Buch and The Beatles

Hey gang, Kirky here with Beatlemania

By Jim Bucher

It’s “Strawberry Fields” forever!

Lemme explain. I’m reliving my early childhood with the recent launch of SiriusXM’s The Beatles Channel. It is all Beatles, all the time, with outtakes, rare interviews, and alternate takes on the Fab Four’s classic hits.

Now let me explain for those not old enough to recall. At the time of the Liverpool band’s invasion here in the States circa 1964, the country was still reeling over the death of our president. This was a much-needed Rx. The group, already big in their native U.K. and slowly becoming popular here, had no idea the impact they would have on music and culture.

Songs on our radios would never be the same.

I have vague memories of watching The Ed Sullivan Show appearance when you really couldn’t hear their sweet sounds over the crazed fans screaming.

Remember, we were a burr haircut, Frank Sinatra, Big Band, jazz kind of family.

My dad wanted no part of The Beatles in our home or society, but my older brother and yours truly started growing our hair a little longer and secretly listening on our transistor radios, the iPod of its day.

I recall my grandmother watching about a minute of the Sunday night Sullivan broadcast, popping up from her chair, heading to bed muttering, “They’re a flash in the pan.” Oh, the generational divide.

And anyone remember the Hasty Tasty on Salem Avenue? They had mini jukeboxes at each table. It was awesome to pop a quarter in and blare The Beatles in the restaurant with dad saying, “Can you turn that down?”

But alas, it wasn’t too long after dad was growing his coif a hair longer and…ready for this…buying every Beatles record he could get his hands on. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Though, pops enjoyed their early work as opposed to the later psychedelic stuff. Me? I absorbed it all—even in grade school, our teachers warned us about the true meaning of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” informing us impressionable kids that the lyrics were all about using LSD. Later, Paul McCartney explained the term came from a drawing by John Lennon’s son, Julian.

No matter, The Beatles were here to stay—even though they broke up after five years and we never got the much anticipated reunion after the murder of John.

But during that brief run, the band toured the country before “retiring” to studio work. One stop was in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Gardens. It was partially organized by legendary WSAI-WING disc jockey Steve “hey gang, Kirky here” Kirk.

From a posted YouTube interview with Steve as a guest, he explains how it all transpired:

“We brought The Beatles in 1964, and, to tell you the truth, didn’t think we were going to get them. Was sitting with three friends and one says, ‘Hey, I bet we can book The Beatles.’ All of us said, ‘No way.’ Next thing I know, we’re on the phone with the William Morris Agency who represented them and they replied yes.”

The boys would perform at Crosley on Aug. 8.

“The deal was they wanted $25,000,” he adds. “We had to come up with half, then they received the remainder plus a percentage of the gate.”

Can you imagine booking The Beatles for such a small amount when current pop stars command gazillions? But in 1964, that was still a chunk of change. The concert, by the way, went on without a hitch, but by his own admission, Kirk says he should have stopped there.

“We brought them back in 1966, this time at old Crosley Field, home of the Cincinnati Reds,” he says. “Their price had risen to $75,000 and was about the time when John Lennon uttered the infamous comment that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ. That didn’t go over so well in conservative parts of the country, including Cincy.”

Ticket sales plummeted.

“We renegotiated a price reduction to $60,000 because of the backlash,” Kirk says. “That wasn’t the worst of it because the skies opened and the rain came in buckets and we had to cancel.”

Lennon to the rescue.

“So John says, this guy [Kirk] brought us here in 1964,” Kirk explains. “If you can arrange it, we will stay and perform Sunday before we head to St. Louis.”

Unfortunately, the Jesus comment was taking a toll on tickets. Only 18,000 showed.

“That’s right,” Kirk says. “We were the only promoters in the history of the band to lose money, and I lost $5 in a poker game with Ringo.”

Simply put, it was “A Hard Day’s Night.”

Cheers and rock on to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Buch

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Jim Bucher
For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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