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We still live in a yellow submarine
When Paul McCartney crooned 'Hey Jude' at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, an entire generation was sent down nostalgia lane. It's been fifty years since the Fab Four first topped the charts with 'Love Me Do' and now the city where it all began is getting ready for a tribute. Come October, Liverpool will host a weekend of Beatlemania with a mass sing-along intended to create a new Guinness world record. Organised by the award-winning Beatles Story and Albert Dock Liverpool, the 'singathon' is scheduled for October 5 - the day 'Love Me Do' was released.
'Love Me Do', besides being a special milestone in music history was the first collaborative effort between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Both would later insist the other had more to do with the song than themselves. 'Love Me Do' debuted number 17 on the charts and when it first came on the radio it left the foursome "shivery". George Harrison would later remember: "It was the best buzz of all time. " But decades on, the group would look back in wonder and realise how crucial the number was - that "first piece of plastic" as Ringo Starr described it. It was the tipping point. It was a taste of things to come. It was the beginning. The Beatles always knew they "clicked" with the audience. But 'Love Me Do' gave them a glimpse of where they were headed.
The Beatles golden jubilee has triggered a renewed interest in the group, particularly amongst generations that did not witness the hysteria first hand. To that extent, events like the singathon stunt will help keep the foursome connected to Gen-Now by being a contemporary take on a 1960s phenomenon. The singalong will be backed up by much more all through the Love Me Do weekend as Liverpool's pubs and restaurants gear up with music, food, drink and "a "unique Love Boat experience taking place on the water". The idea is to attract the Beatles pilgrim - both original and born again. Said Jerry Goldman, MD of Beatles Story: "This is a unique opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of the recorded debut of the greatest group the world has ever seen. And no selfrespecting Beatles fan will want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of Beatles history. "
The singathon is part of year-long festivities that has already attracted thousands of Beatles pilgrims to Liverpool. Among the speciallythemed cultural shows and concerts lined up for the rest of the year is the Mathew Street Music Festival and Fringe, which will be a huge celebration of all things Merseybeat. Two of the stages will not only play host to the usual tribute bands, but there will also be a special section for acts influenced by The Beatles. August 19 will mark the golden jubilee of the band's first gig at The Cavern and the venue will celebrate by being in "full party-mode". Later this month, the International Beatles Week (22-28 August) will mark the anniversary with bands and fans from all over the world descending on the city to attend the gigs, listen to the guest speakers and participate in the world's biggest Beatles convention.
On December 9, a John Lennon Peace Vigil will take place at the European Peace Monument. A freshly-minted one-man play about the life of Brian Epstein at the newly named Epstein Theatre and a Liverpool Philharmonic Beatles Weekend will bring down the curtains on the anniversary celebrations. But those interested in celebrity gawking will be disappointed with the Liverpool singalong - there will be no Macca, no Ringo Starr and not even a token appearance by Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon's first wife and his son Julian Lennon.
A golden jubilee is a good time to look back. But these aren't the swinging '60s, so the Beatles redux has spawned its own version of what made the Beatles who they were. There are books popping up - The Dream is Over by John Lennon and Maria Saunderson's kiddie take Once Upon a Liverpool - while more will doubtless follow. And if the across-the-globe humming to the famous 'Hey Jude' ending chant is any indication, there are enough Beatles pilgrims young and old waiting to lend their voice to the singular phenomenon that was John, Paul, George and Ringo.
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