“You had to hold your hands over your ears, it was so loud,” Ira Marlowe recalls of the first Beatles concert at Shea Stadium, in 1965. “It was like everybody was screaming at once,” even his 12-year-old sister, Ronnie, sitting next to him. But not the 13-year-old Marlowe. “I wanted to hear them,” the Fort Lee resident explains.
It was, in fact, the noise the Beatles roused wherever they went that got young Marlowe to the concert in the first place.
“When the Beatles were in New York, it was pandemonium,” he said. They needed police protection from their fans, and a friend of his mother’s was assigned to guard them. He was able to get the Marlowes three tickets to the Shea concert. The tickets, Marlowe notes, cost $5.65 each – and were for “field box seats, right off third base, with an incredible view of the Beatles and the other performers.” (He no longer remembers who they were – nor, probably, does anyone else.)
|Ira Marlowe still has the tickets to his first Beatles concert.|
Marlowe still has those tickets – and he still has the guitar he begged his mother to get him after the concert. It took him six months of pleading, he said, but it’s a Rickenbacker, “the kind that both George and John played.”
By the time of that concert, Marlowe was already a fan. He first heard the Fab Four in 1964, when they made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
“I had an immediate attraction to the their music – and, of course, their look,” he recalls. “You never saw guys at that time with long hair,” for example, and they wore pointed-toe, ankle-high boots that the young Marlowe had to have.
But more important than their look was their music, which “fit the times.” In fact, Marlowe said, it continued to fit the changing times. “They were as fresh as the day was.”
And “they had a sound coming from England that we never heard here – the Merseybeat,” which takes its name from the River Mersey in Liverpool, the band’s home territory. “It’s a cross between rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues,” Marlowe explains. “It’s unique to the Beatles. You knew who it was; you know the song just by the one chord at the beginning.”
“The music,” Marlowe says, “has spanned generations.” In addition to himself and his wife, Melanie, their 17-year-old son Alexander and 12-year-old daughter Amanda are big Beatles fans. Amanda in particular “can name every one of their songs and knows many of the lyrics.” (Also, taking a cue from her father, she plays the guitar and writes music and lyrics for it – for them; she actually has five.)
The Marlowes will be going to a Paul McCartney concert this weekend. Their tickets cost very much more than the $5 and change of 44 years ago – and while these tickets are electronic, Marlowe is such an ardent Beatles fan he plans to save them as well.
“When I was a kid,” he confides, and the Topps bubblegum company sold packs of gum with one Beatles card in each, “I would buy the whole box. I still have the entire two sets of Beatles cards” the company made.
“I tip my hat to Sid Bernstein,” Marlowe says. “If not for Sid Bernstein the Beatles would not have been here performing. He gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure.”