"A robust, romantic rocker"
She Loves You and I’ll Get You were released on the Swan label in the US (Swan 4152). Swan’s Bernie Binnick had acquired the rights from EMI in August while on holiday in the UK, after Capitol once again had turned down the opportunity to release a Beatles’ single, as had A&M, Columbia, Decca and RCA Victor.
Cash Box said of the single, “The big English hit, by the Beatles, could do big things in this country via the artists’ release on Swan. Tune, tagged She Love (sic) You, is a robust, romantic rocker that the crew works over with solid sales authority. Backing’s a catchy cha cha-twist handclapper.” The magazine chose it as their Newcomer of the Week. The label’s Tony Mammarella told the magazine about the Don’t Drop Out crusade with the single, commenting “It will not sell any records for us, but it might be a good reminder to deejays and record buyers that dropping out of school is not the wise thing to do.”
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The record was played on the Rate-A-Record segment of TV’s “American Bandstand.” It scored a modest 73 out of 98, with DJ Dick Clark subsequently recalling that he figured “these guys were going nowhere.” WINS DJ Murray the K spun it on his record review contest, where it came third out of five, behind the Excellents’ Coney Island Baby and the Four Seasons’ New Mexican Rose. An exasperated George Martin would contact Capitol - “For God’s sake, do something about this. These boys are breaking it, and they’re going to be fantastic throughout the world.”
The group flew out of London Airport for a well-deserved holiday. John and Cynthia travelled to Paris, where they would briefly be joined by Brian Epstein, who while there told the Daily Mail’s Barry Norman that he would never sell his interest in the group. George and his brother Peter flew to New York, making their first ever trip to the United States to visit their sister Louise Caldwell. Paul, Jane Asher, Ringo and Maureen Cox flew to Athens where they stayed for a couple of days before travelling to Corfu.
A few days into their trip, John and Cynthia returned to their room at the George V Hotel in Paris and found a note from Astrid Kirchherr. They met up with her and a girlfriend in the evening and travelled from one wine bar to another. As dawn broke the quartet was so paralytic that they could only stagger back to where Astrid was staying. More wine was consumed before they all collapsed on Astrid’s single bed. They fell asleep, awoke with hangovers before John and Cynthia made their way back to their hotel. They returned home after eight days, ostensibly because John missed his guitar. “I went potty without it,” he would tell Maureen Cleave.
Cynthia recalled doing “the tourist bit with relish - the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe ... It was wonderful - we were really living.” John bought Cynthia a grey coat, white beret and a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and filmed much of their trip with his cine camera. On their return to the UK, Epstein organised family snaps to be taken by Robert Freeman. During the session, Freeman mentioned to the couple that there was an empty top floor flat where he lived in Emperor’s Gate off the Cromwell Road. They would take it sight unseen in November.
Paul and Ringo spent their first week in Corfu living in chalets before spending a few days at the Miramare Beach Hotel on the island of Rhodes. For the remainder of their holidays they stayed in Athens, where they booked into the Acropole Palace Hotel; Paul using the name McCarthy and Ringo being misspelt as Starky. On their last night there, they played with the resident group Trio Athenia.
Commenting on their holiday, Ringo said, “One of the best days out we had was at a wine festival, where you paid ten drachmas - about five bob - and sampled as many of the 200 wines as you could! After that, you could choose the one you liked best and have your decanter filled. They’d let you stay drinking all week if you wanted to, but after about an hour we gave up. It was strong stuff! ... I remember going around the Parthenon three times - I think to keep Jane happy - and it was really boring.” He also told the NME’s Alan Smith that they “were living in chalets and we used to get up about ten in the morning and go sunbathing. The trouble was, it was so hot we used to have to give up after an hour or so.” Paul had trouble adapting to the local cuisine. “The only part we didn’t like was having to take the garlic from all the food, and there were times when I longed for a good old steak and chips, or a few cheese slices.”
After an overnight stay at the Pickwick Hotel in New York, George and Peter took the 2½ hour flight to Lambert Field Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, where they were met by Louise and her husband Gordon. They drove the 120 miles down Route 3 to 113 McCann Street in Benton, Illinois in the family’s 1961 white Dodge Dart. It was the first time George had seen his sister since she left Liverpool for Canada in 1956. “It had been a long time since I had seen my two brothers, and they had never met their niece and nephew,” Louise later recalled.
On his first full day in Benton, George met dry cleaner by day, musician by night Gabe McCarty, the leader of local group the Four Vests. Over the next ten days, they spent a fair amount of time together, with McCarty driving George around in his light green 1961 Chevrolet station wagon. McCarty and fellow Four Vest Vernon Mandrell drove George to Mt. Vernon, a half-an-hour north on Route 37. They went to the Fenton Music Store at 601 South 10th Street - the only music store in the area which stocked Rickenbacker guitars. After trying several out, George picked a Rickenbacker 425 Fire-glo solid body. Wanting one in black and not the fire-glow red he had chosen; George took up owner “Red” Fenton’s offer to refinish it for him in black. George paid around $400 for the guitar, accessories and the refinishing.
With only the four of them in the store, George, with McCarty and Fenton on bass and piano respectively (there was no instrument for the left-handed Mandrell to use), jammed for a while. Afterwards they went to the Taco Villa drive-in restaurant, where George got into conversation with one of the roller-skating waitresses at the A&W. McCarty also took George to Barton & Collins Furniture Store on the north-west side of Benton’s town square. They were greeted by manager Bob Bonenberger. Among the twenty or so LPs George bought was a copy of James Ray’s If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, which included the track Got My Mind Set On You. On the 20th, George, Peter and the Caldwells had dinner with Judge Everett Lewis and his wife Lilian, who lived opposite at 114 McCann Street.
The following day, George, Peter and Louise were driven to the Freeman Coal Company, in West Frankfort, where Gordon worked. They walked the two miles south on Route 37 to visit the studio of radio station WFRX, on which Marcia Schafer, the seventeen-year-old daughter of one of its owners, had her own weekly “Saturday Session” show. Louise had given her a copy of From Me To You which she had played some months earlier. When they arrived at the station, they discovered Schafer had already gone home. She was called back and conducted a fifteen-minute interview, which Peter filmed on George’s 8mm camera.
George was particularly interested in Schafer’s black 1958 Oldsmobile Delta 88, which belonged to her father. Before leaving, George gave her a copy of She Loves You and an autographed photo of the group. Later in the year, Schafer would write a piece about the Beatles in Redbird Notes, the West Frankfort high school newspaper. “Their music is wild and uninhibited and outsells the world’s greatest recording artists, although not one of the Beatles can read music.”
On the following Saturday, George, Peter and the Caldwells travelled to Eldorado, 30 miles southeast of Benton on Route 34, to see the Four Vests at the VFW Post 3479 hall. Following their first set, McCarty asked George whether he would like to sit in with them. He took over from lead guitarist Kenny Welch using his hollow-bodied Rickenbacker. The group played a selection of country and western and rock and roll classics.
Jim Chady, a friend of McCarty’s, recalled that when George started playing, “it was like someone threw a switch in that room. The difference was that dramatic.” One audience member told McCarty, “That new kid that’s trying out for your band - you’d be crazy if you didn’t take him on.” Louise remembered people banging their fists on the tables and stomping their feet. “The whole place was electrified.” After taking a break, the group played a further set, with George joining them on another few numbers. Less than one hundred people witnessed the first time a Beatle performed in the United States.
The next day George attended a birthday party at the Boneyard Boccie Ball Club at 500 South Wilson Street in Benton. He once again played with the Four Vests, filling in for Welch, who was unable to make it. On the 30th, George bade his sister farewell, and travelled to New York to spend the remaining days of his holiday there. He went to see Anthony Newley in “Stop The World I Want To Get Off” at the Ambassador Theatre on West 49th Street, visiting the actor backstage after the show. (Newley had opened the first NEMS shop in Liverpool in the late 1950s.) George went on to say that his time spent in New York was a disappointment - “It’s a lonely sort of place.” Brother Peter took photos of him at the top of the Empire State Building.
During his ten days with the Caldwells, George spent two days camping in Shawnee National Forest, saw a handful of movies at the Marion Drive-In just north of the town of Benton on Route 37, including Cliff Richard and the Shadows’ “Summer Holiday,” (titled “Wonderful To Be Young” in the US) and “The Nutty Professor” with Jerry Lewis. While watching the Cliff Richard film, George leant over to Louise and said, “I know him.”
When the group guested on the following Friday’s “Ready, Steady, Go!,” George explained the concept of drive-ins. “You drive your car in and you see all these little things like parking meters, but they’re not parking meters; they’re speakers, and you pull them in the car and wind your window up, and it’s great.” One night he hung out at Teen Town on West Main Street in West Frankfort to hear a group.
In the September 19th edition of Disc, She Loves You continued at number 1 for a third week, while Twist And Shout dropped two places to number 15. The single spent a second week at the top in the New Record Mirror chart, while The Beatles’ Hits bowed at number 6 in the EP chart. In the same week’s editions of the NME and Melody Maker, She Loves You enjoyed its third week at number 1 in both charts, while Twist And Shout dropped four places to number 19 in the NME chart and climbed one place to number 11 in Melody Maker chart.
Melody Maker listed the results of its Pop Poll. In addition to the Beatles running off with the British Vocal Group honour with 54.75%. streets ahead of the second place Springfields with 27.69%. From Me To You, with 20.79%, and Please Please Me, with 12.13%, took the first two places in the British Vocal Disc category. “Pop Go The Beatles” took fourth place in the Radio Show category and inexplicably were runners-up in the Brightest Hope section behind Billy J. Kramer. The group did less well in the World Section, coming second to the Four Seasons in the Vocal Group category, while From Me To You was a distant fourth in the Vocal Disc section behind Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used To Losing You, Roy Orbison’s In Dreams and Ray Charles’ Take These Chains From My Heart.”
Kramer’s “My Top Ten” was featured in the NME. Included in his choices, which featured records by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, was the Beatles’ version of Baby It’s You. A Mr. P. Rivett from Hackney, East London commented on John’s claim that the group’s hairstyle had its origins in Paris. “We have had this style for the last three years in London. It shows how far the North is behind London - fashionwise.”
In an interview with Donald Zec published in the Daily Mirror on the 24th, national treasure, actress Margaret Rutherford said, turning to her husband Stringer Davis, “We love the Beatles don’t we dear - well, to the best of our ability.” On the same day, the fifteenth and final edition of “Pop Go The Beatles,” recorded on the 3rd of September with guests Tony Rivers and the Castaways, aired on the Light Programme at 5.00pm. (The 14th edition of “Pop Go The Beatles,” with the Marauders, had aired on 17th September.)
The following week’s edition of Disc had She Loves You enjoying a fourth week at number 1, while Twist And Shout dropped nine places to number 24 and The Beatles Hits EP entered at number 29. She Loves You began a third week at number 1 in the New Record Mirror, with From Me To You dropping to number 39. In the NME and Melody Maker, She Loves You continued its run at number 1, while Bad To Me dropped to number 8 on the NME chart and number 4 on Melody Maker’s. The Fourmost’s Hello Little Girl entered the NME chart at number 22 and the Melody Maker chart at number 26, which also listed the group’s two EPs in its singles chart - Twist And Shout dropped nine places to number 20 and The Beatles’ Hits new at number 44. Cilla Black’s Love Of The Loved was released. The NME review read “Making her debut on the Parlophone label, Cilla Black, with a Lennon and McCartney song, ‘Love Of The Loved.’ Song is a real good ’un, strong melody, strong beat.’ She promoted the single on “Ready, Steady, Go!” and the record was also voted a hit on “Juke Box Jury.”
The paper also reported on the group’s new LP, their Swedish dates and broadcast details of the Don Haworth-directed TV documentary. It was also revealed that Brian planned to move NEMS Enterprises from Liverpool to London, in early 1964. (The company would ultimately move on March 9th, 1964.) Johnny Kidd chose She Loves You as one of his Top Ten singles.
Asked his feelings about the likelihood he would be the runner-up in the NME’s year end points table, Cliff Richard said, “Make no mistake - I’d love to win the points table. But if the Beatles do overtake me, I shall have nothing but praise for them, because they’re a great group!”
On ITV’s “Ready, Steady, Go!,” host Keith Fordyce asked viewers to send three questions to pop to the group on their appearance the following week, with a prize of an autographed copy of their LP for the most original questions. The most often asked questions from the two thousand replies they got were “How did the Beatles get their name?” and “What size puddings basins do they use for their fringe haircuts?”
Two days before the group returned to the UK, George Martin and engineers Norman Smith and Geoff Emerick edited and mixed tracks at Abbey Road from 10.00am to 1.15pm, with Martin adding piano on Money and Hammond organ on I Wanna Be Your Man. Ronald Beck, the new president of the National Association of Outfitters, revealed on the eve of the organisation’s exhibition and convention in Harrogate, that the Beatles were helping popularise “bright new fashions for the older man.” The night before at the opening of the twenty-first season of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, conductor Sir John Barbarolli had been presented with a gold medal for 20 years’ service as its conductor. Interviewed by the press, Barbarolli said, “Beat music isn’t music at all. Terrible. Good jazz - yes I admire. Duke Ellington enormously. But the Beatles? No!”
On Tuesday the 1st, fans rushed out to buy the new edition of Reveille, which was offering a 70”x 40” free poster of the group - one of those taken by Dezo Hoffmann on Brean Down at the end of July. Also in the magazine Bunny Lewis wrote, “Meet The Beatles, the hottest product to hit show business since Cliff Richard. It is always hard to analyse the exact reasons for enormous success in show business, but I believe that in the case of these Liverpool lads it is because they have an extremely virile and beaty sound. They arrived on the scene at a time when everyone was tired of what had gone before. This sound of theirs is their own, and is not, as many people suggest, rhythm and blues, although this type of jazz has a strong influence on them. They did not consciously invent it. It just grew on them ... Another reason for their success is, of course, that they write their own material ... The Beatle haircut, like the Beatle sound, came rather by chance. After they had washed their hair, they could not make it lie down in the more orthodox position.”
The third edition of The Beatles Book also hits the newsstands. Alison, Pete and Stephanie from Stubbington, Hampshire suggested that “take Paul’s hair and eyebrows; John’s nose and lips; Ringo’s eyes and neck and George’s chin and ears; put them together and print the most handsome face that has, or ever will grace the pages of a pop star mag.”
George and his brother Peter returned from New York, arriving at London Airport, paying £22 customs’ duty on his new guitar. They then took a flight back to Liverpool. Paul, Ringo, Jane Asher and Maureen Cox, returned via Zurich and Frankfurt due to an Olympic Airways strike, arriving late at London Airport. Asher’s mother Margaret suggested Paul stay the night.
“In the summer of 1963, I was 17 years old and preoccupied with starting my senior year of high school, getting together with my girlfriends, making Chef Boyardee pizzas and watching ‘American Bandstand.’ I was also fortunate enough to be the host of my own teenage show on a local radio station, where I was spinning records from Elvis, Bobby Vinton, the Beach Boys, the Chiffons, and even Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, just to name a few. That summer, a vivacious blonde with a delightful British accent started dropping by the station with records of her brother’s group from England that had been sent to her by her mother. The group were called the Beatles and they were virtually unknown in the States.
My father, who was part owner and manager, introduced us. Since I was the teenage DJ, and the only one playing rock and roll music on WFRX, he suggested that I might play them on my show. I started playing ‘From Me To You’ which was the first record Louise gave me and also ‘Love Me Do.’ Later she said her brother would be visiting her and would like to meet the DJ who had been playing the Beatles regularly on her show.
I had already gone home for the day when I received the call that George, Louise and their brother Peter were at the station. I jumped in my father’s 1958 black Oldsmobile Delta 88 with tail fins and drove back to the station. Two of my most vivid memories of that meeting was George’s fascination with my Dad’s car and seeing George standing in the main lobby of the station with Louise and Peter when I arrived. He was wearing jeans, a white shirt and sandals. Of course, the haircut really caught my eye.
I thought he was kind of cute, but in a different way than the boys I was used to. As we talked that day, he told me that he had been an apprentice electrician and had begun singing at the age of 15. He also told me of some of their personal appearances like the time the group had to be smuggled into a concert in a garbage van. He said the girls climbed the guy ropes to get a glimpse of them. Another time, one hundred screaming teenagers were carried from the Bank Holiday fête fainting in the heat. He told of two of the boys, John and Paul, writing their tunes and having enough numbers to keep them in original songs until 1975.
I wish I had thought to ask him where he thought the Beatles would be in ten years and what would be their place in history. He said he liked the States, but not the hot weather. He liked small blondes, driving, television, Eartha Kitt, eggs and chips and Alfred Hitchcock movies. He liked the variety of music found in the local music stores and was fascinated by the car hops on skates at a Mt. Vernon drive-in restaurant. He enjoyed drive-in theatres since they did not have them in England.
My senior year I was Editor-in-Chief of my high school paper and if I had not written about my interview with George in the November 1963 issue of the Red Bird Notes, most of it would be forgotten. In the same issue there was a story about President Kennedy’s assassination just a few days before. My classmates were a little intrigued with the story, but even after the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964, the significance of George’s visit to Southern Illinois did not sink in. For all we knew, the Beatles were just a passing phase and might be forgotten in a few years.
When they continued to gain worldwide stardom, many of us were too busy going to college or to war, getting married, and starting families to pay a lot of attention. I remember my daughter Beth being so fascinated with the Beatles that she asked me if she could take ‘She Loves You,’ the record George gave me, to Show and Tell at her grade school. Not really grasping the significance of the record even then, I let her do this. It’s something we can laugh about now, especially since the record has remained intact.
It was not until the mid ’90s, some thirty years after George’s visit, that I began getting requests to tell my story of meeting George from local newspapers. Then after Bob Bartel stepped in to save George’s sister’s house on McCann from demolition and filmed his documentary ‘A Beatle in Benton’ and Jim Kirkpatrick wrote his book ‘Before He Was Fab,’ did people start realising how important George’s visit to Benton in 1963 was.
Since then there has been an interview from NBC on the ‘Today’ show, a story in People magazine and numerous other interviews and stories with the people that had met George during his time here and most recently the interview on ‘The British Invasion’ on BBC radio with the lead-off story being George’s visit to southern Illinois in 1963. The visit and the fact that the Beatles went on to become one of the most noted musical groups, if not, ‘the most noted group’ in musical history still seems surreal to me after all these years. There will probably never be another group or artist to achieve their success.
When the Beatles said they played beat music, I wrote in my Red Bird Notes article in 1963, that whatever beat music was, it was catching. If my family had not been involved in radio, if we had not moved to West Frankfort in 1956, if my father had not been at WFRX, if I had not been a teenage DJ in 1963, if Louise and her family had not moved to Benton none of this would have happened. All I can say is what I have been saying for years - ‘I was in the right place at the right time and very fortunate to have played a small part in the history of the Beatles.’”
MARCIA RAUBACH, MARKETING CONSULTANT, WEST FRANKFORT, ILLINOIS, USA
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