Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I'd always known where Paul McCartney lived in London, so one cold winter's day when I happened to be working in a nearby district, I decided to grab some spare time and drive over to his house in my company's Ford truck. But when you arrive at a lifelong idol's house, it's a completely different matter altogether!
So, after a discussion with my work-mate (a non-Beatlesfan), I jumped out of the truck and walked up to Paul's front gate. His house is situated in "St. John's Wood" an area no more than two or three miles form the "West End" of London. It's a fine old Victorian building, similar in appearance to the Apple building of 3 Saville Row London W.1. and stands in an ordinary sideroad only a few yards from the Lords Cricket Ground and a short walk from the famous EMI Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles cut nearly all their finest works.
Linda McCartney had recently painted parts of the front of the house in bright colours, after a recent holiday in Jamaica.
So there I was, standing in front of the two eight-foot high gates that keep unwanted outsiders form continually pestering the McCartney's from autographs, etc. when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a guy was standing in front of me with tools in his hand.
"Er--is Paul in today?" I blurted.
"Yes--do you want an autograph or something?" the fellow replied.
Not much to show for my journey, but better than nothing, I suppose. The guy, who said he was Paul's electrician (but whom I later found out with Joe English, Wings' former stixman) disappeared through the gates and into the house.
I waited and waited and waited. But there was no one to be seen -- no autographed photos, nothing! What a "con" I thought. So I was just about to get into the truck and drive home, when what should happen? The gates slowly opened and out came a stocky-shortish looking guy, wearing a thick Old Gold coloured overcoat. He was followed by a small child.
It was none other than James Paul McCartney taking his young offspring out for an afternoon stroll in the crisp winter's air! He walked off down the road, occasionally chatting to the child in the manner all fathers do to small toddlers, and after some quick thinking, I followed in hot pursuit. It's now or never I thought, and I leapt out in front of Paul.
I couldn't believe it -- he looked just like in the millions of photos I've seen of him (although may more of a "rugged" face than I expected) and then he spoke to me.
"I hear you're working around here." he said.
"Yes" I replied with a blank mind, forgetting all the thousands of questions I'd always thought I'd like to ask a Beatle if I met one! And that was that. There's not really much you can say to someone you've never met before in your life, although, after all these years, you imagine you known them like brothers.
But my meeting was not over yet. As I was driving home, I passed a small park, which is just across the road from Paul's house and who should be sitting on an ordinary park bench while his youngster played on the swings and roundabouts -- you guessed it!
I wasn't going to blow it this time. I grabbed a pencil -- didn't have a pen on me-- and paper---no paper, so I took the newspaper I 'd previously been reading and sort of slowly rushed along the path leading to where Paul was sitting quietly and contentedly taking in the air.
He saw me and must have remembered me from the earlier meeting. Drawing his finger up to his lips, he beckoned me to "be quiet" and I guest not to draw a big crowd around him. But amazingly enough, no one else playing, walking or passing by the park had noticed him!
He smiled politely. I handed him my scrap of newspaper and pencil and asked him for his autograph. I stupidly spoke, "I've followed you since 1963." Funny the things you come out with in these situations. "Oh! I can't remember back that far!" he replied.
He signed for me on the back Sporting page of the newspaper, which on this day had printed an article and photo of the golfer Tony Jacklin. In the shot, Jacklin looks similar to Paul a la 1967 -- with a "Pepper" moustache and short hair. Paul commented on this saying, "that;s me!"
I nodded and smiled in agreement, although I was still trying to take in that this was the man I'd seen so many times on film, TV, photos and heard playing songs like "Yesterday" and that The Beatles really are four living, breathing human beings and not gods from outer space after all!
I'll probably never forget this unexpected meeting, which although short, let the famous McCartney charm, politeness and wit shine through!
This story and photos appears on http://www.oidar.com/CHAPTER1.htm John Long was a beginning radio D.J. in his early 20's and a huge Beatlemaniac in 1964. He lived in LaGrange, Georgia and was able to score concert tickets because he had a Beatles record that wasn't yet released in the U.S. He traded that album to be taped by a big named Georgia DJ in exchange for a concert ticket.
On September 10, 1964 I drove to Jacksonville from LaGrange in my trusty
'55 Chevrolet. I hadn't told my parents that the National Weather Service was
predicting hurricane Dora was headed to Jacksonville along with the Beatles. I
made it to a little town outside Jacksonville that night, checked into a motel
with the winds gusting near hurricane strength. I admit that I was scared,
especially when the owner of the motel told me to push all the furniture in the
room against the window and door. I slept little as Dora churned to land, thru
Jacksonville, and very near where I huddled in the dark. The next morning at
daybreak I headed for Jacksonville witnessing the path of the storm along the
way. I was listening to WAPE, the legendary Big Ape. I decided to pay a visit to
the station. Orange Park is south of Jacksonville on Highway 17. When I pulled
into the station parking lot the first thing I saw was a swimming pool in front
of the station. As I walked in the front door of the station I was shocked to
see that the pool was also in the lobby. This was the coolest radio station I
had ever seen. The guy on the air waved for me to come over to the studio window
and spoke to me over an intercom. I told him that I was in Jacksonville
representing WQXI (I lied) at the Beatles concert. Instant credibility is what I
got. He was falling all over himself to help me in any way. He asked me if I was
going to the press conference. I didn't even know there was going to be a press
conference, but recognizing the opportunity to interview the Beatles, I lied
again and said yes. Now I had to find out where it the press conference was
going to be held. I asked him for directions to the hotel, banking on the
possibility it would be held at the hotel where they would be staying. He gave
me directions. I asked him what time I should leave to arrive on time. This gave
me the time of the press conference. He said he had to leave in shortly to go to
the naval air station for President Johnson's arrival to inspect the hurricane
damage. He invited me to go along. Since I had the rest of the day free I said
yes. We arrived at the base and he flashed his press credentials and told the mp
I was from an Atlanta station. No problem, the next thing I know were on the
press bus on the way to Jax beach. When we arrived I joined the throng of
reporters around the President with my trusty Sunbeam tape recorder. At the
right moment, I shook hands with him. He was bigger than life very tall and
looked like the president. I wish I had a picture of me shaking his hand. On the
bus ride back to the naval air station the guy from WAPE asked me what it was
like to work at a big station like WQXI. I managed to bullshit my way around his
question by asking him questions about WAPE and the swimming pool. He told me
the owner was a rich playboy who often entertained in a private apartment off
the lobby of the radio station. He told me about the girls who came out to the
station to swim in the pool at all hours of the day and night. Little did I know
that eleven years later I would be program director of WAPE. Of course by then,
the pool had been filled with dirt. Just my luck!
I walked into the ballroom at the hotel where the Beatles press
conference was to be held and Derek Taylor asked who I was and what station I
represented. I figured that I had better be truthful since he probably knew Paul
Drew and besides I had typed up official looking credential on WTRP stationery
just in case I needed them. He handed me a card identifying me as press, and
told me to use that to get backstage at the Gator Bowl. I had died and gone to
heaven. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought I'd be able to get
backstage at a Beatles concert. I had been successful getting backstage at a
couple of Dick Clark Cavalcade Of Stars shows in Montgomery, Alabama and
Columbus, Georgia, but this was unbelievable.
Taylor called the room to order and in marched the Beatles. I was on the
front row as the newspaper and TV people asked questions. Then it was radio's
turn and due to the hurricane, the number of stations there was small. I moved
right in and started asking questions. When I got to John, he said "you're no
radio DJ, that's not a tape recorder it's a shaver". I froze; he laughed. I
realized he was kidding me and asked him a question. I have the tape. There was
a teenage girl with a Polaroid camera taking pictures and I offered her five
bucks to take mine in front of the table with the Beatles in the background. She
did and handed it to me but refused the money. I stood starring at the picture
as it developed. After a few minutes I remembered that Polaroid pictures had to
have a chemical wipe after they the image fully emerged. I looked around for the
girl with the camera but he was nowhere to be found. The picture eventually
turned brown, but I have it hermetically sealed in
I received an email with "LOOKING FOR JOHN LONG" in the subject line. Not uncommon since I get an average of two or three a week from people around the world who: are former co workers, long lost acquaintances or total strangers who stumbled across my web sit. This one was different. Here’s a condensed version of the email:
"I am looking to make contact with John Long. I read your online account of your extraordinary life and I believe you can help me. Like you, my sister (16 years old at the time) attended the Beatles press conference in Gainesville Florida in September, 1964 and the subsequent "Hurricane concert" at the Gator Bowl. My mother drove her and a friend from Miami to Gainesville. Also like you, she kind of "fudged" her way into the press conference with some sort of North Miami Senior High school newspaper reporter's credentials! At one point in the press conference, my sister must have been virtually right next to you, because she was taking pictures of the Beatles with her Polaroid camera and you are in one of those pictures! When I saw the picture you have online of you with the Beatles in the background I almost fell over. You are the boy in one of my sister's pictures. Anyway, she went up and had the Beatles sign some of her Polaroid’s of them. I remember her calling me back home in Miami long distance from a Howard Johnsons I think, to tell me she had just met the Beatles at the press conference and gotten their autographs. After the concert at the Gator Bowl, my mother, sister and her friend came back to Miami with the worst colds of their lives from the wind at the concert and told me that they had to have a guy onstage to "hold Ringo down" because he was ready to blow away".
That evening I arrived at the Gator Bowl early and took up my position under the stage. The wind was blowing like crazy. When the Beatles took the stage, a wall of sound rolled in and when they started playing, it intensified. There I was right under the front of the stage with my Sunbeam rolling and recording the concert. It seemed to last only a few minutes. Later in my motel room as I listened to my tape of the concert I sadly discovered that in my enthusiasm, I had sung along with the Beatles and the only thing louder than thousands of screaming girls was me. I have the tape.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
So go ahead and leave a comment telling us all about YOUR blog or website!
experienced the trill of seeing any member of group in the flesh. Some
have seen a solo performance, a lucky few sat far away to see a Beatle
and fewer still have encountered John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George
Ringo Starr face-to-face. I have been fortunate in having
crossed paths with three Beatles.
certain advantages for a Beatlefan living in Los
Angeles. The city is
a definite tour stop and the Forum was the scene of
Starr joining McCartney
and Wings onstage. Starr and his wife Barbara Bach
maintain a home
here and George stayed in Beverly Hills for a time.
Because of the
huge entertainment industry, the ex-Beatles are occasionally
drawn to Los
However, living in L.A. does not guarantee seeing a
Beatle. "Ins" are
required and I know a few professional Hollywood
photographers who have given me
information. Plus, I must confess to
using tactics similar to those in the
movie, " I wanna hold your
When I was 12 years old in 1970, I had a chance to see
Magic Christian" was his first real attempt as a film
actor and he was scheduled
to attend the movie's Hollywood premiere.
To my chagrin, my parents would
not allow me to go on the grounds that it
was a school night. Naturally,
Ringo was there.
of 1974, Lennon was the first Beatle I ever saw in person and it
unexpected surprise. He and Yoko Ono arrived at the Century Plaza
Hotel to attend a benefit dinner to raise funds to pay the medical expenses
actor James Stacy, who lost an arm and leg in a motorcycle
accident. I was
there to see other celebrities. Why the Lennons
were there remains a
mystery. (Sara's note: John
Roberts must be mistaken
here. John and Yoko were separated in
March of 1974 and he most
likely saw John with May Pang instead of Yoko as
they were living in L.A. during
The Lennons drove up in a limousine just as most of the fans and
photographers were chasing another celebrity. A few of us rushed up to
asking for autographs and he complied but remained silent and
glasses and a suit. It was obvious he felt
in the crowd and
probably would not have stopped to sign
autographs had the
full crowd recognized
him. The autograph is
I saw him two more times before he
died. During the
1975 New York
Film Festival at Lincoln Center, I
went to see a documentary
Gardens" and the Lennons were in
the audience. A friend
said they were
frequently seen about New
York. Ono signed autographs
and the signature is
A year later on vacation in
New York, some friends
and I decided to see who
would attend a party artist
Andy Warhol was
throwing at the Copacabana.
The Lennons were among the
guests. Oddly enough, I never knew the Lennons
lived at the Dakota
Apartments when I walked by the building.
"Live and Let Die" from the James Bond movie was
a best song
nominee at the
1974 Academy Awards? He was the first and only
Beatle to attend the
Oscar awards ceremony. Knowing which Beverly
hotel the nominees
stay at, it was easy to see McCartney. On
Oscar day, a
couple of us
waited at the hotel entrance to catch him and
Linda leaving for the
event. They were a lovely and gracious
were friendly about signing autographs
and exchanged a few
us. I got their autographs
on the same card and they are
to read. Later that
night, the McCartney;s were surrounded by
a mob at
the Oscar party held
at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. During their
Angeles visit, they
left the hotel and spent a few days house guesting at
have never seen McCartney close-up since.
finally caught up
with Starr in 1975 at a private party a photographer
tipped me onto.
The hour was late at the semi-private Bel Air Hotel
only three of us
were waiting when Starr arrived with Harry Nilsson and
Starr was much the same as Lennon -- he never said and
hurriedly scrawled his name while walking. He is infrequently
town, having been spotted at a nightclub opening a screening of
Encounters of the Third Kind" at the Cinerama Dome and a benefit
showing of his
The elusive Harrison is rarely
in public and carried a reputation of
not signing autographs or
pictures. However, fans caught up
with him a few years
ago at the Roxy
nightclub and he did sign autographs.
Had I known,
I really do not
know if I would have waited until 4 in the morning
see him. Since
Harrison has been living a low-key life and the
consequences of Lennon's
death, I doubt if I will ever see him in
The tragedy of
Lennon's murder has effects beyond the
loss of a great
madman pretending to be a fan pulled the
trigger and now the
Beatles will be forever wary of the
personal contact with their
And who can blame them for
avoiding fans for fear of coming close to
Indeed, I must be extremely grateful to be able to
and think of the few moments I stood next to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr
Paul and Linda McCartney.