Warminster UFO Mystery/ Beatlemania

Warminster UFO Mystery/ Beatlemania

Date

HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsKevin Goodman, Chuck Gunderson

A mystery of unusual sounds began in Warminster, England in 1964 and continued as a UFO enigma until 1977. The locals called the inexplicable lights and sounds central to the mystery "the Thing." An expert in the case, Kevin Goodman, joined George Knapp in the first half to discuss the 50-year old mystery. It started on Christmas morning 1964 when a local housewife walking to a church service "was assailed by...weird crackling noises, menacing sounds, and sudden vibrations," he recounted. At a nearby military installation around the same time, soldiers reported a loud, disturbing noise, as if something was ripped out of the complex, he added.

Around May of 1965, sightings of anomalous lights began, such as "two red hot pokers" hanging vertically in the sky over the town. They exploded silently and then just seemed to disappear, Goodman detailed. There was also a flock of pigeons who were apparently killed in flight while tangling with the aerial object. A local journalist, Arthur Shuttlewood, brought the story to the public. Initially skeptical, he became a believer, after experiencing a sighting of his own, Goodman noted. As the story took off, the town became besieged by tourists looking to experience "the Thing" themselves. The larger area, including Stonehenge and the Wiltshire crop circles, is known for being steeped in mystery. Shuttlewood believed that 13 ley lines converge near Warminster, and UFOs may have been following these ancient pathways. For more, check out this short documentary video.

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In the latter half, Beatles authority, Chuck Gunderson, discussed the band's rock 'n' roll revolution in America and their lasting cultural influence, along with stories of their concerts, backstage behind-the-scenes negotiations, and mayhem at the airports and hotels. One of the reasons behind the Beatlemania frenzy, was that each of the four band members had their own distinct style and look, and fans started adopting their favorite, he said, adding that in their first US tour in 1964, Ringo was actually the most popular Beatle. As they released the Help! soundtrack and the groundbreaking Rubber Soul in 1965, they embarked on their second US tour. Manager Brian Epstein created a pent-up demand for them by booking mostly smaller venues for them on their 1964 tour.

Their 1965 tour, opening at Shea Stadium in New York, played to 55,000 fans, and ushered in a whole new era of stadium rack, said Gunderson. "To sell a stadium out completely by a rock 'n' roll band was simply unheard of in that day," he continued. Epstein really kind of invented the rock 'n' roll touring industry, developing such things as the contract rider, and backstage passes. Because of the manic nature of the fans, the Beatles would often be hidden in various vehicles such as ambulances, and laundry trucks as they were transported to and from concert venues, as the fans chased after decoy limos. Interestingly, the cost of a ticket to their Shea Stadium concert in 1965 was a mere $4.80.

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