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Memories of a Beatles Sunday Night

The Beatles. (Terry Fincher/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Sunday night, As I watched the 50-year anniversary special of the Beatles appearing on American TV, I remembered watching the live broadcast in 1964. Yes, I’m that old… and proud of it.

Now, believe or not, the Fullerton family in isolated Hamilton, Montana, had advance knowledge of the Fab Four. Many months earlier my sister’s penpal in New Zealand had written that the entire British Empire had gone crazy for this new rock group. We read and heard about the Beatles mania leading up to the Ed Sullivan Show and that Sunday night the whole family was ready to see and hear these new music sensations. I was sitting in front of the Admiral TV on the living room floor as Ed made his announcement. He was immediately drowned out by the audience.

In fact, my memory of the TV broadcast is of girls screaming non-stop through the performance, so loud that I couldn’t really hear the music. But we all smiled at the absolute crazy reaction from the wild audience.

After that, I followed the growth of the group, but never really bought any of the 45s and only started buying the albums in the late 60s.

However, at night when I would listen to far-away powerhouse radio stations in Salt Lake City or Oklahoma City, I heard about the secret messages on the album covers and the “Paul is dead” rumors with the Abbey Road photo.

After “Yellow Submarine” hit the theaters, I heard a great radio “bit” about a DJ who had figured out the secret telephone number to reach the Beatles’ secret “Pepperland” headquarters. He was talking about his telephone call to Pepperland and played back some of it on the air that night, then went back to the music. At the end of the song (this was a vinyl record, of course) the record started tracking… the needle scratching at the end of the record over and over and over…

Finally, another DJ came on the air and said that the announcer had been whisked away in a black limo. The excitement about his disappearance continued for a while and it was glorious fun. The DJ returned, by the way.

But, you know, to this day, I still wonder if there actually was a secret “Pepperland?” Hmmmm.

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