The news is full of information regarding the summer of 1965. It was a true bench mark year. Civil rights was making strides, Medicare was signed into law and the social upheaval of a generation continued unabated. So much great music was released 50 years ago – it truly does make one stop and consider the wealth of creative genius we were witnessing.
In a small town – the source of most teenage news at that time was the monthly teen magazines – which provided a steady stream of propaganda which created a cottage industry for record companies, movie mongrels and all the trappings of rock and roll. I was no different in that respect as I was a rock solid Beatles fan – lured by the magazines which created deities from across the pond.
It was a different world then – no internet, text messaging, cell phones and only three tv stations to view. The Fabs served as a valid escape from emotional trauma and neglect, bullying. I needed to belong and in wilderness – the nearest boat, the nearest cup of cold water can temp even the brightest mind. Impressionable youths are ripe pickings. Only with the passage of time do the facts come into focus.
The summer of 1965 was the year I point to as the best for me. The focus was The Fabs were coming to Houston and I had plans to go. I was going to go no matter what I had to do. My parents were tolerant of my fixation. They were not thrilled when they learned I had purchased a ticket with my allowance money. Their comments were you are not going to Houston.
I recall the week which lead up to the big concert in Houston. Dixie Moore and I were riding our bikes in Forest Acres on Maplewood Street – in front of the Lisk house. I stopped and said to Becky, “The Beatles are at Shea Stadium now.” I pointed in the direction of New York and watched Becky’s confused expression. It made sense to me and I wanted to be in New York.
The 16th August – Monday – late afternoon – dad home from work – worked in the garden. I begged him to let me go to Houston. He was non-committal. The 17th August – Tuesday – my mom called Mrs. Carter Work – who was driving her daughter Joan, friend Jenny and youngest son Kenny to Houston to the show. My mom asked if I might car pool. Mrs. Work’s lame comments – the car tires are too low to have another person was a reach for anyone. She didn’t want another fanatic in her car.
The 18th August – Wednesday arrived, twenty-four hours to the big event. The Fabs were in Atlanta and next stop Houston!! Still had not convinced my parents to take me. To add insult to injury my surly grandmother was visiting and she mocked me with frequency. Mom, my grandmother and I drove to Ft. Apache – where I had recently spent a week at camp and asked if the owners of the camp could take me to Houston. She even offered to pay. The owners appeared confused but the response was not. The lady of the establishment stated she would not take on such a responsibility. She also had small children who needed her and if my mom wanted me to go to the concert then that was something a mother could do for her child. She encouraged my mom to spend the time shopping while I attended the show.
Still not budging we headed to H&H grocery. I sat in the back seat of our old Plymouth and cried. I saw classmate Debbie Holland who waved at me from her parent’s car. Mom and my grandmother headed to a family camp on the creek and I retreated to the very room I sit in today to write this. An old radio was perched on the book case and I sat there and listened as the 18th became the 19th August. KILT radio announced the Beatles had arrived and were staying at the Sheraton Lincoln. The scene downtown was chaos but nothing compared to my feelings of depression.
At 10:30 am I heard a vehicle stop in front of the house. I raced to the front door and watched my mom walk down the brick side walk. A pick-up truck which I did not recognize drove slowly away. My mom saw me and said “Get dressed. I am taking you to see the Beatles.” Had she said you have a winning lotto ticket I don’t believe I would have felt any happier.
The next few hours were a blur for me. A friend of my sister’s tagged along as we which included the aforementioned Grandma headed to Houston. The day was sunny and with each passing mile I was that much closer to the Fabs. We stopped at Liberty to get gas and I noted the old clock on the front of the building displayed 1:50 pm. The young man who checked our car as was once the habit of gas stations asked where we were going? I yelled to see the Beatles. He smiled and said he wished he could go. I hope he got to.
The out skirts of Houston – passed a station wagon with Florida tags. I commented to mom they are coming all the way from Florida to see the Beatles and I believed it. At last downtown Houston – passed the hotel with the mob of fans – autograph books in hand. A hand made sign on a sheet hung from the back of a pick-up – Welcome Beatles. I knew I was close by. Suddenly as if on cue the Sam Houston Coliseum stood before me. Fans surrounded, darted across the street and created an intangible excitement. Mom told me to have fun and to come outside as soon as the show was over.
I raced to the front – presented my precious ticket and found myself inside the building. It was filled with fans – signs, girls who hoped to catch the eye of a Fab wore that London Mod look. I sat near the back – next to two fans from Dallas who had seen them the prior year. I thought they were royalty. DJ The Weird Beard was on stage – told fans not to rush the stage.
Then the performers – Cannibal and the Headhunters sang Land of a Thousand Dances. They were also professional dancers and left the stage in a caterpillar formation. King Curtis – a whiz on the sax, Brenda Holloway sang Baby I’m Yours and Hello Stranger. I remember her keyboardist wore a very tight sequin dress which was tighter than her skin. She could have sat down in her skin but not that dress. With each flash bulb – her dress seemed to explode. Then Sounds Incorporated who sang their hearts out but we didn’t want them. We wanted the You Know Whose. The excitement reached a breaking point when road manager Mal Evans removed the tarp off the drums and the words Beatles clearly seen.
Within minutes The Weird Beard introduced the Beatles and the place went crazy. Everyone stood on their chairs – and I was left without a visualization of the Fabs. Finally the sea of fans moved in the right direction and I could see George – bathed in spot light – 50 rows in front of me. That would never work. I raced to the front – only to be stopped by a massive cop who told me to go back. I refused and climbed through his legs. I arrived at the front and feasted my eyes on the Fabs – especially Paul who could best be described the summer of 1965 as drop dead gorgeous. The experience was unlike anything I had ever seen or would see. My feelings of abandonment evaporated with each song – each connection with a fan who felt the way I did. I received valuable affirmation that day.
If I fainted – I don’t know? I recall they sang one song and I don’t recall anything til they were half way through another. The show ended – barely a half hour. No encore. Just the usual exhausted fans, police and the lucky young women who were chosen to go back stage. I was not chosen and voiced my opinion. Mal Evans, roadie walked over to me, patted me on the head and encouraged me to come back in five years. Five years – so long – 1970. Other fans waited – some had a ticket for the night show. Other fans caught items tossed off the stage. One girl swore she had a flash bulb Paul had touched. I asked if I could kiss the bulb and did so.
Later I found myself standing in front of the Federal Building – and the Brink’s Money truck passed by with the Fabs. I screamed again and from the passenger side I saw Beatles manager Brian Epstein wave. I caught a quick glimpse of John. His signature cap was on his head. We drove back to Kountze and I wrote about my experience for the Pine Needle, a local weekly.
Time does pass and before I knew it 1970 was a reality. The Fabs went their separate ways, unrealistic expectations faded into the wood work of reality. Years passed and so we find ourselves viewing these events 50 years later. It was an incredible event. If one listens to the KILT recording on youtube it is clear the show was rushed, the music inferior and the Fabs were going through the motions.
In a life time one expects certain rites of passage, It would be safe to say I find it sad this memory is not just a Day in my life but The Day. It should be one of several stellar days. Other days of importance – of dad walking me down the aisle, of children never materialized. It is a tough pill to shallow which I find gets stuck in the throat.
The Fabs didn’t get off easy. Their careers splintered, separated. John was assassinated by a crazed fan in 1980. George died of cancer in 2001. The beat goes on and the music does via Paul who still tours and performed a three hour show, Ringo also tours with his All Star Band. Looking back is as important as viewing a mirror. It does not always define who we are but who we wish to be or how we see ourselves. I see this day August 19, 1965 – a Thursday as one set in the history of rock music, of Houston, TX – and not just in stone but in the hearts of everyone, every fan who was fortunate enough to attend.