Monday, July 07, 2008

My so-called past

This is another of my ersatz blog experiments.

I've been playing around with a new project lately, a memoirs of sorts. Any account of the 60s you read features pretty much the same story -- clean-cut kids become drugged out hippies, college revolutionaries, or Scientologists. Well I did none of those things. And it turns out, neither did 90% of the kids who grew up in the 60s. So I thought -- maybe there's a book in their story, which works out well since it's also my story.
I don't know what I'm going to do with this. I've only just begun. I may expand it, change it, move forward, or scrap it. Let me know what you think. This is the first installment.
The Beatles appeared on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

It was Sunday night, February 9, 1964.

I was almost 14, living in a ranch style tract home in an upper middle class suburb of Los Angeles called Woodland Hills. The farther west you got in the San Fernando Valley, the more pleasant the names of the towns. Woodland Hills, Canoga Park, Hidden Hills. Far better than the more easterly Pacoima and Sylmar. I lived with my relatively young parents (still in their 30s) and younger brother, Corey.

I don’t remember who else was on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW that night. Probably a plate spinner, the Obratsov Russian Puppet Theatre, British comedian Mr. Pastry, Baby Opal & Baby Kay (elephant act), Ginny Tiu & her siblings, and if time permitted, Robert Goulet.

Back in 1964 there were only three networks and we watched whatever crap was on. Human-robot Ed Sullivan hosted a weekly variety show tolerated by the entire family. I can’t tell you how many three-legged dog acts and Szony & Claire dance teams I suffered through just to catch three minutes of the Four Seasons or Abby Lane in leotards.

The Beatles’ timing couldn’t have been better. The country was still in a giant funk over the assassination of JFK and the largest generation the world has ever known was starting to get a weekly allowance.

The Beatles had first burst upon the scene a month before. It seemed like every hour a new Beatles song was premiering on Color Radio, KFWB. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. “Love Me Do”. “She Loves You.” They even started playing German versions (“Sie Liebt Dich”). That’s when you knew you had a phenomenon on your hands (although German versions of anything would be better than the Bobby Vinton oozeburgers that were topping the charts back then).

Parkman Jr. High, where I was trapped in the 9th grade, was abuzz with the Beatles. That’s all anyone talked about at “Nutrition”. (Why they called this recess “Nutrition” I do not know. The only things they sold were flying saucer sugar cookies and chocolate milk.) The girls in particular were quite taken with these four lads. They’d cluster in excited little huddles, debating which one was cuter, squealing and laughing. I remember thinking at the time, “Jesus, they’re acting like idiots” but just chalked it up to yet one more thing I didn’t understand about girls. (And as I went through the decade and got to know them better, that list only grew.)

Guys were still a little skeptical. Beatles songs were fine but this was Southern California. We already had our group – the Beach Boys. They connected with our lives and our lifestyle. The beach, surfing, hot cars, that whole California dream. It was real. We were living it. Okay, well, I wasn’t living it. I don’t think I could lift a surfboard at that age. And girls seemed more impressed with Corvettes than a Schwinn ten-speed with raised handlebars.

But that was unimportant. The Beach Boys were singing our anthems.

“Little surfer
Little one

Made my heart come all undone.”

Oh, to be that lucky guy in the “Woody”, taking her everywhere I go (except maybe to temple).

Who the hell could relate to Liverpool?

So we guys took more of a wait-and-see attitude. The Beatles were coming to America for a three-week tour and three appearances on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. Let’s see if in person they were as cool as five guys in striped shirts singing macho songs in falsetto.

73,000,000 people watched the Beatles that first Sunday night. They were dazzling, electric, unlike anything I’d ever seen. Words can’t explain why. You look at the tape today and it’s just four guys in matching dark suits with long hair bouncing around singing “Yeah yeah yeah” in harmony while crazed teenage girls in the audience scream their guts out and cry. But I could sense, right then, that something was happening. I could just feel it. Something not just big, but huge, seismic – a national coming out party for my generation.

The Beach Boys started a craze. The Beatles started a revolution.

February 9, 1964 officially became the start date of our time.

If only we knew what the hell to do with it.


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

OK, how's this for the format of the book:

Design the book around single events, as you've done here; only, instead of one person's take on the event (yours), find someone else who made the opposite observation, or made the opposite choice.

Tell each brief story on facing pages, with the description of the single event at the top. Ken on the left; other person's story on the right.

As an idea: ask celebrities and the famous folks you've worked with to provide their stories, which you can use in contrast to your own.

For example: The first night of the draft lottery. You had Number Whateveritwas and went into the Army; some other schmuck had the same number, went to Canada, and got their own TV show.

Title: "The Comedy Writer and Everybody Else: Growing Up Funny in the '60's."

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'd be very interested in reading a truthful, average-joe account of the 60s as opposed to the flowery hippie children version we always see. I've always been fascinated with what life was really like for people in a time when so much was changing.

Anonymous said...

I've always been fascinated with what life was really like for people in a time when so much was changing.

You mean like now?

Anonymous said...

All I remember about that Sullivan show is that my parents liked The Beatles--they were also fans of Elvis, so goes to show their musical taste and I knew I'd never be a fan (lone exception being for the year Revolution was the anthem of my graduation class and we staged a mini-revolution of our own by walking out of high school in protest of the horrible lunch food)--and being at odds with them would set the tone for decades to come. And as much as the Beatles and Beach Boys defined that era, both selling out--much like the rest of the baby boomers did--I was always a Stones (and later The Doors and the Kinks) and Jan & Dean (and later the Zoobies and Ventures) kinda guy: never compromise: never sell out. I still am.

I don't know about you, but I think our generation, the so-called baby boomers, traded idealism for the security of becoming our parents. And we're a poor imitation of everything they accomplished and stood for, maybe the next group will get it right.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see the suspicion I've long carried confirmed in your own inimitable words. Namely that the '60s started on Feb. 9, 1964, sometime after supper. Introduced by a weird robot.

And, carrying the argument out, the '60s probably conveniently ended... a little over eleven years later with another weird robot waving his hands in a "V" sign from the port-a-stairs leading to his no-longer-presidential helicopter.

Back then I was, as the Scots say, wee. So I don't recall much about the time in between. Others, allegedly, don't recall much about those years either, for other reasons.

But here's to the geeks who dropped out of the dropping out! I can't wait to read your book!

And, one suspects, neither can the robots.

Anonymous said...

Er... duh. Nixon out in '74, not '75. That'd make ten years. Wow. Decade-like, almost.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute - you never had the desire to at least dress counterculturally? No bell bottoms in 1972 for you? No Nehru jacket in '69? No florid hair? With such youthful parents, didn't they themselves ever play at hippyness? My folks, also in their 30s at the time, did - and my dad's an orthodontist.

Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill were a comedy duo who performed in the first of the Sullivan shows that featured the Beatles. A few years back, there was a great long Washington Post story about the evening from their perspective; just found it: (A few years later, Brill had a well-known role on Star Trek, as the Klingon disguised as a human in the tribbles episode.)

Anonymous said...

I remember it. I was 9.
I had no idea what it was all about, but I felt that same change you did.

For me, the 60's were a very scary time to live through. So much social unrest, the Vietnam War every night on the news. The only good thing about the whole decade...THE METS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!
One needs to put things into perspective... :-)

Jerry Dunlap said...

This is sort of a tangent, but among the guests on the Ed Sullivan Show that night were the Broadway cast of Oliver! and comedian Frank Gorshin, who did a routine about the preposterous notion of Hollywood celebrities running for political office.

Anonymous said...

and comedian Frank Gorshin, who did a routine about the preposterous notion of Hollywood celebrities running for political office.

Hehehe...that's totally laugha....oh, shit. I was wondering why my state's finances are in the shitcan.

Jason said...

I wasn't even alive for it, but by many accounts it ended at Altamont, and after watching Gimme Shelter that sounds like as good a point as any. Spoiled brats on bad acid acting up until someone pulls a magnum and gets knifed... pretty much puts the whole peace & love thing to rest.

Anonymous said...

Vividly remember the difference between The Beatles' first appearance on Sullivan and Elvis's. With The Beatles I didn't have a sitter.

Anonymous said...

I would be really interested in reading a book like that. I'm Generation X, and I agree that most anything I've ever read about the 60s concentrates primarily on the hippie experience - which was a huge influence, obviously, but there's no such thing as an era with only one major influence. I'd really like to read something that talks about the 60s from a different perspective.


Mary Stella said...

The night the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, I was six years old and awestruck. My older brother thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. My Italian grandparents didn't understand why everyone was screaming. My parents shook their heads at the collective silliness of youth.

At that age could I completely comprehend just how big this appearance was by the Beatles? No, of course not, but I remember playing the 45 of She Loves Me time after time after time after time and jumping on and off the living room sofa with my older brother.

In August of that year, The Beatles played a concert in my home area of Atlantic City. I was devastated that my parents didn't let me go. (Wise parents. Who lets a 6 year old go to a mob scene like that concert?) I never got to meet the Fab Four. I did however get my hand crushed by Lyndon Johnson when he arrived a week earlier for the Democratic National Convention.

Ken, I think viewing the events of the 60s through your eyes will be a fresh look at what was allegedly a defining decade for our generation. There are so many "touchstone" events across the spectrum -- culturally, politically, socially, etc.

Anything you write is going to be a funny, entertaining read and that alone makes it worth the money to buy the book.

Kathryn Maughan said...

My parents were the antithesis of hippies, too. My mom watched that Ed Sullivan show and decided the Beatles were "weird." My dad cut his hair short and joined ROTC.

Tom Quigley said...

Man, what a flashback! I didn't see the first half of that show, that night -- my dad being more interested in waching Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in THE FBI on ABC, or something like that -- but finally my brother and I convinced him to switch over to Ed Sullivan, and we saw the last two songs they did.

You're right, Ken. That night was when the magic of the 60's started.

One of the ironies of the show was that Tessie O'Shea, a star of the old English Music Hall tradition was also on that night, and the contrast between her style of entertainment and what the future had in store for us all was like night and day (please excuse the pun, Mr. Porter)....

BTW, one of the other acts that appeared that night was a young comedy team, McCall and Brill -- Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill. They went on immediately before the Beatles' second set, and as would be expected in a theater crammed full with screaming adolescents, didn't get a single laugh (if you want to sit through the agony, pick up the Sullivan show with the Beatles appearances on DVD). I met Mitzi and Charlie about 15 years ago and they're the nicest people in the world -- and from what I understand, very good-natured and philosophical about having had the dubious distinction -- and impossible task -- of going on Sullivan right before the Beatles (a story line that Billy Crystal borrowed for his movie MR. SATURDAY NIGHT).

Doktor Frank Doe said...

I don't know about you, but I think our generation, the so-called baby boomers, traded idealism for the security of becoming our parents. And we're a poor imitation of everything they accomplished and stood for, maybe the next group will get it right.

Uhhh, look around dude. They haven't even come close to getting it right, how would they? No FUCKING good examples!

Anonymous said...

There were many things about the '60s that made it an amazing decade. I would have been seven when the Beatles hit town... aware of them, but not interested. Vietnam was some chaotic images on TV in the years to come, though as I began to understand that I MIGHT some day be drafted to fight over there, I became more aware of that fiasco.

But what really made that decade so memorable for me was the effort to put a man on the moon. I wasn't aware of the fact that we were in a competition with the Russians. All I knew is that my country -- MY COUNTRY -- was attempting to do something great. I was riveted to an old black and white TV on that July night in 1969, when we all could see Neil Armstrong step off the Eagle and onto the Lunar surface. This was an accomplishment, and it felt like an effort of the whole nation. I think it was the apex of my sense of pride in being an American.

Has this nation ever really tried to do anything great since then?

Roger Owen Green said...

Almost 11 in February 64 when I watched Beatles on Sullivan, three times, if I'm recvalling correctly.
Initially, it was weird to be a black kid liking the Beatles. Then they became the phenom, and suddenly Ella and Motown and jazz instrumentalists were covering the Beatles.

Like the format of your story, Ken.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say, I missed the Beatles, by about 10 hours. I was born at 6:53 AM on February 10th.

Tom Quigley...your dad was NOT watching "The F.B.I." as that did not premiere until September 1965.
Sullivan's competition was:

NBC--the second half of "Disney's Wonderful World of Color", followed by "Grindl", starring Imogene Coca as a comic housekeeper.

ABC--the second half of "The Travels of Jamie McPheeters", with Kurt Russell in the title role, followed by the first part of the 90 minute "Arrest & Trial" (think of it as a prototype "Law & Order--Chuck Connors handled the first part of the equation, and Ben Gazzara the second).

Don't a famous picture of crowds in front of Sullivan's studio, under the marquee giving equal billing to the Beatles and "Oliver!" performers Tessie O'Shea and Georgia Brown (who played the phony psychic that anointed Carla her successor, on a episode of "Cheers").--as well as to his sponsors, PIllsbury and Whitehall (Pharmecuticals, makers of Dristan and Anacin, among other things).

Finally, Ken...what you ought to do is find someone who saw the film clip of the Beatles that Jack Paar aired on his show the previous January 31st...or one who saw the story on them carried on the "CBS Evening News" on 12/10/63 --a piece which originally aired on the "Morning News" program a couple of weeks before...November 22nd.

LouOCNY said...

A GREAT account of all of 1964 comes from Bob Greene, who was a Jr/Sr in high school that year, and kept a journal. He published it as a book about 15 years ago, and its called BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL. When 64 starts, he and his buds are into the folkie thing - which changed IMMEDIATELY after the Beatles hit...

And as everyone knows, in that cast of OLIVER, as the Artful Dodger, was a pre-Monkees Davy Jones....

But you are so right about the perception thing - a lot of what we think of the 60s, actually became widespread in the early 70's....just compare a high school yearbook from 68 with one from 71....

Annie said...

If you need another POV, Ken, I was 3 at the time and was more concerned about getting a pony than listening to some silly boy band from England.
And my priorities have not changed. :)

The Curmudgeon said...

Most of the people in my high school yearbooks (71-74) look rather conventional. Sideburns were longer. Some people needed haircuts more than others. Very few 'freaky looking' sorts.

What's always amazed me is yearbooks from the 50s and 60s where everyone looks so much older than 18. I've never understood why.

I also saw at least one of the first Beatles' appearances on Ed Sullivan -- I can't prove I actually saw the very first -- but I remember clearly that my father was disgusted at the hair. And the music.

growingupartists said...

I never knew the Beatles came AFTER Kennedy's assassination. Try to incorporate somewhere in there, how the schools went so far downhill from the 70s on.

I've heard it blamed on hippie teachers (you guys teaching us), but really, I think it was a revolution that was never finished. Of course, I've read alot of John Holt and New York Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto so I'm biased toward your generation, totally.

Anonymous said...


FANTASTIC. When can we expect the next installment? Although I'm not 100% positive, I think Frank Gorshen was on that Sullivan show. However, I am 100% positive that 73+ million of us didn't tune-in to see Wayne & Shuster.

Lee Marshall

Anonymous said...

hank: what compromises did The Beatles make? Seems to me they kept doing their own thing, stretching the boundaries and constantly reinventing themselves during their relatively brief time together.

Weren't The Stones accused of selling out when they released the seemingly "Sgt. Pepper's"-inspired "Their Satanic Majesties Request," which even featured some backing vocals by Lennon and McCartney?

By the way, I have no axe to grind - just a couple of honest observations and questions. I've always loved the two groups almost equally. But I've never really understood why the Stones are more "authentic" or whatever, simply because they tend to "rawk" harder. And nobody's been savvier at marketing than Mick Jagger.

Anonymous said...


I was 75 miles to the east and one year older than you on that night.

I've tried to explain to my daughter what it was like, how the anticpation was Christmas morning to the 10th power, how uniquely phenomenal the Beatles and Beatlemania were. On their first song, they started with a couple of words before they started playing ("Close your (play)eyes and I'll kiss you") and then proceeded to be everything as promised.

And by the way--I heard Charlie Brill on NPR one night, talking about what it was like to follow the Beatles. His memory of it was brutal, but when the host played the tape there were actual laughs and crowd reaction. It wasn't nearly the ordeal he had remembered.

Anonymous said...

Paul Duca:

Regarding ARREST AND TRIAL, it was the other way around -- that is, Ben Gazzara played the detective on the first part of the show, and Chuck Connors played the defense attorney in the second half. It was offbeat casting. Connors badly wanted to play the lawyer (his production company co-produced the show), though he was better suited to play the cop, and Gazzara might have been ideal as the principled attorney.

LouOCNY said...

The whole 'Satanic Majesties being inspired by Sgt Pepper' is very amusing...considering half of it was recorded BEFORE Pepper was released..and that musically it bears ZERO resemblance to what I consider one of the most overrated records EVER. As Ian Stewart, the Stones roadie/piano player pointed out, Pepper is just full of crummy music hall dirges. Majesties, which NOW looks a hell of a lot better than it did in 67, has a lot of very interesting material on it. Shes a Rainbow, 2000 Light Years From Home, 2000 Man, citadel, are all genuine classics. The Lateran, Bill's In Another Land, even Gomper are great experimental tracks - in fact, the only really BAD track is the Sing this All together 'jam' - which John and Paul were present for!

Tom Quigley said...

"...Tom Quigley...your dad was NOT watching "The F.B.I." as that did not premiere until September 1965."

OK, my memory didn't retain the full TV Guide schedule for that season -- it might have been ARREST & TRIAL (my dad was real big on law and discipline, which is why I remember him watching THE F.B.I. on Sundays), but whatever it was he was watching, we still had to fight with him to see the Beatles... I still have the emotional scars....

BTW, anyone know what was on opposite Ed Sullivan during The Doors' first (and only) appearance? I missed that one too...

Anonymous said...

Good column.The last line reminds me of the book "Loose Change" by Sara Davidson, a non fiction account following 3 peolel who lived through that time. Did you ever read it?


Anonymous said...

Families sitting round the TV. Those were the days.

Anonymous said...

>>Back in 1964 there were only three networks and we watched whatever crap was on.<<

In addtion, it you decided you wanted to stay up late watching the TV, you were just shit out of luck. At 10 or 11 or 12 PM depending on the network and the day of the week, the network programs faded away for the night and there was nothing to watch except a program called "test pattern".

Ken, if you need any help remembering anything, let me know. I remember all those times that are probably a bit fuzzy for you because you were compeltely zonked out on Beef Booglaoos.


Martin_B said...

In South Africa it was another ten years before we got TV, and by then the Beatles were banned for claiming to be more popular than Jesus.

But we had radio, scratchy shortwave transmissions from Lourenzo Marques Radio in Mozambique. On Sunday nights we would sit around in the boarding school dormitory and tune in to the hit parade. Sometimes there would be five Beatles songs in the top ten. I remember once there were twelve Beatles songs in the top twenty.

That was 1963 and 1964, when I was 16. The Beatles were a phenomenon like no other. Their secret was they were playing "our" music. They were so in tune with the mood of the times. They seemed to express our feelings. Young, happy, optimistic, tuneful, uncomplicated, the spirit of youth.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I was also 14, and I remember having to beg my younger brother to switch over from Disney to Sullivan at 8pm. And I think the Disney show was called "the 9 Lives of Elfego Baca"

The Beatles were real good.

Alto2 said...

This is no memoir. This is the makings of a new TV series like "The Wonder Years" only a decade earlier.

Unknown said...

I remember the first night I heard the Beatles. I want to hold your hand was it. The fast talkin' DJ was Ron (tulu baby) Britian and the play up was for the "Baby Beatles." The station was WSAI in Cincinnati.

A kid at school had visited England the summer before and had the haircut. Sudden death to Brylcream in that red and white tube... thank god!!!.

They played the song several times and even after lights out, I kept the radio on low to hear it again. Amazin' it was. I was 13.

I also remember, or think I do, that the Stones were on The Mike Douglas Show the same week the Beatles were on Sullivan. I liked the Beatles better 'cause they seemed to be having so much fun while the Stones were full of attitude... attitude that seemed pretty fake to me - or "phony" as Holden Caulfield would say...

I've recently been listening to the Jonas Brothers - I have two kids, 10 and 12 (started late I did). They have some of the same fun in them that the Beatles did. There's a bit on You Tube of them discovering a bidet in England... and their meeting of the Queen on the street and subsequent meetings is pretty fun too. I'm glad my kids have something of the same lighthearted music to be their growing up soundtrack - the kid's in the living room right now practicing a Jonas Bros lick on his guitar.

And kids these days still think the Beatles are the best... maybe they're right.

For my money the 60's ended at Kent State. And started only about '66 or '67... I was class of '68 and I remember that when everyone come home for Christmas that year, it was like a second Halloween where everyone was dressed up as a hippie and had grown their hair long... and girls without bras... bless them. Merry bobbin' Christmas.

Edmund said...

I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago as my wife and I left the Cirque du Soleil show "Love" in Vegas. (Love uses Beatles music, hence the connection.)

I remarked to her that the Beatles on Ed Sullivan was the day the world changed. Everything would be different from that point forward. It may be US-centric, but it started the 60s. As for the end of the 60s - either Nixon resigning or the end of the draft in '74.

Oh - the show is quite good. Go see it if you are in Vegas.

Anonymous said...

"In a way the sixties ended the day we sold that van- December 31, 1969."

Paraphrased from the Simpsons. I believe it was spoken by the late George Carlin, but it may have been Steve Martin.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is great as always, Ken, and I'm sure a book would be very successful given the huge potential audience of fellow Boomers. But does the world really need yet another anything about your generation?

Sure, the hippie/counterculture element has been grossly overrepresented, but you all went through similar cultural & entertainment events (Beatles, moon landings, Kennedy, etc. etc.) that have already been covered in from multiple perspectives in nauseatingly comprehensive fashion. The perspective of the in-betweens (non-hippie/non-square) just isn't that much different. It's not as if every generation isn't as self-absorbed about themselves, but the sheer numbers of y'all has oversaturated the market. At this point, anything about Boomers or the 60s is the equivalent of enduring your uncle's slideshow of the family trip to Dubuqe.

Ask your kids what they think.

Anonymous said...

I was a kid living in South Central Los Angeles when I saw the Fab Four on Ed Sullivan's show. Where I lived, places like "Van Nuys," "Thousand Oaks," and "West Covina" sounded exotic. I liked The Beatles. But I noticed that there were no Negro kids in the audience. About 25 years later, I'd be lucky enough to ask Paul McCartney if he noticed that and how he felt about it.

Anonymous said...

Ken, Enjoyed the read.
I was nine years old that night, suburban OC was home (still had orange groves near by) and the Beatles didn't make a big impression on me. The rest of the family flipped out though.

---what really made that decade so memorable for me was the effort to put a man on the moon---

Now that was memorable. My dad latched on to me and said son; "were gonna watch history being made tonight". The weather was hot and I remember it like it was yesterday.

BTW, I now live in a simple ranch style house in Woodland Hills.

Anonymous said...

louocny: Yeah, I guess my question about the Stones re Sgt. Pepper was prompted by "received wisdom" rather than objective fact. Still, it's not too far-fetched to imagine the Stones adjusting their game in response to Pepper, which they undoubtedly heard before they'd finished recording and mixing (and hey, what about "Revolver?"). At any rate, all these guys were always trying to top each other in this period, and we're all the richer for it. I agree that Pepper is erratic as a collection of songs, but I do think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I was six when the Beatles were on Sullivan, and it seemed like immediately thereafter every kid was grabbing a guitar, ukulele, tennis racket, you name it, and trying to recreate that magic. My buddies and I would stand on the porch lip-synching to the radio while the neighborhood girls pretended to go ga-ga. Fun times.

Anonymous said...

I like your premise, but wasn't particularly taken with this installment. So very much has been written about the Beatles' first appearance on Sullivan, but for those of us in a certain age bracket (I'm 5 years behind you, so I was only 9), it makes me feel inadequate when I read how monumental this was. Because I think I watched it, but it wasn't that "moment in time" for me like it was for others. So this is just one more effort that alienates me.

On the other hand, you're talented and funny enough to make a silly encounter at a grocery story poignant and memorable (OK, I'm just spitballin' on the example, but I think you know what I mean). You have written so many poignant blogs about "timely"--but not necessarily "monumental" things--that I know you can bring it home. I feel stuff that I have never experienced through your writing--and it doesn't need to be Beatles on Ed Sullivan or Moon Landing.*

So just tell our stories.

*(OK, stuff people were doing during the moon landing can be kinda fun. Not a chapter on witnessing the moon landing itself, but what people remember they were doing when they watched it. For example...Marilu Henner...losing her virginity. Others, maybe something a little more mundane.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, hugh can you not tell us what McCartney's answer was?

I still have my sister's copy of Sgt. Pepper (the mono mix, which is incredible). If you open it to the fold out and tilt it just right, you can still see the ovals and crude features etched into it by a 6 year old me, who obsessively traced the Beatles' pictures for days on end.

Anonymous said...

Ed Berman said...

> Ken, I was also 14, and I
> remember having to beg my
> younger brother to switch
> over from Disney to
> Sullivan at 8pm. And I
> think the Disney show was
> called "the 9 Lives of
> Elfego Baca"

No, because while the rest of my family was watching Sullivan and the Beatles on the 19-inch wooden-furniture black-and-white Zenith in the living room, I was on the 12-inch "portable" Admiral with the broken tuner knob and clothes-hanger antenna in the kitchen watching Patrick McGoohan in the second of three installments of "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" on Disney's The Wonderful World of Color -- I had seen the first part the week before and wasn't about to miss the rest of it.

As much as I later came to love the Beatles, I have no regrets.

Anonymous said...

P. S.: I was nine, and really into comic books and masked heroes. Just under two years later I made my parents spend money on a sitter instead of going to the movies with them because I didn't want to miss the January 1966 premier of Batman on ABC.

maven said...

That picture you have of the girl crying could have been me only I was 2 inches from the TV set crying my eyes out. I was a Beatlemaniac from the get-go. I, too, was 14 and growing up in the suburb known as Woodland Hills, going to junior high at Parkman. And the Beatles coming to the U.S. was definitely a defining moment for the sixties. Look forward to your take on our growing up years, Ken.

Anonymous said...

First, great beginning! I loved what you wrote and remember the Beatles on Sullivan like it was yesterday (I was 10).

Second, I'm intrigued by the premise of your project. I, like you, was one of the 90% who got through the sixties & early seventies with my middle classness securely intact.

Recently, I was talking about the sixties with my twenty-something niece and telling her that I was never a hippie. When she asked me why not, my answer was simple: I just didn't have it in me. I was middle class through and through. I had good parents, good friends, a good school, in short,a good life. What was there to rebel about?

But I was so envious of the hippies. I wanted to be like them; they were cool, man. Alas, sleeping around, dropping acid and hating the over 30 crowd was completely foreign to me. I was no saint, but nowhere near hippiedom.

Good luck with your project. You're a good writer and I'll bet it'll be a success.

Mike McCann said...

Tom Q... here's the Ed Sullivan Show you asked about: 9/17/1967
(courtesy of
Guest star: The Kessler Twins, Flip Wilson, Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, The Skating Bredos, The Doors, Yul Brynner

Guests: --The Doors - "People are Strange" & "Light My Fire" --Yul Brynner (actor, appearing with a musician) - perform "Two Guitars" (from Brynner's album) --Flip Wilson (stand-up comedian) --Rodney Dangerfield (stand-up comedy) --Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme - "That's Love," "Come Back to Me" & medley: "Anything Goes," "Love For Sale," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "You Do Something To Me," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," "Getting To Know You," "Happy Talk" & "I've Got You Under My Skin" --Eydie Gorme - "Mame" --Steve Lawrence - "Too Fast, Too Soon" --The Kessler Sisters (twins Alice & Ellen Kessler) - medley of Maurice Chevalier songs: "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" and "Louise" (A salute To Maurice Chevalier on his 79th birthday) --The Skating Bredos (from Sweeden) - man & woman speed skate in 6 ft. circle

VP81955 said...

I was eight years old and in Syracuse, N.Y. on Feb. 9, 1964, and recall watching the Sullivan show, and the listing of each Beatle individually (for John: "Sorry, girls, he's married").

Their freshness and enthusiasm was precisely what was needed at the time, and soon I bought a copy of "Meet The Beatles" and even a Vee Jay extended play 45. I can recall being upset one Friday afternoon in April when the Beatles didn't have the number one song on the WOLF weekly survey (they were knocked off by "A World Without Love" by Peter & Gordon, a song I learned Lennon and McCartney had written).

As I've stated in earlier posts, there were a few areas where the Beatles charted during 1963, including Chicago and San Bernardino, but most of us didn't get around to hearing them (or appreciating them) until 1964.

Tom Quigley said...

Mike Mc: Thanks for the research... Now I know more about Sept. 17, 1967 than I ever expected -- or probably needed -- to know....

Joey H said...

There's some interesting Beatle trivia regarding my home area...Southern Illinois. George Harrison's sister, Louise, lived in Benton, Illinois where her husband was employed as a coal mining engineer. In early 1963, Louise started trying to promote the Beatles records to radio stations in the area. Powerhouse Top 40 KXOK in St. Louis said 'no thanks'.

But local high schooler Marcia Rauback had a one hour weekly show on her father's station, WFRX in West Frankfort. She played a copy of "From Me to You" that Louise had brought her. It may have been the first Beatles single played on US radio, though there is evidence that a Chicago top 40 station had played the Beatles as an "Extra" about the same time.

In September, George came to Benton on a two week vacation to visit his sister. He visited WFRX and was interviewed by Marcia about "She Loves You," the bands new single had had brought with him. The first Beatle in America was being interviewed for the first time on dinky little AM daytimer.

George also sat in with a local group, The Four Vests, on a couple of gigs, including the local VFW hall. The leader of the Four Vests also took George to a music store in Mount Vernon because he wanted to buy a Rickenbacher guitar.

Anonymous said...

joey - great story! I went to film school in Southern Illinois (Carbondale), but I'd never heard that one. I knew some guys who lived in a house once owned by Burl Ives, but I don't think that tops Martha's story. :)

Tink1272 said...

Awesome. The Beatles are by far my favorite, even though they were well broken up by the time I was born. I love hearing stories like this, wishing I could have been there to see it originally, but glad I wasn't there for the politics of the time.

My father told me a similar story years ago, and had the same views as you about the Beach Boys - he was a So Cal boy, too. He resented the Beatles for quite some time because of this.

I can't wait to read more. Thank you for sharing!