The 49th Anniversary Of The Beatles Arrival In America
By Larry Kane
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Just finished my new book, which will be released by Running Press worldwide late summer. It’s a dramatic look at the Beatles rise to the top, and it has some real surprises. More on that later. But February 7th is an important day.
It was 49 years ago , Feb 7, 1964, that the Beatles landed in New York. Things have not been the same since. Two days later, they appeared on the first of three Ed Sullivan shows. Their performance, live and in black and white, was stunning. They were such a great stage band. Their renditions guaranteed that they would return in the summer of 1964 for the most spectacular tour in music history. I would travel to every stop on their first two American tours.
But a few days after the Sullivan show, I stood on the tarmac at Miami International Airport as they arrived for a few days off. Behind me glass was shattering from the force of young girls and boys who had filled the terminals. They walked off the plane with the other passengers, and a few hours later, I attended a rather small news conference with them at a Miami Beach hotel. It was strange. Only a few reporters showed up. Most of the press corps viewed them as an aberration, a bunch of long-haired pretenders who didn’t have much talent.
I was perplexed. Was this some freak show? What did those kids know that I didn’t know? It was all weird and yet there was a sense oi change, but I didn’t know where it was going.
At the News Conference, John Lennon was very funny. Paul was Paul – smoothie all the way. The other two were quiet. I didn’t know what to ask. Finally I said, “What do you hope to accomplish?” Was that a stupid question, but I never interviewed a rock band and especially one with all that hair. Lennon responded, “Hope to accomplish…are you daft?” Daft I learned later was a British expression for being crazy. I replied, “No, are you”. And he said with a neat smile, “Yes, thats why I’m so successful and why I was kicked out of school.” I said, “Really.” He looked at the other guys, and said, “This guy is a nerd from the fifties.”
He would repeat that comment when I started traveling across North America with them in the Summer. It was a magic relationship. They loved my intensity. I smiled at their comments. We were total opposites, but it worked.
Did I know that they would be legends? Absolutely not. But a wise person, who saw them on Sullivan told me so. My Mother, who would pass away later that year, summed it up. “Larry”, she said, “Larry, who told you that Elvis would be a star.”
“You did Mom.”
“These boys will be bigger than Elvis.”
She never lived to hear my reports from the Beatles tour. But she was right. They became bigger than Elvis and just about every one who recorded music over the last 49 years.
Moral of the story. Never minimize the news you cover. You never know when a story that looks strange, weird and unimportant, will turn out so big that it woud change your career and your outlook on life. Its also a story that eventually brought me to Philadelphia, where I would spend the last 47 years.