Monday, September 1, 2014

the Beatles at Jersey Shore

August 31, 1964 -- The Beatles and Al Black at his home.  photo by Richard Black
Al Black re-connected with Ringo in 1999 and shared the photo with him.

Here is part of an article about the Beatles in Atlantic city with security officer, Al Black.   Click here to read the entire report.

When the Rolling Stones came to town George Hamid  Jr. picked them up at the airport in his convertible and drove them to the boardwalk where he bought them hot dogs and pizza, and hardly anybody recognized them. He couldn’t do that with the Beatles.

By August the Beatles had continued to feed on their skyrocketing popularity and were to be met in Atlantic City by thousands of screaming fans, mainly teenage girls with high pitched voices, so they required special security to keep them safe from the unruly crowds.

Hamid grew up in a circus family so he was used to this sort of thing, and to handle this problem he turned to Al Black, an Atlantic City private eye in the best Sam Spade - Peter Gun tradition. The son of a policeman, “Big Al” was a former marine, around the island swimmer, and later a central figure in an undercover sting operation. A TV detective show with Brian Dennehy - “Big Shamus, Little Shamus,” was based on Big Al’s exploits.

Getting the Fab Four to their gig and then to their hotel with thousands of screaming fans blocking the streets was certainly a big chore, but not for Al Black. Keeping the Beatles on time, safe and secure was something that Al Black could do, with a lot of help from the Atlantic City Police Department.

The police thought they had their hands full with demonstrators during the Democratic Convention, but this was more difficult, as thousands of hysterical teenage girls can be more dangerous than terrorists.

Robert Palamaro, a former AC motorcycle policeman recalls today that, “I was detailed to them, and we brought them in inside a bread truck.”

Palamaro says that, “Al Black was the one who put it all together. His father was a policeman, a detective and a truant officer when I was in school.”

Palamaro got friendly with Al Black, who was also pals with Palamaro’s father-in-law Skinny D’Amato, owner of the famed 500 Club. Since Palamaro married Skinny’s daughter Paula Jane, and served as Sinatra’s bodyguard, he is loaded with fantastic stories and celebrity photos, including one of him with the Beatles.
Assigned to the Beatles security, patrolman Clifton recalled the Beatles arriving in a limo. “We arrived at 5 p.m. the night of the show and at least 1,000 fans lined Pacific Avenue, the street that fronts the stage door entrance to Convention Hall. We were told that the motorcade with the Beatles would arrive at 6. During that hour we watched the crowd in the street grow larger. About 5:45 we were alerted the caravan was en route, barricades were moved into position, creating a passageway from the curb to the stage door. When the crowd saw this happening, it was their cue to move into a better position…In an instant, hundreds of people made a rush across Pacific Avenue, oblivious to moving traffic, concerned only with getting closer…The Beatles were coming…The crowd moved as one, like a great wave of humanity, pushing, showing, straining to see, holding cameras up over their heads, hoping to be lucky enough to get on decent shot. As the limousine pulled up to the curb, an eager fan jumped in front of it, only to be pinned at the knees, caught between the front bumper of the limo and the rear bumper of a police car stopped in front of it….The car door opened and out came the Beatles, wanting to smile, wanting to be friendly. The crowd made its move, rushing forward to greet them. For their own safety each young man was surrounded by police officers. Paul McCartney, the last Beatle to exit from the limousine, was practically shoved through the single opened door that led into the building. The crowd continued its surge and in order to restrain them, police officers picked up the wooden barricades and charged into the mob of people. Finally, the stage door was closed and bolted.”  

The Beatles were in the building.


Al Black took the Beatles back to his home for this little-unknown trip

But the Beatles weren’t out of town yet. Al Black had them in the back of the truck so he took them home, to his house at 1112 Bay Drive in West Atlantic City to meet the family and some of the neighbors.

Al Black’s daughter Donna, who now runs the Black security service, was only a child who sat on the shoulders of a neighbor when the Beatles visited the Black’s home. A few photos were taken, but only one survives.

Donna Black recalls, “My babysitter was among the throngs at Convention Hall, and was really upset at missing the Beatles at my house.” But some of the local neighbors came by and the lads from Liverpool got a taste of the real Atlantic City while they were here.

The pit stop in West Atlantic City isn’t mentioned in the Beatlesbible chronicle that says they continued on their Jersey Shore journey: “2:15 pm left Lafayette Motel–Hotel in fish truck which took them to their tour bus, which took them to Cape May where they stayed at the Lafayette Hotel.”

Both Lafayette hotels, the one where the Beatles stayed in Atlantic City and the one in Cape May, were named in honor of the French hero of the American Revolution - Gen. Marquis de Lafayette, and neither are standing today. Although no one today seems to recall them being there, records indicate the Beatles stayed in Cape May for the two days, a short hiatus before their September 2nd show in Philadelphia, when they had to get back on the Beatlemania bus.

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