Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beatles Stories: The Best 90 Minutes Of Your Week

My friend John Dunbar insisted I watch "Beatles Stories" and made it real easy for me by putting a copy of it in my hands.  Thank you, John. I knew nothing about this film.

Power Pop fans may recognize the filmmaker Seth Swirsky from his band The Red Button.  What you may not know is that Seth also wrote the hit songs "Tell It To My Heart" and "Prove Your Love" for Taylor Dayne. (He's written many more, but that's not why I'm here.) What I find truly amazing about Seth Swirsky is how he was able to get Brian Wilson, Jon Voight, Graham Nash, Denny Laine, Andrew Gold, Davy Jones, Norman "Hurricane" Smith, Frank Gifford, Art Garfunkel, Ben Kingsley, Mark Hudson, Rick Nielsen, Sir George Martin, Gerry Beckley, Klaus Voorman--who not only designed the cover of "Revolver," but whose picture is *on* the cover of "Revolver," as well (did you know that? I didn't) --Joey Molland, Bob Eubanks, Peter Noone, Susanna Hoffs and about 2 dozen or so more, to share their stories about meeting The Beatles.

Seth Swirsky, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This film knocked me out. Every one of these stories--from Kathy, one of the original Apple Scruffs reading a letter from George thanking her for her inspiration, to Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen sharing his story of being in the studio with John for the "Double Fantasy" sessions and John mentioning how he wished he had Rick on "Cold Turkey" since "Eric Clapton choked"-- made me smile. A few moved me to tears. Mostly, I just had an amazing time.

Seth Swirsky, what the hell?

I have a Beatles story.

I got a call in 1991 from the David Lettermen show. Ringo Starr was a scheduled guest and they found out I had all 4 original Beatles dolls. They knew this because they tried finding Ringo themselves by calling various antique stores, and when they reached Fun Antiques, formerly of the Upper East Side, the owner and friend of mine George Darrow, gave me up, since I had purchased Ringo from him.

A producer asked if she could borrow it for the broadcast. I said, "Sure. Can I have tickets for the show?" She said, "No." I said, "Okay, then no."

We hung up.

She called back.


Thanks, Sport.

So, I am escorted inside and hand off my Ringo to Biff. The entire pre-show wait, I'm watching Biff Henderson from my seat, manhandle my collectors item. He was tossing it up in the air like a ball without jacks. At one point he shoved it in the back pocket of his ill-fitting slacks. I wasn't having any fun.

I'd like to finish the story with something exciting like, I met Ringo and he was a blast. But, truth is, they didn't even bring out the doll on air.  It sat sideways, face down on those shelves to the right of Dave's desk in the pre-Ed Sullivan Theatre days for the entire broadcast.

Good thing Seth never called me. I would have ruined his film.

Here's the Hurricane Smith clip. If you enjoy this even a bit, you will adore "Beatles Stories."


FD13NYC said...

Sal, this is all too terrific. I must admit I haven't heard of this film either, but I'm chomping at the bit to see it. I have to track it down.

Great Beatle doll story. I hope Ringo wasn't messed up badly. I had these when I was a kid, all four. I'd like to have them again. Preferably in the boxes, mint condition. But I know it'll cost me my right nut. Any suggestions?

David Handelman said...

Was this film self-released or what? Crazy that we didn't know about it. This Norman snippet with the punchline that he's THAT guy? I thought that song was so much older than 1972.

The Letterman story is upsetting, especially because I have friends there.

Sal Nunziato said...


Ringo's hair was messed a bit, but then it just made him look more like Ringo. Try eBay for the dolls.


I knew nothing about this film until my friend literally handed it to me and said, "You will love this." He was right.

bglobe313 said...

Seth Swirsky lives my fantasy life.

I first stumbled on Seth Swirsky's website when I saw on an International Pop Overthrow compilation that he had cowritten a track with Jim Ellison of Material Issue fame. OK, that's cool.

And I had really liked the Red Button CD I had. Cool enough.

But, wait a minute, I'm as much a baseball nut as a might nut, and he ALSO has a great baseball memorabilia collection (the Buckner ball!) and he compiled a book or two of his letters to and from baseball "stars" of the era I most care about.

And I swear there might have been something about Abraham Lincoln stuff on there too, but maybe I am just imagining that.

And he's seems to be cool and rich and good enough looking.

Well, screw him! No actually it seems he's doing great things with the resources he has.

Lucky guy!


bglobe313 said...

You can buy the DVD in his store (or at least it's listed as available).


FD13NYC said...

You won't believe this. I just got the four of them for $400. Very nice condition (from the pictures) with instruments on eBay. The guy needed the money, his loss is my gain type thing. Also bought plastic display cases for them for $50 bucks.

I think I got a good deal, no? Ahhh, reliving my childhood. Ginny will think I'm nuts, and give me half a stink eye.

Sal Nunziato said...

It's always a good deal if you're happy and it sounds like you are. Good going, FD. The seller should throw me a few bucks for the sale.

JennyD said...

What a great post! I actually heard myself say, "What???" when reading the Letterman fiasco. Geezy peezy, awful. But then I watched the Hurricane Smith clip and just couldn't stop grinning. I loved the Beatles and I most certainly remember Hurricane. Well, at 65, I almost remember the beginning of time ;)
Thanks soooo much for such a great post.

steves said...

I need to see this video. And what a great clip! So, Norman played the bongos on "And I Love Her?" I always wondered if that was Ringo or Paul.

Glad to hear your Ringo doll survived Biff's misuse. I would have ran up and grabbed it out of his hands if it was mine, though.

buzzbabyjesus said...

That song is one of the worst ever. He can't sing!

Sal Nunziato said...

Always loved that tune. Has a great nostalgic/dancehall feel to it. Good piece of pop.

Albert said...

Always loved that song..reminds me of Dad big-time....pardon me if this question was answered in the comments but, how can I get this film?...can I get this film at all?....looks great...even if, apparently, clearance for the original music was not surprise really...

A walk in the woods said...

Great story Sal. And of course, I need to see that movie. We have 2 young boys and both were raised on the Beatles as if they were a contemporary group - so they'll dig it too.

Anonymous said...

Now I hate Biff Henderson
Beatles Stories is everything you say it is.


Patrick said...

I watched this on Hulu last night. Thanks for the tip. It was wonderful.