'The Beatles Book Monthly' Celebrates 60th Anniversary

The Beatles Book Monthly magazine celebrates its 60th anniversary and looks back at the legacy of publisher Sean O’Mahony who launched the monthly publication in August of 1963. 

The Beatles Book Monthly launched with a 40,000 print run and sold for one shilling and sixpence. Issue 1 featured biographies of each Beatle, Brian Epstein and George Martin. It also included a “Beatles News'' page and fan club information. For fans, it was the only way to catch up on the band and get a glimpse into their lives. 

The magazine ran for 77 issues, with the last issue being published on December 1st, 1969. Issues included articles from people who worked closely with The Beatles such as then road manager Neil Aspinall and road manager and assistant Mal Evans. Artist and illustrator Bob Gibson created cartoons for the magazine as well. Gibson is known for creating the iconic art of The Beatles’ The Magical Mystery Tour album cover. 

Publisher and editor Sean O’Mahony had already established Beat Instrumental, which was a monthly UK magazine focused on the world of pop and rock music. It was first published as Beat Monthly and featured The Beatles in the second issue with the group appearing on the cover. O’Mahony called The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein to suggest the idea of a magazine dedicated to the band. Epstein liked the idea and so on May 21, 1963 Sean went to meet the boys at London’s Playhouse Theatre to go over everything. 

O’Mahony published under the pseudonym Johnny Dean, which came from a spelling error on a postage label that had his name as Dean instead of Sean. He added “Johnny" because that is a common Irish nickname for Sean. 

Magazine photographer Leslie Bryce was given unprecedented access to the professional and personal lives of the boys for The Beatles Book MonthlyBryce had access backstage, in the recording studio, and even in their homes. 

The Beatles Book Monthly ended up chronicling the rise of the band from the “toppermost of the poppermost”, to a collection of serious, experimental, gifted musicians. At the height of the publication it sold 330,000 copies per month. It was revived in May of 1976 and again in October of 1982. Sean O’Mahony retired from magazine publishing in 2003 and passed away in 2020.  

For almost 40 years The Beatles Book Monthly documented every aspect of the Beatles’ lives. Long before Hello and OK!, TBBM had cameras trained on the Fab Four following their every move. With articles by those that knew the group best, like Mal Evans, Neil Aspinal and Tony Barrow, the magazine tracked Beatlemania around the world, documenting the concerts, tours, studio sessions and ultimately the break-up of the most famous beat group in the world. 

The resultant 6000+ photos from the magazine now comprise The Beatles Book Photo Library, perhaps the most rare and esteemed collection of Beatles’ photos, given the inside access Brian Epstein gave to O’Mahony. Although The Beatles Book Monthly is no longer published, Omnibus Press recently released a collection of the photos, “Looking Through You: Rare and Unseen Photographs from the Beatles Monthly Archive” including a special concert edition that coincides with Schirmer Theatrical’s licensed multimedia symphonic production, “Revolution: The Music of The Beatles” which incorporates hundreds of the rarest photos from the collection in its concerts, which have been called “The Best Live Beatles Experience Ever….” 

To coincide with the 60th anniversary, The Beatles Book Monthly Photo Library is offering select authorized prints of photos from the collection for the first time: bbplstore.com.