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)

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 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.

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