Cousin Brucie Said an Armed Security Guard Handed Him the First Beatles Record for the Radio

Cousin Brucie, a.k.a. Bruce Morrow, said an armed security guard handed him the first record to be played on the radio by The Beatles. However, the radio personality might not have been the first person to play The Beatles on American airwaves. Still, Cousin Brucie’s persistence in playing the band’s music, sometimes eight times in a row, helped them find success in the U.S.

The Beatles posing in suits in 1964.
The Beatles | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Cousin Brucie said an armed security guard gave him the first record for radio by The Beatles

Cousin Brucie told Forbes that he received the first Beatles record from an armed security guard, who had it handcuffed to his wrist in an attaché case.

The song was “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Cousin Brucie explained, “He says to me you can’t have it until 9 o’clock. So at 9 o’clock when I played it would automatically go on our syndication to 40 states,” Cousin Brucie said.

“So I played, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’ Never played before. And I heard it. I played it eight times. I knew what was happening. Now it seems what happened is dozens of radio stations because of my reach copied that record. Now it wasn’t great quality. But the next day they all did what I did. And it went everywhere.”

Cousin Brucie helped The Beatles get their first No. 1 hit in America. However, many people have disputed when The Beatles first hit U.S. radio.

Cousin Brucie might not have been the first to play The Beatles on the radio

The radio personality might have been instrumental in pushing The Beatles in America, but many different sources dispute who played the first Beatles record on American airwaves. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, there’s definitive evidence that “Please Please Me” received airplay in several major U.S. markets way before Carroll James played “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on Washington, D.C.’s WWDC on Dec. 17, 1963.

On his blog, The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, Madison, Wisc. DJ and Top 40 historian J.A. Bartlett said, “I consulted the fabulous Airheads Radio Survey Archive, which has collected (as of today) 35,487 radio station music surveys dated from 1955 to 1996, for the data.

“ARSA shows that the first Beatles song to get on American radio was ‘Please Please Me.’ It further shows that five radio stations charted ‘Please Please Me’ before December 1963.”

George Harrison even helped break The Beatles in America. He gave his copy of “She Loves You” to DJs at a radio station in his sister’s town, Benton, Illinois, in September 1963.

So, Cousin Brucie possibly wasn’t the first person to play a Beatles record on the air, but he was one of the first radio DJs to play The Beatles on heavy rotation.

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The radio personality made friends with The Beatles and consoled them before their concert at Shea Stadium

Cousin Brucie eventually befriended The Beatles. He and Ed Sullivan introduced them on stage during their Shea Stadium concert in 1965. “About 65,000 screaming fans,” he told Forbes. “There was energy like I have never felt. But now I say, it was an energy of love.”

Cousin Brucie said The Beatles were nervous before the show. He was too but reassured them. Cousin Brucie said, “And in the dugout before we introduced them John Lennon comes up to me with Paul McCartney and John says, ‘Cousin, is this going to be safe? Is it dangerous?’

“And I put my fingers behind my back and I crossed my fingers because I was scared, and said, ‘John, Paul. This is going to be safe. All they want to do is be in the same space as you cause they love you.’ Frankly I was scared stiff – I’d never felt a cacophony of energy like I’d never felt.

“So I’m walking up the stairs with Ed Sullivan and we were just feeling this huge energy – you could feel it through your body. And Ed says, ‘Is this going to be safe Cousin?’ So I said to him since I wanted to give him a hard time, ‘Well Ed. I think it’s not going to be safe. It will be dangerous.’ He then asked, ‘What do we do?’ I said, ‘Pray, Ed, Pray.'”

Cousin Brucie had The Beatles’ backs from day one.