|I never realized that Little Orphan Annie was a Beatles fan|
August 19, 1965 — from a 15 year old who was there!
The Beatles at the Sam Houston Coliseum, 3:30 & 8 p.m.
Tickets for the Beatles concerts were $5.00 each, general admission and sold by mail only. My friend, Susan McNeeley, and I had our tickets to both shows by March, 1965. I made a huge paper chain for my room, each link denoting a day until Aug. 19. I recall that each night I would gleefully tear up a link knowing I was one day closer to seeing the Beatles.
Since my family was completely unsupportive of my devotion to the Fab Four, I spent the night of Aug. 18 at Susan’s house. Her older sister was to take us to the Coliseum at 6am the following morning. Watching the evening news on the 18th, we were horrified! Girls were already camped out in front of the venue in hopes of securing the best seats. Susan and I went crazy!
Her parents, however, were not willing to drive us two 15-year-old girls to downtown Houston — to spend the night — out in the open — with no adult supervision. What was wrong with them? They compromised and agreed to take us at 4 a.m. instead of 6. We knew the Beatles would be staying at the Sheraton downtown, but we knew we’d never get in (months later, with some subterfuge, we did manage to sneak a peek at the rooms and touch everything in them).
That night, Susan and I listened to concert-sponsors KILT radio as they gave the blow-by-blow of the Beatles landing at Hobby Airport. Susan and I were just about out of our minds that we were missing this. We actually got bikes out and started out pedaling to the airport, but ultimately decided we would never make it in time(!).
We then came up with a brilliant plan. We sneaked through the house and changed all of the clocks! So, we actually made it down to the Coliseum at around 2 a.m.
There were already about 50 other girls there. As the sun came up, more and more girls began arriving and by 10 a.m., it was pure bedlam. Remember, the tickets were general admission. To add to the mix, it was August in Houston, so people were fainting, etc. For a bunch of unsophisticated little girls from the ‘burbs like we ALL were, it was quite an experience. I don’t recall when the Coliseum opened the doors and let us in, but I do remember it was early.
Once inside, the dash was on! We got center, a few rows back. The crowd was nearly all little girls and a few beleaguered parents or older siblings. Everywhere Susan and I saw classmates from Johnston Junior High. The excitement was truly palpable.
At about 1 p.m., some guys from one of the other bands on the bill, Sounds Incorporated, walked all around the balcony area way up in back of the stage. With their long hair and suits, the crowd went absolutely crazy! We couldn’t really tell who was up there, but they looked like Brits to us.
Finally, at 3:30, the show began. I don’t remember the exact order and I may leave someone out, but I think it was King Curtis Band, Brenda Holloway, Cannibal & the Headhunters (actually, pretty good), and Sounds Incorporated. Not to take anything away from these performers, but I think for the audience the word “endure” is more appropriate than “enjoy.” Finally, onstage came Russ Knight, the Weird Beard, and with a few words from him — OUT THEY CAME! They opened to the middle of Twist and Shout, and the audience literally ignited. We all stood on our chairs, screamed, cried and generally showed our approval with every shake of a Beatle head and every tap of a boot-clad foot. After 35 minutes, it was all over.
Susan and I schlepped back outside and promptly got in line for the 8 p.m. show. There were still lots of girls like us in line, but there were also more college-aged and more couples for the later show. So, in we went again. We got in the center again, but farther back. This time when the Beatles came on, I was more collected, so I paid attention to the songs they sang, John’s Mary Quant hat, Ringo’s rings flashing, four sets of Cuban-heeled feet tapping, the matching dark suits, John’s distinctive stance in front of the microphone, George’s eyebrows, etc. The audience was lively, but nothing like my “sisters” at the 3:30 show. Then, it was over.
Since we knew the Beatles were flying out of Houston that night, we begged Susan’s sister to take us to Hobby Airport, which she did. We went inside the terminal and watched the plane. We saw the Beatles being driven on the tarmac to board the plane. Right before takeoff, some/all came up to the cockpit and waved to all of us there watching. Then, away they flew.
Later, I read criticisms about Beatles’ concerts in general — how you couldn’t hear them, the audiences were crazy, etc. People who believed such things just didn’t get it. For those of us tuned in, it was an EXPERIENCE. We heard them, we saw them and we EXPERIENCED them. I can’t speak for fans of other bands of the day, but for us, the Beatles were a promise of a new world coming. In the years following those concerts in 1965, they more than delivered on that promise. And for millions like me, they never broke it. –Abigail Reeves
I indeed remember my first rock concert: The Beatles, Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, 8/19/65, the evening show. My aunt, who lived in Houston, bought tickets for me and her daughter, my cool cousin Candy, who’s a couple years older than me. I was 14, almost 15, and rode a Greyhound bus from San Antonio to Houston.
From what I remember, it was a package show with a bunch of bands including Cannibal & the Headhunters, King Curtis (I still remember that as my introduction to the great Texas tenor sax sound) and Syndicate of Sound, whose drummer did a great solo. I know there were other bands on the bill, but some brain cells have left the building since ’65.
When the Beatles came on, my cousin Candy jumped up, started waving her arms and knocked my glasses off. It took me five minutes to find my specs. What I remember most about the Beatles set was the nonstop screaming. It wasn’t until years later that someone gave me a bootleg cassette of the show. Then I actually heard the Beatles in concert at Sam Houston Coliseum. –Jim
The Fabs were my first concert, 19 August 1965 at the Sam Houston Coliseum. I was 12.
What to say — one of the most exciting events in my life, the energy, the excitement, the music (what you could hear of it, which was not much), just seeing them in the flesh. … I still recall it so clearly and am so very grateful to have been there! –Sherri
My friends and I were the biggest Beatles fans we knew, so if they were coming to Houston, we HAD to see them.
We sent in our $6.50 money orders, and the gods smiled on our devotion and sent us general admission tickets to see our true loves. One friend’s parents didn’t think we were old enough to go to such an event, so on the day of days, just Bridget Johnson and I went. We just KNEW that we of all the fans would somehow get to meet the Beatles, so we dressed in our 12-year-old finest — our Easter dresses. Yes, with little white socks and patent leather shoes.
My dad dropped us off in front of the Sam Houston Coliseum and instructed us to be there after the show. We promised but we knew we would probably be running away to marry Paul and John. (We were 12, so John’s wife and son didn’t seem to be such a big deal to Bridget). We found seats on the front row of the balcony, facing the stage. Every time someone got near the stage, the audience erupted in screams.
Looking back on it, the stage was very bare compared to all the equipment bands have now. Just the instruments, mikes, and tiny little amps.
The opening act was Cannibal and the Headhunters, whose hit was Land of a 1000 Dances. I have no idea what else they played, but we suffered their presence and tried to conserve our energy for the REAL reason for living.
Finally, Houston’s TV music personality Larry Kane took the stage and after an endless introduction, he said the words everyone had waited to hear, “The Beatles!” We went wild! We screamed, jumped, held each other — just like the goofy girls in the old footage. We could barely hear the songs, but we didn’t care because they were standing in front of US! At some point, we tried to get hold of ourselves in case they noticed us, but we just couldn’t do it. We stood and danced and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the experience.
To this day, I love being able to say that the Beatles concert was the first one I saw. Even though we didn’t really hear much, it was a huge thing for a couple of little girls in their best dresses. –Deborah
My Mom drove me over to Houston from Kountze. It was incredible, exciting, awesome. Did I faint? Maybe - I recall one song and the next thing I can recall - they are singing another. Their 30 min. concert was off key, rushed and clearly they didn't want to be there. No encore. Did this concert deserve to be the best in memory? No but is it - Yes!! I will forever view the concert through the eyes of an embattered teen who escaped daily trauma with the help of the Fabs!!! –Cheryl
My brother Rudy and I attended concert, our seats were in the second level right behind Ringo. We had a great view but it was so loud and the girls just kept screaming and hanging and pushing on us. It was memorable. – Rock
I got downtown at 6am.after riding a bus from Victoria. There was already several hundred people standing around. Around noon the police rounded us up and put us on a vacant lot across the street from the Music Hall. Someone stepped off the curb like to make run for the doors and the rush was on. I was about the 60th person thru the doors, I set on the 5th row as there were policemen standing in front of the stage. Loved it but don't see how anyone behind me could have heard them. Would do it all over again if I could. –John
I was there with my GRANDMOTHER!!!!!!!!! I still remember the sound of those screaming teenage girls! I've never heard anything like it since! I can also see thousands of flashes from their cameras. Those girls would all be in their 60's now! I remember they brought the Beatles into the Coloseum in an armored car and pandemonium broke out. A stage hand took the name of the opening band off of the kick drum to reveal the name"The Beatles" and that's when the screaming began! –Gary