Categotry Archives: Remembering The Summer of 1964

History Tonight at Candlestick Park, S.F.

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Time does fly.

Three weeks ago, on a previous post, I promised to get back to this blog and the Summer of 1964 right away after I found my old letters from that summer from my best friend, Sherryl. Easier said than done. Life intervened with my plans – it has a way of doing that.

Fifty years ago, there was so much Beatle history being made which was intertwined with my youth. And, at present, this evening at 8 pm Pacific Time, there will be more musical history made when one Beatle, Paul McCartney, ends his OUT THERE tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Again, I so wish I could be at this concert but I’ll be there in spirit.

Paul’s concert tonight also marks the end of the Candlestick Park itself – they will be demolishing it after tonight‘s final performance to make way for a housing project. But, tonight’s ending of the park promises to go out with a blast! (No pun intended.)

Candlestick Park’s history figures prominently into Beatle history – on August 29, 1966, the Beatles gave their last full-length live concert there. Good luck tonight, Paul, as you say farewell to your fans on this leg of your tour and as all say farewell to Candlestick Park. The park, host to the football team, the 49ers, expects to host 49,000 tonight! Nice ring to it!

Meanwhile, fifty years ago, “A Hard Day’s Night” single was #1. The film had just premiered in the US on August 11th. Sherryl and I were writing letters feverishly to each other back and forth between coasts. You can read the post marks “AM” and “PM” and sometimes Sherryl would write two or three letters to me in a day. Re-reading them, it strikes me how small our world was and how much we repeated ourselves – “We love the Beatles!!!” were written all over the pages along with the titles of their then current songs. How patient we were in waiting for each other’s news and any news we could scrounge up about the Beatles; so vastly different than today where there is such an overload of information everywhere we turn.

Our mood depended on the music charts and what number the Beatles placed during any given week!!! J It was a time of innocence and fun. It strikes me how pleased and happy we were with the simple things – a letter, knowing we had a ticket to the Boston area premiere of the movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” and knowing that we would attend the Beatles’ concert in the fall of ‘64 at Boston Garden (though we were quite disappointed that the concert was scheduled AFTER school started, on September 12th). The knowledge and anticipation of these few future events filled our everyday lives from moment to moment.

Digging up personal history is emotional. But, I’m glad I kept Sherryl’s letters and had another chance to read them. It’s amazing to experience again the sense of hope we exuded in those letters and the certain expectancy that we would be the directors of our own lives.

Fifty years ago, in the world around us, Viet Nam raged and there were more race riots in Jersey City, Patterson and Elizabeth, NJ. At that time, these events seemed very far away from the life I led.

Variety reported on August 12, 1964 that the Beatles had sold approximately 80 million records worldwide, a staggering amount at the time considering the, so far, short length of their careers. Also, in August 1964, the Beatles were on the cover of Life magazine. I lived for each and every Beatle milestone. My own life seemed inconsequential in relationship to the historic tapestry the Beatles were making.

Fifty years ago this week, the Beatles arrived in the US on August 18th to begin their US/Canadian tour. They played their first concert on August 19, 1964 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Oh, how I wanted to follow them to each and every city. But, I was way too young. I had to experience them through what media I could get my hands on and by attending whatever concert dates came my way to Boston. I did my best to assimilate the Beatles into the confines of my then 13 year-old life.

I explore this time in ROAD TO SHEA STADIUM, my coming-of-age screenplay about the early days of Beatlemania and how it affected the lives of two teenage girls and their families. I blend fact with fiction, adding those things that I wished had happened.

I’m happy that I was a witness to Beatlemania and that I can still reminisce about those days. It also makes me happy to know that one Beatle is still making history and that he will be weaving his magic at Candlestick Park later tonight. Here‘s to you, Paul!!!

Old-School

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Fifty years ago till now, The Beatles – well, it‘s Sir Paul – continue to be in the news! Amaaazzing!!

Paul McCartney’s OUT THERE tour is rolling along and rocking, too. This past Monday, he stopped off in Omaha, Nebraska…perhaps you’ve heard. The news everywhere, broadcast and web, has been about the 16 year-old boy, Tom White, of Omaha, Nebraska who managed to snap an Instagram photo of himself and Warren Buffet, famous Nebraska billionaire and Sir Paul McCartney, no description needed, outside an Omaha ice cream shop!

In the photo, Warren and Paul are just sitting on a bench and Tom is in the foreground, happy as can be. BTW, Paul had vanilla and still sports a watch on his right wrist (he’s left handed). Now that’s kinda “old-school” but I love it!! For dinner, though, he ordered gluten-free pasta, decidedly not “old-school”. Paul’s next concert date will be August 2nd in Minneapolis. Wish I could be there!

Fifty years ago today, July 20th, the Beatles‘ “Something New” album was released. “And, I Love Her” was on that album.  Of course, we loved it.  We didn’t realize it then but that song showcased the Beatles’ varied talents and foreshadowed their more introspective songwriting to come. Also, July 25th, fifty years ago this week, the album, “A Hard Day’s Night” hit No. 1 in the charts and stayed there for 14 weeks. Yes, it was “A Hard Day’s Night” summer, for sure! Sherryl and I were in heaven that summer every time we turned on our transistor radios. You couldn’t miss that song even if you only listened in for a few minutes! We loved it!! And, we were so looking forward to the premiere of the film, “A Hard Day’s Night” in August!!! I don’t know how we managed to be patient and wait for it.

Also, on July 25th, fifty years ago, race riots spread to Rochester, NY, having begun in Harlem, NYC, the week before.

And, fifty years ago this month, LBJ sent 5,000 “military advisers” into South Vietnam. Does this sound familiar in regards to 300 “military advisers” having been sent recently to Iraq? The addition of those 5,000 advisers in South Vietnam brought the total of US forces in Vietnam to 21,000 in 1964 – the Vietnam conflict was heating up though, at the time, I wasn‘t aware of it. A few years later, I was painfully aware of Vietnam as were those in my generation who had just passed through adolescence.

This week, fifty years ago, I was to “go on the road” but I haven’t found Sherryl’s letters from that summer yet. (They will serve to jog my memory!) I will. This time next week, we’ll be on the road to California!

I welcome your comments, suggestions, and/or memories!
Martha

The West is the Best/Exodus to California

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Fifty years ago, there was a hint of California Dreamin’ as the “Leading-Edge Baby Boomers” (what the first wave of boomers were known as) were coming of age. Despite the English Invasion of British Pop, the singing and surfing set were gaining in popularity. The Beach Boys had just finished two weeks at the top of the charts with “I Get Around” (which gave way to the Four Seasons‘, “Rag Doll”). By July 20, 1964, the first record about surfing, Jan & Dean‘s “Surf City”, became No.1.

There was no surf to speak of where we went to the beach near Boston but, occasionally, one would see an out-of-place looking surfer with a board (usually not on the board!). But, all around the US, California seeds were being planted in the psyches of adolescents which would bloom during the hippie “flower power” wave of the late ‘60s when the universal thought was that the West was the best (a la Jim Morrison).

As I mentioned before and will explore soon, my first taste of the West Coast was about to be taken, though a bit reluctantly. Though latest stats regarding California and its population suggest a reverse Exodus, as compared to the 1960s due to a lack of employment, population density and the state’s fiscal instability, I still have a warm spot in my heart for California which dates back to the summer of ‘64.

That summer, we were reading Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” and in love with the spy novel, Ian Fleming’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and John le Carre’s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”. Fleming’s character, James Bond, was also in theatres that summer, in“Goldfinger” and “From Russia With Love” with my favorite Bond, Sean Connery.

Along with the Bond flicks and “A Hard Day’s Night”, we were watching “Mary Poppins” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas”.

Fifty years ago this week, July 16th, Barry Goldwater (“Mr. Conservative”) was selected
as the Republican presidential candidate at their Convention in San Francisco.

Race riots broke out in Harlem, NYC, fifty years ago this week and over six consecutive nights, spread to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.. Later that summer, rioting would take place in Rochester, NY, several cities in New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia.

The Ford Mustang had been introduced earlier in the Spring of ‘64, making way for the 1965 model which was to become one of the most popular models of American cars.

My family made the cross-country trip that summer not in a ’64 Mustang but a 1955 Pontiac (grey) which was as heavy as a boat but provided much needed back-seat space, especially for that soon-to-be teen listening to her transitor radio.

Next post, we’ll go on the road.

 

We Got Around

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So…did you see a “A Hard Day’s Night” again or for the first time this past weekend? How upbeat an experience is that? Gene Seymour, film critic, states that even without “sharks, robots, zombies, superheroes or alien invaders that “it’s the best summer movie ever made.” I agree – how about you? There are still some showings scheduled of “A Hard Day’s Nights” so if you haven’t managed to catch it over this past holiday weekend, check your local listings, there’s still time!!!

Paul McCartney continues his tour in the States after suffering from a viral illness while in Asia recently. In a concert in Rochester, NY, Paul looked great and sang even better than ever. He even helped a couple in the audience from Rochester get engaged after seeing a sign the woman held that read, “He won‘t marry me ‘til he meets you.” Paul invited the couple up on stage, directed the man to get on his knees and propose (he did) and the woman consented. Then, in honor of the man’s age (64), Paul sang “When I’m Sixty Four.” After that, Paul joked, “And he booked us for the wedding,” exhibiting the same sense of humor he and his band mates were famous for.
Fifty years ago, “Freedom Summer” continued (President Lyndon Baines Johnson had just signed the Civil Rights Bill of !964 on July 2, 1964). Even though three of their co-workers had been murdered on June 1, 1964 and had not been found yet, civil rights workers continued to lay their lives on the line striving to register black voters in Mississippi.

On July 2, 1964, a heat record had been broken in Boston, registering 96 degrees. (This temperature doesn’t seem too hot, considering the heat and drought the US has experienced since then, particularly recently.)

After their world tour in Asia and Australia, fifty years ago this Thursday, July 10, the Beatles returned to Liverpool to attend the premiere of “A Hard Day’s Night” at the Odeon Cinema. That day, an estimated 200,000 fans lined their route from the airport.  July 10th is now celebrated in Liverpool as “Beatles Day”. (The Beatles had attended the London premiere of “A Hard Day’s Night” at the London Pavilion  four days earlier, on July 6th.)

“I Get Around“ by the Beach Boys was the #1 record fifty years ago this week. Though I had other ideas about getting around, I was about to embark on a cross country, family road trip to California.

See you next week! If you have any ideas, comments, suggestions and/or memories of the first week of July, fifty years ago, please let me know!!

 

“A Hard Day’s Night” Summer!

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The Beatle buzz at the beginning of July, 1964 was centered around the already released album, “A Hard Day’s Night” (June 26, 1964).

By this week, fifty years ago, the Beatles had held 14 slots on Billboard’s Top 100 from “Can’t Buy Me Love“ to “Love Me Do“ which hit the charts that year at the end of May.  “A Hard Day’s Night” hit the Top 100 Chart the week of August 1, 1964 right before the premiere of the movie of the same title.

That summer, when there were no Beatles’ songs on the radio, we broadened our horizons by listening to the just released “Chapel of Love” (Dixie Cups) and “A World Without Love” (Peter and Gordon).  Paul McCartney had written “A World Without Love” a few years before and had given it to Peter and Gordon to record, Peter being the brother of Jane Asher, Paul’s then girlfriend.  The Beatles were prolific songwriters and didn’t record everything themselves.  So, that even when we weren’t listening to the Beatles, in a way, we were listening to the Beatles!!

Fifty years ago THIS EVENING, on the last night of their Australian tour, the Beatles performed at Brisbane’s Festival Hall. The tour had been booked by promoter Kenn Brodziak in what turned out to be a very lucrative deal – Brodziak had made the arrangements in 1963 before the Beatles became a household word. By the time the Beatles hit Australia that summer, they were greeted in Adelaide by an estimated crowd of 300,00 fans along the motorcade route! For the tour which lasted from June 12th to June 30th, the band was paid 1500 pounds a week (approximately $3,000 at the time). What a deal!

During the Summer of ‘64, we let the Beatles take over our lives. They dictated everything from our hair styles to politics and all subjects in between. We matured and learned along with them, read the books they read, listened to the music they listened to (rhythm and blues which was new to me); we read every line that we could that was printed about them. We lived and breathed Beatles.

Later that summer, I went on a family road trip, my first, across country. You can imagine how I took this news. I would be separated from Sherryl, my best friend, the only person I knew who faithfully loved the Beatles as much as I did; I didn’t want to go. But, somehow, WITHOUT cell phones or social media, Sherryl and I managed to keep in touch! I still have her letters from that summer, pages filled with references to the Beatles, the upcoming release of the movie, “A Hard Day‘s Night“ and their summer US tour. Though I didn’t have much clout then, family decision-wise, all I cared about was that I would return home by August 11, 1964 so Sherryl and I could see the premiere of “A Hard Day‘s Night“ in Harvard Square. But, that was something I wasn’t sure of when my family and I drove out of Boston that hot and humid July day in 1964, on our way to California.

That summer, having come off their world tour, the Beatles were well on their way to becoming a world wide phenomenon. And, it was only the beginning. Much to the delight of Beatles fans, thanks to the album and the film of “A Hard Day’s Night” and the marketing moguls of that era, the summer of 1964 was  Beatle-filled!!

Don’t forget to check local listings this coming week for the re-release of  “A Hard Day’s Night”!  It promises to be a fun time for all!!

A Summer of New Freedoms

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Summer has begun!  And, the weather on the East Coast has been uncharacteristically beautiful and dry (more like the West Coast!); I hope my readers have been able to get out and enjoy it!

There’s lots going on, on the ROAD TO SHEA STADIUM countdown to its 50th Anniversary next year – let’s go!  For now, let’s remember the Summer of ’64 some more!!

The Summer of 1964, also called the Summer of Freedom (politically wise with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, as noted in my previous blog) was also, from the perspective of a 13 year-old adolescent, a summer of personal, new found freedoms.

Society was changing rapidly then in all sectors.  Aware of politics perhaps like no other generation since, we witnessed up close, on television, the national struggle involving race that summer.  Most of the baby boomer adolescents were aware, tuned in, part of the pulse of a changing nation and would continue to be so throughout our lives.

Our adolescent freedom was initiated when we started venturing out on our own, walking longer distances from the house (notice I said ‘walking’) and taking buses and trolleys more often.  For me, about twenty minutes from my then home, the destination of destinations was Harvard Square, Cambridge, specifically to the Harvard Coop and the Out of Town News stand where my best friend, Sherryl, and I would pour over Beatles albums and the European version of Beatles magazines (the Europeans had more in-depth coverage of the Beatles – or so we thought).  Nowadays, 13 year-olds are more scheduled — there are more “helicopter parents” than there were?  The world now, in general, appears to be more threatening – listening to today’s news reports, I‘m surprised anyone goes out at all, anytime!

Ironically, even though my generations had more stay-at-home mothers, we saw our parents less.  If possible, I’d love to get a statistic on this musing.  If anyone out there has some percentage backup about this observation or knows where to find this, please let me know!  Also, where did you go to take in the latest Beatle news in 1964?  I’d love to know!

Fifty years ago this June and July, the Beatles were touring internationally in Denmark, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand before returning to the States (for the second time that year) in August.  US Beatles’ fans anxiously waited for the published list of cities the Beatles would tour that August and September – it was THE thing to look for in “16 Magazine” this month, fifty years ago.  Wow, can it be?  I can see myself now at the magazine counter at the A&P (long gone!) flipping pages madly till I reached the page with THE LIST.  Prior to viewing that list, all sorts of rumors floated about, were they or were they not playing in Boston?  Sherryl and I were ecstatic when we saw ‘Boston’ on that list — the exact date, September 12, 1964.  (More on that later!)

When the Beatles were in NewYork City during that 1964 US summer tour, Bob Dylan visited them.  Ostensibly, one can see the influences each had on the other in the music that was produced following that meeting.  The following year, Dylan released “Like a Rolling Stone” which featured electric guitar.  (This past Tuesday, June 24th, at Sotheby’s, New York, the pages (4)  that Dylan wrote “Like a Rolling Stone” on were auctioned off; the pages sold for $2 million dollars, a world record for a pop-music manuscript, according to Sotheby’s.)  Dylan’s influence on the Beatles can be heard in their “folk rock“ album, “Rubber Soul,” also released the following year after that meeting.

Fifty years ago this past week, June 26, 1964, the United Artist’s album “A Hard Day’s Night” was released with advanced US orders numbering 1 million.  The album made way for the film of “A Hard Day’s Night,” released a few weeks later in July, 1964.  The film, “A Hard Day’s Night” has been digitally re-mastered for movie house showing.  To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, it will be re-released all over the US a few weeks from now!  Look for dates and places locally around the 4th of July.  You’ll be able to see “A Hard Day’s Night” in the theatre for the first time or re-live the time when you first saw the film in a theatre way back when!!  Just Google “A Hard Day’s Night, 2014, list of cities.”  I’m planning on viewing it (one  more time!) and  can’t wait to see it again on the big screen!!!

 

I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, and/or memories that you may have concerning any of the content in this week‘s BLOG, on the ROAD TO SHEA STADIUM.

50 Years Ago This Summer

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This week has always been a big week for Beatles fans – June 18th is Paul McCartney’s birthday!  This coming Wednesday, Paul will be 72!! Except for a snag in his current touring schedule, his “Out There” tour, he seems to be doing fine and will be back on tour in July.  Having picked up some kind of viral infection in Asia, his concert dates for June have been postponed to October.

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