Marc Catone's writings

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Shea Stadium 1965

The following article appeared in Beatlefan magazine in August 2005.  It commemorated the 40th anniversary of The Beatles first concert at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965.  With grateful acknowledgement to Bill King, editor of Beatlefan, I post the article here. 

 

It Was A Hot Summer's Night

Marc A. Catone

One day in the Spring of 1965, my sister ran into my
room with a copy of “16 Magazine” clutched in her
hands.  Excitedly, Sara pushed a page in front of my
face.  It was a list of cities for the upcoming
Beatles' American Tour.  The first concert was set for
Sunday, August 15, 1965 at Shea Stadium in Flushing,
New York.   We were manic Beatles fans....ecstatic at
the prospect of seeing the Fabs in person.

Sara and I missed seeing The Beatles at Forest Hills
in the summer of 1964.  My aunt, who  lived in
Manhattan, tried to get us tickets, but the concert
was all ready sold out.  In 1965, we were determined
to get the tickets ourselves, and see the Beatles in
August.  But how?  I was only 14 years old, and Sara
was 13.  We had no idea what to do.  After many
inquiries, we found a ticket agency in our hometown of
Danbury Connecticut.  Not only did they have tickets
for the concert, but there was a package deal that
included a round trip bus ride to Shea Stadium.

The ticket agency bought up several rows of seats in
the Upper Deck.  The price of a ticket was $5.65.
That was a hefty amount in 1965.  Many of our friends'
parents thought it was too expensive, and wouldn't
allow their children to go.  My parents didn't have a
lot of money, but Sara and I made such a strong case
for our going to Shea that they agreed we could
attend.  Also, our good friend and next-door neighbor,
Gilberte “Bunny” Najamy, had permission to go.  The
three of us went to the agency, bought our tickets,
and paid a few dollars more for the bus ride.

This happy arrangement had one downside.  My mother
was apprehensive about letting her two kids venture
into the bustling metropolis of Flushing alone.
Therefore, my parents volunteered to be chaperones on
one of the two chartered busses going to Shea.  And
guess which bus they rode?  Yep...you guessed it.
Unfortunately, time has not erased from my mind the
image of my father clapping along to a rousing vocal
rendition of “Eight Days A Week” with a bunch of girls
on the bus.  However, it wasn't too bad having my
parents on board.  For the most part, they left us
alone, and seemed to have a good time.  Also, they
didn't have tickets to the concert.   While we were
inside attending the show, Mom and Dad walked over to
the New York World's Fair.  Shea Stadium, the newly
constructed home of my favorite baseball team, the New
York Mets, had been part of the initial construction
for the Fair, and was only a stone's throw away.

And then, August 15th arrived.   During the previous
school year, I washed the greasy kid-stuff out of my
hair for good, and began combing it down.  That Sunday
morning, I washed my hair twice to make sure it would
gently cascade across my forehead, and fall just short
of my eyes.  My clothes had to be just right.  I wore
my maroon Henley shirt, which was collarless with a
white border around the neck and under the top
buttons.  I looked cool on a very hot night.  In fact,
the entire Summer of 1965 was hot with a major drought
in the New York metropolitan area.  Conservation of
water was urged on TV commercials and newspaper ads.
Throughout the night of August 15th, a blimp circled
Shea Stadium with a sign that read “Save Water”.

When we arrived at the ball park, there were thousands
of kids from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
I had never been in one place with so many people my
age.  The sheer numbers of my generation hit me for
the first time.  Most of the concert goers were girls.
For me, only a week away from my 15th birthday, this
was like Heaven.  Girls, Girls, Girls...everywhere I
looked.  Many wore flower print, short-hemmed dresses
and skirts.  Most of them had long straight hair with
English bangs across their foreheads...the classic
mid-Sixties look for girls.

Sara, Gilberte, and I found our seats in Section 12,
Row C of the Upper Deck between home plate and first
base.  Seated in front of us were three girls I knew
from my high school class.  We talked, on and off, all
night.  As the stadium filled up, it became
increasingly difficult to hold a conversation.
Thunderous, ground shaking jets taking off from nearby
LaGuardia airport flew right over the ball park.
Girls started screaming when anyone walked across the
ball field.  Some started crying.  Emotions were
running high.

No one paid much attention to the opening acts of
Brenda Holloway, the King Curtis Band, Cannibal and
the Headhunters, and Sounds Inc.  My only memory from
those bands is Cannibal and the Headhunters singing
“Land of 1,000 Dances”,  which had been a big local
hit earlier in the year.  We were bored with the
performers, and couldn't wait for them to be over.

Finally, the big moment came.  Ed Sullivan introduced
The Beatles to the massive crowd, and the noise level
rose to new heights.   It was the most intense moment
of my life.  The cacophony of screaming, crying and
wailing assaulted my ears.  The flashing of camera
bulbs all over the stadium provided a massive light
show for my eyes, but my gaze was fixed on the field.
Emerging from the Mets' dugout were four tiny
figures.  Quickly, they ascended the stage, and
strapped on guitars.

The noise was so loud that I didn't know The Beatles
had started to play or what song they were singing.
Someone yelled it was “Twist and Shout”, but by then
The Beatles were into their second song of the night,
“She's A Woman”.  I had a slight auditory advantage
over the girls.  I wasn't screaming.  Therefore, I
wasn't adding to the sounds bombarding my head.  This
enabled me to hear the song introductions better than
those who sat next to me.  I heard Paul introduce the
next song, “I Feel Fine”, and recognized it's familiar
opening riff.

The Beatles went on to perform, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”,
“Ticket To Ride”. “Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby”,
and “Can't Buy Me Love”.  Paul asked the crowd to join
in and clap during the latter song.  I heard bits and
pieces of them all...from the strong and steady rhythm
guitar of “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” to  the vocal fade-out of
“Ticket To Ride”.

The Beatles looked quite small from our upper deck
“nose-bleed” seats.   I could not see their facial
expressions with the naked eye.  At different
intervals, Sara and I shared a pair of powerful
binoculars.  I could see more detail whenever I looked
through the field glasses.  The Beatles were wearing
brown jackets with black pants.  Like the audience,
they were sweating profusely.

At one point, one of the girls seated in front of me
said that Mick Jagger was in the dugout watching the
show.  The popularity of the Rolling Stones was
soaring due to their big summertime
hit, “Satisfaction”.  I trained my binoculars in the
dug-out area, and saw a young guy with long hair, but
it was impossible to say who he was.  Sara still
insists it was Mick, and that he waved to her.

Just before the introduction to “Baby's In Black”,
fans climbed over the outfield wall from the parking
lot, and scurried toward the stage.  They never had a
chance.  The police ran after them as John Lennon
remarked, “Lookey there....ahhh”, into his open mike.
John, Paul, and George “waltzed' with their guitars
during the middle eight.  However, the next song was a
complete mystery.  No one sitting around us knew what
it was.  Ringo was singing, but we didn't recognize
the tune.  It was “Act Naturally” which had not aired
on US radio (it was on the UK “Help” album), and
wouldn't be released until the following month as the
“B” side of the “Yesterday” single.

Then something strange happened.  The constant noise
of the night wasn't as loud.  Girls were becoming
exhausted... their voices giving out from the strain.
The sound quality of the music was still far from
perfect, but the last three songs of the evening were
easier to hear.  One of my favorite songs, “A Hard
Day's Night” came next.  I watched The Beatles sing
and play through the binoculars for most of the song.
Prior to seeing this concert, I could only view what
a film producer or TV camera decided to show the
audience.  It was a heady experience to control my
observation of the band on stage.

Then came a few moments of pain.  The Beatles launched
into “Help”, their current single.  Sara really loved
that song, and became quite possessive over the
binoculars when it began.   Right before the third
verse (a repeat of the first)  when the tempo slows
down a bit for John to sing , “When I was younger, so
much younger than today”, Sara yelled into my ear, “I
have to see John sing the third verse”.  She grabbed
the binoculars from my hands.  Unfortunately, the
strap was still around my neck.  I spent the remainder
of “Help” choking.   Sara was so into the moment that
she wasn't aware of my predicament.  Visions of
newspaper headlines reading, “BOY STRANGLED BY SISTER
AT BEATLES CONCERT”, ran through my head.  Finally,
“Help” was over, and I could breathe again.

My favorite moment of the entire concert was the
show's finale, “I'm Down”.   Knowing that it was the
last song of the night, I commandeered the field
glasses for most of it.  The performance of that tune
was unique for The Beatles because John played an
electric organ instead of his guitar.   I saw him run
his elbow across the keyboard, and said to
myself...”What is he doing?!?”.   Throughout most of
the song, John joked with George, who shared a mike
with him for back-up vocals.  Both were laughing hard
as John continued to play the organ with his elbow,
and wave to the crowd.  Years later, this same
sequence was shown in vivid detail on the Beatles
Anthology while Ringo explained that John “got a
little crazy” that night.

And then it was over.  The concert was only about 40
minutes in length, but it seemed much longer.  It is
now common knowledge that The Beatles began to tire of
performing during the 1965 tour.  In some cities they
put on less than a stellar show, realizing they could
not be heard.  That happened as the tour progressed,
but on August 15, 1965, at Shea Stadium, The Beatles
had fun playing in front of 56,000 people.  And we,
their audience and ardent fans, had the time of our
lives watching them.

Copyright: Marc Catone 2010

Photo of my 1965 Shea Stadium concert ticket:

http://marccatone.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=106316009

 

 

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Shea Stadium 1966

The following is my article commemorating the 40th anniversary of The Beatles second concert at Shea Stadium on August 23, 1966.  The article appeared originally in the August 2006 issue of Beatlefan magazine.  With grateful acknowledgement to Bill King, editor of Beatlefan, I post the article here.

 

The Beatles at Shea Stadium...August 23, 1966

Marc A. Catone

 

By the Spring of 1966, my sister, Sara, and I were
veterans of Beatles concerts.  We attended The
Beatles' August 15, 1965 performance at Shea Stadium.
Over the next 12 months, we remained fervent fans
buoyed by the new music on “Rubber Soul” and
“Revolver”.  When it was announced that The Beatles
would return to the home of the New York Mets during
their 1966 American Tour, we contacted the one and
only  ticket agency in our hometown of Danbury
Connecticut.  A year older, and wiser, we demanded
more particulars about the concert  from the owners of
the business than we did the previous year.

In 1965, the agency had a package deal including the
ticket and a bus ride to Shea.  However, our seats
were in  the “nose bleed area” on the upper deck.  The
Beatles looked like ants.  Had it not been for a pair
of trusty binoculars, we wouldn't have seen the band
at all.  So, our big question to the owner of the
ticket agency was, “How close will our seats be to The
Beatles this time?”   To which the owner replied,

“You'll be able to spit in their eyes.”

We were a bit dubious about this claim, but shelled
out our money anyway.  The cost per ticket was $5.75.
So, for the whopping sum of $11.50, the two Catone
kids were set to see the world's greatest band perform
on Tuesday, August 23, 1966.  Unfortunately, there was
a three month lapse between the ticket purchase and
the date of the concert.  We kept our tickets in a
safe place, and waited as patiently as two teens
could.  However , the Summer of 1966 was not an easy
one for The Beatles as they began to emerge from their
cuddly image.

In mid-June, their American compilation album,
“Yesterday and Today” was released with a cover
showing The Beatles dressed as butchers in white
aprons.  Decapitated heads and torsos of baby dolls
were strewn among the Fab Four with slabs of bloody
raw meat.  Capitol records was besieged with so many
complaints about the cover being in bad taste that the
first shipment was recalled, and then reissued a week
or so later with an innocuous replacement photo of The
Beatles on the cover.  In the early days of
Beatlemania, their music and hair were ridiculed,  but
with the release of the “Butcher Cover” The Beatles'
values were criticized by the press for the first
time.

A month went by, and most of the hoopla surrounding
“Yesterday and Today” had died down.  However, by late
July, two more events contributed to the continuing
bad press for The Beatles.  During their Asian tour,
the group reportedly snubbed the President and First
Lady of the Philippines by failing to show up at a
dinner party given in their honor.  Crowds of people
shouted and jeered at The Beatles as they made their
way through the airport on their departure from
Manila.

Then, in late July, a barely noticed UK interview of
John Lennon from months earlier surfaced in the United
States.  It was the interview in which John's  “We're
more popular than Jesus” statement made headlines, and
incited crowds of overzealous Christian
fundamentalists to burn Beatles albums and rip photos
of the group in the American Deep South.  By early
August, rumors that The Beatles might not tour because
of John Lennon's “sacrilegious” remark made headlines
in New York City.  For a few days in a row, the Daily
News featured stories indicating that the concert at
Shea Stadium would be cancelled.

Sara and I were frantic.  A feeling of desperation
surrounded us.  We couldn't stand the thought of
anything preventing us from seeing The Beatles.
Fortunately, our fears were short-lived.  Upon his
arrival in the USA, John issued an apology.  He never
said that he was sorry for what he said, but expressed
concern that his words had been misinterpreted and
taken out of context.   Most people considered him to
be contrite... all was forgiven...the show would go
on.

Part of the thrill of going to a Beatles concert was
deciding what to wear.  In 1965, I wore a maroon Henly
shirt, but by 1966 my attire was Early Psychedelic.  A
girl classmate told me that I reminded her of Zal
Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful.  I took the
comparison too close to heart, and began investing my
money in loud shirts, and yes...red-colored granny
glasses as worn by the Spoonful, the Byrds, and
others.  So, on Tuesday, August 23, 1966, I arrived at
Shea Stadium wearing a burgundy colored shirt with
giant white polka dots...just like John Sebastian and
Zallie sported in the Spoonful.

I was part of a small group that included Sara, and
our friends, Gilberte, Linda, and Doug.  Upon our
arrival at the ball park, we committed the location of
our bus to memory, so we wouldn't get lost when the
concert was over.  Once inside Shea Stadium, we were
shocked to see our seats.  Not because they were
terrible, but because they were almost too good to be
true.  We were situated in Box 227E, several boxes up
from the playing field, between home plate and first
base.  Unlike the year before, we could actually see
the stage, and the life-sized human beings walking on
it.  Also, we noticed that many seats in the upper
deck, particularly on the right field side of the
stadium, were empty.  Parental fears about  “trouble”
occurring at the ball park, due to John's
“Jesus/Beatles” comparison, contributed to 10,000
seats unfilled.

Still, there were about 45,000 loud fans at Shea that
night.  It was a deafening noise that shook the
foundations of the stadium in addition to the sounds
of jets flying overhead from nearby LaGuardia Airport.
The opening acts, the Remains, Bobby Hebb, the
Cyrkle, and the Ronettes were more tolerable than
those bands playing before The Beatles in 1965.  The
Remains, a very popular band from Boston, kicked off
the show.  Hebb relied mainly on his hit, “Sunny”,
which went on for too long.  The Cyrkle, an American
band managed by Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, were
well received, especially when they sang their hit,
“Red Rubber Ball”.  I don't remember what the Ronettes
sang, though no show of theirs could be complete
without “Be My Baby”.  By then, the crowd was getting
antsy...we wanted to see The Beatles.

My memory of exactly who introduced The Beatles that
night is a bit hazy.  I remember the WMCA “Good Guys”
disk jockeys were on stage prancing around in yellow
shirts holding a replica of a yellow submarine, which
was also the title of the current Beatles single.  And
then all of a sudden, there they were...falling out of
the Mets dugout, and making their way towards the
stage...light bulbs flashing, girls screaming,  and
faces happy...the Fabs.

A remarkable thing happened to me during The Beatles'
performance that night in August.  I could hear them
almost...but not quite...perfectly.  Several factors
made that possible.  Although the screaming and
wailing from the girls in the audience was
unbelievably loud and uncontrolled, it wasn't as bad
as the year before.  There were two reasons for this.

1:  There were 10,000 people less in attendance than in 1965

2:  There were more guys at Shea Stadium in 1966 than the year before.  

The Beatles' audience was changing.  Their album, “Rubber Soul”, made it
more acceptable for guys to admit they liked The Beatles.   Their current album, “Revolver”, released only a couple of weeks before the 1966 American tour started, won them a following of young adults, who had
scoffed at their teenybopper adoration in earlier years.  I received the new album for my 16th birthday, just two days before the Shea concert.

Three other factors provided me with the ability to
hear what The Beatles were playing that night.  I was
much closer to the stage.  As a Mets fan, I've been
back to Shea Stadium many times, and I sit quite close
to the Field Level seats we had that night in August
'66.   Routinely, I can see the second baseman, and
his facial expressions...and that was the distance
between The Beatles and my group of friends during the
concert.  Also, the sound system was superior to the
one used in 1965.  The  Beatles sounded better in
1966.  Many years later, I found out that the Remains
had a newer and much improved audio board and speaker
system than The Beatles.  The Boston band lent The
Beatles the use of their advanced equipment during the
tour, including the Shea concert venue.  Last, but not
least, I was having a medical problem that night.

I started coming down with a cold a few days before
the concert.  By the day of the concert, my ears were
somewhat clogged.  I couldn't hear as well as usual.
Things were a bit muffled.  As The Beatles sang and
played their instruments, and the hysteria of the
audience was at its peak, something strange happened.
The condition of my ears actually filtered out the
noise of the crowd, and allowed me to hear the music
better.  I realize that sounds crazy...but I swear
it's true.

The conventional wisdom about The Beatles in concert
during their 1966 Summer tour is that they gave a
lackluster performance.  Today, we know that they were
tired of touring, and its hectic pace.  Additionally,
The Beatles felt stifled, musically, because they
could not recreate their newer songs for an audience
who wasn't really listening to them.  Personally, I
saw no evidence of The Beatles as slackers at Shea
Stadium.  They were animated.  John was particularly
chatty as he introduced songs.  However, intentional
or not, they did seem a bit stuffy in appearance,
wearing conservative  gray/blue trousers and jackets
with wide blue pinstripes.  Not quite as cool as the
brown suede coats in 1965.

In 1966, The Beatles' setlist  for Shea Stadium was:

1. Rock And Roll Music
2. She's A Woman
3. If I Needed Someone
4. Day Tripper
5. Baby's In Black
6. I Feel Fine
7. Yesterday
8. I Wanna Be Your Man
9. Nowhere Man
10. Paperback Writer
11. Long Tall Sally

The songwriting abilities, lyrical content, and
recording techniques of The Beatles underwent an
amazing transformation during the twelve months
between their two Shea Stadium performances.  I was
changing too.  At the 1965 concert, I was merely happy
to be there, absorbing all the excitement and
hysteria.  My seat was so far away, that any thoughts
of having any direct connection to The Beatles
disappeared quickly.  By the summer of 1966, the war
in Vietnam, and the antiwar protests against it, had a
major influence on me.  “Rubber Soul”, and The
Beatles' 1966 singles affected my outlook on love,
life, war and peace.  I became more  introspective.
“Nowhere Man” and “Rain” clicked with my curiosity
about society, and why people behaved the way they do.
That's why, 40 years later, my memory of the 1966
Shea Stadium concert centers around three songs, “If I
Needed Someone”, “Day Tripper”,  and “Nowhere Man”.

“If I Needed Someone”...pure George Harrison.  I could
hear him playing the guitar from the opening note of
the song's hypnotic hook until the end.  The middle
eight, with vocal harmonies and George's guitar, are
such a vivid memory, that even four decades later I'm
whisked back to that night anytime I hear the song.
“If I Needed Someone” was the first song of the
concert that made me feel part of what the band was
doing on stage.

John made an “inside joke” during the intro to “Day
Tripper”, the first song I learned how to play on the
guitar.  Paul's bass was booming all over the ball
park. “One way ticket...yeah”.

“Nowhere Man” is the song I recall best.  The lyrics
expressed my frustration and impatience with the
hypocrisy of leaders and other authority figures in my
life.  Although the opening lines are sung a cappella,
I could hear them with clarity despite the noise of
the crowd.  For a transcendental minute or so...as
strange as this may sound...I thought that John was
singing directly to me.

The last song of the evening brought me back down to
Earth.  Some of the American concerts in 1966 ended
with “I'm Down”, but at Shea Stadium that year, the
final song was the old Little Richard chestnut, “Long
Tall Sally”.  And then, the concert was over.  Girls
were crying, slumped over each other, and hugging.
Guys walked out with far-away looks in their eyes.  As
we exited the stadium, talking excitedly about the
show amongst ourselves, Doug said to me, “Man, we have
to come back here next year, and see them again.”.

To which I replied, “Yes...definitely.”

We didn't know that there would never be another
performance by The Beatles in front of a paying
audience after their concert in San Francisco a week
later.  As 1st Generation fans, we thought they would
go on forever.

They couldn't, but our memories of them still do.

Copyright: Marc Catone 2010

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Click below for photo I took at The Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium Concert:

The Beatles at Shea Stadium August 23rd 1966

Here's Sara's ticket stub

http://marccatone.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=106316011

Here's the shirt I wore that night at the concert:

http://marccatone.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=172308794

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40th Anniversary Of "Sgt. Pepper"

The following article by me appeared in Beatlefan in the Spring of 2007:

In the late Spring of 1967, three significant events
occurred in my teenage life.  My long time girlfriend
dumped me, I got my driver's license, and the music
world was awakened again by a well-known foursome from
Liverpool England.

In late May, all of the AM radio stations in New York
City began playing cuts from The Beatles' new
long-playing record, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Band".  On the album, The Beatles pretended to be
another band playing songs in a wide array of styles,
performed for a make-believe audience in an old
English music hall.  The music was crisp and clear.
Each song blended into the next without any silence
between the tracks.  There were unusual instruments,
orchestration, and new electronic sounds.  The voices
of John, Paul, George and Ringo were so sharp and
distinctive that anyone could tell who was singing.

I was first attracted to John's childlike voice
singing surreal lyrics in "Lucy In The Sky With
Diamonds".  Many of my high school classmates listened
to the new Beatles songs on the radio.  A guy in my
homeroom sang "Lovely Rita" in a thick English accent
one morning before class began.  Everyone had their
personal favorite.  However, the jury was still out on
the album as a whole because there was one song that
no radio station would play.

"A Day In The Life" was the last track on "Sgt.
Pepper".  It was an elusive song prior to the album's
release.  The Beatles' native England began the
controversy when BBC radio became the first to refuse
the song.  They claimed that the lyrics promoted drug
use due to the dreamy phrase, "I'd love to turn you
on".  However, radio listeners in America didn't know
what the objectionable words were.  We were only told
that the song contained drug references.

I couldn't understand how a song could be blacklisted.
I wondered, did The Beatles sing, "Yeah man, take
drugs...it's groovy"?  A shroud of mystery existed
about "A Day In The Life".  There was a "forbidden
fruit" aspect in its lack of air play, but what
intrigued me most was the universal praise for the
song coming from those broadcasters who had heard it.
We were teased by "wait until you hear it" predictions
from the area disk jockeys.  I had to wait for the
album's release before I could draw my own conclusion.

Friday, June 2, 1967 was the day that "Sgt. Pepper"
arrived for sale in the United States.  Unfortunately,
it was also a school day.  I counted my money before
boarding the school bus that morning.  I had four
dollars.  My plan was to stop at the "Record Fair" on
Main Street(in my hometown of Danbury CT) once the
school day was done, and purchase "Sgt. Pepper".  The
album was my first stereo record.  I received a small
"Zenith" stereo for Christmas, but up until then I
owned only "mono" albums.  They were cheaper than
stereo releases.  It only cost $2.67 to buy a monaural
record, but it cost a whole dollar more to buy the
stereo version.  $3.67 was a hefty amount to pay for
an LP in 1967, but after all...it was The Beatles.

Finally, the school bell rang.  I got on the bus, and
asked the driver to let me off on Main Street.  I
walked a few blocks until I hit the main business
district.  The "Record Fair" was a long narrow store
owned by a guy in his late 30s who spoke in a very
thick Bronx accent.  At first, I couldn't find "Sgt.
Pepper", and asked him where it was.  Without looking
up from his newspaper, he pointed over to a rack of
albums near the front, and said, "It's over dere kid,
doncha see it?".

The colors on the album cover hit me right in the
eyes.  John, Paul, George and Ringo wore bright lime,
blue, red, and pink military style suits.  Standing
behind them was a collage with dozens of familiar and
unfamiliar faces.  I asked the store owner which of
the "Sgt.Pepper" albums were in stereo.  I didn't
believe him when he said that all of them were stereo.
In fact, he had no "mono" copies.  I threw my $3.67
on the counter, and took off for home.

When I got home, my sister, Sara, wasn't there, and my
parents were away at work.  I ran upstairs to the
stereo, took the cellophane wrapper off from the
album, and gazed upon it in wonder.  It was
extraordinary.  It was exquisite.  The album jacket
opened up inside to reveal the four smiling faces of
the Fab Four sporting mustaches, and dressed in their
colorful uniforms.  The lyrics for each song were
neatly printed on the back cover.  To the best of my
knowledge, it was the first time any Rock group did
that.  However, that wasn't the end of the visual
delights.  Inside the record jacket, next to the
sleeve was a 12" x 12" piece of cardboard illustrated
with pictures to be cut out.

Opening up the "Sgt. Pepper" album for the first time
was like joining a club where membership included
treats, gifts, and goodies.  The experience reminded
me of when I was younger, and my mother sent away for
a special package of cut-outs and games based on the
characters from the "Mighty Mouse" cartoon show.  I
spent many hours playing with the contents of that
package from CBS-TV.  Now, at age 16, I was staring at
cardboard badges featuring the "Sgt. Pepper" logo, a
picture of the fictitious "Pepper" himself, sergeant
stripes, and a stand-up photo of The Beatles with
"Sgt. Pepper's Band" written across it.  Within the
large letters spelling out the "Pepper" name were tiny
photos of women.  A magnifying glass revealed them to
be the subjects of late 19th century cameras.

I took the LP, and listened to all of Side One...then
flipped it over quickly, and placed Side Two on the
turntable.  I had every intention of playing it from
first to last, but after hearing "Within You Without
You", I could stand it no longer.  I lifted the stylus
off the record, and put it on the groove of the final
track, "A Day In Life".

The lack of silence between the tracks made it
difficult to figure out where one song ended and the
next one began.  When I tried to place the stylus at
the beginning of "A Day In The Life", I heard the
reprise of "Sgt. Pepper" instead.  I just let it flow.

I didn't have headphones, so I positioned the left
speaker of the stereo on my bed, and the right speaker
on a chair.  I sat on the floor between each speaker,
level with my ears.  The reprise faded and "A Day In
The Life" began with the strumming of a guitar.  John
Lennon's vocal was hypnotic.  My ears were tuned to
his every word as I followed the lyrics from the
album's cover.  John's voice was plaintive and sad.
It pained him to tell us about the man killed in the
car crash, and the apathy of the crowd.  Intentional
or not, the lyrics reflected society's increasing
numbness to the daily body count from Vietnam.

The cacophonous middle of the song consisted of
different instruments playing in unison from the
lowest note to the highest.  As the crescendo swelled,
I went into a trance.  The music, wafting through my
ears, took me further and further aloft. Suddenly, out
of nowhere, an alarm clock rang and Paul McCartney
told me to get out of bed.  For a few seconds I was
completely awake.  After Paul sang his line about
going "into a dream", I was mesmerized again by John's
voice singing "ahhhh" to the notes of a haunting
melody.  This time, I was connected by heart and soul
to that sound.  I was part of the song...no...I WAS
the song.  I had the sensation of leaving my body, and
being one with the sound emanating from the speaker,
particularly towards the end of the "ahhh" sound when
Lennon's voice cracked ever so slightly.  A very
peaceful feeling came over me.  I was refreshed.

In June of 1967, I knew nothing about meditation...I
didn't know what is was until The Beatles met up with
the Maharishi a couple of months later.  I knew there
was more going on than the song itself.  I had been
connected to something much greater than myself.  I
had no name for it, but something had washed through
and cleansed me.  I sat quietly for a minute or so.
Being so young, and uninitiated in such things, I didn't
have any immediate questions about my experience. Soon
the arrival home of my parents and sister brought me
back to life as I knew it.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" became a rite
of passage for an entire generation.  One could,
literally, walk down any street, and catch snippets of
"Getting Better", "Good Morning Good Morning", and
"With A Little Help From My Friends" emanating from
many windows simultaneously.  I can point to that
Summer of 1967, and say that my first listen to "Sgt.
Pepper" changed me...changed my outlook, and shifted
me towards a different perspective on life.

However, as much as I loved and admired The Beatles, I
knew that they were only messengers.  They didn't have
the "answer" to life, and didn't promise us one.  They
didn't preach or ask us to believe in them.  They
weren't "holier-than-thou".  The Beatles provided us
with the impetus and desire to look for answers...to
search for the truth. The Beatles were just like
us...they were seekers, who kept urging us to find out
about ourselves as they engaged in the same pursuit.
They kept us centered. 

And their album, "Sgt. Pepper", was our soundtrack.

Copyright: Marc Catone 2010

*********************************************************************************

Click below to see the website for Beatlefan:

Beatlefan Magazine

**************************************************************************************

 

The following appeared in the August 2010 issue of Beatlefan:
 
ALL STARRS AT WOODSTOCK

A Fan Report on Ringo in Concert

Marc Catone wrote this article about Ringo's June 26, 2010 concert at Bethel Woods Arts Center in Bethel, NY, for Beatlefan/PLUS! . . .

Although I visited the Woodstock Museum last year, this was my first trip to the Bethel Woods Arts Center, located on the grounds of the original Woodstock concert. Yep, ole Max Yasgur's farm. The folks who run the facility really know what they are doing ... very accommodating and friendly. Good food and drink ... and really clean restrooms (most important). They don't have the after-concert traffic quite figured out, but not bad as compared with other venues. The enthusiastic crowd was mostly in their 40s and 50s, with a sprinkling of older and younger.

Ringo and the All Starrs performed for two hours to a crowd of about 15,000, sitting in the Pavilion and on the lawn in back. To the best of memory this was the set list:

It Don't Come Easy
Honey Don't
Choose Love
Hang On Sloopy
Free Ride
Talking In Your Sleep
I Wanna Be Your Man
Dream Weaver
Kyrie
The Other Side Of Liverpool
Yellow Submarine
Frankenstein
Peace Dream
Back Off Boogaloo
What I Like About You
Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo
Boys
My Love Is Alive
Broken Wings
Photograph
Act Naturally
With A Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace a Chance

I hadn't seen Ringo and the All Starrs since the early 1990s. This assembly of stars was quite relaxed and tighter in performance than the one I saw years ago. Older fans, like me, really enjoyed seeing Edgar Winter, and Rick Derringer. The versatility of the former on his signature song, "Frankenstein," and the guitar of the latter on "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koochie Koo" had the crowd on their feet. While those who were teens in the 1980s seemed to rachet up a notch in their excitement over the sets by Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Wally Palmar (The Romantics). Gary Wright, with his special place as a session man for Ringo and George Harrison, was a fan favorite as well. "Dream Weaver" was enchanting.

As for Ringo, he looked terrific. I could not believe that someone so spry was about to be age 70. He was in good voice for the most part, and his drum playing was heavier than I remembered. I realized that the in-between songs patter and introductions were similar to his performances at other concerts . . . with one exception. Early on in the set, Ringo asked the audience, "Were you here two years ago? Sorry about that" . . . a reference to his canceled 2008 concert at Bethel Woods because his equipment trucks couldn't get past the security of Canadian/U.S. customs in Niagara Falls.

Most of the Ringo songs were welcomed by the audience, especially singing along with "Yellow Submarine," his vocals on "Boys" and "I Wanna Be Your Man." However the negativity of "The Other Side Of Liverpool" seemed out of place for a Ringo Starr concert. Also, I heard grumblings after the concert that he should have done more of his songs, like "Octopus' Garden" or "Don't Pass Me By" or the other hit from his 1973 "Ringo" album, "You're Sixteen." Some wished there had been less of the other performers, and more of Ringo, but I loved the diversity displayed in the group of songs by all of the band members, including Ringo. He has become a master showman.

Introducing the finale, Ringo said to the crowd, "If you don't know this song . . . you're in the wrong venue" and launched into "With A Little Help From My Friends", adding "Give Peace A Chance" at the end.

Bethel Woods was a wonderful place for a show on a mostly rain-free night (I was prepared for the "No Rain" chant). If Ringo plays there again, and it's not too far out of your way, I urge you to go there, enjoy the concert, and the Woodstock Museum.

Copyright: Marc Catone 2011

**********************************************************************

Remembering Jimi

Remembering Jimi...September 18, 2010

Jimi Hendrix died 40 years ago today.


Although Brian Jones of the Stones had died the year before,
Hendrix's death was the first of the Sixties Rock era that affected
me.  I don't remember where I was, or how I heard about Jimi
dying...most likely on the radio...I was listening to FM Rock radio
almost every waking hour back then.  Or perhaps, it was the murders of
the Kent State Four only a few months earlier that made me start
thinking more about death, and my eventual demise, but Jimi's death truly saddened me.  I was only 20 years old, and it just didn't seem
possible that someone with so much energy could be dead.

He remains, to me, the greatest guitar player who ever lived.  I
realize that there have been other great players, before and since,
but no one has ever been as passionate, or explosive, on that
instrument since his death.  I recall reading an article in Guitar
Player magazine, about 20 years after Jimi died, in which people were
still trying to figure out how he played some of the sounds he squeezed
from his guitar.  People have been able to imitate him, but no one has
ever had the soul that Jimi Hendrix put into his licks, riffs, and
power chords.

No doubt about it...he could have lived a lot longer than age 27, if
not for the allure of drugs, but his carelessness with life doesn't stop me from missing his presence in the world of music today. Who knows what else he may have been capable of, or what music he may
have created, had he lived longer.

What I do know is that his body of work is one I never tire of listening
to, and I pop his music into my CD often.  "Purple Haze", an anthem,  "Bold As Love" pure psychedelia, "Voodoo Child", what a fantastic beat, and in my opinion, his greatest song on record, Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" (I still get goosebumps during the middle eight).

And who can ever forget his version of the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock?

Jimi, wish you were still here, but thanks for what you gave us.

Copyright: Marc Catone 2011

Abbie Hoffman

 Written in April 2009
 
Abbie Hoffman died 20 years ago on April 12th.  I miss him.  He was never dull.  He was always passionate.  He possessed a bubbly personality that lent itself to theatrics and garnered him the attention of the media.  Although he wasn't always portrayed favorably by TV and the press, he knew how to command their attention before they succumbed to corporate ownership.
 
There was a down-to-earth quality about Abbie...although he was well educated, he identified with the downtrodden beginning with his activism in the civil rights movement of the early 1960s.  Using that background, he became one of the most influential figures from that middle 1960s marriage of hippie counterculture and the anti-Vietnam War movement.
 
I first became aware of Abbie when he, and thousands of others, marched on the Pentagon in the Fall of 1967.  On a visit to Manhattan from my home in Connecticut, I bought my first copy of the Village Voice and read an account of that march.  The name "Abbie Hoffman" kept popping out at me from the text.  A year later, quite by accident (as I twirled the dial trying to find an FM Rock station), I discovered radio station WBAI-FM and was introduced to the world of listener-sponsored Pacifica radio.  Abbie was a frequent guest on WBAI, during live broadcasts from the Vietnam Moratorium protests in Washington D.C. and his own trial as part of the Chicago Seven.  His thoughts...his manner of speaking...appealed to my budding radicalism.
 
I read his books, particularly "Woodstock Nation" and "Steal This Book", as soon as they were published.  Then Abbie went on the lam, jumping bail on charges of selling cocaine. He always claimed he was entrapped and that a suitcase of cocaine had been planted in his apartment for the cops to find.  Abbie went underground for most of the 1970s, emerging under an alias, Barry Freed, and working with the St. Lawrence River community on environmental issues concerning that river.  He served a year in jail for his flight from trial.
 
Then came the 80s.  Unlike several others from his Yippie days, Abbie continued his activism, most notably helping college students organize against CIA recruitment on their campuses.  In the late 1980s, Abbie became quite a visible figure on the lecture circuit, detailing the illegal activities of the CIA, particularly in the wake of the Iran/Contra "arms for drugs" scandal of the Reagan Administration.
 
The came 1989.  Abbie had been diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder earlier in the decade and took medication for the illness.   On April 12, 1989 he died from an overdose of phenobarbital tablets at his farm homestead near New Hope, PA.  His death was ruled a suicide. However, many of his friends stated that Abbie had been in high spirits and had made plans for the future.  They claim that it was side effects from a new medication that may have contributed to the state of mind leading to his death.  Others suspect a more sinister situation in which Abbie was murdered, but made to look as if he had taken his own life.
 
He was a clown and an activist, a dreamer and a realist, a believer and a cynic....a unique voice that I miss to this day.  He never gave up on his activism and never shortchanged the era he came of age and influenced.  Speaking to a crowd of college students at Vanderbilt University shortly before his death, Abbie said this about the Sixties:
 
"We were young, arrogant, silly, headstrong, irreverent...and we were right. I regret nothing." 
 
Copyright: Marc Catone 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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