“Meet The Beatles”

beatles

CHAPTER SEVEN

MEET THE BEATLES

If WNDR was a “hot rocker”, WTAC was a power-packed scorch-torch.

“Big Six Hundred” was top-rated in Flint, Bay City, Saginaw, Midland and twenty surrounding counties.

“Pulse” survey research showed WTAC with at least a 40% share of overall audience wherever its powerful signal reached, which was several thousand square miles.

My personal timing was impeccable.

When the Beatles appeared on Sullivan, we went for it.

Every other cut I played on “The Peter C. Show” was a Beatles’ hit. A Beatles’ hit was anything they released. In giving out “Beatles’ Books”, ten thousand of which we had ordered “betting on the boys”, WTAC received five thousand pieces of mail per day. I’d call out several names a few times an hour and those mentioned had to phone-in to win. The lines regularly overloaded.

When “A Hard Day’s Night”, the first Beatles’ film, debuted at the Palace Theater in downtown Flint where we had set up a live remote broadcast, I was mobbed, a phenemonon sadly not to be experienced again upon any subsequent occasion. Women tore at my clothing. I escaped minus tie, shirt, shoes and socks. Every man should experience such attentive passion.

When it was announced that the Beatles would appear with a four dollar admission at Olympia Stadium at 2 p.m. on the Sixth of September in Detroit , utter pandemonium broke loose.

Aware that security would be massive, Bob Dell and I spent much time in thought and strategic planning. Although we had obtained two tickets for the instantly sold-out performance through Capitol Records, we had been told there would be no radio interviews and no radio people allowed backstage. The only ones who could meet briefly with the Beatles were television representatives and one reporter each from the Detroit News and Free Press.

We were asked to understand that the Beatles, certainly, had nothing against radio people. Indeed, they felt quite to the contrary. It was simply a matter of controlling logistics.

Sure.

Our theory was that the Beatles probably thought all the rest of us were like “Murray the K”. He was a New York radio personality who had clung to them like a leech once they hit our golden shores and even had the audacity to run around proclaiming himself “the Fifth Beatle”. He was a complete squirrel with a bad toupee. We Irish are taught never to speak poorly of the dearly departed. It was a lovely toupee. But, who could blame the Beatles?

Our work was clearly cut out.

Bob and I designed an extremely official looking “Michigan State Police Beatle Security Pass” which we had a printer friend set to type with several colors and even the Michigan State Seal. It looked sensational.

That enchanted Sunday, we drove to Olympia and parked right at the stage entrance. We left our also self-constructed “State Police Beatles’ Parking Permit” prominently displayed on the dashboard and then casually strolled inside.

At each perimeter security point (there were three), we were ushered right through. Part of the secret was that we had practiced at length assuming a very “we belong” demeanor, a delicate mixture of congenial arrogance and condescending patience.

This was the unspoken message:

“We know you have to look at these things to let us pass through. We are obviously well-connected people. We understand you have a job to do, but make it snappy. We can undoubtedly be much more trouble than you might expect. We can easily could, if provoked, do serious injury to your station in life as a minimal consequence of boorish behavior”.

We naturally went right down front on the floor and, as the Beatles hit the stage, were less than twenty feet away.

They performed for twenty-five minutes.

As captured on our cassette recorders, the entire program from start to finish was one enormous, ear-shattering, mind-rattling, caterwauling shrrieeeeeeeeeeeeeeek as thousands of teenage girls, most barely pubescent, gave birth to the most primal roar I ever witnessed before or since.

These young creatures are all in their mid-forties by now. I trust, at rare moments, they have enjoyed physical sex almost as much as the orgasmic vocal climax engendered by a live vision of JohnPaulRingoGeorge in person at Olympia so many autumns ago.

It was beyond comprehension.

The Beatles were virtually inaudible even twenty feet away.

They could have been singing: “This Is The Way We Wash Our Clothes” for all we knew.

Who cared? This was IT!

And then.

The moment was at hand.

Would our Beatles passes work with their own English security squad?

“Af cawsae, gentlemen. Rwight thees waiy, plaise.”

Goddamn. A Grand Slam Home Run!

We were backstage at Oympia. The television and newspaper contingent had yet to be admitted. The Beatles were sitting at a large, uncovered banquet table. Cassette recorders in hand, we both interviewed all four. We told them who we were and that we thought “Murray the K” was a jerk and the “K” stood for “queer” since he couldn’t spell worth a shit. John found this particularly amusing and observed: “Brian seems fond of him”. We boldly asked to have our pictures taken with them, even though we knew we were uninvited intruders. The Beatles seemed to be entertained by our audacity. By then, we had told them how we made up the passes.

All in all, the Beatles were quite nice, reflecting a delicate mixture of congenial arrogance and condescending patience.

Paul specifically asked us to convey to our listeners back home a single thought.

“Tell ’em ta quit trowin’ ’em fookin’ jelly beans!”

We returned to Flint and spent the entire night in the studio producing “WTAC Meets The Beatles” which combined all of our floor taping and band interviews. It became an hour-long program which reasonably captured the adventure. It ran every other hour for a day and a half.

Gene Milner, WTAC’s owner, was considerably impressed.

One Response to ““Meet The Beatles””

  1. petercavanaugh Says:

    I stand by my eye-witness observation that Murray the K WAS “a leech and a squirrel with a bad toupee,” but, by admission, that’s my own, envious, snarky, lace-curtain, Mick, Paddy, Fenian, Bog Irish opinion; a “snark” being an imaginary animal invented by Lewis Carroll in his poem, “The Hunting of the Snark”, said creature possibly resembling that thing on Murray’s head.

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