Many people have tried to assert their claim over the illustrious 'fifth Beatle' title—George Martin, Neil Aspinall, Yoko Ono and even Apu from The Simpsons (in the "Lisa the Vegetarian" episode)—but only a few have had an "original" Beatle confirm it. Or at least say it, as all of the Beatles did for promo purposes on The Beatles American Tour with Ed Rudy and The Beatles New US Tour with Ed Rudy albums. Ed Rudy was well know in the radio business and working for Radio Pulsebeat News and INS Radio News when he was asked to cover the Beatles' first American tour for over 440 stations around the country. He was with them for the whole tour, from Kennedy Airport on Feb. 7, 1964, to Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall, Miami, the Plaza Hotel, the after hour parties, and right through the throngs of clothes-ripping fans.
After the tour, The Beatles American Tour with Ed Rudy, originally a broadcast documentary, was released. A second interview album, The Beatles New US Tour With Ed Rudy, was released after the second Beatles American Tour later that year. The radio documentary included audio of the Beatles, Ed Sullivan, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall and many late teen and early 20-something fans. Ed was young and working as a salesman for a cigarette company when he got his first taste for the world of broadcasting. He had an opportunity to do a commercial for a national radio show, and decided to give it a try. From then on out, he aimed to get into the business.
Ed Rudy's early work included “The Milkman” on “The Milkman's Matinee” before moving on to “Slim the Mailman” on Big Joe’s Happiness Exchange. As the host of the Pom Pom Café's show, “Ed Rudy at the Celebrity Table,” he had his first initial brushes with celebrity. As the host of the Pom Pom Cafe's show, "Ed Rudy at the Celebrity Table", he interviewed many luminaries of film, stage, screen, and politics.
"From broadcasting I got into doing news. I was an announcer and a disc jockey. I also had a syndicated show business column called the Ed Rudy Spotlight with Show Business newspaper. I was writing the column, working in radio and producing records when I was asked to cover the Beatles," said Ed in a recent interview with Beatles Number 9.
Though he didn't really know much about the Beatles prior to meeting them, he did enjoy rock and roll. "I produced quite a number of rock and roll records and hits. I did "Rocking in the Jungle" and "Babalu's Wedding Day" by the Eternals and "Who's That Knocking?" and "No More Knocking" by The Genies. I was very much into rock and roll," said Ed.
Some of his other hits include "Pretty Girl" and "Please Come Back" by the V-8s, "I'll Be Around" and "Love You, Pretty Baby" by Scott Murray and his Orchestra, and "Liverpool is Cool" and "Mary Lou" by the Liverpool Lads.
Ed was first introduced to Brian Epstein by a record promotions man.
"One day *Budd (Hellawell, see below) asked me to go with him to meet the manager of a 'really hot' new English recording group. We went over to a hotel on Park Avenue and he introduced me to Brian Epstein. That was in 1963 and Brian told us he had a group that was coming to this country called the Beatles. But I didn't pay too much attention to it at the time because I hadn't heard of them. He said they were going to be great. They were already a big success in England," recalled Ed.
Stations from all over the U.S. started contacting the news agency Ed worked for to request coverage of the Beatles first American tour. "So we sent out an audio billboard to the stations and 440 stations signed up for it."
Since Ed was not familiar with the Beatles, for him, his assignment "was just a job." He became very impressed with them, however, as time went on. "I wasn't really familiar with them or their music, so I was rather surprised when I went to the airport to meet them and saw the number of young people waiting for them to arrive. Apparently they were better known then I had realized," said Ed.
Ed traveled with them on their first and second tours, and was the only American reporter to complete both trips in their entirety. "So, certainly I became familiar with their music and we became quite friendly. They were all very friendly and very, very clever. Mostly John, of course, but all of them were very clever young men," Ed told Beatlesnumber. "And they pretty much fit into the molds that people gave them. John was, of course, the clever Beatle; he was absolutely the leader. Paul was the pretty Beatle, and he is a very, very handsome guy. George was kind of quiet and Ringo was the different Beatle. He was on his own to a great degree."
Ed went everywhere them, which meant he was also mobbed by people.
"It was an amazing experience being mobbed by kids wherever you went. It got to a point where I was mobbed even when the Beatles weren't with me because they knew who I was. We would also interview the kids, and include it in the Beatles coverage. We would ask them what they enjoyed about the Beatles, what they thought of their music. The mobbing was annoying though. I tried to resist reacting to it," said Ed. He also recalled another particularly interesting, and rather surreal, moment from his own personal glimpses into Beatlemania.
"I remember riding along with them in Miami. I was given a big station wagon by the news service, and I had the Beatles and another fellow who worked for the news service in the car. As we drove along, we turned on the radio—and of course, all you heard were Beatles songs—and they would sing along with them. That gives me a kick even today," recalled Ed.
The response was much more than the Beatles ever expected. "Beatlemania was a very, very unusual occurrence. Nothing like it had ever happened before in the history of the world. When the Beatles came here they changed the way people think of musical artists. They were just phenomenal, and the reaction to them was just phenomenal," Ed remembered.
The Beatles were a bit taken back by the attention. "I can still recall John saying that he was only Johnny Lennon from Liverpool. That it couldn't really last, but of course it did. They all said similar things, really. It was an amazing experience for all of them. And it would be for anybody—all of sudden, they were the most famous people in the world," said Ed. And Ed was backstage for it all.
Though Ed has had occasional contact with each of the Beatles throughout the years, it was John he saw most regularly. "I lived in New York City and the only Beatle that lived in New York City was John. I was in contact with John on a regular basis until he died," said Ed.
Ed has enjoyed a long career in the news and broadcasting business. "I wanted to try everything I could. The only thing I haven't done in broadcasting is sportscasting, and I really don't want to do that. Most anything that you can do in broadcasting, I've done."
Most recently, Ed put his booming radio voice to good use as the officiator at his granddaughter-producer Samantha Storr's wedding to actor Brad O'Connor last June 25. Ed Rudy received special permission to conduct the ceremony and hundreds of friends, relatives and well wishers were in attendance, including Brad's "The Naked Brothers Band" co-star Uma Thurman.
Digitally re-mastered CD versions of The Beatles American Tour with Ed Rudy and The Beatles New US Tour with Ed Rudy are available at http://www.edrudy.com.
* Budd Hellawell, who is still around, was a well known independent record promotion man. That entailed him going around to disc jockeys, radio program directors, etc. to try to get airplay for new recordings. He was hired by Brian Epstein to promote the Beatles recordings in New York prior to their first American Tour.
© Rachael Stillman, correspondent for Beatlesnumber9
WE PLAY 4 QUESTIONS WITH ED
#9: Play any instruments?
ED: NO, I don't play any musical instruments. As a young child, I took some lessons on the saxophone and clarinet but I never had much interest or talent as a musician.
#9: What Music do you Listen to:
ED: Beatle songs, of course, and other rock n roll golden oldies. My car radio is usually tuned to South Florida's WMXJ, Radio Majic, a golden oldy station that features Joe Johnson's nationally syndicated Westwood One "Beatle Brunch" and the WMXJ playlist consists of great rock n roll golden oldies.
#9: Do You Have an Interest in writing a book about experiences with The Beatles?
ED: I have been approached many times about doing a book on my experiences with The Beatles but have not yet done so. I did write a number of articles about the Beatles' Tours and a complete magazine "Teen Pix Album" way back in 1964.
#9: And 4, Your Favorite 60's bands?
ED: My favorite 60's bands were The Beatles, The Dave Clark 5, The Rolling Stones, The Genies, The Eternals, The V8's, The Sounds, Scott Murray Orchestra, Art Foster, The Liverpool Lads, Florabelle Singer, and many others. The reasons that I picked these are that I did recordings with all of them.
The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Dave Clark 5 were interview albums and the others were musical recordings.