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How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin

Despite being banned, the Beatles still managed to infiltrate the Iron Curtain and influence a whole generation.

Published: June 11, 2013 (Issue # 1763)



  • 'How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin' credits the Beatles with bringing down the Iron Curtain.
    Photo: Bloomsbury

How The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution, rockets the reader back to the stagnant times of the Brezhnev era, when the Beatles music was illegal in the Soviet Union, yet bootleg recordings of Paul, George, John and Ringo were influencing and inspiring an entire generation of Soviet youth.

Renowned British documentary filmmaker Leslie Woodhead has recently published a treatise positing the Fab Fours influence in bringing down the Soviet establishment in the second half of the 20th Century.

Woodheads connection with the Beatles can be traced back to the very beginning: Once a researcher for Granada Television in the North of England, he shot the only surviving film of the band performing an early gig at Liverpools Cavern Club.

The little two-minute film I shot in the Cavern Club in August 1962 is the first and only film of the Beatles before they became famous, he recalled in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times.

The intricacies of how a catalogue of 212 songs from Love Me Do in 1962 to I Me Mine in 1970 (the last thing they recorded) could have helped change the direction of the Soviet Union are problematic.

Of course, the processes by which the Beatles and their music promoted change in the Soviet Union are complex and elusive, said Woodhead. From Stalinist times, culture had often been an agent for change in a society where other political processes were suppressed and unavailable.

Despite the Beatles not being directly political, and in an era when numerous Russian fans still had difficulties grasping the meaning behind the lyrics, Woodhead thought that the timing was perfect.

Their music arrived at just the moment when the hopes of a young generation were being dashed by Brezhnevs crackdowns. What was conveyed through the music, and what was troubling to the Kremlin, was a youthful spirit of freedom and unchecked energy, he said.

Woodhead interviewed numerous Beatles fans from the Soviet-era while creating the book.

Everyone I met from the Soviet-era Beatles generation emphasized the word freedom and talked about how their music somehow freed the slave within them. In St. Petersburg, music producer Andrei Tropillo described the process for me with a wonderful image.

He quoted Tropillo: We understood the message of the Beatles music the way dogs and cats understand us: They dont understand the words, but they catch the feeling.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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