Imagine a world without Beatles. That would be sad for most of us, for whom the Beatles are a symbol of a generation as well as the composers of some of the most-loved songs of our time, but it would be an absolute tragedy for Alex Bagirov, author of the new two-volume literary set "The Anthology of The Beatles Records."
Not only is Alex a collector of some 4,000 Beatles records, discs and items of memorabilia and the author of several books on them, but he is a virtual compendium of information about the Fab Four. What is astonishing is that he managed to collect much of it while living In the Soviet Union, where the authorities originally frowned on such "degenerate" music.
Indeed, as he waxes enthusiastic about his favorite band, it's easy to conclude that The Beatles are more than just musicians or singers for him. As symbols of an ideal world, they are no less than his mission. It all started, Alex says, in 1968, when at the age of 9, his father brought home a record called "A Musical Kaleidoscop," which was a sampler with different foreign rock and pop groups. One track was Beatles singing their famous song "Girl".
"Something happened to me," Bagirov explains. "I seemed to lose my mind, and I only woke up when the song ended. I have no words to explain what I felt. I was just a little guy, but "The Beatles" became my craze." To this day, "Girl" remains Alex's favorite Beatles song.
Collecting Beatles material in USSR wasn't easy, since most of it was bootleg in those days, but that didn't stop Beatles fans from seeking it out.
"You could buy unofficial photographs, which were very popular. There were a lot of people like me," he said.
Of cource, hardly any of the fans could understand the English lyrics, but it didn't really matter.
"I kept a lexicon," Bagirov says. "I think a lot of the young people of that generation learned English because of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
By the beginning of the '70s, some records began to appear in the Soviet Union with three or four songs on the each record. Step by step, The Beatles became more mainstream in the Soviet Union and gained more and more fans — even such unlikely fans as Brezhnev, according to Bagirov.
Bagirov studied languages and literature at university and then worked as an organizer of youth trips abroad, which gave him the opportunity to collect material overseas. By the '90s, the atmosphere had changed so much that Ringo Starr actually was invited to play in Russia. And recently, a street was named after John Lennon, to mark what would have been his 60th birthday.
In addition to owning a rich collection of Beatles records and books on Beatles, Bagirov has written two books on the Beatles in Russian. His first, "Beatles Forever," in 1989, became a best-seller (and actually was the very first book on Beatles in USSR) and his second, "Beatles — All My Loving" was published in Minsk (Belorussia) and pirated in two editions, totaling 300,000 copies!!!
By the way, Bagirov was drummer in a group called The Three Musketeers and also played saxophone and clarinet. He he always finds time to enjoy his beloved Beatles music.
"They sing about real feelings about real life. When you hear their songs, it's as if you're hearing about yourself. The themes are love, lonely people, friendship and misery — the things that touch people. I can't find music like the Beatles today," he said.
This book reflects the Alex's painstaking research of many Beatles records, also live performances, films and facts from the life of Fab Four.