This story of a young girl who got to go to a Beatles press conference in Boston was recently written by Dan Mac Alpine and can be found here.
It was 50 years ago tomorrow when Ipswich native Sharon Kennedy took the album title, Meet the Beatles, literally and did just that.
She even held John Lennon’s hand.
Kennedy, then 15, was a reporter for several North Shore papers, the Ipswich Chronicle among them. She was covering the teen scene and often reported on concerts at the South Main Street King’s Rook Coffeehouse and at the Crane Castle. When the Beatles came to Boston to play the Garden, Kennedy wrangled a press pass from Chronicle editor and publisher Bill Wasserman for herself and friend, Suzanne Rocheleau.
"Mr. Wasserman laughed at us and said they wouldn’t let us in," said Kennedy — but it was Kennedy and Rocheleau who would be laughing when their Beatles adventure was over.
Kennedy, now a professional storyteller, will tell her Beatles tale and another, much sadder story of an interview she had scheduled with Martin Luther King Jr. in April of 1968, but the American icon was assassinated before she could do the interview, at the Medford Public Library, Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.
Kennedy used her Chronicle press pass, her innate ability to make up stories and whole lot of chutzpa to not only crash the press conference at the Madison Hotel where the Beatles were staying, but to also meet the Fab Four.
It was the height of Beatlmania. The group had just released the movie "A Hard Day’s Night." And they had "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "Can’t Buy Me Love," "Love Me Do," "A Hard Day’s Night," and "I Feel Fine" all as Billboard number one songs in 1964.
Kennedy, being a good reporter and huge Beatles fan, had a key piece of information that would prove crucial to her big score — she knew who the Beatles press secretary was. "It was a bit of inside information," said Kennedy.
Clutching their press passes the two 15-year-old girls took the train to Boston Garden and then to walked across the street to the Madison.
"We showed the press pass to a guard and laughed at us. We got Mr. Wasserman on a pay phone and he told the guard we were reporting for the Chronicle. And they let us in," said Kennedy. "There must have been a lot of girls with good stories because the place was a madhouse. Just girls going crazy."
But, again, Kennedy had some information. She knew Louise Harrison, George’s sister, was staying on the fourth floor. Of course guards were at the fourth-floor elevator and wouldn’t let anyone off. So Kennedy and Rocheleau used the back stairs and made their way to the fourth floor. They saw Louise Harrison talking to a woman carrying a briefcase. At that moment two guards came rushing up to hustle them off the floor.
"I yelled out, ‘Beth!’ (for the press secretary Beth Coleman) and we ignored the guard and marched right over to Beth Coleman and showed our press passes," said Kennedy. "I said we represent five papers on the North Shore and 22 high schools. I guess I was a professional storyteller before I knew it."
Kennedy proceeded to complain to Coleman that it wasn’t fair the press conference was only open to adults and that she represented the teenagers of America.
Coleman took the press passes and wrote on the back that two teens should be admitted to the press conference.
Even then, when the girls showed their press passes to a police officer at the entrance to the conference, he shoved Kennedy down the stairs.
"We linked arms and walked back up the stairs and showed them to another police officer. He said, "Who the hell is Beth Coleman?’ At that moment the doors opened and we could see her, I yelled ‘Beth!’ and she beckoned us in and we sailed right into the room.
Kennedy and Rocheleau took seats in the fourth row, where Coleman came over to them and whispered a reminder that they were 18 years old.
"A lot of reporters didn’t know which Beatle was which and we helped reporters with IDs. Paul took picture of us standing on the chairs and I to got ask one question, about John’s book and the title of a "Hard Day’s Night." Basically trying to prove I was 25 years old," said Kennedy. "They answered hardly any of reporters’ questions straight. It was amazing they were so funny. That was the main thing. They were so funny."
Sensing the press conference was drawing to a close, Kennedy and Rocheleau pressed to the front.
"We made a mad dash for them, Suzanne shook Paul’s hand and grabbed George’s wrist and he smiled at me. They were trying to leave. And incredibly, I got John Lennon and shook his hand. And they left."
But the odyssey continued.
The girls were swept into the Boston Garden with the other reporters and got to see the concert.
"The concert was not very good at all," said Kennedy. "Girls were screaming so loud you couldn’t hear anything at all. It was a mob seen. You couldn’t hear the Beatles at all. They couldn’t play their best. I mean, how could you?"