REMEMBERING: 1964
Reminiscences by fans, excerpted from Beatlefan #2, February 1979, and Beatlefan #32, February 1984

THE MAGIC OF TELEVISION
Our family got its first Sears TV set in the middle '50s. I was about 8 or 9 years old. I enjoyed "Oh, Susannah", "Leave It to Beaver" and "I Love Lucy".

The first music I was exposed to was church. Nothing happened. Second was seeing a variety show in the late '50s and hearing "One Eyed, One Horn Flying Purple People Eater". Still nothing. Chubby Checker on "American Bandstand" doing the "Twist". I went out and bought a hula hoop. My first movie was "My Friend Flicka". I would go over to my best friend's house and his big brother would play Beach Boys records. I didn't care about them, nor those Motown songs.

High school started. I got my first transistor radio just in time to hear that President Kennedy had been killed. Most friends and neighbors didn't seem to mind, but I was very depressed.

At school, during lunch on Feb. 7, 1964, I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on my radio. I was so excited. Some friends and I were talking about how good the song was during the broadcast, and we almost missed the name of tha artists, The Beatles. The DJ also said that they would be on the "Ed Sullivan Show" that very Sunday.

Sunday night, I was glued to the TV, watching the show. The adults in the house couldn't figure out what was going on. I didn't know either, but after the show, I went to my room, missing "Bonanza" probably for the first time since it came on the air.

The next morning, I took my entire earthly wavings, went to the Piggly Wiggly supermarket next to my high school and bought "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout" at 77 cents each. I saved my lunch money and bought Beatles bubble gum after school. And my Beatles collection hasn't stopped since.
--Fred Arnold
(The writer later bought and sold Beatles records at The Prism, a store he owned in Charleston, S.C.)

 

A DISAPPOINTMENT
My biggest memory of those days was winning a trip to the St. Louis, MO, concert by naming a song on the radio. The other winners and myself were taken by charter jet to St. Louis and rushed to Busch Stadium following dinner.

The stage was on the pitcher's mound facing home plate. our seats were a few rows behind third base. Because there was a wall behind the stage, we could not see the group. We also could barely hear them. To add insult to injury, we sat unprotected in a driving rainstorm.

I reluctantly admitted later that the concert was one of my biggest disappointments, especially after learning that contest winners from another station had spent the day touring the city, had had personal messages and gifts delivered to The Beatles and had had front row seats.
--Robyn Du Puis
(The writer later was a Beatles memorabilia dealer in San Francisco.)

 

CHOOSING THE SCARECROW
On Feb. 9, 1964, like millions of other teens, I was sitting before my TV set. Unlike most of my peers, though, I was watching "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color". Ed Sullivan? The Beatles? Sounded like a great big hype for Sullivan's show -- which our family never watched anyway. Besides, I loved Patrick McGoohan and was not about to miss "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh".

A few days later, as part of a special project in our grammar school, four guys stood in front of the class and lip-synched "I Want to Hold Your Hand". It was the first time I ever heard a Beatles song from start to finish. Needless to say, not only was the mimicry awful, but over the school's $14.95 portable hi-fi, the record sounded terrible

So I held out for nearly two years, dismissing the group as just another Top 40 hype. Then, by accident one Saturday morning, I happened to catch the Beatles cartoon show and heard "Help". I was surprised. Not only was the tune fun to listen to, the words were clear, sharp and sincere.

Through "Day Tripper", "We Can Work It Out", "Paperback Writer" and "Rain", I found myself increasingly interested in Beatles music. That summer, I purchased my first Beatles record, "Eleanor Rigby", quickly followed by the "Yesterday and Today" album (no, not a "Butcher" cover).

I even entertained notions of going to one of their concerts, but by the time I decided, the 1966 tour had come and gone. (There was always next year, I told myself.) I waited for their next record instead. Five months later, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" knocked me out, and I was hooked.

Over the next few years, my interest in The Beatles blossomed and I enthusiastically followed their business and artistic achievements. When would "Magical Mystery Tour" appear on U.S. TV? Would Apple succeed? How could "Hey Jude" fail to win a Grammy?

In the summer of 1967, I felt the infection of Beatles music in full force in the back of a tour bus driving through the English countryside. Armed with only two guitars (but a lot of imagination), two amateur singers led the tour group through a Beatles singalong that included all of the newly-released "Sgt. Pepper" album (even "A Day in the Life").

My final concession to a growing interest in The Beatles came back at the tube as I tuned in Ed Sullivan (gasp!). I just had to catch each new Beatles film, from "Penny Lane" through "Let It Be". A few years late, but the magic was still there.
--Wally Podrazik
(The writer, along with Harry Castleman, is the author of a series of Beatles discographies and books about television.)

 

A FUNNY NAME, BEATLES
My first knowledge of The Beatles was when I heard "Love Me Do" on the radio in December '63. I loved the song but must've laughed for a half-hour when I heard the name of the group!

The following February, when they were on Sullivan, I had to hear about it from my grandmother (who, it seemed, had the hots over Paul) because I never watched the show and didn't realize they were going to be on. I also heard about it from three-quarters of the female population of my high school who were also drooling over Paul the next day.

My best friends all being addicted by this point, buying all the mags they could on them and cutting out newspaper articles, I started picking up The Feeling and never forgave myself for missing them on Sullivan (till the summer reruns, anyway).

My friend Becky was a Ringo fan, Lynn was a John fan and Darlene was a Paul fan, so the only one left that I was "allowed" to "have" was George. I was secretly in love with Paul at the time but kept quiet so as not to upset Darlene.

But all was OK once we viewed "A Hard Day's Night" the first time in August 1964. From then on, I was genuinely hooked on George (I think it was . . . the smile?). Two days after the premiere, I had the major task of convincing my mother to drive us to the theater again -- this time so that we could also HEAR it because at the premiere we all screamed ourselves hoarse during the entire movie!

The following school term in September '64, I proved my inventiveness by making up book titles in Spanish that were required reading for that class, 99 percent of which didn't exist, so that I could pad my lunch money to buy all the Beatle mags and records that were coming out, and there were A LOT then. I was also studying the art of being a kleptomaniac, swiping what mags I couldn't buy. Terrible what these Beatles made you do.

September '64 also marked the time when The Beatles were coming to Cleveland, Ohio, for a concert (the 15th, to be precise). Public Hall had so many ticket requets they had to pick randomly by computer who would get tickets. I was in tears when I wasn't one of the winners. However, my mother had been noticing tickets for sale by scalpers in the papers and ended up buying two for the outrageous scalper price of $12.50 each!

That Christmas, I informed my father I wanted a drum kit because my friends and I were determined to be a female Beatles band. I got bongos instead . . . heartbreaking, but then Lynn, Becky and Darlene bombed out on getting guitars, too. We settled for dragging my small stereo out in the living room and miming the songs, me on bongos, Lynn on that violin-turned-bass guitar (that I had had to learn when I was in third grade and still had, even though by this time I was a sophisticated 10th grader) and Becky and Darlene would just fake having guitars. Funny thing, we never did win our fame and fortune.

But things changed in the new year of '65. Becky and Lynn had done the unforgivable and switched to The Rolling Stones (ugh, how COULD they). In the meantime, hearing The Beatles were going to tour again in '65 but weren't coming to Cleveland, I conned my Niagara Falls, NY, pen pal into getting me a ticket for the Toronto concert and going with her friends (I had no transportation problems as my dad worked for an airline and I got a free ride).

What was almost as fun as the concert was going to the premiere of "Help!" in Niagara Falls and telling my pen pal what part was coming next, and everyone else turning around saying, "How do YOU know, this is the premiere!" At which time I gleefully informed them I was from Cleveland (you could admit it with no shame in those days) and had seen the premiere there the week before. They seemed adequately incredulous -- heady trip for a 15-year-old!

Of course, like any true fan, at school I was always decked out in my Beatles wardrobe, including Beatles tennis shoes; carrying my Beatles pen, wallet, notebook; wearing my Beatles necklace and bracelet; usually getting hernias by carrying at least a dozen magazines around at once in addition to school books. I wouldn've brought my Beatles beach towel but my mother had convinced me that it wasn't too appropriate to drag a beach towel around at school. I had been sent a pair of Beatles underwear by my English pen pal but fortunately something made me resist flashing that around school.

Study halls were spent by exchanging magazines to read or passing notes back and forth to each other signed "George" and "Paul". One of Darlene/Paul's notes was confiscated by a teacher and when she read the opening line of "Dear George," she said, "George who, George Washington?" I don't think I have ever turned so many shades of red in my whole life . . . how could you explain to a teacher that your name was really George Harrison?

I had many name changes back then . . . from George to Georgeanne, from Pat to Patty to Pattie when I found out George was dating a Pattie, and back to Pat when I found out they'd had the nerve to get MARRIED in '66!

It amazes me that I ever graduated from high school in '66 because my mind certainly wasn't on schoolwork in the Beatlemania days. It also amazes me my parents survived that whole period of my life -- my mother informs me that it was just a "cute period" I was going through, like when she went bananas over Frank Sinatra (though she insists she wasn't one of the screamers). She says that today with a sick smile -- after almost 15 years now, she still wonders when I'm going to get over this "cute period."
--Pat Simmons
(The writer ran the With a Little Help From My Friends Beatles fan club for many years.)

A MIAMI BEACH ENCOUNTER
It has always amazed me why I remember the exact time I first heard a Beatles song on the radio.

It was Monday evening, Jan. 6, 1964, at 7:45 p.m. on the Scott Muni show on WABC. it was just before my 16th birthday, when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was played. I was sitting on my bed and was immediately taken by the music. Scott Muni said it was by an English group called The Beatles.

I had not heard a single word about the group until that moment, nor did I see any photos of them, nor could I have been influenced by the overwhelming press that was to follow in the next month, leading up to their arrival in America (2/7/64) and to that unforgettable Ed Sullivan show on Sunday, Feb. 9. I had no way of knowing that song was the beginning of events that were going to change my life and the lives of a generation of young people.

Until The Beatles, I had been a big record collector, but of 45s only. Buying an album didn't make sense to me because I would only listen to one or two songs on the while album. That soon changed when my brother bought me "Introducing The Beatles" for my birthday. From that day, I bought every Beatles album and single on the first day of release.

My parents asked me if I wanted to join them on a vacation in Miami Beach over Washington's Birthday week. I said of course, not knowing that the Fab Four were also going to be there -- at the same time! I also had no idea what was in store for me. We arrived in Miami on Thursday night, Feb. 20, and checked into our hotel (the Casablanca).

When I turned on the radio in the room, all I heard was Beatles, Beatles and more Beatles.

Friday, my mother asked me to take a walk down Collins Avenue. We chose to go north (methinks) and I couldn't believe my eyes! There it was, the Deauville Hotel, within two blocks of our hotel! There were 50 to 100 people standing around. They said The Beatles were leaving in a few minutes. I looked at my mother and told her we had to wait to see them. She understood.

The few minutes turned into nearly two hours, but it was worth it. The Beatles finally got into a limousine at the back of the alley and slowly started moving toward Collins Avenue. As they passed by, I leaned over a Volkswagen and knocked on the window. they smiled and waved back, some of them. The limo finally got to the street and made a left turn, the side I was on. Well, I found myself running alongside the limo for about 200 yards and smiling back to them. I was the only person who made it past the police onto the street. I'll never forget those precious moments.
--Mark Lapidos
(The writer founded the Beatlefest fan conventions, now celebrating their 30th year as the Fest for Beatles Fans.)