Larry Kane may not be a contender for the “fifth Beatle,” but he’s a mighty figure in Fab Four-dom all the same. The longtime reporter and news anchor — currently the host of “Voice of Reason” on Comcast out of Philadelphia — has the distinction of being the only broadcast journalist John, Paul, George and Ringo allowed to travel with them on every stop of their tours in 1964 and 1965. He stayed in touch with them afterwards, and wrote the book “When They Were Boys: The True Story of The Beatles’ Rise to the Top” in 2013.
Kane is among the most prominent talking heads in “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years,” a new documentary by Ron Howard that, true to its title, only covers the period of their hectic live schedule — a period so hectic indeed that, in 1966, they called a stop to touring so they could solely create music in the studio.
Kane talks to us about his history with them and the one song he might have helped massage into shape.
How did you get The Beatles to trust you?
Very easily. Most of the other reporters, the adult reporters really despised them. They would ask them questions like, “What do you eat for breakfast? Did you shower today? Do you wash your hair? Is your hair real? What kind of hemline do you like on a woman?” I basically asked them questions about what happened in the concert, about the reactions of the fans, about the war in Vietnam, about racial discrimination. I knew right away that they were intellectually curious. By asking them these questions and getting involved in a deep sense, I was able to show the world that they had tremendous intellectual curiosity. They liked that. They knew that when I chatted with them that it was going to be about philosophy. In one case I asked them if they had teenage daughters would they allow them to come to the concerts. And each of them said, “Absolutely not, it’d be too dangerous.”
It’s interesting to contrast what you see of them here — and in documentaries like the Maysles brothers’ “What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A.” — with “A Hard Day’s Night,” which is a more heightened and fictionalized version of them.
I saw that movie for the first time with them, at the Shelburne Hotel in Atlantic City. Somebody brought up a bunch of cheesesteaks and popcorn, and they had a guy come up with a big 35mm camera and showed the movie on a screen. I was able to talk to them. They were very uncomfortable looking at themselves.