Ticket to write

Legendary broadcaster Larry Kane discusses his new book, which documents the trials and tribulations of the early years of the Beatles.

The early years: Larry Kane is a vet­er­an journ­al­ist who doc­u­mented much of the Beatles’ 1964 and 1965 Amer­ic­an tours. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LARRY KANE

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. ••

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