Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kansas City Here we come!

This story is by Carol Mitchell, who I have written about before on this blog and who has responded in the comments section.   You may recall that Carol wrote a great book called All Our Loving which is mostly about her time in London waiting for the Beatles in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Her book also has other stories in it, including this one, which has been on this site in part before.  Here is the full article as published in the November/December issue of the "The Write Thing."

Going to Kansas City … Kansas City Here I come

By Carol Mitchell


It was twenty years ago today…  Well, really only eighteen years ago that I first came face to face with four young men that we’ve all come to know so well.   I was eighteen then and just out of school when I heard the Beatles might add a concert date to their already announced ’64 tour schedule.  It seems Charlie Finley, then owner of the Kansas City A’s baseball team, couldn’t let “the boys” disappoint all the “wonderful young people” in K.C., so he offered Brian Epstein $100,000 and finally upped it to $150,000 to get the Beatles to appear.  I got in touch with some friends in Kansas City (I was living in Iowa at the time) who sent for tickets for me.  (They were older and not inflicted by this new insanity).  And I finagled press credentials from an old friend in Des Moines ‘cos sitting in a seat in a stadium just wasn’t close enough!

My father drove my friend, Nancy, and I to Kansas City.  I’m sure it was a long drive for all of us.  Nancy and I were eager to get there and my poor father was cooped up in a car with two raving nervous Beatlemaniacs.

When we got in around noon, we cleaned up and hurried to the Muehlebach Hotel (where THEY were staying) with press credentials in our hot little hands.  We had been forewarned that the press conference was closed to anyone under 18.  (Nancy was 17).  So we had both made the ultimate sacrifice and tucked our bangs behind headbands so we would appear more mature.  Well, we got in touch with someone who checked our credentials and sent us to room 111 to wait.  This turned out to be a screening room where people are just left and never get into the conference.  I was getting itchy, so we left and took off down the hall.  We found someone else, showed our credentials, swore on all that was holy that we were both 18and we were ushered into a different room.  This was the real thing!  These were other member of the press with real equipment.  Spying a couple of empty seats in the front row over on the right side, I gave Nancy’s arm a tug and we took off and settled into them.  There I met a slender blonde who introduced herself as Kathy.  She was 16 but looked older and had been brought in by a big wheel dj who wanted a fan’s reaction.  She shared her nerves with me and asked if she could use some of the questions I had prepared.  We wound up going to England together some years later, but that’s another story.

The next thing I knew, Derek Taylor and Neil Aspinall came in.  Derek introduced himself and explained the ground rules.  First, questions from the general press, then radio interviews, then TV and still photographers.  We would be free to mix and mingle during the last two.  Derek looked fantastic and I was taken with him from the start.  But very quickly in came Ringo, John, George and Paul.  Ringo sat down at the table right in front of me!  John had on a very dark grey suit with red, white and black t-shirt and no tie.  He had brown eyes and his brown hair had a definite reddish cast.  Paul looked sleepy.  He was wearing a grey suit with a lavender and white pin-striped shirt and a black tie.  He had brown eyes and very dark brown hair.  George wore a grey suit too.  His had velvet trim on the collar.  His brown hair had only a hint of red.  Ringo wore a matching light blue and white pin-striped jacket and shirt.  His hair was similar to John’s except for a thatch of grey.  They all wore boots and smelled like “English leather.”

I made a tape of the press conference on a little battery-run recorder (back in those days we only had reel to reels, no cassettes)  Unfortunately this poor thing ran at an uneven speed and the tape is mostly unintelligible now, but I did make a written transcript of the conference then and here it is:

J=John, P=Paul, G=George, R=Ringo, DT = Derek, N=Nancy, K=Kathy, C=Carol,  O=general press, U=all the Beatles in union

O:  John, what does your wife think about all the girls chasing after you?

J:  She’s not worried.  She knows they’ll never catch me.

O:  Paul is it true you are secretly married to Jane Asher?

P:  No, it is not.  We are not even engaged. (pause)  That’s all I can say about that.

K:  George, why did you throw your drink in a reporters face in Los Angeles?

G:  Well, he was a very nasty man.  And besides, we had asked him to leave because he was taking too many pictures and we couldn’t see anything.  And so I just decided that he ought to be baptized.

K:  What kind of cigarettes do you smoke?

G:  filter tips

J:  But we’re not going to do any free commercials.

O:  I’m from Variety..

J:  Well good for you!  (general laughter)

O:  Who is the most exciting woman you’ve ever met?

J:  Ringo’s mother is pretty hot.  (Ringo looked hurt).  It’s just a joke Ringo.  Just a joke.

C:  John, what do you think of Paul?  (Paul shot me a look.  John and George seemed to enjoy this question)

J:  He’s okay.  We have to put him down sometimes.

O:  Who is your favorite actress?

P:  Sophie Tucker (then all the Beatles laughed)

K:  What do you think of Jayne Mansfield, Ringo?

R:  She’s  a drag.

DT:  Drag; D-R-A-G.  That’s an English expression.  It means, “She’s a bore.”

J:  I believe that’s an American word, Derek.

O:  What about Mamie  Van Doren?

U:  Ugh!!

O:  What do you think of the Rolling Stones?  (John lets out a terrible groan)

K:  Ringo, do you date fans?

R:  Yes, when I have the time.

K:  Ringo, show us your grey hair.

R:  No.

K:  Why not?

R:  Because it will mess it up.

K:  Well it already looks messed up to me.

O:  John, are you writing a follow-up to the books you’ve written already?

J:  No, I wrote book, not books.  No, I’m not writing anything.

O:  What will happen when the group breaks up?

P:  Well, john and I will continue writing music, and George will play basketball.

G:  or I’ll roller skate.

O:  of all the questions you have been asked what is the one question you wish you had been asked at a press conference? (they thought for a few seconds)

P:  I guess we’ve been asked them all.

O:  What place did you enjoy the most in the U.S. and did you want to stay there longer?

J:  New Orleans because we liked and music.  And we’d like to go back there sometime.

C:  Paul, do you believe the rumors that you’re conceited?

(Paul just looked up at e and smiled and nodded his head “yes”)

O:  Do you ever go to any children’s homes or orphanages?

J:  No, we never do.  (Then we all said we’d seen pictures of them at one painting Easter eggs).

P:  Oh well, that was at Easter.

O:  Do you like baseball?

R:  No.  (Then everyone laughed at the Beatles.  Finally, someone explained that their promoter that night owned a baseball team and that they would be playing in his stadium that night).

R:  Oh well, we like the A’s (then Paul made a thumb-up sign)

K:  Will Mr. Finley have you boys wear green and gold at the show tonight?

J:  No, we’ll wear what we usually do.

O:  What do you think of people copying your hairstyles?

P:  We don’t mind.  When people start copying our styles, we change them.

R:  We change our clothes too!

O:  What special care do you give your hair while on tour?

J:  We wash it and comb it

O:  What do you do about barbers?

J:  Oh, we never go to them anyway.

K:  Paul, did you enjoy your vacation in the Virgin Islands?

P:  (smiling sweetly) Yes, I did.  Thank you.
O:  Do you all speak German fluently?

U:  No!!

J:  Just well enough to get along on the Reeperbahn.

K:  John, due to the recent anti-smoking reports, are you planning to stop smoking?

J:  no, we all have to sometime, you know.

O:  Ringo, do you like the girls tearing up your sheets and going crazy?

R:  I don’t mind as long as I’m not in them.

O:  Does the U.S. government get any money from you? If so, how much?

J:  Ha ha ha!  Not a cent!

R (aside to us) When the British government is done with us, we’ll only have ten dollars to our name.

O:  You boys are getting $150,000 for tonight’s show.  So do you plan on performing extra-long?

J:  No longer than usual.

P:  Just extra well.

O:  When this is all over, what will you boys miss most, the fans or the money?

J:  We don’t see our money.  We have accountants that handle it for us.  We haven’t seen them for a long time either.  We’ll always have the money, so I guess we’ll miss our fans.

O:  Do you believe in religion and politics?

J:  Yes both, but we don’t discuss them.

K:  If you don’t discuss them, then why did you say you’d support LBJ in Chicago?

R:  We didn’t!  We said Eisenhower!

O:  Ringo, is it true that you have to have your tonsils out?

R:  Yes.  We received a telegram today.

O:  Is it true that you are sending them to a girl who wrote you?

R:  No.  I’m not even keeping them myself.

J:  We are going to auction them off.

O:  do you do anything for free?

J:  Yes, charity.

O:  Is there anything you don’t’ like about the tour?  (Here Paul got rather upset and really seemed to mean what he was saying)

P:  Yes.  Too much protection.  We can’t see or shake hands with our fans.  They take us clear to the end of the runway and then load us in a limousine and then we’re off to our hotel suite.

C:  Paul, is it true that you lost your driver’s license and if so, how?

P:  Yes, but I got it back right before we came on tour.  They caught me three times for speeding … they catch you over there, you know.

K:  George, how bad was your accident?

G:  It was nothing at all.  He just tapped me.  That was all.  Nobody was hurt.  It seems the farther away from the thing you are; the worse the stories are about it.

C:  What do you boys do when you are confined to your hotel room?

R:  Well, we sleep, watch the telly, listen to the radio, play cards, and sometimes we talk to each other!

O:  What kind of cards do you play?

P,G, & J:  Poker!

R:  Crazy Eights?

K:  Who do you think is the best of all of you?

J:  We really aren’t very good at anything, but Ringo is pretty good.

R:  No, John, you’re better than I am.

J:  No, Ringo, you know you’re the best.

(Finally they gave this up and let someone ask another question)

O:  George, what about the girl who climbed nine stories and jumped in the window and grabbed you in your night clothes?

G:  She jumped on Ringo, not me.  No, actually I was in the other room in bed asleep.  The police caught her before she got in my room.

K:  Paul, pictures of your father show that he doesn’t have much hair.  What’s going to happen to you?

R:  Well, what do you expect of a 65 year old man?

During the radio session that followed, we spoke with Ringo and then scooted over to talk to Paul.  He put his arm around me for a few minutes.  I went home vowing to never clean my suit!  It smelled of English Leather!

N:  Ringo, do you know how to play guitar?

R:  Oh, I know two ro three chords; but it hurts my fingers, you know.

N:  We’re from Des Moines, Iowa.  Do you know where that is, Ringo?

R:  20,000 cities and I’m supposed to know them all?!

C:  I’ve seen a picture of your girlfriend, Maureen Cox, and she looks very nice.  Do you like her very much?

R:   No.  Well, she just a girl and I like girls.  And you’re a girl and like girls.

P:  Oh hello girls (he put his arm around me)

N:  We’re from Des Moines, Iowa.  Have you heard of it, Paul?

P:  Oh yes.  Are you ladies sisters?

N & C:  Oh no.  We’re not even related.

P:  Oh, well, you look a lot alike.

C:  Paul, how is your brother Mike?

P:  (quite flirtingly) Fine, thank you.  Good luck.

After that we stood and watched while they took pictures.  A Playboy bunny posed with them.  She had her hand underneath the back flap of Paul’s jacket, down low.  He looked a little funny, but just stood there.  At the end of the session, I asked Derek if he’d have John autograph the copy of his book that I was carrying.  He took it and said he’d be back and then they all left.  We waited around a bit and were interviewed by some reporters.

Finally, I decided we were going back to get my book, autograph or no.  So we got on the elevator with some DJ’s from Kansas and rode up to the Beatles floor.  When we stepped off, the hall was filled with detectives.  The DJ’s said they wanted some autograph pictures someone had promised them.  The detective sent them packing.  And then turned to us.  I told him Derek had my book and had promised to return it.  He looked a little disgruntled, but took my name and went down the hall and knocked on one of the doors.  I followed.  The door opened and I could see the Beatles sitting around laughing about john’s writing and passing a small dark book around.  Then the detective blocked my view and turned and came back.  He had my book (thank heaven I had scrawled my name in it) and I opened it and found four more names inside it!

The rest of the trip and the concert were great, but I was most delighted with all that happened that afternoon (And Derek Taylor thank you!)

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