A Wild Welcome from S.F. Fans
By William Chapin
The Beatles ended their United States tour on a noisy note of triumph last night, to the cheering adulation of 25,000 screaming worshippers in Candlestick Park.
For 33 minutes, they sang their songs from a big, well-guarded stage at the edge of the infield grass as their audience literally shrieked the intensity of its pleasure.
The crowd had been noisy before, applauding the earlier acts on the program, but at 9:27 it really let loose: the moment was at hand.
The four musical English-men wearing dark Lincoln green double-breasted Edwardian suits and open collared silk shirts – suddenly emerged from the Giants’ dugout and ran to the big, fenced in stage above second base. Bedlam.
They opened with “Rock and Roll Music” and closed with “Long Tall Sally”-singing eleven songs in all before they quit at 10pm. And during every moment of it, the Beatles had this particular little world squarely in their hands.
And the crowd, although howling appreciative, was, at the same time, markedly well-behaved.
During the entire time the Beatles were on the field, there were just three attempts by frenzied fans to reach them: At 9:40pm, a group of about five boys climbed over a fence from the nearly empty centerfield bleachers and sprinted toward the rear of the infield stage. A covey of private police quickly intercepted them. At 9:47 pm, another group of about the same size tried the same tactic over the same route and with the same results. And just after 10pm as the Beatles were leaving the stage, a husky, disheveled boy jumped onto the field n ear third base and put up a rousing battle with four guards before he was subdued.
The weather was pleasant- clear with only sporadic winds and reasonably mild temperatures, although Beatle Paul McCartney, in telling the audience good-by, apologized for the cold.
The fact that the crowd was relatively subdued – in action if not in noise- was at least I part attributable to the almost unbelievable set of security measures invoked to keep idols and idolaters safely apart.
Their stage, for instance was also a cage. It was a platform elevated five feet above the infield surface, and it was surrounded by a metal storm fence six feet high. Police – private and otherwise were everywhere.
Before the show started, a Loomis armored car was backed into position near the enclosed stage. And when the singers left the stage they jumped into it and were driven off the field surrounded by trotting, nervous-looking guards.
The Beatles were perhaps the only calm people at the ball-park. While they waited their turn onstage they sat in the visitor’s dressing room- unmindful of the roaring crowd outside – doodling artistically and talking quietly.
They all had Pentels - those Japanese marking pens. John Lennon drew an elaborate yellow sun on a tablecloth. Paul McCartney and George Harrison drew what one observer called “psychedelic drawings” on foolscap – McCartney’s flowerlike, Harrison’s a face and Ringo Starr drew a small face inside a paper match folder.
Through it all they talked and chatted with old friend Joan Baez or good naturedly answered the questions of the reporters there: about crowd reactions on their trip, their future plans, and their current hits “Yellow Submarine” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Drummer Ringo was asked if the group had experienced any hostile crowd reactions as a result of the controversy over Lennon’s quoted remarks about Jesus Christ. “No,” he said, “for us it’s been the same as eve because we’ve been so heavily guarded.” Ringo said the group has no plans for retirement and will continue to perform as long as they are “with it.” He said they plan to make a movie in January – storyline still indefinite. Ringo, who’s featured on the disc, was asked to define a yellow submarine. “What’s a yellow submarine? It’s nothing at all,” he said. “It’s just one of those silver ones painted yellow.”
The song, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is about lonely people – about the life and death of Eleanor Rigby, who keeps her face in a jar and puts it on when she goes to the door and about Father McKenzie, the priest who buries here. Lennon, who wrote the song, was asked if any particularly profound meaning was intended. He said no. “Just look at it as a story about Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie.”
Their airport arrival aboard a charter American Airlines jet from Los Angeles had been unceremonious, and even dull. The San Francisco Airport terminal buildings had been scouted determinedly all afternoon by small bands of teenagers trying vainly to learn when and where their heroes would arrive. They were as much in the dark as ever when the plane finally touched down at 5:25pm and taxied out of sight and out of reach to the old Pan American terminal at the northeast end of the field, more than a mile from the main terminal. There, they were met only by the wall of grim-faced police and perhaps 50 members of the press.
They posed grudgingly for photographs and then along with the 40 plane passengers – the performers appearing with them at Candlestick—they boarded a chartered bus and, proceeded by the armored car and a police car, set out for Candlestick.
They found the stadium gate locked and during the moments it took police to let them in, the surprised fans descended, climbing over the armored car and the bus which tried to elude them by circling the parking lot. The tour brought them before thousands of teenagers in 14 cities, where they put on 19 concerts.