WXPN Most Memorable Musical Moment #1 - Meet the Beatles
Although the Beatles will very likely be well represented in the WXPN 885 Most Memorable Musical Moments archive, their impact on popular music cannot be overstated. In six short years from 1963 to 1969 they either defined or redefined everything we know about rock and pop music and are largely responsible for much of what came after. On a personal level, the Beatles ignited my interest in music at a very young age; I am pleased to credit the Beatles with:
- The first rock music I ever heard.
- My first record album.
- My first rock concert.
- My first rock concert photograph.
- A lifelong obsession with music.
Photo courtesy of THE BEATLES ARE COMING! by Bruce Spizer (498 Press)
My first record album: In the wake of the Ed Sullivan show, I immediately dropped the pretense of disinterest and convinced my mom to buy me a Beatles album, and Meet the Beatles became the very first album in my collection. My then eight year old sister Sara wanted a Beatles album too, but sadly the only other album available at the time was The Beatles with Tony Sheridan, a bummer of major proportions; a previously unknown pop singer doing cheesy material like "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean", backed up by the Beatles and recorded in 1961. This musical disaster was set right soon after, when the movie A Hard Day's Night came out and Sara became the proud owner of the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack album, and even though the album was comprised of approximately half film score music, it had all the great new Beatles songs from the movie.
By the end of 1965, my record collection was off and running with every Beatles album and single then available in the United States. For the duration of the Beatles career, I was right there on most release dates for every new album and single, including being turned away from the center city Philadelphia Sam Goody store on the day that The Beatles Yesterday and Today was to be released, when the famous Butcher cover got recalled and the release was delayed while the replacement cover was produced.
My first rock concert was The Beatles at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 8/16/66. By then I was age 12, Sara was age 10 and our mom bought the tickets and took us to the concert in spite of not being comfortable in large crowds, thanks mom! Bobby Hebb ("Sunny") and the Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn Down Day") opened, among others. Sara refreshed my memory of the concert, adding:
"Do you remember that there was a thunderstorm that night. How it was humid and drizzly with rumbles of thunder? How the sound system was tinny and we were so far away we had to look through Mom's opera glasses? Best. Concert, Ever!"
Great memory Sara, web accounts also describe the thunderstorms that threatened all during the concert and finally let loose within minutes after the show ended. The concert took place in the curved part of the horseshoe shaped stadium. As a result of the controversy surrounding Lennon's comment earlier in the year that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, attendance on the 1966 tour was much smaller than previous Beatles tours, the crowd at this show is listed at various internet sources as approximately 21,000 (the capacity of JFK Stadium is conservatively listed as 75,000, it once hosted a crowd of over 100,000).
We sat fairly high up in the stadium away from the crowd, the Beatles were tiny, way down on the stage. The copy of the yellow ticket stub above is courtesy of RareBeatles.com, the orange ticket stub is courtesy of Sara. Here is the setlist for the 1966 U.S. tour as listed on Beatlemania.ca.
- Rock And Roll Music
- She's a Woman
- If I Needed Someone
- Baby's In Black
- Day Tripper
- I Feel Fine
- I Wanna Be Your Man
- Nowhere Man
- Paperback Writer
- I'm Down
My first rock concert photographs (above) were taken with a Kodak Retinette 1A, given to me by my grandmom, essentially a 35mm starter camera with a fixed 50mm lens (no telephoto). The above are enlarged scans of slides taken with that camera at JFK Stadium on 8/16/66.
And here is what it actually looked like:
This is a shot of the Cyrkle, one of the opening acts. The slightly better resolution suggests that this picture was taken from our original seats before moving higher up. The Beatles' drum kit is the one on the riser.
I also shot a reel of 8mm silent movie film at the concert, just to additionally document the experience. The Beatles look so small in the resulting movie that when showing it to people, I would set the projector in the next room, to get as much enlargement on the screen as possible.
A lifelong obsession with music. As the tag line on this blog states, music has the unique power to make life better. That conclusion is the result of many years of listening, concert going, record collecting, working in radio, reading, writing, and photography, all about music. And it all began for me on the night of February 9, 1964, sometime between 8-9pm. That this blog allows my interest in music, photography and writing to intersect is perhaps the greatest reason that I do it.