PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On February 4th, 1964, music and popular culture changed with the arrival of The Beatles in New York. Mainers in the music business recall when they caught Beatlemania, and explain how the group influences them and their work to this day.
Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary recalls meeting The Beatles, and how even their early songs struck him as surprisingly sophisticated. Younger musicians, Spencer Albee and Zach Jones, born after The Beatles split up, talk about how they came to love Beatles music and the impact it has had on their careers.
Tim Tierney, owner of "The Studio" in Portland, was one of the 73 million people watching The Beatles' debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He says "After Ed Sullivan I convinced my younger sister and brother, instead of getting a chocolate rabbit for Easter, to each get a 45. So we each got a Capitol Records 45 in our Easter basket. Then I clipped them all out of the basket and went upstairs and put them on the record player!"
Steve Drown, a recording engineer at "The Studio," was a little late to the party. He was born four months after The Beatles arrival here. But he became a fan in the 70's, and says The Beatles inspired him by being pioneers in using the recording studio as an instrument.
Drown says "They said 'what can we do to make this sound different?' They kept doing that from the beginning all the way to the end of their careers, and everybody copied them and still do."
Peter Paul & Mary were one of the most popular recording and touring acts of the '60s, so Noel Stookey had a unique vantage point as the Beatles rocketed to stardom. "Peter, Mary and I actually had a chance to hang out with the Beatles. But it was one of those really awkward things. We were just tongue-tied, we came from different cultures, different musical backgrounds, had different appreciations. And I wasn't bold enough to speak out and say 'hey, man, I really think your music is great.' I don't know-- was I thinking I was going to sound like a fan? And really, who cares?"
Stookey remains impressed with The Beatles' musical invention and use of sophisticated harmonies.
Portland based musician Spencer Albee was hooked by a Paul McCartney record in the 1980s. "I started as a Wings fan. I went to my mom and said, 'hey mom did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?' And she said 'yes, yes I did, that's how he got famous.'"
Albee says close listening to Beatles albums awakened his interest in record production.
His friend Zach Jones caught on to The Beatles after hearing and liking a George Harrison solo record in the late 80's. "George Harrison was the reason I wanted to play guitar. And Paul McCartney and John Lennon were the reason I wanted to try to learn to write songs. The Beatles were just the reason I wanted to be in a band."
Jones says The Beatles endure because they created a new template for a group. "You know, before the Beatles, it was pretty commonplace to have singers, there were musicians, there were songwriters. After them it sort of became the norm, if you're in a band you have to write and play your own songs. And not everybody writes songs as good as the Beatles do."
Chris Brown of Bull Moose Music says he can't remember a time when he didn't own a Beatles record. And as someone in the sales end of the music business, he can see that each new generation seems to find its way to appreciating The Beatles. Brown says
"It's not just a nostalgia thing, somehow it still seems fresh."