Craig Fischer ’66 remembers passing a television on his way to Slayter on Feb. 9, 1964. The Beatles were playing The Ed Sullivan Show. “I didn’t even stop,” he says. Fischer didn’t think much of this boy band from England that had the ability to make all the girls swoon. But it turns out he’d end up loving the music and playing it often. As the lead singer for The Hustlers, an on-campus band, he would learn the Beatles songs in time. “We ended up copying them so many times.”
In a presentation by three members of the Hustlers during Reunion Weekend in June, the men made the case that the pop music scene in the early 1960s wasn’t terribly interesting. Most pop songs, says David Graff ’65, lead guitar and keyboard, had four or five chords. But the Beatles? Their songs often had eight or more. “Their music was more interesting,” says Graff, “and for us, a whole lot more fun to play.” Which they did about four times a week wherever they could. Fraternity socials. Private parties off campus. In their dorm rooms.
For as little as $65, partygoers could hear the likes of The Beatles, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, The Ventures, and original Hustler songs. But sadly, says Graff, The Hustlers were only marginally respected on campus. “We charged less than off-campus bands,” he says, “so people thought we couldn’t possibly be as good.” But it wasn’t all bad. The performances, says Fischer, did pay for his car.