Go with the Beatles Across the U.S.A.
By Long John Wade WDRC, Hartford Connecticut
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, this is Paul McCartney, your resident D.J. reporting to you from the Beatles suite in New York City. I have with me now, that famous man who you’ve probably never heard of…I know you don’t want to listen to him because he’s a lot of rubbish, really, but anyway, here he is…just sitting around giggling…a real live idiot…John Wade.”
So started an interview between myself (Long John Wade) and Paul McCartney only this one was a little different. I had done so many interviews on the Beatles’ American tour, the format started to become stale and old hat. And that takes a lot of interview in a 35 day period.
This time I had approached it from a different direction; I had a Beatle interviewing me. This was one of the interviews and capers that was different front the miles of tape many DJ’s greedily grasped onto during stopovers in various cities along the tour route. I had an advantage over the others: I was the world’s only radio personality to travel the complete Beatle American tour on the Beatles’ chartered plane, in the Beatles’ hotel rooms, and on their stages (the ones going out of town at 3 a.m.). There were other newsmen on the plane about four from England and two freelance photographers from the U.S. Other disk jockeys wangled their way on to the Beatle plane for one or two of the some 25 stopovers. They wanted to “factually” state to their fans and listeners that they had “actually” been on the Beatle tour. They got their taped interviews where most of the local jocks did, at the confused disorganized press conferences of stale, stupid, rumor-formed questioning. I had an advantage over most of the others: I was invited into the Beatles’ room at their Bel-Aire hideaway in Hollywood, their cramped by the police “Quarters” in Indianapolis, the kitchen in their villas at Key West, Florida, the black lounge of the American Flyers plane, etc.
Besides getting the story, the interviews, and feeding to my home station, WDRC, and nationwide network of others, I also found myself performing other unusual services and getting myself into situations I doubt anyone will ever experience again. I was liaison between the Beatles and fan club presidents, some dates, visiting American bands and musical artists who wanted an “audience” with the Living Legends, plus I was John Lennon’s bodyguard (so to speak) on a siren-screaming ride in a police car to Hollywood’s Whiskey a Go-Go with Jayne Mansfield in tow. I was the brunt of some good natured jokes from Ringo about being known as “The Whisperer”, and another nickname from Paul from Paul which I hesitate to mention here.
Jackie DeShannon, who was one of the fine artists on tour with the Boys and was billed on the show just before the Beatles mentions a pillow fight. This was one of the high points of humor and good fun on the trip. It was actually during take-off from Canada on the way to Florida (a six hour plane flight) when this took place. The pillows on the plane were small back rest feather-filled affairs. Herbie, male-lead singer of the Exciters, a couple of English newsmen, and I were toss them from the front of the plane to the rear and back during take-off, but when we could take off our seatbelts, all broke loose, pillows flew here, there and everywhere. Some innocent bystanders quickly changed their status when accidentally slugged by one of the missiles. Some of them caught Ringo and Paul off guard, so they decided to join in. While Herbie blasted me, I was creaming Ringo, and then Paul went back to the kitchen area where the stewardesses have their public address system. He got on the loudspeaker and started to give a play-by-play description of the fracus. Some of the photographers tried to take some shots, but by the time they could get their cameras loaded and shooting many of the pillows had burst and feathers flew like a blizzard. It all ended with huffing, puffing and smiling. A lot of built up tension and emotions were released. We slept well on the way to the sunny south.
The tour was hectic, to say the least, but a lot of fun. And even better was seeing the Boys much later. I visted them while on my vacation. They were filming location shots for “Help” in Nassau. It was good seeing them again, just recently my brother (Long Dan) vacationed in Austria and visited them on location in the Alps while I did my radio program every day 4-8pm.