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The Making of Pop Go the Beatles

Posted Apr 23, 2008 at 08:08 AM by Pop Go The Beatles
Behind the Scenes: The Making of Pop Go The Beatles

Hi I'm Woody Lifton and it seems like a have been a huge Beatles fan my whole life. It actually started just before my 9th birthday on February 9th 1964, when all of America met The Beatles for the first time on "The Ed Sullivan Show". Some 73 million of us (still one of the largest audiences for any U.S. T.V. show) watched and were enthralled by these 4 young lads from Liverpool, England. In April 1964, on my 9th birthday my grandmother gave me my first Beatles album (I had a bunch of the 45s by then) which after years of researching turned out to be the first "bootleg" Beatles L.P. issued in America. This stared me on a search for as many of these unauthorized albums I could find. Through the years I was able to track down over 150 of these 'Beatleg' albums. They contained live concerts, BBC radio recordings, alternate studio takes and mixes as well as press conferences and interviews. All of these recordings were mostly unheard and were never played on the radio. Unless, it was me playing them. I was invited to co-host and program Jim Kerr's Saturday Morning Beatles Hour on WPIX –FM in NY and had my own radio show in college. I created and hosted a 10-hour show on the history of the Beatles and was able to incorporate many of these unheard songs and interviews.

But for many years all I was able to do was listen to these albums and share them with my friends via compilation cassettes I would put together. I even sent some to Scott Muni who had a terrific syndicated Beatles radio show called "Ticket To Ride". Then after I moved to Florida in 1984 I heard Joe Johnson's "Beatlebrunch" and became a big fan of his show. It became appointment radio for me. Until it got to the point where I started thinking that the information on this show and Ticket to Ride was great but all they ever played was the same album tracks that I had heard for over 20 years. These shows would be much more interesting if they included some of the live performances, BBC radio shows and alternate studio takes and mixes that I had in my possession. And then the light bulb went on. Why not make my own show, the way I would want to hear it.

And so…the idea for Pop Go The Beatles was born. But it had to be different from every Beatles show that was on the air. How do I set my show apart from the other's. By NEVER playing an album cut. That's how! Any songs played will be live performances, whether in concert (that one is tough because the recordings from their concerts were mostly screaming) or from the hundreds of BBC radio recordings and alternate studio takes and mixes (this is where the show would really shine…I had amassed hundreds of these unofficial recordings and most people had never heard them). Mix in the rare interviews and press conferences I had accumulated and there is the show. We would focus on the creation of the music (the alternate and sometimes embryonic versions fit perfectly) and would dissect each album and song. Now this would require a tremendous amount of research. Thank goodness I had already started that research by reading almost every book on the subject I could find. Bruce Spizer's incredible series of books on their records and music, Mark Lewison's in-depth book on how the Beatles recorded their music, Barry Mile's book "Many Years From Now", which was basically one long interview with Paul where he questioned Paul about the making of almost every Beatles song and John Lennons' 1978 interview with Playboy magazine (John talk about almost every Beatles song in this interview). This was just the beginning of my research.

At this time I was doing a radio show for my business and had become friendly with another New York Beatlemaniac, Joyce Kaufman. Joyce was a nationally known radio talk show host for the previous 10 years and totally gung-ho about the idea. She agreed to host the show and I would write, direct, produce and co-host. With Joyce as the host we would have someone with a name in the industry and her contacts to help us get it syndicated. Which, of course, was the real goal.

So, I brokered a deal with the station Joyce and I were both on, 640 WJNA in Ft. Lauderdale. I signed up for 20 – 2 hour slots and now all I had to do was write 20 shows. Sounds easy, doesn't it? I wish.
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