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Program at Cooper-Siegel Community Library to cover story of The Beatles

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Peter King prepares for his presentation about the Beatles at the Cooper-Siegel Library in Fox Chapel.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Peter King prepares for his presentation about the Beatles at the Cooper-Siegel Library in Fox Chapel.

Aspinwall lecturer Peter King wants to hold your hand through a musical lesson of The Beatles' American breakthrough and the band's top three critically acclaimed albums.

It was nearly 50 years ago that Beatlemania became full-blown with the band's iconic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

King, a teacher and performer, will celebrate the legacy of the “Fab Four” with a presentation from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at Cooper-Siegel Community Library along Fox Chapel Road.

Headlined by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Liverpool-based band first hit it big in the United States with its No. 1 hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in December 1963.

Ringo Starr and George Harrison rounded out the foursome.

“The group rocketed to unimaginable success, forever altering the course of popular music,” said King, who has taught courses on The Beatles at the University of Pittsburgh.

In a matter of just two years, from 1965 to 1967, the band released three albums that are generally regarded as their best, King said. They are “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” and “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“Anyone can argue about what their best recording is, but the critical consensus falls on these,” he said.

King's afternoon course will focus on these landmark albums and help audience members understand “why they still sound catchy, innovative and even profound almost a half-century after they were made.”

King earned his master's degree in guitar performance from Duquesne University and has worked as a pop and jazz music critic, as well as having released two CDs. He will perform an acoustic gig at 9 p.m. Dec. 14 at Aspinwall's Tavern in the Wall along Commercial Avenue.

He regards himself a Beatles authority on many counts: growing up with the music, performing it over the past five decades, teaching about it, and undertaking “a tremendous amount of research.”

He said people still hold the music in esteem partly because of nostalgia but more so because it stands the test of time.

“They were talented and they worked like dogs,” he said.

They were a live band that played “every dive in Liverpool” for many years before turning to the recording studio and managing to manipulate the newest technology, King said.

He plans to take the audience through a guided tour of some recordings, as well as play live guitar examples to explore the synergy between Lennon and McCartney, the role of producer George Martin, the cultural currents of the 1960s and the complex personalities behind the songs.

“I want to lead people back to the recordings, the LPs as they were called, and have them listen with more informed ears,” he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

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