“THEE MOST POPULAR BAND IN MUSIC HISTORY!” Among the millions of quotes that have been attributed to The Beatles, this profoundly unique quote remains constant! However, there has always been a certain element, or lack thereof regarding their incredible popularity that confounds us! Considering the bands massive popularity, very few people have ever seen the band play LIVE! Especially in the USA their largest market! In fact, thru the years we have always been on the lookout for anyone who saw The Beatles play a live show! And to our surprise, we only know TWO people who actually saw the band live, and one of those people was US!…You do the math, but the slight / minimal numbers are staggering! Plus, keep in mind The Beatles Sold out every show during their three years of concert tours in the U.S! Sooo, did YOU ever see them play, do you know anyone who did?…Point Made!
Meanwhile, this week we’d like to introduce our Guest Blogger Neal Umphred! Neal is an author with Goldmine Record Guides, A writer / Music Blogger and has been collecting rare records for over 50 years! But, this week Neal joins us to share the great story about his friend Marcia Long! Yes! Marcia is among the very, very, lucky few who saw The Beatles play live in 1966!
Here’s Neal with his great Beatle story, as told to him by Marcia Long….”Beatlemaniac”
THE BEATLE MANIA OF 1964 took us all by surprise. Which it shouldn’t have, as the Beatles had already had an astounding effect on England and every other place they appeared. But record buyers in the US had been impervious to the charms of British pop musicians up until that time. The attempts at getting Beatles records played on American Top 40 radio by tiny Vee-Jay Records in 1963 had been ineffectual.
But by the end of that year, changes started happening as Capitol Records—a major player in the record industry—were determined to break them the States. The first big move was the release of with the group’s newest single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” on December 26, 1963. Four weeks later it was the #1 record on the Cash Box Top 100, where it remained for eight weeks.
The second move was on January 20, 1964, when Capitol issued Meet the Beatles! This LP skyrocketed to #1 on its way to selling almost 4,000,000 copies by the end of the year, an unprecedented accomplishment at the time.
The third and arguably biggest move occurred on February 16, 1964, when the Fab Four appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Seeing them perform “live” (the shows were taped) in color opened the floodgates in America and pandemonium in the form of Beatlemania rushed through.
It all came to an end on August 29, 1966, when the Beatles played their final American concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Counting the three appearances on Sullivan’s show, they played only 42 dates in the US in 1964 and 1966.
During those dates, less than a million fans—a relatively lucky few given the population of the US—were lucky enough to see them.
We love you Beatles!
The response of American audiences—especially the rapturous (and at times orgasmic) response of young white girls—was actually perceived as a symptom of mass hysteria and delusion in some circles. Sociologists theorized about the whys of the response of America to the Beatles and their fellow British artists in 1964, offering things like we were still reeling from the assassination of JFK.
But this ignores the fact that the Beatles received the same response in the UK and in Canada, on the Continent and Down Under. Everywhere else they performed, girls went ga-ga!
Which brings me to Marcia Long, one of those “lucky few” who saw the Beatles. She attended their Seattle appearance on August 25, 1966, where the Beatles performed two shows at the Seattle Center Coliseum (now known as the Key Arena).
When she told me about seeing the Beatles, I suggested she that write a few words on her experience and I’d turn them into an article, which she did and here that article is.
But before we get to her story, here is a little background . . .
Just let me hear some of that!
At the time of the Seattle concert, the Fab’s latest records were brand new: the Revolver album had been released in the US on August 6 while the new single, “Yellow Submarine” / “Eleanor Rigby,” was just starting its way up the charts towards the toppermost of the poppermost.
In attendance were almost 15,000 customers who had to sit through four opening acts: Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”), the Cyrkle (“Red Rubber Ball”), the Remains (“Don’t Look Back”), and the Ronettes (“Be My Baby”). Today, most rock & roll fans would consider any one of them a topic worthy of an article, but for Beatles fans in 1966, they were just opening acts.
The Beatles did their customary show with nothing from Revolver. They performed the following songs (with the year of release in parentheses):
“Rock and Roll Music” (1964)
“She’s a Woman” (1964)
“If I Needed Someone” (1965)
“Day Tripper” (1965)
“Baby’s in Black” (1965)
“I Feel Fine” (1964)
“I Wanna Be Your Man” (1963)
“Nowhere Man” (1965)
“Paperback Writer” (1966)
“I’m Down” (1964)
The show lasted about 30 minutes, then they were gone, leaving fans like Marcia stunned and wanting more.
“It Went By Awfully Fast”
By Marcia Long
“I remember buying Beatles’ albums with my hard-earned money at the Kmart and I remember they cost $3.50 at the time. These were cherished at my house: my brothers and I would listen and listen and then sing along. One of my brother’s friends claimed that his mother, who was from England, had baby-sat John Lennon as a child, but I didn’t believe him.
“I would buy each 16 Magazine and read it cover-to-cover several times. One story was about what the Beatles liked to eat: they said ‘chips’ so I was going to buy lots of potato chips to be ready for them! It was years later that I realized that in England ‘chips’ were French Fries.
“And later, I figured out that all the info in 16 was fake. Oh, well—I loved it and tore out the photos and put them all over my room. Paul was the most handsome. I liked to draw, so I drew picture after picture of all of them. I drew in pencil, and charcoal, on drawing tablets. I tried to imitate the album covers, and just drew the faces of the Beatles.
“I saw the Beatles at the Seattle Coliseum in August 1966. I was 14 years old and I brought my mom and two younger brothers with me. I had stood in line weeks earlier in downtown Seattle in the very early morning on a Saturday to buy the tickets. I still can’t believe my mom thought it was a good idea to let a 14-year-old go downtown alone on a bus but, who knows what she was thinking.
“I was in the line at a movie theater when my cousin Candy showed up and asked me what I was doing all by myself in line! I told her I was buying four Beatles tickets with my money, money that I earned babysitting every Friday and Saturday night and working in my dad’s store all day Saturday.
“For the concert, I dressed up in my best Sunday-go-to-church clothes and put on lip gloss because I was sure Paul would see me and I wanted to look beautiful. I don’t remember how we all got to the concert, but we made it.
“I remember where we sat but I don’t remember much else. I remember being in the Coliseum and looking around at the huge numbers of people there which made it feel unreal. It was thrilling.
“We were all dressed up and went to our assigned seats and waited politely for the show to begin. The audience was well-behaved until the Beatles were announced, then it was complete chaos. Everyone was screaming and then singing along.
“You couldn’t hear the Beatles at all. The crowd screamed the whole time and I know I was disappointed, but I was also in a daze to be in the same building as the Beatles!
“I know we stood the whole time and we probably screamed along. It was the most emotional experience of my young life and I was so very happy.
“It went by awfully fast. I remember being disappointed that it was over already but also, so glad I had been able to see them.”
Tomorrow never knows
Assuming that most of the fans who saw the Beatles in concert in the ’60s were teenagers, then those who are alive today are 67-84 years old. They are now senior citizens, many already on Social Security and Medicare. I don’t mean to be morbid, but in a few years, they will all be gone.
So if you know anyone with a story to tell about their experience with seeing the Beatles, now is the time to sit down and listen to them. As Marcia Long fondly recalls:
“I still have my ticket stub from this concert and my early Beatle trading cards and a small pin which is a guitar with a round photo of the Beatles attached. My cherished albums were given away in one of my many moves at an adult and I hope they landed with someone who also cherished them.
“One of my brothers died a few years ago, and my mom also died, so all I have left is my other brother, who I love deeply. We have the Beatles concert as a wonderful memory of our family. He and I know all the words to all the Beatles songs still (fifty years later!) and sing along in the car.
“I’m so glad I saved up enough of my hard-earned money and stood in line to get us tickets to this amazing concert . . .”
Neal has been collecting records for more than fifty years. He has been buying and selling them for forty years. In 1989, he inaugurated the original line of Goldmine price guides for record collectors. He currently oversees two music blogs (Rather Rare Records and A Touch of Gold). Along with John Ross and Lew Shiner, he recently launched Tell It Like It Was on Medium, a publication about rock and soul music of the 1960s.Take a moment and check into Neal and what he does! We think you’ll be as impressed as we are!~ SMSP.S. If you’d like to read more about the experience of seeing The Beatles live in concert, here’s the link to our article about seeing the band at The Hollywood Bowl in 1965