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Interview: Chuck Gunderson on his epic book chronicling the Beatles U.S. tours

Introduction: Chuck Gunderson is the author of a brand-new two-volume book, “Some Fun Tonight” that documents in amazing detail the Beatles' American tours. The book contains pictures, documents and interviews that tell the complete story of what happened during their visits to the U.S. We asked Chuck some questions about his book. (And you can see a great selection of photos from the book in the slideshow on this page.)

"Some Fun Tonight!" author Chuck Gunderson.
Courtesy Chuck Gunderson
The cover of "Some Fun Tonight!," Volume 2.
Chuck Gunderson

Q: What made you decide to undertake such a massive project as "Some Fun Tonight"?Chuck Gunderson: “I have always been interested in the Beatles as a live touring band. They didn't hone their craft in the early days at recording studios but on stages, large and small around the world. Mark Lewisohn was my biggest inspiration when his landmark book 'The Beatles Live!' was released. I liked how he charted every concert they ever performed, and it was a great reference to me and still is. I decided with my book to concentrate on the three North American tours from 1964 to 1966 and fill it to the brim with detail about every city they played in North America. Details include all the background negotiations in booking the city, interviews with promoters, DJ's, fans and those that staged the concerts for NEMS and their American partner, General Artists Corporation. Along with the story from each city, the books are also chock full of photos, many never before published and images of rare memorabilia and documents. That's why it took two volumes to put everything in, I didn't want to short the fans. The two books consist of 616 pages and over 800 images all in a high-quality printing format!”

Q: How long did it take?
Chuck Gunderson: “It took me about eight years, the last two being almost non-stop!”

Q: How hard was it uncovering all the photos and artifacts pictured in the book?
Chuck Gunderson: “The process was incredibly difficult and frustrating at times, but when I found images, documents and memorabilia that I had never seen it was exhilarating! Had the Beatles toured in the social media age we would have known their every move and seen everything, but unfortunately much of the information about a stop they made in a city is sparse in terms of newspaper reports. That's why I had to interview the promoters, DJ's, fans and even some of the Beatles inner circle that toured with them. Sadly, many photos have either been stolen or lost over the years for some cities, but luckily I went deeper into some archives that some librarians were surprised they even had! They hadn't been touched in years.”

Q: What was the most interesting thing you found?
Chuck Gunderson: “I found the entire 1964 tour planning file that belonged to Brian Epstein. The file included several working documents and letters that was presented to Brian by Norman Weiss the VP for General Artists Group that booked the tour. ALL the documents are pictured in the book, and one page there is a suggestion by Norman Weiss for the Beatles to play Shea Stadium on Sept. 13, 1964, a year before Epstein committed the band to play Shea on Aug. 15, 1965. Also, my respect for Brian Epstein increased immensely because he turned down huge venues and guarantees that were offered in 1964 and must have been extremely tempting. Brian, to his credit, chose mid-size arenas and amphitheaters that averaged about 12,000 fans. The strategy paid off as it left American fans hungering for more in 1965.”

Q: Who took the photos in the book?
Chuck Gunderson: “Everyone from GAC Tour manager, Bob Bonis to various newspaper 'house photographers,' the Beatles own hired photographers, such as Curt Gunther and even from fans.”

Q: How can people get a copy?
Chuck Gunderson: “Bruce Spizer was an amazing mentor to me during the whole process of putting the book together. I decided to go his route by selling them directly off my web site You can pay with your credit card directly on the site, or even send me a check or money order from the address on the contact page. For self-published authors, like Bruce and I, simply takes too much and the author only gets 45% of the sale. It wouldn't cover the cost of the printing of my book because of all nice features I put in it – extra thick paper, spot varnish on the photos, just a beautiful work of art. Think of a Genesis book at less than half the price. The book is for the fans by a fan and I wanted to give a good value for the product. Simply put, a labor of love!”

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