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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Kent Bush: The Beatles - what might have been

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  • The Beatles were introduced to America on Feb. 9, 1964.
    Ed Sullivan put them on the air, and the four young men from Liverpool started a cultural revolution.
    I remember it like it was yesterday – mainly because it was just yesterday that I watched the video for the one thousandth time.
    I am only 43 years old, so I can’t offer any memories of what it was like crowding around one of the few television sets in our neighborhood to watch the performance that night. I can’t tell you what it was like growing up with the Beatles as they progressed from “Love Me Do” to “Hey Jude.”
    By the time I was born, Paul McCartney was announcing that he was leaving the Beatles, and the band members were finalizing divorces as drugs and artistic differences were ripping apart one of history’s most talented bands and their families.
    I know my older sister was listening to the Beatles when I was young, but I don’t have any memories of it.
    My first actual memory of a real Beatles moment was when John Lennon’s murder was announced live by Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football – because most of my memories have to do with sports and watching them with my dad.
    So how did I become such a huge Beatles fan? Like most young men, I became a fan because of a girl.
    My high school crush loved the Beatles. She was even younger than me, but she got her love for the band by listening to one of my best friends play Beatles songs.
    I still remember sitting in my friend’s bedroom listening to him play “Blackbird” on a 12-string guitar.
    He was incredibly talented and I had to sit there trying to figure out how to impress a girl with my very limited skill set after she had seen a guy do that. My only musical ability is being able to listen to it. In fact, I am limited when it comes to any of the fine arts.
    It would be seven years before I discovered I could write a little, but trust me, columnists don’t have groupies – unless you include middle-aged men who respond to everything you write with angry emails.
    Guitarists tend to have better luck in that department.
    But I grew to love the Beatles as we listened to all of their albums and watched their movies and recorded concerts.
    So like those just older than me who grew up with the Fab Four as their pop idols, I do have personal experiences that the Beatles enhanced and memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.
    So as everyone prepares to celebrate 50 years of the Beatles in America, I will be paying attention and thinking back to fun times as I got to know the band.
    Page 2 of 2 - But I will also be wondering what would have happened if the Beatles had followed a different path. They were great musicians but very troubled people. From the “Paul is dead” controversy after Sergeant Pepper came out to Lennon and Yoko Ono’s love-ins, the Beatles taught future pop stars that no publicity is bad publicity.
    What if they would have chosen family and friends over drugs and divorce? Would they have made a different impact on society?
    It has been 50 years. The Beatles brought a lot to American culture.
    But even though I am a huge fan, I can still hear the notes they missed.
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