They went out with a bang…that’s for sure.

I have heard the audio footage of the Memphis show from 1966.  Yes, they really were going out with a bang.  I cannot imagine what it was like to be in he eye of a hurricane.  To be putting out press conferences at each and every stop.  No one, does press conferences any more for musicians (save, maybe The Rolling Stones).  I cannot imagine having to go through the same questions time and time again.  I do imagine that it would get a little boring. 

It’s not like the musicians were even able to hone their craft and be sharp on the stage anymore.  The Beatle touring machine was more about the hysteria and the circus than it was about rock and roll.  I can see how the boys would have soured on that experience.  It would be different if anyone could actually hear anything.  I would have loved to have seen one of these shows, as much of us would have.  I can relive them through various bootlegs and film footage, and feel like I am there.  Somehow, I think that’s an easier experience.  It’s more romantic that way, I’ll take it.  In 1966, though, animosity was running high for the Fabs, especially as they crept their way through the Bible Belt, with John and his “bigger than Jesus” comments.  We know, we know- it was all taken out of context.  But, some people had a HUGE problem with that.  I imagine a musician today making a comment like that.  They’d probably fear that they’d get shot too, much in the same way our dear boys felt in Memphis as someone lit up a cherry bomb mid-concert. 

If you haven’t hunted down the bootleg of this show, it’s intersting from a historical perspective if anything.  The sound quality is so-so, but you can at least feel the hysteria boil over in this concert.  The boot is worth checking out.

The Fab Four in Memphis, 1966.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Did someone throw a firework at the Beatles in Memphis – and did it end their touring career? Colin Fleming on the discovery of a remarkable lost tape of a seminal gig

In the summer of 1966, the Beatles had just recorded Revolver, rock’s first full-on foray into what a band could pull off in the studio. But they were still every bit a live, coming-to-your-town touring band when they trekked off for world tour number three. It was a tour that, in the wake of John Lennon’s claim that “we’re more popular than Jesus”, would lead to record burnings and death threats in America’s Bible belt.

Beatles obsessives have long talked about what happened on that tour, and in particular what happened at a gig in Memphis. Someone shot at the band, goes one theory. A car backfired, runs another. The general consensus, though, is that someone lobbed a cherry bomb, a powerful type of firework, at the stage, while the Beatles performed their second set. Depending on who you listen to, or which web chatroom you log on to, the Beatles stopped short – or carried on as though nothing had happened. Some people say the band were frightened by the explosion – they had mistaken it for a gunshot, each looking around to see if one of them had been shot down. Whatever the truth, collective decisions rarely come faster. As Lennon said, that was it. Last tour. We’re done here.

And then, late last year, word started going around: a tape that had long been hoped for, but no one really thought would ever turn up, would soon be up on the web. It turned out that two teenage girls had lugged a portable tape recorder to the Memphis show. There were already plenty of 1966 shows available as bootleg recordings, including a number from Tokyo in near-perfect fidelity for the era. But the Memphis gig was the stuff of fantasy.

If you collect bootlegs, as I do, you live for that moment when incredulity gives way to wonder. The tapes of the 1966 Tokyo gigs don’t inspire any wonder: they’re a good indication of how poor the band was throughout much of their final world tour. But when I first heard what has been dubbed the “Cherry Bomb Tapes”, after tracking it down online, I heard a group raring to go. These guys were up for it. However, once we get to If I Needed Someone, swagger turns to humility mighty fast. Someone does indeed set off a cherry bomb, or some kind of backyard explosive, and the men of the moment blast off into double-time, Lennon positively flogging his rhythm guitar.

With audible proof of the explosion comes debate. What, for instance, would have happened if that cherry bomb had never gone off? Touring was still a possibility for the Beatles, pre-cherry bomb. That firecracker is the sound of a decision, a ne plus ultra moment for a band that was already contemplating a seismic shift in how they were going to do business: in the studio, with rock’n’roll taking life as collage art, rather than the stuff of teenybopper caprices and the night out at the baseball stadium.

(Read the complete article here.)

Source: UK Guardian

2 Responses

  1. […] that it would get a little boring.  It’s not like the musicians were even abl(Quote from : 「They went out with a bang…that’s for sure.」) It’s a big holiday weekend in the U.S. A weekend where complete idiots can buy flammable […]

  2. Here’s my review from 9/07 on the Bootlegzone of this bootleg from Misterclaudel:

    Reviewed By: Beatle Bob (not theother “Beatle Bob” who posts here):

    FROM BEATLES IN MEMPHIS 1966-misterclaudel label (mccd-075)
    Part of the “Misterclaudel Live Chronicle Series”(2007 Release)

    Finally! New tapes of the Beatles live in concert! Taken from an audience recording, misterclaudel presents 2 shows from the US leg of their 1966 tour, from Memphis, TN, August 19. 1966 and performed at the Mid-South Coliseum that afternoon and evening.The 2nd show(evening)showcases the Beatles when a”cherry bomb” exploded during the performance of “If I Needed Someone”. The Beatles said years later that when the cherry bomb went off, they looked at each other to see which one got shot. Thank god, that never happened. The continued on like troopers as evident on the tape, without missing a beat. Total professionals. As we know this was a tense leg of the tour coming after John’s comments about “the Beatles being more popular than Jesus” being taken out of context. The backlash was difficult, especially in the US deep south, mainly by the very religious and conservative Southern Baptists, and put pressure on John to explain what he meant–and giving a rare apology of sorts. The comment, apology and cherry bomb incident have all been well documented, but audio proof of the incident has not appeared on tape until now. For Beatles scholars, historians of social upheavel and general Beatles fans and collectors, it’s a fasinating document during a period of social upheavel with the Vietnam war and civil rights in the US were still at the forefront. This 2nd show is worth owning for this signifiance. That’s the good news. Thd bad news is this is an audience tape of basically lousy quality. Though the peformance seem to be top notch and audible enough to figure out between song dialogue and the actually songs,(without guessing where they are into the song)-the tapes are muddy, distant and bass heavy and marred by screaming girls close to the microphone. Something you have to accept from a Beatles audience tape at the hight of Beatlemania! It gives you their perspective and makes them the central character in most of the tapes (except when the cherry bomb explodes)and puts the Beatles in the background. These tapes are centainly not as bad as say the Seattle ’64 audience tape but makes Candlestick’66 sound like 5.1 stereo in comparison. The sound quality on both shows are equally the same and “Long Tall Sally” fades early on both shows.

    It’s a shame that all we have documenting the ’66 World Tour in excellent quality are 3 shows: Munich, and the two Tokyo shows. Shows that performance-wise, are not up to their usual performance standards. These Memphis shows gives us a glimpse of some better performances but unfortunately not any better sources have been found, or probably weren’t recorded or broadcast,(like a few of the ’64 and ’64 American shows were on AM radio).

    The packaging is first rate as usual for the misterclaudel label, and is of course a factory made silver disc. This is also available via the torrents to download, if you’re not going to aquire an original pressing. Do you need this CD in your collection?….Sure. It’s another piece of the Beatles puzzle documenting a tense part of their last tour ever and historical in nature for many reasons. Will you play it for pleasure?…Of course not. But it’s recommended for the historical perspective it represents.

    Track listing for both shows:

    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
    Long Tall Sally

    I hope this review helps anyone on the fence as to whether they need it in their collection!

    Regards,
    Beatle Bob 🙂

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