Gary James' Interview With Barry Tashian of
In the Summer of 1966, it was the tour. We're speaking of course about The Beatles Tour of America. No one knew at the time that this would be the last tour for The Beatles. One of the supporting acts on The Beatles tour was an American group called The Remains.
Barry Tashian of The Remains has chronicled his time on tour with The Beatles in a new book titled Ticket To Ride: The Extradordinary Diary of The Beatles Last Tour , (Dowling Press, Inc.)
Barry talked with us about those days.
Q - Barry, how is the book doing sales wise? What are you doing to promote it?
A - The book's doing pretty well sales wise. I'm very pleased with how it's going to date. As far as the promotion goes, I've been doing a lot of interviews like this. I've also been doing a little TV, a little bit of traveling, some book signings in Borders Books, Barnes and Noble. I've been to several Beatlefests in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Meadowlands Hilton in New Jersey.
Q - Why did it take you so long to put something together?
A - I had really forgotten about the fact that my dad told me to keep a diary on the tour. I kept it in an attic box for years and years. It just so happened I was looking through some things and found this diary and decided I had to bring it out and show it to some friends. So, I did that and one of my friends is an English Professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She took a look at it and was fascinated and said, "You got a book here." I went to a dinner party several weeks after this and was seated across from a woman who actually attended one of those concerts on this tour. She was so full of memories and recollections and thrilled to share them with us all night long that I thought, if she has these memories, then there must be hundreds of thousand of other people who also went to see The Beatles live. That's when I decided to go ahead and pursue the project. I didn't have any idea that The Beatles Anthology would be coming out when I started the project. So, I guess the timing was good in that way.
Q - Have any of The Beatles read the book yet?
A - I can't say for sure, but I have sent copies of the book to George and Paul. As soon as I get an address for Ringo, I'd like to send him a copy.
Q - Why do you think your father, of all people, would've suggested you keep a journal of the tour?
A - Well, I guess he must've had some wisdom I didn't have at the time and thought it would be interesting. I don't know if he was thinking along the lines of something like a book many years later. I do remember that right after the tour he suggested I write a book about it. I was 21 years old and I was much too cool for that. I'm not gonna write a book about my travels with the Fab Four. I was too cool then. He must've had some wisdom and I'm really glad he asked me to keep a journal.
Q - Your first group was The Ramblers and you had a hit record with them when you were in the ninth grade! Was that a national or regional hit?
A - It was an instrumental hit called "Ramblin". It was on the Billboard National Charts. I'm not sure what number it got to. The manager of this group, Mike Borchetta, also lived in Westport, Connecticut where I came from. He got us on American Bandstand. I was with that band for a very short period of time.
Q - You joined The Remains while you were in college. Within 3 months, you had a record deal with Columbia. That's pretty fast isn't it?
A - I started The Remains in September '64 when I was in college and by Christmas we were recording for Columbia. That is fast and these days you probably wouldn't find that happening. All I can say is, it was good timing and I had good connections. One of the people at Boston University, in the dormitory with me, was Don Law Jr., who was the son of the famous CBS producer Don Law, who produced Johnny Cash and a lot of Country greats. He even produced Robert Johnson. His son has gone on to become a big time promoter in the Boston area.
Q - What was it like to be on The Ed Sullivan Show and do you remember what you were paid?
A - It was a new experience. We hadn't done that much television. I remember being pretty nervous and also that we couldn't play our normal high volume. They made us turn down our amps because their microphones couldn't take it. So, we thought we sounded pretty bad on there and were pretty embarrassed about it at the time. I have a tape of it and now when I see it, I think it just looks great. It doesn't seem that bad to me. Back then we were very self-critical. As far as being paid, I'm sure we were paid union scale, whatever that was at the time. That's what people who appeared on Ed Sullivan were paid, probably even Elvis Presley.
Q - Describe the mood of The Beatles during their 19 day tour of America.
A - Well, I'd say the mood was fairly different at different times on the tour. In the beginning there was a big uproar about the statement that John had made. Also, he had to face the American press in Chicago. At first, it was very tense in that regard. After that had kind of smoothed out, we were having a good time with them on tour. They seemed calm and seemed to be enjoying themselves, but working hard. I mean, it was a fast traveling tour. It was the biggest tour in the world at the time. We were in a different city every day. So it was a hardworking tour and there were a lot of logistical problems like getting in and out of cities and in and out of hotels and in and out of stadiums without The Beatles having any security problems. Then in Memphis, with the big cherry bomb incident, when that was over and we got out of Memphis, there was a visible relief. Earlier that day coming from Boston on the plane, there was kind of a heavy mood. But after that Memphis concert, things lightened.
Q - Was there a feeling in the air that maybe this was the last tour?
A - They were getting ready to go home and getting a little bit touchier and a little bit more tired. That's why they gave them a few days off in Los Angeles, I suppose. That rested them up for the Los Angeles and San Francisco shows. As far as being a feeling in the air, there was none that I picked up at all.
Q - Your manager John Kurland told you at one point that he didn't want you talking to The Beatles. "We should be above that", he said, "and not on the level of the fans." I don't understand what he was talking about. You didn't ask The Beatles for autographs or stare at them, did you?
A - That's a good question. Our manager had something in mind at that time that I think went above my head. I was very young and very intent on hanging out with these guys. I didn't ask for autographs or stare at them. I asked for an autograph the last day of the tour. But up until then I was just hanging with them. I think John Kurland thought if we adopted a more arrogant stance, it would win some kind of psychological battles for impressing people. That's my guess.
Q - You described a ruckus that was going on outside of the Cleveland Stadium on August 14th, 1966. What exactly was going on and why didn't you stay to see The Beatles on stage that night?
A - That was the concert where they had the fans cross over onto the field and go up and surround the stage. I've heard anywhere from 25,000 fans did this. The Beatles had to retreat to a trailer behind the stage for 30 minutes. Maybe it had something to do with that. What I remember is, there was some police cars with the flashing lights outside the stadium. I seem to remember some people were getting arrested. Maybe people were trying to sneak into the show. We had what we considered a bad show and I wanted to get out of there and back to my hotel. That's when we had this band meeting where we were making all these decisions. At that age, you're jumping to conclusions all the time.
Q - What was your impression of Brian Epstein?
A - He was very well dressed, a dapper, very much a gentleman. He was always very well mannered. Very kind and considerate. I thought he was reaily a nice fellow.
Q - Why couldn't you and The Remains have gone on to bigger and better things?
A - I dissolved the group 3 days after the tour was over. That's what was standing in our way. Psychologically, it was a very down time. After 18 days of airplanes, limousines, and all these crowds and being with The Beatles, suddenly it was all over. I felt rather bereft, just as Judith Sims (writer) talks about. I felt that The Remains were kind of finished for some reason. I was just at that point both creatively and from a productive standpoint, that I had just had it with the band. We had lost our original drummer before we went on tour and I didn't think it was the same band or would ever be the same band. Plus, I saw the difference between The Beatles and The Remains. I had no business really comparing them because you don't do that. But, like I said, I was 21 and I really didn't have that much experience. I was thinking whatever should have happened when we tour with The Beatles should've happened by now and here we are at the end of the tour and nothing happened, so that's it. Throw in the towel. You know, not a every smart business move at all. Many times I've wondered what if, but that's kind of a waste of time. We may have gone on and done something big, but maybe not. What happened had to happen the way it did 31 years ago. For that reason, I don't really questions it too much. I'm grateful, I'm still in the music business. My wife and I have our fifth album out on Rounder Records. It's called "Harmony". We have a busy career songwriting and out playing gigs and touring around the States, Europe and Australia. During the 80's I was with Emmylou Harris for ten years and had a great time there and learned a lot about the music business and touring. I got to see the world. I almost forgot, there's a new Remains album coming out on Sundazed Records called "A Session with the Remains". It's a live set from 1965 and sounds great! It also contains some out-takes from our Epic stuff. It's out on CD and vinyl.