On February 7, 1964 the Beatles arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport to thousands of screaming fans. It was awesome. Or so I’ve heard.
Luckily, for those of us who were too young to experience Beatlemania first-hand (and have yet to be invited by a certain Time Lord to accompany him in his TARDIS), the Beatles continue to be hot topics for books and film. Here are a couple of recent items that celebrate two people who didn’t live to see Beatlemania and yet had a distinct effect on the Beatles becoming The Beatles: original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, and John Lennon’s mother, Julia.
Baby’s in black : the story of Astrid Kirchherr & Stuart Sutcliffe by Arne Bellstorf tells the epic love story between Stuart and Astrid during the era of the Beatles early Hamburg gigs. Although the names were all familiar to me, as was the tragic ending, I knew very little about Astrid and Stu’s life together nor Stuart’s passion for painting. The heavy, stark drawings by Bellstroff manage to evoke and complement both the mod existentialist world of Astrid and the moody rock & roll environment of the Beatles and Stu.
Nowhere Boy, a film directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, takes place before John Lennon formed the Beatles, before Stuart met Astrid and before John had even met Stuart. Nowhere Boy takes place in the mid 1950’s when John Lennon was in his early teens and struggling to maintain relationships with both his strict and caring guardian, his Aunt Mimi, and his musically-talented, free-spirited mother, Julia, who had just recently reappeared in his life. This story also ends sadly, but there is some fun along the way as we get to see John form his first group, The Quarrymen, and invite Paul McCartney and then George Harrison to join him. Actor Aaron Johnson (the star of two of my favorite films, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Kick-Ass) is absolutely amazing as a cheeky & insecure young John Lennon.
And, just to throw in a book with happier vibes, here is one of my all-time favorite Beatles-related books:
Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr showcases some of the cards Ringo has received from John, Paul, and George (and their families) from the 1960’s to now. Each card is shown both front and back and includes a bit of commentary from Ringo. No other way to describe this book, but absolutely DELIGHTFUL.