109 East 42nd St. at Lexington Ave.
February 7-9, adults $55 - $195 (through January 17)
When we were mere lads, we got our post-breakup, pre-iTunes Beatles fix by checking out Beatlemania on Broadway, seeing Paul McCartney and Wings at Madison Square Garden, and going to a Beatles Fest convention on Long Island, where we finally got to watch Magical Mystery Tour and went home with all kinds of little trinkets; we still have that Shea Stadium Beatles coin that nearly bankrupted us at six bucks. The elephant in the room back then was the constant speculation of a possible Beatles reunion, with all four Moptops still alive and well. But that all came to a startling end thirty-three years ago today, when John Lennon was assassinated at the age of forty. George Harrison’s death at the age of fifty-eight on November 29, 2001, closed another chapter in the continuing Fab Four saga. Paul and Ringo are still around, touring, making records, and playing new and old songs, but it will never be the same. Even Shea Stadium, where the Beatles played on August 15, 1965, is gone.
But the memories will come flooding back February 7-9 when the Fest for Beatles Fans, which began in 1974, takes place at the Grand Hyatt, held in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival at JFK airport on February 7, 1964, and one of the most famous television appearances of all time, when the Fab Four played on The Ed Sullivan Show. (The Fest will also be in Chicago August 15-17, then move on to Los Angeles October 10-12, cities that actually got two shows back in 1965.) The three-day Manhattan party will feature dozens of special guests giving talks, signing memorabilia, presenting videos and art exhibitions, participating in panel discussions, and playing live sets. Among those confirmed are Peter & Gordon’s Peter Asher; photographers Bob Gruen, Allen Tannenbaum, and Rob Shanahan; “Breakfast with the Beatles” DJ Ken Dashow; Beatles scholar Martin Lewis, who will serve as MC; newscaster Larry Kane; producer Mark Hudson; animator Ron Campbell; and lots of authors, historians, and cover bands. Performers include Chad & Jeremy, Billy J. Kramer, the Smithereens (re-creating the Beatles’ February 11, 1964, concert at the Washington Coliseum), and Donovan, who will also give a meditation lecture. There will be a Beatles marketplace, screenings of the documentary Good Ol’ Freda (with Freda Kelly), an auction, a dance party, costume and trivia contests, a parade, a walking tour, a tribute to the late Sid Bernstein, and much more. Ticket prices through January 17 range from $55 for Friday night to $79 for Saturday or Sunday to $195 for an all-access three-day pass; children six to sixteen are half price and those five and under free.