Beatles play two concerts at Seattle Center Coliseum on August 25, 1966.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 10/11/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3985

On August 25, 1966. The Beatles play two concerts -- one in the afternoon, one in the evening -- at the Seattle Center Coliseum. The two shows draw in a gross take of $118,071, at the time the largest single-day’s gross income for any entertainment show in Seattle history.

Ticket to Ride

The Beatles flew out of Hollywood on a chartered jet early in the morning and landed at Sea-Tac airport at 1:40 p.m. The weather was wet and cold, and only 33 fans stood a quarter-mile away as the plane landed. Three lucky girls, friends or relatives of Port of Seattle security officers, were on the field. One of them, Marsha Michaelson, received autographs from both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. She screamed, of course.

The four musicians were escorted to a black limousine for transit to the Seattle Center Coliseum. Nearby was the Port of Seattle’s Fire Truck Number 6. “Ooh, how ripping!” exclaimed Ringo Starr “A fire truck in our honor?” The limousine, escorted by three King County Sheriff’s cars and six motorcycle patrolmen, left for Seattle.

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Throughout the day, rumors flew around the city that Paul McCartney would marry Jane Asher after the evening show. McCartney had been dating the English actress for more than a year and was questioned about this at the press conference. “I just got in today and found out I was getting married,” pondered a perplexed Paul. “How did it all start, does anybody know?”

Meanwhile, John Lennon was grilled about comments he had made to England’s Datebook magazine in March, claiming that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” The comment received little reaction in England, but outraged devout Christians throughout the United States. Lennon denied that he wanted to stir up controversy and insisted that what he'd said had been taken out of context.

When a reporter read a charge by gospel singer Fague Springmann that the Beatles were attempting to profit from a religious figure “they despised,” the Beatles bristled. “That’s not very Christian, now,” said Lennon. “He couldn’t have been listening,” said McCartney. “He needs his mind straightened,” said George Harrison. Ringo said nothing, and smiled unhappily.

The rest of the questions were light-hearted and were answered drolly. Afterward, the Beatles were presented with a certificate signed by Washington Secretary of State Lud Kramer, making them honorary state citizens. They returned to their dressing room and prepared for the first of two concerts.

Twist and Shout

Before the Fab Four took to the stage, 8,200 fans listened to warm-up acts by The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and the Ronettes -- all introduced by KJR radio personalities Pat O’Day and Lan Roberts. The acts received only polite applause, although hit songs like The Cyrkle’s “Red Rubber Ball,” drew a more enthusiastic response.

Fans were saving their praise for the Lads from Liverpool. When the four finally came out and greeted the audience, screams and shouts filled the Coliseum. The Beatles played 10 songs, including “Day Tripper,” “Yesterday,” “Nowhere Man,” and “Paperback Writer.” The lyrics were barely audible over the din of the crowd. No one seemed to mind.

Outside the Coliseum, fans arrived for the evening show. A few picketers also showed up, carrying signs that said, “Christ first, Beatles last,” and “Teenagers who support the Beatles continue to crucify Christ.” Most teenagers ignored the small group of hecklers, but one young John Lennon fan told them, “We’ve never seen Jesus. We’ve seen John.”

Roll Over Beethoven

The second show was sold out and 14,382 Beatlemaniacs filed into the Coliseum for the evening performance. Like the first audience, they listened to the warm-up acts, and proceeded to raise the roof when the Beatles began to play. The 10-song set lasted only a half-hour, but for true die-hard fans it most likely seemed longer.

Reviews of the shows published in the newspapers were mixed. The critics -- mostly middle-aged men -- professed to admire the Beatles in an offhand way, but found the concert dull. Rolf Stromberg of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote: “The range of their voices is middling; they can’t sustain or hold a note very long, nor do they have grace or power.”

Fans disagreed. Anne Kelley, a mother of three, took four young boys to the show and wrote a review for the P-I. Although she preferred listening to the music at home on the stereo, she found the event to be “a great adventure.” Anne Grant, a 13-year-old student from Worth McClure Junior High School wrote her own review for The Seattle Times. Blind since birth, the girl summed up her own adventure by proclaiming, “Maybe the Beatles aren’t Beethoven, but they’re ours. And I got to see them!”

Tomorrow Never Knows

After the show, the Beatles were whisked away from the Coliseum in their limousine for a return trip to the airport. Some reporters were already there, doggedly following up on rumors that Jane Asher might have arrived on a Northwest Airlines jet at 7:55 to marry Paul. She hadn't, much to the relief of many a heartstruck teen.

The Beatles answered a few more questions and posed for more photos. They climbed up the ramp to the plane. At the last second, Paul McCartney turned to the press corps. “Hold it!” he said. As reporters looked up expectantly, McCartney snapped their picture with a small camera. “Thanks, fellas,” he laughed. With that, the Beatles were gone.

Some who missed the day's events hoped to see the Beatles on their next tour -- but that wasn’t to be. Three days later, the Beatles performed at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles and then played the following evening at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. After that, they kept to the studio. It was the last time anyone would see all four Beatles live on stage, ever again.


Sources:

“Beatles Storm Seattle,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 26, 1966, pp. 1, 2; “Rumors Fly In With Beatles,” Ibid., August 26, 1966, p. 3; “6 Teen-agers Defend Christ, Protest Beatles,” Ibid., August 26, 1966, p.3; “Mum There to Dig Living Beatles,” Ibid., August 26, 1966, p. 47; “Cornwallis Repaid Here,” Ibid., August 26, 1966, p. 49; “Blind Girl Reviews the Beatles Concert,” The Seattle Times August 26, 1966, p. 3; “Beatles Engaging; Show, Dull,” Ibid., August 26, 1966, p. 26; “Beatles Planned No Religious Dispute,” Ibid., August 26, 1959, p. 59.
Note: This essay was corrected on August 2, 2017.


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