Bob Eubanks bets he has Beatles stories fans haven’t heard in show coming to Glendale
Beatles fanatics might think they know all there is to know about the mop-topped Fab Four.
Bob Eubanks, best known as the longtime host of “The Newlywed Game,” is sure they’re wrong — and he’s willing to prove it.
“I do have stories no one else has told [about the Beatles] — because they happened to me,” Eubanks said in a phone interview.
One of his lesser-known career highlights was producing a Beatles concert each of the three years they toured the United States. According to Eubanks, he’s the only living person who can put that on his resume.
During “Backstage With the Beatles,” a one-night-only show set for this Saturday at the Alex Theatre, Eubanks will be telling those stories with “a little help from his friends.” Stories will lead up to Beatles songs performed live by tribute band Ticket to Ride.
“Beatles fans will walk away going, “Well, I’ll be darned,’ I promise you that,” Eubanks said.
Proceeds from the show will benefit Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that runs the Alex Theatre, by helping support the organization’s programming fund.
The show represents a homecoming of sorts for Eubanks, who grew up in La Crescenta and attended Glendale High for two years before transferring to Pasadena Unified. As a young boy, he used to drop by the Alex to watch “old cowboy movies, mostly,” Eubanks said. It was his idea to bring the show to his childhood haunt.
Of being back in Glendale, “it kind of brings back memories, you know?” Eubanks said.
Before becoming a game show host, Eubanks was a disc jockey, a career path he wanted to pursue since broadcasting on Glendale’s KIEV as a junior high student. Eventually, Eubanks landed at KRLA, one of Southern California’s top rock and pop radio stations in the early 1960s.
That put Eubanks at ground-zero when the Beatles stormed into American mass consciousness in February 1964 — when they performed on the “The Ed Sullivan Show,” drawing tens of millions of viewers.
After the “Sullivan” performance, the quartet from across the pond announced they would tour the United States. The band’s agency went through all its regular promoters, but the go-to promoter in Los Angeles turned down the opportunity, Eubanks said.
“He was used to buying Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzergerald for $10,000, and these guys wanted $25,000,” Eubanks said.
So Eubanks, who had never produced a concert before, stepped up. He and business partner, Mickey Brown, borrowed $25,000 against a house they owned together as an investment and began working on what would be the Beatles’ first performance at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1964.
“When you’re on radio, you feel the community, and I could feel what was going on. It was more than anybody could ever, ever imagine,” Eubanks said, explaining why he literally bet his house on the band’s success. “At that time, it was Elvis and Motown, but when the Beatles came in, the party was over.”
That first show sold out in 3½ hours, much to the shock of the box office manager, Eubanks said.
Eubanks would bring the Beatles back to the Bowl for two shows the following year, and then, in 1966, to Dodgers Stadium for what would be one of their last performances all together.
“The first year, they were wide eyed and inquisitive. Someone asked Paul who he wanted to meet and he said, ‘Jayne Mansfield,’” Eubanks recalled. “The second year, they were a little tired. By the third year, they were no longer a band that wanted to be together. They were tired of the screaming and the yelling and all of that.”
Eubanks’ experience with the Beatles launched a 20-year career producing shows for rock and country royalty like the Rolling Stones and Dolly Parton, who he also managed.
While Eubanks wouldn’t give away too many of his backstage memories ahead of Saturday’s show, he did reveal that he was present when the Beatles met Elvis Presley for the first time in 1965.
During the visit at Presley’s Bel Air home, arranged by the Beatles’ and Presley’s respective managers, the Fab Four “just sat there and looked at him in awe,” according to Eubanks. Paul McCartney was busy examining something he had never seen before — a television remote control.
According to Eubanks, Presley said he was going to get up and go to bed if his guests weren’t going to talk to him.
“It was an interesting evening,” Eubanks said.
“Backstage with the Beatles” was conceived by Eubanks several years ago but has only been performed five times, primarily benefiting charities for four of those shows.
“It’s just more fun than you’re supposed to have,” Eubanks said of the show.
The Alex Theatre is located at 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. For tickets and more information, visit alextheatre.org and click on the “Events Calendar” tab.