University of Rochester

Rochester Review
January–February 2014
Vol. 76, No. 3

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IN PERSON ‘Meet’ the Beatles “There are lots of neat things about my life, but when I tell people about this, their mouths drop,” says an alumna about her chance to be part of a historic musical moment. By Amy Zimmerman Freese ’71
fea_beatles_sideHERE & THERE: David ’68 and Amy Zimmerman Freese ’71 still sing the occasional Beatles song (“Here, There, and Everywhere” is Amy’s favorite) five decades after Amy saw the band as a high schooler on the Ed Sullivan Show (below). (Photo: Michael Perez/AP Images for Rochester Review)

My girlfriend’s dad was president of an advertising agency, and some of his clients advertised on the Ed Sullivan Show. He got tickets for us and our boyfriends. We were beyond excited.

We all got dressed up, and at 14 years old, without a chaperone, we took the train from Westport, Conn., to New York City, got off at Grand Central Station, and got ourselves to the theater. We felt very grown up.

I didn’t know who went to the Ed Sullivan Show on a regular basis, but that night, it was all kids. I remember standing in line outside. We weren’t sure we knew what to expect, but we knew it was important.

fea_beatles_side (Photo: AP Images)

We had really good seats; in the 10th row left of center. The set was blue and gray. Ed Sullivan came out before the show and said, “If you kids can’t behave, I’m not going to bring the band out.” I can still hear his voice in my head. He said this was the Beatles’ first appearance in the United States, and then the curtain opened, and there they were.

It was like the sun was shining behind them. Everyone was standing up and screaming and crying. It was pandemonium. We wanted to hear the music but you couldn’t hear a drumbeat, a guitar, or anything. We just saw them playing and swinging their hair. They were certainly groomed. Oh, my God, they were so cute. Especially Paul. It’s funny, I specifically remember that we did not scream, but my friend remembers that we got caught up in the moment.

We did feel like we were at the beginning of something special, that something cataclysmic was coming, though we couldn’t define it at the time. I don’t remember the trip home. I don’t even remember leaving the theater.

It was one of those defining moments of my life. There are lots of neat things about my life, but when I tell people about this, their mouths drop. It’s like being there when man discovered fire.

It’s not just that I grew up when the Beatles were popular or that I have every one of their albums (and an extra copy of the White Album, which has never been opened). It’s that after that show, things were different. I was there when an era started.

—As told to Robin L. Flanigan

Amy Zimmerman ’71 met David Freese ’68 on campus when she was auditioning for the a cappella group, the Tritones. David, a member of the YellowJackets, accompanied her on guitar for her first solo: Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” They dated and, of course, sang Beatles songs together. They got married in 1970. Today, Amy is a director of technology for a law firm and David is a professional photographer and photography professor in Philadelphia, where they live.