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‘Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America In 1964’, At The Grammy Museum

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Chuck Gunderson and his multimedia presentation

 

The Beatles changed the world, they changed the way we relate to music and pop rock stars. When they arrived in America in 1964, they started a coast to coast revolution, and absolutely nothing today can be compared to what these four young guys from Liverpool lived at the time. Today’s boy bands are just a joke, and I am not even talking about their music.

Author and collector Chuck Gunderson gave a talk at the Grammy museum and made us (re)live this very important year in the career of the Beatles. And I say relive because there were a few people in the audience who had effectively seen the Beatles during their 1964 US tour.

Gunderson, author of the impressive two volumes ‘Some Fun Tonight!: The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964 – 1966’, did a great job talking about this magic year, using rare footage to bring us back at a time when the music industry was functioning very differently. What happened in 1964 changed the rock & roll touring industry, not only the Beatles toured the hell of the US in a record time but they made tons of money, and the rest of their destiny was decided.

At the time, the US music scene was extremely boring, told us Chuck, The Singing Nun was Billboard number one in December 1963 with the hit song ‘Dominique’, followed by Bobby Vinton in January 1964, and Elvis was not making music because he was busy making movies. The Beatles arrived out of nowhere with ‘I Want to Hold your Hand’ and they became number one the following month. On February 7th, the Beatles arrive in NYC and make their first appearance in the Ed Sullivan Show two days later, 73 million people tuned in that night! Their manager Brian Epstein organized their first US concert in Washington DC in front of 8,000 fans and 2 shows at the Carnegie Hall in NY, where they were presented as ‘a nice little folk act’. Another show in Miami, 3 Sundays in a row in the Sullivan show, the release of the movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and Beatlemania was upon us. Soon, the Beatles were in very high demand, but this is where Epstein revealed himself to be a manager of genius. Whereas he had offers for huge venues, he booked smaller ones, and very aware of the success, he asked for the double amount of what big US stars (like Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli) would receive for a night. The Beatles played short shows (30 to 40 minutes, and just eleven songs) for $25,000 to $ 50,000, they performed 32 shows in 26 venues in 24 cities all across the US, in just 33 days. It was a very ambitious tour but an exhausting one as Epstein probably though the US had the size of the UK. The Beatles also gave 25 press conferences answering dumb questions with their legendary humor,… ‘What is the biggest threat to your career, the atom bomb or dandruffs? Ringo: ‘The atom bomb, we already got dandruffs!’… ‘Does it bother you can’t hear what you sing during your concerts?’ John: ‘No, we don’t mind, we have the records at home!’

They played Las Vegas, a very small town at the time, in infancy compared to what it has become, just because they wanted to see Las Vegas, and they were offered $150,000 to play a concert in Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, by businessman and owner of Oakland Athletics Charles Finley. The Beatles earned what was the highest amount ever for a musical concert, $4,838 per minute! And they only played 11 songs in front of Finley’s teenager girls and probably many other screaming girls.

One of the very important piece of information regarding this tour, was the Tour Rider Clause #6 stipulating that the ‘artists will not be required to perform before a segregated audience’. ‘I would rather lose our appearance money’, declared John Lennon.

We all have seen these black and white footage, they give a good idea of what Beatlemania was, but it’s always fascinating to look again at the mayhem brought by all these screaming girls, ‘Move over Justin Bieber, there will never be anything like this anymore’, added Chuck Gunderson.

His monumental two-volume book is available at www.somefuntonight.com for $175.00, and it will give you an exclusive backstage look at this historic tour that changed the world. As a companion to the book, the fabulous exhibit ‘Ladies And Gentlemen…The Beatles! (curated by the GRAMMY Museum and Fab Four Exhibits), can now been seen at the GRAMMY museum until September 5th. It debuted in New York City two years ago to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance in the Ed Sullivan show, and it has been on the road since. Half a century later, Beatlemania is still very alive.

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1 Comment

  1. Jack on August 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Way cool!

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