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After a 40-year run, the Beatles' first fanzine folds; End of a long and winding road.

Byline: David Charters

FOR almost 40 years, it has been a bible to followers of the most famous group in the history of popular music. But now the Beatles Book Monthly is to cease to publication, simply because it has said all that need be said. For all those years, everything about John, Paul, George and Ringo was there on the stapled A5 paper, printed in the style of an ambitious parish magazine.

But that did not stop thousands of fans from all over the world reading about their heroes in the magazine, which called itself a ``book'' just to be a little different. The most dedicated of them read of the early chart successes of the Mop Tops, through the crazy years of mystical discovery and psychedelia to the acrimonious break-up, and then the tragic deaths of John and George. After that there was a mixture of nostalgia, information about rare records and souvenirs, and news about the continuing activities of Paul and Ringo.

The first edition of the magazine was published and edited in August 1963 by Sean O'Mahony, who had made an arrangement with Brian Epstein, the group's manager. In that month, the Beatles recorded their second British number one, She Loves You. Beatlemania swept the land. Girls swooned at the very mention of the foursome and boys posed in front of mirrors, their hair brushed forward, as they clutched imaginary guitars. Soon the USA would be conquered and the Beatles would be the hottest property in showbusiness. Tony Barrow, their press officer, wrote an article for Beatles Book Monthly introducing the boys to their fans, though that was hardly necessary as they were already more famous than kings and presidents.

From then on Tony, using his middle names of Frederick James, wrote regularly for the magazine, which was part of Sean's Beat Publications' stable.

His final contribution was a tribute to Bob Wooller, the Cavern DJ,partly based on the recently published book, The Best Of Fellas by Spencer Leigh. At the peak of its success, BeatlesBook Monthly was selling more than 330,000 in the UK alone with hundreds of thousands sold overseas. Recent home sales had dwindled to about 10,000, but that was still regarded as healthy for a specialist publication.

Letters to the pounds 3, 48-page magazinesuggested a family atmosphere among the Beatles' people, with correspondents sharing memories of concerts and moments in the lives of the Beatles.. But central to its successwas an excellent photographic archive. Although the London-based magazine was generally supportive of the ``boys,'' it did not hide from controversy, tackling such subjects as whether songs should be credited to Lennon/McCartney or McCartney/ Lennon and the relationship between John and Yoko Ono. Whatever the arguments, January's final edition of Beatles Book Monthly is sure to become a collectors' item. ``I wrote reviews of the Beatles' convention in Liverpool for it,'' said Spencer Leigh, who presents RadioMerseyside's On The Beat. ``It has really been for diehard Beatles fans.'' Mr Barrow, 66, the group's PR from 1962 to 1968, who now lives in Morecambe, said: ``I also ghosted columns for people like Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, the Beatles' roadies. But after 40 years, you begin scraping the barrel to find something new for every month.

``When the Beatles broke up, I never saw it as an event for grieving over. ``They had come to the end of their cycle and had done everything they might have been expected to. I thinkit was the same for the magazine. now in his mid-sixties, was editor and publisher. One of his other publications is the Record Collector. He said: ``Quite simply 40 years is enough. It is remarkable that it should have lasted for so long. ``The number of things the former Beatles are doing gets less and less as the years go on.''

CAPTION(S):

NEXT QUESTION: Tony Barrow running a press conference for the Beatles in the 1960s; WINDING ROAD: Forty years on, Tony Barrow; stands outside The Beatles Story in Liverpool; BEATLES BEAT: Publisher Sean O'Mahony with; the Fab Four at the height of their success
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2003
Words:687
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