Thursday, 27 May 2021

Strawberry Field celebrates 50th anniversary of ‘Imagine’

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ piano is played by a student from Paul McCartney’s LIPA alongside the Liverpool Signing Choir and Julia Baird 

2021 marks 50 years since the writing, recording and release of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, perhaps the greatest peace anthem of the 20th century. Strawberry Field, the latest addition to Beatles tourism and now open to the public, have commenced celebrations by inviting a student from Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts to play the very piano on which John Lennon composed and recorded ‘Imagine’. The Liverpool Signing Choir, joined by Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and Major Kathy Versfeld, Mission Director of Strawberry Field accompanied the piano, signing the words to the inspirational song.

‘Imagine’ recording began at John Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park in Berkshire on 27th May 1971. Archive film footage from 1971 shows a relaxed John at the piano composing ‘Imagine' before he turns to his keyboard player to remark: That’s the one I like best.” The world-famous piano was toured by George Michael as a symbol of peace in the early 2000s and hasn’t been played in a performance since 2007. It is now on loan to the Strawberry Field exhibition, courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael.

Major Kathy Versfeld, Mission Director of Strawberry Field says:

  “In October 2020 as we welcomed the piano into its new home here, we saw the impact that this fabulous piano had, not just on visitors to our exhibition but even further afield, across the entire city of Liverpool. At a time when there was so much fear and uncertainty around Covid-19, it was a beacon of hope, light at a dark time. As the country emerges from another lockdown, I hope people will be inspired by this performance to reimagine a better world in the here and now, where we are not divided by what we believe, or how we look, or where we live. One people, one planet, all of God’s creatures working together out of mutual respect and compassion. We live in hope!”

Joe Worthington, a student from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) was invited to play the piano for this momentous occasion. He says:

“Being a student in Liverpool and at LIPA, The Beatles, their music, influence and legacy is ingrained in me. Playing Imagine, such an anthem of peace, on the piano that John Lennon wrote and recorded it on was brilliant. When I was asked to do it, I did a double take, I couldn't process it. Still can't! To sit where he once sat is quite emotional. It feels like I’m touching a piece of history, it’s like I’m a part of it.”

Alongside Joe, The Liverpool Signing Choir were asked to sign the lyrics to the song. A unique, city wide and inclusively diverse choir based in Liverpool, they have performed at events across Europe, notably, performing John Lennon's ‘Imagine’ at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Catherine Hegarty, leader of The Liverpool Signing Choir says:

“The Liverpool Signing Choir were honoured to be asked to take part in the 50th anniversary of Imagine. Strawberry Field is working hard to open people’s eyes, share understanding and break down barriers.”

John Lennon's sister Julia Baird, who is Honorary President of Strawberry Field, was present with the choir and signed alongside them. She says:

“It was an honour and a privilege to sign this wonderful peace anthem with the Liverpool Signing Choir. We were accompanied by a LIPA musician, on John's iconic Imagine piano, inside the Exhibition at Strawberry Field. A five star treat all round.”

The piano was delivered to Strawberry Field on 9th October 2020 to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. It was always George’s intention that the iconic musical instrument should be enjoyed by the people of John’s home city. “It’s not the type of thing that should be in storage somewhere or being protected, it should be seen by people,” said George to journalists at time of purchase. The upright Steinway piano, purchased by the singer-songwriter in 2000, is now one of the most valuable musical instruments in rock ’n’ roll history.

The ‘Imagine’ piano is on display now in the Strawberry Field exhibition and you can book your tickets on their website:



Friday, 21 May 2021

Review - The Beatles Era by Peter Eijgenhuijsen


The Beatles Era

A Quest for the Secret of The Beatles

By Peter Eijgenhuijsen

Published January 2021

Price: UK £5.88 US $7.99 

ISBN-13: 979-8563229259 

This enjoyable book is not long, just 104 pages, but I found it an interesting read. Really, it is a collection of five essays about the Beatles broken down by five eras defined by the author.

The first, “Before the Beatles”, explores the forces that came together to create the magic that produced The Beatles and their success. Some of this has been written about before, but I found Peter’s take on it a bit broader than usual incorporating facts about the vinyl record production process, for example, and its impact on their rise to fame.
The second section, “The Beatles Years”, focuses on more subtle impact The Beatles had on the world. As the author states, in the first paragraph, there are many other books that will tell you the facts and timelines about The Beatles from their time in Germany to their breakup. In this section he explores impacts of their fame on other artists, album cover imagery, religion and more.

The next two sections cover the solo careers of the Beatles broken into “The Solo Years” and “The Reduced Solo Years.” In these chapters the author attempts to determine if The Beatles maintained the same level of creativity as solo artists or was the magic of the foursome more than the sum of the parts. It also touches on the fact that despite the fact that they broke up years ago, the have somehow become bigger rather than fade away.

The final section is titled “After the Beatles”, and interestingly states that the “after” has not yet begun. Interest in The Beatles is still huge and with Paul and Ringo still producing great music 5o years later, they are still huge. He wonders will the after period happen gradually as the remaining two Beatles age or will it begin suddenly where there are no more Beatles left to make new music?

I’ve deliberately not given away too much since the book is not long. This is a wonderful book to sit down with on a rainy day that will get you asking yourself questions. It would be a great book for a book club discussion as it poses great questions for debate, rather than just detailing timelines and documenting facts that we’ve all read before.

~ Michele Copp

Please Mr Postman - Issue 77 will be delivered by your postman any day now

 The May 2021 BBFC Magazine Issue 77 is being posted to subscribers as I write.

It's full of interesting articles and reviews so get ready to be entertained.

If you are thinking about a gift for someone special, remember that membership in the British Beatles Fan Club makes a wonderful gift that keeps on giving all year long with four quarterly issues of the magazine included in membership. Click here for membership details.

Non-members can order a copy of the magazine from our website here.

The new issue includes:

  • The Beatles A Day In The Life
  • Memories of The Beatles in the Cavern
  • History of The Beatles on Tape
  • Try Some, Buy Some-New Releases
  • The Beatles and their Apple artists
  • Breakup of The Beatles
  • A Beatle in America 1963
  • Solo Beatles Number One Singles-Part 1
  • There Are Places I Remember
  • Paperback Writers
  • Country Roots of The Beatles-excerpt
  • Meet the Bootleg Beatles
  • Beatle Boots
  • Offers and Discounts
  • As I Write This Letter
  • Crap Photo of the Month

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Book Review - Rivals Of The Beatles

 Rivals Of The Beatles

MHO Press - Hardback - £30.00

by Martin Orkin

Only available direct from the author at

With probably well over 2000 books published about The Beatles since 1962 (not even allowing for those published in other languages) do we need yet another book about them?  Maybe, maybe not.  But Rivals Of The Beatles is not the story of The Beatles as such.  It is the story of some of the other groups who were affected by them along the way.  All these acts in one way or another were influenced by, or owed a debt to, The Beatles.

Rivals Of The Beatles is an excellent piece of work, and would be a worthwhile addition to the libraries of Beatles fans.  It is interesting and well written and, although it contains a lot of information, Rivals Of The Beatles is a highly entertaining read.

Martin Orkin has always loved 1960s music and has a large record collection, accumulated since 1962 (when he was nearly a teenager!).  Following his retirement in 2010 from a small bank based in the City of London, Martin turned to his love of 1960s music.  A few years later, he came up with the idea of this book, and he has spent the last 4 years writing it.

Martin’s book (a weighty tome of 808 pages) tells the stories, one chapter each, of 20 of the groups who were around at the same time as The Beatles in the 1960s, some of them famous, some more obscure.  But additionally, and the ‘glue’ which holds the book together, is that he tries to relate each group’s story to that of The Beatles, and to show The Beatles’ big influences on others, and indeed the help they gave some of the acts.

He has attempted, through variety, to keep things interesting, so the deeply knowledgeable reader will still find something to challenge them beyond the more obvious names like The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Monkees. The Mothers Of Invention?  The Grass Roots?  He has endeavoured to make a case for each of them.  In his Preface, Martin tries to encapsulate some of the magic that the Fab Four shared with us all.

Rivals Of The Beatles was self-published on 15 April 2021, and is available initially as a hardback in a limited edition of 500 numbered and signed copies from Martin’s dedicated website  This is the only place from which the book can be purchased.

There are some controversial views expressed in places in Rivals Of The Beatles, but throughout the book they are the author’s true opinions, based entirely on his love for the music and the era.

~ Reviewed by Peter Sims

Peter is a contributor and moderator at as JPGR&B and is currently creating an online bibliography of The Beatles


Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Event - Loxwood Drive-In Beatles Movie Tripple Feature

We think this sounds like fun! Hop in the car and head out to Loxwood Meadow Saturday 17 July for some great Beatles fun.