Why Tony Perkins is a huge Beatles fan

Why Tony Perkins is a huge Beatles fan

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WASHINGTON -

On Saturday night, I had the chance to co-host a concert in New York called “America Celebrates The Beatles.” It featured musicians like Tommy James, Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, Marshall Crenshaw and many others. It was one of several events in New York marking the anniversary of The Beatles arrival in America.

Over the last several days, we have aired several stories about The Beatles talking to people who saw them first hand, and I have even shown you my collection of Beatles memorabilia.

Some of you have asked me: Why am I such a big Beatles fan?

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” for the first time. Three months before, they were virtually unknown in the United States.

Their first U.S. hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” had gone to No. 1 only a few weeks before. But on this night, Americans got their first good look at the band in action and in all their glory. 73 million people watched them that night -- and I was one of them.

I lived in Southeast Washington. I was only four years old. It was not love at first sight, but that performance stuck with me.

One of the things that is fascinating to me about The Beatles was I was a little black kid growing up in Southeast in a home where James Brown, The Supremes, and Dionne Warwick filled every corner, yet The Beatles stood out, and in some ways, fit in.

I didn't really start getting seriously into The Beatles until I was a teenager after they had broken up. I saw the “Meet the Beatles!” album in a department store, vaguely remembering it because we had it when I was a kid, and I bought it.

When I put the record on, I was blown away. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There" were amazing. But my first ever favorite Beatles song was “This Boy.”

I thought the three-part harmonies were beautiful. It was different from other pop songs of the era. I soon learned this was a hallmark of The Beatles.

The other thing about The Beatles, which drew me, and I think millions of others to them, was their look. They were "cool." Even their look on stage was symmetrically perfect. They were dynamic.

That is when I started to realize that The Beatles had been so big, so influential, and so much a part of everything, that they had even infiltrated my world, my community, and my home.

By the time I was 20, I was completely hooked on the music, the personalities, the story, and the amazing influence they had on popular culture.

Of course, with any relationship there are highs and lows.

I have to admit the shocking death of John Lennon in 1980 shook me to my core. I couldn't make sense of it. Still can't.

In 2001, the death of George Harrison from cancer was difficult because he was so young. Spiritually, we know he was as prepared for his death as any person could be, but I wasn't prepared for his.

In 1999, I met Paul McCartney. It was amazing to stand eye-to-eye with him and be able to tell him "thank you" for all the great music and good times. I'm sure he hears it every day from people, but it meant a lot to me to be able to tell him personally.

In 2003, I had the chance for the first time to sit down with Ringo Starr. It was very moving for me.

So, my love affair with The Beatles continues to this day and I think so for many people. And the words they sang out to us all as they wrapped up their career together continue to impress me, move me, and guide me and I think they do to millions others.

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    Wednesday, February 12 2014 12:08 AM EST2014-02-12 05:08:24 GMT
    50 years ago, the Beatles descended on the nation’s capital with their first full concert in America at what is now the Washington Coliseum. On Tuesday, thousands of aging Beatlemaniacs and many younger fans showed up for a reenacted celebration of sorts.
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  • Why Tony Perkins is a huge Beatles fan

    Why Tony Perkins is a huge Beatles fan

    Monday, February 10 2014 10:55 PM EST2014-02-11 03:55:04 GMT
    Over the last several days, we have aired several stories about The Beatles talking to people who saw them first hand, and I have even shown you my collection of Beatles memorabilia. Some of you have asked me: Why am I such a big Beatles fan?
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  • Tommy Roe, musician who opened for The Beatles, discusses his DC concert experience

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    Friday, February 7 2014 9:04 PM EST2014-02-08 02:04:37 GMT
    In just a few days, we will mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first U.S. concert. The Fab Four played right here in D.C. at the Washington Coliseum. Tommy Roe was as close to the action as anyone. He shared the stage with the legendary group that night as the opening act.
    In just a few days, we will mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first U.S. concert. The Fab Four played right here in D.C. at the Washington Coliseum. Tommy Roe was as close to the action as anyone. He shared the stage with the legendary group that night as the opening act.

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