Beatles win contest
August 20, 1966
The Beatles proved Friday night that they can out draw religion in this staid old Bible Belt City.
The shaggy singers never missed a beat during a sporadic pelting of fireworks and fruit while wowing 20,128 screaming customers at the Coliseum.
Across town at the City Auditorium, a group of ministers attracted 8,000 youth for a religious rally protesting the appearance of the British rock n rollers.
Pat Wilson, a 17 year old blonde, summed up the sentiment of the Coliseum crowd, many of whom wore buttons stating, “I still love you Beatles.” Pat said, “I love Jesus, but I love those Beatles too!”
The religious furor was caused by a controversial statement by Beatle John Lennon who said the group was more popular today than Jesus Christ.
The Memphis city commission had asked the Beatles to cancel their $50,000 guaranteed appearance.
“I had never heard of the Bible belt until all this started,” Lennon said Friday.
The majority of the crowd at the Coliseum appeared ready to forgive and forget. A few, including six robed Ku Klux Klansmen who picketed silently outside the Coliseum were not.
Three persons were slightly injured when a cherry bomb exploded in the audience. Another cherry bomb went off with a loud report at the booted feet of drummer Ringo Starr. The four performers didn’t bat an eye or miss a note.
Sporadically during their thirty minute stint during the late performance of their double header appearance fruit and other debris was pitched on the stage. The Beatles didn’t seem to notice.
The toll was low for a Beatles outing – only one girl fainted and only one boy was ejected. At times, you could hear the singing above the squealing crowd.