It was a good time to be a musician in Boston when The Beat Magazine first came out in 1983. Reagan was President and the economy was booming: and with two major music schools, Berklee and The Conservatory; and countless music departments in the many colleges and universities in the area; teenagers from all over the world came here to study and spend their parent’s money; and they brought the music from their own locations to create a huge universe of new bands and new fans year after year after year. The late Mickey O’ Halloran, a tough kid from tough Charlestown, MA grew up serving in Vietnam as a Green Beret before becoming the Manager and bartender of ‘Yesterdays,’ inside The Kenmore Club, in Kenmore Square. In 1983, while managing Bunratty’s in Allston, he had an epiphany and started The Beat Magazine with his Assistant Manager Dave Giammatteo. The Beat- Best Entertainment Around Town- started out as a small black and white colored publication supporting the scene; and employed by Mickey and Dave’s friends working for little or no money. By the second year, the magazine had grown, and was now incorporating color on the pages. The Beat contained: a cover story, a secondary story, live reviews, Ace Diamond’s CD reviews, comedy and production sections later; and Zaz’s cartoons featuring local characters. Michael Hill, who was really Ace Diamond, and Zaz (Ron Pitts) both were Mickey’s housemates. The Beat had writers, a sales team, proofreaders, copy editors, and the first editor, Kathei Logue, was a well known booking agent for The Rat; who bluffed her way into meeting The Beatles during a press conference when she was a teenager. There were many people who worked short times in minor positions over the years too. This is when I joined the club. First, as the Copy Editor and then as the Assistant Editor. Initially, Dave Gee, office manager Michael Hill (who had been on Dave’s room mate Jon Butcher‘s road crew forever), Art Director Tom Saulnier, Production Manager Richard Abaid and paste-up artists Jesse Mayer (also the drummer in the band Fingerpaint) and Shirley White would hold down the fort during the day; and Mickey O and me would hop in his car and drive all over New England, to 2-4 night clubs a night; to collect gossip for our column Insignifica, collect new CD releases, and show our support for the local music scene and it’s members. For five plus years, we did this every night of the year; and always made it back to Bunratty’s for last call. All members in the music scene knew our regular routine and could catch us then or after 2:00 when Bunratty’s closed; back at The Beat Magazine, located on Glendale Rd. across the street from the club; where we would hold court, type our articles and welcome visitors for most of the early hours until sunrise. Mickey O and I were long the faces of The Beat Magazine. I can clearly remember countless times, I would walk up to musicians I didn’t know in clubs far away from Boston and introduce myself and tell the artist: ‘I’m from The Beat Magazine. You don’t see anyone from The Globe or The Herald or The Phoenix coming out to see you, DO YOU?’ And the magazine’s reputation grew. By 1988, internal disagreements made Mickey O leave for greener pastures, and The Beat had printed over 100 weekly issues; but it would be out of business a short time later. To replace Mickey O after his departure, Dave Gee’s friend and former Bunratty’s employee Gary Shea came up from NYC to change the direction of the magazine. Insignifica was now mainly written by info mailed or phoned in; and national artists like Michael Bolton, Pat Metheny, Wargasm and Vinnie Vincent from Kiss appeared on the cover. The direction was now more national and less local. Gary decided we needed a sponsor to help us grow; and I was able to arrange the first meetings with WBCN, and later WAAF, that initiated both radio stations to become our sponsors for short periods each. Gary also tried expanding the publication to Worcester and Providence, R.I. but those projects didn’t last more than a few issues in each city. At this time, I left The Beat and started writing for The Phoenix; who forbade me from continuing with The Beat Magazine; who their administration now saw as competition. Now both Mickey O and myself, the longtime faces of the publication, were gone. The Beat Magazine only lasted less than a year after my departure; and I am the only one left still doing exactly the same thing forty years later; writing to spread the word and support the local music scene. So in that respect, The Beat Magazine is very much still alive and well in 2022.
(by A.J. Wachtel)
Published on April 5, 2022