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Norman Beatles experts focus on instruments



Among the speakers at The Beatles Weekend in Norman in February were author Andy Babiuk and collector Russ Lease.
Babiuk wrote the definitive book on The Beatles' instruments, "Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments, from Stage to Studio." Lease is one of the foremost collectors of the band's memorabilia.
While researching his book, Babiuk befriended surviving Beatle Ringo Starr after using photos to reassemble some of the drummer's original kits that were thought lost.
"He had no idea what he had (in storage). He was so happy that he invited me to visit him," Babiuk said.
Babiuk focused on their instruments because of the band's enormous musical legacy.
"We can study Chopin, Bach or Beethoven, and how they wrote their music," he said. "The Beatles are the pop icons of our time. A hundred years from now, Lennon and McCartney will be looked at as great writers of pop music."
Lease owns some of the items detailed in Babiuk's book, including the bass drum head Starr used during the band's legendary appearance on Ed Sullivan.
"Because of that one being the Sullivan head, it's the Holy Grail," he noted.
When it comes to the band's impact, Lease agrees with Babiuk.
"I think Lennon and McCartney will go down as the Bach and Beethoven of their generation," he said. "They're being taught in a serious, scholarly way." "Michael Franco

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