What Do the Beatles Mean to Tony Toledo?

Tony Toledo spins stories as a professional storyteller.  He creates all kinds of tall tales for his audiences and loves to delight children and adults alike.  He discovered the worlds of storytelling and folk music when he moved to Massachusetts in 1987.  Tony is an award-winning storyteller and a long-time volunteer at the me&thee.  One of his favorite events of the year is the “All You Need is Love” Beatles Benefit because he gets to invent outrageous stories about the Fab Four and present special coins to the musicians.

This year’s benefit takes place on Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA.  Proceeds from this show go to sending independent musicians into local schools for workshops and concerts.  Since Tony spend a lot of time in classrooms himself, he appreciates the mission of this benefit.

When asked what the Beatles meant to him, Tony said:


I was just young enough that the Beatles weren’t on my radar when I was a kid.  While they were a band the only Beatles tunes I heard were the ones CKLW 800 AM (out of Detroit) that played on Mom and Dad’s car radio. I barely knew who was in the band.

That all changed when I joined the Army. I was stationed in Germany. An Army friend of mine loved the Beatles. He played them all the time. I got hooked on their music. He was shipping out. He sold me all his German pressing Beatles LPs for $2 each. I felt like I had won some tiny musical lottery. I still have every one of those German Beatles LPs.  My turntable smiles in German when it plays “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

The Beatles music makes my heart smile. They came from nowhere to end up on top of the pop music world. Those four lads changed music forever. Before the Beatles it was rare for a performer to write their own tunes. Before the Beatles there was a separation between writer and performer. The Beatles shattered that belief. The Beatles paved the way for the singer songwriters who are at the heart of the me&thee.

When the Beatles sing, I believe them. When the Beatles sing, their songs make me feel better. When the Beatles sing, they are true to themselves, and have faith that the rest of the world will catch up.  Their 10 hours of recorded music changed the world and changed me. Their music is timeless. Look at us, having the 11th Annual Beatles Benefit! The Beatles disbanded in 1970! It’s a joy to be a part of this show.

I like the Beatles so much that fifteen years ago I was determined to buy their autographs. I got each one separately. I was trying to decide what would be the best way to display them when it hit me. I bought an old copy of Sgt Pepper with the outside beat up but the inside photo of the Fab Four in good shape. I took the LP and the autographs to Mingo Frame Shop and Gallery here in Beverly. I had them cut a hole in each Beatles body and put the autograph there. The framer there told me the John Lennon autograph was on a such a thin piece of paper that if the LP rested against it the acid in the LP paper would eat up the autograph in a few decades.  At his suggestion, each autograph was put under an acid free yellow tinted mat that reflected the yellow behind the Beatles in the picture. The frame shop also cut the squares out for the autographs at weird angles, like they were dice thrown on the picture. That was a very nice touch. Those Beatles autographs are the one thing my nieces and nephews casually ask me what I am going to do with when I die. I tell them they’ll be buried with me. (Not really. I will leave the Beatles to one of them…)  My wife is Deaf. I wasn’t sure if she would be keen on having musical autographs on our living room wall. She said they were handsome. So on our wall they live.

As EMCEE of this Beatles Benefit I like to say thank you to the performers with a special coin. I will share with one lucky performer the very penny that Paul McCartney used to buy the pen that he used to write “Hey Jude”. Another performer will get the very penny Ringo used to buy his first drum sticks which were made out of cardboard, sawdust and fish bones.  Oh, there will be many more pennies and many more stories. Believe every thing you read.  Long live the Beatles!

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