By Kathryn Kimberley
HALF a century after they launched their first vinyl, the Beatles, the biggest band of all time, are making a comeback – on T-shirts, keyrings, mugs, coasters, magnets, bags and even umbrellas.
And Port Elizabeth residents are falling in love with crooners John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all over again.
For Walmer saleswoman Inge Nefdt the timing could not have been better.
Nefdt, 27, recently acquired the franchise to all Beatles memorabilia in the southern hemisphere and will be stocking shops in time for the band’s 50th anniversary, which kicks off at the end of the month.
This is part of a seven-year programme in which Beatles memorabilia will be launched in celebration of the seven best-selling albums recorded by the English group between 1962 and 1969.
The four-man band was formed in Liverpool in 1960. They released their first album in 1962 and quickly rose to become the most critically acclaimed act in the history of pop music. They released seven LPs during this period – all best-sellers.
A music fanatic herself, Nefdt grabbed the opportunity to sell their product with both hands.
Now, her company, Rock off South Africa, owns the largest supply of memorabilia and merchandise in the southern hemisphere and will stock stores across South Africa, as well as Australia, New Zealand and South America. Much of the merchandise has already been shipped abroad.
Speaking to Weekend Post from behind piles of boxes, all filled to the brim with Beatles memorabilia, Nefdt said she could not believe that she had almost sold every last item.
From early next year, fans in the Eastern Cape can purchase the merchandise from all CNA, Davy Jones and Little Britain stores. And for Nefdt, the daughter of well-known Puma Port Elizabeth sales manager, Martin Nefdt, marketing is in the blood. "Most of the stock we got into the warehouse has already been sold. I am just blown away by the interest,” the blonde bombshell said.
"South Africans love their music and with all the bands and artists coming here of late, our love of music is only increasing.”
Over the next year, stores will sell 1962 Beatles memorabilia, all in vintage colours, in conjunction with the band’s first single, "PS I Love You” and "Love Me Do”.
Then, for the next seven years, to commemorate every album released until 1969, merchandise will come out to reflect that period.
Nefdt said the most popular memorabilia was still the T-shirts, which came in limited edition gift boxes.
Pointing to her own T-shirt, she said the funky styles were perfect for the summer.
Rock Off, established in 1993, produces merchandise for some of the biggest names in music.
They have branches in Liverpool, Southampton, Los Angeles and now South Africa, thanks to Nefdt, who bought the franchise in July.
Rock Off ships products to more than 40 countries worldwide, with South Africans emerging among their best customers.
They also sell memorabilia attributed to popular voices like the Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, The Who, John Lennon, U2 and Madonna.