John Lucey introduced me to the Beatles. The songs were all over the radio, but I had an interest in radio strictly for baseball up to that point. All of a sudden there was music. And the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York on Februrary 9, 1964. I am one of the millions who tuned in. When the movie A Hard Day’s Night came out, John and I went to the Kaimuki Theater in downtown Honolulu to see it.
We had an experience not dissimilar to what Phil Lesh described in his own life- “being the only guy in a theater full of screaming chicks”. Outside on the sidewalk afterword, girls were graffiti-ing the building with lines like “I Love Paul!” or “Sally Loves John!” and the like. I guess I knew then there was something to it and music would be what I’d most like to do with my life- being a kicker for the Forty-Niners might have been fine, but then, I turned out to be less suited to football than baseball in the end.
The Beatles music really changed the way I looked at things. All of a sudden, sitting there with my ukulele, I felt dissapointed. The heck with this ukulele! I thought, I want an electric guitar! You couldn’t rock out with a ukulele- and I’m sorry, but for all those folks who came later that took an interest in it, including George, the irony for me is that it had been George Harrison inspired me most to begin this campaign on my parents to get one.
All of a sudden, the terrible black and white world transformed into a technicolor one. History for me begins with the Beatles, not the Oswald murder. Music seems to begin there as well, (even if it didn’t) although I do remember listening to my babysitter’s transistor radio and bands like the Supremes, and songs like The Leader of the Pack and of course, Richie Valens’ La Bamba. But it didn’t have the effect, none of it did, like the Beatles. Soon I was learning drum parts for all the songs and bopping my head like Ringo did. Small compensation for a person who was born to play on strings!
Reprinted from No Backstage Passes In Heaven (An Autobiographical Memoir)