When it comes to The Beatles, Jim Fraser is a walking encyclopedia.
“I read books on The Beatles all the time. I am a Beatle-ologist. But I only have a bachelor’s degree, not a doctorate,” he jokes.
As a resident of Boston, Jim was lead guitarist in a Beatles tribute band that played together from 1990 to 2011. The band, called Magical Mystery Four, performed primarily at parks and restaurants throughout the city.
When he moved to The Villages in April 2012, Jim wanted to associate with other Beatles fans. So he formed the Beatlemaniacs as a way to remember and celebrate one of the most popular bands in American history.
“The impact The Beatles had on American culture and music was amazing. Throughout the years, their music has remained very popular among the generations. When I was playing in my band, I would see 12 year olds in the audience singing the songs.”
The club became an instant hit. More than 200 people have joined the Beatlemaniacs, and quite a few are former musicians. The meetings, which are held each Friday at the Odell Recreation Center from 10a.m. to noon, begin with a half-hour “This Week in Beatles History” presentation. Afterward, members watch movies or documentaries about the band such as Nowhere Boy, a film about John Lennon’s adolescence. The meeting concludes with a live performance of Beatles music.
That was evident on Feb. 9 when the club celebrated the 50th anniversary of the band’s first live performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” More than 200 people listened to the fascinating stories of guest speaker Chris Huston, a former musician who became friends with John Lennon at the Liverpool College of Art.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Villager George Makrauer, a drummer in the Cincinnati-based band The Torquays in the 1960s. “There is nothing a Beatles fan could want more than to hear a fascinating talk from a schoolmate and friend of John Lennon.”
George also enjoys doing his part in keeping the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo alive. “Sometimes members will bring their grandchildren to our meetings. When you see a 6-year-old child singing a cappella and on key to ‘Yellow Submarine,’ it’s reassuring about our future.”
There are no dues to be a member of the Beatlemaniacs.