Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brush with the Fab 4

I found this story of two friends, Joanne and Nina who had some fun Beatle adventures in New York in the 1960's.   There is a video if you go to the link.

I love the information about Tiny Tim and the 1968 Christmas fan club recording. 

Written by Jennifer H. Cunningham
New York Daily News 

It was the spring of 1968 — the year of the Beatles’ most challenging record, the White Album — when two Bronx beauties received the surprise of their young lives: a three-day flirtation with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

On the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s first U.S. visit, Joanne Rubino and pal Nina Tornabene recalled a whirlwind Mother’s Day weekend in which a then 27-year-old Lennon and 25-year-old McCartney gabbed with the fresh-faced teens in a series of phone calls and brief Manhattan meetings.
“All of our middle and high school years, we were doing this foolishness,” Rubino, 63, now a guidance counselor in Bronxdale, told The News Wednesday. “It was harmless fun.”

Although the lifelong friends first laid eyes on the group 50 years ago this year after winning tickets to sit in on a Midtown press conference through the Beatles fan club, it would be another four years before they exchanged words.

“I remember they were smoking cigarettes and they were answering questions in their cute way,” said Tornabene of the 1964 press conference. “There were a lot of girls. People from the back pushed. I was in the third row and I got pushed through the dais and onto the chairs.”

Four years later, the pair took their obsession to the next level by searching phone books for the group’s manager, Nat Weiss. They called Weiss constantly and would wait outside his Upper East Side flat whenever the Fab Four came back.

Their persistence worked. The day before Mother’s Day in 1968, they’d stood outside Weiss’ house all day, staying even when Weiss came outside and told them and other fans that the Beatles were holed up at the St. Regis Hotel.

Around 6 p.m., a limo pulled up and Paul McCartney and John Lennon emerged. Rubino went to Lennon, Tornabene McCartney.

“He had a cut on his chin,” Rubino recalled. “I asked, ‘What happened to you?’ He said, ‘I cut me self shaving.’”

“Paul touched my arm!” Tornabene said. “It was exciting.”

That night, the girls — then 16 — called Weiss’ house and Rubino put Lennon on. “I talked to him and he sounded impaired,” recalled Tornabene. “Then I talked to Paul.”

“‘Do you guys wanna come to a party?’” Tornabene claims McCartney asked — although she declined the invitation.

“He wanted us to come down to a party at their house,” recalled Tornabene. “We weren’t going to do that. We were Catholic school girls. He was playful, but he wasn't persistent. And he didn't know how old we were."

The next day, Mother’s Day, Tornabene and another girlfriend returned to Weiss’ Upper East Side pad.

Tornabene slipped McCartney an album by pint-sized warbler Tiny Tim, who would break TV viewership records a year later when he married Victoria Mae Budinger in front of millions on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

It was during an interview with Carson at the end of 1968, however, that Tiny Tim made mention of Tornabene on national television while promoting the Fab Four’s Christmas Album, which featured Tiny Tim on ukulele.

Tim explained to Carson that McCartney reached out to him personally shortly after “a fan” passed along the record while in New York City on tour for the latest album.

“I always considered Nina a footnote in rock history,” said Rubino. “I’m sure Tiny Tim had no idea, but whenever I saw him in later years, I’d say, ‘If it wasn’t for us...’”


  1. Exclamation Mike!May 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    So cool! Oh my gosh! Connecting the dots YET AGAIN on MTBFR!!!

    Thanks Nina!!!

    (I had the Beatles Xmas album on a bootleg when I was a kid....I remember cocking my head, trying to figure out the appeal of Tiny Tim to the Beatles.....also, when John and Paul mention him on the Kenny Everett interview....I understand his act way better now!)

    Thanks Sara!

  2. Exclamation Mike!May 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    PS: Great video on the link, thanks!