The Beatles In ClevelandThe Beatles In Cleveland
by Dave Schwensen
North Shore Publishing, paperback ($19.95)
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For decades there has been discussion about the concerts by The Beatles in Cleveland, Ohio, during their American tours in the 1960s, but a lot of what has been said is speculation. Now, the excitement, the drama, and sheer craziness of those events at the height of American Beatlemania are detailed in one smart volume by Dave Schwensen entitled "The Beatles In Cleveland." Dave attended one of those concerts and he has compiled the whole story of The Beatles’ visits to Cleveland (1964 and 1966) through recollections of others who were also lucky enough to be on the scene.

The book reads like a little encyclopedia of facts and memories, and at last sets the record straight about those two explosive and infamous concerts. Lives were literally on the line (for both the out-of-control fans and the ridiculously unprotected Beatles) as the hysteria played out to unbelievable heights in the “city of rock and roll.”

Dave’s book tells it all: the screaming (almost delusional) fans, the backstage happenings, the experiences of the backup bands and disc jockeys who traveled with the tour, and, of course, how The Beatles themselves dealt with one of the most precarious and frenzied times of their entire career.

According to accounts in the book, The Beatles managed to laugh their way through the over-the-top insanity, but others behind the scenes were not so lucky. Those, like Jack Armstrong (the MC of the 1966 concert), who had to step up and try to stop the riots before someone was killed, were in a state of sweat-drenched horror. And there were some injuries during the concert riots (insider Alk Bicknell, the boys’ driver, was hurt in the melee) as were a large number of fans who were pressed against the stage during the all-out madness.

After running for their lives from the mob that managed to get on the stage, in the pseudo-security of their mobile home dressing room, one of The Beatles joked about having never before gotten that kind of response to Day Tripper. It was the opening chords of that song that broke the crowd loose in a wild run across the stadium field toward the stage, while The Beatles played on through the madness of it all.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It truly brings the reader in touch with those wild, manic days when crazed fans would actually eat the grass The Beatles had walked on. First generation Beatles fans can recall how bonkers that whole wild and wonderful time was, but Dave’s compilation of the thoughts and feelings of those who were actually at these two explosive events, makes for intense and sometimes, mindboggling, reading. As John Lennon might say, “You shoulda been there.” And I say, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.” Highly recommended.

Copyright 2008 / ladyjean

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