April 14: "From the Shadow of JFK: The Rise of Beatlemania in America" at the Highland Park Public Library
Last week I presented From the Shadow of JFK: The Rise of Beatlemania in America at the Wernersville library in Pennsylvania. A woman asked about Dave Dexter (1915-1990), the Capitol Records executive who declined the opportunity to release Beatles music in the United States on four separate occasions. "Was he fired?" she asked. I couldn't recall what happened, so I researched it a bit.
Dexter grew up in Kansas City, and now the University of Kansas City houses a collection of his files, much of which is available online for free. One section of this collection is dedicated solely to the relationship between Dexter and the Beatles. One such document is a 21 September 1964 memo from Capitol president Alan Livingston to Dexter. Though diplomatically worded, Livingston's frustration is unmistakable.
These growing tensions eventually led to Dexter's demotion in 1966. And he stopped working for Capitol in 1974, though there appears to be a discrepancy over the details, with some sources saying he was fired while other sources say he quit. Perhaps it was a "You can't fire me, I'm quitting" scenario.
Interestingly, Dexter authored an autobiography titled Playback: A newsman-record producer's hits and misses from the thirties to the seventies in 1976, which judging from the online reviews and commentary appears to be little more than the ramblings of a vindictive codger who couldn't understand or accept the cultural progress of the Sixties. I'm sure there would be some great quotes, so if I ever find it at a decent price, I'll buy and read it!
Should anybody ask me the same question tomorrow, I'll be ready!
Thursday, 14 April 2016, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Highland Park Public Library, 31 N 5th Ave, Highland Park, NJ
From the Shadow of JFK: The Rise of Beatlemania in America
Many Beatles authors and scholars have cited John F. Kennedy's assassination on 22 November 1963 as a cause of the Beatles' sudden popularity in the United States in early 1964. Their logic: Kennedy's assassination made America sad, then the Beatles made America happy again. But this commonly accepted answer is overly simplistic. America has suffered numerous tragedies and rebounded each time, but the popularity and staying power of the Beatles remains unmatched in American history. The real answer is that Kennedy's life and death inadvertently primed the nation for the Beatles' arrival and success. This 60-minute multimedia program will explain how and why.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.