Tim Jackson, The Beatles, And The Nixon Girls

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here’s one more Beatles-50th-anniversary-with-a-Westport-twist tale.

Today, Tim Jackson is an assistant professor at the New England Institute of Art’s digital film and video department. He’s a musician, actor and film director.

But on Sunday, February 9, 1964 he was a 14-year-old taking the train from Westport to New York, to watch this new, wildly popular British band perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Tim got his tickets from the father of his best friend’s girlfriend, who was in advertising. “While hysteria was in the air, and lots of jealousy among our classmates, it didn’t actually dawn on us until decades later that we had witnessed a pivotal moment in American culture,” he writes this month in The ArtsFuse, a Boston online magazine.

When Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles to America, it was a really big show. (Photo/The ArtsFuse)

When Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles to America, it was a really big show. (Photo/The ArtsFuse)

It’s a remarkable story. Tim roams from duck-and-cover drills at Burr Farms Elementary School and an 8mm film he made called ‘The End of the World,” to being kicked out of the Long Lots orchestra for not being serious enough (he was a drummer).

He “barely” remembers the other acts on the Beatles’ “Ed Sullivan Show” — which included the Broadway cast of “Oliver!” with future Monkee Davy Jones (who knew?), singer Tessie O’Shea, the usual Ed Sullivan acrobats, and actor Frank Gorshin (who later moved to Westport).

But he does remember the stage as “vivid shades of blue and black and gray” (and “smaller than our school auditorium”). Ringo “looked precarious on that tiny riser.”

And there, sitting right in front of Tim, were 2 teenage girls, screaming just like all the others. Their names: Julie and Tricia Nixon.

Tim Jackson playing drums with Abraxis, in Ithaca, NY.

Tim Jackson playing drums with Abraxis, in Ithaca, NY.

Tim went on to have more memorable experiences. In 1965 he was at the Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan plugged in his electric guitar. At Staples, his band opened for the Rascals. When the Yardbirds (with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) played Staples, they and the Chain Reaction (with Steve Talerico, who later changed his name to Steve Tyler) used Tim’s band’s sound system.

Over the next 10 years Tim played in bands that opened for BB King, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Iggy and the Stooges, the Chambers Brothers, Aerosmith, J. Geils, Manfred Mann, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat and Grand Funk Railroad.

Tim still plays drums at occasional gigs. Music has influenced his life in countless ways, he says.

And it all started when he bought that ticket to ride a train from Westport to New York, 50 years ago today.

(To read Tim Jackson’s entire story in The ArtsFuse, click here.)

Tim Jackson today.

Tim Jackson today.

4 responses to “Tim Jackson, The Beatles, And The Nixon Girls

  1. I did nor know all of Tim’s background–he indeed had a lot of incredible experiences.

  2. Great memory Tim! Ed “Stone Face” Sullivan was a real hypocrite. First, to deny the Beatles his stage; and then to retract his idiocy and welcome them.
    He did the same to my “First Percussion Sextet” after being booked in early 60’s and approved to perform “A Day At The UN,” whereby one drummer pounded his shoe in rhythm on a table. Then Stone Face changed his mind at the last minute and commanded us to play “Around the World in 80 Days.’ Oh well, what price fame and no fortune?

  3. Hey Tim: What a wonderful memory… and what an impressive musical life!! Hope all’s well (and thanks again for letting me share the stage with your great band at Hannah’s wedding– a real thrill!!) Peace, S.

  4. Wow, I knew Tim in college and played in a band with him. I don’t recall hearing those amazing stories (though perhaps forty years later has something to do with it) Hey Tim, were you with us when we went to Syracuse and sat in the fourth row for Hendrix? I think you were there in Cortland watching Procul Harem with us, right? How about Cream in Syracuse, though the show was cancelled.

    Those are amazing stories and event’s you’ve been involved in. I think it only fair that you tell readers the biggest of them all – you came up with the name Abraxas (well before Santana used it) for your college band which featured someone who went on to a pretty good musical career – Larry Hoppen of Orleans.