Producing a book showcasing her favorite band was a dream come true for life-long Beatles fan Laurie Jacobson.
She’s a celebrated author of five previous Hollywood books, but her latest effort required the assistance of a few others.
In “Top of the Mountain: The Beatles at Shea Stadium 1965” (Backbeat, Aug. 2022), Jacobson meticulously weaves first-person interviews and quotes from dozens of writers, agents, producers, photographers, fans, friends, and celebrities — such as Meryl Streep and Whoopi Goldberg — to collectively convey the compelling story behind the historic New York Beatles concert.
Jacobson didn’t merely recount a day in the life of the Fab Four’s milestone 30-minute show before some 56,000 screaming fans. She describes the long and winding road leading up to the August 15 event and, in the end, its influence on music history as the first pop concert performed in a major American sports stadium — shattering attendance records.
“I spent close to seven years gathering information and amazing photos — hundreds never seen before,” Jacobson said from her home in Northern California.
Laurie was just 10 when the Beatles began consuming her adolescent world.
“Like so many others, I saw them on ‘Ed Sullivan’ and was immediately hooked,” she said. “Those smiles. That hair! I ran right out to buy their 45 of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and went bonkers with posters and magazines. Anything Beatles!”
Though unable to attend the famous Shea event because she lived in St. Louis, almost exactly one year later her parents provided a ticket to ride the wave of Beatlemania still sweeping the country when the group came to town on their final U.S. tour.
“It was threatening rain,” Jacobson remembered. “So, they dispensed with the opening acts and straight away introduced the Beatles. I watched in silent wonder, teary-eyed, knowing this was my moment with them. I wanted to soak in every detail and memorize every move. I honestly don’t remember a thing about the crowd, just them.”
She continued: “Nine three-minute songs and it was over. The rain was falling, and my parents whisked me away.”
Some disapproving parents across the country disapproved of group, from the mop-top hairstyles to the raucous music and its near-hypnotic effect on teenage fans. But Jacobson’s folks were understanding.
“They supported it 100% and often surprised me with Beatles items that I cherished and still have,” said Jacobson. She maintains a collection that includes dolls, models, T-shirts, a yellow submarine, rare albums and books, posters, buttons, ticket stubs, and several decades worth of scrapbook clippings.
With the Beatles touring days waning in 1966, the previous year’s sellout Shea Stadium concert remained the most memorable, not only for fans but for the band as well.
“Biggest crowd they ever played, and the biggest paycheck, too,” Jacobson said. “You can see on their faces when they step onto the field — the moment they became aware of their power.”
For her book’s title, Jacobson paraphrased something John Lennon later said in 1971 about the Shea concert: “I saw the top of the mountain on that unforgettable night.”
For those who lived through the 60s, the Beatles provided musical diversion to help survive the ever-tightening social, cultural, and political chains crushing the country. Today, in a post-Beatles world seemingly also inundated with disturbing national and global issues, Baby Boomers can still get back that uplifting spirit.
“It was so much more than their music for us,” Jacobson said. The Beatles “changed the way we looked, the way we thought, and, for many, the paths we chose.”
She continued: “Our memories are full of love and emotion, and we have passed that on to our children and their children. I’d like readers to experience the pure joy at the peak of Beatlemania, when optimism ruled, and anything was possible.”
For more information on Laurie Jacobson visit www.lauriejacobson.com.