On January 22 Beatles’ devotees, including rock stars and fans, transformed the Gibson Musical Instruments showroom in Beverly Hills, California into the Temple of The Beatles 50th love and burned down the house for hours with music, celebration and tribute at this very small, VIP gathering. I stood in a crowd of people – young, old and from all over the world, watching and listening as Brian Wilson with his bandleader Jeffrey Foskett, Kris Kristofferson, America, Micky Dolenz, Robby Krieger, Earl Slick and the astonishing Jimmy Webb each selected and performed one of their favorite fab four songs as the crowd literally swooned with excitement and joy. The Beatles had touched everyone there of course and everywhere else and not a person in that room, in particular, would have denied that the direction their lives took was influenced by the band.
Just twenty-two images, from the amazing, and as yet unseen, photo collection by Beatles tour manager Bob Bonis, were unveiled and auctioned off with a portion going to charity. Bonis was with the band on the road from 1964 to 1966 and shot 750 intimate portraits with his Leica and each image was revealing and moving. They are very emotional to look at.The event was a mix of people from Jack Oliver who worked at Apple from 1968 to 1971 and recalled those intense days to Kevin Godley – of Godley and Creme (and video director fame), who worked with McCartney over the years to Ron Weisner, who managed Sir Paul to Laura Gross, a journalist and Beatles archivist, to me who had fortunately interviewed and traveled with various band members over the years.
It was a night of Beatles love and gratitude, and of course rock and roll. Brian Wilson sang Paul McCartney’s favorite song, his own brilliant “God Only Knows”. America made me cry with their harmonies on “Nowhere Man” and Jimmy Webb really made me cry singing the Beatles’ poignant and tender heartbreaker “For No One”.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years. I saw the band play in Chavez Ravine, here in LA, in 1966. You couldn’t hear a note and it didn’t matter. When I was speaking at this event about Bob Bonis’ photos, I asked the audience to raise their hands if they’d worked with any of The Beatles or had seen them play, only about 15 of the 200 people or so standing in front of me raised their hands. The rest were a generation or two away from those experiences.Now we have only half their creators to celebrate, Sir Paul and Ringo. While we miss George and John (and we do), look at what they’ve left us. There’s been Mozart and Beethoven and John, Paul, George and Ringo have been added to that exclusive list “for the ages”. Their contributions to beauty and love and art and transformation elevated rock and roll permanently and we’ve been the fortunate beneficiaries of that.