by Jude Southerland Kessler
Nothing is “normal” anymore, even the publishing of Bruce Spizer’s long-anticipated work on The Beatles’ final LP, Let It Be. Spizer, who was coordinating his efforts with the 2020 release of the Peter Jackson Get Back film, discovered this month that Disney had been postponed the project until 2021. So, thinking outside the box, the world’s leading Beatles music expert rapidly retooled…and Spizer has engineered “a surprise package” for his readers in the process. John Lennon expert, Jude Southerland Kessler, sat down with him to chat about the imminent (and eminent!!!) release of his book, The Beatles Finally Let It Be!
Jude Southerland Kessler: Bruce, first of all, it’s great to see you well and happy in the New Orleans area. I know NOLA was one of the U.S. “hot spots” for Co-Vid-19, so all of your readers, fans, and friends are truly happy to see you doing so well.
And, of course, we’re excited about your new book…the fourth, I believe, in your Beatles Album Series. Tell us about the title to your new book, The Beatles Finally Let it Be, and what it contains.
Bruce Spizer: Thanks so much, Jude. The title is a bit of an ironic pun. As a teenage Beatles fan back in 1969 and 1970, I was anxiously awaiting the release of the Get Back album for quite a while. I read about the album in Rolling Stone in the summer and fall of 1969. I knew it would have studio banter to give it a “live” effect. First it was due for release in September, but then in September I read it was pushed back to December. Then in the next issue of Rolling Stone, I read descriptions of all of the songs on the album. In early October, The Beatles released Abbey Road much to my surprise. In November, Rolling Stone informed me that the Get Back album had been pushed back again, this time to February!
On Christmas Eve, I taped off the radio what I thought was an advance playing of the Get Back album. That gave me access to some great songs I had not heard before, including my favorites, “Let It Be,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “I’ve Got A Feeling.” In early 1970, it seemed that every issue of Rolling Stone would report on another delay of the album. I remember one issue talking about the album coming out in April or May, but then adding that Apple did not say April or May of which year!
By the time the album finally came out, it was called Let It Be. Thus, the book title, The Beatles Finally Let It Be. But wait, there’s more! The number one question that Apple has been asked for the past two decades is: “When is the Let It Be film coming out on DVD?” And so, with the Peter Jackson film being set for release on September 4, 2020, and the promised release of a remastered version of the original film, at long last, The Beatles finally Let It Be. But no, Co-Vid-19 intervenes… and Let It Be is pushed back again!
As for the book, it tells the story of how the Let It Be film and album evolved from Paul’s idea for a televised concert to a theatrical release and album reproduced by Phil Spector! It’s a long and winding road that began in September 1968 and ended with the release of the film and album 20 months later in May 1970! It’s told from the American, British, and Canadian perspectives, with references to the magazines that kept fans informed such as Rolling Stone in the States and New Musical Express, Melody Maker, Record Mirror, and Disc in the U.K., as well as Mal Evans’s reports in the monthly Beatles Book published for the Fan Club.
There is also a detailed section on the recording sessions and descriptions of the various unreleased and released Get Back and Let It Be albums all the way through Let It Be… Naked. And, of course, dozens of fan recollections, including some very special ones. The first three are from people who were on the roof at Apple for The Beatles last “concert” on January 30, 1969. We hear from Ken Mansfield, Kevin Harrington (who held the lyrics for John on “Dig A Pony”) and Miss O’Dell herself! Chris’s memories of the look on the faces in the crowd below in the street is followed by a fan recollection from a girl who happened to be walking her dog by Apple that day. We have recollections from all over the world, from the U.K. to South America to Russia, when it was back in the U.S.S.R.
Kessler: Who are some of your contributors to the book this time? Will Beatlefan Executive Editor, Al Sussman, be contributing a historical backdrop chapter once again? Who else worked with you on the project?
Spizer: Once again, Al Sussman has written a great piece on what was going on in the world during the time surrounding the album’s recording and release. This time he takes us through 1970, mixing current events and what The Beatles were up to and going through. Frank Daniels contributed a great chapter on the music and films from early 1970, defined for the book as January through June. Piers Hemmingsen gives us the Canadian perspective and a wonderful tale of woe about the time he first saw Let It Be when it was the second half of a double-feature with a James Bond film! Bill King, the editor and publisher of Beatlefan, contributed his personal and entertaining “fan notes” from 1970. And, because the Get Back bootlegs were such an important part of the story, I got Beatleg expert, Belmo, to write a chapter called “Let It Bootleg.” It is a great overview of all the noteworthy Get Back bootlegs issued from late 1969 through the present, with a bit of history along the way.
Kessler: Bruce, we found out just a few days ago that Disney has postponed their release of Peter Jackson’s Get Back film until 2021. Beatles fans are assuming that any CD Anniversary Edition that might have been issued at the same time as the film will also be delayed. Will you coordinate with these releases next year to offer your readers anything special to commemorate that occasion?
Spizer: When I read the Walt Disney Studios press release on the delay of the Get Back film, I realized that I had to make a quick decision on whether to move the publication date of my book from September 4, 2020, to August 27, 2021. After all, I had picked September 4 to coincide with the release of the film. The day after I read the news, oh boy, I got an e-mail from a regular customer of my books, Jennifer Sandi, who said how disappointed she was with the cancellation of the Fest for Beatles Fans and the push back of the film for nearly a year. She said she needed some good news and asked about my book. I was pleased to tell her that I had decided to stick with my publication date of September 4, 2020.
For my previous three books in the Beatles Album Series, I was able to include details about all releases through the date of publication. For the Sgt. Pepper, White Album and Abbey Road books, I incorporated information about the deluxe anniversary editions issued on CD. Obviously, I cannot include any information about the Peter Jackson Get Back film in the book as the book will now come out a year before the film. To solve this problem, I will publish an 8-page supplement covering the film (and any other related releases) that will be available for download from my website for free beginning on the day the film is released, which hopefully will be on August 27, 2021, without an additional delay. Those who order the Collector’s Edition of the book will get a printed 8-page supplement mailed to them for free. Others will be able to buy the printed supplement for a nominal fee to cover the printing, postage and processing expenses. The supplement will be titled The Beatles Finally Finally Let It Be. Kessler: And most importantly (because I know your books sell very quickly), how can BeatlesNews readers pre-order The Beatles Finally Let It Be from you now?
Spizer: We began taking pre-orders last month on my website www.beatle.net. We are selling standard hardcover, Collector’s Edition, and digital versions of the book. The Collector’s Edition is signed and numbered and comes with an outer O-case, a bookmark, a poster and another goodie to be determined. Those who purchase the Collector’s Edition also get the digital edition for free. And, as I already mentioned, those purchasing the Collector’s Edition will be sent the 8-page supplement for free in August 2021 in coordination with the release of the film. And all who pre-order The Beatles Finally Let It Be from the website get a free pdf preview of the book for immediate download. As always, all books ordered from my beatle.net website are signed by me. You can also request personalization. And for those who have yet to buy my earlier books, please check them out. Co-Vid-19 has not delayed our fulfilling orders. Reading about The Beatles is a great way to spend your time during these strange days.
For more information on Bruce Spizer and his Beatles album series, please visit www.beatle.net.
Published June 27, 2020
This article is Copyright © 2020, Jude Southerland Kessler, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission.