Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mark Lapidos meet John Lennon

I am getting all geared up for the 2010 Fest for Beatles fan in Chicago in two weeks. The founder of the convention is a man named Mark Lapidos from New Jersey. I have heard by word of mouth how he started the conventions, but just recently I actually read the full account in a wonderful book called Beatles FAQ 2. Here is his story. Mark was a Beatles fan since he saw the Fabs on Ed Sullivan in 1964. He worked at a Sam Goody music store in New Jersey and got the idea to have a celebration to celebrate the Beatles 10th anniversary of coming to American in 1974. This when he began to get the idea of having a fan convention and where the story picks up...

Though Joe Pop had been planning along similar lines up in Boston, what made the difference was Lapidos's determination to secure an official sanction. Serendipitously, at a Central Park March of Dimes even with John Lennon in attendance, Mark ran into a fellow who had given the ex-Fab and Harry Nilsson a ride to their Times Square hotel. The Samaritan kindly slipped Lapidos Lennon's room number at the Pierre; summoning all the moxie he could muster, Mark headed over.

It was Sunday, April 28, 1974. Answering the door was Harry Nilsson, who admitted the enterprising young man. Introducing himself, Lapidos ran through his pitch. John listened politely before responding wit the deathless words, "I'm all for it. I'm a Beatles fan, too." With any number of other issues of his plate, the ex-Fab was astonishingly receptive; another year earlier or later and it might have been a different story entirely.

Further upping the ante, Lennon arranged through Tony King for Apple to send some promo films to the fest; he also solicited his fellow ex-Fabs to contribute items for auction to raise money for the charity of his choice, New York's Phoenix House, a drug rehab center. (George donated a tabla used on Sgt. Pepper; Ringo, a signed pair of drumsticks; John and Paul each a signed guitar.) John toyed with the idea of showing up himself to personally present the winning bidder with his instrument, but, after hearing of the four thousand attendees, opted to stay away. (He instead dispatched May Pang to do some buying on his behalf, instructing her to pick up any bootlegs she could find for his collection, as well as ALL copies of Two Virgins, which he desperately wanted to take out of circulation.)
Unfortunately there are no photos of Mark Lapidos with John Lennon. So I am including a photo of Mr. Lapidos with Yoko taken last year in New York City.


  1. my first beatlefest was in chicago, 1980. i have known mark and carol since then. last one i went to was 5 or 6 years ago, also in chicago. i used to go every year in the 10 years i lived in new york city. now i am slightly far away, in rio de janeiro, and i go when i happen to be in the us. have fun, sara!

  2. I have been to 10 Beatlefests so far (all in Chicago since I live in Illinois). My first one was 1994. Some years I can't go because of other committments. I wasn't supposed to go this year, but plans changed. Lizzie I think we may have met at a fest. I remember talking to someone who was an Apple Scruff at a talk in the forum about people who met the Beatles.

  3. hi sara, that was not me. i have never spoken in the forum.

  4. Actually, the book is called Fab Four FAQ 2.0.

    But thanks for the kind words!


  5. "Unfortunately there are no photos of Mark Lapidos with John Lennon." First off - love this blog, check it all the time.

    I volunteered at Beatlefest Chicago (and then LA) from 1978 to 1987 or so. A wonderful time - met many lovely people and generally had the time of my life. Anyway...

    I have a strong memory of Mark showing me two snapshots of him with Lennon on the stoop of Saville Row in what I imagined to be 1969 or so (Lennon in full beard, long hair). Made a strong impression!