By ARIELLE LIPSET,
Since Feb. 9, 1964, when the Beatles debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show, the band’s tremendous presence in America and fans’ reverence has not waned. This was exemplified by CBS’s recent tribute to the Beatles, called “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America—a Grammy Salute,” at this year’s Grammy Awards.
Tuesday, just weeks following CBS’s salute to the Beatles, journalist and author Larry Kane spoke to F&M students in New College House about the time he spent touring with the Beatles in 1964 and 1965. Kane has written many books on the band, including 2003’s Ticket to Ride and When They Were Boys: the True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top, published in 2013.
Kane began his journalism career when he was only a teenager. At the age of 16, Kane worked in Miami for a small radio station. He covered politics during a tumultuous time, that included the assassination of President Kennedy and the escalation of the Vietnam War.
When Kane was first assigned to cover the Beatles, he did not think the band’s appearances would be particularly newsworthy.
“I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the assignment,” Kane said. “I remember saying that they’ll be here in September and gone in November. And that shows all you here at Franklin & Marshall just how good of a vision I had.”
Although still doubtful, Kane pursued his assignment. He wrote a letter to Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, to request an interview and eventually received a response.
“I got this letter a few weeks later from Epstein, inviting me to join them on their planes, in their cars, in their hotel suites, as an official member of the traveling party,” Kane said.
Kane was provided with $2,500 in travel accommodations and went from Miami to San Francisco on Aug. 19, 1964 in his journey across America.
Touring with the Beatles exposed Kane to the band’s lifestyle, filled with excitement over its growing fame. Before he had the chance to meet a member of the Beatles, he had another encounter that caught him off guard.
“I went into the hotel, and I opened the door of my room,” Kane said. “Lying on my couch was a woman, and she was beautiful. She said, ‘Now Mr. Kane, I am here to make you so happy that you’ll get me to meet the Beatles.’”
When Kane was eventually called to meet the band, he began his inter- views immediately. From there, he shared his first impressions of them.
“Ringo Starr’s in the corner,” he said. “I started interviewing him. I asked him some serious questions, and I found out that he’s the second most curiously intellectual person in the Beatles.”
He found the band members quirky and developed relationships that would last years. Along the way, he learned the personalities of the individual band members.
“Paul McCartney never met a comb, a mirror, or an audience he didn’t like,” Kane said. “He was without a doubt the greatest public relations executive in history. He knew what to say, when to say it; he was a charming man.”
In addition, Kane stressed some of the lessons he learned about journalism and the importance of going after news.
“You need to realize no news story waits to find you,” Kane said. “If you want to be in the game, you have to get up and play.”
Through active pursuit, Kane gained perspective on the band- mates’ meaningful relationships. He claims they valued personal connections and that their positive relationships with others helped increase their fame.
“The friends they had were amazing,” Kane said. “One of them was a fella named Bill Harry; he and his future bride decided to publish a magazine covering all the boy bands. They did a poll on who was the best band in 1961 and they rigged it; they just fixed it. They rigged the Beatles number one.”
Kane also detailed some of the early conflict the Beatles encountered. Kane described the drama the band went through when the men decided to fire the original drummer, fan-favorite Pete Best.
“The other bandmates called him mean and moody, but he was the most popular Beatle living [at the time],” Kean said. “The day Pete was fired he went to a little place named Grapes and called Neil Aspinall, who was his best friend and the Beatles road manager. [After Best revealed the news], Neil Aspinall, for three days, said ‘I’m leaving too. I don’t want to be part of this band — you’re my best friend.’ Pete Best told him over and over to stay, finally convincing him to stay when his mother got involved.”
Starr replaced Best as drummer, and Kane used this anecdote to advise students never to let go of their aspirations. He said friends can help guide one’s path to success.
Although today the Beatles’ success is unquestioned, Kane noted this was not always the case.
“They went to a rehearsal at Decker Records in London, and the boss at Decker Records told them, ‘Forget it. Boys with guitars will never succeed,’” Kane said.
Kane also admitted the irony of the originally disdainful outlook he had on his assignment to cover the Beatles. He said no one could have predicted the group’s endless success.
Although Kane has interviewed every U.S. president from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush, he said that he is most frequently asked what the Beatles are really like, further showing the public’s continued fascination with the band.
Continuing in his journalism career, Kane moved on to report on political projects and world events other than the Beatles. He eventually gained time to write about his experiences with the Beatles almost 30 years after reporter on their tour.
Today, Kane hosts a Comcast radio program, “Voice of Reason.” He has stayed in touch with the band, interviewed the surviving Beatles for his recent novels, and continues his journalistic work with the insight he gained while on tour. Kane has been successful in making the Beatles come to life both in the pages of his books and, more recently, to fascinated F&M students.
Junior Arielle Lipset is a Layout Assistant. Her email is alipset@fandm. edu.