The Fest For Beatles Fans Return To NYC For Fab Four's 50th
The Fest For Beatles Fans is returning to New York City in 2014 to celebrate two historic anniversaries. The three-day Fest -- set for February 7th, 8th, and 9th -- falls on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in America and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. The event, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, will be held at mid-town's Grand Hyatt Hotel next to Grand Central Station, which sits on the same exact spot as the old Commodore Hotel -- the home of the Fest during the original convention -- then called Beatlefest -- in September 1974.
February's 2014 Fest For Beatles Fans features numerous Beatles insiders, collaborators, friends, confidantes and historians. Among the notable guests appearing for the "Fab's" 50th anniversary will be Donovan; Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon fame before becoming head of A&R for Apple Records and discovering James Taylor; renowned Beatles author Mark Lewisohn; Chad & Jeremy; Billy J. Kramer; Ringo Starr's former producer Mark Hudson, John Lennon photographers Bob Gruen and Allan Tannenbaum; Freda Kelly -- the Beatles' fan club secretary and the subject of the critically acclaimed new documentary, Good Ol' Freda; musician Mark Rivera -- best known for his role in the Billy Joel band over the decades as well as a mainstay in Ringo Starr's All Starr Band -- and the only person appearing at the Fest who was part of the band that backed John Lennon during his final live performance in 1975 -- among numerous other authors and guests.
The Fest, which is the longest running Beatles fan convention, also features a live evening concert, numerous panel discussions and Q&A sessions with the guests, an extensive flea market selling rare and one-of-a-kind items, group sing-a-longs, non-stop Beatles and solo videos, a battle of the bands, a karaoke Beatles recording studio, a Beatles museum, a puppet show for kids -- as well as the new Gretsch George Harrison and Interactive 3D Beatles Instruments exhibits, and much, much more.
In addition to the performances on the main stage in the hotel ballroom, a new side club -- dubbed "The Cavern" -- will be introduced this year to spotlight modern musicians, along with fashion and graphic designers. A New York City walking tour and a trip to JFK airport to relive the Beatles' historic landing is also in offering.
In 1974, Fest founder and producer Mark Lapidos was the manager of a New Jersey Sam Goody record store, when he heard that John Lennon would be appearing with Harry Nilsson on April 26th, 1974 in Central Park at a March Of Dimes benefit. He decided that not only would he get some face time with the former Beatle -- he would pitch him his idea for the definitive fan convention: "I said, 'I'm gonna meet John on Sunday.' Of course, everybody thought I was crazy -- but I did! It happened. It wasn't in the park, it was where he was staying and it was just fate. I knocked on his door, Harry opened it, I said 'I'm Mark Lapidos, I'd like to speak to John about Beatlefest.' 'Come on in!' Two minutes later, I'm sitting there with John and telling him the whole idea. I can still see and hear him say it right now: 'I'm all for it -- I'm a Beatles fan, too.' He got really excited at the idea. He said, 'Come back on Tuesday and meet some other people and get things going.' (Ringo's manager) Hillary! Hillary Girard, yeah. And he called Neil (Aspinall) on the spot, was on the phone two hours with him while I was there -- he said, 'You gotta hear this idea. John's nuts about this idea -- loves it and we're gonna make this happen.'" .
Over the years the Fest has also taken place in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Orlando, and Atlanta.
The convention kicks off at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Friday, February 7th at 5 p.m. and wraps up at on Sunday, February 9th at Midnight. To purchase tickets and for more info, log on to TheFest.com.
Photo Courtesy of Subafilms Ltd / Bruce A Karsh