In the mid-1960s, Larry Kane was a young, straight-arrow radio news guy who lucked into what had to be the greatest assignment in the history of rock: flying from show to show with The Beatles. Ron Howard's new documentary, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, follows the band through their early years on tour. It also features Kane, the reporter who got to ride along when The Beatles traveled through the U.S. in 1964.
Kane was 21 years old and working as a reporter in Florida when he requested an interview with The Beatles and received an unexpectedly generous reply.
"I got a letter back from Brian Epstein, their manager, inviting me on the entire tour, and I didn't know what to do," Kane says. "So I went to my bosses and I said, 'We've got the war in Vietnam escalating, we've got racial tensions exploding across America. Why would I want to travel with a band that will be here in October and gone in December?' Like the hula hoop and the yo-yo, you know?"
But he eventually came around to the idea, and Kane's mother had a feeling the assignment was historic. "Oh, she said, 'These guys are gonna be big,'" he says.
His father, however, was skeptical. "When I left to go on the trip, my dad said to me, 'Larry, watch your back, they are a menace to society,'" Kane says.
Kane received near total access to the Fab Four while on tour, which meant that he, like the band, was exposed to mishaps in crowd control — in Denver, while he was acting as a decoy, eager fans climbed on top of the car he rode in and forced its ceiling downwards. It also meant that Kane was in The Beatles' hotel room in Miami when they decided they would refuse to perform at the Gator Bowl, which was segregated at the time, unless the venue's promoters agreed they would play to an integrated audience.
The Beatles played their last concert on tour in 1966, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. By that time, Larry Kane, who'd almost said no to traveling with them, had learned a dazzling lesson about seizing the moment.
Kane shared these and other stories in a conversation with NPR's Renee Montagne. Hear the full interview at the audio link above.