By MIKE CHAIKEN
Fans of The Beatles— and those curious about the cultural universe of the 1960s— will find a treasure trove of nostalgia at Foxwoods Resort Casino through February as the casino hosts “The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition.”
Dennis Toll, a Beatles historian and collector, contributed many of the items from the Fab Four—the late John Lennon and George Harrison along with surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr—that are part of exhibit.
“The collection is very eclectic and ranges from 1957 to 1980 and somewhat beyond,” said Toll in an email interview about the exhibit. “I enjoy the rather uncommon items or one-of-a-kind things such as John’s guitar picks from the Sgt. Pepper sessions. However, someone else who collects concert posters or records might enjoy some of those rarities, which we also have. Others get a thrill from seeing a Beatles lunchbox something they might have owned in 1964.”
“Certainly, one of the most valuable and one of a kind items, and a very emotional item is the ‘Double Fantasy’ (album) that John had signed for his killer the night he was murdered, ending the Beatles,” said Toll.
Toll said the items “came together from three different collections. Fifty of the pieces in the exhibit are from my own collection. I have been collecting actively for 35 years now and each piece has its own story of how it came to me. Nowadays there are major auctions, which feature Beatle items.”
The exhibit as laid out shows the visitor that “The ‘50s and post-war England was a different time. These four guys had to work hard, very hard, to succeed, however the other options for them were hard factory and labor jobs, which were not their forte. They had to succeed at music as other options for them were bleak. They were very lucky, very talented and worked very hard for that overnight success.”
The desire to collect Beatles memorabilia was ignited for Toll in “February of 1964 when I first saw them on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’’ Since then, for me, they were the group and will always be the No. 1 icon.”
The pop culture phenomenon of the Beatles is intriguing for Toll because of “how much they changed in a few short years. They changed our culture, their music changed from ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ in just four years. They led and became the pied pipers of the entire decade of the ‘60s.”
The Beatles did have many creative periods during their career such as the Loveable Moptops of the early days to the psychedelic attire of Sgt. Pepper and the bearded rockers of “Let It Be.” But Toll said he doesn’t have one favorite period.
“That’s like asking who your favorite child is,” said Toll. “Each period had its own strengths.”
“You can also learn from this exhibit that they had four unique and strong personalities and didn’t even stray far from their true personalities,” said Toll. “When you experience Liverpool and their early influences at this exhibit you will better know them and that through any period they were four as one, a true group of four friends in the eye of the hurricane that was Beatlemania, at any stage.”
Many fans had their favorite Beatle since their personalities were so distinct.
“I’m still amazed at the genius of Lennon and McCartney as songwriters. John was so well read and had a gift for words and lyrics. Paul’s melodies still stand on their own. I admire them all for different reasons. They were such personalities, which you can clearly see if you watch any of the press conferences. None of that was staged, that was just them being Liverpudlians and Beatles.”
For the fans of the Beatles, Toll said “The exhibit appeals because it has artifacts from across their career, something for every type of fan. The fans are intrigued because first and foremost they were a great band with great music and fans can better understand where that music came from through this exhibit.”
“The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition is on display at the Great Cedar Exhibition Hall, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket through Feb. 5. It is open, except for Christmas, Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tickets are $15.95 to $10.95.
For more information, go to Foxwoods.com