Reviewed by Amy Hughes
Dear Younger Self,
Remember when you went to the newsstand at the drugstore with your parents? Looking at all that cheap newsprint, something jumped out at you. The faces! The pop art colors! The headlines with lots of exclamation points! Wait! Is David Cassidy looking at me?! Why, yes he is. And for that you can thank one woman: Ann Moses.
Aptly titled, ‘Meow! My Groovy Life With Tiger Beat’s Teen Idols’ (Q Coding, LLC, 2017) author Ann Moses recounts the life moments she led as the editor of Tiger Beat magazine. This is a highly personal and fascinating glimpse into an era of innocent admiration, yet laced with the stark reality of Moses’ unique, coveted position.
As a teenager growing up in Anaheim, California, Moses had a chance encounter with ‘Uncle Walt’ at Disneyland while working at the Sunkist orange juice kiosk. His encouraging response to her mentioning she had written for the park’s newsletter set her off on her journalistic career.
Volunteering as an usher at the Melodyland Theater in 1965, she had the gumption to approach a gentleman at the side of the stage, stating she was “on assignment” to write about the group that was performing: The Dave Clark Five. The man was their tour manager Rick Picone. He graciously arranged the meeting and Moses got her interview published in her junior college newspaper.
She gained steam writing for ‘Rhythm ‘N’ News’ covering gigs in south Los Angeles (considered unsafe by most for a teenager). However, an off-chance remark from a fellow writer about Tiger Beat (and a connection with former Beatles press officer Derek Taylor) quickly propelled her into the office of the upstart to ‘16’ magazine and the beginning of her mind-blowing journey into the world of teen idoldom.
Throwing aside ‘respected journalism,’ Moses adapted the jargon and lifestyle that appealed to the young, aspiring teens who read Tiger Beat: as noted by her “everyone was presented as single and free.” And using descriptors like ‘groovy’ ‘heavenly’ and ‘fab’ were de rigueur. And as many exclamation points as possible!!
By the summer of 1966, Moses had been cast headfirst into a world of music, photography assignments and close encounters with Jefferson Airplane and The Rolling Stones. Her travels had also led her into the world of Paul Revere and The Raiders, then one of the biggest pop groups in the US, helped by their exposure on TV’s ‘Where The Action Is.’ Moses’ exclusivity to the band and her first-person encounters didn’t help to win her friends with ‘16’’s Gloria Stavers, the matriarch who could power play herself onto the band’s tour bus. Moses was angry and intimidated by Stavers, but recognized she could turn the tables with help from her pop idol peers at any given time.
Moses became feature editor as Tiger Beat’s boss Chuck Laufer handed her more assignments, a handsome salary and a car. She was out and about, meeting people and when The Monkees hit the TV airwaves in September 1966, Laufer’s relationship with Screen Gems gave Moses access unlike any other writer or photographer. While she became close to Peter Tork, Davy Jones and to a lesser extent Micky Dolenz, she hit a roadblock with Mike Nesmith’s abrasive personality (which she didn’t recover from for nearly a year).
Another group that Moses had access to on tour was The Standells. While they were the support act to the Raiders in November 1966, Moses found herself drawn to the band’s lead singer and drummer, Dick Dodd. A former Disney Mouseketeer, his background in show business kept him “un-Hollywood,” as Moses wrote. She also found herself with a major crush on her hands. With this dilemma, she decided to move into her own apartment and later, when she and Dodd slept together, she was left somewhat disappointed and confused. Dodd never called her again. However, a new love was on the horizon.
After attending the Monterey Pop Festival, she details her good fortune in becoming the Hollywood correspondent for UK’s ‘New Musical Express,’ and in July 1967 she flew into the orbit of The Bee Gees. What followed was a whirlwind romance with Maurice Gibb, that at the time seemed destined to be true love. He and Moses set out – first in England and then when she returned home – on a courtship that spoke of intense attraction through shared interests, especially music.
However in the brief weeks that encompassed her life with Gibb, she was blindsided with the news that he had married pop singer Lulu. While he kept his word to attend her twenty-first birthday party, the gathering was the last time she was with him. She later learned that he was in fact not with Lulu (a ploy Moses suspected was instigated by manager Robert Stigwood to keep a clean, freewheeling image alive), although the singers did marry in 1969 (and divorced a few years after that).
Moses’ complete devastation swung her back into covering the pop music scene (and marriage to a high school sweetheart). She continued with various outings (the taping of Elvis Presley’s 1968 comeback special and a subsequent, tho unexpected, conversation with The King on the set of ‘Change of Habit’), but her life at Tiger Beat was going through tumultuous changes.
She continued into the early 70s with (then) up-and-coming teen idols Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy and more personally, The Osmonds (who she stayed in touch with when she later moved to Utah). But in 1972, just as the magazine’s offices were moving to a bigger and better space, she discovered a bombshell: while she made good salary for the times, she was making half of what a sister publication’s editor was making. Floored, she marched out. And while she was coaxed into finishing out publication dates, she left Tiger Beat in May of 1972.
Moses quickly sums up her later years – divorce, second marriage, adoption of two children and a jaw-dropping spoiler from her former co-workers that I won’t mention here. All in all, ‘Meow!’ has the tasty ingredients that pull you into a time warp, reported and lived by a sharp, insightful lady given incredibly fortunate circumstances and access that could only have happened in that era.
I give this book 4 out of 4 beetles!