The Beatles and The 10 Acts that Followed Them into Bubblegum Territory
Editor's note: Since Oct. 6, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' debut album Love Me Do), we've been on a half-century celebration cycle in which we are scheduled to relive every Beatles innovation, every release of the Beatles' landmark career in real time, right until the inevitable 50th anniversary of their breakup in 2020. But what other long-forgotten anniversaries are being overshadowed by the Fab Four? To answer that question, we present another installment in this series entitled The 50th Anniversary of Something Else.
What? It's bad enough that lazy writers tag The Fab Four "the first boy band" as if the Beatles ever boogaloo'd in unison. But to suggest they were bubblegum is blasphemy on a par with saying One Direction is more popular than (insert unassailable deity of your choice). Relax, Fab protectors, the closest John, Paul, George and Ringo ever came to bubble gum (at least until the acid bubble pop of "Hello Goodbye") was when the Beatles trading cards debuted in May of 1964. Prior to Topps launching the first of five Beatles card series, non-sports cards were a rarity and rock star cards were non-existent. Naturally, with Beatlemania at fever pitch, bubble gum representation was needed. And fast. By the time their movie A Hard Day's Night debuted in late summer, the Beatles were already on their fourth card series.
Conferring with an admittedly old 1992 edition of the Sport Americana Non-Sports Cards Price Guide, the tome valued a complete set of the first series at $175, which seems to be the asking price on eBay these days. Given that, I wondered which other artists followed the Beatles into bubblegum card infamy. Need they suffer the relative anonymity felt by the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth man who trod upon the moon? The answer is no, and in some cases, even these picture card also-rans can command a high selling price on eBay. Here -- by 1992 value standards when a lot of the people who would be interested in such cards were still alive -- are the Beatles' ten rock stars bubble gum card successors.
1.) Freddie & the Dreamers (1965)
Freddie and the Dreamers
Lennon's accusation that whatever the Beatles did the Rolling Stones did six months later didn't hold true in one respect -- Mick and the boys never followed the Fabs onto bubble gum cards. The first British invaders to do that were Freddie and the Dreamers. Whereas the Beatles were clever, handsome heartthrobs, Freddie and the Dreamers were ugly, balding thugs who looked as if they were peeled off of a Dick Tracy comic strip with Silly Putty. Freddie's press agent had his work cut out for him trying to make the Dreamers not sound like every little girl's nightmare. The sleeve notes for the band's first U.S. album described bassist Pete Birrell as a "young Eddie Mayehoff, with big eyes and a jutting chin" while failing to mention guitarist Roy Crewsdon's Nixonian hairdo and what appears to be an artificial right eye. Short-lived Freddiemania peaked in 1965, when the Donruss Trading Card Company issued its Freddie and the Dreamers collector's series. When all 66 cards were turned over and placed together, they formed a giant autographed picture of the group in black and white striped shirts. It's almost as boring as the 66 cards themselves, many of which feature the group in -- you guessed it -- those same black and white striped shirts.
Complete Set Mint Value: $45
2.) The Monkees (1966)
Hey hey, they're the Monkees.
Once the Beatles sprouted facial hair and got psychedelicized, the teenybopper segment of their audience that got left behind quickly adopted the Monkees, who were created in the Fab Four's early Hard Day's Night/Help likeness. The Pre-Fab Four's successful run in Donruss trading cards in 1967 matched the Beatles' own bubble gum blitz three years before. But the Monkees had a secret weapon -- yummy banana flavored bubble gum that didn't taste as if you wadded up a card and ate it by mistake.
Mint Set of Series 1 thru 4: $125.00