In the summer of 1964, journalist Ivor Davis was invited to write about the Beatles’ tour of America. Now, 50 years on, he has published a book recalling his month travelling with the fab foursome and talks to Suzanne Baum about what exactly went on behind the scenes.
As a 25-year-old journalist, he couldn’t have landed himself a better assignment. The chance to tour with The Beatles was a lifetime opportunity for Ivor Davis who had just taken over as foreign correspondent on the London Daily Express.
“My editor called and said, “The Beatles are coming to America and I want you to fly to San Francisco where they’ve just arrived,” recalled Davis, who was born in Hackney. “Cover them, eat, drink and hang out with them.”
One of the few journalists who accompanied the band on that tour, Davis attended every concert, flew with the boys on their chartered plane and stayed with them in their hotels. He got to know everything about the band and now half a century on has revealed all in a new book titled The Beatles and Me.
“People ask me why it has taken me so long to write this book,” explained Davis from his California-home. “I just never got round to it as after I moved to America in the sixties I was busy covering some of the major trials in US history and doing showbiz interviews.
“However, over the years people were fascinated by tales of my travels with the Beatles, so I finally got off my backside and wrote it.”
Davis, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family and brought up in East London, got to know John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr intimately.
“As the band got used to me being around, they were a lot friendlier and we kind of became companions in arms. Although I could get out, they were prisoners in the hotels. They had to talk to somebody, and I was around.”
In the book, 76-year-old Davis describes how the band coped with a revolving door of women who would literally throw themselves at the boys.
“I had never been to a rock concert before I got the job,” Davis told me. “I thought the insanity of the Beatles concerts was the norm. I couldn’t hear a word of what they were singing then–because the girls screamed from start to finish.”
Did he have a favourite in the band?
“John was brilliant; he always had something funny to say. He sometimes spoke without thinking and it landed him in hot water. Paul was friendly, the Big schmoozer who knew how to deal with us–the traveling press–and the public.
“I found George a bit sullen at first because he was not comfortable with fame…but learned to get used to it.
“Ringo was the new boy on the block because he was hired to take over from the fired drummer Pete Best. By the time the first American tour ended in September l964, Ringo had become a star.”
In the book, Davis writes about his friendship with the ‘Fifth Beatle’ Brian Samuel Epstein, manager of the band.
“We bonded on that trip, because both of us were Jewish. During the tour he asked me to arrange for him to attend Yom Kippur services when we were travelling with the Beatles in New Orleans in l964.”
His new found fame as an author has taken Davis by complete surprise.
“I am stunned by the number of people who want to tell me how the Beatles affected their lives. Strangers want to have their picture taken with me just because I touched the Beatles.”