Past Times

Beatlemania hit Raleigh

teresa.leonard@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2014 

Under the heading “Boppers Beg Barbers for Beatle Bobs,” Raleigh Times writer Lawrence Maddry explained Beatlemania’s effect on Raleigh after the group’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago this week.

The Beatles have bugged Raleigh in a hairy kind of way.

Britain’s rock ‘n’ roll singers with the ragmop hair styles and “yeah, yeah” music are driving the teenagers wild in Washington, D. C. And the vibrations from the craze are jolting Raleigh.

A lady from Zebulon walked into the Hudson-Belk Beauty Salon yesterday, asked for a Beatle haircut . . . and got one. At least four downtown department stores have ordered Beatle wigs, expected to arrive by this weekend. Local barbers are trying to decide on the Beatle haircut for men, and the Beatles’ record albums are getting as scarce as GI haircuts.

The four boys in the tight gray suits and chesterfield collars with electric guitars have started something in Raleigh. Mrs. Mary Frances Curtis of Zebulon thinks it’s for the best.

As far as is known, she’s the first woman to get a Beatle haircut in the city. “I think the Beatles are real cute,” she said after her haircut yesterday.

Mrs. Curtis explained that her husband had been anxious for her to wear a hairstyle on her forehead. “He’s satisfied now,” she explained.

She likes the hair style because it doesn’t need much attention – “I haven’t combed my hair since yesterday” – and because it’s warm – “I came right out in the wind this morning and wasn’t cold a bit.”

Although Mrs. Curtis has found comfort in her new hair style, Beatle haircuts for men are a problem according to one Raleigh barber.

Barber Roy J. Smith at the Cameron Village Barber Shop capsuled the problem this way: “Most boys just don’t have enough hair.”

Smith wouldn’t give his own opinion of the Beatle haircut. He did say it resembled the shear worn by “one of those Three Stooges, I can’t remember his name.”

Less ambitious followers of wild-haired warblers can solve their hair problems with a wig. The Beatle wig comes in brown, blond or black and has been described by observers as “resembling the after-end of a sheep worn on the head.”

Although Beatles boosters appear to be in the majority, there are dissenters.

Anti-Beatlites – those who cannot understand why other people are crazy about Beatles – are joining ranks and urging action. Their latest suggestion: Yul Brynner haircuts and DDT.

To Beatle or not to Beatle, that is the question. The Raleigh Times 2/12/1964

On the 25th anniversary of that Ed Sullivan appearance, N&O writer Debbie Moose looked back with some who shared their experiences.

Things would never be the same.

“It totally changed everybody, no matter who you were,” says Jeff McKee, morning announcer for WTRG-FM.

He was a 13-year-old growing up in New York when he saw the Beatles arrive in the United States on the evening news the Friday before the show.

“My parents were going, ‘What are they getting so excited about?’ and I don’t think I really knew,” he says. “But I held my breath from Friday ‘til Sunday.…”

But parents just don’t understand. When the big night finally came, Mr. McKee’s father wanted to watch something else.

“My mom came to my rescue. She said ‘Lenny, the boy’s been talking about this all weekend.’ So my dad just folded him arms,” he says. “I remember it vividly. They superimposed their names on the screen, Paul, George, and Ringo, and the for John, they added ‘Sorry, girls, he’s married.…’”

It was the beginning of Beatlemania for (Leslie) Jones.

“I don’t think I really got caught up in it until I got back to school the next day,” she says. “My fourth-grade teacher at Fred Olds, Miss Hearndon, told us they were just doing it for the money, and I was just incensed.”

She raked yards to earn money for Beatles albums. She got in cafeteria arguments about who was the cutest Beatle (she favored John). A couple of years later, she bought tickets for herself and a friend to a closed-circuit broadcast of a Beatles concert: “We screamed at the TV screen”

The broadcast inspired Mr. McKee to get a Beatles wig, cultivate a British accent and tell girls that he was Paul’s cousin.

When Nelson Whitley saw the broadcast, he didn’t think it was time yet to say roll over, Beethoven. He was watching with fraternity brothers at the University of Georgia.

“We were glued to the set because we had heard about the Beatles. But for people like us, who were into folk music, at that time the Beatles were a joke. We just laughed like crazy…

“We knew how fads were. We had participated in enough of them. We looked at Ringo and said, these guys, you’ll never hear from them six months from now.” The N&O 2/9/1989

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