The call came in to the house around 10 a.m. on a sleepy, sunny, but lazy August day. We still had a week before our freedom of summer vacation came to an end. It was a friend of a friend - a guitarist in a band that my band often competed against. He wanted to know if I wanted to go and see the Beatles, live in concert that afternoon at the Chicago International Amphitheater. He had one ticket available for me providing I had $15.00 cash, "And I mean cash buddy...not money you'll give me later after your parents come home from work...do you have it or I'm calling someone else."
The day before I had seen the Beatles on TV doing a press conference regarding their upcoming performance. John was caught up in a controversy regarding a statement he had made months ago about how the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. He tried to explain that he meant no disrespect and that had he said "television was bigger than Jesus," no one would have cared. That got a laugh from the reporters covering the event. Some of the DJ's in cities, especially in the south and in Birmingham, AL. encouraged mass burn-ins of Beatlemania paraphernalia and record albums. The group was getting death threats but in Chicago, they were welcome and loved.
"Red Rubber Ball," was hot at that time and that was the opening song performed by Cyrkle, one of two opening acts. The were followed by a group I had never heard of by the name of THE REMAINS - a heavy metal band before their time who after the tour I never heard of again. Then came the Beatles and the place went literally berserk. The girls were not only screaming, they were crying, jumping out of their seats and in some cases fainting. It was without question a party atmosphere and their music had such a feel good quality that I wasn't surprised when everyone sang along.
About halfway through their set Paul found himself suddenly alone on the stage. He demanded total silence and he got it as he played on a folk guitar notes that signified to any true fan that he was about to perform "Yesterday." The clarity of his voice and the poignancy of the composition touched his audience unlike any tune previously rocked by the FAB FOUR.
I knew I was witnessing history. The Beatles were more than just a band, they were a force that changed how young people looked at life. Some might argue that their music called for a revolution in spirit and perhaps in the politics of the day.
One thing that I found out later was how that the Beatles had insisted that their live performance contracts carry a clause that noted that the band would never play a venue that practiced segregation. That clause didn't go over well in America's 60's South. The Beatles were so popular with America's youth and the GREEN that their concerts generated made venues open to all including the GATOR BOWL in Jacksonville, Florida on the night they played it in September of 1964, years before the Civil Rights Act came to fruition.
The Beatles not only made us feel good with their classic tunes but in some cases they made America better as a nation and as a people. They didn't see white/colored designations in the U.K. where they lived and never quite got why Jim Crow was such a thing in a land that professed that all men were created equal. Perhaps the Beatles made America great again by insisting that we all go do good when it came to how we treated one another...not a bad theme for going into the New Year of 2019 - let's hope that's one resolution we make as a people and as a country.
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