By Judy Berman
Motown’s soul music and surfer music had me in its grasp. But like any fickle teen, my heart soon belonged to a shaggy-haired mop-top group from Liverpool: The Fab Four.
Parents had no sooner stopped gnashing their teeth over the swivel hips of Elvis Presley and his effect on their children’s morality when their attention shifted to a new threat: The Beatles.
When asked how long he thought the Beatles would last, John Lennon said at the time: “About five years.”
Even Dr. Billy Graham thought the group was just a blip on the screen. “The Beatles … they’re a passing phase: of the uncertainty of the times and the confusion about us.”
Both underestimated the staying power of The Beatles.
For me, it’s been a lifelong love affair. I loved their wit and mischief. But the closest I’ve ever gotten to them was watching their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 8, 1964.
Their upbeat love songs with harmonicas, guitars and drums morphed into complex orchestra arrangements with deeper messages.
Years later, we visited their Abbey Road Studios when we were in London. We walked over the zebra crossing as The Beatles did on their album, “Abbey Road” – their last recorded album released in September 1969.
This album cover added to the rumor that Paul McCartney had died following a car accident in 1967. That speculation was fueled by his limited public appearances after he married his first wife, Linda, and while he was contemplating a solo career.
I thought it was a hoax, but I was caught up in the mystery. I honed my sleuth-like skills and examined the evidence.
On the radio, a DJ (disc jockey) claimed, that when the lyrics were played backwards, it proved that Paul is dead. Some suggested that in the song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” that band-mate, John Lennon, uttered “I buried Paul.” McCartney later revealed that the actual words were far less sinister. He said they were “cranberry sauce.”
Then, there was the album cover itself. Some interpreted it as a funeral procession. John Lennon, in white, symbolized the preacher. Ringo Starr, in black, was viewed as an undertaker or mourner. George Harrison, in denim jeans and shirt, symbolized the grave digger, and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the other band members, symbolized death, according to sources quoted in Wikipedia.
Fortunately, they were wrong. But the demise of the group took place the following year in 1970. They went their separate ways and onto successful solo careers.
From my teen years to motherhood, The Beatles were part of the fabric of my life. I recall playing (poorly) the song, “Good Night,” (1968) written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr, to our girls when they were young.
In December 1980, I awoke to the heartbreaking news of John Lennon’s murder on the classic rock station (WAQX-FM, where I worked at in Manlius, New York). His death was devastating, to say the least.
George Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. Paul and Ringo continue their musical careers. I thank all four for the fun, creativity, thoughtful and musically diverse offerings they played for me, my family and all their fans. They did “Please, Please Me.”
Music Video: “Love Me Do” – The Beatles ’62
Help – The Beatles – movie trailer (1965)
All My Loving – The Beatles – 1964
Please, Please Me – The Beatles (1963)
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Main Photo – The British Invasion – The Beatles – KennedyAirport – February 1964 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Beatles,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg
Lennon and Rev. Billy Graham quotes from: “The Beatles an Illustrated Record,” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler (1975).