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Media: December 2020

| November 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Ron Britain

2020 was a rough year everywhere, but we lost some of our all-time greatest broadcasters in Chicago. Television greats like Sheldon Cooper (WGN-TV general manager), Lee Phillip Bell (The Lee Phillip Show), Bob Petty (Channel 7/ABC anchor/reporter), Dick Johnson (anchor at Channel 5/NBC), Jerry Taft (longtime Channel 7/ABC weatherman), and Joel Daly (iconic Channel 7/ABC anchorman) passed away. We also lost two of the most important radio voices in Chicago history, Clark Weber (WLS, WCFL, WIND) and Ron Britain (WCFL, WIND, WJMK).

I write this column because the people who work in this crazy business have some of the greatest stories, and I’m determined to make sure those stories live on. Of the greats that passed this year, I was lucky enough to interview three of them. As it turns out, all three had stories about meeting the Beatles during their heyday. As you read their Beatles stories, imagine the spark and twinkle in their eyes as their audience (me) sits spellbound listening.

Clark Weber passed away in March, at the age of 89. I interviewed him in 2010, and he told me about the day the Beatles played at Comiskey Park.

“Capitol Records threw a luncheon that afternoon for WLS and the Beatles at the Saddle & Cycle Club on Lake Shore Drive. A good friend of mine, Jim Feeley, was dating a model named Winkie, and I invited them to come along. Well, Winkie showed up in a two-piece tennis outfit, and she looked incredible. I sat her next to George Harrison, and his eyes almost popped out of his head. She made nice with him for a little while, and George really thought she would be staying with him all day. When Winkie got up to leave a few minutes later to go to a modeling audition, George was wounded. ‘You’re not going anywhere,’ he said. Winkie replied: ‘Oh yeah? Well, watch me.’ Later that night, Feeley called me and asked if she could come to the concert, and I said—‘You’re really pushing it’, but I did get her in. So, flash forward twenty years later. A photographer from the Sun-Times called me up to say he had a photograph he wanted me to see. It was the Beatles on stage at Comiskey Park. I’m standing to the side of the stage, and so is Winkie, and George Harrison is on stage looking right at Winkie, giving her the dirtiest look imaginable. Winkie later married a pro football player, moved down to Texas, and had five kids, but George never got near her.”

Ron Britain passed away in October at the age of 86. I interviewed him in 2008, and he shared this story about the Beatles.

“I did a few shows with the Beatles and hung out with them a few times. I introduced them on stage. After the show, I was looking for something of theirs to sell—remember they were selling everything they touched in those days—even the sheets they slept on, so I went on stage and thanked the audience for coming out…and I saw that Ringo had left his drumsticks on the stage. I put them in my pocket and gave them away on the air the next night. Hanging out with them was a strange experience. When you were with them, it was like being in prison. They had a whole floor in the hotel, and security was everywhere. One time I talked to Ringo for about three hours about pirate radio in England, which we both thought was very cool. I also told him that I called everybody ‘Tulu’ and asked if he would say ‘Hi Tulu Baby’ on tape for me. He wouldn’t do it because he said it was too commercial. So I asked John, and he said ‘Sure.’ Well, after John agreed, they all did, and they went in their usual pecking order; John, Paul, George, and then Ringo agreed too.”

Joel Daly passed away in October at the age of 86. My publishing company, Eckhartz Press, published his memoir in 2014. It included this story about meeting the Beatles when he was still working in Cleveland.

“I went to Public Square after the 11:00 News to watch the screaming crowd, awaiting the group’s arrival at the Sheraton Cleveland Hotel. Somehow another reporter and I got swept up by the security detail guarding the rear entrance and wound up in the Beatles’ suite. I spent most of the night in casual conversation with the Fab Four. I didn’t realize until years later what a big deal it was! The Beatles were on the last stop of a month-long tour and were bone-tired. Acknowledging the groupies who besieged them everywhere they went, Ringo complained: ‘My ‘peter’ hurts.’ While I was there, a young boy hid in a packing case being delivered; another tried to get into the Kon Tiki bar, pretending to have a reservation; and another pretended to faint outside, only to request that she be given first aid inside the hotel. Later, the Beatles were spirited by the police to the Public Auditorium for their show. During the third song (“All My Loving”), about a hundred fans stormed the stage. Police stopped the show and forced the Beatles to take refuge in their trailer. When peace was restored, it became a ‘Long Day’s Night.’”

Clark, Ron, and Joel may be gone, but their stories will live on forever. May they and the other greats who passed away in 2020 rest in peace.

-Rick Kaempfer

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Category: Columns, Media, Monthly

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