Book by Vermilion man recalls Cleveland concerts
By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009
Dave Schwensen was an ear and eyewitness to the British invasion.
Schwensen, who was 13 years old when his parents took him to see the
Beatles in 1966 at Cleveland Stadium, wrote a book about his
experiences, The Beatles in Cleveland: Memories, Facts & Photos About
the Notorious 1964 & 1966 Concerts.
The Beatles' first show in Cleveland, at Public Hall, led to their
being banned from appearing in the city in 1965.
Schwensen, a Vermilion resident, will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at
the Hudson Library & Historical Society, 96 Library St., about his
book and what he has learned since writing about the two times the
Beatles came to Cleveland.
The Hudson talk will occur several days short of the 45th anniversary
of the first Beatles appearance on U.S. television.
Q: When did you first discover the Beatles?
A: The first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964.
Q: What was the first Beatles song you remember loving?
A: All My Loving. And the first single I purchased and still own was
I Want to Hold Your Hand.
Q: What do you remember about the Beatles concert you saw?
A: Everything I remember takes up a big chunk of the book. Here are a few:
The screaming was so loud that it felt like standing next to a jet
taking off. We could hear them and they sounded great. The kids
pouring out of their seats and running cross the rain-soaked baseball
infield to the stage during the fourth song, Day Tripper. The Beatles
running for their lives into a white mobile home parked between first
and second base. My mother waving at Paul McCartney during Yesterday
and he waved back. The girls sitting around us fainted. By the way,
this was the first-ever rock concert at the stadium.
Q: What made you decide to write about the Beatles' shows in Cleveland?
A: Basically, it was an experience I talked about over the years,
college, working in New York City, Los Angeles, etc. A lot of people,
including celebrities I worked with, would get into conversations
about, ''What was the best concert you had ever seen?'' When I
mentioned the Beatles, it got everyone's attention.
I was writing concert reviews for a few newspapers and thought I
should write my memories of the 1966 concert, in a concert review
form, so I wouldn't forget. I posted it online and started hearing
from Beatles fans, literally, from around the world.
I kept expanding with research, photos and interviews with the
promoters, deejays and opening acts. I asked fans who were at the
concerts to e-mail their memories through the Web site
http://www.beatlesincleveland.com. Eventually, I realized it was a book.
Q: Is there a common theme expressed by those who saw the Beatles in
Cleveland you've been in touch with?
A: Definitely. All describe it as an exciting and unforgettable event
from their teenage years. The theme is experiencing the Beatles
firsthand, like a scene from A Hard Day's Night that got out of hand.
Basically, the girls still love John, Paul, George and Ringo. And the
guys all wanted to be John, Paul, George and Ringo. That's it in a nutshell.
Q: What do the Beatles represent to you and what did they mean to you
in your life?
A: For teenagers, the world was changing. Growing up, discovering the
opposite sex, changing styles, clothing and haircuts, and changing
attitude. The Beatles showed baby boomers it was OK to be rebellious
against the norm or what was expected by parents, teachers, etc.
Remember, after Elvis went into the Army and before the Beatles, the
acceptable pop music acts were all named Frankie or Bobby and had
slicked-back short hair, preppy clothes and attitudes that were safe
for the teenaged market. . . . There were many stressful outside
influences in world events. JFK's assassination, the war in Vietnam
was building up, the military draft was still on, and the Cold War
still carried a threat of the Communists dropping the big one on us.
They are still influences in what is heard today and their music is
Q: In your opinion, what is the best Beatles album and why?
A: Revolver. They were still working together as a group rather than
solo artists with the others as ''backup session musicians,'' like on
the White Album. The songs were different and innovative for that
time with new sounds and instruments and more sophisticated music and
lyrics. It was the official passage beyond simple three-chord rock 'n' roll.
Q: Do the Beatles still resonate with younger generations?
A: Definitely. At first I was surprised at how many young people, and
I am talking teenagers and pre-teenagers, would attend my book
signings and programs to watch the concert film, ask questions and
buy copies of the book. They wear Beatles T-shirts, know the songs, etc.
When I ask why they are into the Beatles, when they weren't even born
at that time, they say their parents or grandparents taught them
about the group. They grew up listening to their songs and know the lyrics.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.