The Beatles are the single most iconic symbol of the Baby Boomers. And author Candy Leonard in her book “Beatleness” traces the band’s impact on the generation from its very beginnings on the Ed Sullivan Show to its end on the rooftop at 3 Savile Row in London.
“It was a story that needed to be told,” Leonard said in an interview.
A lot of books examine the Beatles as individuals and examine the Beatles’ and their influence on music. This book is unique in that it ties the Beatles to the generation of Baby Boomers.
Leonard helps the reader time travel to the start of Beatlemania with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on Feb. 9, 1964.
Album by album, historic event by historic event, she traces the Fab Four’s growth musically and individually, in sync with how Baby Boomers themselves grew less less innocent and more worldly wise as society bucked and shifted through the Sixties and into the Seventies.
She personalizes each chapter with comments from the Baby Boomers at Ground Zero of Beatleness, how the music, how the Beatles themselves impacted their lives.
“People who read the book are really moved by it,” said Leonard. “Men and women of different ages say, ‘How did you know my story?’”
When she’s out talking about the book, she said she’s always hearing Beatles-related stories.
“People love talking about it. It’s very validating,” she said.
Leonard brings into the mix the cultural influences that helped spread Beatlemania and helped people understand the Beatles’ musical metamorphosis from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” to “Let it Be.”
A couple of examples included the impact of FM radio, which unleashed deejays from heavily formatted AM stations — much the same way today that satellite is changing the radio format today. Rolling Stone magazine was also cited as the one magazine in the Sixties and Seventies that knew the heartbeat and pulse of a generation.
And there is always the historic context – events that shaped (and in a way hardened) Baby Boomers: the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, the space race and the Cold War, the rise of the hippie culture and feminism, the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon …. and the arrival on the scene of Yoko Ono.
As much as some Baby Boomers might want to blame the end of the Beatles on Yoko and her pulling John away from the others, Leonard takes pains frame her in the positive influence she had on Lennon.
“Often overlooked in the Yoko bashing is that John had not been happy being a Beatle for quite some time,” Leonard writes. “Being bigger than Elvis came with unforeseen consequences. The thing he loved most, playing rock and roll, had ceased to be fun.” Ono, according to Leonard, made it fun for Lennon to be an artist again.
“Beatleness” demonstrates that the Beatles are an important part of who were are as Baby Boomers.
“With the size of our generation and the impact we had, it’s an important piece of American history,” said Leonard.
The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.