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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2002/03/20
by Mike Gruenberg

Beatlefest 2002

Sales and marketing people spend an enormous amount of time thinking about the buying behavior of their intended clients. Questions related to every nuance of the product to be introduced are carefully examined and tested before presentation is made to the marketplace. Many millions of dollars are spent before, during and after a product has been released so that the buying public has every opportunity to confidently spend their hard-earned cash for a product they really need. Having spent the majority of my professional life in a sales and marketing role, I cannot help but analyze how products and services are imposed upon an unsuspecting public without proper research and testing. The corn flakes you eat, the mouthwash you gargle and the shoes you wear were all tested and analyzed in the most scientific manner so that you can achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. Products fail when there is no customer satisfaction in the use of that product.
For the past fifteen years, one particular weekend in March has been set aside on my calendar so that I can attend an event called Beatlefest ( This event has been organized for those people who want to celebrate the music that was given to us by the Beatles. People of all ages from literally the entire world travel each year to Seacaucus, New Jersey for this event.
Beatlefest is always held at the same hotel, which never seems to have enough rooms for those who would like to stay for the entire weekend. Reservations are scarce. The event has outgrown the capacity of the hotel to comfortably accommodate the participants. The ventilation in the hotel is overly taxed so that it is consistently too warm. The food served is prepackaged and wrapped in cellophane. The area designated for vendors to sell their wares is constantly overcrowded and truly represents a fire hazard. In essence Beatlefest, is a true nightmare for a sales and marketing professional.
I have attended Beatlefest for the past fifteen years. I have suffered through the inadequacy of the hotel facilities. I am fully aware that I have more of a chance of winning the lottery than the possibility of seeing Paul, Ringo or even Yoko making an appearance. Therefore, why would anyone subject themselves to an overly crowded hotel, marginal food and virtually no chance to see the surviving members of the Beatles?
The bottom line is that people of all ages attend this yearly get together and have a great time. I did not meet George Harrison at Beatlefest, but I met his sister and learned about the charity work she is doing. I did not meet John, but I met Klaus Voorman and saw the pictures he drew of John when they knew each other in Hamburg. I did not meet Paul, but I did speak to Robbie McIntosh who not only played lead guitar on Paul’s U.S. tour, but also was a member of the Pretenders. I did not meet Ringo, but I saw his Mustang convertible at the Beatlefest held in LA a number of years ago. I never met all four of the lads, but I have their autographs. As a collector and investor, my Beatle autographs have appreciated in value in spite of current economic times. *
I have spoken to Gordon Waller, one half of the team of Peter & Gordon. I also met Jim Horn, one of the greatest saxophone players in the world. I have gotten to know Frank Caiazzo, the foremost authority on the legitimacy of Beatle autographs ( I have heard some great music and met some really nice people. I have never seen a fight a break out or suffered through the uncomfortable feeling of being trapped within an unruly crowd as I have at some concerts. I have attended Beatlefests in Chicago and Los Angeles and although those hotel meeting places are superior to the one in New Jersey, the atmosphere with the love and tribute to the Beatles remains pleasantly the same. For me, I buy the records and the memorabilia, meet some old friends, make some new friends and have a good time. I am pleased to see that people of all ages come to this event. Yes, I will admit as my wife and daughter have pointed out that it has become a bit too commercial and it most definitely is overcrowded, but it still is a lot of fun to be there and I have made plans to attend next year.

  • Recently an autographed copy of a Beatles album signed by all four Beatles was sold for over $30,000!

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