50 YEARS AGO – THE BEATLES AND I WAS THERE

Beatle1        Beatles 2

I was 11-years old and had never been to a concert before. My very first experience was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in August,1964. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life for many reasons. I was among the hundreds of thousands of kids caught up in Beatlemania. They had just come to the US and played on the Ed Sullivan show in February of the same year. The Beatles were it, what every young kid was waiting for, a great new sound from across the ocean. Every time a Beatles song came on the radio we would stop what we were doing and listen to the song. In Los Angeles there were only two AM radio stations that would constantly play the Beatles, KRLA & KHJ. AM radio on a transistor…sounds like a joke now. The Beatles were huge and the chance to see them live was every kids dream. The ticket prices were like $8 – $15 and my father was able to get four. We took my sister and her friend who were both 14-years old, prime Beatle age, and my father and me. I was just a tag-a-long but glad to be along for the ride. My sister was beyond just a fan, she worshipped the Beatles and their mop-cut hairstyles. We had bought every Beatles 45-single and album and knew the words to each song by heart. Her room was full of Beatle’s posters and her top Beatle was Paul as was true with the majority of the girls. George was my favorite because he played the lead guitar. My mother actually took me shopping for a groovy outfit to go to the concert in. I ended up with green wide-wale cords, a paisley shirt, and a belt about 2-inches thick. I thought I was the bomb. I had never been to a theater the size of the Hollywood Bowl which sat 18,700 and I found it overwhelming. Our seats were in the middle somewhere and around me were 18,000 teenagers, or so it seemed. It was mostly groups of young girls with some boys and parents sprinkled in. As the Bowl filled up so did the anticipation. When someone in charge took to the stage to try and settle everyone down, just the mention of the word Beatles set everyone off in to a frenzy, exact opposite effect of what he was trying to do. The Beatles took the stage around 9:30pm and were met with hysterical shrieking like I had never heard before or since 50-years later. It’s hard to describe how actually loud and high pitched the screaming was…it actually hurt. It was only a sound thousands of young girls screaming at the top of their lungs could produce. I was frozen. My sister was in tears by the first song and there were actually some girls that had fainted from the excitement, this was something special. The shrieking was so loud that the Beatles singing could barely be heard but it was enjoyed. The Hollywood Bowl had a water moat in front of the stage back then and girls were jumping in to the water to try to reach their heroes. They were also trying to climb the high walls to get a better view. The Bowl’s security force had never seen anything like this but did a good job in making sure noone got hurt. I just stood there in awe and watched and listened to all that was going on around me. I could faintly tell what song the Beatles were playing but could not make out the words. Their songs back then were just over 2-minutes long which was standard for AM radio play. They played their monster hits like She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist and Shout, A Hard Day’s Night…a total of 12-songs. John tried to speak between a couple songs but to no avail. Singing was difficult to hear, talking was impossible. And Instamatic Kodak cameras were going off everywhere. Too bad the flash capability was about only two yards. Stretchers were being carried up and down the aisles as I stood in amazement and listened to the girls scream out each Beatle by name, Paul, George, John, and Ringo. As the concert ended girls immediately began rushing the stage, my sister and her friend included. This was the only part of the concert that came close to dangerous. They rushed the Beatles off the stage and into a waiting car which was absolutely mobbed by more fans. The roof and hood actually caved in. We reunited with my sister and began making our way out with girls still in tears and crying for more. The experience was both fantastic and eye opening. My ears actually were ringing for the entire night afterwards. Being caught in the middle of such hysterics was an adrenaline rush and seeing and hearing thousands of teenage girls collectively going insane over the same four people is a memory that will last forever. What amazes me is to think this whole experience lasted just slightly over 30-minutes. The Beatles hit the stage at 9:30pm and were done a little after 10pm after performing 12-songs. When your frozen in time, time takes on a new dimension. I am very thankful that I was there for the Beatles first American tour, I just wish that I had saved my ticket.

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4 thoughts on “50 YEARS AGO – THE BEATLES AND I WAS THERE

  1. Great article, you very vividly described what it was like to be there. Must have been awesome! Not to mention what a first concert!!!!!

  2. Wow, how incredible to be at such a historic event! Something I’ve always wondered is if those screaming girls who really adored The Beatles in the early 60’s were still as enamored by their music when the band became more serious and artsy towards the end of the decade.

    • Interesting question. I think Sgt. Peppers in ’67 divided the pop followers from the artsy crowd. I have enjoyed them since that day in ’64 and I think they remain one of the top bands of all-time.

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