New Orleans lawyer creates the questions for a new Beatles Trivial Pursuit game

Beatles expert Bruce Spizer sits in front of shelves full of band memorabilia at his home in New Orleans. Spizer created the questions that are being used new Trivial Pursuit The Beatles Collector's Edition board game.Which Beatle co-starred in a film with Peter Sellers? What New Orleans R&B singer was added to the Beatles' first U.S. tour as a replacement opening act? What was the initial name of John's Lennon's first band?

New Orleans attorney Bruce Spizer can answer any of those questions in a heartbeat. No wonder, since he recently spent three months making up 2,592 questions, including those three, for the new Trivial Pursuit The Beatles Collector's Edition board game ($39.95) scheduled to be released today.

Why was a specialist in tax law and estate planning called on to create an exhaustive Fab Four quiz? Because Spizer wrote the book about the Mop Tops. In fact, he wrote seven.

As obsessions go, Spizer's is relatively recent. It was a mere 12 years ago that his microscopic study of all things Beatles began in earnest.

Before that, his love of the Liverpool quartet followed a more-or-less predictable pattern. Spizer, 54, recalls hearing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the Newman School bus in 1964. He was 8 years old, and soon swept up in the new sound of the English group. He said he was especially intrigued by the fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote most of the group's songs, "which at the time was pretty unique."

In 1964, he had a chance to see The Beatles on their one visit to New Orleans, when they played to a screaming crowd at City Park Stadium (later called Tad Gormley Stadium). Trouble was, Spizer said, it was his sister's 16th birthday, so she got to choose the evening's activity. Unfortunately "she was a Barbra Streisand fan."

"I figured I'd see them next time," he said, with a lingering whisper of regret in his voice.

Spizer's devotion to pop music persisted throughout his youth. He played guitar in high school bands, served on the board of directors of the landmark Mushroom record store, and managed the popular late-¤'70s New Orleans band, The Cold. Somewhere in there, The Beatles dissolved, but life went on. During law school, Spizer said he "dutifully bought the solo albums," but he just didn't have the same passion for John, Paul, George, and Ringo's individual careers. Who did?

Then, in 1997, Spizer said he "settled a big class action lawsuit," the sort of settlement that might have provided him with a Mercedes or Rolex. Instead, in a moment of 1960s nostalgia, he decided to replace all of his old Beatles records, most of which had their album jackets ruined by roaches.

"Maybe roaches are Beatles natural enemies," he speculates.

Spizer sought first editions of the records he once owned. As he collected, he discovered that "collector books didn't make any sense." The dates of record releases were confused. His lawyerly mind was especially drawn to legal battles between the Vee-Jay and Capitol record labels, which vied to introduce the band in America. Spizer whiled away his late nights writing what he expected to be an article on the subject, that blossomed into a well-received self-published book.

"So in effect, yes," Spizer said, "I am the tax man and then I got the bug to be a paperback writer." (His $50 books are, in fact, hardbacks.)

One Beatles project led to another and another. Spizer became a sort of monk, laboring over a continuous stream of Beatles manuscripts.

His research revealed that a four-minute news story about The Beatles was scheduled for the CBS Evening News broadcast on the day President John Kennedy was assassinated. The story was postponed for weeks. When it finally aired, Spizer said, "the exuberant music of The Beatles" may have helped uplift the spirit of America.

"Many books attribute the success of the Beatles to the youth of American being despondent over the death of President Kennedy," Spizer said, but he does not believe there was a strict cause and effect, since the Beatles' popularity was worldwide.

Though Spizer was never able to interview any of The Beatles, he did speak to Beatles producer George Martin. Spizer said that when he met Martin in 2006, he was flattered to find that Martin was aware of his reputation as a Beatles authority.

Indeed, Spizer has spoken at music industry and Beatles fan conventions across the country, and has appeared as a Beatles authority on the CBS Morning Show, Good Morning America, and Fox News.

As his reputation grew, so did his small back room museum of Beatles memorabilia: logo lunch boxes, tumblers, tennis shoes, a rare record player, you name it. Spizer said he even has two "knock-offs" of Beatles stage costumes.

"I did show up in court once wearing the Ed Sullivan suit," Spizer said. "I don't think the judge noticed."

Then, last October, the folks from USAopoly asked Spizer to produce the hundreds and hundreds of questions needed for the new trivia game. Spizer said that he was told he'd been highly recommended for the job, but he's not sure by whom. The questions, Spizer said, are divided into six categories, each with 72 cards containing six questions, divided into easy, moderate, and hard .

Asked for a really hard question, Spizer offered this stumper: "What was the name of the Pan Am jet that flew The Beatles to America in 1964?"

Test your Beatles knowledge

Here are samples of easy, moderate and difficult questions from Beatles expert Bruce Spizer. See how you do:


Q: What was the name of the Beatles' first movie?
A: A Hard Day's Night.

Q: Which Beatle co-starred in a film with Peter Sellers?
A: Ringo costarred in The Magic Christian.


Q: In what city did Paul McCartney record Venus and Mars?
A: New Orleans

Q: What New Orleans R&B singer was added to the first Beatles' US tour as a replacement opening act?
A:Clarence "Frogman" Henry replaced the Righteous Brothers.


Q: What was the name of the Pan Am jet that flew the Beatles to America in 1964?
A: Clipper Defiance

Q: What was the initial name of Beatle John's first band?
A: The Black Jacks.

by Chris Granger
© 2009 New Orleans Net LLC.

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