Now for the reality of it. In 1964 I was eight years old. My sister was seven. The Beatles had been the big thing on the radio for a few years. On February 9 of the same year, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was their first large scale visual exposure to the U.S..
My Mom was a smart lady. She knew there was something about this particular band, or at least the hoopla that surrounded them. At that time we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mom heard that they were going to appear at the Las Vegas Convention Center on August 21. Being the smart lady she was, she bought tickets for my sister and me. She had a feeling that it would be a landmark that would benefit us.
Just before 4pm on August 21, 11,000 fans, mostly teenage girls, piled into the Convention Center. The warm-up band was The Billy Black Combo and a few other guest singers, but honestly I have no memory of that. It seems to me that we arrived a bit late. I do not know if it was general seating or assigned seats, but my sister and I were a good distance from the stage, not so far that you could not really see, but not up close either.
I remember being seated before The Beatles entered the stage, so we must have been there for some of the warm-up performances. I recall that the stage lights were dim. Then in a rapid fade the lights came up, revealing a set similar to the set that was used on The Ed Sullivan Show, white and pale blues and greys with large arrows and triangles pointing downward behind a simple drum riser and three microphone stands and a few amplifiers out front.
A voice came over the P.A. and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beat…” The crowd exploded. The people in front of us jumped to their feet, making it difficult for my sister and me to see the stage. We stood up with everyone else, but being just little kids that did not help much. The Fab Four walked out on stage wearing their trademark button down suits and pointy boots. Ringo was carrying his sticks, while the other three had their guitars strapped over their shoulders. They plugged in and started.
One of the ladies in front of me and my sister bolted up on her feet, let out a blood curdling scream, yanked out two handfuls of her own hair and then passed out. I said, “lady,” but as I was only eight, she was probably in her late teens or early twenties.
They played all their hits at the time, like “She Loves You,” “Let Me Tell You a Secret,” “All My Loving,” and others. However, the screaming of the crowd that started with their entrance never stopped. I really could not hear a lot. I do remember hearing some of “Love Me Do,” some of “Help,” and a bit of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” but that is about it. For the entire show the frenzied yelling of the crowd never calmed down.
They played for forty-five minutes to an hour. Suffice to say, I have not seen the likes of this event since, and it is one I will never forget. Thank goodness for smart Moms with vision.