Pan Am flight attendant from LI recalls start of Beatlemania
Those mop-haired lads from Liverpool were on board, poised to invade America as the Beatles.
Pan Am stewardess Jill Kellogg, who was serving the band in first class on that momentous flight in 1964, had no idea that a rock and roll revolution was about to start.
"They were just ordinary kids whose hair was a little longer," Kellogg recalled. "I didn't know who they were at all."
But when Flight 101 landed at Kennedy Airport and the cabin door swung open on the tarmac, Kellogg did a double-take. A massive crowd of screaming, adoring fans had assembled.
"I never did see a crowd of people that large in my life since," she said.
Kellogg, now 73 and living in Montauk, reminisced along with other flight attendants Friday during a 50th-anniversary celebration at the airport's TWA Flight Center.
Also in attendance were fans, friends and relatives of the band from England, including John Lennon's sister, Julia Lennon.
Port Authority executive director Pat Foye unveiled a plaque commemorating the first stop on the Fab Four's epic U.S. tour on Feb. 7, 1964.
The ceremony kicked off a weekend celebration of Beatlemania in New York City, with radio stations planning to fill the airwaves with Beatles songs. Earlier this week, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were in Manhattan to revisit their 1964 breakthrough performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Billy J. Kramer, a singer-songwriter in the 1960s, also from Liverpool, knew the Beatles before they made records.
"I knew they would take over the world," Kramer, 70, said at the airport Friday.
Kramer, who now lives on Long Island, heard Lennon play "I Want to Hold Your Hand" before the song was released.
Kellogg, who later operated West Lake Marina in Montauk with her former husband, said the atmosphere on her flight from London to New York was festive. But she mostly remembers how much work it was.
"We had to prepare seven-course meals for a configuration of 40 first-class passengers," she said.