Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

February 11, 2014

50 years of Beatlemania

Fans still remember how group changed their lives

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Fifty years ago Sunday, 73 million people watched The Beatles perform live on American television for the time on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

They took the stage wearing suits and ties and mop top haircuts, singing songs such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” from their first U.S. album on Capitol Records, “Meet the Beatles.”

Nancy Botts was among the 73 million people in the television audience.

“We had a little black-and-white TV,” she said. “Everybody watched Ed Sullivan. ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was an every Sunday night thing in my household when I grew up.”

Richard Young, guitarist for the The Kentucky HeadHunters, also recalls that night.

“It obviously changed my life forever,” he said. “I remember it quite well. Our TV was on the blink. We went up to my Uncle Fred’s to watch it.”

Botts said grownups later commented on the band members’ long hair, but the style soon became popular with American youth. Everyone wanted to look like a Beatle.

Young and Follis Crow remember that the J.J. Newberry’s and Ben Franklin stores on the Glasgow square sold Beatle wigs that people could use to sport the same hairstyle as the band.

Watching The Beatles on TV inspired Young to think about a music career.

“It turned a light bulb on in my head. I said, ‘That’s what I’ve got to do. I’m going to be one of those band guys,’” he said. “I don’t know I would have taken the exact turns I would have taken if it hadn’t been for The Beatles’ music.”

Crow was also inspired to join a band after seeing The Beatles on TV. He has been a member of rock ‘n roll bands for most of his life and has performed with Us, Inc. and Mysts of Tyme.

“It was a big influence growing up,” he said.

Mop top wigs were just part of the explosion of Beatles merchandise.

Ann Stewart has a trunk full of Beatles memorabilia, including Beatle dolls.  

“We were crazy about [The Beatles]. I liked everything they did. We would want every Beatle magazine that came out,” she said.

Stewart’s best friend at the time, Angela Clay, got a mop top haircut.

“She looked just like one of them,” Stewart said. “I had kinky, curly hair, so mine wouldn’t have laid like that, or I would have done it too.”

Vickie Thompson also remembers people talking about the length of The Beatles’ hair.

“To look at them now, it looks so short,” she said.

Dennis Wilcutt, who joined the military in 1965, recalls everyone being influenced by The Beatles’ long hair.

“They even let service people grow their hair longer than normal,” he said.

As Beatles fans, Wilcutt and Bill Bucher, among many others, have nearly every record the band made.

“I have some old 33 (rpm) records that they made,” Bucher said.

Kyle Bowles, who was never much of a Beatles fan, still collects Beatles records and has 33s as well as 45s. The Beatles’ records are a small part of a vast vinyl collection Bowles owns. He has kept every Beatle record he has ever purchased.

“It’s just one of those things. It’s the same way with Elvis. Anything I get by Elvis, I keep, and with The Beatles and Bill Anderson,” he said.

Bowles was a sophomore in high school when The Beatles made their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and remembers the girls at his school being a little crazy about the band.

“It was just a teenage girl thing,” he said.

Bucher, who was living in Indianapolis in the early and mid-1960s, also recalls people going nuts about The Beatles when they came to town. The band stayed at a hotel near the Indianapolis Speedway, but the public was not supposed to know where they were.

“The word got out pretty quick and pretty soon people ascended upon the motel,” said Bucher, who saw the crowd on television. “I think the Beatles came out on the balcony and began waving to people. Their secret wasn’t kept very long.”

At one time, Bucher performed with a local bluegrass band called the No Bottom Boys. His band did a slower version of The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

 “They had a type of music that you could do that to,” he said. 

Bucher never saw the band in person, but Hazel Johnson met Beatles guitarist George Harrison once.

Johnson was stage manager for New Grass Revival, which was touring with Leon Russell in the early 1970s and met Harrison at a party after attending one of Russell’s concerts in California. 

“It was the end of the 1973 tour that we did with [Leon Russell],” she said. “It was pretty cool.”

Johnson watched the Beatles on television when living in England in the 1960s. 

 “I’ve always loved the Beatles,” she said. “I thought they had a very big influence. They certainly changed a lot of things around for people. People play their tunes all the time, still to this day.”

Johnson sometimes performs with Colin Grant-Adams, who saw the Beatles perform in England before they became a sensation.

“They came to a town that I lived in and played at a local place,” he said. “I didn’t really know them personally. I was kind of a fan.”

He remembers when they arrived on the scene in Britain, everyone wanted to be like them.

“Everything exploded with them,” he said.

The Beatles had a huge influence on music, specifically with songwriting, because the band wrote the songs they performed, he said.

Sherry Waldrop has always been a Beatles fan. She was 9 when the band appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“I just thought it was so different than other music at the time. I thought they were certainly hip,” she said.

Waldrop does not have a favorite Beatles’ tune.

“It kind of changes every time I hear one,” she said.

Those who rank at the top of her list are: “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Here Comes The Sun” and “Hey Jude.”