Friday, April 6, 2012

A visit with heroes, a time to remember

Teenage Fantasies Fulfilled:  Aug 15, 1965:  Paul McCartney and Lou O'Neill Jr.
If this story sounds a little familiar to you, that is because I have posted in before, but slightly different.  Lou O'Neill wrote this story for the New York Post and was published June 27, 1977.   This was right at the time that the Beatles Hollywood Bowl live album was released.   He re-told the same story about five years later for Circus magazine and that is what I have put on this blog before.
A visit with heroes, a time to remember
By Lou O’Neill Jr.
6-27-77 N.Y. Post

On May 4th, just a little over a month ago, and after a dozen years of delay, Capitol Records released the first official live (previous bootlegs notwithstanding) Beatles album in concert.  The disc, the Beatles first in nearly seven years, was immediately certified god by the R.C.A.A. and became the groups’ 21st gold record.  The album entered Billboard’s national charts at No. 13 with a bullet.  It is loaded with early vintage Beatles classics like “She Loves you,”  “Long Tall Sally,” and “She’s a woman.”

Now, just one short month later, even though the Beatles have not set foot on an American stage in almost 11 years – this live testament to the Beatles greatness as a rock band is No. 2 on the charts and nearing platinum sales status besides.  Only the stunning “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac tops it.

Think about it for a moment. A group that doesn’t even exist anymore releases a record, does nothing whatsoever to promote it, and promptly watches it rise to the heights of the national charts.

Why?  Why indeed.

I first met the Beatles August 15, 1965.  They were in town to tape the Sunday night Ed Sullivan show for CBS and after weeks of begging, pleading, cajoling, crying, whimpering and promising, my father finally  agreed to call his old sportswriter friend Sullivan and arrange for a backstage pass.

My dad and I walked into the small midtown theater and were inside no more than 10 seconds when I heard the familiar guitar opening of “Ticket to Ride.”  On the stage, less than 25 feet directly in front of me, the Beatles were doing what they did best:  playing great rock and roll.  It was like being in heaven.

Being alone in the dressing room with John, Paul, George and Ringo was something I couldn’t believe was happening.  The band had six songs to tape for the Sullivan Show (I Feel Mine [sic], I’m down, act naturally, ticket to ride, yesterday and help) and the dress rehearsal was finally over.

In less than two hours, they would do it all over again, only this time it would be no run through. John and Paul were confident about the sound system.  There could be no mistakes since they were live.

Minutes earlier, during a “take five” I had my chance to meet bassist Paul McCartney who must have A) either felt sorry for me; or B) genuinely liked me since he promptly invited me upstairs for tea.

Though still a teenager, and more importantly a Beatles’ fan of the first order, I buttoned my lip, acted like a New Yorks’ most mature young adult and sat on a small step-stool to observe (in silent awe). 

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and to a lesser extent, Ringo Starr were doing most of the talking.  Amazingly, the literate Beatle seemed quite unaffected by, and accustomed to the continuous insanity and chaos swirling about the band.  Lennon talked about the upcoming tour (from which seven songs are included on the live album) about their new film, “Help!” and asked me questions about America and New York in particular.  He seemed to have a love for our city even then. 

Had I been thinking more clearly and logically I would certainly would have tried to “interview” the Beatles, but of course, it (perhaps wisely) never entered my mind.  I was a teenage fan, noting more and nothing less, and these were my idols right there in the flesh sitting next to me.  Retrospectively, I don’t think I could have asked, (I was that nervous), must less conduct an interview with four of the most popular men on earth.

Even though George Harrison (the quietest man I’ve ever met) didn’t say a word to me or the others for the duration of the break, the Beatles were sincere, straight-forward and good natured beyond belief despite considerable personal inconvenient.  I had to pinch myself to prove this was no dream.

Thanks to Capitol Records 40 promotional copies of the Beatles “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” have been made available to the Scene.  You can win this history-making LP free by correctly answering this question.  My fans still believe that “Let it Be” was the Beatles final album.  This is incorrect.  To win “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” name the last song form the last album the Beatles ever recorded together.  Think carefully about this tricky question and good luck.

In this day and age of hype and overkill, the Beatles still remain a worldwide phenomena.  They were, are and always will be for me the greatest rock band in the history of music.  Their influence on the world is incalculable.  Most importantly, they were first and they were the best.  Paul McCartney turns 35 tomorrow.  Thirty-five!  But hell, we all grow older, even pop stars.  So instead of thinking of Paul’s age tomorrow, I for one will sit down with the White album, get loose and listen to Ob-la-di Ob-la-da as I wish my teenage hero a happy birthday. 


  1. The date of the meeting was 14 August, not 15 as the author mistakenly remembers it, since he mentions the Ed Sullivan rehearsal.

  2. Yes the 15th was the Shea Stadium concert. I wonder if this author went to that as well. I always type things up as they are, maybe I should make a note when I notice the wrong dates so that it doesn't confuse things.

  3. The answer is "Her Majesty"