2001 Beatlefest - A Mod Odyssey! - and my Hard Days Night!
The official 25th Anniversary Midwest Beatles Fans' Convention - Chicago - August 17-19, 2001
Featuring (for me): Mike Gibbins of Badfinger!
I must start out telling you that I was not originally a Beatles fan... In 1963/64, everybody liked the Beatles, so I was into the bad boys, the Rolling Stones! It wasn't until the release of "Lady Madonna" in 1968, that I became a big fan. I started buying all the albums, collecting newspaper articles, Life Magazine, and so on... And ultimately, that led me to the 45 record, "Come And Get It" by Badfinger, mainly because it was written by Paul. That was my introduction to the band and my first Badfinger record!
My collecting frenzy continued into my first year of college, where I was able to use the vast library of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to gather even more copies of articles about the Beatles. This was also the year that "Straight Up" was released - which was my first Badfinger LP. After that first year of school, I joined, (was dragged) into the military and ended up in West Germany. I continued to save every clip that was written about the Fab Four - Rolling Stone magazine was one of my main sources, as every issue had at least one clipping or story about the Beatles in it somewhere.
After several years, I had almost every U.S. article ever written, all the U.S album releases plus a few bootlegs. I was even a member of a few fanzines from the early 70's. I was the biggest Beatles fan that I knew! But after traveling to the Chicago Beatlefest this past weekend, I realized that on a scale of 1 to 10, I am a 3! There were some people at the fest that were an 11!!! Like the young girl who was there that had her back completely tattooed with Beatles images!! Whoa! That is definitely an 11!!!
So my first trip to a Beatlefest was an eye-opener, but it wasn't the main reason that I wanted to go. (My fervor for collecting all things Beatle, subsided years ago). My main reason was that Mike Gibbins was going to be at the show. I had never met Mike, and with the very positive vibes that I had received during my several meetings with Joey Molland, I was hoping that I would be able to connect with Mike at near the same level. I chose Saturday as the day that I would go to the fest.
Mike's table was well located, just off the main center isle that lead into to the International Beatles Marketplace, where you could browse the thousands of Beatle memorabilia and collectibles that were all for sale. Some items needed a VERY fat wallet! As I turned the corner, I could see the 'Exile Music' - 'Mike Gibbins' banner. I had found him, and there he was sitting with his wife Ellie! I walked up to Mike and sticking out my hand I said, "Hello Mike!" "Rick Kellogg from the Badfinger Web Ring." Mike shook my hand and said, "Hi Rick!" "I've already been warned to look out for you!" "Two girls were here earlier looking for you..."
As I was shaking Ellie's hand, Mike looked over to Ellie - Ellie looked at Mike and said, "It was Peggy and her friend." Uh Oh! Busted! - Actually, I knew that Peggy Burneka and her friend, Sue would be there and I was looking for them anyway, but it was v-e-r-y crowded at the festival and I didn't see them. I then, a bit nervously, talked with both Mike and Ellie and their friend, Sharyn who was there helping to run the table. But within just a few minutes, I was very comfortable talking with them all.
The table was set up with copies of both of Mike's CDs - "A Place In Time" and "More Annoying Songs", along with a few tee-shirts for sale. Mike also had photo-copies of himself that he was signing. The CD, "A Place In Time" was the original version that Mike has talked about re-mixing. Mike said that the re-mix was done and it sounded so much better, much more sonically like "More Annoying Songs". Mike told me that he had very little say in how the first CD was mixed. And that he was not completely pleased with the end results. Mike said that the song, "Rocking The Boat" has been dropped, and a few news songs have been added. The re-mixed CD will be available soon.
The new tee-shirts played out the Tommy joke of "No Dice" "Straight Up" y'er "ASS", with a photo of the inner sleeve braying ass, carrots included. Neat! Soon, Sue and Peggy wandered by and we converged on poor Mike asking all sorts of questions. Mike took it all in stride, and actually seemed to be enjoying himself. He mugged for the camera, talked about Pete and Tommy and Joey and of Ron Griffiths too. His new studio was coming together slowly, and that his two sons were currently using it to mess around in recording all sorts of new songs. Mike also talked about the recordings that his son, Owen put together and released as Bedroom Boy, "Secret Garden" last year. Mike did all the drumming for the CD in one take!
I wandered around the Marketplace, looking for anything Badfinger related and found lots of 'overpriced' Badfinger 45's and LP's, but nothing that really caught my eye. I did buy the obligatory Beatles tee-shirt - as there were lots of great designs to choose from. I also stopped by the Klaus Voormann art exhibit, and said 'Guten Abend' to Klaus. The exhibit featured his first ever U.S Exhibition of his artwork. All of which was for sale - some expensive, others quite reasonable. Klaus was also available to autograph the prints that you purchased.
There were all sorts of things going on, on three levels of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. You could never really see everything that was going on. But every stairwell was jammed with someone with a guitar, or several guitars, and everyone singing full throated whatever Beatles song that was being played. Quite amazing and quite good too!
At 6:00 PM, I had a date to meet up with another long time Badfinger fan, and recent contributor to the BWR, Brenda Watkins and her husband Tom. (Brenda put together the "Badquiz" that is still featured on the BWR 'Features' page). We planned to have dinner together at or near the hotel. They were not actually at the Beatlefest for that Saturday; they were going to go the next day, Sunday, where they had plans to meet up with Kevin E. and some other friends. I know that I was really looking forward to meeting Brenda and Tom, and promptly at six, they spotted me near the lobby. Excellent!
The three of us had a wonderful dinner at the hotel, and plenty of time to get to know each other more. We talked about our connections and stories related to being fans of Badfinger. Brenda has also promised me more interesting stories that I will be able to share through the BWR newsletter. We had a great time that evening! I wished them well as we finished dinner and I headed back to the Beatlefest and Mike Gibbins. (a Brenda story will appear in the next BWR newsletter! It's about Blodwyn...)
I went back down to Mike's table, and Peggy was there too, so we continued talking to Mike and Ellie. At one point, we were discussing the songs on "More Annoying Songs" and I brought up the point about the minor flub that Mike left in on the song, "Two and Two". I stated that Mike 'coughed' just before the second line of the song. Mike said that there was no cough! He then proceeded to sing the first two lines, putting a hard emphasis on the word 'And', (The first word of the second line). I didn't buy it! So Mike tried singing several more versions of what he said happened... His table had a CD player on it and we put on Mike's CD. Peggy puts on the headphones to listen first - and thinks she hears it. I listen again, and I definitely hear it! Ellie says that she know what Mike sounds like, and she'll be the judge! We all watch Ellie as she listens, smiling, smiling, then her head goes down on the table, laughing! She turns to Mike and says, "It's on there Mike!" Mike then states that he farted on the CD too! We all cracked up after that. I'm not going to try and find that one gang!
Towards midnight, and the closing of the fest for that day, Mike invited Peggy and I to meet him up in the pub for a closing drink. I wandered around the Marketplace some more, and at the proper time, met up with Peggy to try and find Mike to cap off a very interesting day. We head up to the pub, look around a very crowded bar... Okay Mike, where are you? We walk, (squeeze) through the pub area and do not see Mike anywhere... Fifteen minutes later, we both kinda give up. We walk out and look around some more, but to no avail... Hummmm.... Well, I have an hour drive south to get back to where I'm staying for the night and I tell Peggy goodnight and head off.
Here is a note from Peggy as to what happened next:
"...wasn't it incredible to meet with Mike? Another major highlight of my "Badfinger Experience" (and I've had quite a few lately)! Guess what, (and this is going to kill you...), Mike was waiting for us at the bar in a booth! I hadn't planned on staying around on Sunday, but I felt so bad that we had missed meeting up with him that I purchased a wrist band for the day just to go back down and explain what had happened. And I had a chance to chat a little more with Mike and say a proper "goodbye" (and give him a little kiss on the cheek. I couldn't help it; I just had to!). So we got home much later than expected, but it was worth it." -Peggy
Ah well..., I must say that I had a blast spending a good portion of the day talking with Ellie and Mike Gibbins. As Brenda stated, she "...hasn't met a Welshman that she didn't like!". Well said Brenda! Thanks Peggy! Thank you Brenda and Tom, and especially, a very warm 'THANKS' to Ellie and Mike Gibbins! I hope that we can meet again sometime. I still owe you that beer!
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