|photo by Curt Gunther|
They Meet the Press For Laughs
By Richard K. Shull
The Indianapolis Times-- September 4, 1964
The original Mersey dolts, whom the world has come to know as the Beatles, faced a press conference last night in spite of a most ominous threat to their heady careers.
The audience in the Coliseum was so quiet the paying guests could hear their peculiar brand of music. Exposure such as this, without the screams to drown out their guitar thwacking, could be their ruination.
Cheerfully, the four lads from Liverpool filed into an upstairs corridor of the Fairgrounds Communication building last night between their two shows to meet the press.
Outside the building was a press of another nature as several hundred girls loitered in hopes of 1) somehow sneaking in or 2) at least getting a glimpse of them. "Ringo's the greatest!" a shrill-voiced girl shouted. "The Lord is the greatest," a curbstone evangelist admonished her. "Ringo is here," the girl replied. "The Lord is everywhere," quoth the evangelist.
Inside the building, the press, radio, TV and a number of persons who looked suspiciously like friends of the Fair Board assembled through a stair door at one end of the corridor. The Beatles and their omnipresent police escort entered from the other.
"Evenin' folks," Paul McCartney said, when a hush fell over the hall.
"Hello anyway," Ringo Starr added.
Then began a session of flashbulb popping. Before they entered, there "press officer," Derek Taylor, whose hair is too long to be fashionable, and too short to qualify as a beat musician, laid down a few ground rules.
First would come the still photos, then the interviews, and finally the TV. In the interim, three girls representing interests especially dear to the Fair Board's heart were permitted to make token presentations and lay hands on the singers.
Taylor, who was quoted in the Saturday Evening Post as saying the Beatles are so, "anti-Christ they shock me, which isn't an easy thing," then complimented local police on their excellent security.
Then came the questions. Here are some:
About Leonard Bernstein? Paul: He's great. He wrote West Side Story.
Are the Beatles leading a teen revolution against adults? Paul: They've been revolting for years. (George Harrison correct the ambiguity, saying they meant in revolt. john Lennon allowed he like the way Paul had said it).
What do they think of American food and drink? John: Kellogg's is all right. I mean, the cornflakes are all right.
Why does Ringo dislike Donald Duck? Ringo: I can never understand Donald Duck. Can you?
Why aren't the Beatles in the British draft? John: We all miss it. If not, we'd be hiding the south of Ireland.
What is their favorite song? John: Land of Hope and Glory (known in this country as "Pomp and Circumstances).
Were they aware Indiana would take its state tax off the top of last night receipts? John: Really? (with feeling).
What do they do all day locked in their hotel rooms? John: We play tennis and water polo and we hide from our security.
Would they like to be able to walk on the streets without being disturbed? John: We used to anytime, with no money in our pockets.
Is Paul anti-religion? Paul: If anything, I'm agnostic. I'm not religious and I'm not anti-religious.
The Saturday Evening Post said John drank Scotch and Coke. Is that true? John; Scotch and 7-up. It was changed.
Is Paul going to write a book? John: He writes on walls.
What is their favorite U.S. music? George: The Detroit sound. Paul: The Beach Boys have good harmonies.
What do they do with all the presents they receive? George: Ship them back to England. Paul: Unless it's a 50 foot cake, we dont' keep that. John: We haven't received a 50-foot cake. Paul: Well a three foot cake. We give that sort of thing to charity.
Would they go behind the Iron Curtain? Paul: Who's there? John: No rubles. George: No taxes. John: No money, either.
How did they get their hairdos? John: We've told so many lies we've forgotten.
Where did they have their loudest audience? Paul and George: Cincinnati!"
The quietest? John: This was very quiet.
What's the oddest rumor about them? John: That I've got a new baby coming. I've not. I haven't been home that long.
What do they do with their money? John: We can't find it.
Have they ever resented that their manager, Brian Epstein, gets 25 per cent of their income. All in Unison: No. George: Before he handled us, he handled our money. Paul; We've never resented him.
Do their throats get sore on tour: George: I've got a bit of a throat now. So has John.
What do they talk about when they are alone? Paul: We talk very normal with each other.
What would happen if the fans broke through the police lines? John: We'd die laughing.
Conclusion: The Beatles may die laughing, even if the fans don't crash the barriers.
Who else, even the President, could get the press to stand around and cool its collective heels as they did last night? Who else could poke fun at their own music, their fans and their patrons? Who else could induce the state police superintendent to hover about like a "possum over a new nest of eggs?" Or as Paul said, at one point in the proceedings: "God save the queens."