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Beatlemania revisited: ‘Eight Days a Week’ documents band’s tours around the world

The Beatles have a place in pop culture and music history.

And the documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” focuses on the Fab Four’s career from 1962 to 1966.

The film explores how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon.

It reveals their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together.

The Beatles began touring Europe in late 1963, after an extraordinary arrival on the British scene in 1961 and ’62. However, it was their much-heralded “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance on February 9, 1964, that caused the band’s popularity to explode.

By June, the band had commenced its first world tour, and it continued on a relentless schedule for two subsequent years.

By the time the Beatles stopped touring in August 1966, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities around the world. The cultural phenomenon their touring helped create, known as Beatlemania, was something the world had never seen before and laid the foundation for the globalization of culture.

The film will air at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, on New Mexico PBS.

Sam Okell worked on the film, and I caught up with him by telephone while he was working at Abbey Road Studios.

Okell is a senior engineer at Abbey Road Studios and worked on the documentary. In fact, he’s worked on all the Beatles’ films over the past couple of years.

“My job was to make the old recordings sound great for cinema,” he says. “Amazingly, there are only a couple shows where there are multiple recordings. They did three-track recordings. Many of the sources are very bad quality, and it was a lot of work to try and top those live performances.”

Okell worked with the material for nearly three months.

Like many others, he grew up listening to the Beatles’ music.

“They have an amazing catalog,” he says. “I’ve been working with their music for a long time. I worked on ‘Sgt. Pepper’ for the anniversary, and it was about taking the songs and making them sound modern, all while not changing the genius of it all. My job in the projects is trying to make it a better listening experience.”

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