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From Cleveland.com, August 14, 2016:
Long past dismissals that they were a passing fad or novelty, the Beatles were the most influential group in pop music and in culture when they played Cleveland for a second time on Aug. 14, 1966 — 50 years ago today.
Whether the show was a success or a failure still is a question.
The announced crowd of more than 24,000 at Cleveland Stadium was immense for its time, before rock festivals and Coliseum-scale arena shows, and before stadium concerts became commonplace. Fans who were there remember the excitement of watching the show of a lifetime. And the event helped lift its sponsoring radio station, 8-month-old WIXY, to Top 40 dominance.
But with tickets selling for $3 to $5.50, WIXY dreamed of attendance hitting 70,000, notes author Deanna Adams, whose books include the history “Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Cleveland Connection.” Promoters considered the concert a “dismal failure.”
One reason was the U.S. publication, only days earlier, of an interview with John Lennon that originally appeared five months earlier in the London Evening Standard, without much notice. Interviewer Maureen Cleave wrote that Lennon was “reading extensively about religion,” and quoted him saying: “We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”
Lennon’s comment in context was an observation about religion losing its connection with youth. It was taken, especially in the South, as an anti-Christian boast, and it led to the banning and burning of Beatles records and memorabilia. The fierce reaction threatened to stop the tour.
“I’m sure it was because of the parents, not so much the kids,” Adams said. “As kids, I think we were smart enough to understand what Lennon was saying.” But concert attendance was affected because, in many cases, “the parents dropped off the kids and picked them up afterward.”
The Hough riots, three weeks earlier, also left some leery of going downtown. A wet and chilly night didn’t add to the appeal.
Ultimately, the Cleveland concert — like most of the Beatles’ 14-city swing — led to the group’s decision to stop touring and performing outside a studio.
The noise in Cleveland Stadium made it impossible for the group, and much of the crowd, to hear the music. And when several thousand fans jumped the stands and rushed the stage, the Beatles had to be hustled to safety, delaying the show for half an hour.
The sound stopped long ago, but the reverberations of that night continue after half a century: in the still-vital memories of “Beatles Twin” Janice Hawkins Mitchell, in Paul McCartney’s Beatles-heavy set of songs headed to Quicken Loans Arena Aug. 17 and 18, and in the continuing passion of Clevelanders lucky enough to have seen the Fab Four in flesh.
Last updated on April 20, 2019
This was the 1st and only concert played at Municipal Stadium.
Setlist for the concert