Nick Thomas Tinseltown Talks
Producing a book featuring her favorite band has been a lifelong dream come true for Beatles fan Laurie Jacobson. Famous author of five previous books in HollywoodHer latest efforts require the help of others.
In “Top of the Mountain: The Beatles at Shea Stadium 1965,” released August 1, Jacobson meticulously weaves interviews and quotes from the dozens of writers, agents, producers, photographers, fans, friends and celebrities like Meryl Streep and Whoopi Goldberg who came together to convey the compelling story behind the New York concert Historic Beatles.
Not only did Jacobson recount a single day in the life of the landmark Fab Four’s 12-song 30-minute show before nearly 56,000 fans screaming from the turns and screams generation. She describes the long and winding road leading to the August 15 event and, ultimately, its impact on music history as the first pop concert to be held at a major American sports stadium — shattering attendance records.
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“I’ve spent nearly seven years collecting amazing information and images—hundreds never seen before,” Jacobson explained from her home in Northern California.
Jacobson was only ten years old when the Beatles began to consume the world of her adolescence.
“Like many others, I saw them on ‘Ed Sullivan’ and was instantly addicted,” she recalls. “Those smiles, that hair. I immediately ran to buy 45 of I Want to Hold Your Hand and went crazy with posters and magazines—anything from the Beatles.”
Although she couldn’t attend Shea’s famous event because she was living in St. Louis, about one year later her parents gave her a ticket to ride the Beatlemania wave still sweeping the country when the group came to town for their last US tour.
“The rain was threatening,” she remembers. So, they dispensed with the opening performances and promptly introduced the Beatles. I watched in silent wonder, with teary eyes, knowing this was my moment with them. I wanted to plunge into every detail and memorize every step. I honestly don’t remember anything about the crowd, only Hmm. Nine 3-minute songs and it’s over. It was raining, and my parents took me away.”
Barely in her teens, Jacobson let everyone know that this girl joined the ranks of loyal Beatles collectors while embracing their musical revolution that sparked the British Invasion in the 1960s. Sure, some disapproving parents across the country proclaim the whole thing is exaggerated — grumbling about the group’s mop-up hairstyles, their blaring music inciting their liberating social impact, and the semi-hypnotic effect on their adoring teenage fans — but her was understanding.
Jacobson, who maintains a collection that includes dolls, models, T-shirts, Yellow Submarine, rare albums, books, stickers, buttons, ticket holders and scrapbooks worth several decades, said.
As the days of The Beatles’ touring days waned in ’66, last year’s Shea Stadium sale party remained the most memorable, not just for the fans but for the band as well.
Jacobson noted that “the biggest audience they’ve ever played and the biggest salary as well”. “You can see on their faces when they step into the field – the moment they realize their strength.”
For the title of her book, the author paraphrased something John Lennon later remarked in 1971 about Shea’s concert: “I saw the mountaintop on that unforgettable night.”
For those who lived through the 1960s, the Beatles provided a musical diversion to help survive the tense social, cultural and political chains that are crushing the country. Today, in a post-Beatles world that seems to be also mired in troubling national and global issues, baby-boomers can still, if only for a brief moment, reclaim that reinforcing spirit that their music aroused.
“It was so much more than just their music — they changed the way we looked, the way we thought, and for many, the paths we chose,” Jacobson explained. Our memories are full of love and affection, and we passed that on to our children and their children. I would like readers to experience the pure exhilaration of Beatlemania’s heyday when optimism reigned and anything was possible.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama and has written articles, columns, and interviews here, there and everywhere for many magazines and newspapers. We see getnict.org.