A night to remember (round #2)
By Joy Kilbane
MacLen fanzine issue #10/11 February-April 1976
As of this writing it’s been almost 10 years since that night in Cleveland, Ohio. I’d like to once again share my experience of the August 14th Beatles concert. That day was very overcast, but there wasn’t any rain, thank God! I went to downtown Cleveland with some friends of mine. Lynda L., Donna T., Sherry S., Nita C., Chris D. and your truly. And all of us were on our way downtown via the rapid transit. Once we reached Public Square – the big deal center of town, we headed toward the Cleveland Sheraton Hotel. I wore a blue and green polka-dot mini dress with high heels. You know, the blue and green was for Paul and John. All over the place there were Beatle people! It was really a beautiful and exciting experience to be a part of. I can’t really explain how I felt then. I’m sure all of you know the feeling. Well, the first thing all of us did was look up at the hotel and at least in my mind I thought this was it! The guys you’ve wanted to see in action and not on the movie or TV screen. This was MY first concert and I still couldn’t believe I was actually going to see them in action! Also this was the second time there were in Cleveland. The first being September 15, 1964. I wasn’t able to go.
We had plenty of time to kill before the concert, so Donna and I went back to the Terminal where the rapids are located. I can’t remember the reason we went back there. Inside the Tower, there is a decline, can’t really explain it—like a ramp, no steps you climb down, just a smooth ramp. As I said, I wore heels and I started to slip on one of the declines. Had this really WILD idea to scream out the guys’ names. I just felt like doing it, just to see what would happen. Well, I started letting go with “John! John!” Donna picked up with yelling for George. I had to run in order not to slip and fall on my boomer plus our yelling caused a near riot inside the building. There were at least 200 or 300 kids running inside the building after us. We hid, naturally. The others stayed outside while Donna and I had our jollies.
Boarded the bus that was to take us to the stadium. I was a nervous wreck! The stadium came in sight and my stomach was really letting the butterflies go. Such a Beatleful feeling it was. Found our seats – they were directly in front of the stage but far away. WIXY 1260 on a banner tacked n the front of the stage where the guys were going to be. WIXY wasn’t even a year old and yet, it was them that brought the guys back! All over the stadium were banners. I can’t remember what all of them said but I think one said “Bernard Webb Forever” and “Give us a kiss” was another one I saw. Too much!
I spotted Mal Evans on the stage setting up the guys’ stuff. I told the others who he was and we started to yell out his name just to see what he’d do. He turned around and all of us waved like mad. He waved back at us and then started to resume what he was doing. Again his name was called and again he turned and waved back at us. We did it again and all he did was wave since he knew where we were. Again came the beautiful feelings.
The time passed and more kids arrived. I spotted Brian Epstein leaning against one of the legs(??) He wore a purple suit and I told Donna that he reminded me of a grape. Then the guys came. Shit! What a feeling I felt! They got out of their limo – I saw all of them but I can’t remember what the others wore except John. He was in all white. Yes, that is what he wore. It was as if by magic, when the guys arrived everyone stood right up.
The acts before the guys were enough to drive you out of your mind! The waiting. The waiting…I don’t remember all the acts except the Cyrcle and Bobby Hebb, and the Ronnettes. If I remember correctly, the Cyrcle was the act before the guys. The Cyrcle did pretty well—the flash from the cameras was like lightening for them.
Then it was time. The WIXY DJ’s all came on stage and I thought, “Oh God! This is it!” They started with their small talk which drove me up the wall! Now, I was really a nervous wreck! Then WIXY DJ’s introduced themselves and talked about the radio station. Then began the “Give me a B (We screamed B)---give me an E (we again let the DJ’s have it)—give me an A (we did) –give me a T (again)—give me an L (ditto)—give me an E (we did)—give me as S (again)—what does it spell? (The Monkees? What do you think it spelled, you dumb DJ’s???). BEATLES! (louder) BEATLES!! (louder) BEATLES!!! “Okay, here they are—the Beatles!!!!!!”
The door of the specially built trailer for their use behind the stage opened and out they came! All the screaming and the flashes from cameras all over the stadium—what a sight that was! The guys ran up on the stage and went right to their instruments. I was in such a state of shock that I can’t remember the first song they did! Whatever it was, it was beautiful! I know they sang “Nowhere Man.” I had this great love for “If I Needed someone”—I really adore that song very much. It wasn’t released in the States until the summer American LP “Yesterday and Today.” So, I was really zonked out when George started that one! I started crying. I just couldn’t take it anymore!
The snow fence—if you’ve ever read in any magazine about the tours, in their description of the Cleveland Stadium concert, they mention a little fence (about waist high and very flimsy which surrounds the outfield). This my friends is the snow fence. The police, thinking that they were so smart and not many police would be needed for the concert since the Beatles weren’t as popular. There weren’t many of the little blue meanie there. George really started the gathering during “If I Needed Someone” and so it began. A guy was able to get on the field and naturally he was cheered on. But the police cut the trip short. George began the beginning of “Day Tripper” and that’s when it happened! The kids (including yours truly) started to leave their seats. It was like magic. I could see the fence slowly give way and the police running toward the stage since that was the only thing they could do. The guys on stage were really enjoying all of this. They really started to act up and motioned for us to keep coming, which we did! Those four were really throwing themselves into that song, all the while motioning for us to keep coming. The police couldn’t argue with thousands of kids. Speedy here made it to the middle of the ground, my stupid heels got stuck in the mud! Needless to say, I was able to see the men I love up close once again, only in action this time. John was having a good time. He kept teasing the girls that were right up to the stage with his foot. Paul was laughing because of the girls came with were tickling him (on his leg). The police began throwing the kids off. That’s no joke! In one of the articles about the Cleveland riot, it stated that Ringo was pulled off the drums, but that’s not true. A girl asked if she could shake his hand and he said it would be okay. It is just that a “nice” policeman just happened to grab her while she was still hanging onto Ringo’s hand! That’s why he was “pulled off I his drums.”
I felt like I was going to faint. It was so hot on that field and all the kids were just shoved together which didn’t help matters. It was bad news, but I told myself that I couldn’t let myself faint. I watched Paul and the guys, with the help of the police leave the stage and go into the trailer rather fast, I must say. Jack Armstrong, one of the DJ’s started yelling that we broke our promise about not mobbing the stage. He was crying! That’s what I said—he was crying. Since he’s a jerk, nobody listened to him. The field was covered for about 20 minutes but it seemed like an hour. After a while, it was finally cleared and an English voice came over the loudspeakers and told us that if the field wasn’t cleared right away, the show wouldn’t go on. I swear to this day that the voice belonged to George! After the little speech, the field was cleared fast. I remember telling Donna that we were going to really make news because of the riot. Well, would you believe that in one of the Cleveland papers the next day they printed just what I said?
Also before the riot I remember one of the amps weren’t working and Paul announcing a song, “Our next number will be--- our next number WON’T be…” as no sound came from the amp. Then Mal was called on stage and with a quick flip of a knob, got it to work (good old Mal!)
Anyway, the show started up again and the guys played “I feel Fine.” I just wanted to die! That’s another one of my songs. Oh! Another thing I forgot to mention. One time during the show Donna was standing on her seat and was bouncing up and down. It seemed as though Lennon was looking in our direction or our section. Good old Donna—she was still bouncing up and down and her half-slip fell down! It was so funny! And John just doubled over at that moment, laughing (strange). Also, Lynda leaned over too far and fell right into the dugout, where some of the DJ’s were sitting along with other people and on the news that night there was a film of her display of grace.
The concert ended with “Long Tall Sally” then the guys left the stage because the filed was getting full again since everyone knew that would be their last song. I was in total shock and I just couldn’t believe that I was actually at the concert! All of our “gang” or most of us anyway, some were lost in the riot, met up and started back toward the Terminal Tower. Outside the stadium the WIXY satellite studio was playing all Beatles songs and “And I love her” was playing.
On our way back, I heard this English voice. So the lot of us ran to see who it was. Would you believe it was Mal? I about croaked when I saw him! He was walking back to the hotel. I no doubt figured that he thought nobody knew who he was so he’d be safe. Only a few girls were with him with Donna, Bonnie, Lynda, Sherry and myself ran up to him and started to rattle off about meeting him at EMI Studios on Abbey Road that past April. I asked him if he remembered me and he did. He asked how I liked the concert and I told him I just loved it! Someone asked him if it would be okay with him if we kissed him. He said it would be okay so each of us gave him a kiss. When it was my turn, he put his hand on my back and helped me up to him. That man has such a soft cheek and he smelled so good! Bonnie asked him to give John and kiss and he gave her a funny look. I offered to do it for Mal, but he just looked at me as if to say “I just bet you would.” Oh well. I would have been able to give John that kiss if I had a few drinks in me. Told Mal that we saw “Help!” and we liked the part he had – you know, coming out of the water and asking Lennon if he made it to the White Cliffs of Dover. I asked him if he was cold and he said he was. I told him I wished I’d been there to give him a towel and he said he wished I was too. One of his friends met up with Mal and he said that he had to go. We begged him to let us come with him but he said there were too many of us and he was going for a drink with this other guy and we weren’t old enough. So we gave Mal all the gum chains that we had made for the guys. I bet he was most thrilled about that. But he did take them from us. I bet he threw them away from we left. Then again maybe he didn’t—I’ll never know. And we said goodbye to him as did the other girls.
I’ll never forget that wonderful day as long as I live. Thanks Mal! Indeed it was a night to remember.