My best friend, Wane Dean, was the first kid I knew who had a copy of “Meet the Bea­t­les.” He called me right away after his moth­er brought it home for him. I ran as fast as I could along the icy road to his house because that was a big deal. “I Want to Hold your Hand” hit the Amer­i­can air­waves two weeks before and was already #1, trav­el­ing across the ocean like a huge tsuna­mi that that would engulf us all. It would wash away all the bull­shit on the radio we were sick of like the “Da-doo-ron-ron” tunes and the absolute­ly wimpy stuff that dom­i­nat­ed the charts. The Singing Nun’s “Dominique” had been #1. … Even I hat­ed it, and I was Catholic! And there was Edie Gorme’s, “Blame it on the Bossano­va,” … blame it on bad taste! But from then on it was only Bea­t­les.

Wane was a very good friend because he wait­ed for me before cut­ting the cel­lo­phane seal that sur­round­ed the pre­cious trea­sure. He had his own record play­er perched on a short dress­er that looked like a small suit­case that snapped closed with a large brass latch in front. This was his first album; at that time, kids played only 45’s. As I held the vinyl record between my palms like a large black Eucharist, Wayne removed the lit­tle plas­tic 45 disc at the base of the tall sil­ver cen­ter post and exposed it bare. He switched the knob to the “33” set­ting and I gen­tly set­tled the record on the post and swung the catch arm over and locked it into place. He clicked on “play” and we watched as the album dropped and spun as the tone arm swung to the edge of the record and the tiny dia­mond sty­lus found the groove. The speak­er open­ings were small and cov­ered in a burlap kind of mate­r­i­al. The sound was mono and tin­ny but we didn’t know bet­ter, it was the biggest sound we had ever heard.


I believed in the Holy Trin­i­ty already but when we played that record we were bap­tized into the new reli­gion that idol­ized “The Quadrin­i­ty.” We bounced at the end of the bed as the music played and stared rev­er­ent­ly at the Fab Four on the front cov­er. It was a black and white pho­to with John, George, and Paul above, and Ringo, crammed in the low­er cor­ner. They were side-lit, wear­ing black turtle­necks … and that long hair. The Bea­t­les hair hung in thick bangs to their eye­brows and God for­bid, touched the top of their ears on the sides. In the land of the buzz-cut, that was rad­i­cal. Boy’s hair across the nation, includ­ing mine, start­ed grow­ing that very sec­ond.

No soon­er had we been intro­duced and seduced by this new phe­nom­e­na, The Bea­t­les were sched­uled to make their nation­al TV debut in Amer­i­ca on The Ed Sul­li­van Show two weeks lat­er. It was one of those mile­stone mem­o­ries I recall as well as JFK’s assas­si­na­tion, the first moon­walk or being there for the births of my three sons, Jude, Ian and Nick.

The antic­i­pa­tion that Feb­ru­ary 9, 1964 was unbe­liev­able. My sis­ter Karen turned ten the day before and I would be nine in a week and a half. We were young but well aware that some­thing spe­cial was hap­pen­ing and we would be a part of it that Sun­day night. The Ed Sul­li­van show was about to begin. We hud­dled hun­gri­ly in front of the TV along with 73 mil­lion oth­er view­ers and watched as Ed appeared in his slick suit and Bryl­creem hair in front of a fake cur­tain. I’d seen Ed’s show plen­ty of times and he was usu­al­ly quite stiff and moved around like he had a board up his ass. Even his lit­tle bud­dy, Topo Gigio, was more ani­mat­ed than he was … and Topo was a pup­pet! But Mr. Sul­li­van was live­ly that night and wast­ed no time get­ting to: “Ladies and Gen­tle­man, The Bea­t­les!” He swung his arm in their direc­tion, as the crowd, made up of most­ly teenage girls, squealed with delight. “The young­sters from Liv­er­pool” as he called them, were dressed in crisp dark suits and encir­cled appro­pri­ate­ly by a prop of huge dimen­sion­al arrows that point­ed to them as the cen­ter of atten­tion. They per­formed three songs in a row, includ­ing my favorite, “She Loves You” …Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! The Bea­t­les were well-rehearsed pro­fes­sion­als as they per­formed, pro­vok­ing the audi­ence into an absolute fren­zy with an “Oooooo!” or a shake of their hairy mops. The girls screamed with orgas­mic delight as the cam­era cut to them squirm­ing and hop­ping in their seats, flushed and ready to faint at any moment.

That reminds me of a fun Beat­le­ma­nia movie I saw a while back, called, “I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND.” Some teenage kids from Jer­sey would stop at noth­ing to get into The Ed Sul­li­van Show to see the Bea­t­les that night. In one scene a crush of fans are packed tight along a par­ti­tioned side­walk in front of a hotel where the Bea­t­les were whis­pered to be stay­ing. A maid, ten floors up was clean­ing a room and pulled open a win­dow and shook her black dust mop out the win­dow. A teenage girl in the crowd below screamed and point­ed up at the glo­ri­ous sight. It set off the whole mob into pan­de­mo­ni­um. … Bril­liant!

That’s how it was.

We sat mes­mer­ized in front of the TV and were left hyper­ven­ti­lat­ing when the third song end­ed. It was a vari­ety show after all, so we were forced to endure a magi­cian, two scenes from the Broad­way show “Oliv­er!” with non-oth­er than Davy Jones, (before his Mon­kees days), the Impres­sion­ist, Frank Gor­sham, whom I recall more vivid­ly as Batman’s neme­sis, The Rid­dler. Although he did a wicked angst-rid­den Burt Lan­cast­er that always cracked me up … Some hyped-up fat British broad sang, danced and jig­gled her way through show tune songs, the finale with a ukulele. After her there was a series of lame office com­e­dy skits. (Jesus … that show must have been eight hours long!) Final­ly … The Bea­t­les returned and sang two more songs. It was great!

We were like inno­cents on a far away beach watch­ing as a harm­less look­ing swell in the dis­tance rolled toward the shore. It was too late to get out of the way as it grew into an immense wall and swal­lowed us up in its pow­er­ful surge. We came up gasp­ing, glad to be alive. The Bea­t­les changed the land­scape around us; the way we dressed, even the way we thought and instilled a youth­ful rebel­lion that would soon find its voice.