Now We’re 64
By Jay Jay French
I was Born in 1952.
When I am asked by my friends to regale them with stories of growing up in the ‘60s, the conversations tend to gravitate around the shows that I saw.
I, seemingly, was always at the right place, at the right time.
I was 10th row center for the Hendrix/Band of Gypsys New Year’s Eve concerts recorded at the Fillmore; at the John Mayall ‘Turning Point’ recording; at MSG for all three of The Rolling Stones Thanksgiving 1969 concerts; at The Band’s “Rock of Ages” concert recording at the Academy of Music; The Dead’s first NYC show as an opening band; The Allman Brothers first NYC show; Pink Floyd’s first NY show without Syd; first row for Led Zeppelin’s first NYC show; third row center for Johnny Winter’s NYC debut; Stevie Wonder’s first headline at Carnegie Hall; James Taylor’s first Carnegie Hall show; and The Who and Cream’s first ever appearance in 1967 at the “Murray The K Easter” show revue at the RKO theater in NYC….
The list can — and does — go on and on and on … much to the amazement and envy of those who hear these descriptions.
I can look back now and know that I was fortunate to live in NYC and attend these shows, because that was just the way it was. There were thousands of others around my age who did the exact same thing.
We also have another thing in common. We experienced Beatlemania in real time.
To experience The Beatles in real time may be the greatest gift of all being born in 1952.
I truly believe that the music that stays with you emotionally for the rest of your life is the music that you listened to between the ages of 10 and 20. That is the music that really is the soundtrack of your life.
You may learn to appreciate and even love music that you find later in life, but the music that formed your youth remains impregnated into your psyche and has it’s own way to always take you back to a more innocent and special time.
The Beatles came into the baby boomer era in general, and to me in particular, when we were most in need of heroes (two months after the JFK assassination) and, man, did they ever deliver!
I was 11 when “I Want to Hold Your Hand” took over the airwaves and 18 when the release of “Let It Be” signaled The End.
In between, in real time, we listened to the radio (first AM, then, beginning in late 1967, the ‘“new” FM, in stereo!) for news of the next single or album. I remember exactly whose house I was in when I heard a new album. I remember waiting for the debut of each new single.
I was addicted to W A B(eatle) C, 77 on the AM dial.
I didn’t really care about the New York DJ “Murray The K” on the rival station WINS (1010 on the NY AM dial) — the self proclaimed fifth Beatle — he sounded like a fast-talking, used-car salesman (and that is coming from a disk jockey world where they all sounded like used car salesmen).
I couldn’t wait to hear Dan Ingram, Scott Muni or Cousin Brucie debut the new Beatle single.
When people try to equate The Beatles phenomenon with anyone else — be it Elvis, Michael or anybody else one may try to name — I give them a snapshot of the WABC Top 20 countdown survey from the week of April 7, 1964 to prove the near total domination of The Beatles (eight of the Top 20 songs in the nation that week!) and their influence on the pop culture of our music lives at that time. If you add The Searchers and Dave Clark Five then you have 11 of the top 20 being British Invasion bands!
This was our soundtrack.
This was our real time music life.
This is why we feel the way we do!
America’s No. 1 radio station
April 7, 1964
1. Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles (Capitol)
2. Twist and Shout – The Beatles (Vee Jay)
3. Do You Want to Know a Secret – The Beatles (VeeJay)
4. Hello, Dolly! – Louis Armstrong (Kapp)
5. The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) – Betty Everett (VeeJay)
6. She Loves You – The Beatles (Swan)
7. Suspicion – Terry Stafford (Crusader)
8. Glad All Over – The Dave Clark Five (Epic)
9. Please Please Me – The Beatles (Vee Jay)
10. Dawn (Go Away) – The Four Seasons (Philips)
11. Stay – The Four Seasons (Vee Jay)
12. Ronnie – The Four Seasons (Philips)
13. Bits and Pieces – The Dave Clark Five (Epic)
14. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (Gordy)
15. Needles and Pins – The Searchers (Kapp)
16. All My Loving – The Beatles (Capitol)
17. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles (Capitol)
18. Rip Van Winkle – The Devotions (Roulette)
19. Love Me Do – The Beatles (Tollie/Capitol)
20. Shangri-La – Robert Maxwell (Decca)
WABC Hot Prospects: April 7, 1964:
From Me to You – The Beatles (Vee Jay)
This Boy – The Beatles (Capitol EP)
Roll Over Beethoven – The Beatles (Capitol)
I Saw Her Standing There – The Beatles (Capitol)
You Can’t Do That – The Beatles (Capitol)
There’s a Place – The Beatles (Tollie)
Thank You Girl – The Beatles (Vee Jay)
Please Mr. Postman – The Beatles (Capitol of
Ask Me Why – The Beatles (Vee Jay EP)
This was The Beatles in real time!
Jay Jay French is the founding member, guitarist and manager of Twisted Sister. This is French’s first Now We’re 64 Beatles-related column for Goldmine. French is also a motivational speaker and writes a business column for Inc. com.