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A book about how we loved the Beatles: features of national Beatlemania

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Svetlana TOLMACHEVA

03/31/2022

For five years, the Yekaterinburg writer Dmitry Karasyuk has been collecting memories of those who once fell in love with the music of the Liverpool quartet. The book, which will be presented in early April in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Ekaterinburg, includes stories about the influence of the Beatles on the cultural and social life of the USSR.

Dmitry Karasyuk’s book “How We Loved the Beatles”. History of Beatlemania in the USSR “was published by the Yekaterinburg publishing house” Cabinet Scientist “. The publication claims to be the most complete documentary study of the influence of the legendary British quartet’s music on various spheres of Soviet life: pop, theater, cinema, fashion. , Yuri Malikov and Vladimir Presnyakov from VIA “Gems”, actors Mikhail Boyarsky, Emmanuel Vitorgan, Larisa Golubkina and many others.

Dmitry Karasyuk not only spoke with fans representing several generations of Beatles. The book contains the most famous myths about the Beatles, which the author tried to confirm or refute. For example, according to folk legend, “British stars in the 1960s secretly visited the USSR – otherwise where to get the song Back In The USSR.” The author asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether entry visas were granted to British nationals Lennon D., McCartney P., Harrison D. and Starkey R. citizens never applied for visas and, therefore, did not enter the territory of the USSR. A copy of this document, as well as more than 600 photo illustrations, complete the history of the fan movement that swept the country. Writer Dmitry Karasyuk told the newspaper Kultura how the work on the book went and why Beatlemania became a cultural phenomenon.

– Dmitry, for you Beatlemania – just a subject of research or are you also an experienced Beatleman?

– Back in school, like many of my peers, I got sick with the Beatles. It all started with small flexible minion records. I didn’t even know what the band was called, because it wasn’t easy to tell that it was the Liverpool quartet. Often the performers were marked on the envelope as “Vocal-instrumental ensemble. England.

In 1985, I participated in the creation of the first Beatles fan club in Sverdlovsk. We started with the publication of the samizdat magazine “Eploko”. Unlike another music samizdat that already existed at the time, our magazine was richly illustrated. We made it in a single copy, then photographed each page and began to distribute in photocopies.

The first meeting of the club took place on July 7, 1985, on the 45th anniversary of Ringo Starr. The Beatles gathered at the rehearsal base of the newly formed group Chaif ​​in Gorky’s recreation center, discussed the first issue of Eploko magazine and watched the film Hard Day’s Night. That day, for the first time in our lives, many of us saw both the VCR and the Beatles themselves on the screen. The recording of the film was in German, someone present tried to translate, but by and large it was not necessary – we listened to music, watched the musicians, and it was already happiness.

The next meeting was held on October 9 of the same year, in honor of the 45th anniversary of John Lennon. Graduates of the Sverdlovsk Institute of Architecture made a large photo collage on which someone wrote: “Lennon is still alive.” Everyone laughed, and then forgot the poster in the meeting room. The next day, the Komsomol district committee met there, members of the presidium sat down at the table, and, of course, they saw a collage with a seditious inscription. This marked the end of the first stage of the existence of the Sverdlovsk club of Beatles fans – it was disbanded. The next issue of “Apple” will be released only in the early 1990s, when the Beatles revived the club. Nevertheless, this publication is considered the oldest Russian fanzine dedicated to the Beatles, as the magazine has its history since 1985. As for the club, it still exists. In 2009, in the center of Yekaterinburg, its participants unveiled the first monument in Russia to the Liverpool quartet, which has already become a city landmark.

– More than 150 people shared their memories for the book – musicians, artists, designers, film directors … How was the circle of respondents determined?

– Interlocutors were selected depending on the topic. For example, it was necessary to explain how Beatles songs got on Soviet movie screens. The Beatles first appeared in the 1966 feature film The Royal Regatta. How it happened: I called the actor Valentin Smirnitsky, who played the lead role in this film, and he told me how the episode with the Beatles was filmed, how the young actors treated it. The same chapter on cinema is about Gleb Panfilov’s film “Please Speak”, which has a lot of Beatles music. This film, released in 1975, is the longest Beatles soundtrack in the history of Soviet cinema. Panfilov told why he needed this particular music, what kind of atmosphere it created. I talked to the director of the famous cartoon “Bremen Musicians” Inessa Kovalevskaya about the influence of the Beatles on the images of the Troubadour and his team.

“Perhaps one of the most incredible stories in your book.” – about the first festival dedicated to the music of the Beatles, which took place on December 18, 1966 in the recreation center “Youth” in the city of Kamensk-Ural Sverdlovsk region. Nobody tried to challenge the palm of the Ural championship?

– There were claims from St. Petersburg, allegedly in Leningrad, the first rock festival was held earlier. These two events took place with a break of a couple of weeks, but the Urals were still earlier. The main thing in this story is that the festival organized in Kamensk-Uralsky was the first not only in the Soviet Union, but also in the world. In 1966, no one in the West had ever thought of using this format: the Beatles had just stopped performing, and fans were still hoping to continue their concert activities. The Beatles’ largest music festival, the International Beatleweek Festival, has only been held in Liverpool since 1981. But in the mid-1960s, Ural musicians were adamant that they were never destined to see their favorite stars alive, so they staged a cover-festival of Beatles hits, and even dared to translate some songs into Russian.

– For you as a researcher, there were many discoveries while working on the book?

“Of course!” For the first time in my life, many of my interlocutors told stories about Beatlemania. Some facts sincerely struck me. For example, in the 1980s in Tbilisi, there was the group Blitz, which traveled throughout the Soviet Union as a tribute to the Beatles: with their songs, in similar costumes. I have a personal history with this group. In 1985, “Blitz” came to Sverdlovsk, and on the door of the concert hall, where their performance took place, someone hung an announcement inviting him to come to Gorky’s DC for the first meeting of the Beatles Club. Thanks to this concert and a handwritten piece of paper, the Sverdlovsk Beatles Club was formed: many, like me, read the note and came to the meeting. Then the group “Blitz” disappeared somewhere. While working on the book, I called their leader Valery Kocharov. It turned out that the musicians of the whole band lived in England for several years and became one of the most popular Beatles tribute bands in Europe.

– Can we consider that your book today is the most detailed description of the events of Soviet Beatlemania?

– The last chapter in it is devoted to books and films on this topic. Several documentaries have been made, such as “The Beatles Are Guilty” by Maxim Kapitanovsky and Dmitry Zavilgelsky, “How the Beatles Shaken the Kremlin” by British director Leslie Woodhead. If the Russian film turned out to be nostalgic and cheerful, the English documentary filmmaker tried to find a political subtext in this phenomenon. Memoirs of Beatles members of different years were published in the media in different years. But the first attempt to generalize the history of Beatlemania from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, from the 1960s to the present day.

– What was Soviet Beatlemania after all? A desire for freedom or just a sincere love of good music?

“Both.” In order to love the Beatles, a Soviet man needed some effort. This band could not be heard on the radio or television, so it was necessary to work hard to find records, not to mention the original records, to find at least some reliable information, because rare articles in newspapers and magazines contained a lot of inaccuracies and outright speculation. . All this nurtured a critical attitude to both official information and life in general. There is a common phrase that good music is not afraid of any barriers. I’m not inclined to think that the Iron Curtain collapsed thanks to the Beatles, but the Liverpool quartet was undoubtedly one of those musical teams that managed to break through it.

Presentation of Dmitry Karasyuk’s book “How We Loved the Beatles”. History of Beatlemania in the USSR “will take place on April 1 in St. Petersburg in the store” Bukvoed “on Nevsky Prospekt, April 2 – in Moscow as part of the festival # 1971fest, which is hosted by www.beatles.ru, and April 8 – in Yekaterinburg on the site of the Yeltsin Center.

Photos from the personal archive of Dmitry Karasyuk.

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