Friday, December 08, 2006
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Remembering George Harrison
Thursday, August 17, 2006
It's September 1968 when a few Beatles fans waiting outside EMI Studios in London are given invitations to participate in the filming of a "TV performance by The Beatles". One incredible evening became the most exciting night of one American fan's life. Sher M. of Brooklyn New York was there for this historical event.
September 3, 1968 EMI STUDIOS, LONDON
It began the evening before, when at EMI we were all given invitations by Mal (Evans) to attend "a TV performance by The Beatles" as they worded it. But actually the key word on the priceless piece of paper was "take part" in a Beatles performance. None of us had any idea what that would involve. Some thought we'd be on the popular English program "Top Of the Pops" with the Beatles. "Taking part" would have meant dancing on the show. That prospect was not exactly thrilling.
September 4, 1968, TWICKENHAM STUDIOS, LONDON
Well anxious and excited we met at Paul's house (Cavendish Avenue, just blocks from EMI) to wait for him to leave for the studio. The filming was to take place at Twickenham Studios. At Paul's there was about 10 people including my three friends and I. Paul came out after a limousine arrived. He was with Nat Weiss, an American lawyer and associate at the time and friend of the late Brian Epstein.
Paul was wearing a red velvet jacket. He held up the limo while we crowded around his side of the car. After a few minutes of autograph signing for some German girls, the car drove off with Paul waving to us.
We made our way to Victoria Station. Apple was providing our bus transportation to the studio and back. A lot of the "regulars" from Cavendish Ave. were already there. We all boarded the bus, about 30 of us now, and headed for the studio.
We later found out that meanwhile The Beatles were filming the "Revolution" promo film.
When we arrived and ran up to the gate I could hear John singing at the top of his lungs. Mal came over to us and said we'd be allowed in shortly. I heard John stop singing and then start again, trying to get the song perfect. It was unreal thinking The Beatles were right in the building next to where we were standing. Needless to say we were all nervous wrecks!
Mal led us through the gates and took us to a cafeteria for tea and sandwiches, but we weren't very hungry. As we sat there two more buses arrived with about forty more people. We were getting mad thinking there would now be a real mob scene. Finally we were all led into a courtyard over which was a glass enclosed walkway going from one building to the next. As we were standing there James Paul McCartney himself comes walking overhead and seeing all of us down below he stops and waves. Never let it be said that Paul passes up an opportunity to ham it up a bit. We all started jumping up and down going quite mad by then as the tension and excitement built.
Paul ran out of sight and we (now about 50 people) were brought into the studios. (Mal Evans wrote in the Beatles Monthly Book magazine (Issue #63, October 1968) that 300 extras were given invitations.) There were no Beatles in sight, but their equipment was on a small stage and a piano was put up there for Paul. We couldn't see much at first as there were a lot of cameras in the way.
After the instruments were properly set up in walked the four of them. I froze on the spot as this was the first time I'd ever been so close to all four of the Beatles at once. The Beatles went to the stage where John and George began tuning their guitars while Paul doodled on the piano. I was busy watching Paul joke around with John.
John, Paul, George and Ringo then started jamming with hit tunes like "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" and other favorites. It was quite funny. I was able to make my way closer to the stage and happened to over hear George singing to himself, "I Just Want To Make Love To You" by the Stones. I think he suddenly realized that he could be heard and stopped abruptly.
A friend from Liverpool was on stage, who was quite drunk, wearing a flower behind each ear. He was cracking jokes and the Beatles laughed along wtih him until he started asking John embarrassing questions. The friend was completely soused, when he turned to John and asked "Can I ask you a question?". John nodded and there was complete silence. The friend continued "Did you love your wife?". John immediately came back with "Not lately". There was silence again after John answered then Paul saved the day. Paul began playing the piano and said to John "What was your most embarrassing moment?" Everyone laughed and all was okay.
The director told us we'd be singing the long ending with the Beatles and we practised it once, with everyone running into surround the small platform nearly knocking over huge cameras in the rush. Well we were told to cool it a bit, don't kill each other, we would all get pretty close to The Beatles without destroying the studio.
We tried it again and it was less chaotic although I was frustrated in my attempts to get over to Paul's side of the stage as the largest rush was in that direction. We practiced a few more times still without filming and I managed to get either on the stage on George's side or right in front. Of course when we actually filmed I wasn't able to get as close as my two friends who managed to end up sitting behind George on Ringo's drum stand. What you ended up seeing on the actual promo film is the cameras backing away from the Beatles towards the end of the song and suddenly there are people there around them, but behind the scenes it was quite frantic trying to get the spot nearest the stage.
It was a friendly competition though, except one time Ringo nearly got knocked off his stand! Ringo laughed about it. After we'd filmed it once the Beatles left to view it in their dressing rooms upstairs. At least I thought they'd all gone out. I turned to watch the film on one of the monitors and there in the middle of the crowd were Ringo and Paul watching also.
When George and John returned we tried it again, and again and...we actually filmed for five hours till it was exactly what the Beatles wanted. Let me stress that I'm not complaining! If they would've kept us there 50 hours I wouldn't have minded. I never wanted that night to end. Each time the Beatles came back from viewing the film and decided to do it again we all cheered!
The best times were between actual filming when The Beatles would just fool around on stage. David Frost was to have the film on his show and when he mentioned them in the promo spot for the show we all cheered - but we weren't supposed to. So later on, we found out from Mal, David would be redoing the promo clips with the Beatles there.
Six of us decided to stay when the filming was finished. everyone but us got back on the buses to London. It was about 11:30PM by now and we'd been there about six hours. Only The Beatles, Mal, David Frost and studio technicians were left afer the buses had gone. It was the closest to being alone with the Beatles I would ever get. Frost's intro was re-done and while he was talking I stood alone on the side just watching. George suddenly looked at me from where he was sitting on the little stage and broke into this gigantic grin. One of the girls nearby said "Did you see the look he gave her?" I'd met George at his house three days earlier and obviously he'd remembered.
The Beatles walked out to go to the dressing rooms and we went out with them. I asked Paul if we could all take a picture with him. He said, "sure" and we crowded around him. I had my instamatic camera which one of my friends grabbed from me and prepared to get a shot of us around Paul. Well, naturally the flash wouldn't go off. Paul took my camera, turned it around in his hands a few times and then said, "Catch me later.". Paul ran upstairs and we sat outside waiting for them.
I could see The Beatles in a little kitchen having drinks, Yoko was up there too and some studio girls. After about a half hour Ringo came out with his chauffer and said "goodnight" to us, not far behind him was George who smiled and got into his car. A few minutes later Paul came downstairs and as he stepped into the lighted doorway I snapped his picture. He threw out his arms as if to say "Ah you got me!"
John and Yoko were right behind him and as they came out I got another pic of all three of them. They really looked tired and Paul said the film had come out great, giving the me thumbs up sign when I asked him about it. They got into their limousine and Paul turned to wave at us out the back window all the way down the road and out of sight.
That night heralded the end of my 1968 trip as I left two days later. It was surely a gigantic stroke of good luck and timing to have been a part of that historic night. I'll never forget it.
Originally published in THE WRITE THING February 1978.
Reproduced here with kind permission of TWT editor, Barb Fenick.
Edited by Karen Dyson
Original Photo from ddeepbblue Photo Archives
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
QUE PASA NEW YORK!
Little did we know that when John Lennon arrived in New York in June 1971 he would make New York City his home. The local NY area fans were very fortunate to have Lennon on their home turf. Over time the fans had many encounters with John, and became well-known to him. Here is one of those stories as told by Marie Lacey.
JUNE 18, 1971 NEW YORK CITY
John and Yoko were staying at the Plaza Hotel. We had become familiar with the waiting routine and kept a watchful eye for their Fleetwood limousine driven by their chauffeur, Tom.
On a hunch we went to the Apple offices on Broadway. After awhile we saw the chauffeur go into the building so we knew John was in there. Around 7PM Tom came out to get the limo which was parked in a garage next to Allen Klein's apartment located just one block away.
All of a sudden John and Yoko emerged. We must have all been in a state of shock. We just stood there looking at each other (duh, what are we going to do?)! So there's John and Yoko just standing there for a couple of minutes staring at us. It was so awkward. Yoko gave us the peace sign and John lit up a cigarette. They saw the car at the corner tied up in traffic so they walked over to it while John kept looking at us. We were killing each other, there he was and we didn't go over and say anything. (You could see he was waiting for us to do something).
When the car went by, Sher and I said to each other "lets wave when he goes by" so we did, and much to our surprise John perched up in his seat, turned himself completely towards us and with a big grin on his face gave us the biggest wave you ever saw. Well, I nearly fell over. It was like "wow, he really paid attention to us"!
JUNE 19, 1971 NEW YORK CITY
The next day, June 19, when John came out my group of friends all seemed to have gifts for both John and Yoko. Ann gave them flowers and a cute little frog bank for Kyoko. Barbara gave John a card along with a small American Flag button which John promptly put on his jacket. Lynn gave him a big smile button where she had drawn little glasses like his around the eyes and hair. He put it on his bag, where it stayed the rest of the week.
Just as John got in the car I got to him wanting to give him my gifts. When I said "John", he looked up and with a grin said "oh hello, how are you?" as he stretched his arms out like he was going to grab me. I just kept the stupid grin on my face and said "These are for you" and handed over the gifts. John then said something like "oh how nice, thank you". The car pulled up a little and then stopped for 10 minutes.
Everyone gathered around the car and we all (including John) seemed to be having a good time. John was looking at the gifts and opened his side of the window so people could see better. I managed to end up on Yoko's side and motioned to Yoko to roll her window down and John showed her how to do it. At first she wasn't going to but John said it wasn't fair and to roll it down.
My gifts included Avon Wild Country After Shave lotion that was in a decanter in the shape of a mailbox marked "First Class Male" . (Yoko later wrote a song titled "First Class Male"). John opened the decanter and sniffed it by moving it from side to side raising his eyebrows and smiling (reminding me of his antics with the coke bottle on the train in AHDN). John then opened my other gift, which was Bird of Paradise spray cologne obviously for Yoko. John proceeded to spray the cologne all over Yoko's legs, while she jumped and he laughed.
I also had given John a letter, which he opened right then and there. It was a weird feeling to see him read it. In the letter I thanked him for being so nice to us.
During this same time period we had encountered Paul McCartney many times while he was in New York but he wasn't always in the best of moods. Being young and a bit immature we would make jokes amongst ourselves about Paul treating us with his rude Eastman ways which I included in the letter. When John got to the line "Eastman ways" he laughed and pointed it out to Yoko saying "Eastman Ways".
John then began showing everyone his furry boots by lifting his leg high up. John also charmed us by showing everyone how he lit a cigarette. By then a big crowd had arrived. A bystander took Sher's movie camera and put it in the window and John put his face right up to it and made funny faces. (the camera was upside down and all you see is his nose). Again this same guy put Ann's movie camera in and John did the same thing only longer. (It came out pretty good, you can see his whole face with a gigantic grin and making all sorts of faces).
Someone started handing John paper for autographs, he signed at least ten giving it to Yoko to sign after he had. I managed to obtain one of those myself.
Soon after John and Yoko had to leave. It was really great while it lasted. A lot more happened then I can remember, you know it was so much a once. Of course since that time a lot more has happened and now it seems like a normal thing to see John. I never thought I could get used to seeing one of them. Now its like an addiction. John is really a very fantastic person, he makes you feel like someone. John says hello first, he pays attention and he does notice you. Even in a big crowd, when he sees a familair face he smiles at you. I could go on for pages about what a great guy he is, but I"m sure you all know that.
*Written by Marie Lacey for "Mrs Lennon's Apple Tree" newsletter 1972
Edited by Karen Dyson
John Lennon photo taken June 19, 1971 courtesy of Marie Lacey
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Around noontime, we walked over to George’s. Pattie’s car, and one of George’s cars was in the parking area. We were very nervous. We rang the doorbell, and the housekeeper answered. Her name was Margaret, a pleasant woman with red-hair. We talked to her for 15 minutes or so, and she told us George wasn’t in and Pattie and her friends were still sleeping. I told her about the fan club and she told us that George’s parents might be down over the weekend. She also introduced us to George’s two cats. Margaret told us to come back around 2:15 because she expected George back by then, and if not, we could talk to Pattie.
After lunch in town, we headed back to George’s. When we turned down Claremont Drive at 2:05 pm, we saw a green mini cooper driven by a long-haired person coming towards us. As it got closer, we realized that it was George! We stood there, frozen in the road, pointing at the car with our mouths hanging open. But then, something strange happened.....George’s car slowed down, and backed up to where we were standing. George smiled as he opened the car door and looked at us. He looked beautiful to me -he was wearing a dark green shirt, orange pants, gold socks, and gold shoes with big brass buckles.
After staring at each other for a minute or so, he pointed and said “Hey, aren’t one of you...uh....” and then he pointed directly at me and said “YOU!” Somehow I found my voice and said “Yes, I have a fan club for you.” Then George said, “Yeah, that’s right, you’re Pat aren’t you?” I managed to mumble out “yes”. How did he know who I was from the other two people? He extended his hand to me, we shook hands, and he said “Well, it’s nice to meet you.” He was staring right at me and his eyes just went right through me. I didn’t want to let go of his hand, but I did finally. “Well”, George said, “I’m in kind of a rush at the moment, but how long will you be in Esher? When can you come over and have a chat with me?” He was so polite to us - asking when it would be convenient for us! (Like we had an agenda other than visiting him!). “Whenever it’s convenient with you”, I mumbled. “Well, how about 1:00 tomorrow afternoon?”, he suggested. “Sure, fine, we’ll be here!” we responded enthusiastically. I asked him if I could take his picture, and he said “I’m in a bit of a rush right now, but tomorrow when you come over we’ll have a nice chat and you can take all the photos you want.” He said he had to go, so I closed his car door and he waved and drove away.
As soon as he drove away, I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe that it finally happened - I had met George Harrison, thus making liars out of all my high school friends who said “You’ll never meet him!”. We happily skipped, jumped and ran back to the hotel where I sent telegrams of “Mission Accomplished” to Mom & Dad, Terri, and Betty Ann. I was so happy, I thought I could now die happy!
August 6, 1968: Esher, Surrey
Dressed in our best traveling clothes, we headed over to George’s house about 1 pm. This time when we rang the doorbell, Margaret answered the door, and said “Pat? George will be out in a few minutes, he’s getting dressed.” I loved these people – they made me feel almost like family.
About 10 minutes later, George came out dressed in an orange shirt, orange and green striped slacks, and gold shoes with big brass buckles. We all just stood there looking at each other and not saying anything. Finally George, obviously used to dealing with nervous fans, broke the ice by saying “Well, uh, hello!” We said hello back, but continued to just stand there. Finally George said “Do you want me to pose for photos or something?” We all thought this was a wonderful idea since we didn’t have to talk to take pictures, and we all started snapping away.
All of a sudden we were all talking and joking like we knew each other for years. Pat took my picture with George, but when she snapped it I was laughing, and I said “Hey, that’s not fair, I had my mouth open”, and George whispered down to me “Well, she can take another one can’t she?” (This final photo was to take on many forms in the future - Christmas cards, oil paintings, sepia photographs, magazines, newspapers, etc.).
I asked George if he was immune to flash bulbs yet, and he “blinkingly” looked at me and said “no, not really.” “Do you have anything you’d like me to sign then?” he asked. It was good he kept reminding us of these little things, because we all seemed to be in a state of shock. We then bombarded him with things to sign. About this time, Margaret appeared in the doorway and told George he had a phone call. He excused himself and left for a couple minutes, and then came back to continue signing our stuff.
When he finished signing for everyone else, I gave him my things. First I gave him a postcard of Esher to sign for Betty Ann. “You want me to sign this???” he laughed. I then gave him 5 copies of my revised fan club charter. He read it first, and then asked me if the club had anything to do with the official Beatles fan club (Beatles USA Ltd.) in New York. When I said no, that it was an independent club and I did it all by myself, he said if I joined up with Beatles USA Ltd., I wouldn’t have to do it all myself. “But George, I WANT to do it myself because I enjoy it so much”! He smiled and said “OK, it’s up to you. I’ll sign these then; just wanted to be sure you don’t take me to court!” “What would I want to take you to court?” I asked. Then he asked me why he was supposed to sign 5 copies of it, so I explained who each one was for. When he was finished, I gave one of the charters to him.
I also gave him a stack of letters, a tape recording, and a couple of gifts from fan club members. He put them in the house, along with his copy of the fan club charter, and then I handed him two autograph books to sign. He asked who they were for, and when I told him they were contest prizes he said he’d just sign his name in them. Next I gave him about a dozen of photos to sign (also for contest prizes), and he kept laughing at the photos as he signed them.
After we wore out his hand, we just talked and talked. He asked us where we were all from, and when I started to say “Colleg...”, he finished it for me “Collegeville”, right? He knew the name of the hotel where we were staying, and asked us how we liked it. He remembered everything I told him in that registered letter I sent, and even things I didn’t mention in the letter. (I had a strong suspicion his mother told him a lot about me).
He brought his cat, Josstick, out so we could play with it - Sandy brought a toy mouse for the cat. I couldn’t believe that I was suddenly so relaxed, and sat on the steps at the feet of The Great George Harrison, and played with his cat. He was very friendly with us - telling us what John and Ringo were doing today, telling us that Pattie was inside curling her hair, and he even let us go around back and take some water out of his swimming pool. (I kept my bottle of pool water in my refrigerator until sometime in the 1990’s when the last drop evaporated).
Finally, he said he had to go inside and eat breakfast because he had to go out in half an hour, and wished us a good trip and good weather. He could not have been nicer. Our visit with George was the highlight of the trip and for a very long time, the highlight of my life.
*Excerpt from Do You Want To Know A Secret?: The Story of The Official George Harrison Fan Club" by Pat Kinzer Mancuso
*Photos courtesy of Pat Mancuso, Pat Simmons and Nancy Schrafe.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
It was LOVE at first sight from the moment I laid eyes on THE BEATLES. In 1963 at age 10, I was "introduced" to the FAB FOUR by Rachel, an older neighborhood friend of 13 (she was SO grown up!) . Instantly crazy for THE BEATLES at first hearing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" on local Top 40 radio station, KCBQ, as many fans can attest, my life would never be the same.
By the time THE FAB FOURSOME arrived on U.S. soil on February 7 1964, and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on that Sunday of Sundays, February 9, this little fifth grader was already a dedicated, devoted BEATLEMANIAC.
My access to all things BEATLES was limited due to being so young and lack of funds (no allowance) but I was right in there with the rest of them collecting what I could (with my meager babysitting earnings) oogling over the very SOUND of them on the radio (YEAH, YEAH YEAH!), the VISION of them on the movie screen (AYYYYY!) and the LOOK of them in the magazines (OOOOOO AHHHH SQUEAL!).
Lucky ME, through a Valentine's Day radio station contest, won their first Capitol Records album MEET THE BEATLES along with a magazine completely devoted to THE BEATLES, and an authentic BEATLE wig. Life could not get any better.
After seeing A HARD DAY'S NIGHT over and over (AND OVER) my friends and I would spend our school recess time and after school hours re-enacting the whole movie, talking BEATLES non-stop. (WHO'S THAT LITTLE OL' MAN?)
When it was announced that THE FAB FOUR would be coming to my hometown on their 1965 tour my BEST friend at the time (what was her name?) and I were beside ourselves in glee. We scrimped, saved, begged for and raised money to buy the HOLY GRAIL of tickets which seemed almost impossible to this 11 year old at the time. Gosh golly, $5.50 was a fortune to be had! The two of us planned and sold tickets, door to door, to a performance of our own ( we even rehearsed!): lip synching with badminton and tennis rackets for guitars (a regular neighborhood pass time) and a Beatle wig on one of our heads in our venue of choice, a friend's garage. Shirley I jest, NOT!
We managed to raise the funds needed and were beside ourselves in anticipation of seeing the FIRST LOVES of our short little lives! JOHN PAUL GEORGE & RINGO! It never occurred to us that anyone would not support this FAB adventure that we had dreamed of FOREVER! (I mean it had been nearly TWO WHOLE YEARS! A LIFE TIME never mind a lunch time!)
My dream of dreams came crashing down when my mother made it clear that I would not be going to see THE BEATLES when they came to Balboa Stadium. WHAT? How could this be? But, but, but....to describe the disappointment as a feeling of devastation did not capture the let down I felt especially knowing that my BEST friend (uh what was her NAME?) would be going WITHOUT me. I sobbed and sobbed, nothing could console me as I swore to never forgive my mother. NEVER! EVER!
The evening of the concert, August 28, 1965, I sobbed and sobbed some more while watching all the news coverage of THE BEATLES arrival and press conference in San Diego. Inconsolable, heartbroken, and crushed, woe was me.
The opportunity to see THE BEATLES while they were still together passed me by, as the following year those touring days were sadly over. (A drag, a WELL KNOWN drag...)
Life went on with the ordinary and mundane but my love for the BEATLES never waned. Still I breathed, ate, drank, slept, and schemed but mostly dreamed all things BEATLES along with my new best friend, Annette. (We are still close and dear friends today.) For Annette PAUL was ALL. The Cute One with the Bambi eyes. As for me, GEORGE was my choice. The Quiet One (my arse), The Handsome One as far as I was concerned.
Somewhere along the line we joined THE BEATLES FAN CLUB, and spent all of our babysitting earnings ordering all that was offered. Photos, booklets, photos, posters, PHOTOS! (Did I mention PHOTOS?). Never mind the FREE stuff the fan club would send. We were on CLOUD NINE. Life was good.
By 1971, Annette and I were convinced we were the only TRUE Beatles fans still around. We knew NO ONE else who were as DEVOTED to the FAB FOUR as the two of us made plans to invade England that summer. Surely no one else had EVER travelled so far with the hopes of, dare I say it, MEETING THE BEATLES!
Soon we discovered the many BEATLES Fan Club Chapters that existed all around the country. Before we knew it we were penpals with every BEATLE FAN in America, or so it would seem. There were also Area Secretaries, official BEATLES Fan Club representatives. It didn't take me long to write to the Southern California Area Secretary, Pattie O'Neil.
It was Spring 1971 when in one of Pattie's letters she sent me a photograph of GEORGE HARRISON, standing on the driveway of his home in Esher. To say I was beside myself is an understatement. OH MY GOSH! Until then I never FATHOMED such a thing could exist. A REAL actual photograph, an IN-PERSON photograph taken by a FAN at HIS house! Oh MY SWEET LORD!
This one photograph changed EVERYTHING. Ok, well not everything but suddenly I realized that the possiblity of being NEAR, CLOSE within the same BREATHING space of THE BEATLES was actually truly possible! Many fans had indeed been in the presense of THEM. Annette and I began hearing and reading more of these FAB stories, and seeing more photographs, REAL IN-PERSON photographs taken by fans. It was like being there ourselves!
Though Annette and I went on to have our own little true stories of being near our dear BEATLES, it is these stories told in letters, reported in Beatles newsletters that I hold closest to my heart. The photographs made THEM more real, we could feel closer to our beloved FAB FOUR. These stories were all we ever dreamed of.
So here, within this little space on the WIDE WIDE WIDE WIDE WEB, will be true stories and photographs that I have collected through the years. Stories for those who were there, and for those that missed out the first time around.
It's guaranteed to raise a smile!