The other night, a longtime dream of mine finally came true – I saw a Beatles concert.
They weren’t the real Beatles, of course, considering that two of them are no longer with us, but they, Studio Two, a Beatles-tribute band from New England, were the closest to the real thing I’ll ever see. Their onstage look, mannerisms and sound were an amazing recreation of the original Beatles.
As I sat there, reliving the songs I still knew every lyric to, even after more than 50 years, my thoughts drifted back to February of 1964 and the day that forever changed my life.
It was the day the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I remember it as if it were yesterday. All that week, my friends Sue and Dee, and I had been counting the minutes in anticipation of the big event. Finally, after what seemed like 20 years, there they were - John, Paul, George and Ringo in crisp black and white on my family’s 21-inch TV screen.
Wide-eyed with anticipation as we waited for the Beatles to sing their first note, Sue, Dee and I collectively held our breaths.
“My goodness, they’re ugly!” my mother said, breaking the spell. “And their hair! Don’t they have barbers in England?”
My father was too busy laughing at them to comment.
However, to us, three impressionable young teenagers, it was love at first sight.
“Paul is gorgeous!” Sue sighed, clasping her hands over her heart.
“Ringo is cuter!” Dee argued.
“You can have both of them!” I said. “I’ll take George!” Actually, I was going to choose John until, “Sorry girls, he’s married,” flashed across the screen during his close-up.
“How on earth can you tell who’s cute who isn’t?” My father, who had momentarily caught his breath after laughing, asked. “You can’t even see their faces under all that hair! Ringo’s nose is the only thing that sticks out!”
The three of us turned to glare at him.
When we looked back at the television, the cameras were zooming in for such a close-up of Ringo, we actually could see his nose hairs. Without warning, Dee let out such an ear-piercing scream, she nearly shattered the windows.
“God, I hope the neighbors don’t call the police because they think we’re murdering someone over here!” my father said.
Beatlemania officially had arrived.
I spent the next two years hopelessly in love with George Harrison. The guys I’d previously had starry-eyed crushes on at school suddenly became invisible to me. I mean, they had short hair, didn’t speak with British accents, and wore penny loafers instead of Beatle boots. They just weren’t “cool” any more.
Sue was as obsessed with Paul McCartney as I was with George. We didn’t doubt for a minute that fate would bring the four of us together someday, and when it did, Paul and George would fall madly in love with us and beg us to marry them. Yep, Sue and I had our futures all planned out.
We spent every penny of our babysitting money on Beatles records, posters, magazines and trading cards. Every inch of my bedroom wall that faced my bed was covered with posters of George. I’d lie in bed and look up at his pictures while listening to my favorite Beatles record, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” – one of the few on which he sang the lead. Then I would drift off to sleep and have romantic dreams about becoming Mrs. George Harrison.
When Sue and I learned that the Beatles were going to be in concert at the Boston Garden that September, we nearly needed CPR. Just the thought of the two men of our dreams being only about 50 miles away from us made us hyperventilate. But it might as well have been 5000 miles, because we knew there was no way we’d ever be able to attend that concert.
However, one very lucky girl named Diane, who went to our high school, did go, and she instantly became a hero. First of all, she told us she had an excellent seat. Then she said she desperately wanted to get the Beatles’ attention, so she flung her camera at the stage…and Paul actually looked directly at her! Sure, her parents were upset she’d smashed a perfectly good camera, but as far as all of us were concerned, a camera was a small price to pay for actual eye-to-eye contact with one of the Beatles.
I hate to admit it, but the thought of Diane being within actual sight of the Beatles was too much for me to bear. I was so envious, it made my stomach hurt, and I couldn’t even concentrate on my schoolwork for the next few days. It’s a good thing Diane didn’t actually touch one of the Beatles, because I probably would have flunked out of school.
I also was envious of Sue, who made a lot more money babysitting than I did. She saved every penny until she was able to afford black leather slacks, matching Beatle boots and a leather Cockney cap. She even surrendered her long hair to a Beatle-style cut. When she wore that outfit and faked a British accent, you’d swear she was the fifth Beatle.
I, on the other hand, managed to buy only a woolen Cockney cap (in a bright blue and green plaid), which I wore even in 90-degree heat.
As I sat at the concert the other night, I closed my eyes for a few minutes and pretended I was a teenager again and that the Studio Two band members actually were the Beatles. And for a moment, I felt a strong urge to scream.
But at my age, I was afraid I might rupture something.
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