At the 50-year mark, everybody can understand the uproar at the anniversary of the “invasion” of America by the Beatles. They came. American youth went clinically insane. Two days later they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The reverberations still register on American cultural seismographs. Nobody, however, has a clue how the Beatles happened to come to America. Such things don’t follow a force of gravity or spontaneous combustion.
Sid Bernstein was a rock ‘n’ roll impresario and one with an acute sense of what-and-who is coming next. In the early 1960s, Sid enrolled in a foreign affairs course at New York’s fabled New School for Social Research. No diplomas. No credits. Just learning.
Famed professor Max Lerner told the class his only requirement was that each student read a foreign newspaper before each weekly class. This, being New York City, didn’t cause a ripple. Many of the students knew French, and they got their weekly copy of Le Soir. Those who knew German got a weekly copy of the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung. Those who knew Italian got L’Osservatore Romano.
Poor Sid didn’t know any foreign language. How could he obey the class rules? No problem. Sid subscribed to The Manchester Guardian, published in England. It was a foreign newspaper, all right, but conveniently in English. So, Sid read his “foreign newspaper” dutifully before every class.
And he noticed something interesting. Every week there appeared an article, larger and longer week by week, on a new musical group from Liverpool that was attracting more and more attention. After week three or four, Sid thought, “I’d better get over there and get those kids signed up for an American tour before anybody else does.”
So, Sid Bernstein went to England and met with Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, and cut the deal.
I have a book full of success stories of those who made it big just BECAUSE they knew other languages.
Sid Bernstein, who died, less than a year ago, is the only known example of someone becoming a multi-millionaire only BECAUSE he spoke no other language except English.
RIP, two Beatles and the one who brought them from the laid-back obscurity of the U.K. to the full-blast appreciation of the USA – and consequently, the world!
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