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The Beatles and Me On Tour is a fab way to join the lads back in the U.S., circa 1964

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British reporter Ivor Davis was with The Beatles from start to stop on their 1964 U.S. tour, which landed in Dallas on Sept. 18th.

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Fifty years and four Beatles ago today, they made Dallas the scheduled last stop on their very first U.S. tour.

John Lennon very much wanted to visit the JFK assassination site, Ivor Davis writes in his new book The Beatles and Me On Tour.

“Let’s take a quick look at the scene of the crime,” Lennon is quoted as saying. But The Beatles’ controlling, ill-fated manager, Brian Epstein, would not relent. So The Beatles remained sequestered at the Cabana Motor Hotel before they took the stage on the night of Sept. 18, 1964 at the Dallas Memorial Coliseum.

“The more John demanded to see the assassination site, the more Brian pushed back, insisting: ‘It’s a bloody waste of time,’ “ Davis says in the book. “He also knew that the Dallas promoter was not keen to show off the location of such infamy following an incident that was still so raw in everyone’s mind. More to the point, he worried that The Beatles showing up at Dealey Plaza on the eve of their live appearance would produce negative publicity for the upcoming concert -- not to mention being a security headache.”

Epstein won out -- as he almost always did -- telling Lennon, “They say there’s nothing to see, just a decrepit office building and a lawn.”

Davis, a longtime colleague on the semi-annual Television Critics Association “press tours” in California, found himself in a position to hear all of this firsthand. As a Los Angeles-based correspondent for London’s Daily Express, he was assigned to cover The Beatles’ landmark 1964 U.S. tour from its Aug. 18th start in San Francisco to a tacked-on benefit concert for cerebral palsy on Sept. 20th in New York.

The book says he was the “only daily news reporter” to cover that tour in its entirety. Davis also ghost-wrote a column for George Harrison, who initially balked at contributing anything but later warmed to the task.

“I was there when they popped pills and talked candidly about their passions and the things and people that they disliked,” Davis writes. “When they told war stories; when they moaned about the lousy sound systems and the crappy merchandise sold at stadiums, about their fear of flying and about how they coped with the revolving door of women that was the inevitable result of their perch as global sex symbols.”

One is tempted to bow in his presence. The term “journey” is used ad nauseam in today’s “reality competition” shows. But this was a real trip, with Davis on the inside looking in. As experiences of a lifetime go, it’s off the charts.

Davis writes bluntly, sometimes cheekily, and always entertainingly. Whatever the concert venue, he usually took a beating from the jelly beans thrown toward the stage after Harrison had expressed a fondness for jelly babies, not the harder shelled variation.

During the inaugural concert at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, “most missed their human targets -- though more than a few clattered like hailstones onto Ringo’s drums,” Davis remembers. “Others fell far short, stinging my ears and hitting my head like sharp pellets. I crouched low in my seat, pulled my jacket over my head and grabbed a newspaper as a kind of makeshift shield.”

The book has a wealth of such anecdotes, but they’re for the reader to discover. And although Davis rode shotgun from start to finish on the 1964 U.S. tour, his most incredible experience came in the following year. He was among a very small handful of insiders who witnessed the one and only meeting between The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

It happened on the night of Aug. 27, 1965 during The Beatles’ stay in L.A. for two concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. Davis got a spur of the moment invitation, but with the proviso that no photographers or tape recorders would be allowed. Presley’s authoritarian manager, Col. Tom Parker, informed Epstein that “if any press shows up, he’ll cancel.”

Their venue was Presley’s one-story pad at 565 Perugia Way in Bel-Air. “The living room was furnished in what I would describe as Vegas Overdone,” Davis writes in the book. “Heavy, overstuffed chairs and faux antique tables that would have looked at home in a medieval castle.”

After some awkward small talk, Paul McCartney became mesmerized with Presley’s remote-controlled television. It prompted the host to take action. “At last he stood up, took the remote out of Paul’s hand, and drawled with mock severity, ‘If you guys are gonna just sit around, I’m goin’ to bed.’ “ Davis writes. “Everyone laughed, and Elvis’ demeanor visibly eased: ‘Didn’t you guys show up to jam?’ he asked.”

Which they did while Davis marveled: “Right here in the living room, the hottest pop musical talents in the world were jamming like a garage band.”

The Beatles and Me On Tour is more than a cherry atop all the books devoted to John, Paul, George and Ringo. It’s a unique, one of a kind rewind through the eyes of an accomplished correspondent who finally was coaxed into telling his story. And believe me, it’s one for the books.

You can order The Beatles and Me On Tour via ivordavisbeatles.com. Or you can check out an old-school bookstore.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net