Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Fab Four and Me

It all started in 1962. "Love me do" came out round about my tenth birthday. It was occasionally played on the Light Programme. That was what we called Radio 2 in the olden days. If you twiddled the knobs on the valve radio in the kitchen you could get Radio Luxembourg on 208m medium wave but only in the evenings. Wall to wall popular music even if it did fade in and out a bit.

I was listening to Radio Luxembourg on November 22nd 1963 when the news broke that JFK had been killed.

They must have got fed up of me sitting with my head flat against the speaker case because for Christmas 1963, they bought me one of those new fangled transistor radios. My mother didn't really approve and thought that I wouldn't look after it. It's just had its 47th birthday and it's still going strong. No FM tuner obviously. They no longer make batteries to fit so the new sized batteries are wedged in place with a bit of Lego.

I screamed my way through 1963 and 64, expanding my knowledge of the whereabouts of the Beatles through Radio Caroline and my purchase of the Beatles Monthly Magazine. I knew all the lyrics to every song. I had all the lingo. "Fab", "Groovy", "Gear". I can tell you this for certain because I wrote them down in my diary and used every opportunity to use them to the complete bafflement of my parents.

The Royal Variety Performance of 1963
was the best thing ever broadcast on the BBC. And I was prepared to put anyone straight who dared contradict me. Lennon's remark on how the royals could rattle their jewellry in time to the music was devastatingly witty. And so daring. Go on, I was only eleven.

The radio was great but the thing to have was a Dansette record player. That way you could spend all your pocket money on records and play them till they wore thin.

I was desperate for one. My birthday had come and gone without one appearing. But my Christmas stocking in 1964 was a bit thin: a nice soap, a tube of smarties, some tangerines and nuts. Because, there was my record player. Pale blue, with a stacking spindle so you could play up to six records and a latch on the turntable so you could secure it to transport the whole thing like a small suitcase. And records. They had agonised over music. Dad wanted me to have a selection of good music and "none of that rubbish". So there were some classical albums, a selection of the number 1s from the autumn, the current number 1 "I feel fine" and my very first Beatles album. Mono, thick plastic with a heavy rim that the pickup arm hopped onto with a hiss and a scratch.

In November 1964, they played in Cardiff. I sent my postal order in for tickets. Bitterly disappointed, my money was returned. They were overwhelmed by hopefuls.

Each month I bought my copy of Beatles Monthly and in 1965, I entered a competition run by the magazine to win a ticket to one of the venues in their 1965 tour. The December 12th 1965 performance was in Cardiff at the Capitol Theatre, which mainly showed films. Dad didn't want me to go but after many tears they were persuaded that I would be chaperoned by someone from the magazine.

There were several support acts but really I couldn't have cared less. I watched spellbound as their short set flashed by. "Nowhere Man" has been my favourite song ever since. At the end we were ushered out to wave at the Fab Four as they were escorted to their limousine and then they left. That was their last proper UK gig.

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard that John had been shot. Thirty years, this December. I know he became bit strange and developed some bonkers ideas and offended a lot of people. Poor George. A sad end but with a wife who loved him and even defended him against a dangerous intruder with a fireplace poker. Go, Olivia. Ringo. Yes. Well I forgive him for Thomas the Tank engine because it kept my children quiet for many hours. Paul. Marrying Heather was perhaps not his brightest decision and he should give up on the hair colour. But, what fabulous music they've left us with. I'm hoping to see Macca this summer, back in Cardiff again.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

1 comment:

  1. The very first record I ever bought was a Beatles single when I was 12 years old. I was such a country bumpkin and so uncool that I asked a friend to get it for me from the record shop in Matlock - I was too shy to go there myself in case some of the older boys from school that hung out there made fun of my second year uniform. Knee length socks and beret and all that.

    I have bought every album since and even most of Paul's more recent offerings. I never had the chance to see them live. They were always too far away and my parents would never have allowed it.

    You're right though, there does come a time when the hair colour doesn't match the wrinkles any more.


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