Fan-scholar diagnoses Beatlemania

Beatles wave to fans after arriving at Kennedy Airport, Feb. 7, 1964

The Beatles arrive at Kennedy Airport in 1964. “Their music came from four young performers determined to show the world just what they were capable of,” says Walter Podrazik. Photo: Library of Congress

 

Even as new artists rise in popularity, the Beatles never recede into the background of the music industry.

“Their legacy is all around you,” said Walter Podrazik, adjunct lecturer in communication.

Podrazik has taken his appreciation of the Beatles to the next level, becoming an expert on the Fab Four. It began when he was a college student, using every excuse to research and write about the British band. “I was struck by how many holes there were, at least using the accessible public information available at the time,” he said. “I wanted to fill in these historical information gaps.”

 

Wally Podrazik, faculty member in communication, at Los Angeles Beatles convention

Wally Podrazik is a frequent speaker at Beatles festivals, bringing the scholar and the fan together.

After graduating from Northwestern University’s School of Communications, Podrazik landed a book contract and moved to Washington, D.C. “This was in the age before widespread access to the Internet, so Washington was the perfect place to conduct such research because of its resources,” he said. The resulting book, All Together Now, delves into the recorded works of the Beatles.

“The goal has remained the same — trying to answer the question: ‘How did they do it?’” he said.

Podrazik was a panel moderator for the Fest for Beatles Fans conference in October in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, he presented a lecture on research and storytelling at the International Beatles Conference at Penn State Altoona. “I always pursue an approach that puts the group in context,” Podrazik said. “In doing so, I always try to connect the scholar to the fan and the fan to the scholar.”

Aside from his accomplishments as a scholar of the Beatles, Podrazik has had several proud experiences as a fan. “I made journeys to Liverpool and London a number of times,” he said. “I crossed Abbey Road in the famous zebra crossing and took one of the historic Beatles London walking tours.”

For those unfamiliar with the Beatles, Podrazik suggests the following songs:

  • “I’m Down,” 1965
  • “You Can’t Do That,” 1964
  • “Here Comes the Sun,” 1969
  • “Honey, Don’t,” 1964.

“Their music came from four young performers determined to show the world just what they were capable of,” Podrazik said. “That is a timeless context.”