New documents shed light on Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl

An article like this makes me think about my favorite live Beatle moments.  Live, as in, in-concert.  I mean most Beatle fans will list the Shea Stadium experience as their favorite Beatles-in-concert moment.  I would have to agree, but following a close second would be the Hollywood Bowl concert.  It is the only officially released record (pun intended) of The Beatles live in concert.  For those of us not lucky enough to catch them in a live setting, this is as authentic as it gets, right? If you haven’t found a bootleg of this LP on CD, I highly recommend hunting it down.

It’s hard to think what the concert-going experience was like pre-Fab Four.  I am a second generation Beatle fan, and not fortunate enough to know the world of concerts and tours in that intimate way.  The Beatles defined the skeleton of the modern touring musician.  There were no others like prior to their touring extravaganza.  It’s easy to take that for granted sometimes as a Fab Four fan.  I couldn’t imagine what it was like to be a participant in that hurricane, but documents like these provide small insights into the business behind the touring machine that was known as The Beatles.

  • What are your favorite live moments in Beatle history? 
    Let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Don Barrett at LARadio.com has uncovered several file folders with contracts, memos and other documents that show how KRLA deejay Bob Eubanks came to present the Beatles’ first Los Angeles appearance at the Hollywood Bowl in August of 1964. Some fun details are behind the subscriber wall at Barrett’s site. For instance, the Bowl became wary of the fans’ intensity and tried to cancel the appearance in June. There were 97 off-duty cops hired to work the Bowl area for the city’s first taste of Beatlemania. Here’s a sample for those who appreciate L.A. rock history.

In 1963, while backstage at the station’s Hootenanny concert, KRLA general manager John Barrett and his jocks talked about what they could do for the following year. Someone suggested a group out of Liverpool called the Beatles. The following week a representative reached Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles. He quickly declined the invitation claiming the group was struggling to get out of Liverpool.  During the next six months the world witnessed the Beatles explosion. Epstein had saved the station’s number and called KRLA to see if the station would like the Beatles for a Southern California concert. Barrett wasn’t there and Eubanks took the call. The hitch was the boys with the mop heads had to play the Hollywood Bowl, a venue they admired after seeing it on an album cover. Hollywood Bowl or nowhere.

The break-down of prices for the concerts ranged from $3 to box seats priced at $7 (($7, 6.50, 5.50, 4.50 and 3). With approximately 16,000 seats the gross revenues totaled $78,880, according to the documents.

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When it sold out so quickly and the demand became so great, an internal memo between Hollywood Bowl execs Severns to Warren on June 18, 1964 outlined a plan to put in more chairs: “In my estimation the suggestion of extra seats is a good one if we are forced to go through with the Beatle show. I think we should try to force the Police and Fire Departments to give us assurance that they will provide sufficient help to prevent any trouble. I am not hopeful that we can get the Police Department to make a statement and I don’t believe we can cancel unless there is a disturbance some place else. We should be collecting a file on such disturbances at other appearances.”

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Even the ticket sales were causing near riots in the Southland. At Fred’s Music Store in Rosemead, there were more than 200 disappointed girls who rushed into the establishment when told there were no more tickets. Two clerks were showered with apples, bottles, and paper, according to a newspaper account. Employees ducked behind counters and called for help. Six carloads of deputies dispersed the screaming Beatle fans.

And then there were people rather unhappy about the Beatles performing at the Hollywood Bowl. A Van Nuys resident wrote the Hollywood Bowl Association: “It is with great regret that I learned the Bowl had been leased out for a Beatle performance at fantastically higher prices for tickets. It makes one ill to realize that such mediocrity can command such an increased over the really good performances. Bought a $7 for $12.50. It is my earnest hope that a repeat of the performance never materializes, for the good of our teenagers.”

Source: LA Observed

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One Response

  1. It’s always amusing to read what folks were saying back then. My dad, may he rest in peace, never did understand rock music or see it’s importance – but there were many like him such as the Van Nuys resident quoted above.
    Quick Rant:
    So why doesn’t Apple at least re-release the 1977 Hollywood Bowl lp in CD format?!? It just never ceases to amaze me how many opportunties they have passed including this and other things such as remastering the catalog in mono and stereo.

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