MONTVALE, N.J. — Mark Lapidos of Montvale, creator of this weekend’s 43rd Annual Fest for Beatles Fans , first fell under the spell of The Beatles at age 15.
“The first time I heard ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ I was sitting there doing my homework,” he recalled.
“As soon as I heard it, it grabbed me. I’ll never forget that moment. I get chills thinking about it now.”
WABC’s Scott Muni announced the name of the new group from England.
Then Lapidos watched The Ed Sullivan Show so he could see what John, Paul, George and Ringo looked like.
His love affair with the music and The Beatles’ story has never died.
In fact, it refuels every year – in New York and Chicago.
All week Lapidos, now 69, has been directing set-up for The Fest for Beatles Fans at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson. The bash starts Friday and runs through Sunday.
Four thousand people are attending.
“They're coming from 28 states, Canada and the UK, just for The Fest,” Lapidos said.
“The entire hotel is all booked up with our attendees. We’ve got all 13 ballrooms and activity rooms inside the hotel, too.”
All weekend, there will be music, art exhibits, photo exhibits, discussions, and lots of shopping.
Along the way, The Fest has become the world’s largest seller of licensed Beatles merchandise.
The first Fest for Beatles Fans took place in New York City in 1974.
That’s when Lapidos, then working at a Sam Goody record store, got the idea to have a convention marking the 10th anniversary of the band coming to the U.S.
Lapidos, who wanted The Beatles’ blessing for his Fest, knocked on John Lennon’s door at the Pierre Hotel.
After Lennon invited him in, Lapidos got what he came for.
“I’m all for it,” Lennon said. “I’m a Beatles fan, too!”
Next thing Lapidos knew, his Fest made the cover of Rolling Stone. The rest is history.
Every year the Fest’s special guests excite Lapidos. Each one’s life has overlapped with that of The Beatles in some way.
“Part of the charm of The Fest is having these names that people know from books and music come to life,” he said.
“They have great stories to tell and people can sit and meet them. It fills in all the blanks.”
This year’s headliner is Klaus Voormann, who designed the famous sleeve for the “Revolver” album.
Three members of Wings — Denny Seiwell, Laurence Juber, and also Steve Holley — will do a set of Paul McCartney songs.
Liverpool, a Beatles tribute band, will play “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the eighth studio album of The Beatles.
Released in 1967, it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary.
George Harrison’s sister, Louise Harrison, will be there.
Plus, “Looking for Lennon,” a film, will enjoy its U.S. premiere . Its next stop: the Cannes Film Festival.
Lapidos said first-generation fans keep coming back because “they know what the feeling is.”
But new generations come, too, learn some history, and then go back and find all The Beatles albums.
“I’m very jealous about,” Lapidos said. “’Revolver’ is a brand new album for a 15-year-old kid. We can’t have that anymore.”
For information on times and tickets for The Fest, which runs Friday through Sunday, CLICK HERE .