Ringo Starr made an impassioned appeal for the six teenage students who he photographed 49 years ago to identify themselves.
But, now that they have come forward, Ringo Starr doesn’t want to meet them!
The former Beatles drummer seemed intent on finding out the identities of the six teenagers who he snapped from his car during The Beatles’ first visit to the U.S. in February 1964. It has now been revealed that the kids in his “mystery photo” were students from Fair Lawn High School.
Ringo told CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy, during an interview this week, that, as of now, he has no plans to reunite with any of the former students. Nothing against them. He just prefers to savor the memory — as a memory.
Which begs the question – why the appeal in the first place? Was it just a publicity stunt gone wrong? Or is it that he just didn’t imagine that anyone would actually respond. Either way, the PR fallout will not do Ringo Starr’s image a great deal of good.
Bob Toth, 66, one of the students, is hoping he’ll change his mind. “Sure I’d love to meet him,” he said. Toth, who can be seen at age 17 at the extreme left of the photo, is now an engineer and an Air Force veteran, and still lives in Fair Lawn. It was only on Friday morning that Toth learned he was on Ringo Starr’s “most wanted ” list.
Ringo’s search for the youths in his photo became a national media event on TV and on the internet. Then came the news that the six kids in the car were all from Fair Lawn. Apart from Toth, they were named as Gary Van Duersen, Suzanne Rayot, Arlene Norbe, Charlie Schwartz.
There was one other person who particularly intrigued Ringo. “Who is he?” Ringo asked Tracy. “He’s our mystery man.” It turns out that his name was Matt Blender, unfortunately no longer alive
“I’ve never forgotten that day,” Schwartz said. “I’ve told the story many times over the years.”
On the day the Beatles landed at JFK Airport, they decided to play hooky from school in an effort to see their heroes. “It was disappointing,” Toth says. “We got to the airport, and we couldn’t get near the place. We turned around and started to go home.”
By chance they passed the motorcade on the highway and found themselves next to the car in which Ringo Starr was traveling.
“We got next to Ringo’s car and he started talking to us. We were going 50 miles an hour. He said ‘Hello.’ We said, ‘Welcome to America!’ ”
Almost 50 years later, it’s hard even for Toth to recall being caught up in the “Beatlemania” that swept America. “I’m really surprised that this is such a big deal after 49 years,” he said. “But we’ve had our 15 minutes of fame.”
Ringo Starr has had somewhat more than 15 minutes, so the question still remains: What was in Ringo Starr’s mind when he made the appeal, and what did he expect would happen?