Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SUBJECTIVE BEATLEMANIA 1964 - 66


 Paul McCartney at The Grammy Awards
 
Recently I was interviewed, as I am "a certain age," about my personal experiences with live shows by the Beatles during the height of Beatlemania in the U.S., 1964 - 1966. And as frequently much of what is meted out ends up on the cutting room floor, here's all of what I offered, which might be removed herein if and when the book She Loves You by Eddi Fiegal is published...

While eschewing the query as to my exact age, I will confess to early teenhood which precluded my driving myself to any entertainments in Los Angeles, a city lacking then or now any reliable public transportation after hours. To the matter at hand, that meant I was dependent on others to witness the Beatles live twice at the Hollywood Bowl and lastly at Dodger Stadium, all in L.A.

I saw a postcard photo of The Beatles from a British-born classmate mid-1963, slightly before the band broke in America, and thought they looked cute in their European movie, nouvelle vague longer haircuts. It was closer to the cool surfer look here than the normal, straight, American, Marine soldier norm for male teens everywhere of that era.

I had liked rock and roll from the moment I heard the radio station that my parents' maid had found (then called, unfortunately, a race station) which retained the open-mindedness to play Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" along with its normal R&B fare. 'Liked it all immediately. Heretofore, popular 1950s broadcast music was Perry Como mellowmush to me. In the early 1960s, popular American broadcast music still was mellowmush and teen formula (like...today!) until wheels started turning at Vee Jay and Capitol Records to put the foreign phenomenon of The Beatles on heavy rotation, starting with "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."   Wowza!  Love at first listen! Then correlation to the postcard cuties I had seen.

The mechanisms of that heavy rotation as it turned out provided a useful life-lesson in the mechanics of the entertainment business to yours truly, who aimed her talents at same, at a very young age. The Beatles' first show had sold out in one hour while I was at school. Frantically I prevailed upon any grownup up I ever had met in the entertainment biz for connections to get a coveted ticket. One of them was the head of Dot Records, Randy Wood, who, while he couldn't help with my immediate concern, had the kindness to give me a consolation prize, that of an unusual Beatles promotional item. It was an EP record of an interview with the Beatles in which the questions had been expunged so that various radio stations' DJs could be heard asking the questions in "an exclusive" for whatever that radio station was.

This was such an important life lesson of what went on behind the curtains of The Biz that I've forgotten how I eventually procured that first Hollywood Bowl Beatles ticket. Hence my Beatlemania was objective as well as subjective, with the addition of more to that in a moment. I do recall what I wore-- a Japanese bamboo-patterned short shift dress to fake pre-teen sophistication-- and that I was dropped off and retrieved by parents, but not how I got the golden ticket.

With this much trouble getting tickets while I was at school, I went all out from then on. With the third concert I hit the jackpot on all three ticket sources and ended up with a plethora. That meant I could invite several of the cute young musician guys I had just met to the Dodger Stadium show, plus a parent who would provide transportation. My musician friends had wanted to record this show. With yesterday's technology that meant giant reel-to-reel tape recorders, which they begged me to smuggle in within a girl's normal beach bag. So I did, and before we found our seats the tapes fell out and unspooled all the way down the sports' stadium bleachers' seating. But they didn't care, re-spooled same, and got a recording of nothing but tens of thousands of girls and other teens screaming their heads off nonstop. I'm told the band The Byrds did the exact same thing to procure those screaming sound effects later used on their 45 single release "So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star..."

My second important life lesson via The Beatles came from the coincidence of exact location, era, proper age and gender. I had slightly older girlfriends who both met and occasionally slept with assorted Beatles on those first three American tours. They had access at parties from their well-connected parents, or, in a most original introduction, one of them rode her horse over to the mountaintop mansion enclave where "the boys" were housed and requested entry. Beatles' security even then was sufficiently well trained to let a beautiful teenaged girl wearing a poncho and little else on a well-behaved horse into their rarefied grounds...

Therefore the Beatles' phenom was personalized into an expression of superior musical talent by a group of guys who potentially were "one of us" to me via these girlfriends. I had heard the stories. So later I provided the pictures, and to this day fifty years late I remain a pro music photographer. However in this earliest case I provided the artwork. For a fee I would draw my girlfriends en flagrante with her favorite Beatle or Rolling Stone...

-Heather Harris
 Sept. 12, 2017

2 comments:

Carolyn Carradine said...

Great article Heather! Would love to see the drawings!


Fast Film said...

But the drawings went to the clientele! And in 1964, I had no means of reproducing them...

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