a gig at the Grosvenor Ballroom in Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside, June 1960.
Below: The set list used onstage by the Beatles at their first American concert, Washington Coliseum, Washington, D.C., February 11, 1964, just two days
after their live American television debut
on The Ed Sullivan Show.
...and a final photo op at the end of the exhibit:
a walk across Abbey Road.
Fab Finds: 400-Item Beatles Exhibit Opens At Clinton Center
By Linda Haymes, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
-- "In My Life" The Beatles
In February 1964, our somber nation, still reeling from the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, was invaded. Not by communists but by the British.
Instead of arriving for battle as their forefathers had, these four mop-topped, 20-something Liverpool lads came in rockin' and played a role in a cultural revolution fueled by music.
Soon on a first-name basis with America, John, Paul, George and Ringo made quite the first impression.
Beatlemania swept the 50 states. And we were forever changed.
"Ladies and Gentlemen ... The Beatles!" an interactive, artifact-driven traveling exhibit examining the phenomenon opened at the Clinton Presidential Center on Oct. 8 and runs through April 2.
"It's really a look at the touring years," says Ben Thielemier, communications manager with the Clinton Foundation.
The exhibit of more than 400 items, including records, rare photos, instruments, clothing and tour artifacts, was curated by the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum and Fab Four Exhibits LLC. This is the last stop of the exhibit that celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' arrival in this country and their three North American tours in 1964, 1965, and 1966. (The traveling exhibit premiered in 2014.) It also touches on their early years in England from 1960 to 1963 and their post-touring years, 1967-1970.
"It's just a really great exhibit and topic that made sense for us to have it here," Thielemier says.
Bob Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, says he wanted to curate the exhibit for personal as well as professional reasons.
"I'm a big Beatles fan," says the 64-year-old New Jersey native. "I grew up listening to them, saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show as a boy, and it kind of changed my life as it did for many in my generation. As a music historian, I felt it was very important that the 50th anniversary of the arrival of The Beatles in America was something we could teach people about and those who'd been through it could recollect just how important that event actually was."
The more difficult decision? Narrowing down the more than 4,000 items offered by the collectors to about 400.
"First, you decide what the story is and then the point of view of the story," Santelli says. "Then it becomes like a jigsaw puzzle and we start to put it together to try to tell the story."
The story, as Santelli (previously vice-president of education and public programs with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland) explains: "We wanted to show that The Beatles changed America and changed the way we thought. Not just what we thought about music but also about fashion, cultural ideas, religion, art, so many things."
"The 1960s was one of the most turbulent decades in our history and The Beatles provided a large part of the soundtrack for that cultural, political, and social revolution."
Interactive elements include a singalong booth where visitors can record their own version of "Yellow Submarine" and a backdrop where they can be photographed in the London crosswalk depicted on the group's Abbey Road album cover.
The Grammy Museum, which recently opened a second museum in Cleveland, Miss., has curated three previous Beatles-related exhibits -- one on John Lennon curated with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, another on George Harrison with his widow Olivia, and a third on Ringo Starr curated with Starr.
"The only one we're missing is Sir Paul and we're still hoping to get him," Santelli says of Paul McCartney.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
The traveling Beatles exhibit premiered Feb. 6, 2014, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center, where it attracted 51,000 visitors. In the 2 1/2 years since, it has visited more than six U.S. cities.
As for the value of the 400 artifacts currently on display in Little Rock, Santelli says he would estimate it to be in the millions.
His favorite item is a small set list handwritten by McCartney from a Liverpool show in the early 1960s.
"That's pretty special because those things are often thrown away, especially back then," Santelli says. "One of the interesting things about their early set lists is how many American rock 'n' roll songs were on them.
"We forget that what The Beatles were doing was taking American rock 'n' roll and either being inspired by it to write their own music or reinventing it in a way in which it'd never been interpreted before and giving it back to us."
He continues, "In the early days, The Beatles were always wondering 'Why is everyone going so crazy for us? We're playing American rock 'n' roll and we're not even Americans.' Of course, what they didn't say is that they had this incredible talent and when those four parts -- those four guys -- came together, it was magic.
"No band has ever been able to reproduce that since, and 50 years later it still sounds as fresh as it ever did."
YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME
Fab Four Exhibits, created and orchestrated by four Beatles fans-turned-collectors, contributed nearly all of the items on display, and the four also served as exhibit consultants. They are considered to be among the top U.S. collectors of Beatles memorabilia.
"Those guys live in this world on a daily basis," Santelli says. "Fifty years after the fact, they're still collecting and looking for the missing pieces. I wouldn't even say it's a hobby -- it's more of a calling."
Fab Four Exhibits is made up of former outdoor advertising executive Chuck Gunderson, 54, of San Diego; Russ Lease of Columbia, Md.,(who also reproduces replicas of The Beatles' stage suits for tribute bands); Jeff Augsburger of Normal, Ill., who owns a plumbing business, specializes in collecting Beatles merchandising items and wrote The Beatles Memorabilia Price Guide; and advertising writer Mark Naboshek of Dallas, who focuses on pre-fame Beatles artifacts.
"I started collecting after I attended my first Beatlefest in Los Angeles in 1979," Gunderson says. "I started with mass-produced stuff -- bumper stickers and key chains, which was about all I could afford back then. Once I had some disposable income, I set my sights on concert memorabilia -- tickets, posters and contracts -- at first from shows around the world, then later scaled it back to focus on just the North American tours."
During the past 25 years, he has amassed what is arguably the most comprehensive collection of tour-related memorabilia and he is considered the country's leading expert on The Beatles' three North American concert tours. He's the author of the two-volume set Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966.
After the collectors became friends they decided to become business partners, Gunderson says, adding that Augsburger, who has been collecting since 1964, probably has more than 10,000 Beatles-related items. Gunderson says he has about 200 one-of-a-kind Beatles-related items, mostly linked to the band's North American tours.
"We decided to cull our collections and try to put a traveling exhibit together," he says. "But none of us had any museum experience. We knocked on a lot of doors and after three years of trying, we finally came up with the perfect partner in the Grammy Museum."
Gunderson has one of the band's earliest 45 rpm records that was signed by all four of them.
"They only had a few formal autograph sessions in their career and this was one of them," Gunderson says of the "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You" record on the Parlophone label.
"And they signed it on the 'Love Me Do' side, which is even rarer; most of the girls who went through the line wanted The Beatles to sign on the 'P.S. I Love You' side."
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?
Some of the stories behind the artifacts are even more interesting than the items themselves -- like the lyrics handwritten by McCartney in 1964 for a Beatles song called "What You're Doing."
"Those are extremely rare to find," Gunderson says. "A maid found it in the trash can after The Beatles left their hotel suite in Atlantic City in 1964 and it was given to Atlantic City concert promoter George Hamid Jr., who kept it for several decades before it was sold."
Also on display is the first set list, handwritten by Lennon, for the first U.S. concert, Feb. 11, 1964, in Washington.
"When you watch the film you'll see Paul take it out of his coat pocket and place it on the amp," he says. After the show ended and The Beatles left, several girls rushed the stage.
"A policeman handed the list to one girl, telling her, 'I found this on the amp; you might want it.' She was, like, 13 and hurriedly put it in her purse."
Keeping it for decades, she one day read about one of Gunderson's fellow collectors and contacted him.
"He assumed it was written by a fan; she said it wasn't," Gunderson says. "He said, 'Well can you fax it to me?' When he got it, he nearly fell on the floor; he couldn't believe it. It's a Smithsonian-quality type of thing. It's the only one known. There're not 50 of these running around."
The exhibit includes other rarities, such as concert contracts and The Beatles' clothing, including the suit jacket Ringo wore in A Hard Day's Night, one he wore in the Abbey Road album cover photo and a pair of Lennon's yellow-tinted granny glasses.
"The Hard Day's Night suit jacket came from Ringo himself," Gunderson says. "He was cleaning out his closets and auctioned this beautiful suit. It looks almost brand new. He took great care of it."
"The exhibit artifacts often getting the most attention are the merchandising items like the Beatles tennis shoes, lunch boxes and Thermos bottles," he says. "First-generation fans can relate to that because at one time they actually owned those things; they went down to Woolworths and bought them and they're seeing them again for the first time in 50 years."
EVERY LITTLE THING
When asked about his favorite exhibit item, Gunderson says, "That's virtually impossible to answer, but I'm just in love with the Shea Stadium jacket that Paul McCartney wore," he says of the Aug. 15 concert in New York, the first of the band's 1965 U.S. tour. "It's such an iconic concert, one of the few The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein allowed to be filmed. It's just so historic; it broke attendance records with 55,000 attending and ushered in stadium concerts as we know them today. And to just see that coat right there in front of you; it's just a great visual piece."
The collector says he's glad the exhibit is visiting Little Rock.
"We're really excited to be at the Clinton library and for fans to see these things that have been in our homes, in our safes, and under our beds for so long," he says with a laugh. "We just thought, 'This is ridiculous; we really should put these artifacts out where people can see them, learn from them and appreciate them.'"