Book: The Beatles in Perspective
Chapter: 2. Notes on The Beatles from a Black Liverpudlian Perspective
‘The Beatles are a very important element in showing how the best of white musicianship has been influenced by African American musical heritage’, Mark Christian importantly points out. In addition to publishing extensively on Africana Studies from both sociological and cultural studies perspectives, Christian (born in Liverpool in 1961) teaches undergraduate courses on The Beatles and has conducted tours of Liverpool for US visitors. In this online interview, Mark Christian reflects on the personal, musical and historical significance of The Beatles in his life and work. As a member of one of Liverpool’s most distinguished musical families, and whose brothers formed the band The Christians, the author details here some of the many important links between The Beatles and Liverpool’s various Black music scenes. Our discussion encompasses tourism in Liverpool; the value of listening to The Beatles’ work chronologically; and the question of whether the band are over-rated. Most importantly however, Christian emphasizes the frequently overlooked influence of African American country/soul singer-songwriter Arthur Alexander on The Beatles. Taking Alexander’s legacy as just one starting point for such discussion, Christian points out: ‘It is incredible how racism impinges on this history of a band, yet so much is owed from them to Black music’. Christian also shares memories of knowing Harold Phillips (Lord Woodbine) during the later years of the Trinidadian-Liverpudlian musician’s eventful life.