published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

City Beat: Beatles worth every bit of the hype

Fifty years ago tomorrow, The Beatles landed at the newly named JFK International Airport in New York. You may have heard about it.

I was a couple of months old at the time, so I don't have any memories of the landing or the band's appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" two days later. I do, however, have a lifetime of memories that are in some direct way tied to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Seeing Sir Paul McCartney live at last year's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is easily my favorite concert. Our paper was one of just a handful of news agencies from around the world selected to photograph the show, which meant I got to stand elbow to elbow with the big boys, which was another thrill altogether.

But the fact that I was even there in the first place can be directly traced to McCartney himself. Coming home from the very first Bonnaroo, I told my wife, "This event reminds me of why I got into journalism." Specifically, I got into it to cover music and concerts in part because I love music but can't play the radio.

After Macca's show last year, I repeated those thoughts to some friends and then added, "McCartney and The Beatles are the reason I got into music."

I wrote papers in high school and college about The Beatles. I own posters, books, records, CDs, DVDs, dolls and who knows what else related to them. At Christmas, it's always a safe bet to buy something Beatles for one of my brothers, partly because they will like it but also because I can borrow it.

Obviously, I am not unique in this, as evidenced by the 90,000-plus fans ages 8 to 88 who stood in that field in Manchester, Tenn., and sang every word to every song. Or the attention being given to the band this last month.

I used to get my nose out of joint when someone tried to argue that The Beatles were overhyped and that some other band is/was better. I once had a young reporter, who had made it clear that he knew little of the band and hated what he did know of them, who asked if he could write record reviews for us. I half-jokingly told him no because he had no point of reference.

"That's exactly right," said Black Jacket Symphony founder and chief organizer J. Willoughby. His group does full-on live versions of classic albums.

"I was the same way for awhile, but then I realized everyone was always comparing some other band to them. It's always The Beatles."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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