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New Beatles author to close Beatles at Ridge Symposium
Walnut Ridge, Arkasas -- Terry Crain, author of the new book, NEMS and The Business of Selling Beatles Merchandise in the U.S. 1964-1966, has been selected as the Grand Finale Speaker for the Beatles at the Ridge Symposium in Walnut Ridge, AR, Sept. 20-21. This free two-day festival and symposium will focus on the theme of "Beatles Memorabilia," and Crain has wonderful stories behind his knowledge of memorabilia to share. Recently, he sat down with BATR Symposium co-chairs, Lanea Stagg of The Recipe Records Series and Jude Southerland Kessler of The John Lennon Series, for a chat.
Jude Kessler: Terry, we're so thrilled to have you as our Beatles at the Ridge Symposium Grand Finale Speaker and to celebrate the release of your new book with you! Tell everyone about your book, please. What makes it completely different from any other book ever released on Beatles memorabilia?
Terry Crain: Thanks, Jude...I'm excited to be attending the Ridge, too! I've heard great things about the festival and have wanted to attend for years.
You know, as a Beatles fan, we all have "our area" to which we seem to gravitate. Mine is merchandise items that were on the shelves at Woolworth's, etc. from 1964-1966. This was the initial wave of Beatles items, and they were the coolest things on the planet! I would always hear that there were about 150 licensed items made for that time frame, but I could never find a definitive list. Also, when I would read about these items, all of the descriptions were the same: just a few lines about the items and then the rest of the descriptions focused on how much they were worth.
Unlike most people, I really didn't care what these items were worth; I just wanted to know more about the background of the items: what company made them, who designed them, and why they were designed as they were. I wanted to know if the company was still around and if there were any interesting stories about the items that needed to be told. Since this era was over 50 years ago, memories were fading, records were lost or gone, and the people directly involved were dwindling. So, I wanted to write this book to help keep the facts and stories alive.
I realized that there was not a book on the market like this...a book that told people all about the memorabilia and not simply what it was worth. I also realized that there was no comprehensive list of Beatles merchandise. So, using two guides, I set out to write a book thoroughly covering those aspects.
Lanea Stagg: Terry, you know I love the book! And I was so honored to work with you on the project as your editor. As I edited each day, the more impressed I was with your work. It's excellent. You know, your book acknowledges the importance of Beatles memorabilia...especially the merchandise produced and sold at the height of Beatlemania, 1964-1966. Please tell us what you plan to reveal about this exciting era in your Grand Finale presentation on Saturday, Sept. 21. I believe it's entitled "Seltaeb and The Business of Beatles Memorabilia."
Terry Crain: Well, thanks Lanea. I was really fortunate to have you work with me on the project. You gave so much of your time to the effort, and you infused a great deal of creativity and pizazz to the stories for each product. Thank you so much!
You know, it seems that with any business, legal issues always pop up. The business of selling Beatles memorabilia was no different. In the U.S. in 1964-1966, to legally sell a Beatles item, you needed to have a "license agreement" issued to you by their U.S. merchandising company, Seltaeb. (Yes, it's Beatles spelled backwards!) Well, that didn't always happen. There were companies who made Beatles items to sell who didn't bother to get a license. We'll talk about a few of those companies and their sticky legal problems.
We'll also discuss the U.S. merchandising company, Seltaeb, itself. It had its own legal issues, even to the point of "employee suing employee." Juicy stuff indeed for 1964!
Jude Kessler: Terry, since our 2019 theme for BATR is "Beatles Memorabilia," we're encouraging folks to wear their 1960s T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, and tennis shoes! I know you'll be bringing along some extremely cool pieces of memorabilia to "show and tell." Give us a preview of a few of the items you'll be sharing.
Terry Crain: Of course, I'll have some rare Beatles buttons and small collectibles. I'll bring my Ringo Colgate-Palmolive "Soaky" bubble bath container. He seems to go with me everywhere! And I do have a rather unique item...it's from 1965-66. It wasn't one of the official licensed items, but it's a Butterick sewing pattern for the "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" jacket - a replica of the lads' collarless, pocketless jackets, size 11, pattern 3528, with a printed cost of 50 cents! With this pattern in hand, you could stay at home, cut out, and sew your own Beatles jacket! faB!
Jude Kessler: That sounds great! I'm bringing John Lennon's forks from the 1964 tour plane and an airplane-issue bottle of Scotch that Paul enjoyed on that tour. I'll also have early Cavern Club "record request" cards, 1964 Beatles pins in the shape of a beetle, and my Beatles bracelet that is featured in your book with its very own story. I think guests at the festival are going to see some very rare and unique items that will spark great memories!
Additionally, a gentleman named Ted Hutchens, who has acquired the go-cart that George Harrison rode at the Pigman Ranch in Alton, MO in 1964, is going to bring the go-cart to exhibit. He has many photos of George enjoying it, and he plans to let fans have their picture made with it as well.
Lanea Stagg: Being a "George person," I personally can't wait to see that! As a Second Gen fan, I don't have a lot of memorabilia, so this is going to be really fun for me. Terry, my final question is...you know, your book acknowledges the nostalgic importance of Beatles memorabilia (especially the 1964-66 collectibles). Please give us some insight into your presentation on this topic as you close our BATR Symposium on Saturday, 21 September with "Seltaeb and the Business of Beatles Merchandise."
Terry Crain: Sure! As I researched my new book, I carefully compiled a list of 150 items that were created and produced during that time frame. These 150 items are special. I like to think that in the book I give readers "a memory trigger"...a moment in which they say, "Hey! I remember this!" And it allows the reader to be sentimental.
I want to take them back to that wonderful time of their youth.
Everyone has these types of triggers, whether it revolves around The Beatles, Hopalong Cassidy, the Wizard of Oz, Mickey Mouse, Superman, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc., that allows them (even for a few minutes) to put smiles on their faces and to recollect an earlier, simpler time. NEMS and The Business of Selling Beatles Merchandise in the U.S., 1964-1966 is hopefully a very happy memory trigger for many.
For more information about Terry's new book, go to www.fabgear.company/nems-enterprises-ltd. Also check out this page at All Music Books Deep Dive.
To follow Terry Crain on Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/terry.crain.16
To learn more about Beatles at the Ridge, go to www.beatlesattheridge.com
To follow daily updates on Ridge guests and events, go to www.facebook.com/BeatlesAtTheRidge/
Published July 23, 2019