Once famous for his presentations for the long-standing, clue-riddled rumor of Paul McCartney's death, Beatles expert and Delaware native Joel Glazier will discuss the history and impact of the Fab Four Sunday afternoon in Smyrna.
There are people in the world who see connections everywhere they go. For Joel Glazier, almost all connections can be traced back to The Beatles.
As a retired history teacher—He taught for more than 28 years—he still loves dissecting and discussing the context of major events. But, his filter now, as it always was, is the musical catalogue of the Fab Four: John Lennon, Paul McCartney Ringo Starr and George Harrison, known collectively as The Beatles.
Over the years, Glazier's made a name for himself, at home and abroad, as a Beatles expert. This Sunday afternoon, he'll take that expertise to Smyrna to "teach" a couple of lessons on "The History and Impact of The Beatles" thanks to a free cultural lecture series sponsored by Benchmark Builders.
The discussion will take place in The Village of Eastridge, a new 55-plus community in Smyrna. George Stewart, one of the event organizers explained that the series is a celebration of Benchmark's silver anniversary and a continuation of the sort of community outreach that the company likes to do. There's no charge for the event and while people will be allowed to tour the home or get information about the amenities within the community, it's not a hard sell for home ownership.
"People will certainly be able to tour the model home but you don't have to," Stewart explained. "If you just want to see Joel [Glazier], that's OK, too. Either way, you get to have a good experience with the new development."
Stewart has known Glazier since the mid-70's when they attended the University of Delaware together.
"His enthusiasm is infectious," Stewart said. "And, he's got a lot of stories."
Stewart is right. The stories spill out of Glazier as easily and casually as most people talk about the weather. But, it's not just a topic he's interested in. It's his life.
"In My Life"
"I'm 61," Glazier explained. "Therefore, I was in the seventh grade when The Beatles came to America in February 1964 for the Ed Sullivan Show. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. People had been mourning and it was a dark time for the country. When they arrived, it was something new and fresh and an opportunity for Americans to start to put the gloom of the time behind them."
He slips in and out of anecdotes. When asked about the influence of the Beatles, Glazier says that "if any band today doesn't acknowledge them, they're not being honest." That statement launches him into the litany of "first and onlys" that he says only The Beatles can claim: they were the first popular singer-songwriters following an era of entertainers who sang the work and words of others; they performed the first major outdoor concert (held at Shea Stadium in New York City in 1965); They're the only band to hold the top five spots of the "Billboard Top 100" thanks to "Can't Buy Me Love," "Twist and Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "Please Please Me." It happened in 1964 and hasn't happened since.
The list of "firsts and onlys" spawns other revelations, too, about the culture of the time. He talks about the haircuts, the clothes. He talks about the excitement he felt waiting for the next Beatles record.
"I was the right age at the right time," Glazier said. "But, I do feel sorry for young people now. They don't get the excitement for the next Beatle record like we did."
His own age makes him think of the young people he regularly encounters as a speaker with the Delaware Humanities Forum. He visits schools and can interject the Beatles into almost any lesson plan.
"Science, history, English. You name it," Glazier said with a laugh. "The lyrics are pure poetry so that's the English lessons a lot of the time. The history lessons are probably obvious."
For the science lessons, he said that he's used "Yellow Submarine" and other songs to spark a dialogue about everything from marine vocabulary and the nurturing effects of sunlight to the entire cycle of the day.
And, while countless students likely remember him as a teacher or a fun guest speaker, elsewhere in the world, his "15 minutes of fame" began with his detailed explanations and presentations of the long-standing, clue-riddled rumor of Paul McCartney's death. That's a separate presentation, though.
Some of his most relatable stories are the brief encounters he got to have with the musicians. He was lucky enough to see the band perform in Philadelphia in 1966, the last year they toured together. He later met three of them in London while on a University of Delaware-sponsored history trip.
"I was a typical Beatle fan and told my friends, 'Let's go to Abbey Road to recreate the photo on the album cover," Glazier said, as he recreated the moment that he saw McCartney riding bikes with his wife at the time, Linda, and two of their children. He met Starr and Harrison later, at another location.
"Ringo was very charming and I was just in awe of George," Glazier said.
His encounter with Lennon was stateside, just up the road in Philadelphia.
"John was in Philly to help with a benefit," Glazier said. "He was doing a radio interview and would come outside and sign autographs and pose for pictures. He was the most friendly by far. Paul was the least. Not that Paul wasn't nice. He was. But, John was definitely the nicest."
Glazier doesn't have a website and Beatles fans won't find his lectures on YouTube. He prefers live interaction in an intimate setting to the impersonal nature of the internet, saying that his presentations aren't formal or stuffy. And, while he's obviously passionate about The Beatles, he insists he's "not a nut," adding that Sunday's discussion will feel like a "trip down memory lane for most people."
"I love this," Glazier said in reference to the lectures and discussions he's given all over the country and the world, including the annual Beatles Fans Convention in Liverpool, England. "It's been one happy little magic mystery tour."