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Fifty-nine years ago this summer, The Beatles and Bob Dylan met for the first time and smoked a joint together
Al Aronowitz reads at a Beat Generation conference at NYU, 1984
Photo by Frank Beacham
Fifty-nine years ago this summer, The Beatles and Bob Dylan met for the first time and smoked a joint together.
The Beatles had just played a concert in Queens on August 28, 1964. Later, at the Delmonico Hotel in Manhattan, they met Bob Dylan, who was introduced by a friend, a reporter named Al Aronowitz.
It was on this day that the Beatles were first introduced to marijuana by Dylan and Aronowitz, who had brought along the joint.
Dylan had assumed The Beatles were well acquainted with the drug, after mishearing the lyrics to “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” He mistakenly thought the line went “… and when I touch you I get high, I get high … ” instead of “I can’t hide, I can’t hide.”
Years later, Aronowitz, who became a personal friend, told me the story and I didn’t believe him — that is until I checked it out and found it to be true.
I tell this, because today Aronowitz would have been 94 years old. He died of cancer in Elizabeth, New Jersey on August 1, 2005 at the age of 77. Aronowitz, to put it lightly, was quite a character.
He was the original manager of The Velvet Underground, getting the band their first gig at a high school auditorium. The Velvet Underground stole Aronowitz's tape recorder and dumped him weeks later when they met Andy Warhol.
Aronowitz also claimed that Dylan wrote the song, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” while staying in his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. That I could never prove.
Back in the 1980s, Aronowitz and I bonded when we began exploring the internet for our work. I got there first, and Al was impressed since he was a technophobe. He wrote this about me in his “The Blacklisted Journalist” column and published it on the net in the mid-1980s:
“I have found a spiritual brother in my journalism-in-exile. By putting his writings on the internet, Frank is doing the same thing I'm doing: addressing the future. In other words, talking to posterity.
I write my pieces as if I'm addressing a friend of mine in cyberspace a thousand years from now. But in Frank, I feel I've found a friend of mine in cyberspace RIGHT NOW! Writing in cyberspace is not the same as chiseling it in stone, but I think stone erodes more easily. I try to write stuff that's going to last and I think Frank does, too,” Al wrote.
“Therefore, it is with great pride and pleasure that I sneak myself the honor of featuring Frank Beacham's page as a pre-eminent link to my own. That's because, in reading his (material), I immediately felt his mind to be linked to my own. In that one essay, Frank Beacham saw things exactly the way I see 'em. Reading only one essay, I immediately felt my brain connected to his brain...it took me only one of his essays to persuade me that Frank's one of my men.”