Friday, August 08, 2008

The Beatles' Story On Capitol Records Part One: Beatlemania & The Singles

by Bruce Spizer

The Beatles' Story on Capitol Records is an extension of the name of one of Capitol's "specially created for the American market" albums. This book (Part One of two parts) covers the Beatles singles released by Capitol from December, 1963, through March, 1968. Part Two will cover the albums. Although Capitol was not the first label to issue Beatles records in the United States, the majority of the group's songs appeared in America on the Hollywood-based label. Thus, for American first generation Beatles fans, the Beatles and Capitol are forever intertwined.

The format of this book is similar to my previous opus, "The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay." It details the songs contained on Capitol's Beatles records, presents color images pictures of the picture sleeves, trade ads and record labels and tells the stories behind the records and the company's marketing of the Beatles.

For marketing and financial reasons, Capitol chose not to duplicate the Beatles British releases. The label's first Beatles record, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," had a different flip side, as did its third single, "A Hard Day's Night." Capitol also released several "created for the American market" singles that were never released in England. In a little over four years, Capitol issued nineteen regular singles, six Star Line singles, two extended play discs, thirteen albums and a double documentary disc. In addition, the label prepared three jukebox mini-albums, two promotional open-end interview records and other assorted records featuring or related to the Beatles. All in all, a most impressive catalog.

The book's opening section, titled "Beatlemania In America," explains why Capitol initially rejected the Beatles four times before finally agreeing to issue the group's records. It tells the story of what convinced the label to sign the band and details Capitol's initial marketing campaign for the Beatles and the group's relationship with the press. Of particular interest is the attention given by Capitol and the media to the Beatles hair. At the time the Beatles burst upon the scene, crew cuts and short hair were the norm and the Beatles mop-top hair style was considered radically long. To adult observers, the hair was as different as the music.

Section Two is titled "The Beatles Hit Singles On Capitol." It details the 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) Beatles records and other 7" discs issued by Capitol from late December, 1963, through early 1968. For each release, an illustration of record's custom picture sleeve is provided. Information regarding release dates, chart action and sales is followed by stories of the recording of the songs. The picture sleeve and label variations for each record are described, followed by pictures of the sleeves and labels. The section also covers the 7" jukebox mini-albums, interview records and Beatles related singles issued by Capitol. There are also chapters on the singles released by Capitol of Canada and how to spot counterfeit singles and picture sleeves.

Section Three, titled "Capitol Ideas," contains a brief history of Capitol Records, as well as chapters on the Capitol Record Club, merchandising and Capitol catalogs, press kits and press releases. There is also a pictorial bibliography titled "More Great Books For Your Beatles Collection" and a checklist of the Capitol Beatles singles catalog from the December 26, 1963, release of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" through the release of "Lady Madonna" in March, 1968.

Compiling this book brought back wonderful memories. In addition to reading numerous trade journals, magazines and newspaper articles from the sixties, I listened to the music in its purist form by playing the records. Placing the early Capitol swirl 45s on my vintage 1964 Beatles turntable transported me back in time. The record player hummed and its turntable varied between 44 and 46 revolutions per minute, but that only enhanced the experience.

I first heard most of the singles covered by this book blaring through a school bus radio tuned to WTIX in New Orleans. For me, I Want To Hold Your Hand and the Beatles made their debut one afternoon in early January, 1964. Both quickly became the highlight of every bus ride and car pool. The 45s released during the summer evoke fond memories of family road trips. Yellow Submarine and Holiday Inns were as much a part of my 1966 vacation as the places we went. The cycle came full circle when I first heard the last original Capitol Beatles single, Lady Madonna, on the school bus. The bus' blown speaker and competing sounds from other riders prevented me from determining if the lead singer was Paul or Ringo, but I knew it was a great song. The tune's rollicking piano reminded me of the exciting Fats Domino singles of the fifties and early sixties.

Although I enjoy listening to the Beatles on CD, it is more of a sonic experience than a journey back in time. There is a certain thrill about holding a colorful 7" x 7" picture sleeve and watching an orange and yellow Capitol swirl label spin on a turntable that no CD can ever hope to duplicate. Those Capitol singles were the records of my childhood that I will always remember. For Americans growing up in the sixties, the Beatles on Capitol were the greatest.

A narrative and pictorial discography of Beatlemania. Thousands of words have been written about the records...Hundreds on hundreds of color pictures have been printed... All in an effort to capture for fans and collectors the world over the fascinating truth and substance about the Capitol singles and albums by four wonderful guys named John, George, Paul and Ringo. Here, at last, IS the whole story and the real story about the Beatles on Capitol Records, authoritatively researched, written and compiled in two books by Bruce Spizer, author of the critically acclaimed "The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay."

Here's what you'll find inside:

The Beatles records in close-up, packed with details, anecdotes, facts you never knew before about them; the authentic stories of all records; the wonderful wit and humor of the Beatles themselves in off-the-cuff press conferences; the Beatles Campaign; pictures and stories of the Beatles hit records; best of the trade magazine ads; corporate documents; dazzling color photos of all record jackets, picture sleeves, label variations and promotional items; the most comprehensive coverage yet on the capitol records of John, George, Paul and Ringo - from "I Want To Hold Your Hand" to "Lady Madonna."

Bruce Spizer is a first generation Beatles fan and a life-long native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has an extensive Beatles collection, concentrating primarily on United States and Canadian first issue records, record promotional items, press kits and concert posters. A taxman by day, Bruce is a board certified tax attorney and certified public accountant. A paperback writer by night, he is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay. Bruce's articles on the Beatles are featured regularly in Beatlology Magazine and Beatlefan.

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