story by Luci Yamamoto
photo by Chris McDonough
There are Beatles fans ... and there are Beatles fanatics.
One look at Mike Hough’s roomful of Beatles memorabilia and you know which camp he’s in. Growing up in Birmingham, England, Hough was 12 when he first heard the Beatles playing back-up on Tony Sheridan’s 1961 record “My Bonnie.” It was love at first listen. “I was hooked from that moment,” says Hough, who’s devoted an entire temperature-controlled room at the Kaua‘i Country Inn to his collection of Beatles memorabilia—his own private museum.
The collection includes every original Beatles album and single released in the United Kingdom, dozens of movies and books and a gamut of vintage collectibles. Rare acquisitions include a lithograph from John Lennon’s “Bag One” portfolio (a set of drawings chronicling his wedding and honeymoon) and a 1967 Mini Cooper S owned by Beatles manager Brian Epstein; he had purchased five of the cars—one for himself and one for each Beatle.
A decade ago, Hough relocated to Kaua‘i, wanting a change from running a Hollywood advertising agency. If you get him talking about the Beatles or the ’60s zeitgeist, be prepared to take notes: Mike’s knowledge is encyclopedic. He describes his fascination with the Beatles as “bordering on obsession.” His wife Martina is along for the ride, earning a seven (out of ten) on Mike’s scale of Beatles fanaticism. As for his 17-year-old son Johannes, he shrugs and says, “Each generation thinks the last is ‘rubbish,’ as John Lennon might say.”
Hough acquired some of his notable pieces by sheer luck. In 1984, he noticed the mint-condition Mini Cooper parked in Santa Monica, up for sale. He bought it the next day for $4,000. Inside, he found the original owner’s logbook. Upon reading “Brian Epstein of 24 Chapel Street, London,” Hough was incredulous. How many Brian Epsteins were living in London in 1967? “But the hair was standing up on the back of my neck,” he says. He verified the vehicle identification number, and soon the Mini was sitting in his living room.
The collection is open only to guests of the Kaua‘i Country Inn, a set of spacious (and frequently booked) vacation suites that Mike and Martina own. “I enjoy sharing in the memories that revisit everyone who walks in and sees it all,” Hough says. “How often does a group of individuals have such an effect on the entire world—and in a peaceful way?”
Kaua‘i Country Inn