Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 16, 1966

John F. Kennedy Stadium, Broad St. and Patterson Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

The fifth date of The Beatles' final tour took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they performed one concert before around 20,000 people at the John F Kennedy Stadium.

The concert began at 8pm. The stadium had 60,000 seats available, but by this point in their career The Beatles were only able to sell around a third of tickets. They had previously played at Philadelphia's Convention Hall on September 2, 1964.

Support acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The show took place during the beginning of an electrical storm with near-constant lightning, but the rain held off until shortly after The Beatles left the stage.

After the show The Beatles and their entourage immediately boarded their Greyhound tour bus and were taken to Philadelphia International Airport, from where they flew to Toronto, Canada.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 15, 1966

DC Stadium, Washington, DC

The fourth date of The Beatles' final tour took place in Washington, DC, where they performed one concert before 32,164 people at the DC Stadium.

Prior to the concert, five members of Prince George's County Ku Klux Klan, dressed in red, white and green robes and led by the Imperial Grand Wizard of the Maryland clan, held a parade outside the venue in protest against John Lennon's comments that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Support acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. After the show The Beatles and their entourage immediately boarded their tour bus and began the journey to Philadelphia.

The stadium was renamed in January 1969 after US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Los Angeles the previous June. It subsequently became known as the Robert F Kennedy Stadium, or the RFK Stadium.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 14, 1966

Cleveland Stadium, West 3rd St. Cleveland, Ohio USA

The third date of The Beatles' final tour took place in Cleveland, Ohio, where they performed once concert before 20,000 people.

Support acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The show was temporarily halted during The Beatles' fourth song, Day Tripper, when 2,500 fans invaded the baseball field. The group spent some time backstage before order was restored. After the concert The Beatles stayed in Cleveland. The following day they flew to Washington, DC.

Cleveland Stadium, also known as Lakefront Stadium and Cleveland Municipal Stadium, was normally used for baseball and American football matches. It was demolished in 1995 and the Cleveland Browns Stadium was built on the site.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 13, 1966

Olympia Stadium, Detroit, USA

Two shows, 2:00 and 7:00 pm, before a total of 28,000 fans at this indoor arena, although neither concert was sold out. They had previously performed at the venue on Septembe 6, 1964.

The Beatles had arrived in Detroit at 11:00 am, they left for Cleveland by Greyhound bus immediately after the second show, arriving there at 2:00 am. 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 12, 1966

International Amphitheatre, Chicago, USA

The Beatles flew into the United States from London Airport on August 11th, landing at Boston and switching planes there within minutes for Chicago. That evening they hosted their usual one-a-city press conference,  this one relieved of its usual monotony by a resolution of the "We're more popular than Jesus" now, in which John, supported by the three Beatles, tried to placate the American public about his famous statement. Naturally, the Beatles' press conferences were usually filmed and recorded by local radio and TV stations, but this one carried additional worldwide interest so extracts were screened in news rograms around the world. In the US, the three TV networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, all screened special programs in the evening.

The Beatles began their 14-date final tour with a concert at Chicago's International Amphitheater, a venue they had previously played in September 1964.

They played two shows, at 3pm and 7.30pm, each of which was seen by 13,000 people. Support acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes.

The Beatles' standard set throughout the tour consisted of 11 songs: Rock and Roll Music, She's a Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and I'm Down. During the tour they occasionally substituted the final song with Long Tall Sally.

The International Amphitheatre stood at 42nd Street and South Halsted. It became unable to attract enough large events during the 1970s and 1980s and suffered a decline. The venue was demolished in August 1999.



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 11, 1966

August 11, 1966: John Lennon defends his claim that the Beatles are 'more popular than Jesus'

The Beatles arrived in the US amid huge controversy after John Lennon's claim that the band was "more popular than Jesus" had prompted angry Christians to call on fans to burn their records in protest.

In the late summer of 1966, the Beatles’ popularity in America – previously unshakeably strong - had been threatened after a comment made by John Lennon to a British journalist that the band were now “more popular than Jesus” was reprinted in a US magazine.

When the interview, by Lennon’s friend Maureen Cleave and originally published in the Evening Standard in March 1966, appeared in the American publication Datebook in the July, reaction among some Christians, particularly in the south of the country, was immediate - and angry.

Several radio stations banned the playing of Beatles music; some organised public bonfires in which fans were encouraged to bring their Beatles records and memorabilia and toss them into the flames in order to register their disgust.

The Beatles arrived in Chicago for the first leg of a US tour on August 11, and met the American press for the first time since the controversy had broken.  A visibly nervous Lennon was asked to explain – and apologise for – his comments.

"If I had said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it...” he began. “I used the word 'Beatles' as a remote thing… as ‘those other Beatles’ like other people see us. I just said 'they' are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus.

“I was pointing out…that we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion, at that time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down, I was just saying it as a fact... it is true, especially more for England than here. I'm not saying that we're better, or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is.”

The reporters still seemed baffled as to whether Lennon had truly apologised, or whether he felt he needed to; Pressed by one for more clarity, he said: "If you want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry."

Against the better judgement of their manager Brian Epstein – who had organised the interview over fears of what could happen to the Beatles – the tour would continue, largely to great success, but the controversy and the difficulties it created for the band would be a major factor in them deciding it would be their very last.

Was Lennon right - did the Beatles mean more to young people than Jesus?

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 10, 1966

The Beatles Interview at London Airport - August 10, 1966





The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 9, 1966

Birmingham disc jockeys Tommy Charles, left, and Doug Layton of Radio Station WAQY rip and break materials representing the British singing group the “Beatles” on August 8, 1966. The broadcasters started a “Ban the Beatles” campaign after Beatle John Lennon was quoted as saying his group is more popular than Jesus. Charles took exception to the statement as “absurd and sacrilegious.”


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 8, 1966

The Beatles taking a break before the US tour.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 7, 1966

Brian Epstein held a press conference the day before.

In an attempt to defuse the controversy surrounding John Lennon's comments that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus", the group's manager Brian Epstein held a special press conference.

Despite suffering from glandular fever, in the morning he had cut short his holiday in Portmeirion, north Wales, and flown from England to the US.

Epstein was fearful that The Beatles' imminent US tour might have to be cancelled, as by this point public outcry had grown to the extent that 30 US radio stations had banned The Beatles' records.

The press conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, New York. Epstein began by reading a statement approved by Lennon, before taking questions from the press.

The quote which John Lennon made to a London columnist nearly three months ago has been quoted and misrepresented entirely out of context of the article, which was in fact highly complimentary to Lennon as a person and was understood by him to be exclusive to the Evening Standard. It was not anticipated that it would be displayed out of context and in such a manner as it was in an American teenage magazine.

Lennon didn't mean to boast about the Beatles' fame. He meant to point out that the Beatles' effect appeared to be a more immediate one upon, certainly, the younger generation. John is deeply concerned and regrets that people with certain religious beliefs should have been offended.

Q: We're wondering whether you're going to change the itinerary of The Beatles to avoid areas where the radio stations are now burning their records and their pictures?

This is highly unlikely. I've spoken to many of the promoters this morning. When I leave here, I have a meeting with several of the promoters who are anxious that the concerts should not be cancelled, at all. Actually, if any of the promoters were so concerned and wish that the concerts be cancelled, I wouldn't, in fact, stand in their way.