In the 1960s, teenage girls all wanted to meet their idols, whether it was Davy Jones, Mark Lindsay, Micky Dolenz, Jimmy Page, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy or Elvis Presley. Ann Moses got to know all of these stars of their day – and more – and tells the stories in her just-published book, “Meow! My Groovy Life With Tiger Beat’s Teen Idols.”
It’s a tale full of magic moments. One of the first recounted in the book is when she was working at an orange juice stand at Disneyland in 1965 and Walt Disney himself came to the counter. “Good morning, Uncle Walt,” she said (according to Disney rules, he was to be called Walt or Uncle Walt). “You must be Ann,” he said, noticing her name tag. As she filled his order, she blurted out, “I’ve written two articles for the Disneyland Employee Newsletter.” “You’re a writer?,” he replied. “Well, keep it up, Ann. You never know where it’s going to take you.” “Well, keep it up, Ann” would be her mantra.
At the time, Moses also moonlighted at the Melodyland Theater, across the street from Disneyland, which held concerts, and wrote for her college paper in Fullerton. She attended a show headlined by the Dave Clark Five and audaciously told the band’s tour manager that she’d been assigned to write an article about the group. There was no such assignment, but it worked.
“I’d never done that before,” she tells Variety, recounting how her nerves almost got the better of her. “They were all tall and they had those British accents that, at the time, all of the girls my age were really over the top in love with anyone who spoke with a British accent. … [But] they were as sweet as could be. It was like they were taking care of me. It was ‘Sit down. Let’s chat.'”
Her DC5 story did appear in the Fullerton school paper. She also hooked up with another small mimeographed paper and continued to write, interviewing, among others, James Brown and the Beach Boys. Through Derek Taylor, press representative for Beach Boys, she was introduced to Tiger Beat, where he wrote a column.
Says Moses: “I started work in January of 1966 for Tiger Beat, and [soon after], they were sending me to Hawaii and on tour with Paul Revere and the Raiders. I was flying to San Francisco with the Jefferson Airplane and photographing the [Rolling] Stones. When the end of the summer came, the idea of college and serious journalism went right out the door.”
From that point on, Moses became the point person for Tiger Beat’s coverage, writing about the biggest stars of the day, even as they rotated in and out of fashion. How did Tiger Beat keep readers interested? “It became [about] the right formula,” Moses explains. “First, we do, ‘Hey, meet the Osmonds.’ Then it became the Osmonds’ life story with baby pictures. And later, we would proceed to do stories on other topics. But those kind of core stories were really our bread and butter. Once we saw the response to how much the readers loved the baby pictures, or to read about Mike Nesmith through the words of his college music teacher, stories that gave you a personal insight [caused] readership to go up. So, we just continued to do what was working.” Moses says the publication had fierce competition from Gloria Stavers’ 16 Magazine headquartered in New York, but that Tiger Beat’s aim was to be more authentic since it was located right in the middle of Hollywood.
One such differentiation: Tiger Beat paid special attention to the Monkees, and Moses has praise for all of them except Nesmith, with whom she describes her encounters as difficult.
Another highlight: meeting Elvis Presley. “I had been an Elvis fan since fifth grade when he appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ up until he went into the Army, and then I really couldn’t care less,” she says, mirroring Tiger Beat’s readers’ own fickle and fleeting taste. “So when he was going to be coming back on the scene, the publicist at RCA … called me and said, ‘You need to be at this show, just trust me.’” Tickets were sent over for the Comeback Special to be taped at NBC’s Burbank studios. Moses got picked to sit on the stage close to him. “I’m two feet away from Elvis. Sometimes I’m right beneath him. It’s the best Elvis you’ve ever seen at that point. The black leather. It was like, ‘Oh, this is a new day.’ He was so hip. Before he had always been so corny. And all of a sudden, he was just as groovy as the rock stars.”
Moses, however, never met the Beatles. She did see them in concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965, but missed their performance at Dodger Stadium in August 1966. But the 1966 concert does have a Beatles anecdote connected to Moses. Her brother Jack, and his friend Jimmy Christ, were hired as rent-a-cops for the show. Their name badges showed only their last names. “John Lennon asked for his name tag and Paul McCartney took Jimmy Christ’s name tag. I wrote about it on my website about three years ago and a guy from Chicago writes me and says, ‘Oh, here’s a picture of John Lennon the next night [at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park] wearing your brother’s name tag.’” When asked about the Moses name tag, Lennon reportedly cracked, “I’ve been demoted.”
But there was one star she met on an assignment who became a real-life love story. The late Maurice Gibb (she refers to him as “Morris,” the English pronunciation). “I call it my first true love,” says Moses. “I was not experienced to start with. He wasn’t that all much of a player at that point in his life. He wasn’t like some smooth player that knew what he was doing, either. So it was two kids kind of falling in love.”
The romance lasted several months, but she got a taste of things to come following a concert at the Saville Theater in London. Singer Lulu, who had invited Maurice and Moses to dinner after the show, dropped a bombshell when Maurice left to excuse himself. “When you’re gone, I’ll be the one dating Maurice,” she told her. It wasn’t long after that after a session in bed Maurice revealed to her that he and Lulu were married. Says Moses: “He just kind of blew me away with the way he dumped me, let’s put it that way. It’s something where I was blindsided and I totally couldn’t understand. I never in a million years expected it to end the way it did.”
In January, 1972, the magazine opened new offices in Hollywood. “When we moved, I got a new office and [inherited] my boss’ desk, and I found a list in the drawer of all the editors and what they were paid,” Moses recalls. “I was the editor of Tiger Beat, which was the real bread and butter of Laufer Publishing, [but] I was being paid half of what they were paying the male editor of the brand new Rona Barrett’s Hollywood magazine, which wasn’t even out of the red yet. It shook me up really badly.”
Moses decided to leave, but ultimately, doesn’t regret it. “I had really mixed emotions but it led to me what I have today, which I wouldn’t trade for anything,” she says. “So you can’t say, ‘Oh, I want a do-over because I don’t want a do-over.’”
Autographed copies of “Meow!: My Groovy Life With Tiger Beat’s Teen Idols” are available through her website. E-books and paperbacks are available at Amazon.com.