By Nagsheen Nassif
Ever wondered what it would be like to be up front and center at a Beatles concert? Well, Nancy Cain, the Public Relations Director at AAA Michigan, was there when the Beatles first came to America 50 years ago. She also got to meet them, ask a question at a press conference, and write a story for the Associated Press – and she was only 14 at the time. I had the opportunity to interview her and she described her experience as “a thrill she will always remember.”
How did you have the opportunity to do something like this?
“The Beatles flew to Detroit on Sept. 6, 1964 as the 14th stop of their 1964 North American Tour. My dad, Charlie Cain, was a veteran Associated Press writer/editor with the Detroit Bureau. When he took the assignment to cover the Beatles’ first ever visit to Detroit- — at the famed Olympia Stadium — he suggested to the AP that it might be fun to have a teenage girl write about the experience first-hand as well. Of course, he had listened to my countless “it would be so great to meet the Beatles” comments for weeks. Thanks to my dad, I was lucky enough to be that teenage girl.”
What was the experience like?
“I can close my eyes even now — 50 years later — and I can still see the Beatles onstage. You couldn’t hear their music — all you could hear was one long loud scream that came up from the audience of mostly young teen girls … and they screamed throughout the entire concert. No one at Olympia Stadium had ever heard a louder, longer, happier, and more exuberant delighted scream than that one. I was exactly at the right moment in time for this concert. As a 14-year-old Detroiter, I was among the countless fans who loved the Beatles from the moment we heard their first records played on the radio and cheered their first American national TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.”
What was the most interesting part of this experience?
“My dad and I were right next to the stage, standing just a few feet from the Beatles. As singer Jackie DeShannon, who was the act before the Beatles, finished her last song, the crowd of some 15,000 teens began screaming louder and louder for the Beatles. By the time she left and the Beatles assembled on stage, all you hear was that one long scream of joy. Some of the young crowd rushed the stage for a closer look. They were hustled off by security guards as the Beatles played one hit song after another, smiling all the time. The crowd threw jelly beans at the stage — for some reason, this had become a popular way to pay homage to the Beatles. I scooped up lots of jelly beans — some that had actually bounced off one or another of the Beatles — and proudly gave them away to friends at school the following day.”
How would you describe the energy at this concert?
“This was a moment in time — girls screaming in joy, Beatles playing music that could barely be heard over the screams and applause, and the spotlights shining on the four musicians. Olympia Stadium almost shook to its foundation from the excitement. I have been to concerts since — but none can touch this for the pure joy and energy. I am certain everyone in that crowd shared the same feeling. This was historic — and the beginning of a new era in music. The Beatles were rock stars, and their fame only continued to grow. The concert was even better than anyone could have imagined.”
Did you have a chance to interview the Beatles after the concert?
“After the concert, we were hustled backstage for a brief news conference. I was lucky enough to stand right behind the Beatles, closest to Ringo. He shook my hand. Questions flew from reporters who had quickly assembled. I had my reporter’s notebook and pen in hand, ready to take notes. As one of the youngest people in that room, several Beatles smiled at me and said hello, I smiled and said hello back. I asked how the Beatles like Detroit—someone else asked the same question. I remembered the questions and answers — and wrote a story for the AP.”
Have you ever sat in on a news conference before?
“This was my first news conference. As a reporter and public relations director, I have attended or organized many news conferences — but none quite like this brief exchange –almost banter — between the Beatles and media on hand. When the Beatles left the room, everyone stood around for a few moments, almost in awe and some just smiling. What a great assignment!”
What was the drive home like for you and your father after this concert?
“As my dad and I drove home, we both commented simultaneously that we couldn’t hear very well… we were still slightly deaf from the screaming crowd. A security guard told us the same thing — he thought he lost his hearing; it was a day unlike any other at Olympia Stadium. Our ears rang for several days.”
Who was your favorite Beatle and song?
“At the time, Paul McCartney was my favorite Beatle — but over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate all of them for their extraordinary talent. That day at Olympia Stadium, one of my favorite Beatle song was “I want to hold your hand,” but today, it’s hard to pick a favorite — the Beatles have contributed so much that it is hard to single out a favorite. One of my favorites is “The Long and Winding Road.”
“The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A GRAMMY® Salute”
Nancy definitely had a once in a lifetime experience but you can enjoy a little “Beatle mania” of your own by tuning into “The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute to the Beatles” on February 9 at 8pm on CBS62. It will feature legendary artists such as Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, Maroon 5, Dave Stewart, John Mayer, Keith Urban, and many more that will all be covering famous Beatles songs from “The Long and Winding Road” to “Let it Be.”
Not only will this night feature these great performances, but it will also show historic moments from the Beatles 1st appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show which took place exactly 50 years ago on February 9, 1964.
Nagsheen Nassif is a graduate senior at Wayne State University studying Media Arts and Studies. She is currently interning at CBS62/CW50 Detroit and is excited to see what the future holds! She has been very involved with Wayne State University’s communications department as she worked on various productions as well as hosted a full season of Metro Arts Detroit.