As Beatles’ fans enshroud themselves in the nostalgia of watching the Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago today, no one seems to recall that the Fab Four’s music debuted in the United States more than six months before “I Want to Hold Your Hand” launched Beatlemania in America.
During the early 1960s, everyone my age living in Spokane tuned-in to the city’s only rock station at the time, KNEW 790 am. That’s what I was listening to on my GE transistor radio in the summer of 1963, when Larry Lujak (or one of his contemporaries) spun a 45 I instantly loved.
It sounded so fresh and alive in comparison to the pap disguised as rock ‘n’ roll that had been saturating the airwaves—a kneejerk response to adult America’s paranoid reaction to the culture-warping likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis.
Although it was over 50 years ago, I remember going to the record store near Shadle Park High School soon after hearing that Beatles first radio spin and paying about 75 cents for the song that had captivated me: “From Me To You,” which was the B-Side of the VeeJay label’s “Please, Please Me.”
I’d like to say I was prescient and a musical auteur but, in reality, I had long-since buried that disk—number 40 of about 60 singles—in a white and gold box where I stored my 45s, when KNEW aired “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” in January 1964. As Beatlemania took hold, I heard “From Me To You” being played on the radio again and was reminded of that two-sided treasurer I had safely tucked away.
Now, looking back over five decades, I’m experiencing a sense of awe over what those early Beatles tunes foreshadowed entwined with a shroud of dismay over the loss of John and George. For you see, just from me to you, we will forever be denied—no matter how much CBS hypes them tonight—an opportunity for a reunited Fab Four to please, please me again.