Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birthdays and Beatles

It's my birthday today! It's a big one too. 

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. Hers wasn't as big as mine thoughHere we are back in the sixties:
My sister

A long time ago I had my 14th birthday in the week that the Beatles came to (Adelaide) town. I'd venture to say that that particular week was the most exciting and memorable birthday week I've ever had.

The lead up to this momentous event had been a roller-coaster of emotions for Adelaide fans.

First of all ...  shock! horror! ... it was announced that Adelaide had not been included in the Beatles' Australian itinerary! How could this be? It was absolutely devastating! These days if an act as big as the Beatles (are there any?) decided not to visit a particular city, the fans would just hop on a plane and take themselves to the nearest place they were playing. But things were not so easy back in the day. For starters, the cost of a plane ticket was way out of the reach of all, except politicians and business tycoons.

Thank heavens for Bob Francis a local DJ, who organised a petition with the aim of convincing the promoters to add Adelaide to the Australian tour. Eighty-thousand signatures were obtained, which had the desired effect of persuading the organisers that maybe Adelaide was worth including in the itinerary after all.

Well ... the tickets to the 2 concerts sold out in, what seemed like, the blink of an eye ... so many disappointed fans. Then ... hooray! The Department store, John Martin's of Christmas Pageant fame, stepped into the breach and sponsored a further two concerts.

The picture below is from the book "The Beatles in Australia" by Mark Hayward and shows people camped in a long queue outside the department store for days before the tickets went on sale ... but ... our Mum (who will be 92 next month) got up very early on the day, caught a bus into the city, parked herself in the queue ... and ... managed to get tickets! She got them for me, 2 of my sisters and 2 of our friends. We were ecstatic, needless to say!

                                                      My Mum is in this queue somewhere.

Then there were rumours that Ringo was ill and the tour would be cancelled! There was endless speculation about this ... he was sick, he was dying, he wasn't sick, it was just a rumour, he's sick, he's collapsed, he's not sick, he hasn't collapsed, they're not coming, they are are coming ... it was terribly stressful being 14 at that point in time ...

As it happened Ringo had been taken ill, but the tour was going ahead anyway. A drummer by the name of Jimmy Nicol was coming with the other three and would perform in Ringo's place at the 4 Adelaide concerts. History shows that Ringo's absence didn't diminish the enthusiasm of the welcome the Beatles received in Adelaide.

This grainy video captures some of that excitement.

I'd sprained my ankle playing netball the previous Saturday, so I was home from school the day they arrived. I was able to listen to the live radio broadcast of events as they unfolded. I'm not sure why I didn't watch it on TV. Maybe the technology of the time wasn't yet up to beaming live footage into our lounge-rooms? The downside to that, of course, was that I had to hobble to the concert (my very first rock concert!) on a bandaged (and very painful) foot. 

We were seated in Row DD at Centennial Hall. We couldn't see much and could hear very little except screaming, but it was the most fantastic experience. And what a birthday present! 
I still marvel at the thought of my little Mum lining up to buy us tickets to a rock concert. It says a lot about the appeal the Beatles had across all ages, but I think it says a tremendous amount more about my Mum and her love for all of her (6) girls. 

So ... thank you my gorgeous Mum. You are absolutely the best.

If you were listening carefully to the above video, you would have heard John Lennon being asked if he'd noticed that there were a lot of adults, especially grandmas in the crowds lining the route from the airport into the city. His reply was: "Well I've never seen so many grandmas at once."

Well guess what Beatles, your adoring school-girl fans from way back when are the grandmas now and ...  today ... I've entered a new kind of sixties decade.

Where did all those years go?

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday again. Great memories and wasn't it the best birthday present ever? Remember our races to get home from school to cut out pictures from Womens Weekly and New Idea to put in our scrapbooks? I wish we had kept them, plus all the memorabilia we had. You loved George and I loved Paul (he still has small piece of my heart) although had he asked me I would have told that Heather was all wrong for him and it would never last. I could have saved him a whole lot of grief and a big chunk of his money.