John Lennon’s autograph with the words, “Your friendly compére,” is rare. Add the autographs of George, Paul and Ringo on the same slip of paper — framed and authenticated by Frazer’s of London – and you have a valuable piece of Beatlemania. It hangs on a wall in Frank Lidinsky’s house with thousands of Beatle items.
“Collectors like to ‘one up’ each other,” said Lidinsky. “I can usually trump them with my ticket stub from the Beatles first appearance in Baltimore on September 13, 1964.”
Lidinsky’s fascination with the Beatles began when he was a student in the eighth grade at St. Wenceslaus School in East Baltimore. “Their music was so different than anything else on the radio.
The first song I heard was ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ and it went right to the top of the charts, knocking off ‘There! I’ve Said It Again,’ a ballad by Bobby Vinton,” said Lidinsky.
Sitting on an aluminum folding chair of cornflower blue in the center of his Beatles room, Lidinsky played “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand,” the Beatles recording of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in German. His twenty by twelve foot room has three lighted display cases, two book shelves and walls covered with 45’s, their sleeves, album covers, publicity shots, posters and the prized autographs with the infamous quote from Lennon.
Lidinsky said, “Everything is chronologically ordered and organized by me.” Though, he added, he did not know how many items he had collected.
The first authorized biography, The Beatles, by Hunter Davies, McGraw Hill, 1968, is one of many on the bookshelf. In a dark wooden hutch are miniature Beatles instruments, including one of Ringo’s drum set with the signature “Beatles” logo, and baby clothes that carry John Lennon’s name.
There is a check — never cashed for $.75 — on display from Apple Records. It is a refund for the dues Lidinsky paid as a member of the Beatles’ fan club. The check was sent to him when the Beatles disbanded in 1972. “I was a member of the fan club from its inception in 1964 until they no longer performed as a group and the fan club was dissolved,” he said.p>A lawyer in private practice, Lidinsky lives in Ruxton with his wife, Mary Carol, whom he describes as supportive of his obsession. “She liked the Beatles, but she wouldn’t have all twelve of their albums.” His children, Matthew and Beth, have grown up with the Beatles music and their father’s collection. Both are fans, according to their father.
In one of his display cases is a black and white photo of the crowd entering the Civic Center in 1964 and Lidinsky’s ticket stub. Neither of the Beatles’ shows that day was sold out, he explained. “There were probably ten thousand at each show, but you could still walk up to the Civic Center and buy a ticket. It was the most exciting day to be in Baltimore.” At the Civic Center, Lidinsky recalled, “I was outnumbered by screaming girls, ten to one.”
Lidinsky maintains that he never lost interest in the Beatles, “By the mid seventies, most guys were into The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones. I always remained loyal to the Beatles.”
Word spread about Lidinsky’s collection and young women who had outgrown the Beatles, offered their memorabilia to him. “I’ve been doing this for almost fifty years,” he said, holding the first magazine he purchased for 15 cents at a drug store before he saw the Beatles perform at the Civic Center.
Lidinsky had his photo taken on Abbey Road when he visited Britain in1972. “The people at Apple Records were very nice,” he said. “They were blasé about the Beatles, though. Their fascination was with Elvis!”
He invites “believers,” not tourists to see his collection and listen to the Beatles. Along with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in German and English, Lidinsky played “The Magical Mystery Tour” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” He reported that a member of the British House of Commons had come to visit. But not John, Paul, George or Ringo.
“I would love to show this to Paul or Ringo,” Lidinsky said. On the wall leading to the memorabilia room are collages of the newspaper coverage on the day George Harrison died. There is also a framed headline from The Baltimore Evening Sun: “Ex-Beatle Lennon Murdered in New York.”
“There is a Beatles museum in Liverpool,” Lidinsky said, sitting in a room that could possibly rival what is on display in Britain. “But none that I know of in the U.S.”