After 55 years of being a Beatles fan, I finally had a chance to meet an expert…someone who has studied, investigated, and written books about The Beatles.
Oregon State University in Corvallis brought in Kenneth Womack. His many books include…The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four, Long and Winding Roads, and two recent volumes on George Martin…Maximum Volume and Sound Pictures.
(Kenneth Womack [left] was interviewed by Bob Santelli, who is OSU’s Director of Popular Music and Performing Arts. He’s also the Executive Director Of The Grammy Museum In L.A.)
The interview format was excellent, with Bob Santelli asking questions that guided us through the Beatle era. Kenneth Womack proved to be a living encyclopedia of Beatle information. He knew just how to answer each question in an enlightening and entertaining way, without trying to stuff-in too many facts.
The audience was mostly fans who grew up with The Beatles, and about a dozen raised their hands when asked who had actually seen The Beatles in concert. The above photo (of people sitting behind us) was taken before the event…those empty seats filled up. You’ll notice there are some younger people mixed in, and in fact, it was my son, Paul, who suggested we attend the event. It’s always great to see other generations appreciate Beatles music. Kenneth Womack told the crowd he believes the songs of The Beatles will live on in the same way as those of Mozart.
Womack had a relaxed and sometimes humorous way of talking about The Beatles. It was easy to see that he and Bob Santelli both love music. They fit right in with the audience of Beatles fans.
Besides collecting every bit of music by The Beatles as their singles and albums came out, I started reading books about them with the release of their first biography by Hunter Davies in 1968. In the above photo, it’s the top book with the yellow The Beatles on the binding. The other books are ones I’ve kept. Some of my Beatle books were passed on to other fans, and some are in digital form. My favorite book is The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn.
Lewisohn’s 1988 book chronicled all the recording sessions by The Beatles. Because the book concentrates so much on how the music was created, it’s fascinating. We can thank the author for guiding Apple to many of the tracks released on The Anthologies collections.
After the interview and Q&A at OSU, Kenneth Womack took the time to visit personally with a few of us who lingered. I found out he too loves the new remix of The White Album. He even pulled out his phone and shared some fascinating extra audio outtakes! Now that’s a Beatles fan!
Received my copy of Womack’s The Beatles Encyclopedia. It’s filled with great detail and interesting information about everything Beatles. You can read it like a regular book, or simply go to the Beatles songs or topics that interest you the most, because everything is in alphabetical order.
Update: Here are a couple more of Ken’s books I read and recommend.
The Sound Pictures book featuring George Martin was a really good look at The Beatles’ albums from Revolver onward. Actually, the whole first half of the book was on Revolver and Sgt. Pepper, and I appreciated all of the details. It reminded me of Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles: Recording Sessions, and I consider that high praise.
Kenneth Womack also has a news letter, “Everything Fab Four”, that I enjoy. I’m sure you could be added to his email list.
4 Replies to “Beatles Expert (Updated)”
I have a rare Abbey Road vinyl with a Matrix that is possibly the only one in existence. After the Matrix number there is etched:
“To Frank Estep from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr With Love”
Does anyone know who Frank Estep is/was and his relationship to this LP and the Beatles?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I picked up a copy of the Beatles Yesterday and Today vinyl album with a red gold record award label on the album’s trunk cover. Here’s where it gets weird the record itself is a capital rainbow cover. Printed in Jacksonville, and the bottom right hand corner on the back has the number 16 on it. What do I have here?
I have a three album set. All 3 has red labels with the words “Kingston Jamaica W I. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find any information on them. It sounds like the Beatles at a club. Definitely a bootleg
I have a rare White album with white vinyls, poster and pictures.
Anyone know the price of it?
Editor: I found a 2017 article that said the Apple (not Capitol) version with the white vinyl (from 1978) is typically worth $50 to $75, but that they are sometimes offered for sale at $200. Like all collectibles, they’re worth what someone is willing to pay.