John. Paul. George. Ringo. And Vince. Vince?
It’s quite logical to Bill King, founder and publisher of “Beatlefan” magazine. Now in its 41st year, “Beatlefan” is a source for, well, Beatlefans worldwide. The Vince noted above is Vince Dooley, who began coaching the Georgia Bulldogs in 1964, the same year The Beatles came to America. As with millions of young people, Bill King’s life was strongly influenced watching The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” those three winter nights in ’64. He not only became a fan but would make The Beatles part of his life’s work. Vince Dooley’s achievements as the Bulldogs’ coach would lead to a similar path for King. The Fab Five and Bill King have made quite a team.
King established himself by the mid ’70’s as a savvy reporter on the rock scene for The Atlanta Constitution. His columns in the paper’s Saturday entertainment section were widely read by fans and record business insiders. Bill King had lots to write about, especially when it came to The Beatles. But a daily metro newspaper only has so much space; not near enough for all the material King had gathered. The situation provided Bill with an idea that created a new outlet and assured him of keeping his day job. He and his family would work together in the evenings on a special project: A magazine for fans of The Beatles. So in December ’78, “Beatlefan” was introduced. The first issue featured a scoop on Paul McCartney leaving Capitol Records to sign with Columbia. It also included an interview with former Wings drummer Joe English.
Quickly, Bill and his wife, Leslie King, “Beatlefan’s” general manager, achieved the goal they set for the magazine. King had long noted that many Beatles fanzines were amateurish. He and Leslie felt fans of The Beatles deserved a professionally published news magazine. “Beatlefan” filled that void, and it continues to do so. The latest edition, number 238, includes stories on the concert tours of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, both steadfast after all these years. There’s also an intriguing piece by contributor Brad Hundt on The Beatles’ 1969 business battles. Throughout each issue the reporting is thorough and engaging. Even those who have listened closely to every Beatles song since 1964 will learn much from the coverage offered by the “Beatlefan” reviewers.
As Bill King was listening closely to his Beatles records in ’64, he also watched his Georgia Bulldogs with great excitement. Though only a kid, Bill had already witnessed many great UGA moments. New Coach Vince Dooley was expected to provide even more. And he did. Over his 25 years as coach, Dooley would make the Georgia Bulldogs a college football power. There was the national championship in 1980 and the recruiting of many great players, including Herschel Walker. Dooley also accomplished much as the school’s Athletic Director, a position he retained 15 years after his retirement from coaching.
UGA fans are some of the most loyal and intense in American sports. The success during the Dooley years and since have provided them with much to cheer about. The fans eat, sleep, talk and breathe Georgia football. There’s always a demand for new Bulldogs information. And who provides that? None other than Bill King. Since 2005 he has been the Bulldogs’ watchdog on “Junkyard Blawg,” a feature on Dawgnation.com, a site owned by Cox Media Group, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). Now retired from the daily newspaper grind, King continues to frequently write for the AJC, capturing the unique culture of Atlanta and the region. Bill knows his turf and the people he meets there. And yes, he still weighs in on UGA sports, especially on developments regarding the football team. This year fans are jazzed about the possibility of an NCAA title. For the rest of us, the really exciting news is the upcoming release of the 50th anniversary issue of “Abbey Road,” three CDs and a Blu-ray disc. “Beatlefan” is already rolling out news about what will be a fascinating addition to The Beatles’ catalog.
Fans of The Beatles are every bit a passionate group as Bulldogs’ fans and a very much larger group as well. There are millions looking for information on their favorites. But that’s not a problem for Bill King. He knows his beats very well. For decades he has reported on all the action, from Liverpool, England to Athens, Georgia. It’s quite logical to him. After all, one of his favorite Beatles songs is “Hey Bulldog.”