As the world eagerly awaits Peter Jackson’s documentary about the Beatles last public performance, Stu Levitan welcomes Jim Berkenstadt, author of The Beatle Who Vanished, to discuss a fascinating story about performances near the beginning of their career.
In the spring and summer of 1964, the Beatles ruled pop music like no one before or since. In April, they held the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100, with another 7 singles also on the list. In late May, even the rerelease of their debut single from 1962, Love Me Do, had gone to number one.
They’d conquered Great Britain and America. Now they’re about to take over the world, with a month-long tour of Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The tour is set to start June 4.
But Manager Brian Epstein does not let them relax on the third, scheduling a photo shoot for the Saturday Evening Post in the morning, and recording sessions in the afternoon and evening. But they never get to the EMI studios, because drummer Ringo Starr collapses during the photo session and is whisked away to hospital with a diagnosis of tonsillitis and pharyngitis.
Soon, Beatles producer George Martin is calling a London drummer named Jimmie Nicol to invite him to an audition that afternoon. He passes the audition, and from June 4 to June 13, Jimmie Nicol is a Beatle. It was, he later said, “the best thing to happen to me. The worst thing to happen to me.”
The strange saga of Jimmie Nicol – why he was the one who got the call, what those ten days were like, and how they affected the rest of his life – is the business that occupies Jim Berkenstadt in this definitive account of one of the great and mysterious footnotes in modern pop.
No one is more qualified to investigate and recount the story of Jimmie Nicol than Jim Berkenstadt. He’s not only the Rock and Roll Detective, specializing in uncovering the lost histories and mysteries of pop music. He’s also an international authority on the Beatles, and has been a credited consultant on several projects by the Fab Four and the Estate of George Harrison. He has co-authored or edited four other books, three on the Beatles and one on the band Nirvana. His new book, Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed, is coming in March from Genius Book Publishing. He lives north side with his wife, Holly Cremer Berkenstadt.
It’s a pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat, my friend Jim Berkenstadt.