Veteran music writer Harvey Kubernik trawled through the backlog of material he had from years of interviews and came up with a lot of new material for his book “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles Invade America and Hollywood.”
“For decades I had all this cool and unique data on the Beatles and their relationship to Los Angeles and Hollywood,” Harvey explained. The positive reaction to an article Harvey wrote for “Variety” drawing on his archive of material gave him the final motivation to get the book done.
And how did Harvey acquire “all this cool and unique data on the Beatles”? He was well placed to do so, as the Los Angeles correspondent for UK music magazine “Melody Maker.” “All English musicians read me, as well as their managers,” he said, “so I was invited to a lot of press conferences and parties.”
Harvey’s had encounters with each of The Beatles. “In 1974 I was invited to the ‘Pussy Cats’ album party — the Harry Nilsson album that John produced — in Santa Monica at the home of actor Peter Lawford,” he said. “John was pleasant in conversation. I spent two hours in a card game with Ringo and Harry that Keith Moon disrupted on occasion. In 1976 I saw John, with Yoko, at a Wailers show at the Roxy Theatre. We had a brief chat about reggae.
“I’ve had short and wonderful hangs with Paul. A 1975 ‘Tommy’ movie premiere, sharing a table with him and Linda at the Fox-Wilshire Theater — the same venue where I saw the 1964 Beatles/Beach Boys/Lesley Gore closed circuit broadcast the Beatles did from Washington, D.C. I’ve been on a few press junkets and attended one terrific party at the Green House restaurant circa 1975 or ’76. I told him and Linda I did not own a copy of ‘Band On The Run.’ They appreciated the honesty. I bought it the next day. Paul has a house in town, and every once in a while I see him driving or leaving the Capitol Records studio.”
Harvey covered George’s press conference, held at the start of his solo tour in 1974, for “Melody Maker,” and was also tapped to promote George’s other projects. “George called me from A&M Records one time and arranged for me to come and review a Ravi Shankar Roxy Theatre recital. Years later I interviewed Ravi and George for a story I first published in ‘HITS’ magazine. I also spent one afternoon in 1997 with George at a musician friend’s house in LA. We did not discuss the Beatles! Mostly Ravi Shankar’s album ‘Chants of India,’ which I possessed.”
As for Ringo, “I’ve seen him a couple of dozen times over the decades; some parties, press events, recording studios, and radio stations.”
In addition to featuring material from his Fab encounters, you hear from plenty of other friends and associates in Harvey’s book; George and Giles Martin, Allen Ginsburg, and Roger McGuinn, to name a few. Overall, it offers a nice magical history tour.