Readers share their stories of personally encountering one or more of The Beatles. If you've ever met one or more of The Beatles in person, we'd like to hear about your experience and post it on this page. Send your stories about meeting a Beatle to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TO SIR, WITH LOVE
In June 2006, Sir Paul McCartney—along with Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison and their families—came to The Mirage in Las Vegas to see the gala premiere of Love, the Cirque du Soleil show celebrating the Beatles' legacy, with the original Beatles tracks produced and remixed by Sir George Martin and his son, Giles Martin.
As the “music playback engineer” for Love, I ran the music tracks for that show and had the pleasure of meeting Sir Paul when he came into my “office” to record a video interview following the Gala Premiere.
I gave Sir Paul my seat at our “music playback system.” Behind him were an array of keyboards, computer screens, and my parents' vinyl copy of the Sgt. Pepper album that I grew up with, and had brought with me for good luck.
“Sir Paul, might I have my picture taken with you?” I asked, as the interview was about to begin. “Of course,” he replied. “Why don't you sit on my lap?” His response caught me completely off guard—was this a trick question? British humor? Is it a crime to sit on the lap of an actual knight? After some mumbling and blushing on my part, I kneeled alongside the man to whom I owed my passion for music and my current career.
The interview that followed, which was included in the All Together Now documentary about the making of Love, summed up the night—and the show—perfectly: “We were a (expletive) great band,” Sir Paul stated quite matter-of-factly.
SOMETIME IN NEW YORK CITY''S RECORD PLANT
I was James Brown's recording engineer from 1972 through 1977. It was sometime in mid-1973. We had just recorded a live show at the Apollo Theater in New York City using the Record Plant remote truck. The tapes were taken to the Record Plant after the concerts. Brown wanted to hear some mixes right away. Since the tapes were at the Record Plant already and I was in a rush, instead of dragging about 20 2-inch reels over to Sound Ideas, where I did most of my mixing, I booked two days of mixing time at the Record Plant on the weekend. I had done several mix sessions there before, but I wasn''t as comfortable with their Westlake monitors as I was with the speakers at Sound Ideas. Brown was impatient to hear some mixes, so there I was.
I preferred to mix on the Spectrasonics console they had in Studio A, but that room was already booked. I booked Studio B, which had a Data mix console. My girlfriend Karen came along for company—which she normally wouldn''t do, but it was a Saturday.
When I arrived I noticed a sign on the Studio A door that said “closed session—do not enter.” I didn't give it any thought and went into Studio B and began my mixing session. After several hours of work, I was listening to the playback of several mixes and my girlfriend had just gone to the ladies room, when John Lennon walked into the control room. He said, “I'm recording in Studio A. I heard the James Brown music and was wondering if he was here. I'd like to meet him." I explained that I was Brown''s engineer and was mixing the project. James Brown would not be attending the session.
We listened to a mix or two and talked for a bit. He said he was recording his Sometime In New York City album with the Elephant''s Memory Band. After a while he said, “I had better be getting back to me session. Sorry I didn't get to say hello to James. Good luck with the mixing.”
When my girlfriend returned I told her that she had just missed John Lennon and asked her what had taken her so long in the ladies room. She replied, “I met a nice Oriental woman in there and we were talking for awhile.” She didn't even realize she had been talking with Yoko Ono until I told her that [Ono and Lennon] were in the other studio.
I finished mixing the album the next day. Ironically, while I was preparing it for release we had recorded a new cut that Brown was excited about. We rush-released “Doing It To Death” instead. It became a million-seller. The live album I mixed at the Record Plant was never released. I don't believe Lennon ever got to meet Brown, but we did get a letter from George Harrison thanking Brown for recording a version of his song "Something.”
In the summer of 1980, just out of high school, I was recording my first album (as keyboard player for a soon-to-be successful black pop band) at the Hit Factory in New York City (I believe West 48th Street). The sessions for Double Fantasy took place a floor above us. We were not allowed on that floor.
One particularly hot day, I was waiting in the lobby for the elevator. Two people came into the building. In an effort to hide themselves, they were all the more conspicuous: hats, scarves, jackets, sunglasses: John and Yoko.
We all got in the elevator. I had to say something; when would this ever happen again?
“How''s the album going?”
“Fine,” says Yoko.
“Well, like everyone else, I''m really looking forward to it.”
John says, “Thanks.” And...it''s my floor.
When I get home that night, I, uh, embellish the story a bit for my girlfriend:
“How''s the album going?”
“Fine,” says Yoko.
“Well, like everyone else, I''m really looking forward to it.”
At that point, John breaks out in tears and hugs me. Yoko joins the hug, and there are tears all around.
“Great,” says my girlfriend. “And that''s when you got an autograph, right?”
Well, I didn''t get an autograph that day. (As a result, I didn''t get something else for days.)
YOU KNOW YOU''VE MADE IT WHEN…
Many moons ago I was the bassist in a band that had a hit single, but it was a really big one: "Play That Funky Music.” So, we received a couple of Grammy Award nominations and performed on the televised broadcast in February 1977. (Actually, we lip-synched, which is far more difficult to endure.) Of course, it was quite a thrill to be rubbing shoulders with the who's who of the music biz at the time.
As everyone was getting seated for the show, I noticed Ringo. I didn't hesitate for even a moment as to what I had to do. If it weren't for the Beatles, as it is for so many of us, I would not have even been there. The [Beatles'' first appearance on the] Ed Sullivan Show changed my life and set me on a course that I have never regretted. I just had to walk up to him, introduce myself and thank him. He was quite gracious and exactly as advertised—a lovely bloke. Imagine him saying to me that he loved our record! A lifetime highlight for sure!
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
In the late ''60s I was in a band called Soft White Underbelly. We were under contract to Elektra Records and were working on our first album. In June of 1968 we got an extended gig at Steve Paul's famous club in Midtown Manhattan, The Scene. On one of the nights we were playing (June 18, I think) Jimi Hendrix walked in with an entourage and listened to our set. It was not the first time he had seen us play, but it was exciting playing for a music icon.
Toward the end of our set, Ringo walked in with his entourage and took a seat next to Hendrix. After we played, house manager Teddy Sladus came up and said that Hendrix wanted to jam with Ringo and Jeremy Steig (a popular flute player). I went over to Ringo and said, “Hi, Ringo. I'd be honored if you want to play on my drum kit tonight.” He said, “Hello and thank you.” A few minutes later backstage the house manager told me Hendrix was just going to jam with the flute player.
After it was over, Teddy said that the reason Ringo didn't want to jam with Hendrix was because my kit was so crappy and that I needed to get new drums. As soon as the advance form Elektra came in I got a new kit and gave my old drums to my sister-in-law.
In the book The Beatles: Day-by-Day, I read that the real reason Ringo didn't jam with Hendrix was that he was hung over from a party at Stephen Stills'' house the night before. I still have that kit that I bought for Ringo, though. As a matter of fact, I played it on every Blue Oyster Cult studio recording.
In 1970 I went to Apple Records to pursue a recording contract for my band back in Seattle. I was 18 and had been headed to Ireland for a three-month gig, but unfortunately the owner passed away. The plan was to gig for three months and then play/record in Europe. Desperate, I boldly went to Apple. I can vividly remember the room when I entered. The carpet was typical ''70s high-pile red and the receptionist wore a chiffon/gown-like dress with a “shag” hairstyle. Her desk was all Formica-like and green. In the middle-front of the desk was a Granny Smith apple with the inscription “A is for apple.”
I approached the receptionist and made up something like, “I have an appointment to see Mr. Harrison.” She calmly replied, “See that gentleman over there.” Excitedly, I confronted what turned out to be a photographer. He politely told me, “I had been given a ruddy steer,” and asked that I wait while he finished his work.
At that moment, Ringo Starr pulled up in a Bentley with Marianne Faithfull. The photographer took several shots of the two, shook Ringo's hand and then turned back to me. He explained the Beatles were taking on protégés, each with their own guidance. He then gave me a card for Chrysalis Studios and said he had a friend there—who ended up being George Martin.
I went there and got an audience with a scout. He had me pull out and load one of the tapes I brought from Seattle. The tape played backwards. In fact, all the tapes did the same thing. We had recorded at a TV station and apparently they had wound the tapes backwards. The scout said, “I''m sorry, but nothing you have works on my machine. We just finished producing Procol Harum and for our second act, we wanted a group with your type of configuration (flute/sax/vocals, keys, guitar, bass and drums), and rock with a jazz flare. I was devastated, but after months passed, realized I had made the best “cold call” sale of my life.
The group that succeeded Procol Harum was Jethro Tull. We would not have met up to that standard/quality of a group.
BRUSHES ON TWO CONTINENTS
I have two Beatles stories:
1. I'm from Australia, and in the ''80s, Paul McCartney did a tour there with Wings. He announced that he would only do one afternoon of press, so all of the Australian press turned up for this one afternoon. Naturally, there was a huge amount of competition amongst the press and technical crews to be invited. So a national TV company called an outsider instead of favoring one of its own crews—a local cameraman [with whom] I''d done a bit of freelance sound work. He called me, and I thus found myself sitting in a room with Paul McCartney (there were four of us there) for nearly half an hour, chatting on and off camera. And yes, he said that Sgt. Pepper was really done with just two 4-track machines synched together! He was very friendly and open.
2. While sitting in the French embassy in London queuing to get a Visa, Ringo Starr walked through the room, but not quickly enough to avoid my out-stretched hand, which he shook.
I spent more than a decade working at the legendary Cherokee Studios [in Los Angeles] owned by the Robb brothers. Dee Robb, the eldest brother, had engineered Ringo Starr's Stop and Smell the Roses album [in 1981], and Ringo occasionally stopped by to visit Dee.
One day I went up to Dee's office to discuss a technical issue, and found myself face to face with Ringo. “Chucky, I'd Like you to meet Richie,” Dee said in his gravelly voice. I excused myself after the introduction and attempted to leave, but Dee told me to have a seat. I spent the next 90 minutes in conversation with Dee and Ringo.
Ringo was charming and a quick wit. At one point I asked him if I could bum a cigarette (specifically so I could keep the butt as a souvenir). Ringo obliged and handed one over, but I suspected he knew my reason for asking. Later I heard an interview where he said people were always trying to get cigarettes as souvenirs.
A few years later my friend Scott G. engineered an album for Ringo produced by Mark Hudson. When the album was completed, Ringo had 10 Beatles bass drum heads specially made and signed them. He presented Scott with one of them, which hangs on the wall to this day. Now that's a souvenir!
Rock Talk Inc.
ENCOUNTER AT ALTAMONT
At [the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969], I did encounter Sir Paul and Charlie Watts as they stumbled through the crowd, trying not to step on people, making their way from the helicopter to the stage.
Funny thing is, I have never heard another single report of Paul's presence at the event...not a one.
At the time, I thought it odd that nobody really noticed him, even though he was wearing what appeared to be an ordinary pea coat adorned only with a sergeant's chevron emblem on the shoulder. Everyone was noticing Charlie, in his shiny purple and silver-yoked (cowboy-style) shirt—and nobody seemed to notice Paul.
Anyway, we shared one, and both were thankful when I offered the J that someone had just passed to me. I gave it to Charlie; he thanked me, hit it and passed it to Paul, who attempted to pass it back to me after hitting it. I told him to keep it, and I remember he said, “Thank you. Thank you, brother.”
I think they both really did appreciate it; there was a dark and hostile vibe in the air. If I remember right, somebody had already punched Jagger in the face when he got off the helicopter.
What a day…or should I say three; I spent two nights there—before and after the show. There was no getting in or out.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was most definitely the ''60s.
Pantano del Norte Flounderation for the Who Manatees
Blind Watchdog Productions
House of Blue Lights Recording Studios Ltd.
BEEF AND BEATLES
As someone who''s been writing about music for nearly 40 years, I''ve interviewed many musicians who count The Beatles'' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show as a watershed event in their life; maybe even the signal event that got them into music. Unfortunately, I didn''t get to see The Beatles on Sullivan. I was 10 years old at the time and had been raised watching The Ed Sullivan Show every Sunday night, but at the beginning of January 1964 my family moved from the suburbs of New York to Rome, Italy, after my father had been named bureau chief for Time magazine. So, come February, I heard about the sensation The Beatles had created in America, and I saw pictures of screaming fans in the plethora of magazines my father brought home from the office every day. I ran into friends at the Overseas School of Rome, where I was a fourth grader, who already owned singles by the band, and I dutifully went down to a record shop and bought a couple of Italian Parlophone singles—“She Loves You” was my favorite. I can still picture walking the streets of Rome singing that tune in my head.
Anyway, in April of 1964, my parents, my 13-year-old brother and I went on a vacation to London. I had been born in London in 1953 (my dad had been the London bureau chief for United Press), but I''d only lived there six months as a baby, and this was my first time going back. I got to see all the classic London sights, of course, as well as the home I''d lived in as a baby. In the pictures from that trip in our family photo albums, my brother and I are wearing jackets and ties for some reason. I have no idea why, but I look kind of elegantly dorky. We stayed at the London Hilton; seems like we always stayed at Hiltons.
One afternoon while we were in London, we went to Harrods, the famous department store, and it was there that I bought my first Beatles album, Please, Please Me. (I was shocked when I went back to America on vacation that summer and my friends'' first Beatles album was something called Meet the Beatles, with different songs!) I didn''t get to play Please, Please Me until I got back to Rome, but it was still very cool to have that album in hand, purchased in England! That night, the whole family went to dinner at a restaurant called The Carleton Tower, which was on the top floor of, I presume, the Carleton Hotel. The restaurant was famous for its prime rib, a family favorite of ours. Shortly after being seated, we noticed there was quite a commotion on the other side of the restaurant—lots of hubbub and finger pointing and staring. What the…? Yes, it was true: Two of the Beatles, dressed nattily in suits, were sitting in a booth with their “birds,” laughing away, looking very much like you''d expect the “lads” to look out on the town. Well, my brother and I got very excited, of course, and could barely concentrate on our prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. So you can imagine the thrill we felt when the maitre d'' suddenly came over and informed us, and other kids who were in the restaurant, that we could file by the Holy Table one time! Yikes! So we did, slowly padding by the Mop-tops-and-dates, as they laughed and carried on and, no doubt, made cheeky observations about the sorry lot invading their privacy. Actually, they probably didn''t care. This was mild compared to what no doubt awaited them downstairs outside the building!
I regret to say that to this day I don''t recall which of the two Beatles I saw; to be honest, I''m not sure by that point I really even knew them apart. But it was a tremendously exciting moment nonetheless! No doubt I would''ve become a Beatle fan for life without this magical semi-encounter (hell, my never-completed Master''s journalism thesis was even on “The Beatles and the Press”), but that night is still etched into my memory as a wonderful moment in a very innocent time. And I still love The Beatles (as do my teenage kids)!
Senior Editor, Mix
BACKSTAGE WITH RINGO
I am sure Ringo is the Beatle most folks have met due to his pretty frequent touring through the years. I was fortunate enough to have Ringo play at the theater I was working at in 2000. His band for this tour included Jack Bruce and Dave Edmonds.
I made sure I was backstage at the top of the show so I could be in his presence. I ended up standing with Ringo, Jack Bruce, Dave Edmonds and Barbara Bach (woo-hoo!) just before they were introduced to go onstage. Ringo was pretty animated and obviously psyched to do a show and said to no one in particular that he never knew exactly what he should do after he ran out onstage when he was introduced. Dave Edmonds, with a complete deadpan delivery, looked at him and said: "Well, you should just…act naturally.” We all had a good laugh. Ringo and the band were introduced and he ran onstage and certainly acted just like Ringo. It was pretty damn wonderful and a moment I will never forget.
JOHN LENNON, GEORGE HARRISON AND ME
This is a long story, so bear with me. Back in the day, my sister worked for ABCKO Records in New York City. ABCKO managed John, George and Ringo, and all things Apple that did not pertain to McCartney. Being such a Beatle freak, I would come up all the time hoping for a glimpse. It was after the breakup but I thought I might get lucky and see one of the three.
Well, one day I hit the jackpot. I went in on a Sunday and a bunch of us went up to John and Yoko''s place. They had a whole floor. I wish I remembered the hotel but it was quite a while ago and I was so excited I could have been in another country and not known it. Anyway, we were up there to put acorns in envelopes to be mailed to world leaders as a peace effort. It was a trip writing names of these famous people on envelopes. When I first got there they told us to wait in a room, where I see a guitar case. Being a player I had to open it. Well, it was the Epiphone Casino! The one with the paint stripped off that John used in the Let It Be film. I freaked out and immediately played every Beatle tune I could think of. The axe was in terrible shape. Absolutely filthy! When you played a chord and took your hands off the neck, your hands were black with dirt, as if the strings had never been changed. Filthy strings are extremely dead sounding. That kind of explains his guitar sound now that I think of it.
I actually could have walked off with the guitar as nobody was watching, but being the honest type I have always been, I could not. What I did do was take his pick and leave mine in its place. I can imagine him the next day in some sort of chemically enhanced state going to play the guitar and being puzzled by the tiny Fender jazz pick I favored in those days. I still have his pick and it''s a Rotosound pick—a bit oversized, and white. In my new video, youtube.com/watch?v=ggaCXHIbqTw, I actually used it for some of the shots. I also took one of his cigarettes but my mom discovered that at some point, and fearing it was something worse than tobacco threw it out! I considered taking his bong that was right there with the guitar, but having this stubborn honest streak in me, that was not going to happen.
We happily spent the rest of the afternoon in a room with John and Yoko stuffing acorns into envelopes. I wanted to say something to him so badly—tell him I played, etc.—but knew it would not be cool and would endanger my sister's job. It was a great day.
Later that month I also got to actually talk to George, but that did not go well at all.
There were a lot of perks with my sister''s job. She would pretty much come home everyday and throw a stack of new LPs to me, all kinds of Apple paraphernalia (T-shirts, etc.). Wish I had saved it all! One of the best things was access to events—[Harrison''s 1971] Concert for Bangladesh, for one. I was in the 13th row and it was great!
Well, one night I went with my sister to the premier of a new Apple movie called Blind Man featuring Ringo in a supporting role. As you may have gathered, it was not exactly Gone With The Wind. In any event, there was a brief intermission halfway through and being that it was the late ''70s, I went out to the lobby for a ciggie. I sit down and I'm flicking my cigarette ashes in the ashtray. About 4 inches away, sharing the ashtray, was another hand with a cigarette. I look up and it''s George, about 5 or 6 inches from my face, dressed pretty similar to the Abbey Road cover. Direct eye-to-eye contact. I immediately freak out and my mouth is hanging open. I can't speak, can't do anything. At this point I notice the look in his eyes has changed from, “Hmm, I wonder who this longhair is? Maybe an interesting character, a musician?” to “Oh no! Not again.” He had a look that reflected that this type of thing happened a lot to him. I'm still pretty much frozen and he says to me in the gentlest, most accommodating voice, “Can I help you with something? Can I make this easier for you? What can I do?” With all the thousands of things welling up in me that I wanted to say, like “Thanks for the music;” “I play the guitar and write music because of The Beatles;” “I know I''m real young, but I play really good and would like you to hear me;” etc. All these thoughts are welling up and I can''t manage a sound, much less even close my mouth.
At this point, I am totally embarrassed, so all I can manage to do is scramble to my feet and run away. In the process I slam face-first right into Leon Russell! This was all too much for me and I found my sister and told her I had to leave.
The thing that struck me was how wonderful George was—how soft-spoken and genuinely concerned he was, not to mention the look of world-weariness on his face. He looked like a man who had been photographed too many times, been to too many of these openings, seen too many kids stare at him with their mouths frozen open—the whole thing, right there on his face. At least that was my take on it. He had a very spiritual vibe to him.
So it was my second big chance to talk to a Beatle, after seeing Lennon, and I blew it. But in retrospect I think my experience was a great one, as I got to see the measure of the man—a great, caring guy. There are many other famous musicians who would not be half as nice in that situation.
Former guitarist with Joe Jackson
IN QUEEN MARY'S ROSE GARDEN WITH PAUL
My girlfriend and I were walking along an internal road within Regents Park in London in November 1999. I was on a semester-abroad program through James Madison University, and my girlfriend from the U.S. was visiting for her fall break.
It was early afternoon on a Tuesday, and the huge park was basically empty. As we walked toward Queen Mary''s Rose Garden, a midnight blue Mercedes limo with tinted windows and blacked-out hardware pulled up and parked at the curb ahead of us. Then a smaller car (I don''t remember the make) pulled up behind it. A man in a two-piece suit with no tie got out of the Mercedes carrying a little girl (maybe 3 years old) on his shoulder. He was wearing some powder and a little rouge makeup on his cheeks, and seeing his face was a surreal experience. I couldn't place it at first; it was a face I knew so well, and had grown up associating with my favorite band and rock iconography for my whole life, but I had always seen this face in print or on the TV screen—never in person. Because of this, it took my brain a few seconds to realize who it was: Paul McCartney.
As he walked from the Mercedes to the smaller car, I said, “I love your music.” He said “thank you” as he got into the car and both vehicles drove away. My girlfriend and I were stunned and in shock as we ate our sandwiches in the rose garden. We were in complete disbelief, and were thrilled to have had such a randomly awesome thing happen.
SIR GEORGE MARTIN, THE FIFTH BEATLE
I met the “fifth Beatle,” producer George Martin, after he gave the keynote address at an AES convention several years ago. After his address, I joined an eager throng of audio professionals gathering to worship at the foot of the music-industry icon and fawn over his inspirational productions. I finally had my chance to introduce myself to Martin and gushed, “Hi, George. My name is Michael Cooper. I'm a recording engineer, producer, studio owner and contributing editor for Mix and Electronic Musician magazines. Your work with The Beatles is the reason why I''m in the recording industry today.” Casting a look of mock concern back at me, Martin dryly replied, “Well then, I suppose that makes me responsible, doesn't it?”
Michael Cooper Recording
JOHN AND GEORGE IN NEW YORK CITY
The day before John Lennon was killed, I was lunching in a window seat at an Upper West Side sushi restaurant and discussing with a colleague how John Lennon lived close by. As I was pointing out the direction he lived in, John and Yoko were crossing the street and approaching. Picking my jaw up from the ground, I went to get up and say something—anything—and before I got a chance to, John and Yoko passed the window, smiled a knowing smile and kept walking past me.
I couldn''t contain my excitement but I couldn''t move either, and missed the moment of saying a quick hello. So, “almost met” is more like it.
But I did meet George Harrison at a VH1 taping of an interview with Ravi Shankar. He was most gracious discussing guitars on the side of the set with me until the friend I brought along decided to ask George to come to the studio that night and play on his forthcoming independent album. George graciously declined as he was leaving back to England that evening.
This was George''s last TV appearance, which was really a Ravi Shankar appearance in which the interviewer smartly engaged George to talk about Ravi.
FLEW INTO MIAMI BEACH
I don''t know if this qualifies, but I was working at one of my customer''s house and got around to looking at pictures in the hallway. I said, “That looks like Ringo Starr, that looks like Paul McCartney,” etc. It seems that when The Beatles played in Miami they stayed at my customer''s house when she was probably 6 or 7 years old. They brought the band to her house in a fruit truck. I always thought that was pretty good. Anyway, I hope you get a laugh out of this.
SIR PAUL'S MIAMI SOUNDCHECK
As a freelance TV soundman, I get calls from networks worldwide, and was lucky enough to answer the phone for a British network covering Pau McCartney''s 2006 U.S. tour. The tour started in Miami, and that''s where I mostly work.
We were cautioned while setting up that we should treat our subject with some reverence and not get too familiar; in short, give him the star treatment. I''d gotten the same admonishments a few months earlier with Sting, and it turned out to be bullshit then, too (he was thrilled to sign my 1979 tour ticket).
Anyway, the man enters the room, as warm, friendly, and accessible as you could hope, chatting up everyone in the place. I [miked] him up for two interviews, different hosts for different shows. Interview one went okay, but then I noticed that his mic cable had gotten tugged, so moved in to correct the placement. “I'm on to you,” he said. “You just like to touch me.” I said “Well, other than myself, I never get to touch any left-handed bassists.”
So we discussed the curse of left-handedness, my 1966 lefty P-bass, and his choice of the Hofner violin bass back in the day. Turns out that his dad didn''t want him spending too much money on the music thing, knowing that it hardly ever pans out, so the Hofner was a relatively thrifty choice. He said his current touring axe was the most accurately fretted, perfectly intonated Hofner ever built, which I''m guessing took it well out of the economy class. We sat through part of the soundcheck, and he played it every bit as well as it deserved.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN NEW YORK CITY
While I was in college in New York City in 1978 I worked in the morning as a lifeguard for a swim program at the “Y” on Lexington Ave. and 53rd Street. One day I happened to look back through the window behind me into the waiting area where I saw a man, an older Asian woman and a young boy. Not thinking anything of it I looked back at the pool and then froze. My mind was racing as I thought, “No, it can't be him.”
So, when I had a break, I casually walked up and asked if he was here for swimming lessons. He answered in that legendary, unmistakable voice: “They''re not for me, they''re for my son.” The little 3-year-old was Sean. Of course, as a New Yorker I had to be cool and couldn''t show how excited I was. So I just said, “That''s great. It''s good to start them early. Good luck.” He warmly thanked me and I went off to school on cloud nine after a brief yet unforgettable encounter.
—Mathew Price, C.A.S.
Production Sound Mixer
HIS NAME WAS RINGO
In 1993, I had the rare pleasure of meeting a Beatle. His name was Ringo Starr. At the time I was working as a runner/assistant engineer at Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood. I worked there from 1991-1993 and saw many, many top-name acts in the studios, hallways and lounges there. Literally, every single day there were major recording artists and/or movies being tracked at Ocean Way. Michael Jackson had Record One in Sherman Oaks blocked out for what seemed like years making Dangerous (Record One is part of Ocean Way).
Don Was made his home there producing many acts during this time, from Bonnie Raitt to The B-52''s. Don, along with Jonelle Mosser, Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), Merle Haggard (!) and Ringo were booked in Ocean Way Studio A. I was in the control room helping to get set up for the session and Ringo walked in, shook hands, came over to me and very politely said, “Hi, I''m Ringo,” and shook my hand (I guess he didn''t want to assume I knew who he was; after all, I was only 22).
HOLD THE PHONE
In April 2002, I got a call from Alex Cortright, voice-over artist/radio jock/program director of WRNR, a modern rock station broadcasting from Annapolis, Md. Alex was set to conduct a phone interview with the legendary Sir Paul McCartney, who was flying into Washington D.C. for a two-night stand at the MCI Center. Alex had worked with me for a number of years, was comfortable with my abilities and wanted my company''s studio expertise in handling the technical end of the interview.
I was immersed in several large client projects, regretfully declined and referred Alex to another local studio, but assured him I would fit the session in if he struck out elsewhere. I figured I would get some great mileage from the story, as in, “Mr. Client, I turned down recording Sir Paul so I could work on your radio spot!”
However, fate intervened. Alex called me back, begged a lot and I caved.
With only a few hours notice, I made the necessary hookups, tested the equipment, and waited for Alex to arrive.
Alex and I talked music for an hour, then another 30 minutes past the scheduled interview time. Finally, we both agreed something must have fouled up the McCartney schedule and the interview would not happen.
Just as I prepared to power down the equipment the telephone rang. Paul''s road manager said hello and asked if all was ready. I pressed start on the DAW and the two DAT recorders for redundancy, and put Alex on. The next thing heard was, “Hello Alex, this is Paul.”
With the sound of the familiar voice a shiver ran up my spine and the hairs on my neck stood up. I realized that this man (along with John Lennon) was responsible for my entire life and career choice—songwriting, performing and recording since I was 11 years of age. I started jumping up and down with excitement!
The interview went on flawlessly, I mastered the recording overnight and it broadcast on WRNR the next morning.
That evening, Bill Blythe—a friend, musician, and co-worker of mine—went to see the second concert at MCI Center. Bill was 31 years old and a Beatles and Wings fan, but had never seen Paul live. The next day Bill spoke with eloquence and passion about the concert, about Paul's monumental musicality and talent, and about Paul''s love of show and his fans. Bill's enthusiasm was contagious and somehow reaffirming.
My friend''s experience brought me back to 1965 when I saw the Beatles at DC (now RFK) Stadium. He expressed the same thoughts and feelings I had then. He experienced the life changing power of music and rock ''n'' roll, courtesy of Sir Paul McCartney. I find it amazing that nearly 40 years later, Paul's music and artistry carry the same intensity and message.
President, ROAR Audio, Music & Video