Peter Dicks has been reaching listeners all over the globe for 13 years with one of the longest-running dedicated Beatles radio shows in Europe - Beatles and Beyond
The show is recorded in the basement of his semi-detached home in Walsall. His studio is crammed with every type of Beatles-themed merchandise you could imagine – posters, photographs, a toy Yellow Submarine, Fab Four liveried Corgi cars, and wall-to-wall vinyl.
There is a story behind every gem among his hoard –how he obtained it, why it is significant, and why he loves it. And his own personal story is an incredible one.
From a chance appearance on a local radio station to becoming an international radio star of sorts who gets correspondence from Beatles fans all over the world and even receives Christmas cards from Yoko Ono.
What makes his show unique is that he does not play just The Beatles. He plays any music with a link, no matter how tenuous, to John, Paul, George and Ringo – and not excluding Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best.
He will play the music of Bob Dylan, explaining how the American singer-songwriter influenced the four Liverpudlians.
Another show will play Doris Troy because she was signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label and would later go on to work with George Harrison.
He’s even had guitarist Jackie Lomax, who was signed up to Apple Records and worked with Harrison and Eric Clapton, appear on his show, stay at his home, and play a private gig for him and his wife Janet. Any connection in any way, and he is interested.
His own story started in1999 when he was working for a motor company in Birmingham and a colleague said he should write to the presenter of a local radio show about record collectors. “He knew I collected records, so he said I should write in,” he said.
“So I wrote to Mike Adams at BBC Radio Shropshire who presented The Record Collectors. I was invited in and became a regular and would sometimes find people for them to interview.
“It was through Mike that I met John Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird.
“Mike then said he was thinking about starting a radio station in Crewe, Witch FM, and asked would I be interested. I said that everything I play has a link to The Beatles – and it became Beatles and Beyond.”
“I collected records well before the show. I was really into classical music growing up, and it was not until the mid-60s when classical music was in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that I got into The Beatles – and it grew from there.”
He records his show every week on equipment in his basement and sends it out to a string of community radio stations – including WCRfm in Wolverhampton and Chase FM in Cannock. And with the rise of the internet, his show is available for download on iTunes, which has seen it picked up by stations across The Pond and is a big hit with listeners in the United States, which is currently celebrating 50 years since The Beatles arrived there. It is also the only radio show to be recommended by The Beatles Story exhibition in Liverpool.
But the self-employed agency worker says it is impossible to know the size of his audience, especially since the rise of the internet. And because of how revered his show has become, he has been asked to help write books, appear at events and represented John Lennon on the BBC’s Greatest Britons programme with Bill Harry, Paul Gambaccini and Bob Harris in 2002.
The 60-year-old’s most-cherished possession is a personal autograph to him signed by George Harrison which reads: ‘To Pete, Best Wishes, George Harrison’ and his favourite Beatles’ tracks include I Am The Walrus and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
One of his favourite stories is from an interview he did with former US Apple Records boss Ken Mansfield. He recalled a time shorty after being appointed by The Beatles that he was in a house with George Harrison when one by one Eric Clapton, Jack Casady and Donovan walked in.
Later when Peter was sat next to Donovan at an event in Liverpool he asked him if he remembered that day.
“He said thank you so much for telling me that,” Peter said. “He said he had forgotten it but could remember it happening.”
As I sit in Peter’s front room above his recording studio, he puts on a CD of the 1 album.
“What is your favourite Beatles song he asks me?” As I frantically think of something intelligent-sounding to say, I remark that Hey Jude has become intolerable with McCartney reeling it out it seems at every opening of an envelope.
“Do you know about the swearing in Hey Jude?” Peter says excitedly. “No,” I exclaim. With a cheeky grin he plays the song, turning up the volume at the key moment.
What is it? You will have to try and find it for yourselves.
For more information on Peter and Beatles and Beyond go to www.beatlesandbeyond.homestead.com