Tom Williams AT LARGE:
It was 50 years ago next week, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play, they’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise the smile, so may I introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
With apologies to John Winston Lennon and Paul James McCartney, that paraphrased version of their classic song fits. Because Monday (Aug. 29) marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles final live concert. It was in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
This week, to celebrate, we have asked a bunch of people you know to tell us about their favorite Beatles song and their Beatles experiences.
Ed Hurst, Hall of Fame radio-TV personality who recently turned 90 and is now heard Saturdays on WPG-1450: “I’d have to say ‘Something” is my favorite. It has a wonderful lyric and is very musical – a really nice ballad. When I was doing the Steel Pier TV Show and they were coming to town, George Hamid Sr. told me he wanted me to introduce them but I’d have to buy a ticket. I told him there was no way that was going to happen. But I did go and I was backstage. I felt bad for them because they couldn’t go out anywhere and during the show the kids were screaming so loud you couldn’t hear the music.”
Jackson T. Chase, afternoon host on Kool 98.3: “’Come Together’ and ‘Get Back’ are my favorites. To me, they contained both elements of what a rock song should be – great lyrics and guitar based. They were both out in 1969. I was in Viet Nam in ’69 when Get Back peaked.”
Eddie Davis, morning host, Lite Rock 96.9: “So hard to point to just one Beatles song, but let me tell you about the song my wife Beth and I chose as our wedding song – ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’, from Revolver. It is beautiful for its simplicity, its music, its lyrics and those wonderful harmonies from Paul, John and George. Though written by Paul, and considered by many to be his finest love song, I have read that it was one of John’s favorite Beatles songs. A pop masterpiece!”
Regis Philbin, legendary TV host who turns 85 on Aug. 25: “My wife, Joy, and I always loved ‘Yesterday’. It is a beautiful song that always makes you feel good when you listen to it. Many other people have recorded it but we love it by The Beatles.”
Jerry Blavat, radio-TV Hall of Famer and host of Geator Gold Radio, heard locally weeknights on Kool 98.3: “Even though at the very beginning of their career and with the early songs like ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ – that early stuff to me was bubble gum. On my radio show even to this day, I was playing the real deal, American rock n roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Four Seasons, the Isley Brothers, the Chiffons and others, so I really wasn’t a big fan of their early stuff. Still, when they hit in the early 60s because of my popularity I was invited to meet and see them when they appeared in Atlantic City. Ed McMahon was the MC. I met them and then was introduced on stage by Ed as being in the audience. Later on, as they musically developed, I appreciated some of the later things that they did, and one of my favorites was a song which Phil Spector produced for them called ‘The Long and Winding Road’.
David Allan Pratt, morning host, Kool 98.3: “I was 11 the first time I came across a Beatles record. I was sorting through my parents’ record collection, and found the Let It Be album among the Herb Alpert and Honor Blackman records. I played that album over and over. I loved what Phil Spector did producing it (although Mr. McCartney has always despised it). I quickly became a fan, buying the “Red” and “Blue” albums with my allowance, and at 51, I have every Beatles Parlophone album (not the US versions like Beatles VI), as well as every solo album released by each of the Fabs. While I have never had the chance to meet the Beatles (the closest I came was a few years ago in AC when Ringo never showed up to his art exhibit at which I was spinning Ringo tunes), I have seen Paul in concert 4 times, and Ringo twice! I have a few favorite Beatles tunes, but the one that sums up my thinking is “All You Need Is Love”. It’s a great, simple message. It was the final song played at Nicole’s and my wedding (our first dance was to Paul’s “My Valentine”). Every weekday morning at 7:10 I feature the “Beatles Breakfast Bite” on Kool 98.3. Long live the music of the greatest band of all time.”
Joe Kelly, morning host, Cat Country 107.3: “I’d have to say my favorite Beatles’ song has always been “Hey Jude.” As a child, I can remember hearing the song on the radio thinking they were singing directly to me! It was a pick-me-up song for me. Whenever I felt down, it was like they were telling me to perk up, and be happy. Who couldn’t sing along with ‘Nah nah nah, nah nah nah, nah nah nah? While I was just an infant at the time, I didn’t see it live, but seeing the reruns of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that first time is just magical. Was there ever a better TV introduction than Sullivan’s big shoulder turn and to-the-point introduction, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles!”?
Tom Lamaine, retired broadcaster now heard Saturdays on WOND: “Hard to pick a song, but easy to pick an album…. it’s ‘Rubber Soul’. A collection of breakaway works from their earlier recordings. This album blew me away when I first heard it (a pirate copy, of course) with songs like ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘You Won’t See Me’ this contained more depth and structure and led the way to ‘Revolver’ and, of course, ‘Sergeant Pepper.’ These were the best. I secretly got The Beatles from the Lafayette Hotel in Atlantic City to the 500 Club to see Eddie Fisher. (and yes, they really did want to see Eddie Fisher.). Thanks to Skinny D’Amato for arranging that venture.”
Tony Blum, philanthropist and former DJ: “That’s a tough one because the Beatles music is so eclectic. From the early years of ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Please Please Me’ to the later years where their music had matured. Rock and Roll songs like ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Birthday’ to the softer melodies like ‘Yesterday’, ‘Here There and Everywhere’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, ‘Let It Be’ and, of course, their biggest seller, ‘Hey Jude’. But if I had to choose one I think it would be ‘Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight-The End’. That song is almost like a rock symphony that encompasses so many different elements of their music. I finally got to see a part of the Beatles (Paul McCartney in Philly on July 12th) with 50,000 of his closest friends. What amazed me was not only the size of the crowd, but its composition with thousands of young people who were not around during the Beatles era. They not only wanted to see him but were lip syncing the words to the Beatles songs.”
Walt Murphy, public relations legend who created FM radio: “I would pick ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ Because of its musicality – the intricate melody and the beauty of its melody. It has been played by chamber orchestras and string quartets because of its complexity. Leo Brouwer, a composer from Cuba, created a suite called ‘Yesterday to Penny Lane’ that prominently featured Eleanor Rigby.”
Phlash Phelps, morning host on SiriusXM’s 60s on 6: “My phavorite Beatles song has always been ‘In My Liphe’. I relate it to the island of Bermuda. Before I went the 1st time, I saw a video of the sons and daughters of the island singing that song while showing clips of the island. Today when I hear it, I think back to the pristine island that is Bermuda. I met Paul once here at XM as our studio is only three blocks from where he did his 1st Beatles concert on Phebruary 11, 1964. He recalled what it was like.” (as you probably noticed, Phlash spells every “f” sound “ph”.)
Bobby Rydell, legendary entertainer: “I’d pick ‘Yesterday’. It was a classy tune, different than the ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ stuff they had done. I have used it in my live show sometimes. I was on a bus tour in London in 1963 with Helen Shapiro and others. The bus passed this car and she said, ‘That’s the Beatles.’ I didn’t know what she meant. I thought we had bugs on the bus. But we stopped and they got on the bus. They knew me and my music and I thought they were OK guys. Then, about four months later, I’m watching Ed Sullivan and there they are. ‘I met those guys’, I shouted at the TV.”
WORDS OF WISDOM: “It was Elvis who really got me hooked on beat music. When I heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ I thought, this is it.” (Paul McCartney)
“The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break was getting out of them.” (George Harrison, 1943-2001)
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” (John Lennon, 1940-1980)
“I think the most exciting thing is that you expect people our age to know Beatles music, but actually a lot of kids know the music, and if anything is left, we have left really good music, and that’s the important part, not the mop-tops or whatever.” (Ringo Starr)