Ron Riley recalls time with Beatles
(WJLA) - On February 11, 1964, the wave of Beatlemania washed ashore in Washington, D.C. as a sold-out crowd nearly took over the roof of the old Uline Arena.
It was mania and mayhem, as huge crowds followed the fab four everywhere while they travelled through America.
In the early 1960’s, former Newschannel 8 forecaster Ron Riley was a young disc jockey working the night shift at WLS radio in Chicago – a station that broadcast to 45 states at night. Riley was one of the first DJ’s to play Beatles records in the states.
“I had a source at a factory in England who would put them on a Brittish Airways flight, and I would go out to O'Hare field and i would put them on the air," he said.
As the Beatles made their way from D.C. to the Midwest, Riley was one of only two media members allowed to actually accompany the group. He says he found them down-to-earth, charming, and very funny:
“They were all over the place, up and down the aisles smoking cigarettes, having a good time, enjoying people..."
And when they came to Chicago, Riley introduced the Beatles to a sold-out crowd of 40,000 at the old Comiskey Park.
“The noise. The sound. People didn't care the words they were singing, they just wanted to scream," he described.
Although 50 years later, most of the screaming has stopped, for many fans the passion and love for the Beatles are still very much alive.