HARD DAY'S FRIGHT:
the ZACHERLEY/BEATLES connection
ZACHERLEY IN PEPPERLAND
by RICH SCRIVANI
They say (and we all know who "they" are) that there is only
six degrees of separation between ourselves and anyone we can conjure
up. For instance, think of any individual and we should only have to
make one or two connections to link us to that person through people we
already know. Some unlikely combinations can spring up when this theory
is applied, and I ran into one not ling ago - Zacherley and The Beatles!
A few weeks ago I was enjoying the new Varese Sarabande CD, "Adventures of Superman" (Music from the original 1950s TV series), nostalgically recalling practically every note, when up came a cue ("Spreading Misterioso") that seemed doubly familiar and I couldn’t figure out why. Then it clicked in - it was the music used in the background in the "Roland" segment featured in "The Zacherley Archives"! I quickly called Zach up and played it to him over the phone expecting him to remember it. He didn’t, of course, but he added a very interesting factoid: "You know who picked out all that music? It was none other than Richard Lester!" Lester, as everyone knows, was the director of the Beatles’ two films, A HARD DAYS NIGHT (1964) and HELP! (1965), as well as the antiwar film HOW I WON THE WAR (1967) featuring John Lennon. "He worked as the music director and was in charge of the music library at WCAU in the fifties," he continued. "He worked on the cowboy show ("Action in the Afternoon", where Zach’s casting in one episode as an undertaker gave birth to the more durable "Cool Ghoul" persona.) and also ‘Roland’. He was already talking about leaving and moving to England so he could move on to bigger things."
This spurred me on to ask him about a photo that surfaces now and then showing a meeting between him and Ringo Starr, in which Ringo looks delighted to be talking with our favorite horror host. "Oh, that was from a party, probably through WPLJ, for the release of his latest album". (Mr. Zacherle, as New York fans remember, enjoyed a lengthy stint as a disc jockey, first on WNEW-FM in the late '60s, then at WPLJ in the '70s.) "The interesting thing is that Ringo loved 'Dinner with Drac' and still knew all the words. The record as I've mentioned was banned in England, but he sure heard it. zhe said they all loved limericks in those days, and the song was really a collection of about five limericks". Outlawed in the British Isles because of lyrics that were considered "too gruesome" (how things have changed!) Ringo most likely heard it on one of the many pirate stations broadcasting offshore and outside the jurisdiction of the BBC. One of the most popular, "Radio Luxembourg", was mentioned more than once by the Beatles during early interviews with the American press.
So the next time "They" underestimate the impact of our favorite merchant of menace, remind them that our man Zach worked with the Fab Four's future film director when the were still in their teens, and that his hit record from 1958 reached the ears of a young Ringo Starr. Now that's an exciting six degrees of separation - Whatever you are!
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