'Slovenly' Beatles didn't impress Kiwi reporter

WILL HARVIE
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
Steve Bridges with The Beatles

CHEEK: Steve Bridges, centre, crashed a Christchurch press conference with The Beatles on June 26, 1964 and got press photographers of the time, a firm called Green and Hahn, to snap him with George, Paul, Ringo and John.

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An American university student who crashed a Beatles press conference in Christchurch 50 years ago this week was not impressed by the rock stars, but the prestige earned got him a second date with the Kiwi woman who became his wife.

"Everything I tried worked out," Steve Bridges said this week.

He borrowed the identification of a student newspaper editor to get through the police cordon at the Clarendon Hotel on June 26, 1964.

Then he confessed this sin to Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, who absolved him with a hotel staff pass that gave Bridges access to the media conference.

Bridges was on a scholarship to the University of Canterbury and writing occasional articles about New Zealand for his home newspaper in Columbus, Indiana.

It made his Beatles scoop front page news under the headline "Our man in NZ interviews Beatles".

After the formal questions and answers, the American chatted with John Lennon for a "couple of minutes" and Ringo Starr for about five. All four of the British rock stars posed for a photo with Bridges, then 23.

"In deference to the younger readers", Bridges recorded his impressions of the band members: "When they are faced by radio, newspaper and TV reporters . . . The Beatles are not particularly impressive," Bridges wrote.

"Their speech is slovenly."

In person, Starr and Lennon were "sincere and appeared quite normal - and perhaps half-way intelligent".

He found the concert that evening "anti-climatic". He could barely hear the music because of the screaming girls and the group performed for only 25 minutes.

His date was a Ringo fan. "My prestige with her went up considerably and she has even consented to go out with me again," Bridge wrote in 1964.

They were engaged by November and she became his first wife. Life in the US was not for her and they returned to New Zealand in 1970.

Bridges became the country's first marketing academic, at Victoria University.

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