It wasn’t exactly rattling jewelry, but I paid my $7.50. The cheaper seats went for one and two dollars less. While those in my section heard The Beatles performance quite well, many people left Candlestick Park complaining that they couldn’t hear.
I filmed the complete day’s activities, form the building of the stage through the Beatles’ final bows. And, I did it right out in the open. Like everyone else, I hadn’t a clue that this was the last concert, or that what my fifteen year old hands were shooting would become the only complete chronicle of the day’s events.
Security-wise, the show was uneventful, including the mere two handfuls of boys who jumped the outfield fence. They didn’t get far and fell quick prey for some of the 200+ rent-a-cops. Those of us in the stands were orderly. That’s what I remember, and that’s what my film shows. We were warned that to even be on the field would mean certain expulsion and possible arrest! Only those who avoided the price of admission jumped over the fence. These were the “bad boys” some of the incorrigible locals from the ghetto neighborhood surrounding Candlestick.
An armored car waited, engine running, beside the stage throughout the show. This was their ultimate escape hatch, should all hell break loose and the fans rush onto the field. It’s a wonder anyone could play music in such a paranoid environment. There comes a point when they can’t. The Beatles were clearly nearing that point. They gave no impression of it during the show. But, the extraordinary security precautions gave them away.
Was this to be the last concert? Paul McCartney had asked Tony Barrow to tape record the show. Both Lennon and McCartney were snapping photos during their walk to the stage. Harrison can be clearly seen doing the same in my color footage.
Believe it or not, I attended the Candlestick Park concert in August of ’66 with a girlfriend. I was more interested in her than the music, which suffered from poor sound amplification.
Yeah, I was there too. Stadium public address systems were not made to handle concert music. Couldn’t’ hear much over the screaming. And, the stage on second base looked so far away.
I was 12 years old in August 1966, and my 13 year old sister and I were avid Beatlemaniacs, as were a few of her girlfriends. We heard the announcement that The Beatles would tour America that summer, and we decided to go to the concert together. I think that it was my sister who brought the pair of binoculars that we shared at the concert, after borrowing them from our father. I remember that we had only one pair among us that evening. The evening began as we all piled into the car and headed up the Peninsula on the Bayshore Freeway. Just around the bend at South San Francisco, on the causeway up to Candlestick Park, traffic came to an absolute standstill. Horns were honking from cars all across the road and people were leaning out of their windows to scream, wave and hold up pictures and posters of the Beatles. We all joyously joined in, and my heart was pounding so hard that it felt as if it was coming out of my chest. I screamed, cheered and greeted the other concertgoers as we inched our way to Candlestick. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we made it to the parking lot. It was freezing, as it always is at Candlestick, because the place is situated on the Bay just beyond San Bruno Mountain – in the worst line of fire of fog – and tremendously windswept. We went inside the stadium and purchased the program. It was a beautiful booklet of wonderful black and white photos of The Beatles. Then we ran to our seats. We noticed that everyone was moving down to the empty seats in front, and some people were even moving down to stand right up against the fence itself. My sister and her friends wanted to move, too. At first, I was afraid that the authorities would throw us out for sitting in the wrong seats, but since everyone else was moving down to the front and no one in charge seemed to care, I quickly forgot about my fears. We ended up sitting just several rows back from home plate, in what appeared to be the best seats in the house. Even best seats have their drawbacks, however, and ours was that we were right behind a wire screen, making it even more difficult to see. In the long run though, it really made no difference where anyone sat, because the stage had been erected way out on second base, and binoculars were necessary to be able to see at all. The Ronettes must have been the group onstage when we got there. We had no idea who they were, and I could not figure out why there was a girl group onstage. I did not realize at the time that other acts would be playing. I had thought that we were just going to see The Beatles. After the girl group finished, Bobby Hebb sang “Sunny” and the Cyrkle sang “Turn Down Day” and “Red Rubber Ball.” They sounded fine, but we wished they would hurry up because we just wanted to see the Beatles. When the Beatles finally were announced and ran onto the field, everyone was on his or her feet and everyone was screaming at the top of our lungs! We hugged each other, screamed and tore out our hair. During the 22 minute show of 11 and a fraction songs, someone climbed over the fence and ran on the field toward the stage. We cheered louder, but the police caught him not far into the field. This scenario was repeated two more times during the concert. I secretly was jealous that I was not running down the field too, but I was too scared to try it. The Beatles ripped right into “Rock and roll Music” then followed up with “She’s a woman,” “If I needed someone,” “Day Tripper” “Baby’s in Black,” “If I needed someone” “Day Tripper” “baby’s in Black” “I feel fine,” “Yesterday” “I wanna be your man,” and “Nowhere man.” Next they sang “Paperback Writer,” which I remember as sounding just awful; out of tune, each Beatle singing in a different key, and unsuccessfully attempting to create the echo effect on the record. IT was flat, and to put it bluntly, terrible. But it really did not matter to me. I was so busy screaming and having the time of my life that I did not care. My only disappointment was that while The Beatles were onstage, my sister and her girlfriends hogged the binoculars and only let me use them once for about 30 seconds. I never even got a chance to focus, let alone fix them on John, my favorite. I took black and white pictures with my little Brownie Starmite camera. I sent the roll of film to a photo company to be developed, but the three pictures that I had taken were considered unprintable. I sent the negatives back to the company and insisted that at least one concert photo be printed. The photo company complied, and printed the best of the three that I had taken. All that could be discerned from the photo were a few dots. A couple of ears ago, however, I dug up the negatives and had the picture specially blown up into a poster. You can see the heads of the people in front of me, the field, the outdoor lights, the white armored car by the stage, the stage itself, a round white dot on the stage (Ringo’s drums), figure dots of the Beatles onstage and figures of unidentified people surrounding the stage. It may not sound like much, but it is perfect because it truly represents how I, the typical fan in the stands, saw the concert. At the end of the evening, one of the Beatles announced the final song, and the group tore into “Long Tall Sally.” We were shattered at the end of its last note, thinking that the concert was all over…when suddenly The Beatles started to play the beginning of “In my Life!” My heart soared, “Oh wow, it isn’t really over yet after all!” But then, just as quickly as they begun to play the opening bars, The Beatles cut it off, ran form the stage, climbed into the armored car and down off down the field. We stood there absolutely devastated, shocked, crying, disbelieving that it was over. It seemed like it had only just started. I came home and could not sleep all night. I wracked my brain, trying to think of each song that the Beatles had played and wrote down the name of each one. I had no idea that the songs I was listing would be from the last Beatles concert ever to take place, and that I had participated in a historic event. I have kept my list throughout the years in a safe place. For some inexplicable reason, the only song that I left off my list was “In my Life.” In fact, I had forgotten all about it until I sat down to write this article, and I re-read all of my newspaper clippings of the concert. Lynn Ludlow’s review in the San Francisco Examiner reported the incident and suddenly he moment came back in a flash. I remember it so vividly because it was a few seconds of false hope that the Beatles were going to play yet one more song and that the concert was not over. I remember it as clear as day. It is true. The opening bars of “In my Life” were the last thing ever played by The Beatles in concert. Years later, I was cleaning my room and by mistake, threw out my ticket with the orange print. My sister threw hers out then, too. But n ow, by some miracle, I have a new ticket, to take the old one’s place. It is bright and beautiful and is hanging on the wall next to my bed. -- Beth