Musician recalls opening for Beatles in 1964

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Jelly beans flew onto the stage, thrown by the crowd.

The girls screamed the whole time, and when the Beatles sang a high note while bobbing their heads and “mop-tops,” the screaming got louder.

“It was something to behold,” Beach says.

(The Briarwood Singers and the Beatles performed a second concert that night to similar fanfare.)

The Beatles were the first rock ‘n’ roll band ever to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Classical music aficionados had greeted the Beatles with picket signs, but the hundreds of fans waiting to catch a glimpse of them sufficiently blocked the protesters from view.

The Briarwood Singers were the first musicians to arrive at the venue, and were greeted by the waiting fans, not as uproariously as the Beatles would be welcomed, but still politely. The Briarwoods waved as they passed and entered Carnegie Hall.

When the Beatles arrived, the police (more than 360 policemen worked the event) held the screaming fans back.

Once inside, Beach briefly met John Lennon. They shook hands as Beach was introduced. Lennon’s accent got in the way.

“And he (Lennon) said something - I have no idea what he said,” Beach says. “It almost sounded like, ‘Good to meet another American.’”

After the concert, the Briarwood Singers watched the Beatles get ushered out through a police line and into a limo.

“And that was it,” Beach says. “They were gone.”

A review in Variety the following day mentioned the Briarwood Singers, Beach says.

“It said, ‘The Briarwood Singers handled themselves admirably, regardless of the circumstances, and they did well,’” Beach paraphrased.

(A Jan. 31, 2004, article in the Observer headlined “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” recapped the performance saying, “Sharing the stage with the Beatles were the somewhat-overlooked group The Briarwoods.”)

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