The Beatles in their early years of stardom.
The Beatles in their early years of stardom.

When Don and Ruth Behnke went on a cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Don listened to the on-board lecturer, was impressed by his knowledge and presentation, and announced to Ruth: “You know, I could do that!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Behnke is now preparing his 13th cruise ship presentation—each featuring a facet of the musical world of the 20th century, broadly drawn. When asked how he came to choose the Beatles for this new “show,” he admitted that it really had to do with the demographics of the cruise lines’ current passengers. Music lovers who came of age in the ‘60s, when the Beatles led the “British Invasion,” are now retirees in their 60s and 70s and filling cruise ships everywhere.

Behnke plans to emphasize the preeminent role the Beatles played throughout the world in the music of their time – creating always memorable music often with a humorous flare.

Don and Ruth Behnke chat with George Hanson, former conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.
Don and Ruth Behnke chat with George Hanson, former conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

As an Academy Village resident and Arizona Senior Academy member of long-standing, Behnke has previewed many of his cruise talks in the ASA Great Room, as he will again at 4:00 p.m. Friday {Oct. 7).

He describes his methodology as “Have Laptop, Will Travel.” It includes presenting his subjects in their historical setting, sharing a rich collection of their music, and providing a colorful narrative of fun factoids and trivia to flesh out their stories.

Behnke is well-known throughout this area as the knowledgeable and articulate classical music critic for the Green Valley News & Sun, among other publications.

Written by Janet Kerans, Academy Village Volunteer

More Info on attending an event
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center. Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Parking for visitors is in the lot behind the Community Center. All parking spaces in front of the Academy building are reserved.

Oct. 7: The Beatles—a Cruise Ship Lecture Preview
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