Ivor Davis knows exactly where he was 50 years ago today – hanging out with the Beatles.
As the West Coast bureau chief for the London Daily Express, Davis was assigned to cover the first U.S. tour by the Fab Four that started with a performance at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on Aug. 19, 1964, and ended Sept. 20, 1964, at the Paramount Theater in New York.
From young women bargaining with him to get near John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Ringo Starr to the late night Monopoly games (where Lennon was known to cheat), Davis recounts his ticket to ride along with the band on that cross-country trek in his new book “The Beatles and Me On Tour” (Cockney Kid Publishing, $15.99).
Davis never planned to write a book on the experience.
“When you are a reporter on a daily paper, you do a story and then you forget about it. That’s what happened for years and years,” Davis says. “I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but I would go to a dinner party, and people would find out that I toured with the Beatles, and they wanted to talk about it.”
In the book, he talks about the 34 days where he had unrestricted access to the lads from Liverpool. He was there when the Beatles couldn’t leave their hotel rooms because of the rabid fans outside. He watched when slot machines were placed in their rooms in Las Vegas because they couldn’t go into a casino without causing a riot. Davis was there when Bob Dylan introduced the band to pot.
Davis also spent a lot of time ghostwriting for Harrison, who gave a first-person account of what was happening on tour for a newspaper column in the Express. Things started poorly because Davis had a noon deadline and Harrison often didn’t get out of bed until 3 p.m.
“I made up the column the first week, and I wrote a lot of rubbish. Harrison finally told me that the column was (bad). I told him that if he woke up earlier and talked to me the column would get better. He did, and the column did get better,” Davis says.
The craziness started the moment the Beatles arrived in America. Davis recalls going to the Hilton Hotel and fighting his way through the mobs of fans who stayed outside all night.
Because Davis had a British accent, he would get asked by fans to help get them access to the Beatles.
“The most I ever did was help a few people get autographs. But I never kept any autographs for myself,” Davis says. “I was 24 at the time, and none of us had a sense of history about what the Beatles would become. None of them ever thought we would still be talking about them after 50 years.”
After the tour, Davis returned to covering news and entertainment. Along with interviewing the likes of Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Tom Cruise and Muhammad Ali, Davis was in the Ambassador Hotel the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated.
Today, Davis lives in Southern California and is working on two new books: one about movies and the other a true crime story.