Back in the early 1990s, when he worked as an editor for an ABC television pilot, Ron Seifried struck a kind of gold. While he visited one of the producers, she showed him a framed gold record (John Lennon’s 1975 “Shaved Fish”) in her husband’s recording studio in upstate New City. The record had been awarded to Wayne “Tex” Gabriel, the producer’s husband, who played lead guitar with John Lennon in 1972. Gabriel showed Seifried around the studio and five years later made the gift of a lifetime as a thank you for Seifried’s production work on various projects.
Gabriel gave Seifried 30 minutes of remastered, never released recordings on CD of John Lennon playing at Butterfly Studios in Manhattan in 1972, including an electric-guitar version of “Working Class Hero,” a kind of gold in the world of Beatles collecting.
“John’s voice is clear and confident. He was planning to tour with Wayne and the Elephant’s Memory band,” said Seifried, 52, of Huntington. “They rehearsed it for a possible live performance, but for some reason decided not to perform it in their many appearances in 1972.”
It is now more than 50 years since Paul McCartney in 1970 announced the Beatles’ breakup, but for fans like Seifried, it might as well be like the Beatles’ song, “Yesterday.” Siefried has been collecting Beatles discography and memorabilia most of his life, starting young and getting more serious, amassing small and big finds.
“When I met Ron, he was already a Beatles collector. It was one of the things we bonded over,” said his wife, Anne Seifried, also 52. “There’s always a Beatles song for any mood. It’s become the background music for our life together.”
“Ron is a true collector and an encyclopedia of knowledge about Beatles and post Beatles,” said Stefan Adler, 73, who lives in upstate Cornwall and whose Beatles collection includes replicas of guitars used by the band. “I kid Ron that he should go on “Jeopardy!” and hope the category is the Beatles.”
Thus began a 35-year hunt for recordings of unreleased tracks, demos, live performances, interviews and guest appearances. If any one of The Beatles performed on someone’s else’s album, Seifried would seek it out. “I was fascinated by how quickly they evolved,” he said.
He saw how the Beatles influenced pop culture beyond music, impacting how people dressed and expressed themselves — and making their memorabilia even more appealing. “They influenced fashion, their haircuts, the way they thought and spoke,” Seifried said. “And the music was mind-blowing.”
As Seifried aged, so did the band’s remaining former members. Before he went to work on a Friday in November 2001, Seifried learned George Harrison had died. “I took a day off from work and listened to only George Harrison music all day,” he said.
He has heard Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr each perform half a dozen times and met Pete Best, The Beatles drummer for two years, at a signing at The Book Revue in Huntington. “He was a nice guy,” Seifried said. “He was more of an outsider, only showing up for the gig and almost never spending down time with John, Paul or George.”