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Wood’s journey with the Beatles has been memorable

By Ben Rodgers

GREEN BAY – With Paul McCartney set to play Lambeau Field on Saturday, Chris Wood of Green Bay remembers the night 55 years ago when he first heard the sound that would define a generation.

“On Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, huddled around the TV with mom and dad, my older brother and my older sister, I remember being wide-eyed with wonder,” Wood said. “They had such a different sound and very nice melodies and nice harmonies, and just being kind of taken for the time and very interested for a 9-year-old kid.”

That night Wood saw Beatlemania take off, along with well over 70 million other people, and ever since then music has never been the same for him or anyone else.

Before John, Paul, George and Ringo wooded the TV audience on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” with “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and “She Loves You,” the nation was still grieving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“Because of that happening at that time, the country was basically in a very sorrowful mood, and when the Beatles came over people started to lighten up, get in the groove again and enjoy music,” Wood said. “This was a great diversion, something totally new, something very different, very enjoyable to listen to.”

Following the Fab Four’s invasion into America came a slew of merchandising that will likely never be seen again.

The Beatles were on everything from lunch boxes, to board games, to trading cards, to bobbleheads and just about anything else a person can imagine.

Some of Chris Wood’s Beatles bobbleheads and a copy of the 1964 “The Beatles Flip Your Wig Game,” are shown here.

Wood’s basement could double as a record store/Beatles museum with his collection.

On his wall hangs a picture from 1964 of Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) throwing a playful punch at the famous Liverpudlians, with signatures from each.

He owns multiple copies of original vinyl albums from the entire Beatles catalog.

Wood even recreated John Lennon’s touring jukebox complete with original 45s housed in an old Wurlitzer (admittingly he has only 38 of the 41 singles that influenced Lennon and the early Beatles).

He even visited Liverpool, twice, to immerse himself in the Beatles historically, musically and culturally.

His downstairs is a music lover’s wildest dream come true, one of the most complete and unique collections assembled.

Wood did it all to honor and preserve the legacy of four lads who changed the world.

“They became so creative and prevalent,” Wood said. “In the first week of April 1964, they had the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the top five, all of them, their songs, which has never ever been done before and that has never been done since.”

Wood also lectured at Florida State University on the Beatles and the 5,000 bootleg albums that were released since 1969.

In 1972, Wood and the rest of his graduating class at Denmark High School voted to make Lennon’s “Imagine,” the official class song at graduation.

He said it was denied based on what school administration called “being anti-American with communistic overtones.”

“Ironically, the class of ’92 chose that as their class song, and it was in the program and there was no issue with it, it was fine,” Wood said.

Twenty years later, when planning a reunion, Wood thought it would be fun to invite Yoko Ono to Denmark for a laugh.

When Ono sent the reunion a floral arrangement and card wishing she could be there, Wood was flabbergasted. The two became pen pals for 10 years after.

It was also 1992 the first time Wood saw McCartney at a show at Milwaukee County Stadium.

This year’s June 6 show at the Kohl Center in Madison marks the sixth time Wood has seen Sir Paul live.

But he will miss the Lambeau Field show because he will be on an Alaskan cruise with his wife, Judy.

“My wife came through breast cancer last August,” Wood said. “We decided we were going to celebrate and honor that occasion.”

But as someone who has seen a lot of McCartney, Wood has a preview for anyone lucky enough to be going to Saturday’s sold-out show.

“First of all, he’ll do a number of the Beatles classics, which to me is the highlight of the show and he does them very well,” Wood said. “He even did ‘Helter Skelter’ a couple of years ago and he pulled it off, and he’s incredible. In my mind there is not a more talented musician in the world right now.”

McCartney’s work has spanned five decades and many fans, who like Wood, have been along for the entire ride, from the Beatles to Wings.

“He’s not getting any younger,” Wood said. “I will acknowledge that, but we old-timer fans aren’t either.”

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