When the Beatles hit America’s shores on Feb. 7, 1964, documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (”Gimme Shelter”) were there with their cameras. The brothers followed the Liverpool lads around for the next two weeks and got a frankly astonishing film, ”The First U.S. Visit,” out of it. This seminal flick has just been released on DVD (along with a terrific bonus disc filled with commentary and never-before-seen footage). We asked surviving brother Albert (David died in 1987), 78, how it really felt to meet the Beatles.
EW Did you know back then you were documenting a historical event?
AM Not really. We were so intent on getting everything right we weren’t thinking about historical overtones.
EW You’ve said you weren’t a rock & roll fan originally. Did the Beatles change that?
AM Yes, I got to appreciate their music immensely. With so much rock music, you can’t understand the lyrics. But with the Beatles, you had great music and great lyrics you could hear.
EW Did you stay friendly with the boys over the years?
AM I had a long-standing friendship with John. We [both] lived in the Dakota. Paul and I have gotten together a number of times. I see Yoko every once in a while.
EW What about George and Ringo?
AM Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that I kept in touch with George much. I may be seeing Ringo tomorrow.
EW What would you say if someone asked you to shoot a documentary of a new group and give it ”that Beatles flava”?
AM Oh, I’d love to do it. My son, who’s 24, wants me to do a film of the Riz — R-I-Z, I think.
EW Do you mean the RZA — R-Z-A — from Wu-Tang Clan?
AM Yes! That’s him. I’m ready to do it.