Photos and text by Anne M. Raso
We here at THE MAC WIRE were lucky enough to pop in at The Fest For Beatles Fans (which runs through tomorrow night). This most famous of Fab Four celebrations is at the Crowne Plaza, Meadowlands (in Secaucus, NJ) and is proudly celebrating their 38th year, thanks to promoter and founder Mark Lapidos–pictured with Micky and Donna Dolenz!
We really dig the panels and the Meet The Special Guests event with The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz (one of the great ’60s rock and roll storytellers of all time), former Wings members Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullough and Ringo Starr solo producer Mark Hudson. Sadly, legendary producer (and Paul McCartney’s almost-brother-in-law) Peter Asher could not make this Friday night panel, but he came for events today (Saturday, 3-24) and tomorrow (Sunday, 3-25). Martin Lewis is moderating all the discussions and his famous for being a Beatles scholar and humorist. We have to be honest and say that we like him because he reminds us of a hipper version of celebrity judge Piers Morgan (seen at far right in photo below).
But of course, it is always Mark Hudson who makes everyone laugh the hardest at the Fest although the story about Harry Nilsson coming to his rescue when he was down-and-out and going through a divorce was a real tearjerker! He was happy to pose with fans and even had adorable handmade dolls of himself at his table–they’re gorgeous and he really does make them himself!
We enjoyed the panel, and the highlight for us were Dolenz talking about sitting in on the Sgt. Pepper sessions (he actually stayed at Macca’s famous Maida Vale house in London) while he was trying to escape the whole Monkees taking control of their own recordings controversy…as well as the first time he ever heard of the Beatles in 1963 when he was driving down Van Nuys Boulevard in LA to a bad summer job–and a local radio station started announcing they would have a special Beatles day. Dolenz also dazzled with other surprising info on his career–including the fact that Frank Zappa wanted him to hire him as the drummer for The Mothers Of Invention shortly after The Monkees went off the air.
“The Mick” also did a signing that had one of the longest lines we had ever seen. There was about 200 people in line less than five minutes after Meet The Special Guests panel was over at 9:30 PM, and he was unsure if he could get to them in the 90 minutes slotted. He will be doing more signings this weekend as well as a fan Q&A session at 5:50 tonight (Saturday, 3-24)–followed by a performance at 9:15 with Liverpool, one of the best Beatles cover bands ever. Mark Hudson will also lead an all-star jam a little later in that set. By the way, if you meet up with Denny Seiwell at the Fest, you will probably get a glimpse of his awesome vintage Beatles boots–he bought them for three pounds in 1964 and has managed to keep them in mint condition.
Finally, we need to comment that there is always a Beatles singalong going on in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza during the Fest (including impromptu go-go dancing by male and female Beatles fans alike). You can bring your own instruments if you’d like!
The memorabilia for sale at the Fest is insane–you can find anything from Beatles Hairspray to Butcher Block albums in all sorts of condition. The Rockaway Records stand has more Bucther Blocks than we have ever seen in one place in every condition depending on what your budget is. There are super-rarities there like the only Let It Be album printed on clear vinyl.
There are also plenty of Monkees items, and plenty of Beatles authors with tables. Bruce Spizer–whom we met in front of the Hard Rock Cafe during Ringo’s 70th birthday party there–has all his books with him to sign including his excellent new coffee-table sized tome called Beatles For Sale On Parlophone Records. It’s his seventh book and includes photos of much of his private Beatles memorabilia collection! There was also a 60s Dress Up Contest–and we thought it was adorable that this lady made matching outfits out of Yellow Submarine fabric for her and her toddler daughter.
For more info on the Fest, go to www.thefest.com. Tickets today and tomorrow are $45 per day for adults.