Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Police hold tide of Beatlemania

Police Hold Tide of Beatlemania
By Robert K. Sanford
The Morning Kansas City Times
September 18, 1964

When the announcer said, “The Beatles!” and the four British singers bounced onto the stage a concerted scream rose in Municipal Stadium and hundreds of flashbulbs lit the park like harsh fireflies. 

The scream tore on and on.  The performers, jolly and jaunty, sounded some practice guitar chords, said “Ha” and “Hi” into the microphones and abruptly ripped into a tune called “Twist and Shout.”
The scream, from an audience of 20,280, reached frightening intensity.  A man smoking a cigar in the front row put his hands over his ears and puffed.  The Beatles played for 31 minutes, 12 songs perhaps and only as they left did the screaming die, sinking into a mournful moan.

“They are gone, gone,” a girl said, “I’ll never see them again.”

And so the night of the Beatles, the biggest entertainment promotion in the area in the memory of many of the teenagers who attended came and passed. 

Physically, it was accomplished rather efficiently, with a line of 100 policemen separating the crowd from the bandstand.  No one was hurt.  There were no crushing stampedes, no ugly incidents.
The crowd did not fill the 41,000 seats arranged for the events, but it was a sizable crowd in any estimate, one of the four or five biggest crowds to see the Beatles on their American tour. 

The spectator were from several states, and their cars were directed and their property and limbs protected by about 350 police in the stadium area.  The spectators were admonished several times previous to the Beatles’ appearance to stay in their seats or the show would be stopped. By and large they did.  Only at the end, when the Beatles were rushed from the filed in the black limousine, did a section of several hundred teenage girls rush to the line of policemen.  They yelled goodbye and waved.

One of the quartet raised a hand in farewell in te back window of the car as it sped away.  Then the girls began to cry. 

Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics and the man who brought the Beatles here for $150,000, lost money.  He did not make a public appearance at the show.  His manager, Pat Friday, gave a check for $25,000 to Children’s Mercy hospital although no profit was made on the venture.
An Athletics officials said ticket sales of about 28,000 were needed to break even.  The gate was estimated at something more than $100,000, but considerably short of the $150,000.

Finley said he was delighted with the performance and that he considered the behavior of Kansas City teenagers indeed commendable.  He praised the work of the police and the U.M.K.C. and Rockhurst college students who acted as ushers. 

So, concerning the physical aspects – the security, the traffic, the crowds, all went well.  Reason prevailed. 

But the event left some of the Beatles followers emotionally torn.  As the crowds left the park, fully 10 minutes after all the shouting, there were groups of exhausted girls still seated in the playing field area and the stand.  They were crying.  Why?

“Because they (The B’s) just left and didn’t say anything,” a girl explained, rubbing her eyes.  “Now they are gone forever.”

“Ah, they’ll be back again,” a policeman said.

“What do you care?”  the girl wept, “You were down in front there and you didn’t care and I was way back here and I couldn’t even get close to them…”

“Now wait a minute, honey,” he said.  “It’s not my fault.”

Then he walked away.

Many of the policemen who manned the barricade in front of the blaring loudspeakers put cotton in their ears.  For others not so well prepared, the sound of the mass scream – a fearful sound because it seems out of control – will linger, not gently, in their memory.

The Beatles music, the incessant beat and the hard blare of electric guitars pushed to volume limits, can be heard on jukeboxes in a hundred thousand joints and drugstores.  The scream had no volume control.

Scarlett Peterson, 14, Topeka, sat on the front row with no shoes and wore a button that said, “I love Paul.” (That’s Paul McCartney.  The others are Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon).  Why the button?

“Because Paul is left handed like me and plays bass guitar and has brown eyes and black hair.”  With blue-tipped fingernails she pushed back a lock of her blond hair.

“You’ll have to get out of our seats, girls,” a woman said.  “These are our seats.”  Scarlett and her friends walked off, unoffended.

A girl with a legitimate front row seat was Tina Mitchell, 15, of 7205 Flora Avenue, president of the Leabets Beatles spelled inside out), the Kansas City fan club.  She thought the show was grand and she had grand news.

A friend with her, Vicki Mucie, 14, had come into ownership of a cigarette butt that Paul reportedly had smoked at the afternoon press conference downtown.

What was she going to do with it?

“I’m going to frame it along with a jelly bean that John stepped on in Denver when I saw them there.”  It was a yellow jelly bean and the cigarette butt was filter-tipped.

Yes, jelly beans were thrown at the Beatles in their Kansas city performance, too.  Why?  Because the Beatles love jelly beans, silly.

There were stories of great sacrifice and effort among the followers.  Mary Jo Berger, 15, 

Edwardsville, Illinois (Sara’s note—yeah!!!) carried a sign which she tired to show to the Beatles and was told to go back to her seat.   The sign said,
“You’re the greatest
Charlie O.
For you got us
Dear Ringo.
I wish I may
I wish I might
Get to talk to
Him tonight.”

One of Mary Jo’s friends from Edwardsville chose to walk out of the stadium with one shoe on and one shoe off.  Why?

“Because sometime when they were singing I suddenly found my show in my hand.”  The Beatles left the stadium at 9:15 o’clock.  At 11:13 o’clock their airplane left the ground at Municipal Air Terminal on the way to Dallas. 

Most of the time before they left they spent in the plane, passengers in the world of aviation, where, experts tell us, as in all of life, the noise level is increasing every year.

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