Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The fan who snipped Ringo's hair



Beverly's snip of Ringo's hair along with the autograph she obtained that night.

 The story about Ringo getting his hair snipped during the Ambassador's gathering in Washington D.C. in 1964 is a well-known story.  Ringo even re-told it in the Anthology series.   However, the story behind who that fan was and why he or she did such a crazy thing has been a mystery, at least to me.   I found a story about the girl who snipped Ringo hair from a 2004 news article and I found this to be pretty interesting. 


When she saw him standing there, Beverly Markowitz didn't want to hold his hand, love him do or please please him. 

The 18-year-old just wanted a tiny tuft from Ringo Starr's adorable mop top.

And on Feb. 12, 1964, she got it, in the process creating a hallmark moment of the burgeoning cultural phenomenon then gripping America: Beatlemania. 

"My 15 minutes of fame has lasted 40 years," that same Beatles fan, now named Beverly Rubin, said Tuesday evening in her Henderson home, where that inch-long lock of Starr's hair is mounted on a plaque alongside the autographs she collected from Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison that night in Washington, D.C. 

It was 40 years ago today that she snipped some hair from the Beatle drummer's shaggy mane during a post-concert cocktail party at the British Embassy. The widely reported incident, which led to her swiftly being thrown out of the gathering, would become a symbol of just how obsessed teenage girls suddenly had become with four lads from Liverpool. 

Rubin, 58, said Tuesday that she had no idea of the publicity her impromptu haircut would garner. And even though Ringo reportedly remains snippy over the chopped lock, she says she'd do it all over again. 

"I'd do worse," Rubin said, smiling slyly and pausing for a moment before elaborating. "I mean I'd get a matching set of locks from John, Paul and George, if I was quick enough." 

Rubin, dubbed "the Beatle Barber" by the Baltimore Sun, reflected at length Tuesday on her infamous stunt, explaining how she crashed an exclusive embassy party, why she picked Starr, her distaste for John Lennon and what it was like to be, at least briefly, a semi-celebrity in a nation in the throes of Beatlemania. 

Only nine months out of high school, she was living at home with her parents in Silver Spring, Md., working for the National Institutes of Health and dating a local disc jockey. 

Fresh from their widely watched first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York two days earlier, the Fab Four would travel down the coast to play their first U.S. concert Feb. 9 in Washington Coliseum. 

Rubin had heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the radio a few times, but she wasn't that impressed. "I just thought it was another rock 'n' roll band with a cool hairdo," Rubin recalled. "They were all cute, though." 

Her DJ boyfriend got tickets and told her they had to go. She agreed to attend. "He told me that the Beatles were going to be really big," Rubin recalled. 

Clad in gray suits, black ties and Spanish boots, the Beatles hit the stage about 8:30 p.m. to a screaming crowd of more than 8,000, most of them crazed teen girls. 

They kicked off the set with "Roll Over Beethoven" and in slightly more than a half-hour ran through nearly a dozen other numbers, including "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout," before ending with "Long Tall Sally." 

Her in-the-know boyfriend discovered that the members of the pop group would be heading back to their hotel and then to the British Embassy to hand out charity raffle prizes for the ambassador. The young couple decided to crash. 

"I had a dress and heels on. My hair was all done up, and my date was in a suit," Rubin said.
The 18-year-old already had missed her 11 p.m. curfew. "We were in the parking lot. It was cold. It was snowy. It was late and dark and everything, and I had to get home or my dad was going to kill me."
But her boyfriend egged her on, and getting into the party was much easier than they thought it might be.
"This white-haired, drunk guy walked out, and when he went back in, we just walked right in with him. We got to go past the press and the velvet rope and right into the party." 

The Beatles were upstairs hanging out with a few select guests for what seemed to Rubin like forever. Rubin and her boyfriend sipped cocktails and waited. And waited. And waited. 

"It was like one o'clock in the morning, and no Beatles yet," Rubin said, recalling that she began asking the DJ to take her home. "He said we weren't going anywhere until the Beatles came down." 

Finally, they did. Rubin, who at that time carted around white index cards with her wherever she went in case of a celebrity sighting, began collecting autographs and chatting the Englishmen up.
"They were all very nice, except for John," she said. "He wouldn't sign anything for anybody at all. I kept saying to him, 'What is the matter with you?' Very arrogant." 

So how exactly did this lead to Ringo losing some hair and his temper? Rubin has said her motives have been misinterpreted in the past, and she wants to set the record straight. 

She says it wasn't an inflamed passion for the Beatles percussionist that led her to pull 3-inch nail scissors from her purse. It was fear of her father's wrath for violating her curfew. 

"We were socializing, and I kept saying, 'Let's go, let's go, let's go,' and my boyfriend just didn't want to leave," she said. "I couldn't figure out how to get out, so I thought we'd just get thrown out." 

The fastest way to get ejected? Make a move at chopping off Ringo's mop top. 

"I pulled out those little scissors from my purse. I just went clip, clip, clip, clip, clip all around the side, and he didn't feel it at first," she said. "Then he turned around and grabbed my shoulder." 

Within seconds, she was being escorted out. She luckily avoided a grounding when she got home.
When the incident initially was reported around the world, no one knew who the female fan with the scissors was. Newsweek magazine mentioned in its Feb. 24, 1964, cover story on the Beatles that an unidentified "matron whipped out scissors, snipped off a lock of Ringo's hair and disappeared in the crowd." 


Her anonymity soon evaporated when a friend called into a Washington, D.C., radio show and announced that Beverly Markowitz of Silver Spring was the mystery snipper. "The phone kept ringing, and my dad kept saying, 'Who are these people? What have you done?' " Rubin recalled, laughing. 

Then the media flocked to her home. "In front of my house were the press and photographers and trucks and all kinds of stuff." 

Letters began pouring in from Beatles fan club presidents all over the country, asking for a few strands of the purloined lock. "I wasn't giving up Ringo's hair," Rubin said. 

But she didn't want to disappoint fans, either, so she kept clipping off her mother's hair and mailing it to them.
"There's a lot of people out there with fake Ringo hair," she said. "My poor mother. We used to sit her down, go get the scissors, and she'd say, 'Oh, not again.' " 

But the question remains: Why Ringo? 

"He's kinda short, and I had on heels, so I could kind of get to him easier than the taller ones," she said.
British journalists who have interviewed her recently assured her that Ringo remains ruffled over the incident. That doesn't seem to bother Rubin, who has other things on her mind. 


"I wonder if his hair is still this color," she said, fingering the lock under yellowing tape. "I wonder how much money I could get for it?"

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