British Beatles Fan Club Review
DIARY OF A BEATLEMANIAC
By Patricia Gallo-Stenman, Cynren Press, October 2018
Diary of a BEATLEMANIAC is exactly what the title says. Author Patricia Gallo-Stenman was one of the thousands of American girls who were the right age and in the right place when Beatlemania reached the USA. Like countless other girls, she recorded events and her feelings from those years in diary format. But, unlike those other girls, her diary and her story are special. Special because Patricia, or Patti as she was called then, was a budding journalist and she was more intrepid than most. Her diary entries were more than “I love Paul” declarations. Living in Philadelphia, she and her group of her Beatle girlfriends parlayed their intense desire to meet the Beatles into something more. Patti and her friend Diane were bold in their efforts, reaching out to newspapers to get press passes, for example. That boldness led to an invitation to write a weekly column for teenagers on everything from the Beatles and other pop groups to new trends, fashion and celebrity gossip. They are surprisingly well informed. They read international magazines and had contacts through their pen friends around the world. One very important contact was actor Victor Spinetti. I won’t spoil the story by telling how that life-long friendship was formed, but if you want something, be bold and be creative. It may not work, but it certainly will not happen if you don’t try. Patti’s diary entries, including newspaper clippings about the Beatles or about Patti and her friends, make up most of the book. Many of her and Diane’s ‘Teen to Teen’ newspaper columns are also included. The entries span from December 1962 to November 1967. Through Patti’s eyes we see her mature and transform from a love-struck 13-year-old to a more realistic but still Beatle-loving 18-year-old starting on her own path at university. The diary entries set the context of the times with reference to the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War. They also cover the less weighty topics of the stresses of school, anticipation of what comes next after high school and how to get a date to the prom. Larry Kane, the American journalist who accompanied The Beatles on their 1974 and 1965 tours, wrote the foreword to the book. The end of the book contains interviews Patti did in the early 2000s with two of the people she befriended as a teen - Victor Spinetti and Hy Lit, a famous local DJ from Philly. Hy Lit has an interesting connection to The Beatles. There are coloured photos throughout, although none of the Beatles. I admit when I received the book I questioned how a teen diary could hold my attention for 200 pages, but I was proved wrong. Even though I was not old enough during the 60s to be a Beatlemaniac, when I did discover them in the 70s, I was hooked. Reading her diaries, I saw reflections of the same phases that I went through but to a lesser degree because the Beatles were no longer a group that we could see perform or could chase after. Beatle fans everywhere will enjoy getting a first-hand look at what Beatlemania in the USA looked like from the eyes of a teen girl living it.
For more information, visit the author’s web site: https://diaryofabeatlemaniac.com/The book is available on Amazon as a paperback or eBook. You can also buy it from the publisher at www.cynren.comMichele Copp
Ugly Things Magazine, Spring 2019.
Review by Steve Matteo.
DIARY OF A BEATLEMANIAC: A FAB INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE BEATLES ERA by Patricia Gallo-Stenman (Cynren Press, 2018; 202 pages)
This book is an affectionate and heartfelt look back at a Philadelphia teen’s love affair with the Beatles in the ‘60s. As the group evolves through the ‘60s, so does our young narrator. The author transports us to a simpler time and brings to life the effect the group had in America in the mid-‘60s. The book also reflects the author’s friendship with actor Victor Spinetti and legendary Philly Top-40 Dj Hy Lit.
5-star review of Diary of a Beatlemaniac from Foreword Reviews, published in the July/August 2018 issue:
There are many books about the Beatles and Beatlemania: books about the origins and history of the band, how they became so successful, and even what it was like inside the bubble of stardom. Patricia Gallo-Stenman’s Diary of a Beatlemaniac adds to the library of Beatles literature with its truly unique perspective of a young girl whose rabid enthusiasm was characteristic of a specific slice of the fandom.
The diary begins just before the British Invasion, and rings with the melodramatic and melancholic pining of a young girl for the superstars she idolized. Gallo-Stenman and her friends stood in line for hours to see the Fab Four, obsessing over teen magazines and bubble-gum trading cards, and they were quick to despise any woman that a band member dated.
The diary goes a long way in explaining who the screaming, fainting young women seen in old footage of Beatles concerts were, and why they were so overcome. It is also a wonderful firsthand account of what it was like to witness this specific period in music history.
Gallo was clearly a precocious young woman. A good student, she helped to found the fan club of Victor Spinetti, a friend of the Beatles who appeared in the Beatles movies. She also wrote a column for a Philadelphia newspaper that focused on music, fashion, and other topics of interest to teens. Perhaps most significant here is not what made her Beatlemaniac, but how being a Beatlemaniac helped her grow up.
This is an enjoyable, interesting perspective on the time and culture in which Beatlemania flourished. It demonstrates very clearly that the young girls who were the most devoted fans were not so different from any other teens, and that their devotion and passion could be healthy and even helpful in the process of growing up.
CATHERINE THURESON (July/August 2018)
5-Star Review on Net Galley:
Diary of a Beatlemaniac reads very much like a diary, with epistolary entries detailing a person’s life. The major interest for me with this book was its focus on popular culture and fandom. I am happy to report it is an interesting and entertaining read about music culture and the ways we can become enthralled with media personalities.
5-Star Review on Net Galley:
What a great read! I was hooked from page one! Loved the book!
Review by Daniel on http://www.lookingforagoodbook.com :
Fandom … of any sort, really … looks pretty much the same, no matter what the generation or what the object of a fan’s interest might be.
Patricia Gallo-Stenman, now an adult, spent her teenage years keeping a diary which chronicled her fanaticism for all things Beatles, as well as the typical teen-girl musings on subjects such as boys, school, and parents. Ms. Gallo-Stenman would go on to become a staff writer for a Philadelphia newspaper and, despite a teenager’s anxiety that it wouldn’t happen, a responsible adult and parent.
Gallo-Stenman (then simply Gallo) was a teen attending a Catholic high school where the strict nuns did not want to see anything Beatles in the school – even inside the lockers – and so the girls got pretty good at hiding their memorabilia. Reading through the teenager’s complaints about nun strictness and enthusiasm for the lads from Liverpool, one can’t help but see the plight of teen girls everywhere – those who came before the Fab Four, and those fighting through adolescence today.
Where Gallo deviates, perhaps, from the ‘norm’ is her drive and push to find ways to get close to the Beatles, beyond becoming part of a mob of screaming girls outside a hotel or concert hall. Though she and a friend or two are clever enough to hide out at the back entrance to said hotels and concert halls, it’s to no avail. But when she learns that Victor Spinetti (an actor who appeared with The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night) is performing in a stage production in town, she meets with him after the show and a life-long friendship with the personable performer develops (and she becomes the head of his own fan club). He provides her with insight and autographs of the lads when he works with them (on Help! and Magical Mystery Tour).
In addition to her diary writing, Gallo pens a column for teens for the local paper, going beyond just news about The Beatles but sharing tips about a lot of pop culture that teens could find interesting.
There were a few moments when I was almost embarrassed reading this personal reflection and I thought how brave Gallo is to put her younger self on display this way. But again, although this book is billed and sold as an insider’s look at being a ‘Beatlemaniac’ it really does address the adolescent’s desire to find ones path – to see a world bigger and beyond the home. It is interesting to read her slow discovery that maybe she and Paul McCartney never really will meet, date, and marry. The young teen sees it as a hope, a dream, but the older teen begins to see that it was a dream that never would be.
As a book with a connection to the Beatles, it was definitely interesting. As a book that examines teenage social interest and anxiety, it is tremendous. Together it is a really fun read with some nostalgia.
Looking for a good book? Diary of a Beatlemaniac by Patricia Gallo-Stenman is a wonderful read on a variety of levels: Beatles, sociology, history, memoir.
Review by David Bedford, Beatles Author and Historian from Liverpool, England:
Patricia's book is a diary, which enables the reader to follow her story, including her romantic attachment to Prince Charles! It is a fascinating story that we follow as she talks about discovering The Beatles, first on record and then in person. For a Brit, it is especially enlightening to get a glimpse into Beatlemania in the States. What I particularly loved was her Beatle-Buddies trying to learn English/Liverpool slang. Gear! There are so many highlights, including the features on Victor Spinetti and Hy Lit. A great read!
The February 2019 issue of online book review magazine "Small Press Bookwatch" features a review of "Diary of a Beatlemaniac".
At the helm of the rock n roll phenomenon that took over 60s pop music, the Beatles defined the Swinging Sixties and were at the forefront of the British music invasion.
Offering fun and unique insights into the famous musicians and entertainers associated with the Beatles, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Victor Spinetti, and Hy Lit, through interviews and vignettes, and driven by the frenzy of fan clubs, Beatles concerts, and endless dreams and meeting schemes, Patricia Gallo-Stenman's "Diary of a Beatlemaniac: A Fab Insider's Look at the Beatles Era" romps through the heady, roller-coaster days of Beatlemania as seen through the eyes of one Philadelphia schoolgirl and her band of 'Beatle Buddies.'
Compiled from Patricia's own diary and extensive scrapbooking, this extraordinary and nicely illustrated slice of life peeks into the heart of an inner-city teen at the forefront of Beatlemania. For Beatlemaniacs of any age, Patricia's extensively detailed account offers a unique glimpse into the groovy days of the Swinging Sixties and the chance to relive the magic of the pop-culture phenomenon called the Beatles.
Critique: "Diary of a Beatlemaniac: A Fab Insider's Look at the Beatles Era" by Patricia Gallo-Stenman is the personal and deftly scripted memoir of 1960s era musicology and a must-read for music fans in general, and those interested in Beatles history in particular. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American Popular Music History collections, it should be noted for the personal lists of Beatles fans, students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "Diary of a Beatlemaniac" is also available in a digital book format.
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