I had not heard until just a few days ago that a documentary is in the works about Freda Kelly. For those who don’t know, Ms. Kelly was the young woman responsible for running the Beatles Fan Club from its creation in the early 1960s until its dissolution in 1972. (They had not recorded since 1970, but for legal and financial reasons the band downplayed its breakup as long as it could.) Freda answered to Brian Epstein and was responsible for managing a great deal of the band’s public relations. And the film is not merely in the works, as of today it is in the can and will appear at South by Southwest on March 9. In one of the film’s just-completed final touches, the Beatles’s Apple Corps granted the filmmakers permission to use four cuts in the documentary, including “I Saw Her Standing There” and Love Me Do.” This is exceptionally rare; the Fabs hardly ever allow their catalog to be used in this way. The only instance I know of when a Beatle tune (not a cover) was used onscreen was when Mad Men’s Don Draper played “Tomorrow Never Knows” on his office turntable to better understand the younger generation. And that was after much bargaining and considerable cash–reportedly $250,000–was procured from Lionsgate for that bit of psychedelia. All you need is love, indeed. Still, one can’t blame the Stakeholders (Paul, Starkey, Yoko, Olivia) for controlling the legacy the way they do. Check out the film’s Facebook page.
Speaking of controlling, or not controlling, the Beatles legacy, the website for historian Mark Lewisohn’s upcoming three-volume opus, The Beatles: All These Years, is up and running. I was glad to hear Lewisohn say in an interview that he stopped doing liner notes and other such work for various Beatle-related projects in order to maintain his autonomy. I never held it against him or Bruce Spizer for writing content for Apple’s myriad reissues, but I always thought it compromised their scholarship if only to a small degree. Saying “no” would have been difficult, but they each lost a little something when they did such work. When you work for the Beatles, you work for the Beatles. This is not going to be a problem in what will certainly be the authoritative word on the band for the next 20-30 years. Lewisohn is following his own vision and is letting the facts lead where they may. He has said there will be quite a few interactive features on the book’s website. I am going to add The Beatles: All These Years to the blogroll and see what happens between now and October.