Monday, August 29, 2016

50 Years Ago Today (August 29, 1966)

Although they claim that they never officially discussed it, all four of them knew ...

Once they finished their concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the touring days of The Beatles would be behind them.

Nothing was ever formally announced to the press regarding their future touring plans ... they just simply never scheduled another one.

(That being said, I have to believe they had an inkling ... John Lennon and Paul McCartney both brought cameras out to the stage with them to take photos of the crowd ... as well as a few "selfies" on the stage ... before anybody even knew what a "selfie" was ... see, The Beatles always WERE trendsetters!!!)  And, at Paul McCartney's request, Press officer Tony Barrow also made a cassette recording of what would be their final live show ... however the tape only recorded thirty minutes per side so the end of their finale, "Long Tall Sally", was cut off when it ran out of tape!)

The complete set list that night included "Rock And Roll Music", "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", "Paperbac Writer" and "Long Tall Sally" ... eleven songs ... 35 minutes ... and then it was over ... for good. 

1966 was a difficult year for The Fab Four ... after being stoned in Manila in The Philippines for what was perceived to be a snub of the country's first lady, Imelda Marcos ... (the boys were actually detained and roughed up at the airport trying to leave the country ... and the lion's share of their earnings were confiscated and held back) ... after all of the backlash surrounding John Lennon's comment about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus (scroll back to our August 11th 50th Anniversary posting), with radio stations banning (or burning!) their records ... and the fact that their music had become so sophisticated in the studio by this time they could no longer reproduce it on stage any more (and let's face it, nobody was really listening anyway ... The Beatles often complained that they got worse as musicians because they couldn't even hear themselves play or sing over the screaming fans), it was only a matter of time, really, before they threw in the towel.

By 1966, ticket sales were down significantly.  Even Shea Stadium, which boasted the single largest live concert crowd ever the year before, had over 10,000 empty seats when The Beatles returned the following year.  (Reports say that Candlestick Park, which housed 42,500, only sold 25,000 seats for what would go on to be The Beatles' last live performance ever!  They were still guaranteed $90,000 for the show, however, so I doubt that any of them complained afterwards!)


The following year would bring accolades for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and, almost to the day, the death of their manager, Brian Epstein.

I don't think The Beatles ever performed for more than 35 minutes on stage once they hit the big-time ... a far cry from the eight hours per night they used to rock the stage back in Hamburg in the early '60's before most of the world knew who they were.  Still, it was fun while it lasted.  (I personally never got to see them ... and never forgave my father for not letting me go to the Comiskey Park Concert the year before with my cousins.)  Despite all their disdain for life on the road, Paul McCartney has now been touring virtually non-stop for nearly 45 years since forming Wings and as a solo act. (I've probably seen him at least nine or ten times over the years.)  He'll often do a two-to-three hour show and feature music The Beatles never would have dreamed of trying to recreate on the stage in a live environment.

George Harrison did his infamous "Dark Hoarse" tour, when he lost his voice after just a few shows and could barely sing a note from that point forward ... although he later did a successful tour of Japan with Eric Clapton.  (I was fortunate enough to catch BOTH shows he did here in Chicago in 1974 when, once again, Billy Preston stole the show!)

Ringo Starr has toured on and off for decades with his All-Starr Band, featuring big name performers from lots of other bands over the years ... we've been lucky enough to see him half a dozen times as well.

Only John Lennon elected not to tour ... although he DID do isolated concerts here and there, usually as fundraisers for good causes.  He is the only Beatle I never got to see perform live.

Save their impromptu rooftop performance at The Apple Records Studio on a cold winter's day in January of 1969, The Beatles never appeared together in a live setting again as a group.