The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay - Chapter One: Hands Across the WaterBuy The BookHomeMeet Ken MansfieldE-mail KenRead Section of Book

I peer out the little oval window into the clouds, searching for the coastline. Still in a state of disbelief, I try to discern the transitional point in my life that brought me out of a small town in northern Idaho into this moment and this airplane as it prepares for the approach to Heathrow Airport, London, England, Europe-the Beatles!

The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay - pages 4 and 5Less than a year after the death of manager Brian Epstein, the Beatles are masterminding their own business empire, Apple Industries. Ron Kass, the president of Apple Industries, notified Stanley Gortikov, the president of Capitol Industries, that he and the "lads" are considering asking me to become the U.S. manager of their record division, Apple Records. They asked that I join them in London for a dramatic and insightful series of Apple-related meetings. It seems that washing my feet, brushing the potato peels out of my hair, working my way through college, and then scrambling my way up through the corporate ranks at Capitol Records, Hollywood, is paying off in a way I never imagined. I still have a hard time extricating myself from the small-town country boy within: dusty to above the ankles, dirt roads, rolling hills, quiet fields, and simple surroundings. This world is precisely 6,071 miles and just as many light years away from my Idaho beginnings and the Nez Perce Indian reservation lands where I grew up-a world with no freebies, no frills, no backstage passes, no fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, no bobbies on horseback, no afternoon teas, and certainly no Fab Four.

As I continue to gaze out the window, the airplane becomes a reverse time capsule as we fall together into my destiny:

I'm traveling with Stanley Gortikov and Capitol's head of Press and Publicity, Larry Delaney. Apple A & R man Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon fame, and an old friend of mine by now), is scheduled to pick us up at London's Heathrow Airport. Gortikov's straightforward admonition on the way to L.A.X. (Los Angeles International Airport)-that the Beatles currently account for approximately 50 percent of Capitol's business-keeps running through my head. Fifty percent! As he subtly puts it, "When it has to do with the Beatles-there is no margin for error."

At the Capitol Tower back in Hollywood after our trip, Bob York, my immediate superior and the v.p. general manager of the company, summons me into his office to discuss my new responsibilities and to let me know in no uncertain terms that I am to "keep it together" as far as the Beatles and the Apple staffers are concerned. In order to make my job easier, he informs me that I do not have to get approvals for my travel, expenditures, or schedules. In fact, I will not even be required to explain my whereabouts or what I am doing-as long as I "keep it together"! At this point I expect Glen Wallichs, the founder and "chairman of the board" of Capitol, to call me over to his home next and instruct me to "keep it together" with the Beatles just to be sure I get the message from the complete executive hierarchy of the company! I do get the message, but more than that, Capitol Records has just handed me a first-class ticket to ride on a long and wonderfully winding road into the most amazing place and time in musical history.

The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay - pages 146 and 147I stop dream-staring out the window and begin straining to see land. Suddenly I see sparkling lights way off and way down below; I'm seeing England for the first time! Then I realize that because we have taken the typical north-southeast approach, we are being blessed with a night view of portions of Scotland, Ireland, and northern England. The stewardess shakes me out of my wonderment and asks if I want coffee or tea with my breakfast. "Coffee please . . . no wait, I'll have tea." I better get used to it!

The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay - pages 170-171I twist off the wind tunnel of air above me and pull close the thin excuse for a blanket. My body remains in an odd angular relationship to the seat so that I can still search for the coastline. I feel like a kid: wrapped in a blanket, excited, nervous, and gawking out the window like I have never been on an airplane before.

As the runway comes into sight, the view from the oval window looks cold, rainy, and bleak.

God, I am scared.

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