The Beatles’ Cincinnati concert is postponed

Saturday, August 20, 1966
Timeline More from year 1966
Crosley Field, Cincinnati, USA

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The Beatles arrived in Cincinnati at 1:35 AM on August 20, 1966, following two concerts in Memphis the day before. Hundreds of fans were waiting for them at the airport.

The group was scheduled to play an open-air show at Crosley Field that evening, but the concert was cancelled due to heavy rain. The promoter had failed to provide a cover for the stage, and the equipment was wet, posing a risk of electrocution to the band.

The support acts for the concert were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes. The downpour began after each of the acts had completed their sets.

The decision was made to postpone the concert until noon the following day.

With Memphis behind us, much of the strain was gone. The bus ride to the airport (with The Beatles up front this time, still in stage suits) was one big sigh of relief and an unspoken compliment to Memphis. The Beatles changed clothes on the plane and we winged off for Cincinnati for another of our middle-of-the-night arrivals.

Time has not dimmed my impression of Cincinnati (which was shared by practically every member of the tour party). It was really pretty awful. Our hotel was a sort of residential hangout for older people in a not-too-groovy section of town. We arrived late at night and there was no room service, nor was there an all-night coffee shop in the hotel. There was a hamburger stand a few blocks away, but we were cautioned not to go there because it was a rough neighborhood. Our rooms were decorated in Early American Poor Taste, and the whole thing was a debacle. We did have one bright spot in the hotel, though, a private taping session with the boys in Brian Epstein’s suite. Brian provided snacks and drinks.

The Saturday night concert was rained out; the promoter kept saying things like, “But it’s never rained on a Saturday night before.’’ There was no canopy over the stage in anticipation of rain, so the equipment was soaked. It isn’t wise to plug in a wet amplifier.

But, The Beatles came to Cincinnati to give a concert, and they rearranged the whole itinerary so they could perform Sunday afternoon.

Judith Sims – From TeenSet Magazine – Quoted in “Ticket To ride – The Extraordinary Diary of The Beatles’ Last Tour” by Barry Tashian

In Cincinnati on August 20, torrential rain caused the cancellation of the show at Crosley Field Stadium, the first and only time this happened during The Beatles’ touring years. The decision to put off the boys’ appearance was taken when Mal [Evans] was thrown several feet across the stage while plugging into a wet amplifier. We were advised that touching any of the stage’s rain-soaked electrical equipment could be lethal so Brian Epstein had no option but to call off the concert.

Tony Barrow – From “John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me

Cincinnati was an open-air venue, and they had a bandstand in the centre of the ballpark, with a canvas top on it. It was really bad weather, pouring with rain, and when Mal got there to set up the equipment he said, ‘Where’s the electricity power feed?’ And the fella said, ‘What do you mean, electricity? I thought they played guitars.’ He didn’t even know we played electric guitars.

It was so wet that we couldn’t play. They’d brought in the electricity, but the stage was soaking and we would have been electrocuted, so we cancelled – the only gig we ever missed.

George Harrison – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

We had a bad experience in Cincinnati where the promoter had been trying to save himself a few cents by not putting a roof over the stage. It started to rain and The Beatles couldn’t go on because they would have been in danger of electrocution. They had to turn away 35,000 screaming kids, who were all given passes for a concert the next day. The strain had obviously been too much for Paul. When I got back to the hotel, Paul was already there. He was throwing up with all this tension. Naturally, we were stuck in Cincinnati for a day and I was sharing a suite with Brian and our bedrooms were at opposite ends of a huge central area. In the morning, I was awakened by all this noise. I walked out of the bedroom to find about a hundred people sitting around in our suite. They had been told that if they wanted to see The Beatles, they should wait in Mr Epstein’s suite. I called the police and had them all chased out. I was terrified until the police came, because Brian was known to sleep in the nude and I had visions of him marching in on this crowd. We were very glad to leave Cincinnati.

Nat Weiss – Attorney and close friend of Brian Epstein – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

From, May 9, 2017:

The concert had been scheduled for 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 1966. Tickets sold for $4.75, up to $5.50.

Just before show time, the rain started coming down hard. For two hours, fans in the exposed stands of Crosley Field were drenched as they waited and waited for the Beatles to come out. The promoters hadn’t put up a canopy, in violation of the contract, so the stage was sopping wet. […]

About 10:25 p.m., a spokesman announced that due the threat that the Beatles could be electrocuted the concert was cancelled. Disappointed teens threw away their tickets.

Backstage, John Lennon stepped up and agreed that they would come back to play the next day. The band spent the night at Vernon Manor in Mount Auburn.

The Enquirer headline: “Beatles All Wet But They’ll Be Back Noon Today.” […]

From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (

Beatle Fans Here See Quick Vanishing Act

Several hundred fans greeted their idols including many from the hobbi-sox set carrying wreaths and other gifts. The girls from left with $367 worth of floral horseshoes are Brenda Snowden, 16, Carol Lester, 18, Jan Greer, 18, Linda Simmons, 19 and Bonnie Sharp, 16, The Beatles didn’t accept the gifts.

18-Second Brush-Off at Lunken Disappoints 150 Teen-agers

Well, John, Paul, Ringo and George. They say you’re nice guys. But as far as I’m concerned you’re not. Even Frank Sinatra at his saltiest doesn’t treat people the way you do.

THE BEATLES, the English rock-and-roll group that has become the biggest hit in the history of show business, rolled into Lunken Airport at 2:45 a. m. today. They preferred to stay here overnight, rather than in Memphis where last night they did two concerts —their only penetration into America’s Bible belt. From the door of the plane, past the waiting reporters and photographers, it took the Beatles a snappy 18 seconds to get into a limousine and away. Their management, which apparently is more concerned with secrecy than courtesy, condescended to let the Beatles car drive within the fenced-off area so the 150 fans beyond the fence could wave.

BUT STANDING within fence were five young girls from Lexington, Ky., who had spent $367 on four floral horseshoes and wanted to hand them to Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison. The limousine didn’t stop. But Jan Greer, 18-year-old Lexington student, got a grip on the window and tried to hand her carnation horseshoe to Paul McCartney. The 60-flower horseshoe split in two, Jan fell to the ground bumping her head and rumpling her clothes, and away sped the Beatles, whose sole tribute to their followers and the press was a collection of sincere, rehearsed smiles. Afterwards, the Kentucky girls insisted they didn’t blame the Beatles. They still hoped to be able to present their flowers to the boys. They even vowed to buy another bouquet to replace the one lost in the motorcade. Jan, distraught, embarrassed and sad because the Beatle car hadn’t slowed to less than 25-miles-an-hour, said she had said ‘‘some thing stupid, like I love you,” to Paul McCartney through the limousine window before falling.

JAN’S FRIENDS are Linda Simmons. 19: Carol Lester. 18; Bonnie Sharp, 16, and Brenda Snowden. 16. Linda and Carol are secretaries in Lexington. For weeks they had taken a few dollars from their salaries to pay for the flowers. The other girls, still students, had to save from their allowances for the $367 that included $20 to get the flowers here by refrigerated truck, so they wouldn’t wilt. Each horseshoe held five dozen carnations; one natural red, the others sprayed purple, blue and green. Each horseshoe was three feet high, about half the size of a regular one used to crown winning horses, according to the florist who delivered them. And though the girls were permitted inside the runway fence —at no guarantee they would be able to get their flowers to the Beatles — they still had only words of love for the Britons after their brush-off.

THE NEWSMEN had no such praise. All were miffed at the idea that the Beatles didn’t even pause for a decent photo or as much as one question. The rush was put on by their management, of course, but it seemed a gross show of disrespect for the professional press which showed up at the inconvenient middle-of-the night arrival.

The medium-sized contingent of police who were to guard the Beatles from possible over-zealous fans didn’t have much to do at either Lunken or the Vernon Manor hotel. Because of the bewitching hour schedule, barely 35 fans were at the Vernon Manor, evenly divided between teen-age girls and fellows with hair as long as the Beatles tresses.

The Beatles and their group of about 65 people — managers, booking agents, international press and supporting acts — are housed on the sixth floor at the suburban hotel. Vernon Manor was sold out for the occasion, some of the people staying there, it is believed, simply to be in the same building with the Beatles.

Three cars were supplied by Stillpass Mercury for the motorcade. But owner Joe Stillpass laughingly denied he might later take one of the cars apart to sell it piece by piece. In the past, such items as bedsheets have been sold by the square inch, once it had accommodated the Beatles.

THE SCENE THIS time was nothing like the 1964 Beatles arrival, but the frenzy then was aided by their daylight landing. It doesn’t signify any shift in sentiment by their followers. In 1964, almost 13,000 attended the Cincinnati Gardens show. Tonight, about 18,000 are expected at Crosley Field. And last night, the best advance planning probably belonged to the two girls who showed up at the baseball park after the stage had been installed near second base. They chipped away part of the stage timbers for souvenirs, then kissed the infield dirt by the handful, replacing it near the stage steps in hopes the Beatles might walk on their kisses.

THAT WAS precisely the atmosphere expected by Tom Dixon. Cincinnati police captain who headed the squad at Lunken and Vernon Manor this morning. He said his men were prepared for anything, even the remote possibility someone might want to harm the Beatles. But his main job, he said, was to protect them from their followers. Kissers, he indicated, are more of a threat than killers. It must be true, for the limousine parked behind the Vernon Manor at 3:30 am bore the script, written on the dusty trunk. “Hi. Ringo.” and “I Love You, Paul,” and the dirty fingers belonged to Charlene Dessauer of 1621 Pelham and Pam Kruger of 5832 Kinoll. Unlike the press, their adoration knows no bounds and they do not insist upon professional conduct. And that, as they say, is show business.

From The Cincinnati Post – August 22, 1966

Beatles? They’re Pretty Nice Blokes

The Beatles are a pretty nice bunch of blokes. You’ve just got to meet them under the right circumstances, that’s all. After three years of chasing the Beatles around the country, a reporter becomes bloody fed up with the begging and scrounging to get near them. For what?

But Saturday I found myself lounging in a dressing room at Crosley Field chatting with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, Britain’s ballyhooed boys.

It was no press conference. There was no pushing, shoving, snarling and needling questioning. There were no cameras, cables or bodyguards. John Lennon and George Harrison were tuning up. Ringo was sitting on a chair staring into space and chewing pink bubble gum.

Paul McCartney was goofing around in a corner, having a put-on karate contest with one of the show staff. I wandered up to Mr. McCartney, who chummily took a slash at me with the side of his hand, grinned and said “Hello!”

Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ founder and owner, was sitting with his feet on a table reading a newspaper. I wandered around having a word here and there, bummed a light off John Lennon, put away my notebook and talked about home. The screaming fans were miles away. I’d caught the boys – pardon the phrase – with their hair down. The only thing missing was a cup of Mum’s tea.

These boys are millionaires. There’s probably no person in the world able to read who doesn’t know their names. They have been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and criticized by heads of governments. But suddenly they were four ordinary lads from Liverpool, talking about ordinary things in familiar Liverpool accents. John Lennon talked about his much-publicized remarks on the Beatles being more popular than Christianity. He was a bit cagey, but he admitted:
I said just what was printed in the article. I just used ‘Beatles’ as the word. I could have said rock ‘n’ roll, or TV or Cary Grant.” But that was all he would allow on the subject.

Paul McCartney, leaning against a wall, said: “The uproar appeared because of what people thought John was saying. They thought he was saying something offensive. If they’d had the common sense to read the whole thing… He was speaking for Christianity rather than against it.

“It’s one of those thing that’s sorted a lot of our fans out. All those people who are still our fans have bothered to think about the thing rather than just blasted-off suddenly.”

The Lennon Christianity controversy has not blasted the Beatles out of the popularity orbit. But where do they go now?

Mr. McCartney said they realized they couldn’t go on forever barnstorming the world. So they will keep it up until something happens. Meantime another movie is being written for them and there is talk of a Broadway show.

Mr. McCartney, the only remaining bachelor Beatle, mused about the animosity they have run into. “You know, people come along with a pre-conceived idea. The people who really listen to us, you can talk to.”

It’s Mr. McCartney and John Lennon who write the lyrics for their songs. Mr. Lennon often is dubbed “the intellectual Beatle” because of a couple of humorous books he has written. “John is not really an intellectual,” Mr. McCartney said. “Neither is anyone of us an intellectual Beatle.

Ringo Starr is a nervous looking chap. He has a very small face and his eyes seem too close together He’s an engaging character, though he looks alarmed every time he’s asked a question. “I don’t think what John said bothered the fans,” he said. “But we’ve lost audiences, you see, because their Mums and Dads pay for the tickets.

I complained about the way the Beatles avoid their fans, many of whom are innocent kids who spend all their money to see the Beatles or to buy them presents. “We don’t keep away,” he said. “When we hit a town we have to conform with what the police want to do. Actually, we’ve been less policed this year.” And that was that with Ringo about Beatle business, other than an explanation as to how they live while they are on tour. The answer is simple – like prisoners. In England, Ringo said, he can go out on the town alone without being hounded by fans.

George Harrison, with the longest hair of the lot. talked about his interest in Indian music. Indian from India, that is.
He is studying the “sitah,” a long, stringed instrument. “I’m interested in Indian music generally,” he said. “I’m trying to learn a bit about it. It’s a very deep and subtle music. It’s associated very much with religion. You have to have a deep understanding to master it. Westerners have a prejudice against Indian music. You don’t know It. but the prejudice is born in you…”

And on and on he went on a tack like that. More’s the pity that fans and the foes never meet the Beatles when their volume is turned down.

From The Cincinnati Enquirer – August 22, 1966
From The Cincinnati Enquirer – August 22, 1966

Also, on this day, August 20, 1966, Billboard Magazine released an article highlighting that several influential Hot 100 radio stations, particularly those in major markets, were not participating in any boycotts against The Beatles. Instead, they continued to feature Beatles tracks as a staple in their regular playlists.

Beatles Running Strong — With Powerhouse Stations’ Blessings

NEW YORK — The Beatles, in spite of controversy, are being played on major Hot 100 format radio stations around the nation and their latest record — “Yellow Submarine” — hit the Billboard chart this week at No. 52, an indication of not only vast radio exposure, but a deluge of sales.

Among the radio stations playing the Beatles were such market powerhouses as KIMN, Denver; KLIF, Dallas; KDWB, Minneapolis; WFUN, Miami; WDKO, Louisville; KDKA, Pittsburgh; WCBG, Chambersburg, Pa.; WPRO, Providence, and WMCA, New York. WABC, New York, wasn’t playing the new release because sales had not yet reached the level in the city to make the station’s tight playlist.

Two weeks ago, WAQY, in Birmingham, launched a ban on Beatles’ records because of a statement attributed to John Lennon of the Beatles which, in effect, said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Maureen Cleave, author of the controversial article, has since stated that “Americans have got the thing completely wrong.” She was interviewed by Clark Race of KDKA in Pittsburgh via a trans-Atlantic telephone call aired by the station. She charged that Lennon’s remarks had been taken out of context and “it’s very unfair.” Miss Cleave said that Lennon “observed that the power of Christianity is slightly on the decline in the modem world. In the end, he said that things had reached such a ridiculous state of affairs that human beings could be worshipped in this extraordinary way. This is the sort of thing he appalled.”

Ted Atkins, program director of KIMN, Denver, said he had never considered taking the new single off the air. “For a program director to say ‘I’m not going to play the Beatles’ is tantamount to commiting ratings suicide.” He said he felt the so-called Beatles ban was an effort by smaller stations to capitalize on the publicity but felt they’ll be hurt because the people want to hear the Beatles.

“When the story first broke in the newspapers, we conducted a two-hour poll during a radio show and found 900 listeners were for the Beatles, while only 200 were against playing the record. We had a couple of heated comments, but nothing serious. To illustrate how humorous the whole situation is, we’re flying 85 kids to St. Louis Aug. 21 to see the Beatles concert. Four of the chaperons are ministers. I was talking with one of them the other day and he just laughed about the Beatles’ caper.”

KLIF, Dallas, felt the Beatles were misquoted and was playing their records. WFUN in Miami released a joint statement by general manager and vice-president Arnold C. Kaufman and program director Dick Starr: “WFUN will continue to play records recorded by the popular music group, the Beatles, and this decision is based solely on this group’s proved music talent. Radio station WFUN is interested in providing its listeners with the most popular music, and if this music is provided or any other musical talent, it will be played by WFUN, provided it is in good taste and in our opinion worthy of airplay. The personal and private views of recording artists have no bearing on the potency of their individual talents. This is applicable to all entertainers in every phase of show business.”

While WAQY in Birmingham was banning the Beatles, the major Hot 100 format radio station there — WSGN — was continuing to play their records. WSGN scored No. 1 and received 47 per cent of the votes in Billboard’s last Radio Response Rating survey of the market for influencing the sale of pop single records. In comparison, WAQY was fourth with only 8 per cent of the votes of record dealers, distributors, one-stop operators and local and national record company executives for influencing singles sales.

WCBG, Chambersburg, Pa., aired an editorial supporting the group. Southern stations that are, according to Capitol Records, playing the Beatles, include WMPS, Memphis; WAPE, Jacksonville, Fla.; WVOK, Birmingham; WBAM, Montgomery, and WFLI, Chattanooga.

Brian Epstein, discoverer and manager of the British rock ’n’ roll group, said last week that “The quote which John Lennon made to a London columnist more than three months ago has been quoted and represented entirely out of context. Lennon is deeply interested in religion … he did not mean to boast about the Beatles’ fame, he meant to point out that the Beatles’ effect appeared to be a more immediate one upon, certainly, the younger generation. In the circumstances, John is deeply concerned and regrets that people with certain religious beliefs should have been offended in any way.”

Roy Batachio, Eastern artist promotion manager for Capitol Records, said, “All in all, the situation is not as drastic as one would be led to believe from reading various newspaper articles. I believe that, between Miss Cleave’s statement and Mr. Epstein’s statement, there should be no reason for any radio station to continue to ban any Beatles product. This, of course, is a decision they will have to make themselves.”

From Billboard – August 20, 1966
From Billboard – August 20, 1966
From Billboard – August 20, 1966

Last updated on September 20, 2023

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