Friday, August 12, 2016

Fan memories of the Chicago show

I remember driving the Outer Drive in Chicago on the way to the International Amphitheater to hear Booby Hebb sing, “Sunny.”  I knew he was on the bill with The Beatles, and it fueled my excitement.  When my girlfriend, upon whom I had given this ultimate date, broke up with me a few weeks later, I developed a pathological hatred for “Sunny.”

As for the concert, I believe that memory is somewhat plastic and changes over time.  I have see The Beatles’ video from the Budokan in Tokyo form the same summer so many times, I think some of those images have migrated a bit into my own actual experience at the Chicago Amphitheater.  We were seated in the last row of the flat floor, so we didn’t have a great angle or line of sight.  The opening act dutifully, even enthusiastically, went through the thankless chore of “opening the show.”  In addition to Hebb was The Cyrkle (Red Rubber Ball) and I remember their distinction being that they were the only U.S. act managed by Brian Epstein (a mixed blessing, I imagine).  The other band that made an impression was Barry and the Remains.  I was kind of fascinated by them.  I had never heard of this band, yet they were opening for The Beatles. They lead singer reminded me a bit of Gerry Marsden who I liked.  And, he played a ridiculously weird Al Caiola model Epiphone guitar which seemed to have a Wurlitzer organ effects panel grafted on it.  I remember their performance as being rootsy and a lot grittier than the squeaky sound of The Cyrkle.  I did think that they were cool, but naturally my main focus was The Beatles.

What can I say about their performance?  Although I couldn’t often hear it, I dug it enormously, nonetheless.  Just the few scraps and recognizable riffs from “Paperback Writer” “She’s a Woman” “I Feel Fine” the songs from the more recent repertoire were overpoweringly exciting to hear.  I had seen The Beatles the year before in Comiskey Park and that was exciting, but the songs in this set were so much more marvelous to me – the vision of them in the flesh, their cool new stage outfits, the shirts with the long pointy collars, the odd sight of both George and John playing identical sunburst Epiphone Casino guitars rather than the Rickenbacker and Gretsch I had come to know.  Just as with my first Beatles concert, I couldn’t believe it was them.  I’m sure that’s why so many millions screamed in their presence.

As we drove home later, with my head still swimming with it all, I promised myself I would try to remember every detail so I could always access it perfectly -  a wonderful teenage fantasy about trapping memories, about capturing lightning in a bottle.  Many of the details of that concert have eroded since then, but I still have an indelible sense in my very marrow of how exciting it was.

I saw the Beatles twice in Chicago.  I still have the ticket stubs.  The only two things I really remember are, not hearing much unless you put your fingers in your ears, and in Comisky Park (’65) there were guys walking around in Beatle suits.  We all thought it was THEM just walking around

Saw the evening show. You could hear YESTERDAY. When the band started to play it, the screaming virtually halted. -  Jim
Saw the 7:30 show and got an autograph from the lead singer of The Cyrcle. A ticket for the show cost $5.50. Will never forget it – Carol
August 12,1966 was my 13th birthday and this was just a FABULOUS way to enter my “teens.” I screamed, I cried, and had the best time ever!
It is a memory that I will NEVER forget. I can still see the Beatles on the was incredible. -  Debbie
It was a dream come true for me since I had just come to the US from Colombia in 1965 when I was 16 years old, at the time of the concert I was 17. I am now almost 66 years old and will never forget that wonderful experience it was just like I had seen on TV!!! LOTS of screaming!!! My favorite…RINGO?? – Sonia
I was at evening show. 5th row just off center to Johns side. I can see it like yesterday. I found that if I cupped my ears with my hands, I could hear the music. Somewhat. Maybe because I was so close and all the screaming was behind me. I have pictures that I found they the internet that show from behind The Beatles playing and you can see me in the fifth row. Still have the ticket stub of course.  – dahanu

My cousin and i went to the evening show. We were lucky because i sent in for tickets fairly late but we got seats in the first few rows in the balcony on John’s side very close to the band, as opposed to being in the back on the main floor.
We could see them and most importantly, hear them very well.
I wouldn’t have known it at the time but now I look back on the show as one of my life’s highlights. – Glenn

I remember lining up for the show outside, they had this regular door, not the big double doors you go into, it was just a side door, which might have been an indoor exit, and every now and then somebody affiliated with the stadium would open the door and look outside and all the girls would just start screaming thinking it was one of The Beatles.  My memory was the girls outnumbered the guys like 10 to 1. I didn't see anybody that wasn't a teenager. I remember at one point, I can't remember who was playing, but the crowd started chanting “We want The Beatles...we want The Beatles."  right before they came out, the announcer said “Ladies and Gentleman, The B…." and that's all anybody heard for the rest of the concert. Everybody was screaming from that point on. You could hear maybe two or three bars out of every song.

"It was my first concert, "I don't remember anything they sang because girls were screaming." – Rita
"We were screaming, too,  "I don't know if they even sang. It was just exciting being there and knowing they were close.  The screams were so loud, we just started screaming, too. A girl a few rows behind us fainted and the paramedics had to bring her out." – Mary

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