Tag Archives: The Beatles

Happy Trails, Part 91

This segment of the “Happy Trails” series perhaps offers you a clue as to what it’s all about. I’ll tell you anyway. I get asked occasionally about retirement and if we have any “bucket list” destinations we want to see before we, um, kick it.

I’ll speak only for myself on this one, because of the two of us — that would be wife and me — I am the one who is most interested in doing a Beatles tour of England.

I know a couple in Amarillo who have done this kind of tour. Mike and Kathy Haynes took a tour of England years ago to visit the places where four young men came of age, got their musical start and eventually changed popular culture … forever and ever!

You know their names: John, Paul, Ringo and George (from left to right in the picture).

When I get asked the bucket list question, I usually say something like going to Australia, which has fascinated me since I was a little boy and my Dad pondered whether to pursue a career opportunity Down Under.

I keep forgetting to mention a tour of The Beatles’ home country! What is the matter with me?

A New York Times article, which one of my sons posted on Twitter — noting that “my dad would love this” — tells how Liz and Ricky Robbins did what my friends Mike and Kathy did.

Read the NY Times piece here.

Hey, I still mourn the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. I am proud that the Queen knighted Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey.

I still know most of the words to most of the songs The Beatles recorded. Yes, even some of the more obscure tunes. I do quite well answering Beatles questions on “Jeopardy!”

I actually got caught up in that nonsense about Paul being “dead” in 1969. However, I my wife and I were able to see a very much alive Sir Paul perform in The Astrodome in 1993 and we saw Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” show at the Cal Farley Coliseum in Amarillo some years after that.

One more thing: The very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended was in August 1965, in my hometown of Portland, Ore., happened to be The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row-center seats for my sister and me.

There you have it. This is my ultimate “bucket list” destination in retirement. I have no worries that I’ll outlive worldwide interest in The Beatles.

I just need to get there. Sooner, rather than later. As I’ve noted many times over the years: Those four lads helped raise me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Ringo, er … Richard

This is some problem to encounter from this day forward.

How does one refer to Ringo Starr, who’s now a knight? You see, The Beatles’ drummer used his real name, Richard Starkey, to receive his knighthood from the British crown.

But to those of us who came of age when Ringo and his bandmates — John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — were blazing new popular culture trails, he was just Ringo. The goofy Beatle. The shortest one of the four of them. The guy who was cute in a homely sort of way; I mean, the girls seemed to scream more loudly for Ringo than for the other lads. Do I remember that correctly?

Sir Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997. The honor didn’t come to John and George, who died in 1980 and 2001, respectively. To my knowledge, the Brits don’t bestow knighthoods posthumously — which I consider to be a shame.

Still, Sir Ringo, I mean, Sir Richard, has joined Sir Paul among the United Kingdom’s most exalted citizens.

OK, I am not one of Her Majesty the Queen’s subjects. Still, to me Sir Richard will always be just plain Ringo.

‘I may be old, but … ‘

A Facebook “memory” I posted this morning brings to mind a personal anecdote I want to share briefly on this blog.

The memory was this, from Feb. 10, 2013: Best bumper sticker of the day: “I may be old, but at least I saw all the cool bands.” You go, dude!

I am now 68 years of age. I graduated from high school in the Summer of Love, which would be 1967. My life took a dramatic turn the following year when I shipped out after being inducted into the U.S. Army.

It took yet another marvelous turn in 1971 when I married a girl who had appeared before my eyes, like a vision. The rest, as they say, is history.

But in 1965, I got to watch the all-time greatest rock ‘n roll band. It was the very first rock concert I ever attended. I tell folks that today and they are shocked and amazed, I tell ya. The Beatles came to my hometown of Portland, Ore., in August 1965. It was their second U.S. tour.

They played at the old Memorial Coliseum, built in 1960 at a cost of $8 million. When it opened, the “Glass Palace,” as it was called then, was considered a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue. These days, you can’t repair the plumbing in such a venue for what it cost to build the Memorial Coliseum.

John, Paul, George and Ringo came to Portland back then. They played in front of a hysterical crowd of about 10,000 fans at the Coliseum. My sister and I sat at the center of the front row.

My most vivid memory of that event isn’t so much the music The Beatles played. It is the brevity of the event. They played 10 songs. The “concert,” if you want to call it that, lasted about 30 minutes.

They came onstage, they hooked up their instruments, played some songs and then were gone. Poof! Just like that.

I’ve been able over the years to see many more such events. The Association, Toto, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Grassroots. I’ve seen some others. Those just stand out.

Oh yes, I also saw Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney perform solo shows long after The Beatles broke apart.

Yes, we Baby Boomers got to see some “cool bands.”

Rock on, y’all!

What? Ringo turns Double-7?

Ringo Starr has become a metaphor for my old age.

Oh, where has the time gone? You know who this guy is, right? He came into the world with the name Richard Starkey. He grew up in Liverpool, England. He played the drums a bit. Then he joined this band that had just fired its original drummer. They needed someone new to play the sticks for them.

John, Paul and George hired Ringo and, well, as they say: the rest is history.

He was the oldest of his new bandmates by just a few months; he was born July 7, 1940, just ahead of John Lennon, who was born Oct. 9 of that year.

Ringo’s musical imprint — along with that of John, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — became the signature not just for my generation, but for others that have come along since then.

But … not for everyone.

A couple of years ago, when Ringo was turning 75 — which is one of those landmark birthdays — I approached a colleague of mine at the business where I worked part time. I mentioned to her — suffice to say she is a good bit younger than yours truly, let alone Ringo — that it was Ringo’s 75th birthday. Isn’t that cool?

She gave me a blank stare and, as the Good Lord is my solemn witness, she said: Who’s Ringo Starr?

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground. I also am pretty certain that my eyes damn near flew out of my head. How in the name of all that is holy and sacred does this young woman not know anything about Ringo Starr, one-fourth of the band that shaped her parents’ generation?

“Why, I never,” I answered my friend. “Don’t you know that this guy helped raise me?” And he did, too — right along with those three other guys.

If only Ringo would see this blog and know that in that one fleeting instant I had his back. The old drummer is about to turn 77. I hope my former colleague has learned just a little something about this living legend.

She just has to ask her parents.

‘Glass Palace’ still standing tall

PORTLAND, Ore. — This picture is of a building that in its day was considered a state-of-the-art, never-to-be-duplicated sports and entertainment venue.

I have so many memories of this place. It was built in 1960. Its cost was — get ready for this — $8 million. Think of that. Eight million bucks today perhaps wouldn’t pay for rest-room upgrades today.

It was called the Memorial Coliseum. It became known colloquially as the Glass Palace. It was home for many years to a minor-league hockey team, the Portland Buckaroos. Then the National Basketball Association started looking around for a place to install an expansion franchise. In 1970, the Trail Blazers started playing hoops in the place.

Where is this blog going? I’m taking in two directions at once.

First, some of the Trail Blazers came back to Portland this week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the team’s only NBA championship. Bill Walton came; so did Larry Steele, Bobby Gross, Lloyd Neal and many of the rest of them were here to celebrate.

So many memories of that era. My bride and I used to go to those early Blazers games. We would plunk down $2 each for a ticket, which were discounted by half for students; we’d sit through the first quarter of a game and then gravitate to the empty seats nearer to courtside to watch the rest of the game.

Ah, yes. The memories.

I watched my first rock concert, with my sister, in August 1965 in that building. A British band came to play: The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row seats for sis and me. We listened — as best we could over the din of screaming fans, my sister included — to a 30-minute show by John, Paul, George and Ringo. Then they were gone.

The memories.

The second direction?

The Blazers abandoned the Coliseum in 1995 to play their home games in a fancy new venue, the Rose Garden, now has a corporate name: Moda Center. It seats nearly 20,000 fans, compared to the 12,600 or so seats in the Coliseum. It’s got those fancy corporate suites and, oh yes, the fans pay an arm and both legs for seats to watch the Trail Blazers.

What would they do with the Coliseum? Some folks here wanted to tear it down to make room for better vehicular access. Others wanted to preserve it.

The preservations apparently have won out.

The building now carries the name “Veterans Memorial Coliseum.” That’s brilliant! Why? Because the building was erected in 1960 to honor the veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War. It didn’t have the name displayed so outwardly for all those decades.

It does now. Which is why — in my view — the building is standing to this day. They aren’t going to destroy a structure that honors our veterans. They wouldn’t dare!

It gladdens my heart because of the tribute it pays to our vets — thank you very much for that — and for keeping alive the memories I have kept for so many years.

Well done, Portland!

Here it is: the greatest song ever recorded

A friend and former colleague of mine and I have engaged in a bit of social media repartee regarding the greatest song ever recorded.

Jim and I disagree. He is pitching “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. My verdict is where it has been since I first heard this song. “Hey Jude,” the 7-minute 11-second classic by The Beatles has my vote for the greatest song ever recorded.

How do I know that it is? It just is.

I long have argued that a song’s impact on the listener can be measured by this simple metric: Do you know where you were the first time you heard it?

I remember where I was the moment I first heard The Beatles singing this classic. Members of my family and some of my best friends have heard this: It was late summer 1968. I had just returned to my barracks at Fort Lewis, Wash., where I was spending a few weeks undergoing U.S. Army basic training. I turned on my transistor radio, put it on my bunk and then I heard the closing refrain this song I’d never before heard. It goes on seemingly forever: “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, naaah …”

Who in the world is that? Then the DJ told me as the song wound to its close, “And that’s the latest from The Beatles.”

Jim, to his great credit, said he couldn’t remember where he first heard “Stairway to Heaven.” I applaud his honesty.

I get that such judgments are strictly subjective. “Stairway” is a great song. Led Zeppelin is a great rock band. Neither the song, nor the band, are the greatest.

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

I’d rather listen to Lennon’s music tonight

John-Lennon-1

I’m proud of myself.

I had a chance tonight to watch three Democrats debate each other over which of them should be their party’s presidential nominee.

Instead, I turned away. I’m watching an American Movie Classics musical tribute to someone who means more to me at this moment than any presidential candidate in either party.

I’ll get back to you folks in a few days. I promise.

The late John Lennon would have turned 75 on Oct. 9. AMC aired a special tonight with some damn good musicians playing many of the songs John made famous — as a solo artist and when he played in that pretty good rock band, The Beatles.

I’ll read about the Democrats’ debate in the morning. Tonight, I’m chillin’ out to some music from a guy who helped raise me.

I still miss him.

Rest in peace, John.

 

Ringo to turn 75! Gulp, some of us are old!

Ringo Starr

I don’t feel all that old old, but I guess I am.

So, then, must this guy be old. Ringo Starr turns 75 next Tuesday. You remember him, yes? He used to play drums with The Beatles — and surely you’ve heard of them.

How old do I feel today? Quite old, actually.

Consider this little tidbit.

I’m at work this afternoon. I spot a couple — Jack and Pat. They’re friends of mine. They’re shopping for a vehicle. After a lengthy session with the sales rep who sold them the vehicle, I walked up to Pat and told her, “Hey did you know that Tuesday, Ringo Starr turns 75 years of age?” She laughed and said, “We’re getting old.”

I turned to the sales rep. “Did you know that?” I asked. The rep — get ready for this — didn’t know who Ringo Starr is.

Pat said, politely, “He used to be a drummer. He played with The Beatles.”

I do not know the age of the sales representative in question. I’m guessing about 30. Hmm. Old enough perhaps to have heard from Mom, Dad — or perhaps Grandma and Grandpa about the “good old days” when bands such as The Beatles were making music that transcends generations.

That’s OK. I’ll give my colleague a pass. But as I’ve noted many times, he and his band mates — John, George and Paul — helped raise me.

If only it didn’t make me feel so old.

Sir Paul … who?

Some things simply defy description. They tax one’s ability to reason things out.

Take the case of an “unknown artist” who made a record with Kanye West, the hip-hop star, husband of Kim Kardashian and the guy who burst onto the national scene a few years ago when he sought to upstage Taylor Swift the moment she won a Grammy award.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/bemused-kanye-west-fans-ask-4919529

Kanye West released a song with a guy named Paul McCartney, who’s been a pretty good singer/musician/songwriter over, oh, about the past 50 years.

West’s fans took to Twitter to proclaim that they’d never heard of McCartney, who at one time was one-fourth of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Beatles. He teamed with another pretty good musician, the late John Lennon, to write music that defined a generation … maybe two or three generations.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. West’s fans are, well, pretty young. They might not expose themselves to music beyond the kind of music that West produces. Perhaps they haven’t heard about The Beatles from, let’s see, their parents or grandparents.

Or perhaps this is all a big joke, a put-on, kind of like those “Paul is dead” rumors that enveloped the planet back in 1969.

Well, whatever. I’m certain Sir Paul isn’t terribly worried about his standing in the world of music entertainment. Indeed, those unknowing Kanye West fans are aware now of Sir Paul’s influence.

***

For those who still might not know who Paul McCartney is, consider this: Paul put on a concert about five years ago in Red Square, in Moscow. His encore song was “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which he recorded in 1968 with The Beatles. As Paul lit into the rocking number, teenagers in the Red Square crowd were singing the song with Paul — in English, knowing every word of a tune recorded decades before any of them were born.

Kanye West no doubt hopes his songs will have that kind of lasting power.

 

Forgiveness for Lennon's killer? Oh, boy

Mark David Chapman wants what from Yoko Ono?

He wants the wife of the man he murdered 34 years ago to forgive him?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/music/news/john-lennons-killer-wants-forgiveness-from-yoko-ono/ar-BBgPa1j

This one boggles my mind.

Chapman received a 20-years-to-life prison sentence for shooting music legend John Lennon in the back. He’s been denied parole several times in the years since then. John’s widow has argued with the New York state parole board against setting her husband’s killer free.

Now the man who put several generations of music lovers — not to mention those of us who loved The Beatles — into perpetual mourning wants Yoko Ono’s forgiveness.

How would I feel if such a tragedy had occurred in my life? Would I be able to forgive the individual who did such a terrible deed to someone I love?

I do not believe I could.

Then again, it is impossible to thrust oneself into another’s conscience when pondering such a request.

Therefore, I won’t offer any advice to Yoko Ono on how she should respond to this request from the man who murdered her husband.

But if it were me …