Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Meeting the Beatles (55 years later)

On February 13, 1964, I was fortunate enough to snag a brief interview with the Beatles when they arrived at Miami International Airport to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was 13 and star reporter for my junior high newspaper.

55 years later it is still a thrill to remember that amazing day. My school friends from way back when still talk about it. If you’d like to read the story, just click on this link to find the posting “I meet the Moptops.”

Who could have predicted what the Beatles would go on to accomplish? And how decades later, we would still adore the Fab Four.

Today there is even a Beatles Channel on Sirius XM radio. I recently listened to Peter Asher hosting a show where he played the Top 100 Beatle songs as voted by listeners in a survey. The stories he told about many of the songs were really cool. I wish I’d taken notes.

So, I decided to mark my interview anniversary by compiling a few interesting tidbits about the Beatles and their songs. I hope you enjoy them.

* The Beatles received $10,000 for performing three times on the Ed Sullivan Show. 

* Elvis Presley sent a congratulatory telegram to the Beatles before their first Sullivan appearance.

* A front-row ticket to the Beatles first American concert cost $4.

* Paul wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” on his Dad’s piano when he was 16.

* John and Paul used to hang out in Woolton Cemetery in Liverpool. It adjoins St. Peter’s Church where the two first met. There were two headstones of note in the cemetery. One had the inscription Eleanor Rigby. A few yards to the right was a headstone for someone named McKenzie. According to Paul, the title character in the song “Eleanor Rigby” was originally going to be Daisey Hawkins. (Just doesn’t sound right, does it? “Daisey Hawkins picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been...”)
A Tommy Steele statue dedicated to Eleanor and "all the lonely people"

* Paul played the very inspiring piano opening on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Eric Clapton played the guitar. George paid Eric back by co-writing the Cream hit “BADGE” under a pseudonym. 

* Mae West initially refused to have her image on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but changed her mind after receiving a personal letter from the band. Other famous women on the cover include Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple.  Elvis and Gandhi did not make the final cut. 

Who's who on the Sgt. Pepper cover (thank you whoever did this!)

* “Back in the USSR” caused a slight anti-Beatle backlash. The John Birch Society claimed it “encouraged communism.” Mike Love of the Beach Boys suggested Paul talk about girls around Russia like they had sung about girls across America in “California Girls.” It was Side 1, Track 1 on "The White Album." (Which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.)

* John was on acid when he wrote “I am the Walrus.” (Duh.)

* All four Beatles had to like a proposed song for it to be included in an album. If one didn’t fancy the tune, it could be vetoed.

* “Good Day Sunshine” was inspired by “Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. John and Paul were huge John Sebastian fans.

* “Here Comes the Sun” was written by George Harrison in Eric Clapton’s garden. George said it expressed his relief to be away from Beatle turmoil if only for a day.

* Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” was inspired by Bach’s ‘Bourree in E Minor’. He recorded 32 takes and the final one was the keeper.

        * “The End” was the final song on the Beatles last recorded
album. Paul wrote these final words with Shakespeare in   mind. “I wanted it to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet.
              “And in the end the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.”
Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo for a brief eight years (1962-1970) of amazing music. And a special thanks from a certain junior high reporter who took a risk and got the story of a lifetime.

I discovered a Beatles photo exhibit in Australia in 2011.

You can be sure I’ll be back to celebrate the 60th anniversary February 13, 2024. Mark your calendars and join me.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

P.S. On a different topic, I am really annoyed by the song writers/owners/whoever who sold out some great tunes to drug advertising like “Oh, Oh, Oh it’s Magic” performed by Pilot. And Michael Jackson’s “ABC.” They almost certainly be condemned to hang along with the “Ring Around the Collar” copy writer.