Tag Archives: The Beatles

Still missing this iconic musician after all these years

I am one of the few Americans who was not watching “Monday Night Football” the night we all got the shocking news.

Howard Cosell, a friend of John Lennon, told the world that a gunman shot John “twice in the back,” that he was “rushed to Roosevelt Hospital … dead on arrival.”

I was watching an NBC show that night 39 years ago. They, too, broke in and stunned the world.

Oh, how I still miss this man. He was just 40 years of age when his comeback from a five-year hiatus from public view came to its tragic end. I am left to wonder, as are all fans of John Lennon’s enormous talent, what kind of legacy would he have built had he been allowed to live.

The man who essentially founded The Beatles led this band of musicians into the cultural stratosphere. Sure, he had plenty talent playing alongside. The careers of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison all flourished after the band ended its professional existence in 1970. The three surviving members of the band collaborated in 1995 to finish a couple of songs that John had written; they released them that year with “Free As a Bird” being named the top single of the year. I remember the Grammy award presenter declaring, “I can’t believe this: 25 years after they broke up … the winner is The Beatles!

George, too, is now gone.

John Lennon’s legacy already is rich. We are left only now with the memory of what he was able to accomplish as a musician, a songwriter and an advocate for peace, and ponder what might have happened had fate not intervened that night in New York City.

As for the gunman who took him from us, well … may he continue to rot in prison.

What if John Lennon had lived?

I am acutely aware that today would have been John Lennon’s birthday. He would have turned 79. He didn’t make it nearly that far into his life.

A gunman ended it all for John in December 1980. He died at 40.

I want to take the opportunity today while marking John Lennon’s birthday to take stock of what might have transpired had this genius been allowed to live. We, of course, cannot know with any certainty.

I’ll let my heart speak for a brief moment.

My ticker tells me John Lennon would have continued to make memorable music. He would have written lyrics that stand the test of time. He would have built on his already priceless body of work, most of it of course in tandem with his songwriting partner, Sir Paul McCartney. Might they have reconciled enough to re-form their partnership? Oh, one only can hope they might.

Hey, it’s also quite possible that John Lennon would have been knighted just as Sir Paul and Sir Richard Starkey — aka Ringo Starr — have been honored by their queen. I only can imagine the statement a Sir John Lennon would have issued upon getting this honor from the crown. I’ll add as well that George Harrison, who died in 2001, deserved to be knighted. Alas, it won’t happen.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. It might be only because we shared the same name. In reality, I was drawn by his quirkiness, his snarky approach to celebrity and his biting wit.

The boy could sing, too.

All of this is my way of wishing fate had dealt John Lennon a better than what he was forced to play.

I will miss this genius forever. Happy birthday, John.

‘Abbey Road’ back to No. 1 … imagine that

This bit of news really doesn’t surprise me, but then again it is still quite astonishing.

“Abbey Road,” The Beatles’ iconic final album, was remastered and reissued recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the album’s initial release.

Then we hear that it shot to No. 1 on the United Kingdom record charts — a mere 49 years and 252 days after it hit the top of the charts the first time.

Wow! What does this say? Well, it tells me that the super group’s music still holds up. It remains relevant for so many generations of music lovers.

Two members of the group — John Lennon and George Harrison — are deceased. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are making new music to this day. Sir Paul is still performing before huge crowds with a show that blows one away; I know, having attended a concert recently at Globe-Life Park down the road in Arlington, Texas.

Still, The Beatles appeal to many millions of young people and, oh yeah, old folks like me.

Rock on, fellas!

Happy birthday, Ringo … I remember you well!

Days like today remind me of the differences between generations. Strange, yes? I now will explain.

Today is Sir Richard Starkey’s birthday. He is known to us, though, by the name of Ringo Starr. He played drums for The Beatles, but you knew that already. He is 79 years of age today. Ye gads, man!

Four years ago, when Ringo turned 75, I was working part time at an Amarillo, Texas, automobile dealership. I made plenty of friends there. I still am friends with many of those former colleagues.

I was chatting with one of them that day four years ago and I mentioned to this much-younger 20-something woman that it was Ringo’s birthday, that he turned 75.

Her response? “Who’s Ringo Starr?”

My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you serious?” I asked. She said she was totally serious.

Oh … my. I had to explain the cultural significance of The Beatles, of Ringo’s role in the band turning into arguably the most iconic and musically immortal acts in the history of recorded music.

Yes, I got a blank stare.

I was crushed. Crestfallen. I thought she would share my joy in celebrating Ringo’s birthday. She didn’t.

Oh, well. That was her loss.

Sir Richard, I’m with you, pal. Happy birthday, and thanks for helping raise me … and billions of others.

Happy birthday, Sir Paul; may you keep on making music

I don’t normally use this blog to comment on people’s birthdays, other than perhaps members of my immediate family.

I’ll do so briefly here by noting that Sir Paul McCartney is turning 77 years young today.

I am mentioning Sir Paul mainly because I was among the 40,000 or so fans who cheered him on Friday night as he sang to us at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

And, yes, we sang him “Happy Birthday” for good measure. He returned the favor later in the evening when he launched his six-song encore with The Beatles’ classic ditty “Birthday.”

Sir Paul might be the youngest 77-year-young individual I’ve ever seen. The man can play music. He plays it well. He plays his bass, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and piano with amazing verve and vigor.

I am just blown away by being able to say I’ve seen him perform now three times in my life. No. 1 was at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum in the summer of 1965, when he played for about 30 minutes with The Beatles. No. 2 occurred in 1993 at the Houston Astrodome, when the show went a whole lot longer than it did the first time. No. 3 was just this past week in Arlington.

Paul McCartney — along with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — helped raise me when I was a kid. Those of you are about my age know what I mean.

So, I feel a bit closer to Sir Paul on his 77th birthday than I have before. Happy birthday, Paul.

I hope you are “going to a party, party.” 

Happy Trails, Part 160: Reaping benefit of ‘choices’

As you know by now our retirement journey has taken us from Amarillo to Princeton in Texas. Our No. 1 priority is to be near our granddaughter. Mission accomplished on that matter.

A lesser priority in my own mind was to be nearer to what one of my sons refers to as “choices.” That is, to be able to partake of entertainment offerings without having to drive great distances to enjoy them.

One of those “choices” presented himself Friday night. Sir Paul McCartney took the stage at a concert venue about 50 miles west of us. So, my other son was able to get a couple of tickets and he invited dear ol’ Dad to join him way up yonder in the nosebleed section of Globe Life Park in Arlington.

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me on this point: My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful life in Amarillo, Texas, which was our home for 23 years. We lived there nearly half our married life together. We had a wonderful house built and we made it our home. We enjoyed making it look pretty and presentable.

We also learned a fact of life about living in West Texas: If you need to see anything you need to get in your car and drive … a long way! It’s not that Amarillo and its immediate surroundings aren’t without their charms. Let’s get real. You can grow tired of seeing the same attractions over and over. To be candid, we did tire of it.

Now, though, we have settled into new digs just northeast of Dallas. Therefore, when I had the chance to drive about an hour west to Fort Worth’s front porch to see a top-drawer entertainment act — such as Sir Paul McCartney — why, I jumped at it!

Bear in mind, Sir Paul once belonged to a band, The Beatles, that helped raise me. I do not say that out of any ill will toward my parents or other elder members of my family. He and his mates crafted music that I enjoy to this very day. And I will do so until, well, I am no longer listening to any music … if you get my drift.

We now have “choices.” I intend to partake of more of them as they present themselves. Yes, indeed. Life is good. Especially since I no longer have to drive all day to enjoy them.

Sir Paul still packs ’em in

ARLINGTON, Texas — This photograph sets the stage — pun more or less intended — for a comment I want to make about the durability of a certain genre of music.

It looks down on the infield at Globe-Life Park, a baseball stadium where the Texas Rangers play hardball. All those people — tens of thousands of them — gathered Friday night to hear a musician play some music that helped raise a generation of folks … including yours truly.

Sir Paul McCartney returned to Texas and played music for nearly three hours before that rockin’, rollin’ and rollicking crowd.

You know who this fellow is, of course. He once was one-fourth of a band we remember as The Beatles. He still plays his share of Beatles hits, prompting the most spine-tingling sing-alongs one can imagine.

It’s that music that holds up. It is timeless. It is eternal. It will still be on people’s minds and in their hearts long after Sir Paul has left us. Two of his dear friends, John Lennon and George Harrison, already have departed, but Sir Paul took moments to honor them both — again to raucous cheers from the crowd that filled the stadium.

There was a wonderful moment, too, when Sir Paul recognized the difference between fan interest in Beatles songs vs. non-Beatles songs he performs — and last night he performed a healthy share of songs he has recorded since the breakup of the world’s greatest band. He said that when he plays Beatles tunes, fans light up the venue with light from their cell phones; when he plays something else, he said the venues turn into a “black hole.”

What do you suppose happened when he played the next song, which happened to be a non-Beatles tune: The place lit up with cell phone lights. It was, shall we say, fantastic! Of course, Sir Paul thanked us for “proving me wrong.”

It was an amazing evening for those of us old enough to remember hearing that music for the first time. I was a teenager when The Beatles burst on the scene. And for a time Friday night while sitting in the nosebleed section of Globe-Life Park enjoying the evening with one of my sons, I felt young again.

Thank goodness for jumbo-sized screens that allowed us to see what Sir Paul was doing on that faraway stage.

He was transporting us back in time to an era when music meant seemingly everything to us. He packed a large athletic venue with fans — who were of widely varying ages — and treated them to music that will stand the test of time for as long as there are those able to listen to it.

Well done, Sir Paul.

This man’s music still holds up … after all these years!

I saw him once at the very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended, in August 1965, at the Portland (Ore.) Memorial Coliseum.

I would see him later, in 1993, at the Houston Astrodome.

In a few days, I’ll be perched in the nose-bleed seats at Globe-Life Park in Arlington, Texas … to hear the music of Sir Paul McCartney.

Fifty-four years ago, Sir Paul was just Paul, part of that band known as The Beatles. Along with John, George and Ringo, the band played all of about 35 minutes, cranked out 10 songs, endured the incessant din of 11,000 screaming fans — not to mention a near riot when a couple hundred girls sought to rush the stage at the playful urging of John Lennon.

Then came the Astrodome show. My wife and I made the drive to Houston from Beaumont, sat in a crowd of about 55,000 fans who came to hear Paul play Beatles songs. Then I had a major life thrill by singing “Hey Jude,” the best song ever recorded, right along with Paul and his band.

The third show I will get to see likely will be packed to the brim with fans. They’ll be a lot of gray hair in the crowd, I can assure you. I am recalling now the time I stood in line in Beaumont to buy tickets for the Astrodome show 26 years ago; the fellow behind me said, “I bet you don’t see this much gray hair at a U-2 concert.”

Here’s the other very strange aspect of Paul’s present-day concerts. Listen to him play 50-year-old songs and then watch teenagers — children! — singing along with him, knowing every word of every golden oldie he cranks out.

So, here we are. My hair is a lot grayer now than it was in 1993. Indeed, so is Sir Paul’s hair. But the boy can still play. He’s how old? Nearly seventy-bleeping-seven?

And yet his music still holds up, It still stands the test of time. It remains immortal. He still packs ’em in. He still puts on a show worth every nickel one wants to pay.

I am not ashamed to admit this, too: I am likely to cry a time or two.

Let’s rock, Sir Paul!

The Beatles’ legacy will live . . . forever!

ALLEN, Texas — So, I walked into a sporting goods store today with my sis and her husband. We made a purchase and walked to the checkout counter.

The young man took one look at my Beatles shirt and said, “Hey, I love your shirt. I am named after one of those guys.”

I looked at his name tag with the name: Lennon.

What in the world? Yes, his dad is a major Beatles fan. So is the young man, who I figure might be 20 years of age.

“Do you know how John Lennon died?” I asked. “Oh yes. I’ve been told all about it. I have read all about it.”

My sis told the young man how we — she and I — attended a Beatles concert in Portland, Ore., in August 1965. “Front-row center seats,” she told him. Lennon wanted to know how we liked it “with all the screaming.” It was a challenge to hear anything, I mentioned.

Sis told him George was her favorite Beatle.

Lennon said his mom wanted to name his brother after Paul McCartney. I wondered: Huh? Well, I suppose he could be called “Mac.” Lennon’s parents ended up naming his sibling something else.

And so . . . I received yet another example of how the music of my generation lives forever. The Beatles’ legacy will live on for as long as human beings are able to listen to music.

I know he’s not the only child — or grandchild — of those who grew up listening to those fellows.

As I reminded young Lennon, “These guys (pointing to the image on my shirt) helped raise me.”

Yes, I did see the greatest of the great bands

Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker that reads: I may be old, but at least I saw all the great bands.

I am old. I have seen a lot of them. Their music is timeless. It holds up now and likely will do so … forever and ever!

This afternoon, I visited a store to take care of some business. A young man, maybe about 23 years of age, helped me with my issue. To get the issue resolved, I needed to set up an online billing account.

The outlet asked me for the usual stuff: user name, password, email address … etc.

Then it presented a list of “security questions” to ensure that only I could access this account. One of them was this: What was your first concert?

I looked the young man in the eye and said, “Now, watch me type this. You’ll be amazed.” I typed “The Beatles.”

He was amazed. Then it dawned on me. He likely was born more than a quarter of a century after The Beatles broke up. But, boy howdy, he knew of their music.

“That must have been a great concert,” he said. “Well, it was … but then again it was quite short,” I said of the August 1965 show. They played for about 30 minutes; blasted through 10 songs. No encore. Then they were gone. The screaming crowd was spent. I told the youngster my wife and I attended a Paul McCartney concert in 1993 at the Houston Astrodome; Sir Paul lit the place up for three hours. “Now that was a great concert,” I said.

I went with my sister to that first concert. I was 15; she was 14. “My sister really loved George,” I told the young man. “How cool,” he said.

Yes, it was. And it is. The music of our generation will play in people’s hearts and minds for as long as there are people around to appreciate it.

It really is great being old.