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Former fan club president to address Beatles symposium

Marti Edwards will make her first appearance as a Guest Author at award-winning Beatles at the Ridge, Sept. 14-15 2018. Marti will share the story of her remarkable experiences as "a teen entrepreneur."

In 1964, Marti founded and became the President of the Chicagoland Beatles Fan Club, a rather enormous undertaking for a young girl in a huge city. In the process, she not only unified The Beatles' fan base there, but she also spearheaded a movement to present a lovely token of the club's appreciation to The Beatles in person. This provided Marti with an avenue to "meet The Beatles" at their first Chicago press conference.

In her new book, 16 in 64: The Beatles & the Baby Boomers, Edwards tells the story of her work with the fan club and other adventures to which Baby Boomers can certainly relate. As her lifelong friend, Joe Carroccio stated, "Marti's story is all about her...tenacity, commitment, confidence, positive attitude, creativity, intuitiveness, and passion to succeed. [Marti] was brought up with all of these attributes and was always ready to take on any opportunity." Guests at Beatles at the Ridge Symposium will love getting to know Marti. As a "Sneak Peek," here is her recent interview with BATR Symposium Chair, Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series:

Jude: Marti, in your book 16 in 64: Beatlemania and Baby Boomers, you talk about your experience in the Chicagoland Beatle People Fan Club. Tell us when and why you joined the club, and what your role in the club was.

Marti: As early as February of 1963, WLS Radio Station in Chicago played Beatles' music. By the time the Ed Sullivan Show featured The Beatles, they had many fans in the Chicago area already. So at age 15, sitting crossed-legged on the floor in front of the TV, I decided that I was somehow going to meet The Beatles. I had been taught that if you set a goal and stick to it, you'd reach that goal...anything was possible.

There is a philosophy of "just letting things happen." Then, the other point of view of "making things happen"... I did just that! That is how I arrived at the idea of starting a local Beatles fan club. We were a group of six high school girls who started up the club. We were known as The Chicagoland Beatle People Fan Club and eventually grew to over 1,000 members (without social media).

As president of the club I helped write quarterly newsletters, planned Beatle rallies, made posters, baked treats to take to the senior center and schools, attended meetings, took trips downtown, made many phone calls, and wrote letters to try to reach our goal. We learned how to run a large fan club and discovered a way to advertise our club to the entire Chicago area. Since our club grew so rapidly, we were asked by a local TV station to participate in a segment featuring Beatle fan clubs: we were "making it happen"!

Jude: How did you get to "meet The Beatles" in 1964?

Marti: Back in the 60s we had no credit cards, no cell phones...if you wanted something, you had to earn it or make it or build it yourself. We were six high school girls who were forming one of the largest Beatle Fan Clubs in the Chicago area. We used our baby-sitting earnings to buy stamps, paper, and supplies. We were determined to do this undertaking ourselves without help from our parents or anyone.

We achieved our goal and on September 5, 1964, our fan club presented an honorary plaque to The Beatles at their press conference at the Stockyard Inn Ballroom. We were also able to stand with the press at the foot of the stage to watch their performance at the International Amphitheater in Chicago.

Click here to see a larger image
Marti Edwards presenting a plaque to the Beatles in 1964

We were the outreaching force, not a device; we built a network of actual people who were Beatle fans. My book tells of our trials, struggles, and efforts to present a plaque to the Beatles at their Chicago Press Conference. To find out what transpired that day, read my book. It can be purchased as a paperback or e-book at our website,, or on Amazon as an e-book, and it will also be available at The Ridge.

Jude: What is the thing that you remember most about meeting The Beatles?

Marti: Our passes had been recalled, and we would not be going to the conference after all. However, due to a little last-minute luck, we were asked to make the presentation. I was so thrilled and excited that my head was in a whirl trying to figure out just what to say to The Beatles! The conference room was a lightning storm as flash bulbs flashed off and on constantly.

It's difficult for me to remember details because I was in a daze as I stepped onto the platform. I do remember how kind Derek Taylor (The Beatles' press manager) was, escorting us to a table to sit until our plaque presentation. I remember how kind and attentive John and Ringo were by asking us questions and joking to put us at ease. I remember John's lovely smile as he thanked us for the plaque. I remember George leaning in to say hello and shake hands with us, while Paul took care of the press. All splendid memories for a 16-year-old girl!

I do remember, though, that I did not feel the emotion of it all until I was actually standing close to the stage watching their performance. And there I was watching my beautiful Beatles on stage through tears of joy.

Jude: Why did you decide to write 16 in 64? What is your book's theme or message?

In the process of accomplishing my goal to meet The Beatles, the entire experience left me with an interesting and fun story to tell. Marti: My book titled 16 in '64, The Beatles & The Baby Boomers is really about a teenager in the 1960s determined to meet The Beatles and more importantly, it's about setting a goal, being positive, and having the confidence and passion to succeed in reaching that goal. And it didn't hurt to have a tad of luck thrown into the mix as well!

I had several photos of our club presenting a plaque to The Beatles in 1964 and wanted to share them with other fans. It was suggested to me by several people that I should write a book and include the photos. Many years later, after raising my family and retiring, my friend Joe convinced me that it was time to share my story and the photos. I know that all the Baby Boomers will enjoy reading my book, and it will stir up fond memories associated with those days. For those who are not Baby Boomers, it may provide some insight to that era in time, as well as how a band truly influenced the world.

Jude: What role did the Beatles Fan Clubs play in America, do you think, and have you been working with author Sara Schmidt on her new book about the role of these clubs?

Marti: In 1964, our country was plagued with periods of unrest, and many were devastated at the death of our president. I believe The Beatles came to America at just the right moment. Our youth was feeling low, and The Beatles seemed to restore some happiness and bring back a positive energy to us.

Can you imagine a world without social networking? We had "ourselves" only to spread the word. So, we met in groups, fan groups, and showed up in masses to let The Beatles know that we cared and loved them. Way before the "Summer of Love," all the fan clubs were showing their love. In those days, the fan clubs were an important element in bringing people together and unifying fans.

Fortunately, I was able to meet Sara Schmidt at last year's Chicago Beatle Fest. She interviewed me about how we started our fan club and what was important to us in the 60s. I look forward to working with and sharing information with Sara at The Ridge in September.

Jude: Marti, we are SO looking forward to having you at Beatles at the Ridge Sept. 14-15, 2018. You'll be speaking at 11 a.m. in The Studio on Main Street about your experiences with the fan club. What will you be sharing with visitors to Walnut Ridge?

Marti: I really cannot wait to participate in all the festivities and fun planned for the Beatles at the Ridge in September! I will be sharing my story about starting The Chicagoland Beatle People Fan Club and sharing the unpublished 8X10 black-and-white photos of the press conference. I'll also share my memory book, which includes photos, club and Beatles memorabilia and the original invitation to the Chicago Press Conference of 1964.

It will be a great weekend, and I hope you'll plan on visiting with me at 11 a.m. at The Studio on Main Street. Preview my website I am looking forward to meeting all the Beatle fans at Walnut Ridge!

To learn more about Beatles at the Ridge, please go to or visit their Facebook page.

Related articles:

• Music expert and author Kit O'Toole to close Beatles symposium (9/10/18)
• Liverpool film maker and author to be featured at Beatles at the Ridge (8/24/18)
• Beatles at Ridge 2018 to kick off with Lennon concert (7/27/18)
• Memphis teen music star to shine at Beatles Symposium (4/24/18)
• Beatles poet to speak at Beatles symposium (3/27/18)

Published February 19, 2018

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