On Saturday, before my presentation at the Mesquite Library, I met two gentlemen who had contacted me in the past few months expressing interest in attending my presentations.
One of these men was Joe Carroccio, who phoned me while I was sitting in a McDonald's in Nashville about a month ago. Joe was friends with a woman named Marti Edwards, and the two teamed up to co-author a memoir titled "16 in '64" (because Marti was 16 years old in 1964).
According to their website, www.16in64.com, the book "is all about her adventures, as a teenager, in the 1960’s, who was determined to meet the Beatles and more important, about her tenacity, commitment, confidence, positive attitude, creativity, intuitiveness and a passion to succeed."
And she apparently did succeed: While millions of others merely fantasized about meeting the Beatles, she actually did meet them. Here she is in the background as the band poses for a photo:
Apparently Marti and Joe held a book signing at the same library some weeks earlier, and while there noticed the poster advertising my program. Joe kindly gave me a copy of the book, and I eagerly look forward to reading.
Marti attended the program, as well, and we chatted briefly before the show. She also spoke with Dad at some length afterward.
The other man was Alan Poland, who first contacted me back in November while I was in Hamden, CT on my New England tour. I told him via email that my schedule just so happened to be taking me to Arizona (he lives in Surprise - just Northwest of Phoenix) in March, and that I'd be traveling with my dad, who is also a big Beatles fan. He wrote back, encouraging us to "keep an evening open so I can take you guys out for some RIGHTEOUS MEXICAN FOOD! (Been going there since '71!)" Most of my programs are in the evenings, but since Saturday's was a matinee, that meant we had that evening free. So Al treated us both to dinner at La Pinata on 7th avenue in Phoenix, which was indeed delicious. I had a chicken chimichanga, and Dad and Al both had a chille relleno.
In another email, Al mentioned "I have an unopened Beatles Trivial Pursuit game that NO ONE WILL AGREE TO PLAY WITH ME." (Coincidentally, I gave a copy of Beatles Trivial Pursuit to my dad as a Christmas gift a few years back.) So on Thursday, Dad and I are visiting Al's home in Surprise, AZ so the three of us can play the game in the afternoon before heading over to the Juniper Library in Phoenix for the program "The Beatles & The Rolling Stones" that evening.
In addition to Joe and Al, I also met a woman who remembers seeing the Beatles perform in Hamburg in the early Sixties before they were world-famous. "Do you know what we used to call them?" she asked me with a noticeable German accent. "Pilzköpfe (mushroom heads) because their long hair looked like a mushroom." I had never heard that anecdote before. But I can see the resemblance:
Yet another person asked, "Do you know where the Beatles officially broke up?" (meaning where the papers were signed legally disbanding the group). I admitted I didn't. "Disney World." That, too, was news to me. But upon a little online research, it is indeed true: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/john-lennon-ended-beatles-at-disney/ Nobody mentioned that to me when I spoke in Orlando last month!
The tour continues tomorrow with another "Band of the Sixties" at the South Mountain Community Library:
Tuesday, 22 March 2016, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
South Mountain Community Library, 7050 S 24th St, Phoenix, AZ
The Beatles: Band of the Sixties
Explore the music of The Beatles in this 60-minute multimedia presentation (part history and part musical analysis) spanning the full 1960's: beginning with the band's seminal visits to Hamburg, continuing through Beatlemania, and concluding with Abbey Road. The program will be supplemented with audio clips of music and excerpts from interviews with the band members.
JOHN (Aaron's father and travelling companion on this tour):
There's no doubt in Marti Edwards' mind that the Beatles brought joy again to her world, and the world around her, just weeks after the murder of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
"I liked the Beatles right away," said Marti, whose co-authored book, "16 In '64, The Beatles & The Baby Boomers," describes her despair the day Kennedy died as well as her meeting with the Fab Four more than nine months lateras a member of a Chicago, Ill.-area fan club.
"I always liked listening to Motown tunes, and the Beatles music bordered on it but was different. They were fantastic. No one had ever sounded this way before."
Marti, now living in Phoenix, Ariz., talked about her Beatle experiences after attending Aaron's lecture "From the Shadow of JFK: The Rise of Beatlemania in America" at a branch of the Phoenix library.
Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy in Dallas, Tex. on Nov. 22, 1963. Marti, whose family lived in Park Forest, Ill., was just leaving one of her high school classes when the principal announced the 35th President, the youngest to have been elected, had been shot.
"It was so quiet, when usually it's boisterous, in the halls between classes," Marti said. "I remember going to my English class and the teacher wasn't there, and we're all looking around, wondereing what's going on. Then the teacher came in, and he was crying, and he said, 'John F. Kennedy has died.'
"At that moment, everybody in the class, the boys and the girls, broke up crying. We just felt like a friend was gone. All that emotion was for Kennedy and what he stood for, and the youth movement just stopped at his death."
Marti understood Jacqueline Kennedy's suggestion that her late husband's shortened reign at the White House captured the elegance of King Arthur's Camelot.
"That's how I felt about my life, that where I lived was Camelot," Marti said. "It was the perfect place, and Kennedy was the visual link to Camelot. But when that was gone, it shattered a lot of hopes for people."
Coincidentally, a month after the President was buried, Chicago radio station WLS AM began playing Beatles records, Marti remembered. She collected every published word she could find about the Liverpool, England band. In doing so, she unconsciously discovered one countervailing breeze to dissipate the awful fog that had spread from the violence in Dallas.
But that fresh, bouyant air from across the Atlantic Ocean also helped the rest of America through the bleak weeks following Nov. 22, she said.
"There was definitely a link," she said. "I think people at that time, especially young adults, were looking for something to shift that mourning and emotion into and making it a brighter world, a happier place...and the Beatles were there at the right time."
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.