Wednesday, August 22, 2012

46 years since the Beatles played in St. Louis

Everyone always assumes that since I live in Illinois, that I am from Chicago.    No no no.   I live no where near Chicago.   It takes me 5-6 hours worth of driving to get to Chicago.  Illinois is a big state and Chicago is towards the top.  I live in Alton, Illinois.   Alton is more towards the bottom of the state.  Alton is located on the Mississippi River.   I live extremely close to the state of Missouri, specifically the city of St. Louis.    In my car, I can get to the arch in St. Louis in about 20 minutes from my house.   So whenever there is a major touring event, I see it in St. Louis.   And so the people I know in my area who were fortunate enough to see the Beatles in concert, saw them in the pouring rain in 1966 in St. Louis.  That is why that show has always interested me.   It took place 46 years ago....yesterday (oops...I didn't get to update the blog due to unforeseen circumstances).    Here are two newspaper articles that were published on August 22, 1966 about the concert as well as the newspaper photos that were published with the articles. (all of this was found in the July 1996 issue of What Goes On)

The Beatles sing in the rain for wet, enthusiastic Audience
23,000 pay to hear them – first aid stations busy
By Robert K. Sanford (of the Post-dispatch Staff)
The Beatles played and sang 11 tunes last night before 23,143 paid spectators at Busch Memorial Stadium in a light rainstorm.  Thousands of fans screamed for the music, thousands got wet from the rain, hundreds were terribly upset by it all and a few dozen fainted.

The 11 tunes took about 30 minutes and the rain was substantial at times.  The fans sat in the rain and yelled.  The Beatles were protected by a plastic canopy but they also got damp.  Their mop hairdos got damp and so did the mop hairdos of their followers.

The members of the quartet told their press officer, Tony Barrow, that they did not mind playing in the rain but were a bit apprehensive about the possibility of getting shocked by the wet electric amplifying equipment.  But once on stage they grabbed the electric guitars and microphones fearlessly and attacked the music.

The Beatles were pleasant and self-effacing as they chatted with reporters before the show.  One interviewer told Ringo Starr, the drummer Beatle, that he was interested in the musical make-up of their songs, “Well, I really don’t quite know what to say,” Ringo replied.  “Musically, they’re nothing extraordinary.”

One reporter asked Paul McCartney whether he preferred to write songs or to perform.  He liked writing, Paul said, and he did not think he and the other Beatles were very good as performers.
John Lennon, the literary Beatle, remarked that everybody had been “doubly kind” to them in the controversy about his statement that the Beatles were more popular now than Jesus Christ.
Before the show began, 85 young people from First Baptist church of Ferguson and the Broadway Baptist Church handed out more than 20,000 pamphlets concerning the Lennon statement.
But the Rev. Bob Wright, a minister at the Ferguson church, pointed out that the pamphlets were not really in opposition to The Beatles.

“We have tried to take a positive approach,” the Rev. Mr. Wright said.  The pamphlets said there was a strong element of truth in what Lennon said.  They called popularity fickle and pointed out that people who at one time praised Christ were the ones who demanded his crucifixion.

Some Beatle fans did not accept the pamphlets gracefully or try to understand them, the Rev. Mr. Wright said.  An older boy pushed Steve Crowder, 11 years old in the face, the Rev. Mr. Wright said and some other youths spit on a group of the pamphlet-passers.  “It has been an experience for our youngsters tonight.”  The Rev. Mr. Wright said.

Barrow, the Beatles press officer, said the alleged decline of the Beatles in popularity was mythical.  “Beatle-knocking has become a new fad,” he said.

Barrow said more American fans had gone to see The Beatles in the first half of their tour this year than had attended in the first half of last year’s tour.

The fans at Busch Stadium got plenty of volume for their money but the song lyrics were difficult to understand.  The rain did not damp the echo qualities of the stadium.

Jack Goggin, public address system operator, said the music was piped through more than 200 speakers in the structure.  The system works well when performers speak distinctly, he said, but distinct enunciation is not a notable ingredient in rock n roll music.

Because it was thought that the rain might get worse the Beatles performance was moved forward in the program to the third position in five acts.  The group that followed them, the Ronettes, was made up of girl singers.  When the girl singers appeared on the stage most of the girl spectators deserted their seats in the rain.

Some fans had come a long way for the show.  A group of 85 had won an air trip from Denver in a radio station contest.  Two girls from Memphis who were dressed in boutique clothes (one wore a tailored glen plaid short-skirt suit and hat, the other a dress of broad vertical stripes o green, orange and purple) said they had seen The Beatles in Memphis and were going to follow them to New York and try to get to talk to them, “Daddy’s rich,” one explained.

At the first aid station, two nurses treated 35 girls for minor injuries and ailments, and most common ones being acute Beatlemania.

“It’s mild hysteria,” said Nurse Virginia Berger.  “The symptoms are weeping, wailing, and uncontrollable shaking.  I tell them to sit down and cool off.”

After The Beatles appeared, the nurses had about a half a dozen young girls at a time int eh station cooling off in shifts in the next hour.

The Beatles arrived in a chartered jet plane and were taken to the stadium in limousines.  One limousine driver forgot to lock the back doors of the car after the Beatles had got out and someone stole the rear floor mats.

After the show The Beatles left in two police cars.  About 50 young fans tried to get past police to touch the British singers.  Some girls tried to scramble onto the police cars.

A 17 year old girl from Creve Coeur managed to get hold of Ringo for a moment.  Afterwards she kept shouting, “I held him.  I held him.”  She grabbed a reporter around the waist and said, “I help him like this!”

She jumped up and down, flailed her arms, and then turned limp.  Two policemen assisted her, holding her up by the arms, but the soon lost enthusiasm and let her down on the sidewalk.  “She’ll be all right,” one said dryly.

20,000 Cheer Beatles
By King McElroy (Globe-Democrat Staff Writer)

The Beatles were at second base at Busch Memorial Stadium Sunday night just slightly longer than Julian Javier in the act of turning over a bang-bang double play.   But the results appeared to be equally rewarding to those present.

The long-awaited rock n roll spectacle played to a less than half full house of some 20,000, who more than made up for their sparseness with enthusiasm.

Although the first twang of the show as sounded at 8 pm, a whole lot of shakin’ went on before the shaggy shouters took their place on the bandstand facing home plate.

When the British quartet was announced at 8:55, following 20-minute sets of two other folk-rock groups, it brought the crowd of youngsters joyously to their feet - on the seats.

The piercing screams of the fans echoed across the riverfront as the mop-topped singers emerged from a dugout.

A steady rainfall throughout the foursome’s half-hour set failed to dampen the spirits of either performers or admirers, as The Beatles batted out seven numbers to the delight of thousands of teenagers and a smattering of adults.

St. Louis displayed little indignation over a remark by John Lennon, the literary Beatle, to the effect that his group has become more popular than Christ.

One old car circled the stadium bearing a sign, “Ban the Beatles.”  Fans on the sidewalk and occupants of the car periodically exchanged hoots.

A dozen dissenters picketed the new downtown sports facility, occasionally heckling boys inside the gates sporting Beatle haircuts.

One of the cardboard picket signs declared, “God forever, The Beatles Never.”  Other simply “Boo.”
But inside everything was harmony.  The appreciative audience squealed, whistled and applauded before, during and after each song.

A cloth draped out of a box seat near first base seemed to express the prevailing sentiment of the crowd.  It read, “Happiness is The Beatles.”

However, one of the Andy Frain ushers, commented that “some of these people don’t act as funny as they look.”

Preceding the main attraction were two groups called the “Remains” and the “Cyrkles.”  After Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney bade everyone a good night at 9:25, the “Happenings” and the “Ronettes” wrapped things up.

The Beatles arrived at Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport at 4:49pm on a little-known patch of runway near the control tower.

Diversionary tactics of police marked the arrival and departure of the visitors.

While hundreds of uninformed fans roamed the terminal, the singers were escorted off the field in two 1966 black limousines by Berkeley police.

Once on Brown Road, the quartet and their entourage drove at 65 mph in a 40 mph zone, leaving newsmen and fans in the dust.

Highway patrolmen brought the Beatles cars onto Interstate 70 for a swift ride to the city limits, where St. Louis patrolmen continued the escort to the stadium.

The procedure was followed in reverse for the return to the airport.

County police stationed a decoy force of uniformed police at a terminal gate.  Clue-grasping teenagers immediately assumed battle stations around the waiting officers.  But the Beatles never appeared.

Other youths raced around the terminal seeking helicopters, jealously clutching a carefully planted news tip that the group would make the trip to the stadium by air.

Meanwhile St. Louis police dispatched all mobile reserves, canine and radar units to the stadium at 5pm to restrain scores of youths who were waiting for even a glimpse of their long-maned heroes.
Wild-eyed girls, screaming long before the caravan approached, greeted the foursome.

The entourage was led into the stadium through a basement entrance off Spruce Street, where they rested in the football Cardinals dressing room.

Fifty police were charged with keeping overzealous fans off the field while The Beatles performed in the darkened stadium with a spotlight playing on them.

A cordon of patrolmen set up a line to restrain fans at the entrance used for the arrival, drawing the expectant crowds to them like bees to honey while the Beatles slipped out onto 7th Street at 10:15 and sped to the airport.

To throw news photographers off the track, four long black cars backed up to the dressing rooms inside the stadium, but were never meant to be used.

The Beatles re-entered their chartered 71-seat American Airlines Electra, which had been moved to a remote section of the airfield, at 10:40, where they waited for the rest of their party.

Their next scheduled appearance is in New York at Shea Stadium on Tuesday.


  1. This is great! I've never seen pictures of this show!!! Thanks so much for typing up the accounts as well!

  2. I attended this concert when I was 12. I am so happy to finally get to read an article about it and see pictures. What memories it brings back! It really did rain hard! They just kept playing..I love those guys!

  3. This review is more focued and extremely well-detailed on the secretive security measures that were used to get The Beatles in-and-out of the Lambert Airport and Busch Stadium giving detailed routes and exits along with their times of departue.
    However, the review of the show itself is very limited with many factual errors and insipid descriptions of the band performing. On the error department, Mr. McElroy states that one of the bands performing that night were The Happenings? Where did he come up with that group's name as they were never listed on the St. Louis show or any other portion of The Beatles 1966 U.S.A. tour. The Cyrkle are listed as "the Cyrkles" (sic). His description of the groups who played just before The Beatles performnce, oul great Bobby Hebb and the garage band The Remains was as such: " following 20-minute sets of two other folk-rock groups."?!
    Also Mr. McElroy notes that Beatles performed seven songs when they actually performed 11.

    1. Yeah---not all this stuff is true at all. That is why my upcoming book will have the correct information in it.