A riveting look at the polarizing nature of the Beatles phenomenon, and how it transformed a generation, through the lens of a singular city in the center of America.
For many, the Beatles offered a delightful alternative to the dull and the staid, while for others, the mop-top haircuts, the unsettling music, and the hysterical girls that greeted the British imports wherever they went were a symbol of unwelcome social and cultural change. This opposition to the group—more widespread and deeper rooted in Chicago than in any other major American city—increased as the decade wore on, especially when the Beatles adopted more extreme countercultural values.
At the center of this book is a cast of characters engulfed by the whirlwind of Beatlemania, including the unyielding figure of Mayor Richard J. Daley who deemed the Beatles a threat to the well-being of his city; the Chicago Tribune editor who first warned the nation about the Beatle menace; George Harrison’s sister, Louise, who became a regular presence on Chicago radio; the socialist revolutionary who staged all of the Beatles’ concerts in the city and used much of the profits from the shows to fund left-wing causes; the African-American girl who braved an intimidating environment to see the Beatles in concert; a fan club founder who disbelievingly found herself occupying a room opposite her heroes when they stayed at her father’s hotel; the University of Chicago medical student who spent his summer vacation playing in a group that opened for the Beatles’ on their last tour; and the suburban record store owner who opened a teen club modeled on the Cavern in Liverpool that hosted some of the biggest bands in the world.
Drawing on historical and contemporary accounts, Joy and Fear brings to life the frenzied excitement of Beatlemania in 1960s Chicago, while also illustrating the deep-seated hostility from the establishment toward the Beatles.