September 12, 1964, fifty years ago tomorrow, the Beatles gave a concert at Boston Garden, one of the stops on their first, full-length American tour.
My friend, Sherryl, and I had tickets to this event of a lifetime! We could hardly wait to see them in person for the first time! September 12, 1964 turned out to be a very long wait for us. After all, we had been avid Beatles fans since January of that year!
What the Press and our parents thought would be a flash-in-the-pan popularity for the band, turned out to be one of the longest running love stories in the history of popular music. The Beatles and their legion of fans would definitely prove our elders wrong. From the start, something in our DNA knew that we were right.
Recently, I came across a yellowed file folder of mine labeled ‘Beatles Writings’. What struck me is the detail of events and emotions that traversed those pages. As an adult, I am a list maker. From perusing the paragraphs of old, I understand now that, apparently, I always was. One of my earlier lists (shortened here) from the night before the September 12, 1964 concert is, as follows: wash hair, cut hair, set hair, set clock. I remember that Sherryl and I dutifully followed my listed instructions, making ourselves beautiful for the Beatles and the concert the following day.
That September weekend, Sherryl got permission to stay over my house. Wow…the whole weekend! We were so happy to share an all-Beatles experience for what then seemed an eternity to us.
The night before the day of the concert, we set two clocks, Sherryl’s and mine, just in case. Both clocks were alike – you know the travel kind of clocks that folded over, were compact and looked like a triangle when you set them up on your night table?
I don’t remember how we found out but within the same creased folder, there were diagrams of Logan Airport, Boston Garden and the Hotel Madison, the hotel where the Beatles would stay while in Boston that weekend. There’s a note on one of the maps, ‘Staked out on Sept. 9, 1964’. Talk about detail and dedication – we should have been in the Secret Service. That September 12th morning, in order to fool my mother, we plumped up our pillows and arranged them to look like we were still asleep. That one tactic gave us many undisturbed, parent-free hours to explore and track the Beatles all that day before the concert that night!
What struck me as I read the pages, in addition to all the plotting and planning, is the wide range of emotions that were evident. The feeling that the fates were aligned upon meeting a friend from school who was older and had a room at the Madison Hotel. She let Sherryl and me in by dropping her room key outside her window! We picked it up off the sidewalk and a few minutes later sauntered into the hotel. When asked if we were staying there, we flashed that key with confidence. The elation we felt when we managed to open the corridor door onto the floor where the Beatles were was palpable. We tried again and again to open that stairwell door only to have it shut on our noses. What stamina we had for rejection. What persistence and patience.
Sherryl and I banded together with anyone who looked promising in terms of getting us to our goal. As if, with sheer numbers, we could force the doors to open, the walls to crumble and reveal the prize. Immediate and fleeting friendships were part of the occasion.
The concert itself, thirty-one minutes, seemed to be the least of our concerns. Though we certainly thought we were in heaven during that brief time, Sherryl and I wanted to be part of the select few who would actually meet them.
We didn’t have binoculars at the concert that night at Boston Garden but that didn’t stop us. According to my notes, we borrowed a pair from one of our fellow attendees nearby. The concert was one loud, roaring event full of camaraderie and confetti.
Though we were extremely disappointed at the absence of personal Beatle contact, the aftermath of that day brought Sherryl and I a renewed vigor and determination to meet the Beatles next time around, if there would be a next time around.
On the next American Beatle tour in 1965, we would have binoculars and Press Passes for the most iconic concert in rock n’ roll history – Shea Stadium in New York City on August 15, 1965.
But of course, 50 years ago, on September 12th, we did not know this. We only knew that our love of the Beatles must carry the mania that we craved just a little while longer, long enough to will them back to our shores.
WERE YOU at BOSTON GARDEN that night? If so, please share your thoughts here. I would love to hear about your memories!