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Beatlemania hit Seattle 47 years ago

1964 show was first rock concert in what's now KeyArena

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William Lovelace/Express Newspapers/Getty Images/
Beatle Ringo Starr uses a fishing rod to fish from his Edgewater Hotel window as bandmates Paul McCartney (L) and John Lennon watch, Aug. 1964
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Photo courtesy Edgewater Hotel
The Beatles fishing from a window in suite 272 at the Edgewater Hotel, Aug. 21, 1964
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Photo: Timothy Eagan/courtesy Mike Eagan
Paul McCartney and John Lennon, 1964

It was 47 years ago Sunday when Beatlemania swept Seattle.

The show, which legendary disc jockey Pat O'Day said was the first in the Seattle Center Coliseum (now KeyArena), was part of the Beatles' whirlwind 1964 tour – six months after their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

About 300 teens waited for the Beatles to land at Sea-Tac International Airport and when they did shortly after 4 p.m. Aug. 20, police struggled to keep them from the Beatles' limousine.

The screams could be heard four blocks away.

The band and their traveling party stayed at The Edgewater hotel. The move by then-manager Don Wright was risky because of the chaos that followed the band, but he predicted the visit would get the hotel great publicity for years.

He was right. Today, room 272, where the Beatles stayed, gets visitors from around the world. Some people believe that the one night the Fab Four stayed at the hotel actually saved the now-landmark building that many expected would be shut down in the 1960s.

Click here to read the full story about the Beatles' visit to the Edgewater and the crowds that followed.

The Beatles' 1964 performance lasted less than a half hour. Here's the set list:

  • Twist and Shout
  • You Can't Do That
  • All My Loving
  • She Loves You
  • Things We Said Today
  • Roll Over Beethoven
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • If I Fell
  • I Want To Hold Your Hand
  •  Boys
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • Long Tall Sally

    A bootleg recording of the concert exists, including O'Day's introduction.

    In "The Unreleased Beatles" – the definitive book on Beatles bootlegs by Richie Unterberger – the recording is described as the worst of the complete or near-complete shows from that tour.

    "If it's any indication of how it actually sounded up in the rafters, you really would have had a hard time telling which song from which unless you were really familiar with the material," he wrote. "As for the wild audience reaction, the most ear-opening passage arrives at 'Can't Buy Me Love,' when the crowd, for some reason, decides to clap along madly."

    It's unclear who taped it, how, or where in the Coliseum the recording was done. O'Day said in 2003 he hadn't been aware there was a recording.

    A audio tape of the press conference also exists, and a short video clip also remains in KOMO/4's archive. The P-I sent reporter Jack Jarvis, a photographer and three fan club members to help interview the group. (They got the band's cigarette butts as mementos.)

    A vinyl copy of the news conference was published in 1989 by a local fan club. But it's not clear from that printing or from bootleg CDs which reporter made the recording. A transcript of most of the roughly 14-minute recording can be found here.

    Part of the press briefing is included in this KUOW piece by Seattle historian and producer Feliks Banel.  

    Click here to download a PDF copy of the P-I's coverage of the Beatles 1964 Seattle concert.

    Other P-I coverage of the Beatles 1964 Seattle visit can be downloaded here.

    Visit's home page for more Seattle news.


Last Updated: 08/22/11 09:09

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News Summary

It was 47 years ago Sunday when Beatlemania swept Seattle. The show, which legendary disc jockey Pat O'Day said was the first in the Seattle Center Coliseum (now KeyArena), was part of the Beatles' whirlwind 1964 tour – six months after their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."