From: Photoplay magazine, June 1964
“7 DAYS and 7 NIGHTS WITH THE BEATLES”
the girls they hide--
the girls they love!
by: Steve Brandt
It all started with a telephone call from Estelle Bennett. Estelle is one of the sensational Ronettes, a singing trio that has performed both here in the states and in Europe. And me, well, I’m Steve Brandt. Estelle had phoned to ask if I’d mind escorting her over to New York’s Plaza hotel because there was someone there she wanted to say “hello” to. His name was George Harrison -- yes the George Harrison of The Beatles. Estelle had met all The Beatles when they appeared together in Europe, and she’d gotten particularly friendly with George. Now, at George’s invitation, she wanted to stop by the hotel and welcome them to America. An hour later, I picked up Estelle, and, as we drove from her home in the Bronx to the hotel in mid-town, she told me how great The Beatles were, how down to earth, how everything. I laughed and chalked it up to a warm and good friendship.
At the Plaza, policemen were checking everyone going in. Across the street hundreds of girls were huddled in the cold, hoping to get a glimpse of the now famous Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George. Estelle and I went up to the twelfth floor; as we stepped out of the elevator, we stopped dead in our tracks.
The hall of the sedate hotel was swarming with reporters, photographers, and policemen. We pushed our way through until we came to a wooden barricade set up in the hall to block the path to the rooms beyond -- the seven suites belonging to The Beatles and their entourage. Estelle told a guard who she was. “I don’t care who you are,” he answered, “you’re not getting past this point.” Luckily, Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, happened to come by. He spotted Estelle and both of us were permitted to pass the blockade and were ushered into a large, comfortable suite.
Paul, George, John and Ringo were scattered around the room as if blown there by a cyclone. George saw Estelle and flew over to her. Ringo, whom I had met briefly the night before at The Peppermint Lounge, introduced me to everyone. He not only remembered my name, but the names of everyone else in the room. This is a particular point with him. He studies every face he meets for the first time and stuns everyone by remember not only the face but the name. He’s both fantastic and fanatic about remembering things like that.
I met John’s very pretty wife Cynthia. She’s a warm, shy girl who still has trouble believing what’s happened to her husband and his three pals from Liverpool. George’s sister, Mrs. Louise Caldwell of Benton, Illinois, was there, too. She’d come to New York to spend some time with him. She had not seen her brother for almost a year. George had visited her the previous summer. Everyone was engaged in conversation -- none of it centering on any important issues. It consisted of fast quips and those bits of witticisms the boys delight in.
Paul commented how hard it was when they met people. He wonders if he’s liked for himself or his fame. I explained writers sometimes have the same problems. Are they liked for themselves or for a story they can do to boost a person’s career? I believe this mutual problem made me an equal to The Beatle’s eyes, for that evening at the Plaza was to be the first of seven fabulous days and nights I was to spend with them.
After fifteen minutes, I felt as if I’d known The Beatles all my life. Each one of them is a personality unto himself. Paul can start chattering on at the drop of a hat -- using every language imaginable. He gets a kick out of putting people on -- or as he puts it, “sending you up!” I’ve lately read reports that success has gone to Paul’s head. I doubt this. Occasionally, he does speak with a broad A, but that’s Paul’s humor, not an attempt to put on airs. Ringo who for some strange reason is called “The Quiet One,” isn’t. He’s either singing, dancing about to records, or tapping out drum rhythms on a tea tray. John is perhaps the most worldly and intelligent of the lot. When not talking about his wife and son, he can discuss any topic imaginable. He was enthusiastic about his book (“John Lennon, In His Own Write”), and hoped Americans would think his stuff “funny.” It is, but it’s also touching, almost heartbreaking. Obviously, it’s the work of a man whose childhood was all those things.
George has a certain shyness about him that could make one think he’s antisocial. He’s not. He makes certain to meet everyone who comes into the room, and though he may not bubble over with conversation, he is polite. And any time he calls up for food, he’ll stop to ask if there’s anything anyone else wants as well.
All four Beatles are frank and honest about everything you ask. I mentioned that they sounded a little flat on a few notes during their first TV appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show. “On a few notes,” George laughed, “we were completely flat.” “Yeah,” said Paul, “somethin’ went wrong with the microphones and we couldn’t hear a thing we were singing.”
About their reception here in the States, Ringo says, “Reception isn’t the word for it, it’s more like a celebration.” “We’ve been well received wherever we’ve been,” added John, “but this is the warmest and most exciting greeting we’ve ever had. Everything in this country seems to be done on such a grand scale. The fans are wonderful, most of the adults are, too. Even when they pull us apart they do it in a nice way.”
“We really didn’t know what to expect here,” said George, “or how we would be made to look. When we checked into the hotel, we put on four TV sets and ran from room to room watchin’ ourselves on the different stations. It was wonderful.”
“Your telly is so different here,” said John, “commercials every three minutes. I see newsmen giving reports on peace conferences and the next moment they’re holding up a can of dog chow. It’s crazy.”
There was no point asking if they really got on together. It’s obvious they do. When one makes a joke, the others roar with laughter. They have their own “inside” language when they want to keep something private. Mrs. Lennon says they tease her with it all the time. And they’ve been together so much, sometimes they don’t even have to talk in code. As Paul says, “we can just read each other’s thought waves.”
The Beatles were together in England the night they heard the news that President Kennedy was assassinated. “We were in the dressing room waiting to go on stage,” John told me, “when one of the other performers came in and told us your President had been shot. We couldn’t believe things like that still happen. We didn’t say a word to each other -- this was one of those times when we just knew how the other guy felt.”
The boys feel pretty much the same about a lot of things. Today, most singers say rock ‘n’ roll is okay, but they really dig blues. Not The Beatles, they love rock ‘n’ roll. They idolize artists like The Miracles, The Ronettes, James Brown, and The Shirelles. To put it bluntly, The Beatles wouldn’t walk into the next room to meet Frank Sinatra, but, if James Brown were in there, they’d run!
After dinner (Paul ordered veal, the others had fish), we sat around and watched TV. Every fifteen minutes or so, someone would deliver stacks of telegrams or notes from fans. When the boys weren’t too interested in the “telly,” they opened some. “It’s wonderful the way the fans send telegrams,” puzzled Ringo; “everyone must have lots of money over here.”
“When we started out in Liverpool,” Ringo went on, “none of us had much money. Now that I’m making all this loot, I’m going to get me and my folks a nice large flat. I might as well spend as much as I can: most of it will be going to the tax man.”
About eleven o’clock, George suggested maybe we should all go out somewhere. Everyone looked at me for a suggestion. I thought maybe they’d like to ride around and see Manhattan. “We’ve done that,” Paul said. “They gave us a limo the other day, and we had the driver take us all about. Your city is really something. We didn’t like Greenwich Village too much -- too many ‘toofies’ there.”
They’d been to The Playboy Club and The Peppermint Lounge the night before, they especially enjoyed the Lounge. “We got a chance to talk to the chaps in the band and the dancers in the show,” said John. Paul added, “It was good to be out with real people for a change.” It was Ringo, however, who made out the best. He met pretty twister Geri Miller. But he managed to keep her a secret. All the papers ran a picture of Ringo twisting with the Lounge’s twist captain, but it was Geri whom Ringo took home. This is usually what the three boys do. they are seldom seen with dates, seldom photographed with them. George has spent a lot of time with Estelle -- but up until now, who knew it? Who knew Paul was serious about a pretty little British TV actress named Jane Asher -- until Walter Winchell broke the story that they were married? The story, of course was denied by all Beatles -- and Paul in particular. Judging by the denials, Paul is still single and still available (much to the relief of about ten million girls) -- but the rumor did manage to make known what The Beatles have managed to hide -- that they do have girls they love: Paul has Jane (and, of course, there’s Jill Haworth whom I’ll tell you about later), Ringo has several, George has Estelle -- as well as others, John, of course, has Cynthia.
To get back to what we did that night -- a check with a few clubs revealed that it was a bit late to catch the acts the boys really wanted to see, so they kicked off their shoes, opened their shirt collars, and turned the television back on. “This always happens,” John lamented, “We’re never in one place long enough to see anything or get to know anybody.” By two o’clock, most of The Beatles had dozed off watching TV. Only John and George -- who was off talking to Estelle -- were still awake. I offered to take Estelle home, John tiptoed over to say goodnight. “We’ll see you, probably, when we get back from Washington. You’re coming to our concert at Carnegie Hall, aren’t you?” I told him it was sold out. “Oh, don’t worry, just come back stage and ask for us. I’ll leave your name.” As I left the hotel, I was puzzled. Why should they do that for me? Estelle smiled and said, “I told you they were wonderful, didn’t I?” I nodded my head. Yes, they certainly were.
Two nights later, I went to Carnegie Hall with Jill Haworth. As promised, John had left my name at the door. They had returned from Washington that afternoon, and then had to do the two shows. They were exhausted -- but none of the audience suspected.
Back at the hotel, Jill was whisked away from me by Paul. The suite was crowded with businessmen and record executives, all waiting to hear the TV reviews of the concert. The Beatles were sitting on the floor, watching anxiously for the reviews. You see, they thought the American newspapers were ignoring them. I told them they were nuts, that they’d made the front page of every newspaper in town. “Every newspaper,” they shouted, “how many are there -- we’ve seen only The New York Times!” I called room service and ordered The News, The Post, The Telegram, The Journal and The Herald Tribune. They were flabbergasted, they just couldn’t believe it. Then, when the TV reviews were favorable, they were really sitting on top of the world. The bits that delighted them most were spoken by one reviewer who said, “Ringo is the shaggiest of the bunch,” and another who described Paul on stage as “shaking his head like a wet puppy stepping out of a shower” That’s quite a funny image!
“Hey,” shouted John, “we’ve got to celebrate. It’s our last night in New York!” They all turned to me for a suggestion. I knew they’d enjoyed the Peppermint Lounge, so I suggested another twist place not so well frequented by the press. We snuck out of the hotel, jumped into five taxis that had been miraculously herded at the door. At the club, it was explained to the owner that The Beatles were there for fun; it was their last night in New York and they wanted a quiet celebration. He agreed to the no press and no photographers edict. I had called Tuesday Weld and Stella Stevens, and shortly after we sat down, they came in with their dates. Paul and George (Ringo was dancing with Jill Haworth when the girls came in) saw Tuesday and flipped. She was dressed in slacks, Stella was elegantly dressed -- mink and all -- but the boys seemed to find Tuesday more to their liking. Stella and her date left after a short while. When Jill and Paul came back to the table, Paul sat next to Jill and held her hand. Ringo was completely fascinated by a tall twister named Queenie Lyons. Then, either by a pre-arrangement or just by luck, Geri Miller came in. It looked as if everyone was having a really good time. While I was patting my self on the back for suggesting the place, all hell broke loose. A group of guys from the bar came over and started bothering Tuesday, I went for the manager. When I came back, John was in the middle of a fight. A group at the next table had been making fun of The Beatles, but the foursome had ignore the remarks. Furious at the snub, one of the guys pulled off John’s glasses and broke them in two. John tried to shove the trouble-maker away, only to have the guy’s pal take a punch at him. Fortunately, three policemen came in and everyone calmed down; unfortunately, two cameramen came in with the police. The headline flashed before my eyes: BEATLES IN BRAWL IN NEW YORK TWIST CLUB. The owner was told that if one photo was taken the boys would leave. He agreed. The police and the photographers (without the picture!) left. Then the owner sent a bottle of scotch to our table. It was a nice gesture, I thought. Our party had already consumed about one bottle of scotch and we were about ready for a second. (The Beatles drink a mixture of scotch and Coke as if it were water.) After a while, we decided to leave. John asked for the check -- but I honestly didn’t think we’d get one. Then, John couldn’t find his coat. We searched and searched and finally found it mysteriously hidden under a chair in the back of the club. The waiter handed John a bill, I cringed -- it was for $80.00. Without blinking an eye, John opened his wallet, took out the money and paid.
None of the boys complained about the check -- but I felt I had to do something to make up for it. I invited everyone to have breakfast at the Improvisation -- a coffee house on New York’s East Side. Breakfast was delicious, the music was great (guitar and drums) and Ringo made it a hit night (or should I say early morning when he took over the drums for a few numbers.
At a little past six in the morning, the boys decided they’d better get back for a short sleep before leaving for Florida. Again and again I apologized for the evening’s incident, but John laughed, “Don’t be silly, I really enjoyed it -- so did the others.” “Yeah,” added Ringo, “that brawl was we almost had was more exciting than sitting in our hotel room watching the telly.”
In the cool morning air, The Beatles talked about warm Florida. They were envied by me. “Well,” shouted Paul, waving his arms in the air like the man on TV, “come on down! I’m trying to talk your friend Jill into it.” I said I couldn’t and bid them goodbye for what I thought was the last time. I was mistaken.
The next morning, Photoplay asked me to fly to Miami to spend more time with The Beatles That was Thursday. Friday I was in Florida with Paul, John, George and Ringo -- and Jill and Estelle.
That same night we all went out to a Miami twist club to see The Coasters. The boys relaxed and really enjoyed themselves. A member of the British press came along and he seemed a nice enough fellow. Paul introduced me as Photoplay’s writer, and I chatted with the gentleman from time to time. After the club, we decided to go back to the hotel to watch TV. We were watching Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” show when Brian Sommerville, (The Beatle’s press agent) called me into another room. He asked if I was a magazine writer. “Yes,” I told him, “I never said I wasn’t. The boys know I’m down here for Photoplay.” He went on to explain that the British newsman objected to the fact that the boys were spending all their free time with me. He said I had The Beatles “exclusively” and it wouldn’t be right for me to spend anymore time with them in that case.
When I went back to watch TV, Paul sensed something was wrong. he asked what Sommerville wanted. I told him. Paul left to talk to Brian. Paul returned and told me not to worry, I could spend all the time I wanted with them.
The next day I went to meet the boys at the rehearsal for their second Ed Sullivan TV appearance. They hadn’t arrived and the crew was getting impatient. When the four of them finally marched in, I heard a cameraman say, “Look at that hair, they look like girls. I can’t see why kids carry on about them.”
The Beatles took their place on stage and went on with the rehearsal. From time to time they talked with the various cameramen and stagehands. By the end of the afternoon, they had made everyone a fan. One of the men who had complained about them in the morning, said, “What great guys,” as we left.
In Miami, The Beatles didn’t have much chance to get out. Fans patrolled the hotel entrances twenty-four hours a day. Many times guards would come up to the room to say that fans had chained themselves to their cars or were lying underneath them!
The few times they got a chance to go out, they’d visit a private home, and use the pool. One night, all the boys snuck out and visited the home of one of their guards, Buddy Dresner. Buddy had mentioned his children were dying to meet them and could he bring them over to the hotel. “We’ll do better than that,” the boys suggested, “we’ll come to your place.” Sure enough, there they were, seated around the Dresner’s table, enjoying the two delicious roasts Mrs. Dresner had prepared!
The Beatles loved to do thoughtful things for people they like and trust. I’ve seen them go out of their way many times for fans young and old. One evening we came into the hotel and were about to go up in the elevator. Just as the doors were closing, two elderly ladies spotted the boys and started running towards them. They held papers in their hands for autographs. I wasn’t a bit surprised when Ringo pushed the button, opened the doors, and he and his Beatles brothers obliged the women with all the autographs they needed for their grandchildren.
While The Beatles were at the Deauville, Carol Lawrence and Don Rickles were appearing in the hotel’s night club. The boys stopped in to catch the acts, then went back to their rooms. We were just sitting around talking about what had happened that evening, when there was a knock at the door. It was Buddy the body guard, with a big grin on his face. It seemed Liberace had stopped by the hotel and given Buddy a sealed note for Ringo! The boys went absolutely mad. They all dashed for the note, but Ringo grabbed it, ran into the bathroom and locked himself in! A few moments later, Ringo emerged from the bathroom and showed us the note. It was a request for him to sign an autograph to a young lady friend of Liberace’s.
The boys never hang up anything and their clothes were scattered all about. One night while getting dressed for dinner, Paul was crawling around on his hands and knees, looking under the beds for his socks. He found one, picked it up, sniffed it, and held on to it. Then he found another, picked that up, sniffed that one, made a terrible face and said, “Here Ringo, this must be yours!”
Then there was the night George was missing. Earlier that evening George and Neil Aspenel (sic) (the group’s road manager) decided to go for a drive. A Miami car dealer had provided the boys with cars so there was no transport problem. It was six when they left and at ten o’clock, when they still hadn’t returned, everyone started getting nervous. They called a hotel guard and asked if George might have mentioned where he was heading. The guard had no idea but suggested he call the Miami police. No one wanted to do that. It was decided to wait another hour to see if George turned up. An hour passed and still no George. By now even the other Beatles were concerned. The boys had heard about the Sinatra kidnapping and worried that someone might have snatched George! Finally, when everyone was at their wits end, in strolled George and Neil! They had gone out for a drive, but decided to stop and have dinner at a local restaurant. “But what did you do for six hours?” The guard asked. “They probably met some birds!” shrugged Ringo. George just smiled his secret smile.
While here in the States the boys rarely had a chance to just “go out.” So they saw a lot of our TV and felt Britain’s is far superior. They never did get to see any color programs and that disappointed them.
The boys are all chain smokers. Most of the time they prefer a “British ciggie” as they call them. When one reporter asked them if they didn’t feel that their smoking habits were a bad influence on teenagers, John said, “We’re not examples to be followed: nobody should do something just because somebody else does it.” One evening Ringo smoked a cigar, but Paul started coughing and made him put it out! While George and John concentrate on the TV shows, and Ringo is busy tapping out rhythms on any type of instrument in reach, Paul is constantly in the bathroom brushing his teeth. He must brush them at least ten or twelve times in an evening.
One afternoon, after a long rehearsal, the boys decided to go for a swim in the hotel pool. It was mayhem. Fans heard The Beatles were in the pool and soon the place was mobbed with hundreds of screaming girls! Finally, the pool was cleared, and policemen were stationed about the area to keep everyone out! What a funny sight! The four guys splashing about in that huge pool, while hundreds of spectators stood by. While all this was going on, photographers were barred because someone felt that “pictures of the boys with we heads would spoil their image!” When The Beatles went water-skiing, a photographer did manage to get pictures (see page 17) of them with wet hair. I don’t think it spoiled their image, do you?
Morris Lansburg (he owns the Deauville) let the boys use his yacht whenever they wanted “to get away from it all.” We tried our luck at fishing, but only George got one. We suggested he have it mounted, but he felt so guilty about keeping it (it was a mighty small fish) -- he threw it back in. Everyone cheered.
After five days and nights in Miami, I had to return to New York. That time in Miami, plus the two days in New York, added up to my seven days and nights with The Beatles. I don’t think that makes me an expert on them -- because they’re such changing characters, no one can ever say this is Paul or John or Ringo or George -- and have it be up-to-the-minute accurate. I can say this, though, without reservation. They are not only the most talented performers, I’ve meet, but they are the nicest. They’re not planners, not schemers -- not anything but four guys who are having a whale of a time -- and so is everyone else around them. --Steve Brandt
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