What is it like to be a fan in 2021? Or to be an artist with a fan club?
Listening to 1960s international Beatles covers last week got me thinking about how mop-top fever spread across the world. And how Brian Epstein recruited Liverpudlian uberfan, 17 year-old Freda Kelly, to be the secretary for the band’s new fanclub home in Liverpool. A bit of a cottage industry: neither of them could have suspected how that job would grow.
Freda had a wide variety of tasks. For example, one fan sent her a pillowcase, asked her to get Ringo to use it for one night and then post it back.
Fast forward to the present. I don’t think BTS get sent my pillowcases.
In April 2020, K Pop boyband SuperM sold over 75,000 tickets to 109 countries for a live-streamed arena concert. A new Korean company, Beyond Live, are developing this new product. When performing live BTS speak in five different languages. The Beatles did rather well in German and French.
Here’s @deramdaze commenting on the difference between Xmas 1963 and April 2021:
”I think we can all agree that fame has changed.
It seems mighty strange that on a forum where people (largely men) live and breathe pop music 24/7 most of us have never heard of BTS, an act considered successful and famous beyond comprehension.
UK… Christmas 1963… two TV channels… the delivery of a daily newspaper commonplace to most households in the UK… unless you’re a farmer 50 miles from Inverness who lives with his pet sheep, Alan, there is NO WAY you haven’t heard of The Beatles.
I’m sorry, not possible.”
First an historical perspective: who was the first person to have serious, hardcore fans? Charles Dickens? Rudolph Valentino? Liszt? Rasputin?
Not quite so popular in the internet age, there are or have been fan clubs for everything. (Incidentally, were there ever any teenagers in the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub? None these days! It’s all gnarled old geezers sitting the pub nursing a pint of 50 shillings.)
Bright pink popstar Mr Blobby had a club. Rather a niche interest.
Blue Peter still have one. Looking for that led me to a clip where BP presenters talk about the racism they have experienced. Do they still make stuff out of bog rolls and old Fairy liquid bottles? Do they have a dog still?
The fans have progressively got much younger.
Feist, Stevie Wonder, Jason Mraz, Ray Charles, Katy Perry, Cab Calloway, Diana Ross have all appeared on Sesame Street, reaching the show’s 77 million viewers
More recently, Flaming Lips, Jack Black, the Ting Tings, the Roots etc, have appeared on pre-school show Yo Gabba Gabba.( In my day that would have been like the Crazy World of Arthur Brown or the Grateful Dead making a guest appearance on Ivor the Engine. Shame it didn’t happen really! Fire and Casey Jones would have been perfect listening for Jones the Steam and Dai Station.)
And fans have got progressively older and far richer. Modern Metallicaheads, for example can have serious money to spend. In one episode of Billions, Bobby Axelrod buys his pals VIP tickets to see Metallica and flies them to Canada in his private jet.
Some questions for you.
Were you ever or are you now in a fan club? Was it perhaps one that you now regret?
Do you have any fan paraphernalia or dusty memorabilia up in your attic? It could be worth serious money now. How I wish I still had my bright pink Pinky and Perky single. Worth a small fortune on the Japanese collectables market.
Do you have contact with your favourites on social media? Nowadays we can have direct contact with our idols. Cheery pop stars like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison can’t wait to meet their fans on-line for a natter.
Finally, what are your favourite films, (documentaries or drama) about fandom?
Or how about songs about being a fan?
I’ll kick off with Almost Famous. One of my fave music films
Or how about Detroit Rock City? I am not KISS fan, but this is a very entertaining road movie about a group of fans on their way to a concert.
Please post your answers to me at: Walrus Fatdad, 13 Penny Lane, Beatlesville, Rutland
Don’t forget to enclose an s.a.e. so that I can send you a signed photo of Mr Blobby.