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Beatles at Shea Stadium (NYC) 1967

 

 

            No one paid much attention to the other groups: The Remains (whom we decided looked like it); Bobby Hebb; The Cyrcle; The Ronnettes.  There was applause, especially when Bobby Hebb sang “Sunny” and The Cyrcle sang their hit “Red Rubber Ball.”  But the cheers were merely polite.  Finally, as the Ronnettes strolled off the stage, the sponsors of the show, some DJs from a local Washington radio station, strolled on.  They led cheers for John, Paul, George and Ringo individually (“Let’s hear it for…”).  Incidentally, we HEARD it for…!!!

            Suddenly a myriad of flashbulbs popped all over the stadium.  Four figures dressed in gray bell-bottom suits dashed from one of the dugouts, hair flopping as the hopped, skipped, jumped and ran onto the field toward the platform some 50 yards away.  John took the lead with a very enthusiastic Ringo bringing up the rear of this inspired group.

Upon reaching the platform, Ringo climbed up the six or seven steps to his drums.  The boys were all grins and laughs.  The crowd was WILD!  From our end of the stadium, the boys had a backdrop of flashing lights, causing them to go black and white in rapid succession, almost like lightening.

They started right in singing “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” really throwing themselves into it, causing the air to go electric from the excitement projected from the Beatles to the fans and back.

The crowd went into ecstasy when John announced that Paul would sing “She’s a Woman.”

Next, Paul announced that “the next song was written by a friend of mine, George Harrison.”

“If I Needed Someone” was sung a little slower than on the record and Ringo put in a little more definite drum beat.

“Twist and Shout”

“I Feel Fine”

“Dizzy Miss Lizzie”

“Ticket to Ride”

“Act Naturally”

“Daytripper”

 “Baby’s in Black” followed, waltz tempo, sung with vigor and typical Beatle lung-power.

The plunked string which leads into “I Feel Fine” was less metallic than on the record, but no less thrilling.

John, then, in his own way, announced that Paul would sing “Yesterday” in the key of G.  Paul sang it with all the beauty it deserves.  The crowd’s voiced appreciation was next to deafening.  Under the screams, one could hear the guitar filling in for the absent violin. At the end, instead of his usual humming of the last bars, Paul sang “I believe in yesterday,” in order to be heard over his fans. 

The next announcement was completely drowned out, but Ringo’s clear voice was heard in snatches over the screams.  Ringo’s “I Want to Be Your Man” was hailed by everyone there.

Suddenly, the platform broke into confusion.  A boy ran around wildly, his arms in the air.  The boy grabbed George fit to rattle the brains from his head.  George fought to protect himself as the boy moved on to touch Paul and brush John’s foot before the police – about 5 – overpowered him and literally dragged him off the field.  A girl tried right after that, but as soon as she cleared the fence, she was caught.  Ringo kept playing and singing, as though totally unaffected.  The show must go on.

Next, they sang “Nowhere Man.”  I noticed that during the guitar solo, there was no bell.

They bowed from the waist, as they did when they first made it on the Ed Sullivan Show.  I don’t know why, but I didn’t think they did that anymore.  It gave me the impression – in a good way – that they haven’t changed since they started.

All the boys were prancing and dancing, in time to the music, but definitely not to  set patterns.  Their steps were jumpy, in time to the music.

“Hard Day’s Night”

“Help”

“I’m Down” was punctuated by laughs as John and George stepped up to the mic and collided, laughed and stopped singing in the middle of the chorus.  John finished this song by playing the organ with his elbow.

Next, they played “Paperback Writer.”  In all the songs, they would step back from the mic’s to play on the guitars.  Once, George and Paul did step back and up together, which looked rehearsed.  They were looking at each other, so there may have been a signal between them.

All too soon, they announced that “Long Tall Sally” was their last number.  John said he couldn’t remember what album it came from (“This is from our…eh…sec…eh…fourth…no, anyway…Thank you very much for coming!”)  The crowd reacted with a very loud “Thank YOU!”

George, just like in his pictures, was bending over his guitar.  He was wearing a round watch with a black band held by 5 buttons.

Paul was singing his lings out, almost literally.  During “Long Tall Sally,” he stopped mid-word to gasp for breath.  He bent over slightly but caught himself in time to recover the next word.

All the Beatles were enthusiastic, but I think George got somewhat carried away (which is unusual for him.)  The girls opposite us were particularly anxious for George to turn toward them.  He lifted his hands for a moment from his precious guitar and danced a jig for his appreciative audience.  Cheers increased.  A time before, he left off playing to wave.  So completely inspired was he that he forgot his habit of sitting down.  And he changed guitars for different songs.

John, standing as usual, feet planted on either side of the mic, with chin out, enabled us to see his profile, which we have seen in so many of his pictures.  “All the ones who came to see us, thank you!  All the ones who didn’t get to see us, we’ll be back next year.  All the ones who didn’t want to see us and don’t like us, well…hello.

Ringo, on his high platform, was playing away on his skins with ardor unmatched by any drummer, his stick flashing in the spotlight.

Paul, upon hearing the shouts of “Paul, turn around!”, walked/danced from the mic and turned around (and around and around and around…)

“Long Tall Sally” was over.  Laying down their instruments, John, Paul and George rushed off the platform and into the waiting limousines, while Ringo scrambled down to join them.  And they were off.

I remember watching the cars move and then suddenly I was AT the railing separating us from the field, along with a rush of others.  One limo rolled by, right under the railing, with George and Paul.  Paul, half leaning out the window, was waving a large white handkerchief; George was practically on top of him, waving with both hands.

The next limo was packed with John, Ringo and 2-3 other people.  John sat looking straight ahead with his “What’s all this then” expression that is his alone.  Ringo, his mournful lost-dog face, slouched down in the seat beside John with his sticks crossed, Pharaoh-like, across his chest.  And they rode out of sight.

c1967 Carol Kerr Buckles

 

 

 

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