Sat, October 06, 2012

New world record, old club carnival: Liverpool in memory of the Beatles after half a century

2012-10-06 00:38:53 GMT2012-10-06 08:38:53(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

By Xinhua Writers Bai Xu and Si Si

LIVERPOOL, Britain, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Fifty years ago, a new song was born, marking the starting point of the iconic British band the Beatles to world fame.

Fifty years later, a new world record was born, when more than 1,600 people gathered at the Princess Dock, joining in the chorus of Love Me do, in memory of Liverpool's beloved sons.

The song, released on October 5, 1962, was known as the debut single of the Beatles and ranked 17th on the national list that year. It was sang on Friday by as many as 1,631, creating a new Guinness world record with the most people singing one song in a round.

"The Beatles have changed the world and this year marks their most significant anniversary," said Jerry Goldman, managing director of the Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the band. "We wanted to do something special."

They then looked to see which record that they can break, and finally decided to launch such an event.

"It (the event) showed how much they can do to commemorate the band," said Anna Orford, adjudicator of the Guinness World Record.

"Some of the kids here are just four or five years old, but they can remember the lyric and sing the song. The Beatles transcended generations," she said.


Wind was blowing vehemently on the seaside, while people flushed in the chilly air. But they appeared enthusiastic and passionate, laughing, shouting and wavering small flags.

Many of the participants were students, like 15-year-old Rosaline in green school suit.

"The Beatles were part of the culture in Liverpool, and I grew up listening to their songs," said the blonde girl.

While fancying the hottest singers at present like Taylor Swift, she said she felt that "the Beatles are still popular even nowadays". "Their music is good, and also the melody, the lyrics," she said.

Hazel Apperley tottered with the support of wheeled crutches to the dock, just to share the joy once again in the music of the Beatles.

"I used to go to the Cavern Club every Tuesday, where the Beatles had performances before they were famous," recalled the 70-year-old granny. "I can remember they were wearing leather jackets and the club was always full and people always enthusiastic."

In fact, the first song she learned to play on the piano was Love Me Do. "At that time, we were so inspired by their songs that we believed we could change the world."

The event not only attracted local people in Liverpool, but foreigners from Norway, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, China and some other countries.

Meike Wanjek was a 22-year-old German student. "I love the Beatles and it is great experience to join in the chorus," she said. "Everybody is excited."

The Beatles used to perform in Hamburg. "They still have many fans in Germany," she said.

Four Chinese students from the Liverpool John Morres University joined in the chorus as well. "My friend recommended songs of the Beatles to me when I was in China, and the first song I heard was Yesterday," said Jiang Qi, who found out the event on the website.

"The band has huge influence in the world, and here we can get a better understanding of the Beatles culture."

Many people who couldn't get to the site sent over videos of them sing that song. According to Goldman, they have got many from around the world, and a recent one was from Russia.


Formed in 1956, the Beatles, with its best-known lineup including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr rose to stardom in the 1960s with more than 200 songs released in a decade.

They were the pride of Liverpool, where a museum, namely Beatles Story, was founded 22 years ago, attracting millions of visitors each year.

In the museum, one can follow the footstep of the Beatles, from the Casbah cafe where Lennon and McCartney first appeared, to the entrance of Star Club in Hamburg where the four young men gained more experience on the stage, from the shop of Frank Hessy where Lennon bought his first guitar with 17 pounds, to the famous Mathew Street where Beatles played in the famous Cavern Club and had a cup of beer in the Grape pub opposite to it.

A scene in the museum showed how the cover photo of album Sergent Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was taken. Each of the Beatles singers was asked to list some people who they would like to appear in the photo. The selection was quite interesting--film stars, writers, boxer and even black magician posed together behind the four. Examining carefully, one may find Edgar Allan Poe, Marilyn Monroe, Carl Marx and Marlon Brando in the photo.

In a yellow submarine, one seemed to be walking into a wonderland with the song played and fish swam outside the "window".

A pair of orange glasses rested quietly on a white piano, where, in the song Imagine, Lennon gazed at the visitors from a photo. On the wall of the white wall there wrote the lyric of the song.

Nicholas Hale is marketing administration assistant in the museum, who had been working there for three and a half years.

"We are very proud of the band, which made Liverpool more famous," he said, noting that the museum had been visited by many celebrities, especially musicians.

Hale told Xinhua that his father was the "biggest Beatles fan", and he grew up listening to the old songs. He played guitar and, like Lennon and McCartney, he lost his mom which made him feel close to the singers.

Over half a century, many singers popped up and vanished, but the Beatles still remained as evergreen. "Their music means as much now as it did then. It was timeless," he said. "Their songs are so diversified artistically, politically and culturally."

Hazel Apperley and her sister Hilary Stang attributed the overwhelming success of the Beatles partly to the special period of time.

"It was after the World War II, when restrictions need to be broken and, with lots of social changes, people need a band to cheer them up," Apperley said.

Stang recalled that everybody became wild about the band. "I don't think people would do that now," she said. "They (the band) did the right thing, in the right place and at the right time."

From the long-lasting Beatlemania, Meng Handan from China saw the way of cultural inheritance in Liverpool, which should be learnt from.


At the same time, however, people in Liverpool didn't see the Beatles as divine up in the air. Rather, they were just ordinary fellows to them, close as the next-door neighbor.

In the words of Apperley, the four singers have become part of the life of people in their generation.

"I saw them several times in the streets," she said. "Lennon was in a pair of white boots, with his girlfriend."

Mauleen Cudley, 68, remembered seeing them go across the road to buy fish and chips. "Ringo (Starr) went out with my sister's best friend," she said.

But both ladies agreed that the band broadened people's horizon, leading a new fashion in dress while encouraging them to embrace cultures outside Britain.

Today, the Abbey Road studio where the Beatles had 191 of their songs recorded has become a tourist attraction in downtown London. Many posed like them on the album cover to cross the road.

The Grape pub has gone, while a sculpture was made on the wall opposite to the Cavern Club, featuring a goddess cuddling three babies. The fourth one was to the right of them, clutching a guitar. Underneath were lines from Lennon's Imagine.

The Cavern Club, originally in a warehouse basement, has been closed in 1973 and rebuilt. But the decoration remained exactly the same.

Jon Keats has been singing in the club for 20 years. "It is the pilgrimage place for Beatles fans," he said. "If a singer likes the Beatles songs, the Cavern is the best place for him."

Keats was also event director of the club, and busy organizing for a three-day celebration performances, some of which were ticketed while others free of charge.

While they were doing rehearsal, audiences sat by the tables or stood in front of the stage, humming alongside. The scene was reminiscent as what was on the black-and-white photos half a century ago.

"We have some young bands here and we would like to show people our young bands," Keats said. "I hope one of the new bands could be the next Beatles."


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