I owned most of their records just the same as the vast majority of Beatles fans. I remember seeing them on teevee a few times. I still recall their first American televised appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show”. But I never had the opportunity to see The Beatles live in concert. The “logistics” were never in my favor for that. Short of running away from home for awhile, could I have ever seen the group in person.
In the summer of 1966, I read that The Beatles were scheduled to play at the venue of my favorite baseball team on August 29th. Some small voice in my head told me that I might not have another chance to see The Beatles for a long time, if I didn’t travel to San Francisco and Candlestick Park for the event. My brother and I talked and plotted out ways we might be able to get there. Our sister overheard us one night and tattled to our parents. Mark and I were grounded for the entire month of August. We’d have to wait until some other time to see The Beatles.
Meantime promotion for a “routine” Beatles concert in the San Francisco Bay Area was in full swing. The local promoters, Tempo Productions, set about to sell tickets. Roadies and crew began setting up the stage just behind second base on the playing field. The five-feet high stage was surrounded by a six-feet high chainlink fence.
Promotion continued on area broadcast stations with KYA 1260 AM anchoring the efforts. The MC of the event would be KYA’s Gene Nelson. Opening and other supporting bands were scheduled. They were, The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Ronettes, and The Cyrkle. Showtime was all set to begin at 8:00 in the evening of August 29, 1966.
That night, only 25,000 out of a possible 42,500 tickets had been sold. Last minute arrivals were discouraged because Candlestick’s infamous crappy weather had set in. Cold, foggy, drizzly, windy conditions became the backdrop for the concert of the Fab Four. Despite the horrible weather and large swaths of empty seats, most area celebrities showed up, including Joan Baez. A party was going on in the dressing room while the opening acts played on stage.
Finally, at 9:27PM The Beatles ascended the stage and opened their act with “Rock And Roll Music”. The band performed ten more tunes for the crowd that night: “She’s A Woman”, “If I Needed Someone”, “Day Tripper”, “Baby’s In Black”, “I Feel Fine”, “Yesterday”, “I Wanna Be Your Man”, “Nowhere Man”, “Paperback Writer”, closing with “Long Tall Sally”.
Unbeknownst to promoters, the media, and the fans, The Beatles knew the appearance was to be their final live concert for pay. With the significance of the appearance in mind, Lennon and McCartney brought a still camera onstage with them. They shot photos of the crowd, the stage, and what we now call “selfies” of themselves at arm’s length.
McCartney earlier asked their press manager to record the concert onto audio cassette with his battery powered recorder machine. Because the tape didn’t get flipped to the second side, the recording cut off during the last song of the show.
At the last moment, John Lennon strummed the opening riffs of “In My Life” as a tease. He then jogged offstage to join McCartney, Starr, and Harrison towards their dressing rooms.
The Beatles were whisked away from Candlestick Park to San Francisco International Airport to their flight to Los Angeles and then back home to England.
The San Francisco appearance was the last concert for pay the group performed. Their very last public performance was the impromptu free appearance from the rooftop of Apple Records headquarters in London on January 30, 1969.
Like most other Beatle’s fans, I was not present for either of the “last” performances.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders about how unruly and chaotic the concert site would have been if the public had known the San Francisco appearance was to be the last for The Beatles.