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Everything Fab Four

Everything Fab Four

By Salon
Everything Fab Four is a podcast from Wonderwall Communications and Salon focused on fun and intelligent stories about the enduring cultural influence of the Beatles.

No other band, or popular entity for that matter, has had the world-wide impact the Beatles have. They are part of our human fabric, they created music that still brings people together, and across continents and generations there are individual Beatles stories to tell. In each episode, renowned music historian, author, and Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack hosts a special guest to share theirs.
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Episode 28: Heart's Ann Wilson on her epiphany about rock and gender roles: "I could be a girl, I could be Paul McCartney"
In this episode, host Ken Womack and powerhouse rocker Ann Wilson go deep into Beatles songs and their influence on her own work, the high school politics of fandom, and what the Beatles taught her about gender as a young rocker. Wilson rose to fame alongside her younger sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, as lead vocalist in the rock band Heart, the first hard rock group fronted by women. In their heyday, Heart released numerous albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including "Dreamboat Annie" and "Little Queen," and "Dog and Butterfly," which generated hit singles such as "Magic Man," "Crazy on You," "Barracuda," “Straight On” and “Dog and Butterfly.” The band later enjoyed commercial success with a trio of albums, including the self-titled "Heart," "Bad Animals" and "Brigade," along with a raft of hits such as “What about Love,” “Never,” “These Dreams,” “Nothin’ At All,” “Who Will You Run To,” “Alone,” and “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.” To date, Heart has sold over 35 million records. Over the years, Wilson has earned her place as one of rock’s most vaunted singers. Known for her operatic abilities and banshee screams, she was ranked no. 78 in Hit Parader's 2006 list of Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time. And in 2013, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Heart.
April 26, 2022
Special Episode: Inside "The Beatles: Get Back to Let It Be" at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Today’s special episode features our good friends from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, here to discuss their new exhibition, The Beatles: Get Back to Let It Be. Designed to serve as an immersive complement to Peter Jackson’s Get Back docuseries, the groundbreaking exhibition allows fans to experience The Beatles’ creative journey through original instruments, clothing, and handwritten lyrics used by The Beatles and seen in the film. Artifacts include items loaned directly by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the estates of George Harrison and John Lennon. The exhibit features high-definition film clips, audio, and custom projections, transporting fans into The Beatles’ vibrant world of January 1969. Fans will also enjoy audio engineer, producer, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Glyn Johns' record acetate from the sessions and iconic photography by Linda McCartney and by Ethan Russell, who documented the band’s January 1969 rehearsals, sessions, and rooftop performance, and whose photos are featured in the Let It Be album art. As with Jackson's Get Back docuseries, the exhibit shows how The Beatles composed and recorded many of their iconic songs from scratch. The exhibit's three screening rooms feature a selection of footage from each location from the docuseries: Twickenham, Apple Studios, and the Apple Corps rooftop. Ken's first guest is Greg Harris, President & CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Prior to serving in his current role, Greg worked as a senior executive at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for 14 years. Ken is also joined by Nwaka Onwusa, the Rock Hall’s Chief Curator & Vice President of Curatorial Affairs. Prior to joining the Rock Hall in 2019, Nwaka spent a decade researching, developing and curating more than 20 full-scale exhibits for The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE.
March 29, 2022
Episode 27: Colin Hay on his Beatles influence, Men at Work’s breakup and the truths of “Get Back”
Scottish-born musician, singer, songwriter, and actor Colin Hay first came to prominence as the lead vocalist of the Australian rock band Men at Work, which won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1983. Their big break came in August 1982, when Men at Work toured Canada and the US to promote their first LP Business as Usual, supporting Fleetwood Mac. That October, their song, "Who Can It Be Now?" reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In January 1983, they became the first Australian artists to have a simultaneous No. 1 album and No. 1 single on the United States Billboard charts with Business as Usual and the song "Down Under" (1981), respectively. As a solo artist, Hay’s music has been used frequently by actor and director Zach Braff in his work, which helped establish a career rebirth for the musician in the mid-2000s. Hay has also been a recurring member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. In this conversation with host Ken Womack, Hay talks about his musical childhood and the work behind the band's seemingly "overnight success," his Beatles influences, playing with Ringo, and what the Beatles documentary "Get Back" reveals about the realities of being in a band.
March 08, 2022
Episode 26: Dave Mason of Traffic on Being Part of the 1960s London Rock Renaissance
Kenneth Womack's guest on this episode of “Everything Fab Four” is English singer/songwriter Dave Mason, who first found fame and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with the rock band Traffic. He wrote and sang lead on Traffic’s 1968 single “Feelin Alright?” which also went on to become a hit for Joe Cocker and throughout the years has been covered by a wide range of artists, from the Jackson 5 to Widespread Panic. Over the course of his legendary career, Mason has played and recorded with many notable musicians, including Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and on Jimi Hendrix's version of “All Along the Watchtower.” In this conversation, Mason talks about being a young musician in London when the Beatles hit, listening to “Sgt. Pepper” at George Harrison's house, what it was like playing with Jimi, and more.
February 08, 2022
Episode 25: Janis Ian on the Beatles, "Baby Shark" and the origins of "At Seventeen"
Singer/songwriter Janis Ian started her music career as a folk prodigy, writing and recording “Society’s Child,” her groundbreaking 1966 song about an interracial couple, at age 14. She won a Grammy Award for her 1975 hit “At Seventeen” and the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. Her new EP, “The Light at the End of the Line,” her first album of new material in 15 years, will be followed by her farewell North American tour this year. In this conversation, she and host Ken Womack talk about the impact of technology on creativity, her Beatles fan origin story, the violent reactions her groundbreaking song “Society’s Child” faced, the origins of “At Seventeen,” and the enduring appeal of “Baby Shark."
January 25, 2022
Episode 24: Rickie Lee Jones on John Lennon, Paul McCartney and the women in their songs
On this episode of "Everything Fab Four," host Kenneth Womack interviews the Duchess of Coolsville herself, two-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones. In their conversation, she breaks down the differences in how John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote women in their songs, how to keep a creative body of work innovative, how the Beatles' map of songwriting influenced hers, and her 2021 memoir, "Last Chance Texaco."
January 11, 2022
Episode 23: Weird Al's childhood promise: "Some day when I’m super rich I’m going to own every Beatles album"
"Weird Al" Yankovic has come a long way since his days making music in his bedroom with an accordion and a "cheesy little cassette tape recorder" and submitting to the Dr. Demento Show. On this episode, he and Ken talk about how Al's songwriting process has become more elaborate over the years, the story behind why Paul McCartney vetoed his "Live and Let Die" parody, getting a cease and desist from George Harrison's lawyer, and his upcoming tour, which he hopes will be a "a super-spreader of joy."
December 14, 2021
Episode 22: Hayley Mills on a date with her favorite Beatle: “It was an unforgettable evening”
English actress Hayley Mills was a child screen prodigy. During her initial six-year run at Disney, she appeared in six films, including a career-making turn as twins in “The Parent Trap.” Her memoir “Forever Young” is out now. In this conversation with host Ken Womack, Mills recounts being a Beatles fan from the early days — including the time she went on a date with George Harrison — and now one of three generations of Beatles fans in her family. She also talks about what Walt Disney was like at work, and how adults in her life reacted to her sudden child-star status. 
November 30, 2021
Episode 21: Margaret Cho on why "there were really about ten Beatles"
Margaret Cho is a Grammy and Emmy Award nominated stand-up comedian, actress, and singer-songwriter. In this episode, she and host Ken Womack talk about her journey to becoming a comic, her gateway album into Beatles fandom, and why her favorite Beatle — of, she suggests, up to ten Beatles in total — would have been Brian Epstein. 
November 02, 2021
Episode 20: Ed Begley Jr. on how he helped "SNL" try to reunite the Beatles
Season 3 launches with actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. (“Better Call Saul,” “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call,” “A Mighty Wind”). Our host Kenneth Womack sits down with Begley to talk about a night out with Harry Nilsson that led to dinner at the Dakota with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and how that led to Begley playing a role in the “Saturday Night Live” on-air campaign to try to reunite the Beatles; how he successfully helped bring the late George Harrison's legendary Rosewood Telecaster back to George's family, and how Greta Thunberg is inspiring him to do even more for the environment. 
October 19, 2021
Episode 19: Richard Marx on Ringo's "stunning" skills and why Lionel Richie is "an angel in my life"
Richard Marx's self-titled first album went triple platinum in 1987. Between then and 1994, he racked up 14 top 20 hits, including radio classics like "Endless Summer Nights" and "Right Here Waiting." The prolific songwriter and musical collaborator is also now an author — Stories to Tell, his candid and entertaining memoir about the art and business of music, is out now. In this episode of "Everything Fab Four," he and host Ken Womack talk about how Paul McCartney’s melodies influenced his songwriting, singing “Help!” in Berlin when the wall came down, why "Ringo's everything you want Ringo to be," and the day when the “incredibly kind” Lionel Richie called him, a 17-year-old aspiring songwriter, and changed his life. 
July 07, 2021
Episode 18: K. Flay on "Sgt. Pepper's" and her dynamic creative process
Genre-defying singer/songwriter K. Flay was raised by parents who were “Beatles over Stones, one hundred percent,” and as a kid she was drawn to “acid trip Beatles-ness” songs. In this wide-ranging conversation with host Ken Womack about creativity and creation, K. Flay discusses why genre doesn’t matter, Baby Boomers, her approach to songwriting, collaborating with Tom Morello, and how the Beatles prepared us for playlist culture. 
June 22, 2021
Episode 17: Seeing rock history through photographer Ethan Russell’s lens
Ethan Russell is one of rock’s most influential photographers — and the only one to shoot album covers for the Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones, whose work he also chronicled as the band’s primary photographer from 1968-72, including their ill-fated Altamont show. Pete Townshend once called him “the civilized eye of an uncivilized art form — rock and roll.” Through his camera, Russell has had a front-row seat to many of rock’s great historical moments, including shooting the Beatles’ “Let It Be” cover and the band’s final photo session. But his life could have gone in an entirely different direction. “If Cambridge had accepted me, I never would have done the cover for ‘Let It Be,’” Russell tells our host, Ken Womack during their wide-ranging conversation about his career and experiences in documenting so many iconic moments in rock.
June 08, 2021
Episode 16: Sananda Maitreya on why he’s “a Beatle for life”
When Sananda Maitreya first heard the Beatles, he felt a spiritual awakening. The son of gospel singer Frances Howard wasn’t allowed to listen to music that wasn’t gospel until he was 15 years old, but the Beatles were so ubiquitous, he says, that they couldn’t be contained. When he first heard “She Loves You,” the American singer/songwriter (formerly known under the stage name Terence Trent D’Arby) who catapulted to fame with the number 1 hit “Wishing Well,” says the sound and look of the Beatles were “so alien and yet so familiar at the same time that it was utterly captivating. Growing up in predominately Black culture at that particular time, the way the music seemed to fit so perfectly into the culture … It just felt like something ordained by God.” As a young man, Maitreya trained as a boxer, served in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in West Germany and worked as a band leader. Then in 1987 he released his debut solo record, “Introducing the Hardline,” which netted him a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. His twelfth studio album, “Pandora’s Playhouse,” is out now. On this episode of Everything Fab Four, Maitreya and host Ken Womack talk about all things Beatles, from Ringo’s drumming to the birth of a white blues with “Hard’s Day Night.” Maitreya also takes a deep dive into his spiritual connections to John Lennon and Prince, and tells Ken the story of the time he and George Harrison had a mystical experience together.
May 18, 2021
Episode 15: Nancy Wilson on how the Beatles planted the seeds for Heart
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nancy Wilson rose to fame as the guitarist of Heart, the first hard rock band fronted by women. With hits like “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You” to “These Dreams” and “What About Love?” Wilson and her sister Ann, Heart’s lead singer, sold more than 35 million records and along the way, changed perceptions of who can lead a hard rock band. In this episode, Nancy and host Ken Womack talk about the early days of Heart, the songwriting craft behind some of their most iconic tracks, her recent tribute to Eddie Van Halen, and how the Beatles inspired her to pick up a guitar — “We weren’t looking to marry them or date them, we wanted to be them” — sparking the passion for rock and roll that would carry her through her storied career.
May 04, 2021
Episode 14: Just Like Starting Over with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. made their names as members of the Grammy Award-winning group The Fifth Dimension. Together they’ve logged nearly six decades as pop music stalwarts, while also celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in 2019. And now the iconic duo is back with their first studio album in 30 years, "Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons.” In their conversation with "Everything Fab Four" host Ken Womack, they talk about the British Invasion; covering songs by the Beatles, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney;  working with the Wrecking Crew; and their own storied history in pop music. 
April 20, 2021
Episode 13: John Roberts on "Let It Be" and how "Bob's Burgers" songs get made
 John Roberts is best known as the voice of Linda Belcher, doting matriarch of the beloved Fox animated sitcom "Bob’s Burgers," but he’s also a musician — you may have heard his new collaboration with Blondie’s Debbie Harry, "Lights Out." On this episode, he and host Ken Womack talk about the TV pilots Roberts has made that you haven’t seen yet, his upcoming musical releases, and which Beatle Linda Belcher would like the best. 
April 06, 2021
Episode 12: Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go's on the Beatles, her first musical relationship
Kathy Valentine made history as the bassist for the Go-Go’s, the first multiplatinum all-female band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to have a #1 album in the U.S. And her first relationship with music? Was with the Beatles. In this episode, Valentine and host Ken Womack talk about her Beatles and British influences, what she and fellow bass player Paul McCartney have in common, and her memoir, “All I Ever Wanted,” a deeply personal reflection on a life in rock. 
March 23, 2021
Episode 11: "Little Steven" Van Zandt on his Beatles tribute album, paying "15 years of dues" with the E Street Band and playing live with Paul McCartney
In this episode, "Little Steven" Van Zandt and our host Ken Womack go deep into the guitarist/singer/songwriter/actor's legendary musical career and his own Beatles influences, from the Ed Sullivan Show to how dues-paying in New Jersey and Hamburg shaped these bands to the night they pulled the plug on Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park.  . Everything Fab Four's theme song is "Seize the Day," courtesy of Blac Rabbit: Follow them on Instagram @blacrabbit . Everything Fab Four is a WonderWall Communications production, distributed by Salon
March 09, 2021
Episode 10: John Densmore on how the Doors and the Beatles were on parallel tracks
This week’s guest is drummer John Densmore, one of the founding members of the groundbreaking classic rock band The Doors. In a wide-ranging conversation with host Ken Womack, Densmore talks about the parallel tracks the Beatles and the Doors were on for the time they overlapped as bands, musical innovations the Beatles inspired the Doors to take, and how George Harrison talking about losing John Lennon helped him mourn Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. . Everything Fab Four's theme song is "Seize the Day," courtesy of Blac Rabbit: Follow them on Instagram @blacrabbit . A WonderWall Communications production, distributed by Salon
February 23, 2021
Episode 9: Patty Smyth on Abbey Road, Van Halen, and how motherhood shaped her career
"I think Paul McCartney’s calling you": This week’s guest is singer/songwriter Patty Smyth, who rocketed to fame with her band band Scandal ("Goodbye to You," "The Warrior"), followed by her acclaimed solo career ("Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough"). This week, Smyth and host Ken Womack talk about the pivotal Beatles moments that shaped her life, how pregnancy and motherhood shaped her career, and how she almost joined Van Halen. . Everything Fab Four's theme song is "Seize the Day," courtesy of Blac Rabbit: Follow them on Instagram @blacrabbit . A WonderWall Communications production, distributed by Salon
February 09, 2021
Episode 8: Dessa on the Beatles, the ins and outs of collaboration, and her "Come Together"-inspired song
From an early age, singer/songwriter Dessa, the daughter of a classical guitar-playing father, seemed destined for music. In the final episode of season 1 of "Everything Fab Four," the Doomtree Collective member tells our host Kenneth Womack how the Beatles shaped her understanding of poetic license and creative possibility from childhood on. In this wide-ranging interview, they also dive deep into the ups and downs of creative collaboration, an exclusive clip of her "Come Together"-influenced song "Warsaw" and much more.
December 29, 2020
Episode 7: "A musical punch in the face": Yes frontman Jon Anderson on how the Beatles changed pop, from revelation to revolution
Jon Anderson, co-founder and former lead singer of the legendary prog rock group Yes, has enjoyed a prolific career spanning over six decades, most recently with his 2019 album "1000 Hands." Though he had a band with his brother as a teen in 1962, they were largely focused on being the Everly Brothers or Elvis Presley — that is, until they heard "Love Me Do." The brothers traveled to see the Beatles play live in April, 1963, "and it was a revelation on many levels," Anderson tells Everything Fab Four host Kenneth Womack. On this episode, go deep with Anderson and Womack into how the Beatles shaped pop music throughout the '60s, and discover the very specific musical reason why Anderson believes the band is beloved all around the world.
December 22, 2020
Episode 6: Stephanie Phillips on why we shouldn’t call the Beatles geniuses
Author and musician Stephanie Phillips, who plays in the Black feminist punk band Big Joanie and whose writing has been featured in major outlets all over the world, grew up a music fan but for years had "a general disinterest" in the Beatles, due largely to the "sad dad army" of fans that she couldn't relate to as a young woman of color. “There wasn’t really much in the Beatles for me to latch onto,” Phillips tells host Ken Womack on "Everything Fab Four." “That was, I learned later, because of how their story and their myth and their music had been commandeered by a very specific white middle class elite.” On this episode Phillips talks about her influential essay "On Loving the Beatles as a Black woman," finding her own way into Beatles fandom, why we shouldn't call them "geniuses," and what she doesn't hear on their albums. 
December 01, 2020
Episode 5: John Oates on Philly's Beatles backlash, the Hall & Oates origin story and living next to Hunter S. Thompson
John Oates, best known as half of the iconic pop duo Hall & Oates, has played guitar alongside Darryl Hall for decades, co-writing hits like “Sara Smile,” “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” and “Maneater.”  He grew up in Philadelphia, and tells our host Ken Womack that when the Beatles first hit the U.S., his local  radio stations wouldn't play their songs. “Being a teenager in Philadelphia I was right along with them. . . . To me the Beatles didn’t mean that much initially.” Eventually, though, his relationship to the Fab Four's music changed, starting with “Abbey Road.” In this wide-ranging conversation, Oates tells the story of a fateful eviction, the impact producer Arif Mardin had on Hall & Oates, his recent solo work, what kind of neighbor Hunter S. Thompson was, and which Beatles song he'd want with him on a desert island. 
November 17, 2020
Episode 4: "Rent" star Adam Pascal on the most dangerous Beatle, his favorite Fab Four song, and the future of Broadway
Broadway star Adam Pascal is a serious Beatles fan — he even named his son Lennon. On this episode of "Everything Fab Four," host Kenneth Womack talks to the artist who originated the role of Roger in Broadway's "Rent"  about what early Beatles music had in common with show tunes, how John Lennon brought an element of danger into the innocence, and even the brilliance of Barry Manilow.
October 29, 2020
Episode 3: Judy Collins on how the Beatles' "In My Life" changed her life and career
Judy Collins is a Grammy Award-winning American singer and songwriter with an eclectic recording career spanning over 60 years that includes folk, rock, pop and show tunes. Primarily known as a folk singer until 1966, she began branching out to include other sounds with her album In My Life, in which she "took a flying leap" and recorded a cover of the eponymous Beatles song, which pushed her career to new directions and heights. In this episode, Judy and Ken talk about her long working relationship with Elektra Records, how she first fell in love with the Beatles' music, and some personal stories, like the time her friend Linda called her for advice on dating a rock star, a guy named Paul McCartney. 
October 20, 2020
Episode 2: Michael Des Barres on his Beatles obsession and the "absolute shift" they created in rock 'n roll
"England needed heroes ... these four kids came out of the rubble of World War 2 and changed the world": On this episode of "Everything Fab Four" Ken and his guest Michael Des Barres go deep into the Beatles' cultural roots, plus his personal story of discovering the Beatles at 16 — at a concert filmed by the BBC. Michael Des Barres is a true polymath — a hit songwriter ("Obsession"), a dynamic frontman (supergroup Power Station, notably their 1985 Live Aid performance), and a versatile character actor with dozens of big- and small-screen credits to his name, including recurring roles on "Melrose Place" and "MacGuyver." He currently hosts "The Michael Des Barres Program" on Little Steven's Underground Garage, SiriusXM channel 21. NOTE: This episode contains some colorful language; listener discretion is advised. 
October 06, 2020
Episode 1: Steve Lukather (Toto, Ringo's All Starr Band) on how the Beatles changed his life
Steve Lukather is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and the sole continuous founding member of the rock group Toto. He also plays with Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band. In this first episode of "Everything Fab Four," host Kenneth Womack talks to Steve about how he discovered the Beatles, how their music influenced his, his personal and professional relationship with Ringo Starr, and what it was like playing with George Harrison and Paul McCartney. NOTE: This episode contains some colorful language; listener discretion is advised. 
September 22, 2020
Introducing Everything Fab Four: Where everyone has a Beatles story to tell
Everything Fab Four is a podcast focused on fun and intelligent stories about the enduring cultural influence of the Beatles. No other band, or popular entity for that matter, has had the world-wide impact the Beatles have. They are part of our human fabric, they created music that still brings people together, and just about everyone has their own “Beatles story” to tell. In each episode, renowned music historian, Beatles scholar, and author Kenneth Womack will host a special guest to share theirs.  In Season 1, we'll hear from an eclectic slate of guests ranging from Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, who plays with Ringo's All-Star Band, and Hall & Oates co-founder John Oates to Broadway star Adam Pascal ("Rent") and genre-defying vocalist Dessa, member of the indie hip hop collective Doomtree.  These conversations will be guided by our host Kenneth Womack, who literally wrote the encyclopedia on the Beatles (The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four), as well as a two-volume study on producer George Martin, and the bestselling book Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles. Ken is also a regular music culture columnist for Salon.  Everything Fab Four is produced by Wonderwall Communications and distributed by Salon. Follow @ef4podcast on Twitter and Facebook.  You can also follow Ken on Twitter at @KennethAWomack and visit his website:  Like the theme music? Learn more about Blac Rabbit on Instagram at @blacrabbitband.
September 09, 2020