One of the things I was taken with by the Beatles from the first moment I saw them was how happy they seemed to be doing what they were doing. The strange symmetry of the band on stage - Paul to the left and John to the right, George and Ringo in the middle. There was a balance struck that contained and projected this incredible excitement - jubilation. There was something compelling in their stance combined with the joy of their songs that was liberating and affirmative - a sense of incredible of power and freedom being unleashed. The songs and the sound were so fresh - and they still are - nothing on the radio in 1964 sounded like "She Loves You" or "I want to Hold Your Hand."
There are all different kinds of Beatle fans. I’ve learned this over the years. There are those who stopped following John, Paul, George and Ringo after they broke up. I wasn’t that kind of fan. To me they were brothers and I was always eager to hear what they were up to. Certainly through the 70’s I hoped for a reunion. When Lennon stepped back into the spotlight in 1980 I was as excited as I had ever been. Even if there wasn’t a reunion, John’s re-emergence was sure to prod Paul onto greater things.
The last thing John Lennon would have wanted to be is a martyr - he was a very human, human being. To lose him at 40 - I was 24 at the time - left me in tears for days. That evening, I was having a small birthday party for a friend. We were playing Lennon’s latest album and talking about the interview that had just been published when the wife of a friend called me to say that she heard that Lennon had been shot. I was living next to my older brother at the time. I had to walk next door and tell him that one of our hero’s had died. In the hours and days that followed I received calls from many old friends whose shared interest and love for the Beatles had often been the start of those friendships.
When George Harrison died at age 58 of lung cancer, I was equally saddened. It was November of 2001 - this was the first news story to capture national headlines since 9/11. I am grateful to Paul and Ringo for keeping the Beatles legacy of peace and love alive. Paul’s albums have always felt like a letter from a close friend and have often come to me when I needed them the most.
The Beatles started as a great rock’n roll band, but their desire to learn, grow and change - to not repeat themselves - resulted in, even as it reflected, a radical cultural shift. They created a body of work that continues to speak to to us today. Their music and vision embodied an optimism whose contemporary parallel can be found, not in the arts, but in technology. Like the internet, the Beatles united a generation. They connected us. Their story is one of constant reinvention, discovery and innovation They were aspirational, always trying new things to expand their understanding and in doing so expanded ours. They accomplished a great deal in their brief time, and their ultimate impact will be decided in generations to come.
At 7 years old, lying on the floor in front of the TV that Sunday night in February 1964, I had no idea of the impact these four guys would have on my life, let alone on the rest of the world. I just knew I’d never heard or seen anything so exhilarating, so wildly exciting. I was hooked instantly, never looked back and am grateful to have grown up with the Beatles.