Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
THE BEATLES REVISITED
In 1966, following my sophomore year at Simpson College, I was working at the Union Starch Company in Granite City, Illinois. I often worked two shifts in order to make enough money to cover the high cost of tuition. But the Beatles came to town, (St. Louis), and that seemed like a valid reason to dip into those hard-earned funds for a bit of adventure. I invited my younger sister to attend the concert with me. We had always been close, as it was my responsibility to look after her at the end of the school day when both of our parents were still at work and my older sister had gone to nurses’ training.
The concert was at Busch Stadium, just across the river in St. Louis. I had to have driven the family car since we had no familiarity with buses at all, but I don’t really remember that part. My parents weren’t exactly excited about my driving their car.
Naturally the concert was sold out by the time the event took place. It was a rainy night and two by fours covered by plastic formed a structure to shield the performance area in the middle of the grassy playing field. Our seats were somewhere in the middle of the steep incline typical of stadium seating.
The Beatles’ first national television appearance in the United States was in February of 1964. The Ed Sullivan Show proudly presented the already popular group to screaming masses when I was visiting my future alma mater for the first time to audition for a scholarship. I remember the entire population of the mens’ dormitory, where I was a guest, crammed into the T.V. lounge to witness this well publicized event.
A year and a half later the group’s popularity had greatly increased. This was their first tour of the United States and proved to be an unqualified success. So my sister and I, amidst thousands of flashing cameras and a stream of screams that lasted longer than the concert, enjoyed an experience that is to this day a distinction that few can boast. A few of the younger members of the audience fainted. My sister and I were stoic by comparison. The raucous crowd really hampered our ability to hear the performance with any real clarity. I remember the line, “He’s a real Nowhere Man,” that sprung out of an uncharacteristic silence. That phrase was the most audible of the entire concert and was followed by the recurring roar of the crowd. But in just that brief moment, the ensemble displayed the skill that took them to stardom.
I had never been to a rock concert before this one. Later in life, I attended many, but none left a more vivid impression. I’m proud to be able to say, “I saw the Beatles live,” and I’m glad to have shared that with my “baby” sister. It’s a memory that gives specificity to the closeness of our long relationship. The music they made stays with us today and will undoubtedly be around for a very long time.
This Beatles were no one-hit wonder. I have a book of the complete notation of their songs. This tome numbers over 1,100 pages, and when I use it, I have to have a magnifying glass close at hand. Yes, I’m old and don’t have perfect vision, but the print is quite small or the volume would simply be too large to work with.
Their harmonies are lovely and in many cases, innovative. They were known in Liverpool as a “beat band,” which is self-explanatory. Their haircuts pushed the envelope of the day and they sported all sorts of fashion statements including the Nehru jacket.
Many bands have come and gone since the Beatles. Some of them have been excellent, but none has attained the height that the Beatles reached.
No matter what personality traits might be attributed to me, I will always feel just a bit “cool.” I saw the Beatles live! I have no delusions of other “cool” traits, …. “They can’t take that away from me.”