Tag Archives: Ed Sullivan

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.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

As the world — or at least my corner of it — celebrates today’s 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America, the best music is everywhere.

That’s ’60s rock. Hands down.

I heard “She Loves You” the other day. It was only the squintillionth time I’ve heard that defining tune, which long ago receded into whatever part of my brain is reserved for songs I will still sing along to at 96, during my final days in a nursing home.

She Loves YouBut this time was different. Instead of bobbing almost unheard in the background, as familiar songs often do, this time I heard it with almost cosmic clarity. The joyful guitar licks, Ringo’s thumping drumming, the giddily optimistic lyrics — all rushed back, as if listening to it for the first time ever.

In fact, I first heard “She Loves You” in the winter of 1964. I was not yet a teenager, but back in those pre-helicopter-parent days I enjoyed freedom today’s kids only dream about. I rode my bike wherever I wanted; my bazillion High Point Road friends and I played outside all afternoon with no adults in sight, and when we were hungry we wandered into someone’s house and found food.

Everywhere I went, I carried my transistor radio. It was laughably large compared to today’s teeny iPods, but as 5th graders who had just discovered rock ‘n’ roll, our lives demanded a soundtrack. The Beatles — and Stones, Searchers, Freddie & the Dreamers, you name it — provided one.

I thought of all that when I heard “She Loves You.” In the winter of 6th grade, my friends and I were kings of Burr Farms Elementary School. With 11-year-old swaggers, we strode the halls certain we had all the answers to life.

In fact, we didn’t yet know who we were — or even that we should be trying to figure it out. We were blissfully clueless that — like pre-adolescents everywhere — we were ready to take off on an astonishing journey of self-discovery. Because it was the ’60s, ours was especially wild.

Fifty years ago -- on February 9, 1964 -- the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan.

Fifty years ago — on February 9, 1964 — the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan.

A couple of months earlier, President Kennedy had been killed. For a while, the nation mourned. Now we were ready to look ahead. In the chill of winter, we needed something new and bright and bold.

In 1964, the Beatles provided that breath of fresh air.  Fifty years later, half the band is dead. We’re all a bit jaded; half a century has taken its toll. But for 2 minutes the other day, the joyful energy of “She Loves You” took me back to a moment when anything — all things — seemed possible.

And you know that can’t be bad.

(The Beatles’ “She Loves You,” from their 1st Ed Sullivan Show appearance on February 9, 1964. The YouTube clip shows the English version of dates. If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)