It was 50 years ago that the Beatles took America by storm. Over the last couple of weeks, there's been lots of media coverage commemorating the group's arrival in the states and "the really big show." That milestone night — Feb. 9, 1964 — when John, Paul, George and Ringo performed live on "The Ed Sullivan Show," captivating 73 million viewers. Many of us remember watching that evening and the excitement we felt when Sullivan introduced them.
But what happened when the songs were over, the screaming subsided and the TV turned off. What did people really think of the Fab Four? What was the local reaction?
I looked through issues of The Daily World in the days following the Ed Sullivan appearance to guage the opinion.
An article in the Feb. 11 Daily World shed light on what local folks really thought.
For some, it wasn't the music that caught their attention, it was the hair. The big question people wondered was "are those mops the Beatles wear real or are they phony?"
Jim Scott was owner of a barbershop in the Doneen Building downtown. Casting a professional eye, Scott believed the Beatles wore wigs, when asked as part of a Daily World poll. He later conceded the hair might be real but either way, "it's the hair that made them popular." Scott said that he tried to sell the Beatle's hairstyle to some of his customers, but "was met with overwhelming apathy."
For others, it WAS the music.
Another professional opinion was offered by John Goss, a local disc jockey. Goss said the group "was one of the greatest finds in a long time." With two of the Beatles' records in the U.S. Top 10 at the time and the group scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall on their American tour, Goss expressed interest in their talent but he wasn't too enthused about their appearance. "I'm glad my own kids aren't that old," he said. "I have my own clippers."
Some other opinions:
Dave Wooldridge, research forester at the Forest Service Hydrology Lab, wanted to organize a campaign to stamp out the Beatles. "A heck of a lot of noise but no music," was his comment.
Karen Hunter, a freshman at Wenatchee Valley College, thought the group did have talent but she wouldn't pay to see them, although she admitted "I think they're great."
Bob Lohr of Lohr's Pharmacy and "old enough to not appreciate that type of music," was pleasantly surprised.
Don Brown, principal of Wenatchee High School, "thought they had a real audience for lack of ability. We spent more time watching the audience," he added.
Dr. L.E. Hildebrand commented, "I don't know why all the kids are screaming about them."
Jim Mills, owner of Mills Bros., was reluctant to talk. "I don't think I'd better give my opinion," he said. "It wasn't very high."
On a light note, the front page of the Feb. 20 issue of The Daily World showed several local businessmen wearing Beatle wigs. The hair pieces were rented for a special photo shoot at the Cascadian Hotel. The "models" included Bob Conner, Homer Trefry, Dick Van Well, Bill Barnett, Jim Sellers, Sam Boddy, Walt Riesen, W.N. Farquar, John Zitting, Bob Kline, Paul Furgeson and Al Burgener. Their opinion of it all? "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"
Love 'em or hate 'em, the Beatles were an iconic force that made an impact on Wenatchee.