Ken Mansfield’s work in the music industry reads like a Who’s Who in the business. From Roy Orbison to Waylon Jennings to Andy Williams to the Beach Boys, Mansfield worked with the biggest names in the business, as well as the biggest — The Beatles.
On Saturday, Mansfield will make a rare appearance at Christstock, a day of music, peace and the good news of Jesus Christ. The event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be held at Long Branch Baptist Church, located at 2868 Minnie Hall Road in Autryville.
Pastor Rick Spell said the first-year event is something that the community has been buzzing about.
“Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith television show, bringing in some of the cast members of that show,” he said. “This year, we thought we would go in a different direction and reach out to a different audience.”
Spell said the event will feature Christian bands, Accepted, Rod Propes, The Justin Warren Teseniar Band, Faith Journeys Band and Kerry Godwin, which will be playing all day. There will also be a Kidz Zone play area, concessions and various vendors at the event.
“Ken Mansfield will share his story as well,” he noted. “Ken has written a couple of books about his life with The Beatles and we will have a Q and A session with him so folks can ask questions. At 7 p.m, it will be more like a worship, with Ken leading it. We are very excited, and we are hoping that this event will be something that will resonate with people. We are really hoping it will become an annual event.”
Mansfield, who served as The Beatles U.S. manager of Apple Records and oversaw the management of the group’s classic records, The Beatles (aka The White Album), Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, Let It Be and Hey Jude, said he is also excited about his appearance.
“I really hope people come out and it is successful,” he said during an interview from his home in California. “I have been to North Carolina before, but never Autryville; I am really looking forward to it.”
Although Christstock will feature many events, early word is that Mansfield will be showing an exclusive film at the event.
“I have exclusive rights to the film,” he said. “It is all about my life and successes, how I lost it and my conversion into Christianity. After we watch it, I give my testamony and after that, I am going to do all questions and answers.”
What a journey it has been.
He got his first break in January 1965 after being interviewed at Capitol Records. Mansfield was promoted quickly and was one of the first young American executives the Beatles worked with since their ascension to stratospheric stardom. Mansfield’s age made him more accessible to the Beatles, who soon invited him to become a member of their inner sanctum.
Mansfield understood, but really didn’t get the popularity of the four guys from Liverpool.
“Not that I didn’t care for them; I just didn’t understand it,” he said with a smile. “I thought they were great guys — they were very popular — but I just didn’t understand what all the fuss was.” He laughs. “I really didn’t get into their music until maybe 10-20 years later.”
He was also one of the few people invited to watch the band in their final live performance that was filmed on the roof top of Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on Jan. 30, 1969.
“I was on the roof with them the last time they played,” Mansfield remembers. “It was one of the most historic moments in Rock and Roll. To have been there with just the handful of people that were there that day was pretty special.”
When asked if he knew it would be the final performance of the band, Mansfield says, no.
“Nobody really said, ‘this is it’ or ‘this is our last performance’ or ‘we will be breaking up really soon’, we didn’t really talk about it,” he said. “We knew things were unraveling but nobody said anything about it. It was so special that we didn’t understand it then and, to be honest, didn’t really talk about it for a while after. We just knew that we have been part of something that was really, really special.”
After Apple began to crumble, Mansfield moved on to MGM Records. Two years later, Andy Williams hired him to be president of his CBS record company, Barnaby Records. After three years, Mansfield moved on and set up his own company and became a full-time producer, working with such legends as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jessi Colter, to name a few.
Within years, he would shut down his company and head for Nashville. By 1984, he had lost everything. He arrived in Tennessee with three suitcases and three cardboard boxes.
In the late 1980s, he had a spiritual awakening and became born-again thanks to his wife, Connie.
“I tell everybody that the first person I see every morning is the one that saved my life,” he says proudly. “It is a good way to start my day. She really is the one who brought me to the Lord.”
He would bounce back in the industry that he loved so much by producing Christian artists. He won a Grammy and Dove award for his work on the historic Gaither Vocal Band’s 1991 album, Homecoming.
“When I worked with the Gaithers it was such a historical event; it gave me such a great introduction to the history of gospel music and that side of the industry,” he said. “It was extremely emotional for me … To win a Dove and Grammy award for that, was just the icing on the cake.”
When asked the difference in working in Christian music and rock, Mansfield laughs and says, “Well, for one thing, we didn’t get stoned … really though, it was different because we really prayed about what we were doing and it was more normal, I guess you could say.”
Although he has been out of producing for 15 years, Mansfield got into writing books, he has three: The Beatles, The Bible and Bodega Bay; The White Book, The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insiders Look at an Era; and Between Wyomings.
“I have got a new book that is being shopped by my literary agent now, it is a little different in the fact that it is about my two battles with cancer (14 years ago; the other 2 years ago),” he said. “It is really just my story. They were rough. Right now I am beating them.”
Would he produce music again?
“No, I don’t do that anymore,” he said. ” It has been probably 15 years since I have worked in the music business and I just don’t have what it takes anymore to be effective. You leave the music business for 10 minutes and you are out of sync. It is like you got off the bus and are fighting to get back on.”
He now makes a living touring the country, sharing his testimony and ministry — and about his place in music history, ups and downs, alike — with all who will listen.
“If God could use anybody it is me, because I was out there living a pretty decadent lifestyle for a while,” he said. “In looking back, I thought I was so happy and doing so well, now when I look back, none of it compares to the kind of joy and happiness I have now. There is just no comparison. Because the other way is something that you are striving to accomplish and what Jesus strives to accomplish, He did it for you. You just have to trust in it.”
He says he has never felt as inspired as when lifting lives to Jesus at events such as Christstock.
“We have a lot of Beatle fans who come out to meet me and then they hear my testimony and it changes their life a lot of times, that is what is really interesting,” he said. “We just got back from Minneapolis last night and we had 45 people come to the Lord after my talk. It is just an incredibly special feeling for me to have that many people come forward. We had 245 people come forward at an event in Indiana one time. To have God use me in this way, is just absolutely wonderful and to have that feeling is absolutely incredible.”
Although he has worked with some of the greatest artists in music history, Mansfield says he is currently listening to jazz and contemporary-alternative music. “I like the stuff that goes back to an innocence of 60s and 70s,” he said, “and of course, we listen to Christian music too. Every once in a while, I put on on some old Pink Floyd (laughs).”
Christstock will take place this Saturday at Long Branch Baptist Church from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event is free to the public. You are asked to bring your own blanket or lawn chairs. For more information call 910-531-3765.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.