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.
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.