I first started listening to the Beatles when I was about six years old and have never stopped.
I was off school, sick with a cold or something similar, and started looking through my parents record collection. In it were two records which I still treasure to this day: the Hey Jude single and A Collection Of Beatles Oldies LP which featured a load of The Beatles singles and some rarer tracks such as Bad Boy, which had not yet made it onto any Beatles album.
It is staggering to think now that this record was released at the end of 1966, only half-way through the Beatles recording career. There were many more "Golden Oldies" to come after this, of course, but I guess it demonstrates the record company's mentalilty at the time.
I played it over and over and must have worn it out, not really realizing that this was old music by a band which had already split up and was already consigned to history.
Then in December 1980, when I was just 13 years old, John Lennon was shot and killed. Suddenly, there was a Beatles media frenzy - the movies, Hard Days Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be were shown, as well as other spin-offs such as Birth Of The Beatles. Their music was everywhere, and the re-issued singles "Imagine" and "Woman" went to number one in the Top 40 charts, one after the other.
I started to collect The Beatles albums, first on vinyl (and then later on CD) and memorized the lyrics of every single song. My personal favourites have always been She Loves You, Get Back, Hey Jude and Yesterday, but I really appreciate many of The Beatles album tracks such as You're Gonna Lose That Girl, I Will and Anytime At All. No other band, in my opinion, ever produced such great tracks time after time. They weren't just fillers" - any one could have been a single in its own right, such was the incredible song-writing skills of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Their performances are electric and will never cease to thrill me.
When I was seventeen when I went to college and suddenly found myself surrounded by a number of guitarists. I knew a few chords and so I picked up a communal guitar which belonged to the Music Department and got them all to teach me how to play it properly. I played it at every opportunity - in between lessons, lunch breaks and sometimes whilst bunking off the odd boring Chemistry practical or dreary Maths lesson. There was always someone around to teach me a new chord or two. Then I met one of my dearest and most sorely-missed friends, Simon Gaynor, son of our current bassist, who seemed to know every Beatles song there was, and over the next year he showed me how to play most of them.
And here I am, up on stage every weekend, playing as part of The Blue Beatles tribute band or duo, singing all my favourite Beatles songs to an appreciative audience. It really is a dream come true, and I take great pleasure in keeping The Beatles music alive.
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