Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 22, 1965 (Sunday)

Memorial Coliseum, North Wheeler Ave. Portland, Oregon, USA

In the morning of 22 August 1965 The Beatles held a press conference at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, before flying to Portland, Oregon.

Shortly before their arrival in Portland one of the four engines on their Lockheed Electra aeroplane caught fire. John Lennon was frightened enough to quickly write a few messages which he enclosed in a film canister for safety. Fortunately for all, the plane landed without further incident, and a relieved Lennon was heard to shout: "Beatles, women and children first!"

The Beatles performed two shows at Portland's Memorial Coliseum, before a total of 20,000 people. Tickets for each of the shows were priced at $4, $5 and $6. There were also a number of pink tickets for the Coliseum's upper level which were free.

The concerts took place at 3.30pm and 8pm. The Beatles' setlist featured 11 songs. Additionally, the second show opened with a truncated version of Twist and Shout.

The support acts on the bill were Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.

Among The Beatles' guests backstage were Carl Wilson and Mike Love of The Beach Boys.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 21, 1965 (Saturday)

Metropolitan Stadium, Cedar Ave. Bloomington, Minneapolis, Minnestota, USA

On August 21st, the Beatles traveled to Minneapolis Minnesota for a show at Metropolitan Stadium as the sixth stop along their 1965 North American Tour.

At the end of this press conference, George Harrison is surprised as he is presented a Rickenbacker 360 electric 12-string guitar by B-Sharp Music, a local area guitar shop at the time. It was the second of this particular model of guitar that George was able to add to his collection. Harrison would play his new Rickenbacker on stage that evening. As George received the guitar, John Lennon smiled and joked: "That's fab, that! Where's mine?"

Their concert that evening at the Met was yet more proof of their undying popularity. Any holdout diehard midwestern skeptics wanting to believe Beatlemania was on the wane would be quieted. The excitement in the crowd grew during the opening acts, including King Curtis, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, and Sounds Incorporated. Then the moment had come when the Beatles would take the stage. Over 28,000 screaming fans finally had their chance to be with the Beatles.

"I've never seen a mob like this in my life," Deputy Sheriff Douglas Sherry was quoted as saying in the Minneapolis Tribune. "I thought Frank Sinatra was bad, but the mob for this thing has him beat all to pieces."

Following their Minneapolis performance, the Beatles were flown to Portland Oregon as their 1965 tour of North America moved forward.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 20, 1965 (Friday)

White Sox Park, 35th and Shields, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Two shows in Chicago, at 3:00 and 8:00 pm, with 25,000 fans attending the first performance and 37,000 the second. The Beatle's share of the overall gate receipts was $155,000.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 19, 1965 (Thursday)

Sam Houston Coliseum, Bagby Street, Houston, Texas, USA

The Beatles performed two shows at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas, each of which was seen by 12,000 fans.

They had arrived in Houston at 2am that morning. Their chartered aeroplane was surrounded by teenagers after landing at Houston International Airport, with some managing to walk on the wings and knock on the windows.

The Beatles stayed at the Sheraton-Lincoln hotel while in Houston. Some enterprising teenage fans donned maids' uniforms to sneak into the hotel, although a hotel spokesman said: "We haven't hired any 14-year-olds here. We stopped them all."

A press conference took place at the hotel, after which The Beatles were taken to the venue in an armoured van. Conditions backstage were chaotic, with no dressing room, and the hot weather made the conditions less tolerable.

Their set for both shows featured 12 songs, the concerts were among the most frenzied of the tour, with Beatlemania at its height. The compère, local DJ Russ Knight - known as The Weird Beard - threatened to cancel the first show prior to Help!, saying: "People are getting hurt on the front two rows. The show will be stopped if you don't move back. This is the Houston Security Beatle Division." John Lennon sarcastically replied with the words: "Thank you very much, that was wonderful."

Tickets for the shows were $5 each, and The Beatles were paid $85,000 for the two performances. The other acts on the bill were, in order of appearance, Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.

The concerts were recorded and broadcast by local radio station KILT, which was sponsoring the event. The recordings have since been circulated widely as bootlegs.

Sam Houston Coliseum was demolished in 1998. The site was redeveloped into the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2003.

A Beatles fan is carried off by Houston police at the band's concert at the Sam Houston Coliseum, Aug. 19, 1965. (Chronicle file)


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 18, 1965 (Wednesday)

Atlanta Stadium, Capitol Avenue South West, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The Beatles' only visit to Atlanta lasted around 10 hours, but was remarkable for one key reason: monitor speakers on the stage allowed them to hear themselves play - a rarity during the whirlwind of Beatlemania.

The group landed in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 2pm, having flown in on a chartered aeroplane from Canada. Although crowds of fans were at the airport to greet them, the plane taxied to a remote area where they discreetly boarded, along with their entourage, three limousines.

The Beatles were taken to the baseball stadium, where a locker room had been designated as their dressing room and headquarters. Some tables and chairs had been assembled in the area, and temporary beds, known locally as 'cots', were also provided. Ringo Starr, amused at the word, climbed into one and sucked his thumb loudly.

The hired caterers offered to make The Beatles hamburgers, but they requested corn on the cob instead. Their meals also included top sirloin, leg of lamb and pork loin, along with the corn, pole beans, fruit and apple pie. The group was so impressed with the quality of the food that they signed the china plates for the caterers.

18 August was a hot day, and as there was no air conditioning in the stadium Paul McCartney requested a large fan for the backstage area, although it made little difference. A number of local VIPs were present, and The Beatles posed for photographs and signed numerous autographs.

Atlanta Stadium - later renamed the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium - had only been recently opened. Tickets for the show had gone on sale two months earlier, with field level seats costing $5.50 and upper level ones $4.50. Fans had begun arriving at the stadium from 4.30am on the morning of the show.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 17, 1965 (Tuesday)

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada

The Beatles performed two shows at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada, on this day. They had previously played at the venue on September 7, 1964, and returned for a third and final time on August 17, 1966.

The group flew from New York to Toronto in the Lockheed Electra aeroplane chartered by Brian Epstein from American Flyers for this 1965 US tour.

They arrived in the morning and were taken to the King Edward Sheraton hotel. News that The Beatles were staying at the Sheraton had become known to fans, and dozens booked themselves rooms in the hope of meeting the group.

Each of the two shows was seen by 18,000 people. The Beatles played for 27 minutes. Their set contained 12 songs: a shortened version of Twist and Shout, followed by She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket To Ride, Everybody's Trying to be my Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, Baby's in Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and I'm Down.

The other acts on the tour were, in order of appearance, Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 16, 1965 (Monday)

Although the performance at Shea Stadium last night (50 years ago) was not the Beatle's first North American tour, interest in it remained very high back home in Britain. And the promise of a world-record audience at Shea Stadium added extra glitter to the package. The BBC Transcription Service therefore negotiated with Brian Epstein that its regular programme host Brian Matthew - also, incidentally, a business associate of Epstein's - should be allowed to join the group's entourage for a part of the tour, until August 20th, recording interviews with the Beatles, compiling a documentary of the momemtous events and filing a number of reports back to the BBC in London. (Matthew's other task during the trip was to plug the Transcription Service's weekly radio show Top Of The Pops - not confused with the entirely different BBC TV series of the same name - and he made many personal appearances on US Radio doing just this.)

Matthew's first report, an on-the-spot account of the Shea concert, went into both editions of the next morning's (August 16th) edition of the Home Service news-magazine programme Today, and another went into the Light Programme's Roundabout '65 during the same afternoon. 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 15, 1965 (Sunday)

William A Shea Municipal Stadium (Shea Stadium), 126th St. & Roosevelt Ave.

Queens, NYC, USA

The Beatles' record-breaking first performance at New York's Shea Stadium was watched by 55,600 fans, and marked the beginning of the group's second full US concert tour.

The William A Shea Municipal Stadium, to give it its full name, was the home of the New York Mets baseball team. The stage was located on second base, far from the audience, which was confined to the stadium's spectator areas.

The concert at Shea Stadium set a world record for attendance figures, and also for gross revenue. The Beatles pocketed $160,000 of the $304,000 box office takings. The event was promoted by Sid Bernstein, and 2,000 security personnel were enlisted to handle crowd control.

The Beatles had hoped to land on the field by helicopter, but the idea was blocked by the New York City authorities. They travelled by limousine from the Warwick Hotel to a heliport, from where they were flown in a New York Airways Boeing Vertol 107-II helicopter, over New York City, to the roof of the World's Fair building in Queens. From there they boarded a Wells Fargo armoured van, where they were each given a Wells Fargo agent badge, and were driven to the stadium.

The journey, which involved a sightseeing opportunity over the skyscrapers of Manhattan, was filmed by Ed Sullivan's company Sullivan Productions, in association with NEMS Enterprises and Subafilms - owned by Brian Epstein and The Beatles. The concert was also filmed by 12 camera operators.

Other acts on the bill were, in order of appearance, Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & The Headhunters, Sounds Incorporated, and the Young Rascals. The Beatles were introduced by Ed Sullivan.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen, loved here in America, here are The Beatles!

The Beatles ran onto the field and took to the stage at 9.16pm, to a barrage of deafening screams. Despite new 100-watt amplifiers especially designed for the group by Vox, they were insufficiently loud and The Beatles instead used the in-house PA system.

Their set, which was retained throughout the US tour, comprised 12 songs: the group's truncated version of Twist and Shout, followed by She's a Woman, I Feel Find, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket to Ride, Everybody's Trying to be my Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, Baby's In Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Day's Night, Help, and I'm Down. 

For Shea Stadium's spectacular finale John Lennon played the organ part for I'm Down using his elbows. After the concert The Beatles ran back to the Wells Fargo van and were swiftly taken away.

A 50-minute television special on the show, The Beatles At Shea Stadium, was screened for the first time at 8pm on March 1, 1966 on BBC 1 in the UK. Its US debut was from 7.30pm on 10 January 1967. The film began with the concert's closing song, I'm Down, and featured the other acts before The Beatles were introduced by Ed Sullivan.

She's A Woman and Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby were left out of the resulting programme. The sound was also extensively re-recorded, in a secret session which took place in London on January 5, 1966.

The Beatles returned to Shea Stadium during their final tour the following year, on August 23, 1966. 



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 14, 1965 (Saturday)

Studio 50, New York City, USA

The Beatles traveled to North America for the 3rd time, and their 2nd full concert tour, departing from London Airport with a lusty au revoir from one thousand fans at noon on August 13th, arriving in New York at 2:30 pm local time and setting up residence at the Warwick Hotel on Manhattan until the morning of the 17th.

Their first engagement - after the obligatory press conference, was the taping of an insert for The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles didn't perform any TV duties during their August/September 1964 tour and it was now 18 months since those three February 1964 top-rated spots on Sullivan's Sunday night variety series.

During this morning, the Beatles returned to the scene of their triumphant Sullivan debut, CBS-TV's Studio 50, located at Broadway and West 53rd St, rehearsing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and then taping from 8:30 pm, also before an audience. They performed six songs live (the same six in same order that they had played on Blackpool Night Out a fortnight previously): "I Feel Fine", "I'm Down", "Act Naturally", "Ticket To Ride", "Yesterday" and "Help!". There was a clear break after "Act Naturally", the Beatles returning for the final three songs and a different stage setting.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 13, 1965 (Friday)

The Beatles left England at midday to fly to America to begin their second tour of the United States.

Their flight from London Airport was seen off by 1,000 fans. The group arrived at New York's JFK Airport at 2.30pm local time, and were greeted by crowds of reporters and cameramen. The American fans, however, were unable to see The Beatles, as the police had ordered that their aeroplane to be parked two miles from the main terminal.

The Beatles were driven straight to the Warwick Hotel on 6th Avenue and 54th Street, where they stayed on until 17 August. They gave a press conference, directed by their press officer Tony Barrow, for around 250 reporters.

The group had the entire 33rd floor of the Warwick Hotel to themselves, with guards stationed on each entrance to keep out unwanted guests.