Sgt. Pepper's troops storm N.J. Beatles fest

Richard Cowen
The Record (Hackensack N.J.) (MCT)

All you need is love for thousands of Beatles fans to come together - although it certainly helps to have cash or a credit card.

The Fab Four's magical history tour made its annual stop at the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands hotel Saturday, and there was something in way the merchandise moved that said The Fest for Beatles Fans was a smashing success.

There were Beatle dolls, Beatle lunchboxes and even some Beatle concert tickets for sale. But mostly, there was Beatles music that the people sang in the hallways during impromptu jams in the spirit of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Barbara Boggiano drove all the way from Maine with her 20-year-old daughter to join the festivities. She grew up on Long Island and still hasn't forgiven her mother for not allowing her to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966.

"The cost of the ticket back then was $10, and that was too high," she recalled.

Now, she was standing in an area dubbed the Beatles Museum, surrounded by faded press clippings and old photos. Just outside the door, the crowd was singing "All My Loving," and Boggiano's eyes fixed upon a handwritten note signed by all four Beatles announcing their breakup in 1970.

"I get misty-eyed now just reading it," she said.

Next in line was Gregory Decesare, 53, of Long Branch, N.J., who saw the Beatles perform at Convention Hall in Atlantic City when they first came to America in 1964. Decesare remembers being blinded by the flashbulbs as the Beatles came on stage amid the hysteria of the crowd that would come to define Beatlemania.

"I screamed at the top of my lungs just to see if I could hear my own voice," Decesare said. "And I remember that I could feel my vocal cords trembling, but I couldn't hear anything coming out of my mouth."

Decesare can also lay claim to a rare feat among Beatles fans: He saw each of the Fab Four perform solo. That's a real Beatle badge of honor, given that John Lennon rarely performed live after the Beatles stopped touring in 1966. Decesare saw Lennon perform at an Aug. 30, 1972, benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for Willowbrook State School, an institution on Staten Island for mentally disabled patients.

The festival, which continued Sunday, is in its 30th year at the Crowne Plaza. Like previous years, it included appearances by people who were part of the Beatles story - wives, musicians, promoters, disc jockeys and people who just happened to be in the room when the Beatles dropped by.

This year's biggest attraction was Pattie Boyd, who met George Harrison in 1964 on the set of "A Hard Day's Night" and later married him. Also on hand was Ken Mansfield, a former manager of Apple, the record label started by the Beatles, and author Bruce Spizer, who handed out green apples to the audience while discussing the Beatles' final recordings.

Among the surprise guests were Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood, who dropped in Friday night to visit Boyd.

But despite the star power, this day clearly belonged to the fans, many of whom arrived from all over the country. Some, like Roy Ruppert, 46, of Arlington, Va., arrived with guitar in hand.

"I like being with the peace and love generation," he said. "It's not like a big corporate thing."

Others, like Sarah DeGraaf, 12, of Wayne, N.J., were too young to remember the peace and love generation. But she's already a big Beatles fan, and bought a $15 black and white poster showing the band on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

She says the kids in her class at the Schuyler-Colfax School in Wayne like modern bands like Green Day.

"But I tell them it's the Beatles who made rock `n' roll what is," she said. "Without the Beatles, there would be no Green Day."





Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".


Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.


Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.


On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.


Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".


Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?


London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".


Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.


Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.