It has been almost 50 years since the Beatles invaded America, and there are few people alive who likely remember it as vividly as veteran journalist Larry Kane. Kane was with the band during every stop of its 1964 and 1965 American tours, an opportunity Kane said he “never sought out.”
Nonetheless, Kane has become known as one of the leading sources of information on Beatles lore, authoring Ticket to Ride, which detailed his experiences on the road with the Fab Four and the New York Times Bestseller Lennon Revealed, which delved into the mysteries of John Lennon’s life.
The Abington-based broadcaster’s latest book, When They Were Boys: The True Story of The Beatles’ Rise to the Top, completes what a press release called an “unintended Beatles trilogy.”
“It takes you back in a very dramatic way of life in post-war Liverpool and shows how these guys got to where they were,” Kane said in a phone interview. “There’s a surprise at every turn.”
Among those surprises is the nature of the relationship between Lennon and Paul McCartney. Both Lennon and McCartney lost their mothers at an early age — Lennon at 17 due to a drunken driver and McCartney at 14 due to cancer.
Kane said that this similarity contributed to the “close and temperamental” relationship between them “from the time they met to the time Lennon died.”
Another surprise comes in the details of original drummer Pete Best’s departure. According to Kane’s research, during Best’s two-year stint as the Beatles’ drummer from 1960 to 1962, Best was undeniably the “favorite” of fans, chiefly due to his looks.
“There’s a lot of evidence in this book to show that Pete was fired because of jealousy,” Kane said, noting that McCartney, Lennon and George Harrison never saw Best again after his firing.
Within When They Were Boys, Kane details a conversation between Best and then-road manager Neil Aspinall, who went on to head the Beatles’ conglomerate Apple Corps Ltd.
Following Best’s firing, Aspinall supposedly told the drummer that he would leave, as well, but Best discouraged him.
“Pete said, ‘Stay with them, they’re going to be very big,’ ” Kane said.
Best’s words came even as Aspinall was romantically involved with Best’s mother, who was 17 years Aspinall’s senior.
When They Were Boys also details the “4 or 5 occasions” that the Beatles almost disbanded, the “total rejection by the London elite” and the story of the incident during which deejay Bob Wooler was “savagely beaten by John at Paul’s 21st birthday party.”
Kane said that in researching for the book, he “scoured over everything that was written” and talked to more than 50 people who interacted with the Beatles during their early years.
“I never took anything for granted,” Kane said. “This is more of a journalist book. It’s written in a style that it actually does read like a novel.”
When asked what his most extraordinary experience was while touring with the Beatles, Kane said that he particularly recalled his interview with the band prior to its 1964 performance at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
“When they were told about the Gator Bowl being segregated, they stood up and on tape said they would not play if blacks were segregated,” Kane said. “Unfortunately, the tape recorder malfunctioned.”
Kane didn’t realize his equipment failed him until he returned to his hotel room, and after purchasing new equipment, he asked the Beatles’ press secretary for a do-over.
“They came back in and did the entire thing again,” Kane said.
As a result, the Gator Bowl was desegregated during the band’s performance. ••