By Mary Ann Bourbeau
WEST LONG BRANCH – Monmouth University is hosting a four-day symposium to mark the 50th anniversary of the November 1968 release of the classic album “The Beatles,” popularly known as “The White Album.” The event coincides with the Nov. 9 release of a box set containing remixed cuts and previously unreleased material.
The symposium takes place Nov. 8-11 in various locations on the Monmouth University campus. It includes expert panels, films and live performances, all celebrating the works of the Beatles and the lives of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Among the noted speakers are world-renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn; Ken Mansfield, former U.S. manager of Apple Records; Chris Thomas, one of the producers of the original White Album; Al Sussman, executive editor of Beatlefan magazine; Mark Lapidos, founder of the Fest for Beatles Fans; Jude Southerland Kessler, a leading authority on the life of John Lennon; Tom Frangione from SiriusXM’s Beatles Channel; along with numerous music critics and authors of books on the legendary band from Liverpool, England.
“Monmouth University will be the place to be this November, as the world comes together to celebrate one of the Beatles’ most remarkable musical achievements,” said Kenneth Womack, Ph.D., dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University. “Fans will be treated to listening parties, live performances and expert panels on the album’s enduring legacy.”
Womack, who currently teaches a course titled Introducing the Beatles, is the author of a two-part biography on Sir George Martin, the record producer and arranger who was often referred to as the fifth Beatle. Womack is spearheading the conference activities, in which about 100 people will perform and/or share their ideas. He said this event has been three years in the making.
“It’s a great way to celebrate one of the most enduring art objects of our time in the White Album,” he said.
The White Album contains many memorable songs, including “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Rocky Raccoon,” “Helter Skelter” and “Revolution 9.”
The event will also feature the premiere of the film “The Beatles in India” by Paul Saltzman, who was in Rishikesh, India at the same time as the Beatles in 1968. There will also be a concert by the Beatle-esque Jersey Shore group, The Weeklings. The band will perform their renditions of Beatles classics, including several standout tracks from the White Album. A mystery host will operate a Beatles antiques appraisal booth Nov. 11, so guests are encouraged to bring their Beatles artifacts to share.
Womack’s interest in the Beatles dates back to 1977, when his favorite morning television program was replaced with Beatles cartoons.
“They were just these little sing-alongs, and each featured a nonsensical plot with fake Beatles voices, where they would act cool in that fashion and do a couple of songs,” he said. “But I’d never heard songs like that before. When you first hear the Beatles, there is something instantly different about them.”
The four-day symposium is presented by Monmouth University, a member of the Grammy Museum’s affiliate program, in association with the Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music. Registration is $75 a day, which includes conferences, musical performances, film screenings, book signings and keynote sessions. Copies of the White Album box set will be available for purchase, with a portion of proceeds supporting Monmouth University student scholarships.
For more information, visit monmouth.edu/whitealbum.
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