Monday, August 31, 2015

Frisco's Near Riot

In many ways I think the two shows the Beatles did at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California on August 31, 1965 were the most out of the control shows they ever did in the United States.   There are other shows that were pretty wild and crazy such as the Cleveland 1964 and 1966 shows, but the Cow Palace '65 shows were wild because fans were getting carried up onto the stage while the show was going on!      Look at the photos and read the newspaper accounts and decide for yourself.

Somebody on Guard
Associated Press

Five teenage girls were injured when a youth leaped on stage with Britain's Beatles, touched drummer Ringo Starr on the shoulder and then did a swan dive off the stage into the front row seats.

The incident occurred Tuesday at the Cow Palace as thousands of screaming, fainting and sobbing teenagers threw jelly beans, stuffed animals and themselves at the singers.

Police said there were no serious injuries and that everyone recovered.

Wave after wave of frantic teenagers, mostly girls, charged the line of police and guards in front of the stage during the Beatles' concluding performances on their American tour.   A private guard, John Edwards, 43, either fainted or was knocked out at the afternoon performance but returned to help control the evening crowd.  The shows drew 28,000 fans.

The evening performance was stopped about ten minutes while Beatle Paul McCartney pleaded with the pushing, shoving teenagers to let police remove Mrs. Julia Stewart, who is five months pregnant from the arena floor, where she had fallen in a faint.  She was taken to a first aid station.

The audience participation performance marked the last day of the Beatles eight city tour of the United States.  Sources said they would take back more than a million dollars to the United Kingdom.

Between shows the Beatles told reporters that they'd make their third movie next year in Spain-- a western.  No details were given.

Beatles end U.S. tour in wild S.F. concert

The Beatles fly back to London today after a 19 day tour capped by farewell performances here almost spilled out of control as hysterical girls leaped onto the stage to grab their beloved Liverpudlians.

"This was the wildest of the whole trip," leader Paul McCartney said after the final show last night.  "We don't blame the police--there just weren't enough of them."

Playing at the Cow Palace, a cavernous auditorium designed for stock shows, the British four were on a stage almost completely surrounded by a sea of 17,000 adolescents whose unbelievable screaming drowned out sounds of real pain.

At least 51 girls were carried out.  Some had just fainted.   But some 30 suffered minor injuries from the crush against the stage.   At one point, a teenage girl flung herself against Paul McCartney and almost toppled him off the stage.  Others grabbed George Harrison and John Lennon.  Drummer, Ringo Starr, high on his podium, was comparatively safe except for the thousands of stinging jelly beans, as well as teddy bears, shoes and lipstick cases thrown at the stage.

Beatles Aide ripped Frisco near-riot. 


Brian Epstein, manager of  the Beatles, today criticized the management of San Francisco's Cow Palace where a near-riot broke out during the performance of the shaggy haired singing quartet Tuesday.

Mr. Epstein, at a new conference held several hours after the Beatles returned from a concert tour of ten American cities, blamed the management for "insufficient security."

The Beatles netted an estimated one million from the tour.

During the disturbance which forced the Beatles to cut short the second show, the fans threw rings, pens, flashlights, Teddy Bears and jellybeans onto the stage.

"They may have underestimated the Beatles' appeal," he said of the management.  "There is a problem here.  Their adulation can be underestimated."

Here is what Alf Bicknell had to say:

The boys played the Cow Palace San Francisco.  It's over, Thank God!  What can I say?  If all the rest of the shows were put together they could never beat this for enthusiasm from the boys. Oh, but the crowd was wild!  I've never seen the likes of it.  Incredible.  So frightening out there tonight as well.  At one point, I thought the show was going to stop and not continue.  Pulling those kids up on the stage, it's a wonder that one of them, or more, wasn't killed.  What happened to the security to put the fans to close?   They just climbed up onto the stage, on top of those being crushed.  Anyway, everyone mucked in, and thank God, again, no one was hurt.

And Alf memories of it from 1990:
Cow Palace.  Amazing!  I think this was one of the first concerts, the only one that I can remember, that the Beatles had to leave the stage due to the pandemonium and excitement of the people.  And it was exciting!  I used to get excited every time they went on stage, but this was special.  A guy appeared out of nowhere, from the back of the stage, over a high wire.  John used to wear a sort of sailor's hat, and this guy grabbed it, which seemed to be a one-bounce movement.  With the hat in hand, he dived straight into the audience.  Before I go any further, it was some while later that the hat was returned, to everyone's amazement.  I remember it so well.  John was absolutely delighted.

But the excitement of the concert.  It had got to such a hectic state.  They all had to leave the stage, back to the dressing room.  I think Paul had to go and ask people to quiet down, not to subdue anyone, but just for the fear of anybody getting hurt.  There are photographs to prove how bad it had gotten, with me running on stage.  I was never on stage with the Beatles before.  It was very exciting.


  1. I was at the first show, our seats were in the fourth row. I remember the guy who climbed onstage and grabbed John's hat then swan dived into the crowd at the front. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I don't remember our show being chaotic like the second show other than that.

    1. Anonymous! Thanks for the remembrance! I got chills when you wrote "I couldn't believe what I was seeing.", ha!

      The Cow Palace show from '64 was pretty wild, also...San Fran definitely got their share of memorable Beatle shows!!!

      (Seattle and Vancouver of '64 were near-riots also!).