HITS AND MEM­O­RIES

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - THE BEATLES -

IT’S A STORY I re­mem­ber well, one my dad, Greg, of­ten told as my two older broth­ers and I sat in the back of his 1984 Corolla.

That car was a rev­e­la­tion for our fam­ily – clearly not for its horse­power but the fact it had a cas­sette player. It also pro­vided a mov­ing but cap­tive au­di­ence for my old man, who would cre­ate ex­ten­sive mix tapes of clas­sic to not-so-clas­sic rock; let’s say from Zep­pelin to Fear­gal Sharkey.

With each song there would be a story from Dad — a for­mer mu­sic jour­nal­ist and rock lover un­til the very end. But there was one that topped them all.

It would usu­ally fol­low as the open­ing chords of the Bea­tles’ Twist and Shout crack­led through the car’s speak­ers. We kids knew it as the song Fer­ris Bueller sang but, for my dad, it was a much dif­fer­ent story — and one he would hap­pily tell ad-nau­seam.

“I sat front row for their con­cert about two me­tres from Paul Mc Cart­ney,” he would say, slowly turn­ing the vol­ume down.

“Oh God – not again,” my el­dest brother Matt would sigh.

We were young and had no idea how im­por­tant this band was, or how amaz­ing it was that my fa­ther paid just 36 shillings to sit front row at a Bea­tles con­cert. He was only 16. He’d moved to Ade­laide from Naracoorte a few months be­fore and had heard the Bea­tles singing I Saw Her Stand­ing There on Vic­to­rian met­ro­pol­i­tan sta­tion 3DB.

As soon as he heard tick­ets were go­ing on sale for the Ade­laide per­for­mance, my fa­ther’s cousin and best friend, Gil­lian, joined the queue to pur­chase tick­ets. He was al­ways quite proud of the fact they slept out in the CBD to buy tick­ets – which was al­ways my bar­ter­ing tool at a young age when I was try­ing to or­gan­ise a sleep­over at a friend’s place or a night on the town

“But you slept out in the city when you were my age!” I would say, to no avail.

My fa­ther’s prin­ci­pal at Pul­teney Gram­mar School even said stu­dents were for­bid­den from do­ing this and he was “warned” about the dan­gers.

My dad the rebel – who would have thought?

“I’ll never for­get see­ing the Bea­tles per­form,” he’d say. “The show at Cen­ten­nial Hall was a rev­e­la­tion.”

The Bea­tles played a 10-song set, which went for only 30 min­utes. One thing my fa­ther al­ways em­pha­sised was the fact he saw the Bea­tles, but could hardly hear a note over the scream­ing, even though he was in the front row. A few years ago, he even wrote a piece on his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I know they sang This Boy, be­cause for some rea­son the au­di­ence qui­eted down for a few min­utes,” he said.

“I also heard Mc Cart­ney scream out the fi­nal song — Long Tall Sally. I was only two me­tres from him. I’m sure he smiled at me. But then again he might have been smil­ing at the pretty scream­ing, sob­bing girl next to me.”

This story, of­ten told in that blue Corolla, would last more than the length of a short Bea­tles hit. Soon af­ter the vol­ume would go back up and we would con­tinue on our drive — that is un­til a song by The Who came on.

For any­one who knew my fa­ther, you would know his sto­ries of this band would go on for the en­tire drive.

GILL SMITH (Greg Kelton’s cousin)

The Bea­tles queue was great fun. It was Greg’s idea to go in the queue and he or­gan­ised the ros­ter. Carol (my sis­ter) went in first on the Fri­day af­ter­noon. She was only 13, at school, which fin­ished early, so that’s why we were right at the front of the queue. It went down North Tce from John Martin’s back en­trance (now David Jones) and round the cor­ner up Gawler Place and Run­dle Mall. We all took dif­fer­ent shifts, and the first time I went in I couldn’t be­lieve how many people were in it. I don’t think we had any sleep.

On the Mon­day morn­ing, ev­ery one, no mat­ter how tired they were, stood up from about 7am and started push­ing to­ward John Martin’s door.

It got worse the closer it got to 9am, and when the doors opened people just pushed. We were all there and bought tick­ets – I think each per­son was limited to two.

The Bea­tles ar­rived and there was a mo­tor­cade that came up An­zac High­way and we were near Ade­laide Boys High when they came past. People, in­clud­ing my sis­ter, ran out on to the road to try and touch them – we didn’t get close. The con­certs were held on 12th and 13th June and I think we went Satur­day night at 8pm – they had two shows each night, 6pm and 8pm.

The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing and when they came on stage the noise was deaf­en­ing. The first song they sang was

I Saw Her Stand­ing There and I think the last was Twist and Shout and I don’t think we heard much else in be­tween as there was so much scream­ing!

People queue in John Martin's depart­ment store to buy Bea­tles tick­ets

Greg Kelton, circa 1964

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