Catalina Island Museum Symposium a Must for Beatles Fans
Catalina Island Museum
The Catalina Island Museum is dedicating its summer to the British Invasion and is hosting a symposium that brings together a slate of rock n’roll personalities, all of whom are familiar to Beatles fans.
Catalina Island resident and rock icon Spencer Davis worked with the museum to organize the symposium, “The British Invasion Rocks America.” With Steve Winwood singing such hits as “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man,” the Spencer Davis Group was one of the most respected of all the bands that invaded America during the 1960s. Davis was a personal friend of all the Beatles and participated in the making of the film Magical Mystery Tour.
Peter Asher achieved early fame as part of the duo Peter and Gordon. He met Paul McCartney while the Beatle was dating his younger sister, the acclaimed actress Jane Asher. During the height of Beatlemania, McCartney often took up lodgings at the Asher home, where he was joined by John Lennon to write a number of hits, including “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Paul McCartney provided Peter and Gordon with their first international hit,“World Without Love.”
With Micky Dolenz singing the vocals on such hits as “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer,” the Monkees enjoyed a string of hits during 1966 and 1967. Inspired by the success of The Beatles’ first film A Hard Day’s Night, the Monkees enjoyed overwhelming success in television, recordings, concerts and radio. Visiting London in 1967, Dolenz was present at a number of the recording sessions for the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. John Lennon once said of the Monkees: “I think you’re the greatest comic talents since the Marx Brothers. I’ve never missed one of your programs.”
Broadcasting from the safety of a decrepit tub of a boat anchored just off British territorial waters, Radio Caroline was known as “the ship that launched a thousand hits.” No DJ was more popular than Emperor Rosko, the self-proclaimed “God of the Airwaves.” A brash American whose lightening-fast “jive talk” was matched only by his on-air antics, Emperor Rosko introduced British youth to a countless number of Beatles hits heard nowhere else.
Martin Lewis was a protégé of Beatles publicist Derek Taylor and will act as moderator of the symposium. Lewis produced Sam Peckinpah’s last work in film—a series of music videos featuring Julian Lennon and produced the DVD edition of A Hard Day’s Night. Lewis is a leading historian of the Beatles and wrote, hosted and produced “Re-meet The Beatles,” the only TV documentary made about the Beatles’ Anthology project.
A question and answer period with the audience will occur after the symposium. The Catalina Island Museum presents “The British Invasion Rocks America” will take place on Saturday, June 30 at 4:00 p.m. in the theater of the Avalon Casino. Immediately following the symposium at 6:30 p.m., symposium participants will be available for a signing in the museum’s Harbor Room. The signing is free to the public. The opening reception for the exhibition Gimme Some Lovin’: The Spencer Davis Group will take place on the same day at 6:00 p.m in the museum. Spencer Davis and the Catalina Island All-Stars will perform during a Fourth of July Concert and Fireworks at The Point at the Avalon Casino. The concert begins at 6:00 p.m.
Martin Lewis, Moderator
Described by L.A. Weekly as “a true Renaissance Man,” Martin Lewis has worked as a producer of comedy with John Cleese, Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python; co-created the Secret Policeman’s Ball series, which Bob Geldoff credited with inspiring the Live Aid concerts; conceived and produced acoustic performances by Pete Townshend, Sting, Phil Collins and Donovan; produced comedy recordings with Sir Peter Ustinov, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; produced Sam Peckinpah’s last work in film -- a series of music videos featuring Julian Lennon; produced the DVD edition of The Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night; was the publicity strategist behind The King’s Speech winning the 2011 Best Picture; frequently appears on American TV discussing issues related to culture and politics; and is heard on his own daily radio show broadcast nationally on Sirius Satellite Radio. A leading historian of The Beatles, Lewis wrote, hosted and produced Re-meet The Beatles, the only TV documentary made about The Beatles’ Anthology project.
Peter Asher has exerted an incalculable influence over the history of rock n’roll as a singer, songwriter, record producer and as part of the duo Peter and Gordon. Asher’s parents were well known in London society, and he met Paul McCartney while the Beatle was dating his younger sister, the acclaimed actress Jane Asher. Indeed, during the height of Beatlemania, McCartney often took up lodgings at the Asher home, where he was joined by John Lennon to write a number of hits, including I Wanna Hold Your Hand. After Asher teamed up with Gordon Waller, McCartney provided Peter and Gordon with their first international hit: World Without Love. Wearing his trademark glasses, Peter Asher became a well-known personality in Swinging 60s London, and partnered with John Dunbar and Barry Miles to open The Indica Gallery. The Indica achieved fame for exhibiting the work of a young conceptual artist named Yoko Ono, and it was in the Indica that John Lennon was introduced to his future wife. Over the next 40 years, Asher became known as one of the music industry’s most successful producers, winning a Grammy and working with such icons as James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Diana Ross and Neil Diamond. Today, Peter Asher tours the world with his own multi-media show dedicated to his life and music: “Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the ‘60s and Beyond.”
While a student in Birmingham, England, Spencer Davis decided to forego the purchase of books and bought a12-string guitar instead. The decision changed the direction of his life and the history of rock n’roll. A passionate admirer of American blues, Davis was enjoying success as a solo performer in clubs around Birmingham when a pub owner suggested that he form a group, something that was growing increasingly popular after the success of The Beatles. His search for band mates led him to the back room of a Birmingham pub, where he discovered a 15 year-old boy, who played the keyboard like Oscar Peterson and sang like Ray Charles. With Steve Winwood playing the organ and singing lead vocals, his brother, Muff, on bass, Spencer Davis on vocals and guitar and the drummer Pete York, the original lineup of the Spencer Davis Group was in place. The group enjoyed immediate success and was approached by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who became their agent, manager, producer and publisher. Only The Beatles and the Rolling Stones rivaled the success of the Spencer Davis Group in Great Britain. Armed with a string of hits like Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m a Man, the group was ready to embark on an American tour when Steve Winwood left the group suddenly to form Traffic. Numerous groups have covered songs by The Spencer Davis Group, and Spencer Davis continues to tour the U.S. and Europe.
With Micky Dolenz singing the vocals on such hits as Last Train to Clarksville and I’m a Believer, The Monkees enjoyed a string of hits during 1966 and 1967. The overwhelming success of The Monkees in television, recordings, concerts and radio made clear that the demographic of America had undergone a precipitous shift, and teenagers were now a major force in defining the direction of the entire entertainment industry. Although playing their own instruments and often writing their own songs, the group grew frustrated with their lack of creative control over their music. In an attempt to reflect the enormous cultural changes that were occurring in 1967, the group went psychedelic and starred in their own film, Head. It was the death knell of the group. But Dolenz had proven himself to be not only a superb singer but also a versatile comedian and actor. During the ensuing years after The Monkees’ initial success, Dolenz embarked on a solo career and often re-united in concert with fellow Monkees Peter Tork, Davy Jones and, less frequently, Mike Nesmith. Indeed, Monkees hits and even the television series have endured the test of time. But The Monkees have yet to be elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; an almost unimaginable oversight, and an area of neglect made all the more poignant after the recent death of Davy Jones.
One month after The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Radio Caroline not only broke every British broadcast law but also loosened the stranglehold of the BBC on British radio. Broadcasting from the safety of a decrepit tub of a boat anchored just off British territorial waters, Radio Caroline was known as “the ship that launched a thousand hits” and inspired the movie The Boat that Rocked. Its DJs enjoyed complete freedom and combined irreverent humor with spinning the leading rock n’roll hits of the day. No DJ was more popular than Emperor Rosko, the self-proclaimed “God of the Airwaves.” A brash American whose lightening-fast “jive talk” was matched only by his on-air antics (he was once accompanied by a mynah bird reputed to have the foulest mouth on the ship), Emperor Rosko introduced a countless number of British youth to rock n’roll hits heard nowhere else. He left Radio Caroline in 1967, and toured Europe with such acts as Sam and Dave, Booker T. and the M.G.’s and Otis Redding. Later that year, he joined Radio 1 and introduced himself in typically grand fashion: "I am the Emperor, the geeter with the heater, your leader, your groovy host from the West coast, here to clear up your skin and mess up your mind. It'll make you feel good all over."
For more information or to purchase tickets to the symposium, exhibition or concert, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website.
The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history. The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.