An Interview with the Rock & Roll Detective
By Bob Wilson
Jim Berkenstadt spends his time pulling the gum from his shoe, and takes us on tours solving mysteries working his ‘magic’. People have often asked who the 5th Beatle is, and drummer Jimmie Nicol is an appropriate answer as any.
In The Beatle Who Vanished (2013), Jim hashed out the story of Ringo’s temporary replacement on the Beatles first major tour. Nicol’s story is fascinating, and a film is in the works based on the book. The Rock & Roll Detective gave us some insights on what to expect.
Tell us about Jimmie Nicol, and The Beatle Who Vanished.
The Beatle Who Vanished is the first historical account of Jimmie Nicol, an unknown drummer whose journey from humble beginnings to saving The Beatles’ first world tour from disaster, was only one part of his legend. Though his 13 days of fame made headlines around the world, the true mystery of Nicol’s story is riddled with blacklisting, betrayal, drugs, divorce, bankruptcy and an eventual disappearance that led many to question whether he is dead or alive.
Butch Vig, drummer in the band Garbage and producer of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Paul McCartney, and many more had this to say about the book: “This is a fascinating and mysterious must read for hardcore fans, and anyone who wants to understand the meteoric rise to pop stardom and the subsequent crash landing.”
How did the upcoming film based on The Beatle Who Vanished come about, and who is involved?
Alex Orbison (Roy Orbison’s son) was looking at his Roy Orbison Facebook page one day and a fan had shared one of my posts about Jimmie Nicol. Orbison, a drummer himself who has seen a number of fleeting fame stories in Nashville, became intrigued. He told his buddy Ashley Hamilton (son of George Hamilton), a great singer, who had also experienced the ups and downs of the entertainment industry. Both guys ordered the book and read it. They loved it and thought it would make a great movie. So, one day out of the blue, I got an email from their attorney inquiring if I would be interested in optioning the rights to the book for a movie. The rest is history. They have just made a deal with a studio and the film is moving to pre-production this year. Once more information is made public, I will be happy to update your readers with more details.
Do you have any updates on Jimmie Nicol today?
I do! One of the interesting things about publishing a book is that people read it or read about it, and they contact the author with information they know about that person. I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland and met with Jimmie’s first cousin Ronnie Nicol who has stayed in touch with Jimmie over thedecades. He had lots of great new information. I am planning a Second Edition to coincide with the release of the film and I plan to add an additional chapter with all the updates.
When a famous client rings you on the telly, how does the conversation usually go after you get through reps?
Well, I recall getting a phone call one night from Olivia Harrison. She said she “had been talking to Marty” (Martin Scorsese) about doing a film on George Harrison’s life and wondered if I wanted to be the historical consultant on the film? Needless to say, I said yes after I got over my heart attack! LOL. So I spent 3 years working on the wonderful film, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” which won a couple of Emmy awards. It was a great honor!
What does being in the Beatles for thirteen days do to a man?
That is a great question Bob. It depends upon the man in question. In the case of Jimmie Nicol, as I wrote in my book, it made him think he could replicate Beatlemania with his own group. Nicol formed two bands in the fall of 1964 and the winter of 1965. His goal was to turn on of them into a major pop band. He got record deals and was able to tour extensively. What happened? Check out a copy of The Beatle Who Vanished to find out and to discover how being a Beatle for 13 days affected his entire life!
Where are the best places for the interested to go to look for
People can find all of my past work at: www.rockandrolldetective.com and can also see my TV and Film work at:
To learn more about The Beatle Who Vanished, readers can go to: www.thebeatlewhovanished.com and https://tinyurl.com/ycnnqa9g
The Beatle Who Vanished on Amazon… Here.