The Beatles had enjoyed superstardom long before I had any inkling of their existance. I have vague memories of playing "We all live in a yellow submarine" on my recorder at school, but that sums up my early Beatle recollections.
Lennon was assassinated on the 8th of December 1980, but I can't recall it happening. I was ten years old. However, I do remember the day Elvis Presley died, 16th August 1977. I have some vague memory of my mother working outside. She heard the news and became very upset.
My dad has always loved music and managed to maintain a fair working of knowledge of contemporary music over the years. Like many of his generation, he was a fan of the Beatles, and was rumoured to look like one of them (George Harrison) in his youth. My dad used to run a competition where if my mother, my siblings or I could guess the name and artist for a song, we would be able to earn money. Needless to say, I became an expert on music from the sixties and seventies, including the Beatles.
The Beatles occupied a back seat for most of my adolescence, giving way to all the musical delights of the synthesised '80s. All that changed when I got my first car, a bright yellow Corolla. Or rather, it changed when I got my first stereo. Starved of music to play, I borrowed my dad's Beatles Box – an eight cassette compilation of many songs. This was when I fell in love with them. The Beatles were all that I listened to on the long drives to university. Not the "I want to hold your hand" stuff. It was the weird and wonderful tracks that hooked me.
"She's leaving home" … "The fool on the hill", "I am the walrus" (what was that about?)… "Happiness is a warm gun"…"I'm so tired"… Carry that weight"… "Golden Slumbers"…"Got to get you into my life"…"I'm looking through you"… "In my life"…
So many songs. I will not bore you with listing any more! Now, as a wannabe guitarist, it gives me great pleasure to attempt to play the songs. And that is the root of my appreciation for their brilliance. Simple and complex chords, beautiful melodies that seem just as impressive today as when they were written. This defined the sound of the Beatles. There have been many bands since that have emulated them accidentally or unintentionally, and many of them seem to come from the UK. Notable examples include Oasis (especially the "What's the story morning glory" album, Blur, and even a track of the new Franz Ferdinand album (check out "Eleanor put your boots back on").
I guess I am still a fan, although I don't own many albums. Nor do I own the Beatles box collection any more. Over the years my dad has wondered where the cassettes are. I haven't been brave enough to tell him that I wore them all out! If they bring out a CD edition, it could be a very good Christmas present option for him next year…