Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It was 50 Years ago: Marcia Schafer

As we begin the wonderful time that it is for Beatle fans, the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America in 1964, I find myself excited.   New Beatles things are going to be released, the Beatles are going to be back in the fore-front in newspapers and magazines and people such as myself are going to be asked questions by people who know very little about the band.

I though it would  be fun to highlight some of the American fans that we have seen or heard about for the past 50 years in photographs or in articles and find out the story behind them and where they are today.    So if you are anyone you know is someone who saw the Beatles in person on Ed Sullivan (especially if the camera shows you), saw the Beatles at Washington D.C. (again and the camera ever shows you), or Miami or anywhere along the way in February 1964, I would love to hear from you.   I know it is pretty far-fetched to think that I would hear directly from anyone, and so most likely I will be finding old stories to share with you.   But still I am excited about this idea and I hope you all enjoy it.

The first story from 50 years ago happened before the Beatles actually became well-known in the United States.  It is the story of the teenage girl who was one (if not the very first) of the first people to play the Beatles on American radio, Marcia Schafer.    I briefly spoke with Marcia after hearing her speak at the George Harrison marker dedication.  I handed her one of my awesome cards (really they look really great!) about this blog and asked her if I could add her story to it and she said, "oh yes.  Sure." 

Marcia in 1963 around the time she met George Harrison

The radio station where George was interviewed.

In 1963, Marcia was a typical high school Senior in Southern Illinois.   She will tell you that she did all of the normal things that a 17 year old did at that time.  However there was one thing that made Marcia different from her peers and that was that her father owned a radio station, WRFX-AM in West Frankfort, Illinois and she was the teenage Dee-Jay for a Saturday morning radio show where she played the music that she and her friends were listening to during the time.

During the summer of 1963, George's sister came over to the station with her brother's bands records from England.  Marcia liked them and started playing "From me to you" and "Love me Do" during her teenage program.    So when George came to the area in September 1963, Marcia was excited about interviewing him on the air.    And George was so determined to meet the girl who was playing his records in America, that he and his brother, Peter walked over a mile to get to the radio studio.

Marcia interviewed George Harrison live on the air on a Saturday in late September 1963.   This was the first time a Beatle was interviewed on the radio in the U.S.   The interview was not recorded, however Peter did make a home movie of the interview, which is in a private collection.   Marcia wrote George's answers in an article for her high school newspaper.    George said that the things he liked included, " small blondes, driving, sleeping, Eartha Kitt, chips and eggs, and Alfred Hitchcock movies."   He stated that his favorite thing he had done in America was seeing a drive-in movie.   Off the air, George talked to Marcia about the car she was driving, which was her father's black Oldsmobile with big fins, which he was really impressed with.

George gave her the Beatles newest record at the time, "She Loves You," which she played on the air plus a photograph of the Beatles which he autographed "With love, George Harrison."  

Marcia was very surprised by how long George's hair was and found him to be very polite, slender and a little shy.   And while Marcia was a fan and thought the Beatles had a lot of talent, she was very surprised to see George and the rest of the guys on the Ed Sullivan show four months later.

Marcia tells her story of meeting George 50 years ago

Today Marcia still lives in southern Illinois and she is a media specialist.   She said that no one showed much interest in her Beatle connection until the 1990's.    She did not really realize what a "big deal" it all was to so many people.   Her children were really impressed and she allowed her daughter to take the "She Loves you" (the one George gave her) record to school when she was young for show and tell.   She now can't believe she did that and is thankful that it made it back home in one piece!   Every so often she gets requests for interviews to tell the story of the time she spent with George 50 years ago.


  1. I can't believe this! Ever since I learned about this trip, I was dying to know more about that interview!!!! MTBFR scratches yet another Beatle itch!!!

    I'm so happy you went to Benton!!! Oodles of material!!

  2. Great story. Just imagine a teenage George Harrison strolling down a road in middle America. Four months later...the Beatles are famous!