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Yesterday…Cornwall learned more about The Beatles

By Shawna O'Neill

Published on November 28, 2018

Piers Hemmingsen, author and expert of The Beatles, with a pre-production copy of The White Album. (Shawna O'Neill/TC Media).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Community members had the opportunity to come together on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Cornwall Care Centre where Piers Hemmingsen, author and expert of The Beatles, spoke about the popular band. 

Hemmingsen, author of The Beatles in Canada: Origins of Beatlemania!, brought a pre-production record of The White Album to play for attendees, which was manufactured in Cornwall at Compo Co. Ltd.

Born in England, Hemmingsen became aware of The Beatles in 1963 before moving to the Ottawa Valley; his love for the band has only grown ever since.

Hemmingsen has spoken at various functions around North America, including events in N.Y. State, Chicago and Toronto. He has also participated in The Beatles book events and walks. Currently, Hemmingsen is working on his novel The Beatles in Canada: The Evolution 1964-1970, a segment in a saga of his novels that follow the band throughout their career.

“I’ve interviewed people who were a part of creating the music, people who worked at Compo Records who were involved in manufacturing the music, people who worked at Capitol Records who sold the music,” said Hemmingsen, who is proud to have interviewed many people who were close to the band. “I like to document why it happened and why people put a slab of vinyl down on an old spinning machine when now you can download the music.”

Hemmingsen discussed how several of The Beatles records were manufactured here in Cornwall at Compo Co. Ltd., which he claims was the first plant in Canada to use hydraulic pressure to create vinyl records. Hemmingsen maintained that in the first six months of the release of The White Album, over 200,000 copies were sold, which ultimately generated various spin-off jobs in the city.

“It was done by a lot of hard working people here in Cornwall, who worked shift work, who got these things pressed, into trucks, out into distribution centers,” he said.

Hemmingsen also mentioned that many people might not know that George Harrison’s sister, Louise, lived in Ontario at one time.

After years of research, Hemmingsen believes that The Beatles were revolutionary because of their evolved, pop sound, which wasn’t necessarily popular during their era.

“I think it was a generational thing. It was to do with baby boomer kids who felt disconnected from the music of their parents and this was their music that they could embrace,” he said.

“I’m thrilled to be here in Cornwall. It’s a very welcoming community…I’m very grateful to the Cornwall Museum for having me.”