Warwick, Debbie Rich from Rhode Island remembers it like it was yesterday. Friends phoned at 6 a.m. on a scorching Sunday in July 1965 to say they had heard his name called on the now defunct Providence 1290 WICE radio station.
This meant she had 12 minutes and 90 seconds to call the station to qualify for tickets to see. The Beatles live in new york Shea Stadium the next month. Rich met the deadline and won the tickets. The rest is history.
Sid Bernstein introduces the Beatles on August 15, 1965, the first stadium show took place, bringing over 55,000 fans to Shea Stadium. It was the highest grossing show for the Fab Four or anyone else up to that point. It was one of the record books.
Rich was just 12 when she and 19 other contest winners and three WICE DJs, acting as attendants, boarded a bus for New York. Due to her young age, Rich’s parents had to agree to let her go on a trip.
“They had no idea what they were giving permission for,” she said.
Rich recalled that the scene at Shea was pure chaos.
“It was just like what you see in the movies. Girls were crying and fainting, others jumping over the outfield fence and running across the field,” she said. “I saw someone get hit by a car in the parking lot.”
Rich remembers bringing a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder to Shea Stadium to record the show, “but all I got was screams!” she said.
Rich said winning the tickets to see the Beatles sparked interest in broadcasting. A resident of Warwick, Rhode Island, Deb Rich is a member of the Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Famemember of the Film Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), and appeared in several films.
Rich’s favorite Beatle is the late George Harrison. She has Harrison’s autograph, having met him at an event in Providence. Rich’s favorite Beatles song is “here comes the sun“, and his favorite album is rubber core. Like many fans of that era, “The Beatles wrote the soundtrack to my life,” she said.
Although August 15, 1965 was the only time Rich would see the Beatles perform as a group, she would see individual band members perform over the years, including the Harrison tribute to Royal Albert Hall in London in 2002 with Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton.
Paul McCartney appears at Fenway Park in Boston on June 7 and Ringo Star June 12 to Providence Center for the Performing Arts. You can bet Deb Rich will be at both shows with a heart full of Beatles memories and a mother at home waiting to hear all the details.
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