Coming together: DIY heritage and the Beatles

Stephanie Fremaux

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Since 2012, Beatles fans have been commemorating the 50th anniversary of a number of key milestones in the band’s career. Perhaps the most notable was the release of the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” on 5 October 1962. To celebrate this occurrence in 2012, there was a series of events largely instigated by local Do it Yourself (DIY) initiatives in Liverpool and beyond. This renewed global, mainstream attention demonstrates how the resonance of the Beatles’ legacy still endures. It also shows how fans still want to mark their role in the Beatles story through often overlooked DIY practices, despite legal protection upheld by Apple Corps over the Beatles brand. In order to investigate how the beginnings of Beatles heritage practice was actually born out of DIY initiatives, this chapter will first explore the origins of Beatles related tourism in Liverpool (Cohen 2007; Leonard and Strachan 2010) and what implications the resulting institutionalization of that agenda has had on the DIY heritage practice by Beatles fans. Arguably, despite the tightly controlled corporate hold on the Beatles brand, there are still small, yet significant, ways in which fans are able to insert themselves into the Beatles story. In their work on heritage and identity, Graham and Howard (2008, p. 2) argue that value is not placed on heritage itself, but rather on “artefact and activities” that have imprinted on them meanings that provide insight into culture and society. Using this idea as the impetus for this research, this chapter investigates two main case studies: New York City artist Rutherford Chang’s exhibition We Buy White Albums, and the Liverpool Mural Project’s John Lennon Mural in the Litherland area of Liverpool. Chang’s collection of White Albums is an archive of the personal histories of the often anonymous previous owners, while the Liverpool Mural Project aims to unite Northern Irish and Liverpudlian artists otherwise divided by sectarianism. While there has often been a problematic relationship between copyright protection and fandom made all the more difficult in the digital age, these examples uncover the innovative ways in which Beatles fandom perseveres 50 years on.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPreserving Popular Music Heritage: Do-it-Yourself, Do-it-Together
    Number of pages0
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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