The Annotated Beatles Bibliography: Supporting tourism in Liverpool

Submitting Institution

Liverpool Hope University

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

This new resource is the world's first to consider the historiography surrounding the Beatles and Merseybeat. The work is an intrinsic part of the framework of Liverpool's Beatles-related tourism industry. The Beatles Story heritage attraction relies on this reference manual as an important tool for its guides and staff. The work has also been warmly welcomed as a vital addition to Liverpool's Beatles Heritage tourism by, the city's foremost tourist website. As such, the work has enriched the lives of those far beyond Liverpool Hope University, providing a comprehensive research scholarship reference resource for years to come, whilst positively contributing to heritage tourism in Liverpool (thence across the world) via its direct use within the industry.

Underpinning research

For decades prior to 2007, Dr Brocken, as a Beatles scholar, built-up an extensive knowledge of existing literature on the Beatles, compiling a working bibliography as part of his own research into the redaction criticism of popular music historiography. Redaction criticism involving Dr Brocken's expert consideration of contexts, biases and prevailing discourses surrounding contributed to the writing and publication of this `first-of-its-kind' text. A significant finding from the research and compilation of sources revealed a marked shift in Beatles-related literature and discourse prior to and following the death of John Lennon in 1980, namely the attitudes and portrayal of this musical icon. Brocken further strengthened his historiographical analysis with detailed annotations (2009), which resulted in a new publication (The Annotated Beatles Bibliography), and also a continued long-term annotation project. This research has created an important publication in its own right [1] and has also further enhanced on-going research into popular music redaction historiography, spurring on a relatively new and popular discourse. Beatles scholar Professor Ian Inglis (University of Northumbria) has stated that the bibliography: "is a long overdue and welcome guide to the flourishing — sometimes overwhelming — body of literature that continues to surround the Beatles. [...] Students and scholars of the group and its music will benefit hugely from the completion of Brocken and Davis's comprehensive project to present a logical and coherent catalogue of relevant texts. The annotations are objective and informative, the cross-references helpful, and the bibliography itself easy to use. [...] The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature will allow contemporary scholars and future historians to approach that landscape with confidence." Dr Simon Warner (Leeds University) states "This is going to be a very useful supporting text to Beatles Studies around the world. A great effort." Celebrated researcher (for Albert Goldman), novelist and Merseybeat Historian Ron Ellis states: "The Beatles were the catalyst to the social revolution of the 1960's and, as such, will be studied for generations to come as Shakespeare and the Brontes are today. This book by Michael Brocken and Melissa Davis is the signpost that every student, or indeed fan, of the group and Merseybeat has been waiting for. It will guide them around the minefield of information that is available, all of which has been evaluated by the authors. With regular supplements promised to keep abreast of the latest publications, The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature will be an indispensible research tool to guide readers through the thousands of articles, books and journals available worldwide." Liverpool's cultural ambassador Joe Flannery also endorses the text: "There is so much rumour and conjecture about the Beatles, now, the whole affair seems to me to be turning into a legend — in some cases I don't recognise myself anymore! This annotated bibliography will show how legends develop and hopefully will introduce the researcher to the methods we need to bring back history." Dr Ron Moy (Liverpool John Moores University) welcomed the text, stating "at last we now have a reference text that can actually be used by all. This will be a great addition to the popular music texts". Renowned publisher, academic, and writer Liz Thomson states that the work is: "A real labour of love and a monumental piece of research."

Nature of the research insights which relate to the impact claimed in the case study:
Brocken's developing research, which consisted of direct close reading, literary criticism, and extensive bibliographical compilation, was entirely unique, as before this research, an annotated bibliography did not exist. This unique annotated bibliography was therefore compiled not only with the historian's demand for accuracy, but also because there existed, a need for such a work within both the academic discipline of popular music studies and the broader fan-based contexts of Beatles historiography. The approach naturally revealed that texts concerning the group held certain historical and contextual significance in their own right (making texts unique or generic, desirable or highly collectable — or not as the case may be). Each annotation continues to place the production of all Beatles literature within social, political, and economic frames, each of which can provide important insights into authorial purpose and/or further contextual research.

This redaction-based methodology was first presented to others via previous publications such as Other Voices (2010) [2] and [3] `Was It Really Like That? `Rock Island Line' and the instabilities of causational popular music histories' (2006). A conference paper given at University of Liverpool (2007) [4] and visiting lectures such as in 2009 at University of Wolverhampton Musicology Research Seminars [5] first introduced the concept of the need for an annotated Beatles bibliography. Several broadcasts with BBC Radio Merseyside between 2009 and 2012 further disseminated the concepts. Such papers and presentations were of vital importance as a means to sustain and question the on-going research, broaden the public impact of the text, and further refine Brocken's Beatles literary knowledge of the past 20 years.

A supplement to The Beatles Bibliography will be published in both paper and ebook format during 2013/14. The first run of the bibliography has now sold-out in the US and the editorial board is also considering new technologies in the dissemination of the work. Further research by Dr Brocken has been integrated into the forthcoming bibliography supplement, which includes an extended essay based upon a colloquium paper delivered at the Open University London (2013), and a case study written with the Education Officer at The Beatles Story [6]. Brocken's research is to be further expanded into an ethnographic project and a music tourism conference at The Beatles Story (2014) and his new work Beatles People, Beatles Places (concerning the popular music heritage industry in Liverpool) is to be published by Ashgate in 2014.

References to the research

[1] Brocken, Michael and Melissa Davis (2012), The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature, Manitou Springs [USA]: The Beatle Works

[2] Brocken, Michael (2010), Other Voices, Farnham: Ashgate


[3] Brocken, Michael, (2006), `Was It Really Like That? `Rock Island Line' and the instabilities of causational popular music histories' in Popular Music History 1 / 2 (2006), London: Equinox


[4] 2007: `Liverpool's Performance Past: the hidden histories of parochial performance in 1930s Liverpool' at Soundscape, Heritage & Urban Regeneration, English Heritage/University of Liverpool 10 March

[5] 2009: VL at University of Wolverhampton Musicology Research Seminar.

[6] Shelley Ruck and Mike Brocken (2012), The Beatles and the University, GEM Case Studies Volume 10, ISSN 1759-6378. (GEM is Group for Education in Museums —

Details of the impact

Tourism in Liverpool:
The Beatles Story heritage tourist attraction uses the Bibliography as an important staff reference tool for historiographical accuracy concerning exhibitions; several independent tour guides in Liverpool use the work as a reference for veracity. The Education Officer at The Beatles Story states: "the bibliography is a material part of our pedagogy and an important aid to the intended outputs for The Beatles Story staff to be highly qualified in a subject specialist area [and is part of] the development of a varied learning programme which will be of direct benefit to visitors to The Beatles Story. The work is useful because via referencing so many texts it helps us in the Education Discovery Zone [for Primary Schools] to link into areas of the National Curriculum where the Beatles, the `60s etc is taught. Our informal methods directly link into several key stages of the National Curriculum"

The Beatles Story press release [Sept 2012] states how "in more recent years [The Beatles Story] has been extending its reach into the realms of informal education via an award winning interactive Discovery Zone. The creative curriculum at The Beatles Story allows teachers to choose how they develop studies around the Beatles, who have been long featured on the National Curriculum, and how studying the Beatles can be included in such areas as History, Music, Art, ICT, and Literacy.

Details of Beneficiaries:
Primary school groups using the Discovery Zone at the The Beatles Story tourist attraction (Liverpool) between July 2012 - June 2013 (from the date of the Bibliography's publication and use within the attraction) totals approximately 8198 via 186 separate school group visits. The total number of visitors to The Beatles Story (excl. Discovery Zone) totals approximately 232,977 between July 2012-June2013. All visitors to The Beatles Story, since the adoption of the Annotated Bibliography as a key informing resource in July 2012, have benefited from the new information and knowledge accessible through the tours as a result of Dr Brocken's research. Significant changes in professional approaches to tourism provision have taken place as a consequence of the bibliography. For example, a Liverpool-based Blue Badge guide states: "before the arrival of the bibliography I was occasionally at a loss as to which works I could recommend to visitors. This is not now the case and I use the bibliography on a daily basis. Before its arrival such provision was completely inadequate. I can honestly state that it has changed the way in which I give my tours." A Green Badge Guide in Liverpool concurs: "I was often a bit dumbfounded by what kind of books to recommend to visitors, but can point them in the right direction with the bibliography and can recommend some very specific texts by author — it's a boon and has altered the way in which I give a tour."

Impact and reach:
The senior editor of Libraries Unlimited reviewed the bibliography in ARBAonline, American Reference Books Annual 2013, and Recommended Reference Books for Small and Medium-Sized Libraries and Media Centers 2013, stating that "this first publication from a new publisher, The Beatles Works, focusing on the music, lives, and contributions of the four members of The Beatles provides an authoritative bibliography of works published about The Beatles. [...] In over 600 pages the authors have listed nearly 3,000 entries of books, academic journal papers, special issues, and newspapers and magazine articles written by music scholars about this trailblazing band. [...] Overall, this guide serves an invaluable tool for navigating through the vast amount of material written on The Beatles, from early in their careers to their relevance today. [...] It is obvious that the authors took on this project as a labor of love but also because they recognized a need in the field for a comprehensive, scholarly resource that ties all of the literature on The Beatles together for the fan as well as serious scholar."

Record Collector magazine reviewed the text: "The problem that RC's book pages face is that they could be filled to the brim each month with assessments of publications about the Fab Four. They are endless. This one is different, however, and does a lot of the work for the interested reader. Brocken and Davis' excellent and exhaustive effort tracks down around 3,000 written works about The Beatles — everything from academic papers to articles — and tells you exactly what they are, sometimes in considerable detail.

Goldmine magazine (USA — circulation approx 20,000 plus web) awarded the Bibliography five stars in Sept 2013: "[this is] a beyond thorough tome. The authors are true Beatles scholars [...] a must-own."

Quote from "[...] For Beatles scholars and fans who want to decide which Beatles books to read, and which to avoid, it is an investment that will pay for itself. Brocken and Davis have done the tough research work, so that you don't have to waste valuable time and money on books you do not want. It is an informative and interesting addition to the ever-expanding Beatles book industry, and one that will be appreciated by anyone with more than a passing interest in The Beatles."

Key popular music blogs and reviewers on Amazon have also warmly welcomed the work. Discussions are currently taking place concerning the possibility that brochure production with summaries from the bibliography will be handed to visitors in order to follow up on their tour experience. It has also been suggested that a mobile phone app summarising significant bibliography annotations could be used to compliment the tours provided.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Education officer at The Beatles Story and writer of THE BEATLES STORY PRESS RELEASE, September 2012
  2. Bluer Badge Guide for Fab Tours.
  3. Green Badge Guide, The Beatles Story.
  4. Visiting Fellow, University of Northumbria.
  5. Popular Music Lecturer, University of Leeds, rock's backpages review author.
  6. Review author for Record Collector magazine review:
  7. Review author for Goldmine magazine.
  8. Senior editor of Libraries Unlimited, (division of ABC-Clio).
  9. Review author for
  10. Managing Director of The Beatle Works US. Interviews given on The Beatle Examiner radio, Breakfast with the Beatles radio, Goldmine — `Every Little Thing' interview.