Thursday, July 10, 2008

Of Riots and Near Riots

I hadn't heard anything like it before, and I haven't since. I was 12 years old. It sounded like a high-school football game, the stands packed with girls, with someone scoring all the time for 30 minutes. Controlled bedlam. A cultural happening, a social bellwether which outsiders who didn't understand or cared to were bound to exploit. On the inside was the obligatory law enforcement, Atlanta's finest, ready, they hoped for anything. The cops who didn't look amused, or angry, looked concerned. They could handle one or two crazies, but if all 30,000 plus up and decided to jump the barriers and make a dash for nirvana at second base, the women against the men would win, and the city Sherman torched would come to be known as the city which had failed to honor and protect the new gods in velvet and blue sharkskin.

There must have been boys and men there, besides all the policemen in a row and the three of us -- me, my father and my older brother, who'd been bought a ticket by my father, or mother, out of protocol, but I don't recall seeing any other males. How could I? The distraction was much too intense. The half of a stadium filled with young women, many still clinging to the fading bouffant look, from an era their mothers introduced, was a living work of pop cultural art. A true phenomenon. And at times unnerving. Young females as part of a global community gathered at these staged rituals to let the world, or God, or their parents, or somebody know that they were ready to let their hair down.

A Beatles concert was the cultural equivalent of dropping of an atomic bomb, only in reverse, with the pleasant effects lasting than two full years after the Ed Sullivan Show. Electric. All of it. I ponder it now, often, this concert I attended and what came before and after -- and I feel led to compare the significance of these things against current events, confident somehow that there is a big metaphor that someone intended.

On our planet there can never be what there once was; there can never be innocence turned rowdy and unvoluntarily (at first) defiant; there can never be the gulf which was breached electronically, when we saw the future in black and white, and then it turned colors for us. There can never be another artistic explosion of such spontaneity and brilliance, for we are too sophisticated and lazy in our tastes to be young and idealistic again, to open our eyes for the first time, to turn on, tune in, drop out and drop back in; and, of course, the Sixties were in truth the flowering and blooming of the folk or beatnik era, which became manifest in direct response to human fear over thermonuclear war or just plain war. There can never be another first time when a sitting president, caught in a cross-fire, gets his head blown off in broad daylight ... in the home state of the vice president, which always felt strange. And still does 45 years later.

And there can never be another Beatles, nor the reaction by girls and women, which greeted them wherever they went. What did they have? They themselves didn't know what had caused the kids first in Liverpool to rush the stage, at a town hall event, they just off the boat from a rawkus stint in Germany, where they had learned to "mak show," to have a stage presence. At the Litherland Town Hall a worldwide movement was announced when John Lennon introduced the night's entertainment by shouting, "Get your knickers down!"

What did the females think these four people possessed which incited hysteria? You don't have to like the Beatles's music to wonder about and admire what it was about them that triggered such a tidal wave of frenzied love and devotion. It was idol worship, a lot of people said. And, of course, that sounds unhealthy. But all things considered, I believe the emergence of the Beatles and the music which followed, the cultural changes in fashion and attitudes, are the best things that could have happened at the time when it did. And we may say that again, from a different perspective, one day, looking back to look forward, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us always to do. So was this Romanesque, perhaps, with mostly women, and few men, being the coliseum spectators who would pronounce judgment?

Surely there were some fathers and brothers there. But all I recall seeing were girls, all around me, absolutely frantic, nervous wrecks. Unable to hold a camera still to take a photograph. Clutching themselves like they needed to relieve themselves, but they didn't dare step away. Or maybe something else was going on. Everyone hoped each opening act was the last. These poor girls, some in their mid-teens and quite handsome, didn't seem at all to be having fun, but they rather appeared distraught, overwrought, disoriented, with twitches and rapidly darting eyes. And then sudden bursts of giddiness to realize where they were. And they all had down the scream.

You could have powered Atlanta on that night if there was a way to harness all of that energy. Female energy ... a rather stimulating thought. A beautiful thing, really. Imagine if you could bottle a tonic like that. Pure female animal lust, or I presume it was lust. They didn't take up guitar playing -- but the guys did ... in very good attempts to tap into that energy. How do you scream for that long and not hurt yourself? Girls?

And why? Why did the girls scream so at Beatles concerts, and even in the theaters where the Beatles films played? What statement, conscious and unconscious, is a girl making when she is compelled to scream, upon hearing a song title, or a quip at a microphone, or a Beatle nearly stumbling over some electrical chords? In a subtle way, because we were in an enclosed structure, it was just beneath pandemonium. But it was weird, because it was like a sporting just all wrong. But fun. These girls were entranced. And frankly, I couldn't see why, and I still can't. Why do girls fall so easily for male musicians? Because they pour their hearts out to women, while they're making big money? Does a girl scream as if to say, "Pick me!" or "I'll never know you, or meet you, and that is breaking my heart?" Girls had screamed before, for Frank Sinatra and Elvis, but neither of these artists (because Elvis and more importantly the Colonel didn't try) played and packed Shea Stadium with upwards of 70,000 females present. And reports from the largest concert to date, the first big-stadium venue for any entertainment act, was that the sound was eerie, like a jet taking off.

What the hell was up with all of that -- within the context of society at that time? What was being said by these girls, and why? Did they know? Did they feel repressed and too restricted, so that they wanted out of conventional conservative living? Or were they dying for someone to ravish them, deep down inside? Or was the screaming behavior a release that came in the aftermath of the death of President John Kennedy, whom women automatically loved, and over whom women grieved most deeply when he was killed; unless you were my grandmother, who, for some weird reason, really detested the Kennedys, and yet she could be a really sweet lady. She simply hated them. She wasn't alone, certainly. But I thought they were quite nice, young, full of energy, all the things my grandmother admired in me. I don't know if there is an explanation for people adoring or hating certain public figures, whom they have never met, who are a positive, creative force with no desire to hurt anyone.

No explanation has not prevented people from deceitfully offering one -- and that is that the Beatles had clandestine aspirations, that they were not genuine, because they had not written their own music, by a German musicologist hand, that they had been trained to do what they did, that social engineers in an English think tank had conceived all of this and planted the first screamers in standing-room-only theater crowds in England. There are people who actually believe that the Beatles were a sinister force, British spies whose sole responsibility was to corrupt, to let loose desire for pleasure's sake, for drugs and sex, to initiate a postmodern Babylon around the world that would make the youth, what, more manageable? More easily subdued and controlled with telepathy? Leave it to someone like Lyndon LaRouche and right-wing idelogues with Nazi and fascist leanings to try to say the Beatles were the product of some shadow government which kicked ass whenever the Beatles came to town and left restless women and girls writhing with passion, unsatisfied, determined to get their hands on something to kill the pain, so that youth would not be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. If that was the goal, it didn't work. Tavistock (the alleged think tank responsible) took a bath, and it set back the New World Order by at least a decade. And then it came time to begin killing public figures, one in particular who would have spit in your face laughing if you were ever daft enough to call him a spy. John Lennon was the antithesis of spying and deceit; he was the last person you would expect to sneak around underground, taking orders from British intelligence, doing the bidding of people who hated people.

Of course, where we're concerned now, we know that when the new millennium rolled around, before our eyes ... the presidency was transformed, as were the views and confidences of most Americans who were in the position of recognizing that their government could hurt them, badly, and would neglect them, and cooly say of the peasants: let them eat cake and drink sewer water, and Hurricane Katrina was the proof of that. Fresh water was all anybody wanted, and we're a country surrounded by it. They were sandbagging in Washington, D.C. Why? Because they, the no-nonsense, behind-the-scenes shapers of human civilization believe that human populations are no different than animal populations, which need to be thinned out every now and again. And the only people who are guaranteed not to die in these approaching days of turmoil, of necessary global adjustment are those who are better, those who were specially bred and trained for this moment of transition, eight, ten, 12 years into the new millenium. The truth is that the deceivers have been deceived. They have been deceived into thinking that such engineering is necessary and will work ... when that thinking comes darkly from on high, urging the faithful to lie if they have to, whatever it takes to destroy what God has lovingly made. And the globalists, those who have been visited by our multiple "creators" and instructed what to do, are dumb enough to think more of the same of what has already destroyed us ... is going to help, is going to take a sad song and make it endurable, so to keep those worth saving alive for years to come. Kill to live, make war to make peace. And some people, the proud and powerful who can be corrupted, and suckered, to do the most damage are -- killing themselves and everyone around them, when they will have believed that they were ensuring their survival.

But this was only 1965, and we were all clueless. But we had great music.

Because I never had a sister, I was fascinated by these electric females, I was aroused by them, dumbfounded, amused and toward the end of the concert, irritated by them. They'd scream a little, then gaze toward the stage and grow quiet, and another girl would scream, and then the gazer would scream, and it would cause a chain reaction, and everyone would look around to see if a Beatle had appeared. But no, it was just girls being girls on a sultry August night in Atlanta. It was only 1965, but we changed a lot in a year -- and it bloomed and began to die before Beatlemania had really gotten off the ground. A crash landing loomed in the summer of 1966, just as the Beatles were getting ready for another U.S. tour. Statements perceived as anti-religious and anti-Christian, when they were off-the-cuff banter in a bar, off the record, incited the people who didn't understand or care that Jesus would be more impressed if they did nothing, than if they did what they did do, in pockets of ignorance, mostly in the South, a couple hours drive south of Chattanooga, in Birmingham, Alabama, which is burn Beatle records in protest of free speech, when John Lennon had been largely right in what he said, and when he had the right to say it, at least according to the American Constitution.

The specter of death began to hover over a band of musicians who exactly a year later would release a record, the cover of which looked like the Beatles having a funeral by themselves for themselves.

Puberty was doing some weird things to me, but it was tame compared to what it was doing to the opposite gender in 1965. Witnessing this spectacle, this rite of passage that the Sixties brought about, one would be inclined to think that if there were any girls on the cusp, of puberty, that by 10 p.m. on August 18 their systems were so jacked up with female hormones mixed vigorously with adrenalin, with probably a lot of male ones thrown in for good measure, that they were rocketed past that threshold, turned into women in the span of two hours, and escorted out into the streets with all the juices still flowing.

If I'd been a cad, an older one, I might have made a pass at one of these young ladies in the throes of Beatlemania, hoping to catch some abandoned, unbridled passion. But they were so undone that romance would have been unthinkable. Flirting, paradoxically, might get you killed in this crowd. Not even a kiss, lest one of these delirious debutantes should miss seeing a Beatle. Besides, the mouths of many of the girls were filled with jelly beans. Why jelly beans? It was one of the more whimsical aspects to the whole colorful affair: candy in the shape of eggs being thrown at men, with long-necked instruments, drums pounding, in lieu of panties or hotel room keys. And the men who were the focus of adulation were not just men, in a sense they were not men at all, but neither were they feminine. They were creatures from another planet, almost. England was that to Americans 40 years ago, but the Beatles changed all that. They single-handedly made globalism look possible, at least in the eyes of businessmen, who will be the kiss of death for what they're trying to accomplish.

And the people who killed one of them, allegedly, but very, very likely, has been and is right in the thick of this new medievalism, of the callous plans for martial law; this one high-ranking person is right at the center of this notion of destroying to create, of salvaging diminishing resources to be sure the right people live on; he above all people, probably, on the planet has helped to get things ready for a new sort of invasion, after which the process will begin to try recklessly and brutally to build onto what four Englishmen did for art, for global culture, for music, for love. Globalism can only be possible if someone does it like the Beatles did it -- without trying to do it, by being talented and enjoying their natural gifts, being free so that others can adopt, if they want to, the same freedom for themselves. Of course the Beatles had to be demonized as social engineers -- of course they had to be smeared as calculated and part of the status quo, because love had brought color and blown the blue meanies, for a time, off the map.

Fascist globalism, if that's what we're confronting, will never work -- and it is in fact not working now, already -- because people are smart enough to know when someone is lying to them, someone who is dumber than them, and people would rather die than submit to stupid people who think they know better, but don't, who think they can strong arm people to submit, to die willingly for the rights of others to live on. He's wrong, they're all wrong, as wrong as he was when he tried to guess what a gallon of milk was going for these days, as indifferent as he was when he was caught on camera glancing at his watch, no doubt believing that there were other things more important that he could be doing, like practicing his boyish grin without anything protruding.

They were as original as Elvis times four. They struck me in the early days as being almost androgynous, sexless, too playful to think about girls, nowhere close to anything resembling the arousal of their fans. But, of course, there were the girls who slid in, or were slidden in, and I've often wondered if these little teenyboppers knew that sex might be on the menu, and if they were surprised or offended or receptive that sex should even be a consideration. I mean, wouldn't that have ruined it? To have a Beatle looking right through you as he did what any normal man would do if given the chance. They hated the Beatles for the same reason they hated John Kennedy -- the women loved them.

As I have observed, sex ruins a lot of things -- and girls who suddenly find themselves ruined are not a lot of fun to be with. Not for a while. And sometimes, often, they aren't a lot of fun to be with if your intentions are good, to lovingly ruin them, pleasurably, or to ruin them as far as they're willing to be. This was true at least where I was, in the so-called Deep South, while I was in my early teens; many girls would simply not stand for any sexual advances at all, much beyond a kiss. Anything else would make them angry, or falsely angry, and you'd slink away like a miserable, diseased snake. However, add four or five years to a 14 or 15 year old girl ... and if you're lucky, it can become a downhill ride you never thought you'd see. And that was always a little sad to me, as one who wanted desperately to ruin a girl without ruining myself. They were in a no-win situation. But in truth a good guy only wants to love them and tell them they're pretty.

Girls want to be above sex, because their mothers and fathers tell them to -- but females, pretty ones, young ones, are constantly under surveillance, being perceived in ways that would shock them if they knew. But in truth a good guy only wants to love them and tell them they're pretty.

Ruination is in the eye of the beholder. Once a girl was ruined, or deflowered, she would go through a period of mourning, and then it was Katie bar the door, in many cases, at least in my experience. It may not have been so dramatic for guys in other parts of the country or the world. A girl losing her virginity was always a big deal; but after being trashed, most girls were prepared to lose it completely, to keep it lost, to pound it into submission, so they never had to think about it again.

But, of course, they carry chips on their shoulders for the rest of their lives, unless, superficially, you happen to be a gorgeous man, and then a guy has to wonder, who's trying to ruin who? I was never a gorgeous, alpha male, some Adonis figure, tall and muscular. I actually was rather girlish just before puberty, big eyes and eyelashes, which attracted both sexes for different reasons, especially once I got drug into the state of Tennessee by my parents, or rather my father, a retailer looking for work. There were always models in those days, backstage, getting dressed and undressed for fashion shows. And he was a handsome man, charming, well-dressed. And, of course, by the age of 25 or so, all of these models were well past the feelings of remorse for being ruined. Hot women, ruined, could impress you by how much they wanted to ruin something themselves. After all, when you're bleeding, there appears to be something wrong with you, which has to be fixed, if you're bleeding from anywhere. God bless and have mercy on the women, especially those at the mercy of men. Bad men.

So, the Beatles for me, while I loved their music, especially their harmonies and arrangements, their diverse use of instruments and new sounds, were most fascinating as a rags to riches story, as once-scruffy pool hall singers made good, the way the latest big thing transcended borders and languages, and the affect that unequalled success had on them and the rest of us. The Beatles were a social phenomenon, with which nothing before or since can be compared. Elvis was only one, and he didn't do much but sing and pump his knees, hardly sexual. He rarely played an instrument, and when he did in those dreadful films, it looked as if he was only pretending to play. He wasn't funny; a sycophant, really, a bootlicker, especially where adult stars in the business were concerned -- it was yes sir, this, and yes sir, that, and thank you, sir, and thank you, ma'm. With the Beatles it was a clever wisecrack, a quick comeback, a play on words which would send them all into hysterics. And they wrote their own music. They were almost the antithesis of Elvis, in that their hair went forward, not back, they never took themselves so seriously, as Elvis did himself. Elvis could get wound up and go off like a spring, but the Beatles were precise, even to the point of bowing in unison after every song, which caused them to resemble butlers, servants ... or marionette puppets, eager to please, but untouchable, not real, in a world of their own.

But for all the fun the more than 34,000 girls had that night in Atlanta, plus the three of us, and more men and boys, surely, there were different, contrary and violent forces coming to the surface elsewhere, breaking out like wildfires, as riots and marches, movements accompanied by brutal beatings, and bloodied faces in Life magazine, where the blood was always black. While the young women of America, and elsewhere, appeared to be frantically in search of their feminine identities, thanks to four intelligent, zany men, whom certain other men hated, who called them sissies, though they were very happily heterosexual; those who hated the Beatles wanted to kill them and threatened to kill them. In 1965 the Beatles were in Atlanta, which was shamefully making national and international headlines thanks to Lester Maddox, a redneck racist and owner of the Pickrick Restaurant who refused to serve food to black people. When given the choice to stay open and serve black folks, or close up, he closed. And a new folk hero was born to a lot of very angry men in the American South. A year later, in 1966, they were in Memphis, the home of Elvis, and my home state of Tennessee. When any of the Beatles returned to Tennessee it was to record in Nashville as solo artists, or, to attend the funeral of rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins at a Jackson, Tennessee church, where George Harrison, without shyness or pretense, sang a Perkins number, "True Love," with three locals, ladies, trying to sing backup and not doing a bad job of it by the time the song was over.

It was not a good time to be a black person, or a hippie girl, and especially not a hippie guy. A black hippie, an activist, was most loathed and feared. Freedom was tenuous. Those who wanted it absolutely, were violently and hatefully opposed. All the girls were perceived as being sluts by men who dressed up in white hoods and capes; they were girls who would "put out" for anyone, when in fact they were not at all. A man with long hair and the tattered Bohemian clothing, which was acceptable garb, was a threat to these "real men," somehow. Because the sensitive, intelligent men were getting all the women. While the more ignorant men, the men with little to no future, just wanted to stop everything they didn't understand and just fucking kill it. In August of 1965, one kid who lived in Decatur, Georgia, which is really a suburb of Atlanta, born in Dallas, Fort-Worth, would have been too young to know or care what was going on not far away in the former home of the Braves and the Falcons, Fulton County Stadium, in which no games had yet been played when the Beatles performed, the stage on second base. Their invasion of Atlanta, their concert would not have impressed him; what impressed this kid most as he grew, was what a loser he was. He was the sort of person who might do anything to achieve fame, even something horribly wrong, because he was that much of a loser ... and because he was surrounded, apparently, by men who wanted to kill things they didn't understand.

As it turned out, this patsy, one of many, too many, in the Sixties and later in the 80s, who has found himself on murderer's row, in a rogue's gallery, where he probably doesn't belong, didn't shoot anybody, though he may have fired shots. But given the angle at which he had been standing in relation to the victim, at best he might have hit the poor man in the right arm or side. John had already turned right, to go up a small flight of steps, into the lobby of the building where he lived with his wife and son. The shots came from behind, not at an angle -- and the three or four bullet holes in the glass door, which he would open for the last time, clearly proves this -- unless these were heat-seeking missiles and not hollow-point slugs, and they were the latter. None of it adds up. None of it made sense, or it didn't make sense for a long time. We had to wait for the future, the dreadful future, to catch up, after being pushed back elections lost, by presidents being shot with a metal disk but surviving, by being on the receiving end of much-deserved opposition and protest.

From the moment, as a newspaperman in those days, that I saw the photograph of the poor man giving an autograph to the patsy, on the night the poor man died, I instinctively knew something was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It didn't compute. Fans don't kill heroes. A crazed fan is a crazed fan, not a homicidal one. There are a lot of crazy people in this world, a murderer will tell you that. It's the murderers who think everyone else is crazy, though they are the biggest nuts of all. Monsters. Soulless. Convinced that the law of the jungle rules ... and people are no better than animals, a herd of deer or buffalo, the populations of which occasionally need to be thinned out.

God damn the murderers ... these redneck wizards, too small minded to know that evil will always be found out, rooted out ... and exposed. A person can hide love, and it will stay hidden. But a hater, a person willing to do evil things to achieve an objective, they are out of step with reality; they have an alternative plan for salvation. It's not just that these people are Godless, or that they pay no attention to the strong appearances and the likelihood that there is a God. What has happened, in the cases of such men, and a woman or two, is they have allowed themselves to be tricked by evil forces who, shrewdly and rather ingeniously, have come up with a way to make God's goodness and mercy work against him.

It is God who is cruel, not these deceivers. It is God who kills and destroys ... but the crucifixion should have put that to rest a long, long time ago. And, in the end, it is Lennon the prophet who is right about Christianity, as someone who read the Bible and understood and appreciated the teachings of Jesus toward the end of his life. It is he who said that this faith which has often been accompanied by violence, paradoxically, and soldiers going forward on the mission fields, settling lands for Jesus where killing was just an act of necessity ... it is the clever Beatle who said Christianity would be misused, corrupted, that it would shrink and cease to be relevant.

It is irrelevant to many who claim it is relevant ... but, in truth, they serve another god, a tangible god, a messiah, made to order. Their messiah is whiter.

Perhaps it was because the Beatles unabashedly sang "nigger music." Not the gospel-flavored country that Elvis did, and did well for a time, but songs by black girl groups, the Ronettes, the Shirelles, Martha and the Vandellas. They did quirky songs; the Beatles preferred to perform the B sides of records, to be different; they were highly creative and musical, but technically none of them, with the exception of Paul McCartney on bass, stood out as a stellar musician; though Harrison's style of playing was often pedestrian, he generated some of the most memorable country, rockabilly and rhythm and blues licks in an era when guitarists far better than he waited in the wings. Eric Clapton, for one, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, all Englishmen, all guitar virtuosos at playing pop-influenced blues, and, the first psychedelic rave-ups were a Yardbirds signature, in which all three performed.

But the Beatles stood out -- even though at one time the were considered the most dreadful, ill-kempt, lackadaisical band in Liverpool.


Rock 'n' Roll Case Study: A 38th Anniversary look at The Beatles concert at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, August 18, 1965; a Hard Day's Night In Dixie

By Donnie Thompson

On August 2, 1997 the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was demolished. Although the concrete crumbled to the ground in less than 30 seconds, certain events within its 32 year history passed on into perpetual legend at that moment. Hank Aaron's record breaking 715th home run in 1974 occurred here as well as the Braves 1995 World Series win, but one of the most fabled events happened just four months after the stadium's completion when the most famous band in the world came to pay a visit to Atlanta.

The date was August 18, and The Beatles were on their 1965 nine-city North American tour. The first date had been their legendary record-breaking Shea Stadium concert in New York. Next were two shows were at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens after which The Beatles headed south. The tickets for the Atlanta show had gone on sale a couple of months prior. The field level seats (which sold out) were $5.50 and the upper level seats $4.50. In the days leading up, The Journal and The Constitution had been featuring articles on the upcoming show as well as advice on stadium parking and comments from Atlanta teens. The August 17th edition of The Journal even had an article showing how to give A "Beatle" haircut.

The 18th was a muggy ninety degree day and at 2 p.m. The Beatle's chartered plane arrived from Canada at Hartsfield Airport and taxied to a remote part of the field, out of view from the fans that had turned up at the terminal. Safety concerns now rarely ever permitted The Beatles to disembark while greeting the crowds as they once had. By 1965 the intensity of Beatle mania had increased to a frightening and dangerous point. They discreetly boarded a group of three limousines and headed for Atlanta Stadium.

At the stadium, a locker room was set up as a dressing area and make-shift headquarters for the Beatles and their entourage. Paul McCartney requested a giant fan for use in the un-air conditioned stadium vestibule, while Ringo Starr wishing to wash his hair, requested a hair dryer. The concert promoter hastily supplied a stand-up model commandeered from his wife. Some tables, chairs and half dozen cots were placed in the changing area. The British refer to these as "camp beds". Ringo, upon hearing them referred to as "cots" humorously, climbed onto one, curled up and began sucking his thumb loudly much to the amusement of everyone in the room. The caterer hired to supply The Beatles dinner, inquired if it was true that they prefered hamburgers. The Beatles quickly shot down that rumor and asked if he could get them "corn on a stick" otherwise known to us as corn on the cob.

Outside the stadium the fans had begun to gather waiting for the gates to open, some walking around the perimeter of the stadium, kissing their tickets. Two fifteen year old girls from Florida arrived at 4:30 a.m. that morning. Fans were also arriving from near-by cities not included on the tour schedule. Inside, the giant fan wasn't doing much good and George Harrison had given up hope of getting his guitars tuned properly in the clammy Dog Day atmosphere. Many VIP's dropped by to visit The Beatles who graciously posed for photos and signed autographs. McCartney, never far from his camera took quite a few shots of the proceedings himself.

Right: Atlanta Press Conference

Approximately 150 reporters (many from high school newspapers) had gathered for The Beatles press conference which began just after 5 p.m. The Beatles answered questions about the tour, their musical tastes and about Paul's girlfriend, British actress Jane Asher. Mayor Ivan Allen then awarded The Beatles the key to Atlanta and proclaimed them honorary citizens. Later the musicians dinned on their catered meal consisting of Top Sirloin, Leg of Lamb, and Pork Loin along with the requested corn on the cob, pole beans, fruit and Apple Pie. The Beatles, so used to surviving on cocktail sausages and soda while on the road, considered this the best meal they'd ever had on tour, So much in fact that they autographed their four china plates for the caterer, John signing his "Thanks for a flat wear".

Out on the ball field the as the daylight began to fade, the stadium's giant floodlights were switched on. The digital clock high above the stands read 6:21 as the gates were opened and the fans began to trickle in. Mal Evans The Beatles roadie, climbs up onto the stage to do his equipment check. The stage, made of scaffolding, boards and white canvas material, is uncovered causing a potential electrical hazard in the event of rain. Baker Audio, the Atlanta company hired to supply the sound system, had no way to estimate how loud the audience was going to be and hauled in every speaker they had. Placing large clusters of speakers at first and third bases, they were able to create about 5000 watts of amplification. Three lines of police barriers had been set up between the stands and the field. Some of them painted bright yellow read; POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS while others simply said BUREAU OF SANITATION.

Down in the dug-out, un-noticed by the fans, John Lennon peered out to inspect the pre-show situation. He was soon joined by George and tour manager Neil Aspinall who gave the two Beatles their instructions on exiting the tunnel and crossing the field to the stage at show time. They are told that there will be a vehicle behind the stage with the engine running for their hasty exit after their final song. There are to be no encores or delays. George and John then retreated to the locker room until show time. Once back inside, Mal hands The Beatles four freshly-pressed white shirts for the band to wear under their matching blue suits. Paul comments that the suits are more comfortable than the "military" type jackets they had worn at the Shea Stadium show.

At 7:30 the audience witnessed "The London Look Fashion Show" sponsored by Regensteins and featuring music by local band The Atlanta Vibrations who had recently won a "Beatle Battle Of The Bands" contest. By show time the crowd swelled to approximately 30,000. The show's emcee's were Tony Taylor and Paul Drew both of WQXI - AM ("Quixie In Dixie") who introduced each act preceding the Beatles. The first set was by King Curtis who was followed by a go-go dance troop called The Discotheque Dancers, then Cannibal and The Headhunters, Brenda Holloway and finally Sounds Incorporated.

Right: This humorous ad from the Atlanta Journal (August 18, 1965) reads:
Boys, what you need is a good old-fashioned non-English Dinner of Pot Likker, Cracklin' Corn Bread, Streak-O-Lean, Turnip Greens, Barbecued Spare Ribs, Picnic Fried Chicken, Hot Biscuits and Sorghum Syrup. It's on the table now waiting for you, Tax and Duty Free. Guaranteed to grow another mop on your chest and lower your YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! Two octaves."

When the stadium clock read 9:37 Paul Drew introduced The Beatles who suddenly appeared from the third base dug out and sprinted to the stage. The crowd erupted into one continuous earth-shaking scream and the stands lit up with camera flashes that sparkled like fireworks. A Beatles stadium concert didn't need a light show or special effects; instead there was the awe-inspiring spectacle of their fervent audience. The Beatles plugged in and launched into their hit "Twist and Shout" followed immediately by "She's A Woman". As Paul began to introduce their third number, he stopped apparently amazed that he could hear his own voice and commented "It's loud isn't it? …Great!" Over the last two years of Beatle mania, the band had grown accustomed to being drowned out by their audience and could rarely hear their own music. McCartney in particular seemed to be delighted with the sound at Atlanta Stadium and Baker audio was later approached by The Beatle's management to consult on some subsequent U.S. shows.

The show continued with "I Feel Fine", "Dizzy Miss Lizzie", "Ticket To Ride", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", "Can't By Me Love" and "Baby's In Black" which John humorously introduced as "Baby's In Black…Pool". The next song, featuring Ringo's only lead vocal for the night, was "I Wanna Be Your Man" during which Paul broke a string on his trademark Hofner bass guitar. After Paul swapped his bass for another, they played "A Hard Day's Night". The crowd showed no signs of calming down. The six first-aid stations filled up with girls who had fainted, overcome by being in the same stadium as their idols. Girls at field level threw themselves directly over the railing into the arms of the 150 policemen hired to keep the fans from charging the stage.

The Beatles gave a very energetic performance and seemed (possibly because they could hear themselves) musically tighter than at the Shea Stadium Show. After singing "Help" (their newest hit then) John switched from his guitar over to a Vox organ, Paul thanked the audience for coming and then belted out the opening to their final song "I'm Down". A few seconds after finishing, the Fab Four were down the stairs and into their limo. Accompanied by a police escort, they made tracks for the airport, with about 30 fans chasing behind. The Beatles plane took off just before midnight, bound for Houston where they had a 3:30 show the following afternoon. In just less than ten hours after they had arrived, they had already gone.

The August 19th issues of The Journal and The Constitution featured photos, articles and comments about the show and reported the attendance to be 34,000. It would turn out to be the only concert the Beatles ever played in Atlanta as the group ceased touring the following year. Mayor Allen was Quoted: "they're excellent boys, the only improvement I'd make, I'd cut their hair a little bit".

The above article is from MELODY HILL issue #6, used with kind permission by the author and by Circle Sky Records. To find out more about this fab record store in Atlanta, visit

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