Beatles on Sullivan Changed My Life for 50 Years


An Appreciation by a First-Generation Fan who’s Touched the Dream

The Beatles' arrival in New York City, Feb. 7, 1964We’ve heard lots of famous and not-so-famous first-generation American Baby Boomers talk about how seeing The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964 changed their lives.

In the ensuing half-century, through a combination of desire, dumb luck and opportunism, this then-12 1/2-year-old fan has had the great fortune to work on a handful of Beatles-related projects. They allowed me to express my love for the band in myriad ways.

Looking back, I consider myself incredibly lucky The Beatles thread weaves throughout the tapestry of my life.

How Did The Beatles Change My Life? Let Me Recount the Ways

Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire"If the reader doesn’t mind indulging me, I’ll recount the ways seeing The Beatles on Sullivan changed my life, after rewinding a few years for quick context.

Seeing Jerry Lee Lewis kick over the piano bench on “American Bandstand” in 1958 got me into rock ‘n’ roll, and all the Sun guys, from Elvis to Johnny Cash to Carl Perkins to Roy Orbison. My very first non-kid single was “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee, on Sun.

Watching Joe Morello play drums with the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the University of Miami in 1959 got me into jazz and playing drums. It started with a single upended pot and two wooden spoons. By age 12 it was private jazz lessons, school band lessons, and play-along-with-Top-40-and-R&B-radio-and-records lessons.

The Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" album coverIn ’63, The Beach Boys’ “Surfing USA” album was a huge influence on my rock drumming. It turned out to be Wrecking Crew legend Hal Blaine on drums, not Dennis Wilson (I got to meet and interview Blaine in 1996, but that’s another movie entirely).

But seeing The Beatles on Sullivan in ’64 sealed my fate. Music had to be my life, somehow, some way, either playing it or writing about it, which I also loved to do. So I just kept playing, listening, reading, writing, going to concerts, and sponging up everything I could about the music and the people who made it. In May 1968, lifelong pal Charlie Mallicote and I saw Hendrix at the Miami Pop festival at Gulfstream Park.

A Morning After on the ‘Lost Weekend’ with Ringo, Lennon and Richard Harris

It only took my family’s move to Los Angeles that June 1968 to get me into the right place, and a few more years to be the right time.

In the early ’70s I was living with my folks in West L.A.; Dad was working on his second Master’s degree at UCLA; Mom was an exec secretary for Dart Industries in Hollywood and painting pet portraits by commission; my sister was attending junior high school in WLA. I was a liberal arts student at Santa Monica College and working part-time as an apprentice locksmith for a shop in the heart of West Hollywood.

The owner, Bob Turner, a terrific guy, gruff, heart of gold, also ran a TV shop in the same building on Santa Monica Boulevard, a few blocks east of the Troubadour and Dan Tana’s.  One morning, there were no lock calls, and I spoke English, so Bob sent me along with a couple of his Latino TV guys to deliver and hook up a couple of rental sets at a private beach house in Santa Monica.

The address was 625 Ocean Ave., as I recall, right on Pacific Coast Highway. We got there about noon. The other two guys carried a console; I carried a portable up to the door and rang the bell.

Ringo Starr opened the door. I could see the ocean behind him, out the beachfront windows. He wore a terry robe, and shades with plastic ups on the sides to keep all the light out. I heard someone playing a piano in the house but couldn’t make out the tune.

I did my best to keep cool, make it just like any other house call.

“We have the TV’s you called for. Where would you like the console to go?” I asked.

“Ah, fook it, you can put the big one over there,” Ringo said, pointing to the living room. The guys set it down there and began to hook it up.

“How about this one?” I asked, still hefting the portable.

“Upstairs, first door on the left,” Ringo said.

I walked a few feet to the bottom of the stairway, from which point of view I could see John Lennon sitting at a piano in a front room. His back was toward me. It sounded like he was just noodling around, not writing anything I recognized then (or later). I was transfixed and didn’t dare interrupt.

Ringo turned his attention from the other guys back to me, and jerked his thumb toward upstairs, as if to say, “Get moving.”

Upstairs, first door on the left, a couple was asleep on the bed, covered only by a sheet. I put the set down, went downstairs and asked Ringo whether I should disturb them.

“Ah, don’t worry about them,” he grinned. “They’ll  never know you were there.”

Back in the room, I tried to be as quiet as possible, putting the TV on a dresser and connecting the cable. I was close to wrapping it up when the guy rolled over in the sack. He opened his eyes — totally hung over — and attempted to focus on me.

It was Richard Harris, the actor.

He saw this stranger tinkering with his tube and mumbled something to the effect of, “What the f**k?”

“Your new TV. Ringo said it would be OK . I’ll be outta here in a minute,” I said. He grunted, rolled over again and went back to sleep. His bed mate never budged.

The other two TV guys and me were out the door soon after. They were Latino cats and had no idea who they’d just seen. On the way back to West Hollywood I did my best to explain what I knew about Lennon’s “Lost Weekend” at that point, which wasn’t much.

I don’t recall if this was before or after Lennon’s infamous sanitary napkin/Troubadour incident with Harry Nilsson, which happened just down the street from the shop. But I do recall after that happened, the neighborhood was abuzz about it. Even Bob knew about it, and he only knew about Beatles stuff because he had daughters my age.

“That f**kin’ Lennon — he’s crazy!” Bob and all the guys agreed, laughing and shaking their heads.

Later, I read somewhere that this was the same beach house where JFK and Marilyn Monroe supposedly rendezvoused.

‘Help Me,’ Joni Mitchell, Get Into the Biz

Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark" album coverIn late 1974, a lock service call came in from a management company up on Sunset, I think it was 9120. Some exec had locked herself out of an inner office.  The front desk receptionist directed me up a spiral staircase to the offending door. On the way up, I heard a song  by Joni Mitchell wafting from another office. As a Joni fan, I recognized the voice, but the material and production were new, and excellent. The song was “Help Me.”

I had the lock open in a few seconds but made it look like it took longer, just to hear more Joni. On my way out, the receptionist paid the bill. The check said Lookout Management. That was David Geffen’s company. I’d just heard a sneak preview of Joni’s as-yet-unreleased “Court and Spark” album. To this day, it’s my favorite, out of her entire catalog.

Steely Dan's "Countdown to Ecstacy" album coverI went home vowing to get into the business somehow.

My apartment in ’74 was on Iowa Avenue in West L.A., right behind the Purdue LAPD station, and Village Recorders, where Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac were regulars. I could never get into the studio, though; I was nobody. But just knowing my favorite early SD albums were recorded across the street was cool. I’d walk past the imposing front entrance on the way to eat at the smorgasbord joint on Santa Monica, by the NuArt Theater (“Rocky Horror” midnight showings forever).

I’d sit on the floor in my living room, meditating, projecting me sitting in an office like Lookout, imagining what it would be like to work in that kind of environment.

How I Broke into ‘The Biz’ as a Music Journalist

A few months later, I was on the same mission, but still hadn’t figured out how to make it happen. Then, by a ridiculously random stroke of luck, my locksmith boss handed me a call for an emergency job at an office at 6565 Sunset. Depending on the timing, the call could have gone to any of the shop’s three journeymen, but I got it.

At 6565, up on the fifth floor, IIRC, at the end of a hall was a set of double office doors. The lettering on the doors said “Cash Box.” I knew this was one of the three music trade magazines (Billboard and Record World the other two), and felt my heart starting to pound.

Opening the door, I was met with the chaotic sights and cacophonous sounds of a music trade magazine in production. Young people my age, many with hair as long as mine (down to the middle of my back, but neat and clean), were on phones, typing, listening to music, cutting up type, dummying pages, talking music.

Cashbox Magazine, 1975I flashed back to being an 11-12-year-old kid in Miami, when my parents would take me to work at The Miami News with them on weekends instead of hiring a babysitter, and learned lots how newspapers were produced from the inside. There was an unmistakable buzz, and smell. Cash Box took me back to that.

The office manager, Mel Albert, one of the owner’s sons, told me the job was to change the locks on the front office door.

Blessed with half a brain and a bit of experience, I knew office managers only did this after they’d fired someone they didn’t want back in the office.

Opportunity was not knocking; it was pounding on the door.

After completing the keying change, and presenting the bill to Mel, he whipped out a company checkbook and began writing out a check. This was my moment to pipe up, or forever wonder, “What if…?”

“I understand you have an opening for a writer, and I’d like to apply for the position,” I said, with a confident tone.

Mel, sitting behind his desk, scanned me up and down with lifted eyebrow. Long hair, industrial work shirt, tool belt, Levi’s, turquoise-and-silver belt buckle and sandstone-color suede Stewart boots.

“You’re a writer?” he asked, incredulously.

“Yes, both my parents were journalists and I love all kinds of music,” I grinned.

Mel squinted at me again, suspiciously, then called my bluff.

“Okay, I’ll set up a meeting with the editor. His name is David Budge. Be here 10 a.m. Monday. Be sure to bring your work samples,” he said.

“Great, I’ll be there,” I said, taking the check and giving Mel my contact info.

Staying cool until I was alone in the hallway, I started doing a happy dance, but aborted as I realized I had nothing published since a short story about a cat ran in The Miami News when I was 8.

All I had were copies of dozens of hand-written letters to friends back in Florida, full of what were essentially album reviews, concert reviews and other rock ‘n’ roll news we were sharing. I took some of those letters to the meeting with Budge and held my breath as he started reading.

He made some positive facial expressions. “This is pretty good,” he finally said. “Rough, but I can see you know what you’re writing about.”

I started breathing again. Budge and I hit it off, had many common musical interests and insights. The 15-minute interview lasted almost two hours, and I walked out of the office with a job offer: Associate Editor, $150 a week. After taxes, that’d net about $110.

Meanwhile, I was making about $500 a week as a locksmith, out of school, working full time and living on my own for a few years by then. I knew when Budge offered me the job I couldn’t live on that salary, but didn’t turn down the offer.

After much internal debate, I went over to my dad’s place in Culver City and told him about this awesome opportunity. After much discussion and condition-setting, he said, “OK, you can move back in with me.”

I didn’t know how my locksmith boss would take it, but Bob was incredibly supportive, and said, “If it doesn’t work out, you always have a job here.” Wow.

Two weeks later, I was in the biz and following the dream.

My first week, I wrote a radio column and dummied up the page it was on, including the ad. Dummying was something I had seen my dad and others do at The Miami News when I was a kid, but I had never actually done one myself. I never told.

My dummy was the cleanest the editor had ever seen. No extra lines of text, and the ad was sized perfectly (remember pica rulers?). So Budge “invited” me to the printing plant in Culver City to put the week’s issue to bed. Incredibly, the plant was walking distance from where Dad and I were living.

After that, I wound up working Tuesday nights with the proofreaders, proofing their corrections and tweaking pages. All stuff I’d learned from my folks, but had never done myself until that Cash box job.

David was an incredible mentor — savvy, firm, constructive.  He clued me in fast and helped me temper my “gee-whiz” enthusiasm into something more professional.  There were others in ’75, most notably Don Whittemore (RCA), Grelun Landon (RCA), Kyo Sharee and Bruce Garfield (Capitol) and Mike Harrison (Radio & Records).

My first Cash Box features were about two more heroes, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, just as the outlaw bit was blowing up, but before it got out of hand. I got to meet both in spring and summer ’75 and had some great times on the road with them (separately) over the next few years.

After almost a year at Cash Box, Mel Albert canned me (and a few other editors) for refusing to hit up artists to buy ads in the 1975 year-end editions of the mag.

Cash Box to L.A. Times & L.A. Weekly to the Capitol Records Tower

In 1976-1977, I was a successful freelance music journo, hot on California rock and Texas music, and continued developing a strong relationship with the PR people at Capitol Records.

When my mom became terminally ill in 1974, my dad (by then in a Ph.D program) left UCLA to care for her, and after she passed away, he decided to leave school and go back to work, landing a gig in the Travel Section at the L.A. Times.

In early ’76, when Robert Hilburn was the Times’ pop music editor, I went downtown to have lunch with Dad at the Times Building. It was completely unplanned, but Bob walked by my dad’s desk and my dad introduced us.

Bob asked me what my story was, and I told him: aspiring pop-rock-country music writer, a Cash Box refugee with principle, and available for functions. On the spot, Bob assigned me a Pop Album Brief on superstar country storyteller Tom T. Hall’s “Faster Horses” album.

My dad looked at me over the top of his glasses and smiled. What a moment.

When I turned in the review, Bob took the time to rip it part and show me how to reassemble it to his specs. I reviewed albums by the Marshall Tucker Band  and Jessi Colter after that, and both ran without him having to massage them very much.

I enlarged those 2″-square reviews up to 8 1/2″ x 11″ and put the pages in my portfolio, and my freelancing writing career really took off from there. I wrote for Circus, L.A. Weekly, Rocky Mountain Musical Express, Rock Around the World, Picking up the Tempo, Replay, Music Retailer, and others in those years.

How random is all that? I’m eternally grateful to both Bob and to my dad.

Finally, in October ’77, Capitol’s Creative Services VP Dan Davis called to offer me the editorial manager post in the Press & Artist Relations Dept. in the Tower, 9th Floor.

From a kid watching The Beatles on Sullivan to the Tower’s 9th Floor. I thought I’d died and gone to rock ‘n’ roll heaven.

The Rolling Stones' "Some Girls"Wings was hot, The Beatles were enjoying a big resurgence, Capitol was working the catalog, I got to write about them a lot (press releases, newsletters, discographies, etc.).

For most of the next three years, along with doing my editorial job, I also spent a lot of time hanging out in Capitol Studios on the ground floor, getting to know the producers like John Palladino and engineers like Jay Rannelucci. Mastering ace Wally Traugott used to let me be a fly on the wall in his little studio, watching and listening while he cut masters for Bob Seger and McCartney and Steve Miller.

The dubbing engineers on the second floor would also alert me when they were making copies of something hot to be shipped to labels overseas. I spent a lunch hour one day in ’78 listening to “Some Girls” by The Rolling Stones six weeks before it was released while a Capitol engineer dubbed a copy in real-time for EMI Japan. It was a great time to be there.

Stephen K. Peeples and Nadine at Capitol, 1979. Photo by Henry Diltz
Stephen K. Peeples and Nadine Martini at Capitol Records, 1979. Photo by Henry Diltz.

Meet the Future Wife: ‘Honey, Is That You?’

Also on the second floor was a break room with vending machines; I used to smoke cigarettes. There was a Dutch door from the break room into the telephone switchboard and teletype room. I’d see the operators through the door when I went to buy smokes. One day in spring 1978, I saw this really cute blonde chick and chatted her up.

She said her name was Nadine. I said, “Honey, is that you?” She was quite familiar with her namesake song by Chuck Berry. It was a real “Diner” moment.

Long story short, we hooked up, got engaged, lived in sin, and finally married in September 1981 (33-plus years now and stronger than ever).

Once again (tape loop): If I hadn’t seen The Beatles on “Sullivan” and taken the path I did, Nadine and I would never have met.

I can’t imagine life without my wife, and our two incredible now-grown kids, Scot and Veronica.

‘Beatles Rarities’

Gatefold inside of U.S. Beatles Rarities package, Capitol, 1980.
Gatefold inside of U.S. Beatles Rarities package, Capitol, 1980.

There were some management changes at Capitol and things got sketchy, so I accepted an offer from Elektra/Asylum in mid-1980, to do the same editorial gig for more money and with a budget for outside writers.

One of my last Capitol projects, though, was “Beatles Rarities.” I got to assist my immediate boss, Randall Davis, by serving as photo editor for the gatefold package of the U.S. version, a project he spearheaded. My name is in the credits.

After I’d exhumed a slide of the infamous “butcher” photo that originally graced Capitol’s “Yesterday…and Today” album in 1966, but was pulled back after major retailers bitched, Davis and I lobbied with the brass to use it on the cover of our “Rarities” package. This was 1980, after all.

The sales guys on the 8th floor checked with their accounts and came back with the word: It would still be a problem with big retailers.

“OK, then how about the inside left of the gatefold?” we asked.  At least we got that.

There’s an additional rarity about this package. There’s one run that shows the slide’s full frame, and you can see the teeth on the floor. On the other printing, no teeth. I have a copy of each. Which one do you have?

Don Zimmerman, Capitol president at the time, promised gold records to Randall and me if it sold more than 500,000.  I’d jump downstairs a floor to the 8th floor to check the daily sales readout to keep track of all the label’s hot records, so I’d have a “record scores gold” press release ready to drop.

“Rarities” got up to 450,000 before I left in mid-1980. It was soon out of print and never went gold. Capitol has not reissued it on CD, although I bought a bootleg version on eBay in January 2014 for less than $10. It was less than perfect. But somebody had to do it if Capitol won’t.

Records to Radio: ‘Broad Street,’ ‘Sometime in New York City’

Three years later, E/A’s parent company, Warner Communications, lost its ass on Atari, and started sniffing around at previously autonomous subsidiaries, like their record companies. As long as the record companies made big money, the parent left them alone. But 1982 was a bad year for E/A.  Eagles had broken up and Queen’s latest album, “Hot Space,” was a relative stiff. So the parent gutted E/A and moved what was left to the East Coast.

One of my last press releases was about Bob Krasnow taking over as E/A chairman, from Joe Smith. That’s like Atilla the Hun taking over for FDR.

A company meeting was called, and everyone filed into the conference room — what had once been Elektra Studios, where The Doors recorded. WC Chairman Steve Ross, Joe Smith and Bob Krasnow were at the front of the room. Smith wore a hospital wristband — the brass had actually pulled him out of the hospital to be there. PR VP Bryn Bridenthal and I stood near the front.

Ross went through a speech that informed everyone of he transition, and coming layoffs. He was less than warm and fuzzy about it, let’s just say.  The meeting broke up, the cloud of gloom enveloped 962 N. La Cienega. Bridenthal, Krasnow and I immediately retired to Joe Smith’s office. All this stuff was still there, including the portable typewriter he used in college, which he kept on his coffee table as a reminder of his roots; all th picture son the walls of him with famous people.

Krasnow sat behind Joe’s desk, put his feet up on the desk and sparked a stogie. I sweat=r to God. Bridenthal is my witness. He had a huge pinky ring. It was a diamond, if memory serves.

He pontificated about his plans for the label, which I dutifully recorded and included in the press release to the trades. By far it was the most unpleasant experience I had even had in more than six years of record company PR.

Soon I got the word I would be laid off. A week or so away, an interviewer pal from Westwood One named Steve Rosenthal came to the E/A office to interview somebody for some radio show. As usual, the artists was late, and as before in such cases, I invited him to hang out in my office.

“Dude, I’m outta here in a week — laid off, not moving to New York,” I told him when he asked how I was doing.

“Hey, WW1 is looking for a producer — you should contact this guy,” and gave me the name of the production VP, whose name will go unrecorded here.

Long story short, I did, and the Monday after my last Friday at E/A, I started at Westwood One. I had been in radio studios for years, but had not produced a program myself. Westwood saw it as an opportunity to mold me, and I said, mold away. They assigned me to another staff producer named Phil Hendrie as my mentor.

Let’s just say Hendrie was wonderful, very patient, and no-bullshit. And effing hilarious, all the time. One of my first assignments was the radio version of “The Playboy Advisor,” and POhil was the voice. He and engineer Bill Levy (Jim Ladd’s engineer on “Innerview,” Ladd fans) and I had many side-splitting sessions in the Studio B booth.

My primary show early on, though, was a short features program called “Earth News Radio,” a legendary counterculture news brand started in the late-’60s-early ’70s by Lew Irwin. WW1 purchased the show and syndicated it worldwide. It was my first assignment when WW1 hired me in early 1983.

I morphed “Earth News Radio” with host Joel Denver into an entertainment vehicle spotlighting music, books, film and TV. After  after a couple of years I’d had established relationships with all the major studios and done stories about their artists and acts. I got more screening passes than I could handle. If there was anything in the news about The Beatles or the individuals, I’d cover it. A huge ally was another WW1-affilited host-producer named Barret Hansen (better known as Dr. Demento), a Beatles collected who had just about everything.

Paul McCartney's "Give My Regards To Broad Street" movie posterThen in ’85 came one from 20th Century Fox for “Give My Regards to Broad Street,” Paul McCartney’s film, at a theater in Westwood Village, on the West Side near UCLA.

As the credits were rolling and the theater was still dark,  I spotted McCartney, wearing an iridescent suit, getting up from a seat near the lobby on the opposite side of the theatre from me, headed toward the front door. Like a stalker, I navigated up the aisle on my side of the building and timed my arrival up front perfectly so I’d be right behind Paul, as he stood on the street corner waiting for his car. I touched his jacket.

I’d been in the biz  several years by then, but still couldn’t muster up a “Hello!” or “Loved the film” (which would have been a lie). Later I felt like an idiot.

Finding ‘The Lost Lennon Tapes’

In 1986, I interviewed Yoko Ono on the phone and wrote/produced a 15-minute audio special. It was a pre-show leading into a national radio simulcast with Showtime of Lennon and Ono’s “Some Time in New York City” film, from their 1972 “One to One” benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden.

In late 1987, partly because the “NYC” pre-show went so well, with Yoko’s imprimatur, I landed the gig as the original writer/producer of “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series, heard worldwide on WW1 from early 1988 to mid-1990.

WW1 and Yoko had made a deal to produce a radio series based on John’s personal audio archives. It was the project of a lifetime. I knew that then and did my best in the first 128 hour-long shows. For almost two and a half years, without a break, I spent six and a half days a week listening to literally hundreds of hours of music and interviews, and handling cassette tapes and reel-ro-reel tapes with John’s personal notations on them.

I never met Lennon, but through this experience became intimately familiar with his art, craft and process, and delighted in sharing that with listeners. There was a lot of Lennon in “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” but also a lot of Beatles.

(After I left the series in mid-1990, exhausted by two and a half years of constant battles with a supervisor who hated me for some reason, a production assistant who never did his job right, and sales people who wanted to sell features within the show to sponsors — “This week’s “Double Fantasy” demo, brought to you by Dentyne” — WW1 assigned the series to another staff producer. Many of my segments were rehashed and WW1 produced another 90 shows, about which I know nothing and for which I take no responsibility, before pulling the plug.)

Those 128 hours represent a body of work that stand up. I still get emails and Facebook comments asking questions and raving about the series.

‘Boys & Girls’/’Real Love’ and ‘Imagine: John Lennon’

beatles-imagineConcurrent to the “LLT” production at WW1, Andrew Solt and his production team were going through the Lennons’ film archives, creating the documentary “Imagine: John Lennon.” They listened to the radio show and occasionally we’d swap content.

They provided me audio tracks of songs John performed on film (his priceless Buddy Holly covers from John and Yoko’s movie “Clock” circa late 1971-early 1972 would be an example).

In spring ’88 I featured a later version of a song that Lennon had begun writing as “Boys and Girls,” which evolved into “Real Love” as he laid down over multiple takes on his portable cassette recorder. Solt’s production guys heard one of these takes of “Real Love” on “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” and they decided to use it as the theme song for the film.

Yoko asked me to take John’s master cassette to Capitol Studios so they could make a digital copy of that take for the soundtrack.

After almost a decade, I was back in the same second-floor dubbing studios I’d haunted as a Capitol employee. In that time, everything had gone digital.

For my part in this, Solt gave me a special thanks in the movie’s end titles, and invited Nadine and me to the wrap party on a huge yacht in Marina del Rey, where we finally met Yoko in person.

Visiting Yoko at the Dakota

Stephen K. Peeples and Yoko Ono in Manhattan, 1989. Photo by Sam HavadtoyA year later, while I was in New York for a family reunion, Yoko invited me to spend a couple hours with her at the Dakota, chatting in the kitchen and the White Room. She told me she had heard nothing but good things about “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” and to keep up the good work.

She introduced me to her companion at the time, Sam Havadtoy, and writer David Sheff, a house guest at the Dakota while he worked on a project with Yoko. I was using a lot of Dave’s Playboy interview with Lennon in the radio series (it filled 33 cassettes). Yoko took a picture of me sitting at John’s piano; Sam took one of Yoko and me.

Leaving the Dakota, I went across the street to takes pictures of the “Imagine” mosaic in the nearby corner of Central Park dubbed “Strawberry Fields” by fans, and tried to wrap my head around  the whole experience.

Meeting Mark Lewisohn & Rick Shaw

Mark Lewisohn's "The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions"While preparing to launch “The Lost Lennon Tapes” in early 1988, Roger Scott, renowned Capital Radio DJ and WW1’s contact for talent interviews in London, introduced me to esteemed Beatles author and expert Mark Lewisohn.

Lewisohn’s “Beatles Live” book had been out a couple years, and his “The Beatles: Recording Sessions” was complete and about to be published. He had also worked with Ray Coleman on the latter’s excellent Lennon biography.

I was elated when Mark accepted my invitation to be my research consultant on “The Lost Lennon Tapes,” which was critical to its credibility. That began a personal and professional friendship that lasts to this day, as he carried on with the 50th anniversary hoopla in New York and Washington in February ’14.

In 1989, I also got to meet and interview WQAM legend Rick Shaw about “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and The Beatles’ visit to Miami for the second “Ed Sullivan” appearance on Feb. 16, 1964. He was very gracious and we had a blast. (The interview didn’t make it onto the air until 2014. Read on…)

‘Beatles, Etc.’ Radio Show on KHTS in Santa Clarita

In 2004, I produced and hosted a 13-week summer Beatles radio series on the local radio station, KHTS-AM 1220, with my then-18-year-old son Scot, a second generation Beatles fan, as associate producer. I wrote “Today in Beatles History” short features for the station and its website that year, and Lennon-related stories when I worked at the local fishwrap as a features writer and the online editor from 2004 through mid-2011.

SMark Lewisohn's "The Beatles: Tune In"taying Tuned in with Mark Lewisohn

In the last couple of years, for my own website at and “Peeples Place at KHTS” blog at, I’ve been following Lewisohn’s progress as he finished “Tune In,” the first volume of his epic three-part Beatles biography, finally published in late October 2013. (Read my review here.)

He was in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco promoting the book then, and invited me to moderate his slide shows of photos from the book at two L.A.-area in-store events hosted by Bloomingdale’s. It was great fun, and he was very pleased. Ruthie and my wife Nadine and I were able to spend some great one-to-one interview and quality personal time while Mark and his wife Anita were in in town.

Most recently, in late January, LARadioSessions producer Michael Stark invited me to guest on his “Never-Ending Beatles Special” webcast to share some of my recollections as a first-generation U.S. Beatles fan.

The two-hour show also included all five songs from Feb. 9’s Sullivan show, plus a couple of clips from my 1989 “Coming to America” “LLT” specials and a couple rare interview clips with Lewisohn and Shaw.

Once again, it all goes back to the Fab Four blowing my sister and me away on “Sullivan” 50 years ago Feb. 9, 1964.

So just as The Beatles’ path to stardom was a confluence of random events, circumstances, etc., so has been my professional life as a Beatles fan. Peripheral/fringe though my experiences may be, I still consider myself very lucky I got to touch the dream so many times.

Stephen K. Peeples was the original, award-winning producer of “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series for Westwood One from 1988-1990, and Mark Lewisohn was the series’ invaluable Research Consultant. Today, Peeples is a features writer for KHTS News ( and, and host, writer and co-producer of the weekly “House Blend” music and interview television show on SCVTV, community television for the Santa Clarita Valley. He also writes the “Peeples Place at KHTS” blog. A former SCV music and entertainment columnist for The Santa Clarita Valley Signal (2004-2011), Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992) and an award-winning online editor (The Signal website, 2007-2011). For more information, email skp (at) or visit

Article: Beatles on Sullivan Changed My Life for 50 Years
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
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Beatles on Sullivan Changed My Life for 50 Years