Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twenty years ago, it all started with Abbeyrd's Beatles Page



It was just over 20 years ago that yours truly put up the first four pages of what would become Abbeyrd's Beatles Page. It was started as sort of a protest on my part. I'd applied for jobs as the pop music writer at the paper I worked at and twice got turned down. Both rejections really hurt because this was something I really wanted to do. 

So I decided to jump into the new world of the internet on Dec. 19, 1995 B.F. (before Facebook) where I could do music writing (and on the Beatles) on my own. The site started out with four pages which I coded myself in HTML 3. It was my way of forcing myself to learn it. 

My initial motive for the site was not to just do a Beatles page, but do something a little different. News wasn't part of it initially. But I realized soon after that given my connections with my newspaper, I figured I could get some news from there as well as elsewhere. 

It worked, and a lot better than I expected. It was (and still is) the very first online Beatles news site. I had original news about the Beatles. And this was stuff I wrote or others contributed to me. It wasn't like the link-driven stuff on Facebook and social media today. 

And there were some wonderful highlights and memories for me. One of my favorites was getting a tip in 2002 about a series of Jools Holland shows in November that year at the Royal Albert Hall and that the shows had a mysterious break in the middle of them. A little bit of investigation discovered the answer – it was for something to be called “The Concert for George” which I was the first to report about a week before anyone else. 

I also can't forget my coverage of George Harrison's health problems. We tracked it for quite a while. And I remember the night my friend Joe Caldwell called me about 3:30 a.m. PT to tell me George had passed. I got up and started writing and never went back to bed even though I had to work the next day.

Then there was my tribute to Derek Taylor after his passing in 1997. I rounded up statements from those who knew him, many of them famous. Some of those statements were sent to me directly, such as those from Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

At one point, I had an idea to see if the Beatles U.S. albums could be released on CD. It started with a page on which I discussed the arguments for and against putting them out. I got Bruce Spizer and Martin Lewis to discuss the pros and cons of such a move and got people to put their own pros and cons. I guess I can take some of the credit for the release of "The Beatles Capitol Albums Volume 1" and "The Beatles Capitol Albums Volume 2" and maybe some of the blame (ha ha) for "The U.S. Albums" box. (I still get people asking about Capitol Albums Volume 3.) I also had the texts of the original CBS press releases for the Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

I asked Joseph Self, a practicing attorney, to analyze the George Harrison plagiarism lawsuit, the Star Club suit and the "Roots" suit against John Lennon. Over the years, they've been referred to again and again as the most in-depth and authoritative works on the subjects. Thanks, Joey!

I also did exclusive interviews with many people: Yoko OnoMay PangPete BestBob Spitz (author of “The Beatles”), Francie SchwartzLon and Derrek Van Eaton, Hugo Cancio (who'd been involved in a lawsuit regarding the Beatles Hamburg tapes) and authorKeith Badman, among others. And I'm very proud to say I had contributions by a very distinguished group of Beatles friends and experts, such as Louise Harrison, Jody Denberg, Allan Kozinn, Arno Guzek, saki, Joey Self, Dave Persails, Catherine E. Doyle, Allen J. Wiener, Claudio Dirani, Ken Michaels, Bill De Young, Paul Cashmere and others (and I apologize for anyone I didn't mention.) 

It was a very satisfying experience. It was great to get notes from people who appreciated what I was doing. I'll never forget getting one of those from the great Roger McGuinn.

For the last few years, I've been on Examiner.com doing Beatles Examiner (and several other Examiner columns) and, more recently, have been part of the “Things We Said Today” radio show. And having lots of fun. But it all began at Abbeyrd's Beatles Page and I'm damn proud of it. Thanks to everyone who helped add to the site and all of you who have visited it.

The Beatles' music is still with us. And I'm still here doing the write thing. Twenty years. It doesn't seem like it. (Thanks to Dave Persails for the idea for the logo.)