Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

"Memories of nearly 50 years in the Biz"

Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Brian Lord » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:13 am

Brian Lord’s Radio Stories

The Beatles (Part One)


In the early 1960’s at Christmas time Rock radio stations play rock Christmas songs, many still do, there’s usually several new ones each year and a good load of oldies. At New Years Rock radio stations, a lot of them, played the hits of the past year, often in order starting at #100 and counting down to #1. They may go through 2 cycles or so. After that was over and in the first week of 1964, the station for which I was Music Director and 6-9 PM DJ played as it’s “pick of the week” a song called I Want To Hold Your Hand by a British group called The Beatles. We had charted a couple of Beatles songs in 1963: Please Please Me and From Me To You but there was no fuss and they never reached the top ten nor climbed very high in Billboard. But Capitol was really pushing this record, so why not make it a pick, besides it had something.
During that first week of January I was sitting at my desk, which was in the PD’s office and saw a picture of The Beatles in Billboard. I called the PD over and said, “look at this picture, these are The Beatles” and he commented that if they went around looking like that in the US they’d be arrested. Later that week I made a ‘positively hilarious comment’ about the record … something like “the first time I saw it, I stepped on it”. The request phone-line rang. A girl’s voice said in a dead calm but extremely persuasive tone “Quit. Knockin’. The Beatles”. There was something about the way she said it that dragged on my brain. Something was amiss. Listeners didn’t call up and speak like that as a rule and I was thoroughly embarrassed. It was like a cop being told off by a traffic violater who was right and the cop was wrong.
By mid week we were all getting requests to play not only I Want To Hold Your Hand but the flip side as well: I Saw Her Standing There. By Friday, I was aware that some kind of creeping, inanimate entity was flowing across the land; subliminal but extremely powerful. I called Dave McCormick up in Fresno and asked if he was playing this Beatles record. “Yup, and it’s a winner”. I called CFUN in Vancouver and asked Frosty Forst. “Yup we’re getting requests”. I called the record distributor, Capitol Records, and their promo man told them they were in a frenzy, they couldn’t press enough. I called the San Bernardino and Riverside Record stores: sold out and waiting for more -- a lot more. I asked the PD to call a meeting for Monday Morning and at the meeting I explained what I was sure was happening. I started my rap by asking … “do you guys remember when RCA released Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley?”

--

I went into the manager’s office and asked for a Long Distance telephone budget to call London England. I phoned Information in London and asked for the telephone number of the biggest Record Store in the city -- had some trouble explaining to the Brit info-operator that I was a dummy calling from Southern California, knew no-one in London and could she please suggest a record store that would carry Beatles records. Bang -- I’d said the magic word and forthwith placed a call to the manager of the store she gave me, explaining who I was, where I was calling from and that I needed anything he had by the Beatles sent to me special delivery and he would receive a money order by return mail.

As it turned out the Beatles had just released their second, album and I was in luck, he still had stock. Huh? Did I want both LP’s? Oh Yes I certainly did and then launched into a 15 minute telephone conversation with this guy who told me what had been happening in England for the past year and that these four guys were the biggest thing England had ever seen musically. They were Winston Churchill, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace blah blah… He described their massive following; their personalities and humour; the affect they were having on young people’s clothing and hair styles and on his store in particular. And they weren’t even from London, they were from Liverpool, a town which he described as having a scurrilous reputation -- at least to Londoners.

After the conversation was over I put up a sign in the control room to start plugging the Beatles; that our station was going to break loose a whole bunch of their new songs and above all -- speak kindly of them. A few days later two LP’s on the EMI label arrived from London Please Please Me and With The Beatles and as soon as the packaging was off a group of us listened to them, marked specific cuts (almost all of them) and rushed the two discs into the control room with instructions to treat them as if they were singles. It was easy to persuade the DJs because every one of us liked them. These funny looking Brits were new, they were fresh-sounding and American Rock music, which in California was about one-third surf, was growing stale. Motown was just getting off the ground, Phil Spector and his girl-groups were established -- but The Beatles; this was a whole new thing, this had the nascent rumblings of hysteria.

As soon as we started playing the two LP’s we began getting calls from everywhere. I had contacts at radio stations in Los Angeles -- other music directors -- and they wanted copies of the new material. I explained to them what I had done – just call this guy at such and such record store in London and get your own copies.

Then Capitol Records called blubbering and blasphemously screaming on the telephone. “What are you doing, we don’t have stock, we can’t supply the songs that your station is playing, we’re all gonna DIE”. My answer – “….listen, tell your British company (EMI) to get their thumb out and start supplying you with the product because this is a PHENOMENON. Up until this month people have been mourning JFK, well something had to pervade the national malaise and The Beatles are it". The DJ's all started growing their hair long.

It sounds like I’m taking credit for all this. I didn’t deserve any more credit than DJ’s all across the country and in Canada. New York’s Murray-the-K had flown over to England to interview these guys, DJ’s were calling England; stations were glomming on to the LP’s in any number of ways. Up in Fresno, Dave McCormick was completely on top of this spectacle, we kept in touch on the phone. And guess what, Ed Sullivan had signed them to appear on his 'shew'.

One day in early February I set out to call them. We wanted station Identification; K/MEN covered a nest of medium sized towns on the eastern edge of L.A. which were dubbed in media circles "The Inland Empire". I managed to track the band down, I can’t remember but it seems they were in Manchester … doesn’t matter, George Harrison acted as the main spokesman although they all came on the phone for a few moments. We had a thing we wanted them to do. “Can you guys please say, individually’ ‘Hi, this is (George Harrison) of The Beatles and you’re listening to K/MEN radio serving the Inland Empire.'” George said “What Empire?”

It was fun and that was just the beginning. Next time, the most fun I ever had in radio “The Beatles Part 2 – Wendy Nicholas.”
Brian Lord
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby jon » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:26 am

I should have said something long ago.

Brian Lord's "serial" is absolutely The Best!
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Russ_Byth » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:44 am

Yeah... funny how in 3,700+ posts you missed that Jon! ;)

Really enjoying these Brian!
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby CubbyCam » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:52 am

As I've been telling Brian for years, there's a book here... and I can't wait to read the next chapter! Another great yarn from the "Lord of the Skies."
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Steve Sanderson » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:53 am

Right you are men,these stories are great.
I can't get enough of Brian's radio stories, and I will stand in line for a signed
copy when the first edition comes out! ( Hopefully in the near future!)
:wink:
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby kat » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:59 am

Like everyone else here Brian, I am waiting for the book. These stories are fabulous, and you have a way with words.

In the last chapter you talked about getting all kissy-faced with Mama Cass and what that could have lead to.

My paws are crossed that in Chapter 2 of The Beatles story you won't be telling us about a meeting with The Fab 4
that included Yoko Ono.

:cat2:
The world has two kinds of people. Cat people and idiots.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Brian Lord » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:17 pm

You guys/kat? are incredibly encouraging. Cam, Sandclan, you are correct about the book, something I was hoping to keep quiet, but ... No Kat, no Yoko Ono...ever. Russ was 4 years old when all this happened I don't think there's been such mass hysteria in the music world until Michael Jackson died, is that a reasonable assumption Russ? Forst is trying to intimate that I was the one who discovered the Beatles... of course he's lying...I'm giving my own experience which was repeated across North America. Historian Chuck Davis thoughtfully sent me a URL of Allan Fotheringham's column of the Vancouver experience (B-Day). be sure to hit the "read more" for the whole column. Thanks Jon, very kind words.

Here's Chucks URL......

Check out the August 22 item here: http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/chronology1964.htm
Last edited by Brian Lord on Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby radiofan » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:01 pm

Brian, will there be a book signing party when you're here in the Vancouver area in the next month or so?

Saturday August 22nd will be the 45th anniversary of The Beatles one and only Vancouver appearance on opening day of the 1964 PNE at Empire Stadium.

A 12 year old Pluto was lucky enough to be at that concert. Some of us got to listen to the majority of the concert on CKNW as Jack Cullen took his Owl Prowl
out "On The Town" Saturday nights. On that night, his show originated from Empire Stadium (using the football broadcast lines). In addition to Cullen, Jack
Webster and Jack Wasserman were colour commentators (along with a few other NW Newspeople) describing what was going on, describing young girls fainting,
kids trying to run the fence etc etc . They were there on the air from the press conference right through to the Beatles escape from Empire in a limo that
would take them to the airport.

It was real live radio at it's best, and who wouldda thought that Middle Of The Road formatted NW would scoop CFUN with a live broadcast of The Beatles
concert.

August 22nd 1964 was also the day that CKLG went Top 40.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby cart_machine » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:22 am

I'm in shock at the crime that's been committed here.

I thought it was the law that any story involving radio and the Beatles, regardless of location, must include the words "Red Robinson".

cArtie.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby radiofan » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:01 am

cart_machine wrote:I'm in shock at the crime that's been committed here.

I thought it was the law that any story involving radio and the Beatles, regardless of location, must include the words "Red Robinson".

cArtie.


I was being polite by not mentioning the fact that John Lennon told concert MC Red Robinson to "Fuck Off" when he appeared on stage and was trying to calm the fans down.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Glen Livingstone » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:12 am

radiofan wrote:
cart_machine wrote:I'm in shock at the crime that's been committed here.

I thought it was the law that any story involving radio and the Beatles, regardless of location, must include the words "Red Robinson".

cArtie.


I was being polite by not mentioning the fact that John Lennon told concert MC Red Robinson to "Fuck Off" when he appeared on stage and was trying to calm the fans down.


Not only that, but Red somehow managed to misinterpret the stinging rebuke as a compliment.

Thank you Mr. Lennon, for voicing what those of us in attendance all felt.
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Re: Part 15: The Beatles (Part 1)

Postby Brian Lord » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:39 am

I guess Red doesn't fugure in everything but he's the one who started r&r in Vcr radio. I had heard the story about Lennon telling Red to fuck off. I have also heard it's apocryphal... although it's something Lennon would certainly do. If Red took it as a compliment it was because he didn't hear John... that's a given. Interesting to note that all the taping of the shows that radiofan talks about (as well as sandclan), whether or not that expression is on tape anywhere. Did Jack run it live on Air? I set up a system through Brian Forst in Vancouver who plugged me into the Vancouver presser after the concert...or before the concert.. I was in Calif. and I taped the entire thing. It was quieter and more civlized than many of the interviews I heard. Brian Lord
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