|The Beatles in Memphis
on August 19, 1966 (2 Shows)
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|By John Beifuss from The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Published in the Tennessean, Aug 20, 2006
It was 40 years ago, and the city of Memphis didn't want the band to play. At least that was the official stance the mayor and Board
of Commissioners took in a unanimous resolution passed August 10, 1966, to express "official disapproval" and "advised The Beatles
that they are not welcome in the City of Memphis." The Blue Meanies didn't stand a chance. On August 19, 1966, Britain's Beatles -
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon - performed two concerts at the Mid-South Coliseum, at 4 and
8:30pm. Tickets were $5.50. The Memphis date was the eighth in a 14-city tour that would be the last ever for the band that
remains the most influential in rock history. For each Memphis show, the Beatles performed 11 songs in about 28 minutes, after
almost two hours of music from an interesting roster of opening acts: the Ronettes; Boston garage greats the Remains; Pennsylvania
bubblegum popsters the Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball"); and Nashville R&B singer Bobby Hebb ("Sunny"). The first show attracted
7,589 fans; the second, 12,539. Disc Jockey George Klein and Johnny Dark acted as master of ceremonies. When The Beatles took
the stage, "It kind of reminded me of the movie "King Kong" when all the flashbulbs started going off," Dark later remembered.
"There were so many flashbulbs it was almost like a strobe light." Onstage, the Beatles - wearing "modish dull/grey suits" in the
afternoon and "dark green creations with chartreuse shirts" at night, according to the local newspaper - exchanged such familiar hits as
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "A Hard Days Night" for mostly newer material. The songs performed in Memphis apparently
were "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", "Paperback Writer", and "Long Tall Sally".
The Commercial Appeal reported in a front-page story the next morning: "The musical performance of the long-haired Englishmen
was hard to judge as the shrieks and screams of the paying guest almost drowned them out." During a between-shows press
conference, McCartney noted that "little things like money" had prevented the Beatles from recording what would become the album
"Revolver" at Stax in Memphis. Lennon said The Beatles admiration for the guitar playing of Steve Cropper was one of the reasons
they wanted to record in Memphis. However, Atlantic Vice President Gerald Wexler told The Commercial Appeal that Beatles
manager Brian Epstien cancelled tentative plans for a
two-week studio session at Stax because "he was not pleased with the security and housing plans he found during a one-day visit to
Memphis." The anti-Beatles resolution which described Memphis as "a City of Churches" was inspired by Lennon's then
much-publicized remark that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now. ...I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or
Christianity." In the days leading to the Memphis shows, The Commercial Appeal reported on several "Beatle burnings" in reaction to
Lennon - protest rallies in which Beatles records were broken and burned ("Foot in Moptop's Mouth Is Hot One," stated a headline).
Eighty police officers worked the show.
"I've never had so much security at an event, even Bob Hope," promoter Early Maxwell said.