Patricia's interview with Gary James at
Patricia Gallo-Stenman has a unique perspective of The Beatles. She saw The Beatles in concert three times, including their appearance at Shea Stadium in 1966. And, there's more! She chronicles her story in the book, Diary Of A Beatlemaniac (Cynren Press)
Q - Patti, when did you first hear about The Beatles? Was it after you saw them perform on The Ed Sullivan Show or did you hear about them before that?
A - Actually, if I really want to think back, and I think I put this in my book, I saw them on a small snippet of The Jack Parr Show, which was before Christmas in 1963. I didn't think much of it because I just saw it quickly and I was like fourteen. But then, right after Christmas, it was like a Sunday magazine in our newspaper, like Parade magazine, they had a little article about this new group in England and a black and white picture of girls screaming. I thought, gee, that's interesting. I still didn't think much of it. I put it in the back of my mind. The big thing was WVIG, the radio station started playing Beatle music a little bit before The Ed Sullivan Show. I actually knew about them enough from the little magazine article, from the radio to go our and purchase, right before they appeared on Ed Sullivan, their album at the A&P supermarket. It was "Meet The Beatles". Then the big crowning moment of course was The Ed Sullivan Show where everybody sat down and watched them in black and white. All of us girls chose our favorites.
Q - And who was your favorite Beatle?
A - My favorite Beatle from February '64 until today is Sir Paul McCartney.
Q - I'm a John fan.
A - Yes, John was amazing. People will sit down and they have their dying devotion to each Beatle. I have a girlfriend who wrote a book and she's from outside of Philadelphia and she's a good friend of mine now and she's a die-hard George fan. She had a fan club for George. Everybody had one. The funny thing about us fourteen, fifteen year old girls is that nobody had any more than one favorite Beatle. And it was always one. I had a girlfriend who wore a lot of rings and her favorite was Ringo. What happened in those days when you're fourteen or fifteen; it was eons away from teenagers today. You would take on the characteristics of that Beatle. So, a Ringo fan would wear lots of rings. A John fan would start wearing a John Lennon cap. A Paul McCartney fan, I took left-handed guitar lessons. I was left-handed anyway and that was exciting for me. So, we all had our kind of quirks because we loved them so much we took their characteristics. I actually started writing my P like the P in Paul's signature and is still to this day.
Q - You did take it to the extreme!
A - You gotta figure out we were the originals. I call us vintage fans. We were fourteen and fifteen. So, we did all this kind of stuff. In fact, one of the main things I want people to take from my book, which is what Beatlemania really did, is I get so tired of looking at the old movie clips of girls screaming at concerts because that's not really what we did. We did a lot of other stuff that was so much fun and so interesting, like sacrificing a clay doll of Jane Asher when she got engaged to Paul McCartney. I mean, we did all kinds of stuff at fourteen, fifteen. I think the stereotype of the screaming fan, tearing her hair out at a concert, has got to be put on the side because we, us original Beatle fans, first generation Beatle fans at fourteen, fifteen, did a lot of other stuff.
Q - When The Beatles came to Philadelphia in 1964, you tried to get a newspaper reporter to give you his press pass. I take it he didn't give it to you.
A - What happened is, it's a little different story. I was so excited about it, I actually called my local newspaper, which was just a weekly newspaper in the neighborhood, and I asked the editor there, "I'm a big Beatle fan," 'cause it was September. "Can you give me a press pass so I can get into their press performance?" The biggest thing you could do as a Beatles fan would be to get into a press conference. So, the editor, who was a wonderful lady, said to me, "This is such a small newspaper. We don't have press passes, but you sound pretty interesting. Do you want to write a column for us for teenagers?" That is actually how my journalism career started at age fourteen and a half. My girlfriend, Diane and I wrote and kind of alternated sometimes, we wrote a weekly, every two weeks, a teen column. We actually covered The Beatle concerts, The Beach Boy concerts, fashion, what teenagers wore, what we were listening to on the radio, movies. So, it was actually a slice of teenage life and culture back in the '60s. When I wrote my book, I had all my columns in a scrapbook, I used a lot of the column, journals for reviews of the concert and culture. That's the story behind the press pass, but I actually did get into a Dave Clark Five press conference. I sat in the first row. Somebody tried to throw me out of the first row, me and my girlfriend, and we almost had a fist fight with them. It was very interesting. (laughs)
Q - You're talking another press guy tried to throw you out?
A - Yeah. It was a bigger newspaper. We were just covering for this little newspaper. I don't even know how we got a press pass to get in there to this day, but me and my girlfriend Diane got in there, sat in the first row and somebody loudly complained, "Young girls in the first row. They're not press people," and we just held our ground and I got great pictures of the guys. I asked them some incredible questions and it got into our weekly column.
Q - But you never got into a Beatles press conference?
A - No. In fact, The Beatles had a press conference. I only know the one in '64, in September when they were at Convention Hall. I have a picture I used on my Power Point. Somebody gave it to me. It's actually the city of Philadelphia photo of the mayor of Philadelphia, the Police Commissioner, the disc jockey, Hy Lit, all standing in back of The Beatles at the press conference, but of course I never got into that. I had tickets to get into the concert.
Q - If memory serves me right, The Beatles played Convention Hall in Atlantic City. Is that what you're talking about?
A - No. The Atlantic City Beatles concert I think was a couple of days before the one in Philadelphia. In fact, they came from Atlantic City or that area in New Jersey in a truck to Philadelphia Convention Hall. Convention Hall in Philadelphia was a closed building. It was used for different kinds of conventions, for graduation ceremonies. Actually, it was pretty old-fashion. What they did was put rows of wooden chairs on the down side 'cause they played basketball there. It was a flat surface, so they put rows of wooden chairs. They were like three wooden chairs that were connected with one another. Most of us girls had seats downstairs. Then the rest of it was like balcony area. The sad part of it was we didn't see them. We didn't hear them in '64. We stood on our chairs to be able to see them at Convention Hall. Because these chairs weren't fastened to the ground, a lot of these chairs fell over and a lot of the girls got hurt, including my girlfriend who cut her leg pretty badly on a chair. That was typical in those days. It was early Beatlemania, before they started playing in sports stadiums and had thousands and thousands of people. I saw them later on, twice more in stadiums including Shea Stadium in '66.
Q - Twice in Philadelphia then once in New York?
A - Yeah. I saw them September 2nd, '64 in Convention Hall in Philadelphia. I didn't seem them in '65. For what reason I do not know why I didn't go to Shea. In '66 I saw them on August 16th. That was in Philadelphia again and that was at JFK Stadium. That was a football stadium. It was in the Summer. It was warm. You could hear them because they had the big, loud speakers on. Then one week later my girlfriends and I took the Amtrak train up to Shea Stadium and we saw them at Shea on August 23rd, '66. So, I saw them three times. I still have my tickets.
Q - Tickets were probably around $5.00 or 5.50?
A - Yeah, $5.50. With taxes that was just about what it was. Of course, that was a lot of money back then for a ticket.
Q - You're saying then that you were able to hear The Beatles at two of the three concerts or at all three concerts?
A - No. The first concert was inside Convention Hall in Philadelphia. There was so much screaming and so many girls fainting on chairs and bad acoustics and a bad system, you couldn't hear them. You just couldn't. But the other concerts that were in the stadiums, they had a lot of loud speakers I guess they used for ball games. So, they actually had better sound systems. They weren't great sound systems like they have today, but at least you could hear them. The girls were not screaming as much in those 1966 concerts as they were in 1964. It was a really big venue. You could hear them. They didn't sing many songs. I think it was eight, nine songs in those days, ten songs. It wasn't many. They had a lot of other groups that were on before them. So, it was a lot different than a McCartney concert or Ringo concert today.
Q - I've read there were quite a few empty seats at that '66 concert. Is that true?
A - Yeah. Up at the top there were empty seats, not at the bottom or in the middle. It was a big stadium. I don't know why there were (empty seats). I think there were people who were turned off because of what John had said about we're bigger than Jesus. It wasn't a fully packed stadium, but there were a lot of people. It was very humid that evening and there were a lot of people carrying posters and banners. I remember that. One thing I remember so much is the humidity, (laughs) and trying to get in and out of that place, which was interesting. It was an outdoor venue so there was a big difference.
Q - When you and your girlfriends would go to these Beatle concerts, you weren't screaming, were you?
A - I wasn't a screamer. Never was. I remember the first concert at Philadelphia Convention Hall. My Dad must've picked us up or we took a trolley car home because somehow my Dad took a picture of me and my Mom at home when I got home and I see my face is red, which means I look like I had been crying, but I don't remember. I was fourteen and a half. I can't remember what I ate yesterday. In this picture my face is a little swollen and red. So maybe I was very overcome, but I think I was overcome because I didn't see them or hear them the way I wanted to. It was very dark in there and everybody was standing in the seats and people were falling over. I think that's what caused my emotion more than my frenzy for The Beatles.
Q - You never did get to meet The Beatles or see them up close, did you?
A - No, only in my dreams and also I was one degree away from The Beatles because I had a fan club with my girl friend for Victor Spinetti. Victor was a friend from '64 when he came to Philadelphia in the autumn, pre-Broadway with Oh What A Lovely War. The girls, the Beatle fans would go up to the theatre in Philadelphia after school and hang there and wait for him. So, we were part of that group. I had written him a fan letter to the Bellevue Stafford Hotel where he was staying when they were on try-out for Oh What A Lovely War. Anyway, we got to meet him. We loved him. Our little group of girls started a fan club for him because in those days what teenagers did for everybody was start fan clubs, whether it was Annette Funicello, The Beatles. We all started fan clubs. So, I started a fan club with my girlfriend Diana. I was co-President and Victor became a pen pal. He became a long distance friend for us and he sent us things from The Beatles. At that point he had made A Hard Day's Night and we all knew it. In the beginning of '65, after he left Broadway, he won a Tony on Broadway in '65 for Oh What A Lovely War, but he had the lead because The Beatles asked him to be in their second movie, which at that time was called Beatles Two and it turned out to be Help! So, Victor was on location with them, first in the Bahamas and then in the Alps. Then they filmed inside shots in Twickenham Studios in London. At each place he sent us memorabilia of The Beatles, which made us one degree away from them. I have in my bank security box, all four Beatle autographs on the back of the plane menu, the plane that they flew from, I don't know whether it was New York to the Bahamas, but it was called The Beatles Bahamas Special. Victor was on the plane with the whole crew that were going to film in the Bahamas. Victor had them all sign on the back of the menu with their autographs. A few were in pencil. A few were in pen. Victor wrote on the inside cover, "Now going to film Beatles Two. Look on the back page for the lads autographs or signatures." I have that in my safe deposit box. They filmed there and then they went to the Alps. When they got to the Alps I was one degree away from them because my mother wrote to Victor. We all knew Victor. He was the sweetest man in the world. My Mom said, "Patti's going to have her sixteenth birthday. Can you send something special?" Well, Victor did. He got Paul to write his autograph on an Austrian postcard. It says, "To Patti. Happy Birthday. Luv Paul McCartney." And then the best thing in the world is when they got to the studios in London, their hairdresser cut Paul's hair and I actually have a lock of Paul's hair.
Q - You have the ultimate Beatles collection then.
A - I have this standing joke that I can clone Paul now. (laughs) And it's also in my safe deposit box. That's only come out once in many years because I was on TV with Good Morning Texas with my book and they wanted me to take some special memorabilia with me and I took it out of the safe deposit box and I showed it on television and put it right back. So, I have Paul's autograph, Paul's hair and all four autographs on the menu. He sent us other things too. He was so kind to his fans, not because he sent us things. I interviewed him many times. I interviewed him for the little column we had, a couple of years before he died when he was at the Beatles Fest in New York. I said to him, "How come you were so nice to all of us when we were kids?" He said, "I know how it feels to be a fan. I was such a fan when I was a teenager of Marlene Dietrich and other actors. I know how it feels to long for someone" And that was very sweet. So, I was friends with Victor up until the very end when he died in 2012 in Wales.
Q - You said earlier as true Beatles fans you would each have a favorite Beatle and try to imitate that Beatle in some way. What else were you and your girlfriends doing?
A - What we did back then at fourteen and a half is we were going to dress up as chambermaids and try to get into The Warwick Hotel where we thought they were going to be staying in '64. I made up a big plan. I typed up the whole plan for me and my girlfriends, what we were going to so. So, this is the kind of stuff Beatlemanicas did. We just didn't sit there and scream. We did a lot of crazy little things like that. I wrote letters. I'd just like to say that my book, which is published by a Philadelphia publisher called Cynren Press, published me on October 9th, which is John Lennon's birthday, last year (2018). The book is compiled from a diary I had. I was thirteen and I started keeping a little diary and then by the time fourteen rolled around and The Beatles came around, some of the diary was about The Beatles. Not just growing up, but The Beatles. The book is compiled from the diary. I kept scrapbooks and a lot of snapshots and concert reviews that I put into that teenage column. There are so many books out there and there are interviews with fans in some books, but because I was a young journalist at fourteen, I wrote everything down. It's pretty well documented what we did as Beatlemaniacs and how we lived. And I think that was needed. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has picked up the book for their library. It's in their archives now because it part of fandom. It's fan literature in a way.
Q - As much of a Beatles fan as I am, you're an even bigger fan.
A - The thing is, I was called a First Generation, but I like to call it Vintage Fan. When I think of how old we really are, it scares the heck out of me. (laughs) It keeps you going. With music you really never grow old. If you look at Ringo, if you look at Paul, they haven't grown old.
Official Website: DiaryOfABeatlemaniac.com
© Gary James. All rights reserved.
An interview with Patricia Gallo-Stenman on https://readingandlitresources.blogspot.com/2018/04/an-interview-with-author-patricia-gallo.html
April 12, 2018
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired to write by the world around me. Reality. History. A great story. Raw emotions. Perhaps this originates from my decades-long discipline as a journalist. I am a 100 percent non-fiction writer.
What do we need to know about your book?
What do we need to know about my book? The same as what we need to know about our own children. First, you struggle to conceive and give birth – and then do your utmost to nurture. Finally, they cleverly surprise you when they are launched into the world. In short, Diary of a Beatlemaniac was compiled from my own diary, newspaper columns, original photos. Best of all, the memoir offers a true glimpse of the ‘60s from a vintage teenager who lived and loved it.
Please describe your writing process.
I usually approach the writing process with much trepidation. I tiptoe into it. Although if something truly inspires me, I will scribble it down quickly on any available scrap of paper. I edit and revise and edit and revise until it feels comfortable and right to me. Diary of a Beatlemaniac was mainly drafted in two-hour intervals on my frequent train trips between Helsinki and Turku, Finland.
What are you reading now?
Currently I am reading The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport.
What are you writing now?
I am not writing at present but am in the research stage. It is a family chronicle based on the 1925 murder of my maternal grandfather in Philadelphia. It features that raw-emotion element coupled with young love, an immigrant family, a dark secret, revenge, and, sadly, murder by gunshot and the assailant’s escape.
Who are your favorite authors?
In alphabetical order: Charlotte Bronte, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, Stephen King, James Michener, Vilhelm Moberg, and Kay Thompson.
Patricia's January 4, 2018 appearance on “Good Morning Texas” TV show to discuss Diary Of A Beatlemaniac and show her memorabilia:
Patricia's May 29, 2019 interview with Bob Wilson in Beatles Magazine:
Copyright © 2020 Patricia Gallo-Stenman - All Rights Reserved.