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‘Ed Sullivan’ staffer recalls stint as honorary Beatle

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Vince Calandra had never even held a guitar before. But, even back in February of 1964, he had a pretty good sense that he shouldn’t drop this one. Calandra, a self-described “street kid from Brooklyn,” had worked his way up on “The Ed Sullivan Show” from mail boy, to cue card holder for guest stars like Buddy Holly, to stage producer. A coincidence of clothing led to his brief brush with fame that day, though.

The Beatles arrived at the studio on Saturday for rehearsal the day before their big American debut on Feb. 9, but George Harrison was laid up at the Plaza Hotel with strep throat. The band’s road manager, Neil Aspinall, was standing in for rehearsal. Before it got started, manager Brian Epstein rushed over to send him back to the hotel to deal with crises. Harrison’s sister, Louise, who’d been taking care of him, couldn’t get past security back into the hotel (“You and about 1,000 other women have come here and told us they’re George Harrison’s sister,” Calandra recalls them saying); plus, the band was in danger of being booted out of the Plaza due the mob scene of teenagers forming outside. Calandra, in matching dark suit and tie, was the next closest thing to a Beatle nearby. It wasn’t his normal duds, but he had dressed up for theater plans that night. They put a moptop wig on his head, gave him Harrison’s guitar and told him to stand near Paul McCartney.

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Source: NY Post

Photo Credit: SOFA Entertainment/CBS

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