I Toured With Them, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
As editor and publisher of Datebook, a now-defunct magazine for teens, I joined the Fab Four on two of their North American tours in 1965-66. Touring with the Beatles meant sharing buses and planes where it was possible to chat with them. They were often bored with their tedious schedule.
There was a charming relationship between the four musicians. George once confided to me that one day they wanted to own a Greek island. There, each Beatle would have his own house. That way they could be close, but still be separate.
The disc jockeys on the tour - they and the teen-magazine writers were the only press - took turns taping interviews with the Beatles. I took a turn, too (I've still got the tapes). But the level of the interviews was so superficial that now and then I tried to widen their scope by broaching sociological issues. One day Paul McCartney - now Sir Paul - said wisely: "Now come on, Art. Ask me some questions for your little girls, like am I going to marry Jane Asher?" (He didn't.)
The din at the Beatles' concerts grew with each one. The screams of the fans were louder than anything I'd ever heard. It was like 10,000 fire sirens, interspersed with constant bursts of light from flash-equipped Brownie cameras. By the end of the last tour, the Beatles said they couldn't even hear themselves play. At times, John told me, they would make up wild lyrics and sing them into the microphones, knowing they'd never be heard.
The tour managers found special uses for the press at times. After the final concert in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, a security guard approached me and three other journalists to ask if we'd like a ride to the airport in one of the Beatles' limousines. We accepted with delight and settled into one of the long black cars. Be sure to close the windows and lock the doors, we were told. And as our car went through the gate, it was mobbed by thousands of screaming teenage girls - furious when they found it did not contain the Beatles.
We were decoys. The Beatles left by a side gate.