TICKET TO RIDE
By Larry Kane (Running Press).
A blonde in a low-cut dress presses $50 into Larry Kane’s hand. “I will do anything to meet the Beatles,” she purrs. “Anything.” Kane shoves the money back in her purse, and then scarpers. Just 21, he is lucky enough to be the only US journalist accompanying the Beatles on their tumultuous 1964 US tour, and he is growing up fast.
Nearly 40 years later, the Miami radio news reporter has written an account of the tour and he doesn’t seem to have lost that ingénue air he had while witnessing utter mayhem. Maybe it’s this charm that persuaded Brian Epstein to extend the invitation to Kane – though the Beatles manager later made a pass at him – because Kane retains a wide-eyed bemusement and naivety in this breathless memoir. Not even a year into Beatlemania “the boys” are already world weary and wise to the tricks of pushy promoters and obsessive fans.
If in 1964 Kane was shocked by the fans running onto tarmacs, rushing the stage, invading his bedroom, and crushing a car roof in a Beatles motorcade, he still conveys surprise at the seamier goings-on: the band’s fondness for pot once they were introduced to it by Dylan, at the roadie Mal Evans’s deftness at procuring appropriate women among the nutters, the jailbait and the prostitutes making themselves available to the band, and at the inner management circle’s slickness at avoiding scandal.
Despite all-areas access during the tour, Kane manages to miss (or turn a blind eye) to the “Fellini’s Satyricon” described by Lennon. He was trusted then and isn’t going to betray that trust now, two dead Beatles and a dead manager later. There’s a nudge-nudge hint of Lennon’s possible flings with Jayne Mansfield and Joan Baez, and he firmly asserts that any road girlfriends were strictly over the age of consent.
All these years later, Kane still gets asked, “What were they really like?” His verdict: Lennon was outspoken (particularly on Vietnam), Harrison serious but the friendliest, Starr’s genial nature masked an inferiority complex, and McCartney’s “suspect superficiality” made him a “PR delight”.
Compared to classic on-the-road books such as Michael Braun’s Love Me Do (re-issued by Penguin) and Robert Greenfield’s Stones Touring Party (also recently re-issued), this is poorly written and heavily padded. A CD of Kane’s contemporary interviews with the Beatles is, like the text, repetitive and banal: just like much of life on the road, no matter whose tour it is.