February 9, 2014 | Malcolm Johnstone
West Chester, PA — Fifty years ago an eleven-year-old me sat with my family in front of a black-and-white TV and watched The Beatles perform for the first time in America on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was hooked, dreamt about it all night, then woke up knowing I would become a guitar player.
So my dad gave me his Sears & Roebuck guitar and my mom bought me guitar lessons. I was on my way.
Some ten years later I found myself studying the finer points of classical guitar with Michael Lorimer in Berkeley, California, while attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During one of our teacher/students sessions, a discussion about Karlheinz Stockhausen was brought up. The advant-garde composer was favored at the conservatory and championed by The Beatles (Revolution #9 from the White Album would be typical of his work). Turns out that Lorimer was friends with Stockhausen and demonstrated this by coming up with a hand-written note Stockhausen had written to Lorimer about an item long ago forgotten.
With a smile, Lorimer said: look on the back. It was a telegram from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Beatles were planning a performance of a final Beatles concert and asked if Stockhausen would be willing to be the opening act. Two phone numbers were provided.
We don’t know how Stockhausen replied or if he even did, but we do know that the telegram ended up in a pile of scrap paper rather than in a scrap book, and reasonable speculation could be made that there had been at least some discussion about a concert by The Beatles far more formal than the rooftop gig in January, 1969 — their last public performance together.
I don’t know if the telegram still exists or not, but its cool to think we got a momentary glimpse into the lives of the Fab Four.
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