For Beatles fans, 2012 promises to be a busy year. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will release new albums; Beatles books and films will continue to appear; and conventions and other events will salute the Fab Four’s lasting influence on music and culture.
Starr’s last album, Y Not, found the drummer taking the production reins for the first time. He returns to the producer’s chair for Ringo 2012, a collection of songs written and performed with frequent collaborators Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Don Was, and Edgar Winter. Rumored to be a virtual sequel to 2008′s Liverpool 8, Ringo 2012 has Starr reflecting on his past as well as his present. The released track list includes a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” and the skiffle classic “Rock Island Line,” artists and songs which proved hugely influential on The Beatles. Song titles such as “In Liverpool” suggest further meditations on his birthplace—listeners will learn that and more on January 31, 2012. A rumored summer tour with his All Starr Band may follow.
After spending much of last year touring Europe and America, McCartney will release his first studio album in about five years (not counting 2008′s Electric Arguments, recorded under the pseudonym The Fireman), Kisses on the Bottom. The curiously titled disc features McCartney’s interpretations of standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and “The Glory of Love.” With the help of jazz vocalist/pianist Diana Krall and her band, he fully indulges in his obvious love of traditional tunes. His previous solo work as well as his Beatles material have long hinted at this interest—see “Martha My Dear,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Honey Pie,” “You Gave Me the Answer,” “A Room with a View,” and “Baby’s Request” for examples. Also featuring guests Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton, the album will drop, appropriately enough, on February 14, 2012 and will contain two original songs. What’s the story with the album title? It references a lyric from another album track, Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” While he may not tour again this year, fans can see him perform at the London Summer Olympics opening ceremonies. Visit McCartney’s official website for details.
Respected Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, who has written definitive reference works on the group (The Complete Beatles Chronicles, The Beatles Recording Sessions) may finally release Volume One of his planned three-volume history of the Beatles. According to the Little Brown website, The Beatles – The Complete Story: Volume One may be released this year. Hunter Davies, who published the first official Beatles biography in 1968, will compile a tome containing previously unseen Lennon letters. In a recent interview, Hunter stated the book, which has Yoko Ono’s full participation, is due in October 2012. Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock and Roll finds Fab Four FAQ author Robert Rodriguez conducting an in-depth study of the group’s landmark album. Finally, Blogcritics writer Joe Rodgers has also penned an examination of the Beatles’ debut, Please Please Me: The Definitive Guide to Their First Album (Kindle and iPad formats only).
Fifty years ago, The Beatles honed their craft at the Star Club, a Hamburg nightclub that also featured such imported acts as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, and Brenda Lee. Closed since 1969, the Star Club, along with its music promoter and co-manager Horst Fascher, will be feted on April 13, 2012 with an all-star concert. Held in Hamburg, the event thus far stars John Lennon’s first band, the Quarrymen; the Pete Best Band, featuring the infamous original Beatles drummer Best; and the Star Club All-Star Band, which includes ex-members of the Big Three, the Dominoes, and the Undertakers (most famous among Beatles fans for ex-band member Jackie Lomax). For more information and tickets, visit the 50th Anniversary event website.
Not surprisingly, England hosts a variety of Beatles-themed events throughout the year. The International Beatle Week Festival, which takes place in Liverpool from August 22-28, encompasses various concerts from tribute bands as well as guest speakers and authors.
Of course no year is complete without fan conventions; the Fest for Beatles Fans will host their 38th Annual New York Metro Fest from March 23-25, 2012, and will throw their 36th Annual Chicago Fest from August 10-12, 2012. Featuring guest speakers, family-friendly activities, and the battle of the sound-alike bands, the Fest has been guaranteeing a splendid time for almost four decades. Abbey Road on the River, a growing fan event, will hold their conventions May 24-28, 2012 in Louisville, KY, and August 30-September 3, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Focusing more on concerts, the festival promises nonstop music from tribute bands and special guests.
The intersection between the Beatles and ukulele continues with the Fourth Annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele Concert, held at the Brooklyn Bowl on January 14, 2012. Nonstop ukulele renditions of the Beatles catalog will be played by various New York artists from 3-11 PM; attendees who bring their own ukuleles will be admitted free between 2-3 PM, and are eligible to play as part of a “volunteer” group called the Mass Uke Mob. Do you have the stuff to perform “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” and “All Together Now” on the unique instrument? Find out more details at the event website. Wonderwall Music in Oak Park, IL continue this tradition with their offshoot band, the Harrison Street Ukulele Players, who will celebrate Harrison’s birthday on February 25, 2012 with a concert featuring various guests. See Wonderwall’s site for a complete schedule of the Harrison Street Ukulele Players events.
Will Let It Be finally make its DVD debut? When will the Harrison documentary Living in the Material World be released on DVD? Will Ram be the next reissue in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection? Such questions may be answered in 2012, but these and other album releases, festivals, and books should keep Beatles fans busy during the next 12 months.