Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle and Readmill users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
Transglobal licensed “She Loves You” to a tiny indie, Swan Records of Philadelphia, which released it stateside on Sept. 16. Swan had even less success with the Beatles than Vee-Jay: The song failed to chart at any station, and was roundly rejected by audiences when it was played at all. DJ Murray the K at WINS New York spun “She Loves You” on Sept. 28 in a five-way “battle of the hits,” where it came in third. He continued to play it every night for a week solid, but got no reaction. Swan convinced “American Bandstand,” which broadcast from the label’s hometown, to play the song in its “Rate a Record” segment, where it received a score of 73 out of 100. Worse, the teens on “Bandstand” laughed when host Dick Clark held up a photo of the moptopped Beatles. After that incident, Clark recalled, “I figured these guys were going nowhere.”
On the same September day that Swan released “She Loves You,” Harrison came to the States to visit his sister in Illinois, where he remained totally anonymous. Louise took her brother to a radio station in West Frankfurt, Ill., that had played “From Me to You” at her urging. The station spun a copy of “She Loves You” that Harrison had brought with him, and he was interviewed on-air by the 17-year-old daughter of the station owner, all to no discernible listener response. And when Harrison jammed with a local band called the Four Vests, playing ‘50s rock songs at a dance, no one even thought to ask for his autograph. (Perhaps the most productive thing he did while in Illinois was purchase an album by R&B artist James Ray, which included “Got My Mind Set on You.” Harrison’s cover of the song would become the last No. 1 Hot 100 hit to date by any Beatle when it topped the summit nearly 25 years later.) Harrison returned to England feeling despondent about the Beatles’ chances in America.
–Steve Greenberg, in Billboard in 2014, on how the Beatles finally cracked America in 1964 after a string of early disappointments with radio airplay.
This story first appeared in LA Weekly in 1991.
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The sun did not shine, but it was hot as hell the day a memorial stone was unveiled for bluesman Robert Johnson near a country crossroads outside Greenwood, Mississippi. About seventy-five people filled the tiny Mt. Zion church, a row of broadcast video cameras behind the back pew and a bank of lights illuminating a hoarse preacher as he praised a man who reputedly sold his soul to the devil.
There was no finality in setting the stone. The attention came fifty years too late, and even if his memory is more alive today than ever before, Johnson’s rightful heirs still have nothing but the name. This service was not about the body of the bluesman, which lies in an unmarked grave somewhere in the vicinity; it was about the guitar-shaped wreath provided by Johnson’s current record label, and about the video bite that would be beamed into homes around the country that April 1991 evening.
This week, we’re sharing stories from Steve Kolowich; Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg; Taffy Brodesser-Akner; Carolyn Murnick; and Jamie Lauren Keiles.
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Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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