This week in San Diego history: Beatlemania

Aug. 28: In 1965, the Beatles played Balboa Stadium in San Diego before 17,000 fans. The band requested and received three portable TV sets, two tubs of fried chicken and a portable piano. Read what else they enjoyed backstage, the 12 songs the band played in 31 minutes and more here.

Fun quote from that story about the fans who kept trying to jump a 4-foot-high fence set up around the perimeter of the field and the 150 police officers who stopped them:
"There were all kinds of cops who were chasing the kids down, one by one, and tackling them. I think the cops were probably better than the Chargers were in those days."

The Fab Four's sole San Diego concert, it came one year to the week before the band's final tour concluded with an Aug. 29, 1966 show at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

The band's set list at Balboa included "Twist and Shout," "She's a Woman," "I Feel Fine," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Ticket to Ride," "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Baby's in Black," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" and "I'm Down."

On this day last year, we wrote at length about The Beatles' Balboa Stadium gig to commemorate the event's 45th anniversary. (You can read that in-depth article with one click.)

This year, with a twist (if not a shout), we thought it would be fun to share some relatively rare video footage of The Beatles performing in Sweden in 1963. The band is in spirited form, but what makes this footage memorable is how sedate the young Nordic audience is throughout the performance, which begins with "She Loves You" and concludes with a lively cover of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally."

Beatlemania had apparently not yet hit Sweden, judging by the fact that the audience remains seated despite the fact that there are no visible security guards and the front row is so close to the band that fans could easily have reached out and touched or grabbed John, Paul or George. To make matters more amusing, The Beatles are performing on the floor in front of the stage, while an unidentified Swedish band (the show's apparent headliners) mull about on stage behind the Fab Four, instruments in hand, looking mildly bemused at the young upstarts from Liverpool in front of them.

This week in San Diego history: Beatlemania |

8-28-65 – the Beatles: For the Beatles' one and only local appearance, at Balboa Stadium, radio station KCBQ declared that Saturday "Beatle Day" and gave out pins saying so to attendees.


Four local teenagers won a contest to present ceremonial keys to the city to the band at an afternoon press conference.

(The Beatles being awarded the key to San Diego - hey, wake up, George!)

Area DJ "Happy Hare" (aka Harry Martin) recalled for Kicks Magazine that "Joan Baez was going to visit John Lennon [backstage], and she was caught up in the human riptide, because she was on the outside of the fence with all the kids. I literally lifted her up and pushed her over the fence. She eventually got backstage, but she came close to being crushed to death." Around 150 San Diego cops were on hand to help give peace a chance.

"We had limited problems," San Diego Police Chief Ray Hoobler told the San Diego Union in 1984. "I remember one youngster scaled the fence and ran out onto the playing field, and Officer Rufino Yaptangco made one of the finest open field tackles I've ever seen...the noise was damned near debilitating. It was bedlam."

"I wouldn't let my two daughters, who were 13 and 15 at the time, go to the concert. It created a lot of dissension, but based on the news clips of the concerts at other locations, I didn't know what to expect."


Local headlines the next day read "Beatles Quip at a Fast Clip" and "Ecstasy and Emotion: Beatles and Beatlemania Erupt." The band played a dozen songs in around 35 minutes, with some of the show surreptitiously recorded by KGTV chief photographer Lee Louis, who smuggled in a 16mm film camera (a portion of his footage is posted on YouTube below). Click here for another link to the film.

Around 27,000 tickets were printed, priced at $3.50 and $5.50, though only about 17,000 were sold. The Beatles were reportedly paid a little more than $50,000, while promoters said their cut was around $6000. The band's backstage requirements reportedly included three portable TV sets, two cases of soda, two tubs of fried chicken, and a rented portable piano.

San Diego Setlist: "Twist and Shout," "She's a Woman," "I Feel Fine," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Ticket to Ride," "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Baby's in Black," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" "I'm Down."

The acts who opened the show were sax symbol King Curtis, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, and a British band called Sounds Incorporated.

The night before the San Diego gig, August 27, the Beatles met Elvis Presley for the first time, spending around an hour in his Bel Air mansion. According to Disc Weekly at the time (9-4-65), Elvis jammed with the Beatles to a tune played on his jukebox. A member of Elvis' Memphic Mafia talked the Beatles into signing a piece of Elvis stationary, which is due to be auctioned with an opening bid of $50,000.


Helen Halmay interviewed the Beatles before their only San Diego concert. Halmay, who was 20 at the time, says she has a few regrets.

"Nobody who interviewed them asked for their autograph...I had never been to a press conference before. I didn't know I didn't need tickets since I was with the press. After the press conference, we went out and went in through the gates. I thought, 'By God, if I bought tickets, I'm going to use them.' Do you know how much those tickets would be worth if I had saved them?"

What questions did reporters ask the Beatles? "People tended to ask them what they thought of San Diego. That was really dumb. They had never been here before, and they had just gotten off the bus. My one question was 'What's your favorite American TV show?' I think they said The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Halmay, who was the society editor for the weekly La Mesa Scout, says she "asked my owner/editor/publisher if I could cover it. He said, 'None of our readers are interested in the Beatles.' " Halmay got permission to go (off the job) and bought her own film to take pictures.

"They are not very exciting. It just shows them sitting in a row at a table." She says all four were heavy smokers. "I guess I've forgotten how much people used to smoke in those days."

As it was with Balboa Stadium, Halmay says the La Mesa Scout "...never made it out of the '70s." (Some material for this capsule written by Ken Leighton)

(Beatles at San Diego press conference)
6-16-76 – Paul McCartney and Wings at San Diego Sports Arena: McCartney brought his Wings Over America tour to the Sports Arena just as Wings at the Speed of Sound was topping the U.S. charts. "They flew in on a private jet, [and] people literally wept when McCartney hit the stage," recalls local music historian and Shambles front man Bart Mendoza. "He played a hit-filled show, lasting just over two hours, and included a few Beatles tunes -- 'I've Just Seen a Face,' 'Lady Madonna,' etc. -- but stuck heavily to his solo tunes." 

Mendoza says that a high point came with "a pyrotechnic-laden 'Live and Let Die.' But the defining moment was likely those first two seconds as the crowd realized that, yes, he was about to play 'Yesterday.' It was pandemonium."

Several songs from this show appear on the bootleg album Oriental Nightfish, produced in 1977 by Reading Railroad Records (aka Hoffman Avenue Industries, Inc.). A double LP on colored vinyl, San Diego cuts include "Jet," "Magneto and Titanium Man," "My Love," "Soily," and "Beware My Love."

(Beatle at birthday bash)
2-22-03 – Paul McCartney plays a private party in Rancho Santa Fe: When Ralph Whitworth threw his wife a 50th birthday party at Delicias restaurant, he forked out a million bucks (for charity) to have McCartney perform for the crowd of around 150. Macca and band (including guitarist Rusty Anderson) did 19 songs, as well as the Beatles' rarely performed "Birthday" (which was later added to the tour's setlist).

In a press release, McCartney said, "Normally I don't do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed to do it because it was a 'win-win' show. Ralph gets to be the great husband for organizing the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour, and most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets one million dollars."

"Crasher" columnist Josh Board knows Rusty Anderson's sister, who lives in San Diego. "The day after the Rancho Santa Fe concert, I called to ask if she was there. She said, 'No, I didn't make it. Rusty left a few messages on my machine, but I got them too late. I can't believe it. For them to be so close like that. And I went all the way to Russia to see them.'"

Less than a year later, the Whitworths filed for divorce.

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