HANGING OUT WITH BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES
Bobby Neuwirth, accompanied by the Blacklisted Journalist in the days when Blackj wore a suit and tie and smoked, among other things, filtered cigarettes.
Here I am taking Bob Dylan up to Manhattan's Warwick Hotel to hang out with the Beatles, but I know I'm making a mistake. To me, hanging out with Bob and the Beatles is always a great historic occasion and lots of larfs. So, what's the mistake I'm making? I'm bringing Scott Ross along.
Who's Scott Ross? I introduced him to my readers in my BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST COLUMN SIX of February 1, 1996, which described Scott as one of the Christian Broadcasting Network's most effective TV talk show hosts. I also characterized him as being as close to a left-wing Jesus freak as I think anybody could hope to find on religious right-winger Pat Robertson's Family Channel. I, of course, am not one of Pat Robertson's biggest fans. In fact, I consider it a tossup between organized religion and the legal profession as to which has done more damage to humankind.
At the time, of course, I had no inkling Scott was going to turn into such a Jesus freak. When I knew him way back then, Scott showed no fear at all of Jesus or of God or of any form of The Almighty. Scott was totally into secularism when we got to be buddies. In those days, sinning was Scott's way of life. To tell the truth, Scott's capacity for sinning was what most attracted me to him. I once even caught him in bed with my wife and still we stayed friends. Not until much later did I learn that Scott's father had been a preacher and that religion runs in Scott's family with the force of a river, no matter how polluted.
Like I say, I knew I was making a mistake. I should have said no, but Scott kept twisting my arm. He kept pleading that he wanted to meet the Beatles. Thirty years later, he would tell me that he had already met them. Thirty years later, I can look back on a lifetime of making mistakes and to a however dwindling future of making many more. This is a story about something that happened when the Beatles were in town for their 1965 Shea Stadium extravaganza.
"I was one of the MCs at that show!" Scott exclaims.
It is now November 20, 1994 and we are in Scott's study in Chesapeake, Virginia. I haven't seen Scott in maybe 27 years, but the writing of this story has demanded that I find him again to get his recollections.
"There were other guys emceeing," he says. "Of course, Murray the K was there. Ed Sullivan actually introduced them," and he emphasizes "them" to mean that TV's dour-faced Ed and not a mere disc jockey such as Murray the K got to introduce the one and only Beatles.
"I introduced King Kurtis," Scott explains. "It was an amazing thing that I was even involved because I was relatively new on the scene. . ."
When, after 27 years, Scott and I were finally reunited at the airport in Norfolk, Virginia, where Scott and his family greeted me, I cried tears of real emotion. I felt the joy of being reconnected to a past I thought I had lost forever. So many of my old friends have written me off, but Scott, Jesus freak that he might be, seemed genuinely glad to see me, aging non-believer that I might be. Also sharing in that reunion was Scott's wife, the former Nedra Talley of the former Ronettes. Scott and Nedra welcomed me as if we never had been parted. Another reason I cried, I guess, is that I connect Scott and Nedra with the wife I once so deeply loved and now so sorely miss. Nedra and my wife got to be pretty tight during the however short months the two of them knew each other.
It was after my wife died and after Scott and Nedra disappeared into Bibleland and after I got exiled to my Devil's Island of the Mind that I lost touch with Scott. Now he is sitting in a cushioned chair at his desk in his study while Nedra is perched near a window. I sit opposite with my cassette recorder running as he tells about leaving the Beatles' Shea Stadium concert in Jerry Schatzberg's Bentley and almost getting killed when the crowd mobbed the Bentley, thinking the Beatles were inside it.
"The Bentley sure got bent-up," he says, adding that mounted police were needed to extricate the car and rescue its occupants. "A lot of people got hurt. It was serious!"
Jerry Schatzberg was Scott's manager at the time. Jerry was a fashion photographer who'd been bitten by the same bug that was to bite me but he made it big. He was one of the owners of 1965's posh East Side club called Ondine, located on 59th Street beneath the Queensboro Bridge, where Scott and I would sometimes hang out with Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones. Jerry later went into movie-making, directed Al Pacino in a 1971 classic called Panic In Needle Park and then I lost touch with Jerry. In fact, that was when I lost touch with everybody.
"There were some chicks there!" Scott recalls.
The night's head games storm into my memory and I ask Scott if he remembers them, too. Head games and mind fucks were the Number One sport whenever Bob Dylan was around. Bob is another one of those old friends who have written me off. I don't blame him. I got to be pretty much of a wreck. I can also look back at myself as having been something of an asshole. But then, assholism seems to be a chronic condition with me. As hard as I try to cure myself, there's hardly a day goes by without me remembering an occasion as recently as the day before when I was an asshole again. Were there chicks there? No, I didn't remember any chicks. Scott calls the head games "madness."
"So, I'm there!" he says "I'm there with that inner circle, so-called, of Rock and Roll royalty. And watched the games going on. The TV was on with no volume. There was other music playing. And there were people running in and out of the room---"
I interrupt to say I didn't remember anybody in the suite other than those who came with me plus the Beatles, their business manager, Brian Epstein, and their two devoted road managers Neil Aspinall and Malcolm Evans. My impression is that the Beatles didn't care to have anybody else around. I'm afraid they didn't want Scott there, either. At one point the phone rang and Mal Evans picked it up.
"It's Sammy Davis Jr.," Mal announces, holding his hand over the telephone mouthpiece. "'E wants t' cum oop. 'E's in th'lobby."
"Tell 'im we're asleep!" Paul says.
To find out what happens next... Read Al Aronowitz's book "Bob Dylan And The Beatles, Volume One of the Best of the Blacklisted Journalist".
LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK!
the man who introduced Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan to the Beatles and
the Beatles to marijuana, Aronowitz---acclaimed as the "Godfather of rock
journalism"---has been known to boast: "The '60s wouldn't have been
the same without me."
NEXT: STRICTLY PERSONAL
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