“Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!”

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  • Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

    Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964

  • Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

    Press conference at Maple Leaf Center, Toronto, Canada, September 7, 1964

  • Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

    Paul and Ringo on a plane en route to the Cow Palace near San Francisco, California, August 30, 1965

  • Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

    Paul and John before the show, Detroit, Michigan, August 13, 1966

  • Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

    Reginald Owen Residence, Bel Air, California, August 23-25, 1964

  • Photograph: Russ Lease

    Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

  • Photograph: Chuck Gunderson

    Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

  • Photograph: Russ Lease

    Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

  • Photograph: Russ Lease

    Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Photograph: Bob Bonis www.BobBonis.com © Not Fade Away Gallery

Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964


These days, frenzied excitement over the latest pop sensation—the devotion of Directioners or the zeal of Beliebers—is practically de rigueur. But back in 1964, the idea that a music group could inspire mass hysteria by doing little more than shaking their mop-topped heads and singing “yeah, yeah, yeah” was virtually unheard-of—that is, until the Beatles came along. The Fab Four’s rise to worldwide fame not only ushered in a new era of music (hello, British Invasion), it also changed the way fans interact with their favorite bands, and maybe even pop culture as we know it.

For proof, witness the new exhibit “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!,” which opens at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on Thursday 6. Curated by Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli, the show traces the history of Beatlemania, from the lads’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, to the group’s final official concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966. “The exhibit is really about the Beatles’ impact on America, its culture and its music,” explains Santelli. “But clearly, the story begins in New York City.” While the library dug into its collection to contribute items, many of the 400 pieces on view—such as ticket stubs, photographs and lunchboxes—come from Beatles fans’ private stashes. “We’ve also reproduced a suburban New Jersey bedroom of a Beatles fan so that younger people today can understand how the Beatles were brought into American homes in 1964 and ’65,” says Santelli.

But artifacts alone can’t give the full picture on how enormous Beatlemania was; for that, Santelli recruited famous musicians—including Ozzy Osbourne, Graham Nash and Max Weinberg—to explain on video how the band changed their lives, and visitors are invited to share their own Beatles stories via an oral-history booth. “I want to know from the 11-year-old kid who comes with his grandfather, you know, what the Beatles mean to him today,” explains Santelli. Maybe not as much as One Direction, but hey, give it time.

“Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!” is at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza at 65th St (917-275-6975, nypl.org). Thu 6–May 10; free.


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