Washington DC • Monday, August 15, 1966

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the Summer 1966 US tour
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Washington DC
D.C. Stadium

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On this day, August 15, 1966, The Beatles flew from Cleveland, where they had performed a concert the day before, to Washington, DC, where they were scheduled to perform at DC Stadium. Throughout the tour, they were accompanied by supporting acts The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes.

Before the concert, a group of five individuals who identified themselves as members of the Ku Klux Klan held a parade outside the stadium in protest of John Lennon’s remarks about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus. The Klan members wore robes in red, white, and green, and they were led by the Imperial Grand Wizard of the Maryland clan.

The Beatles held a press conference before the concert, and they addressed the controversy surrounding John’s remarks.

After the concert, The Beatles and their entourage immediately boarded a bus and began the journey to Philadelphia, where they would perform the next day.

The next stop was Washington, D.C., but in many cases the plane rides to and from were just as much fun as the actual concert spot. Three of The Beatles circulated about the plane from time to time, but John usually remained seated. Several people came up to talk to him, which he did easily and pleasantly, but he wasn’t his usual outgoing self, pointed out by others who had been on previous tours. John seemed friendly and attentive when speaking with someone, but he appeared troubled and reflective when he wasn’t busy. I could be wrong, since I can’t claim to be a John Lennon mind reader, but I may have seen more in his attitude than was really there. We (most of the press people) were all aware of John’s difficult position this year; so many people had taken verbal potshots at him that we were all a bit sensitive about anything relating to him. […]

The D.C. security in our fair capitol was pretty tight, as there were few people jamming the airport or hotel. In Washington we pulled into the back entrance of the Shoreham Hotel where The Beatles and the rest of us had to trek through the lower depths and ride a creaky freight elevator to the lobby. That is, we went to the lobby for our room keys, but The Beatles don’t have to do that sort of thing. […]

The concert there had one of the best sound systems and one of the largest crowds — over 30,000. The only incident, which brought a near heartattack to our security men, occurred when a young boy came out of nowhere and leapt on the stage. He was quickly removed, but the crowd roared its approval anyway.

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

August 15, 1966 (after midnight) Dear Diary, I saw The Beatles tonight. I couldn’t see their faces very well, but I knew Paul looked adorable as always. He looked over at our section quite a lot. John waved at our section also. All I could do was cry. Sharon would jump up every so often, shaking, then she’d look over at me and sort of feel sorry for me. I suppose. It was very disappointing though. The lighting and sound equipment was terrible. they began with Long Tall Sally and ended with I’m Down [sic: they ended with Long Tall Sally]. That’s how I feel right now, down. Because I could only watch them. They were so close, yet so far away. The next time they come I’ll see them again and it will be different. A boy jumped on stage and almost knocked John off, a policeman had to carry him away. John kept jumping at the mike, Paul would kick and swing his legs out in front of him, George did dances and little Ringo drummed away. Paul took the mike once, walked over to where Ringo was, and then announced his song. You can imagine the screams. Though I cried, my throat was tight and dry and I kept saying over and over, “Paul, oh Paul.” My dream came true that night — I saw them. I knew he’s real. I do know that he is mine. (?) In my own special way, he’ll always be mine. But not in reality. When we entered the stadium it was day, when we left I couldn’t remember if it were day or night. I still can’t. It all seems too much like a dream that you can’t remember too well. A dream that you could be contented to remain in because you would not want to wake. Afterwards, I was in my own world. I kept going over all that happened, keeping very silent, very still. Almost as if in a trance. My father didn’t like this. He said I had just seen The Beatles — I heard that, and I shot back, “That was all!!” If he only knew. To just see them — to be so close and yet so far away. To love them and Paul and not being able to tell them.

They were beautiful. they were mine for a whole fleeting second. Mine. Hundreds of screaming, happy, loyal, wonderful Beatle fans, and they were mine that evening. The Beatles and Paul — were mine. And I’m sure everyone must have felt the same. My three-year-old sister saw them only a few yards away before the concert, the luck of being a child. She’ll never know what that would have mean to all of us. That you Dear Lord for letting The Beatles be who they are. We love them so.

Joan Litherland – From “McCartney: Luvers and Friends” fanzine, March 1973 – Meet the Beatles for Real: The Beatles in Concert – Washington D.C.

First time around was August 18, 1965, at Atlanta Stadium. […] Second time around was August 15, 1966, at Washington D.C. at the D.C. Stadium. Our seats were closer this time and we had a great view with binoculars. I couldn’t get over their suits. They were gorgeous. Sort of a cream-camel color with belled pants. The Beatles were Fantabulous! I’ve never seen them with so much energy, you know, moving around and all. Paul danced constantly. George and John did their share of monkeyshines too. They took turns (except Ringo) announcing this time. Funny thing. You know, they, especially John and George, would announce the song then tell what album it’s from; but they always got it wrong. I honestly thought Paul was going to kill himself. He was “here there and everywhere.” All over the stage. He and George waved a lot, George giving out off waves just turning the screams on and off. They were panting and could barely catch enough breath to talk much less sing. When Paul sang “Yesterday” there was really a riot. Several ran to rails but police knocked them about and ushers carried them out. It was beautiful. When Ringo was singing this boy came from nowhere and went flying out to the stage (with police in hot pursuit) and got up on the stage and went for John. IT scared me to death. John dodged and the boy fell off the stage and was dragged, kicking, out by four men. John and to go around the mike three times to get untangled. Then the next thing you know, they were gone. But the main part – we went to the stadium at 3:00 (concert time 8:00) and we were standing there (after walking around the stadium three times trying to find some small space to get inside the thing) at the gate peering in. Suddenly, we began to see members of the other groups. Then we saw two tall figures inside. They came closer. Who was it? It was George. Who was with him? It was Paul. It was Paul and George! Natch we started screaming and frantically waving. They were so sweet. They stopped, smiled, waved and Paul said “Hello.” That was about the most thrilling thing ever! Then they were gone – just like before.

Carolyn Hicks, August 1967 – From Meet the Beatles for Real: As I remember…

From Boundary Stones, August 9th, 2016:

Although their first appearance in Washington D.C. in 1964 was certainly more historic, the Beatles’ last visit in 1966 was nothing if not eventful, and verged on the downright bizarre. In stark contrast to that triumphant first U.S. concert at Washington Coliseum in February 1964, by August 1966 the Beatles were mired in religious controversy, struggling to sell out concerts, no longer a shoo-in for #1 on the pop charts, and creating music too complex to be replicated on stage. To a large extent the 1966 Beatles had outgrown both their lovable moptop image and their legions of delirious teenage fans. They were at the forefront of massive musical, social and cultural change, and a good chunk of America was just not quite ready.

The Beatles stealthily arrived at Washington National Airport at 3:30pm on August 15, 1966, for the fourth stop on what would become their final tour. They were scheduled to play D.C. Stadium (i.e. RFK) that night, and according to the Washington Post there were plenty of good tickets still available, priced from $3 to $5 each. Their most pressing concern however was to address the growing firestorm over John Lennon’s remarks on the decline of Christianity and the Beatles’ relative standing in a popularity contest with Jesus Christ. 

Lennon’s infamous “Bigger than Jesus …” comment had actually been published in the U.K. back in March in the London Evening Standard, after an interview with journalist Maureen Cleeve […]

The off-the-cuff remarks elicited scant reaction in England at the time, but when they were republished in the American teen magazine Datebook several months later — on the eve of their upcoming U.S. summer tour — all hell (and some actual fire) broke loose. The outcry exploded mainly in the Southern Bible Belt — with radio stations boycotting Beatles songs, several public burnings of Beatles records and paraphernalia, death threats and other organized protests. The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein considered cancelling the tour, fearing for the lives of his clients.

Lennon had already made an apology of sorts in Chicago on August 11, but this did little to allay the controversy. So the Beatles scheduled another press conference in Washington to address the continuing chaos. Since there was little time between their afternoon arrival and the scheduled concert at 8:00pm, the event was held in the Washington Senators’ locker room at D.C. Stadium. Several of the baseball players’ lockers were hastily cleared out, and the Beatles were seated in front of them. Only fragments of the press conference survive, but the tone of the assembled journalists was much more confrontational than the jovial reception they received back in 1964. One reporter went so far as to theorize that the whole thing was an elaborate publicity stunt timed to drum up ticket sales for their tour […]

[…] After several warm-up acts, the Beatles appeared on stage for about 30 minutes in total. They raced through a setlist of a mere 11 songs with no encores, which included several songs also performed during their 1964 and 1965 tours. It did not include a single song from their latest album Revolver — a groundbreaking masterpiece often listed in the Top Ten albums of all time, which would have been nearly impossible to reproduce live anyway. For the 32,164 fans in attendance, the Beatles were difficult to see and hear […]

After this short, nearly inaudible set, the Beatles were quickly spirited away, traveling immediately to Philadelphia for the next date on this whirlwind tour which would pack 19 shows into just 17 days. As the bus departed, the Fab Four had already moved on, in pretty much every way possible. The 1966 D.C. concert had been a microcosm of all the reasons touring had become more of a threatening burden than a joyous celebration. Though no one outside the band knew it at the time, the Beatles were finished as a live act. Two weeks later, they played their last concert ever at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. 

From Performance in Washington – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From 15 August 1966 – USA, DC Stadium, Washington, DC – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Beatles performing in concert at the Washington Coliseum: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr (l. to r.), August 15, 1966 (umass.edu) – From a series of images of the Beatles concert at D.C. Stadium during their 1966 tour of the United States. – Scherman, Rowland (photographer)
From 5 1966 BEATLES UNUSED FULL CONCERT TICKETS SF Cin DC STL Detroit reprint | eBay
From 1966 the Beatles Washington D.C. Concert 13 X 19 Photo – Etsy France

From The Washington Post – August 16, 1966

The fabulous Beatles, who include two reluctant theologians since their last appearance here two years ago, practically stole into town yesterday for a concert at D.C. Stadium. […]

Their entourage of about 60 whisked from an out-of-the-way corner of National Airport to the service entrance of the Shoreham Hotel in six limousines. most of the party, however, stayed at the Willard Hotel.

A dozen young teenage girls, some of whom had been waiting since 7 a.m., mobbed the Beatles’ car at the entrance. But after a brief struggle with two Metropolitan policemen and several Beatle security guards, the screaming, crying teenagers were dispersed. […]

Another 150 District police were patroling the outside area and neighboring residential blocks for signs of troublemakers. Members of the Maryland Ku Klux Klan had threatened to picket the group over the remarks on religion.

In addition, a 600-foot long snow fences was placed across the stadium itself from foul line pole to foul line pole to prevent youngsters from getting close to their idols. […]

On Saturday, Lennon told Washington Post reporter Leroy Aarons in an exclusive interview:

“I can’t express myself very well … I’m more of a Christion [sic] now than I ever was. I don’t go along with organized religion and the way it has come about. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us … it’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”

The same day Beatle Paul McCartney told a Chicago press conference: “We all deplore the fact” that Christianity “seems to be shrinking, to be losing contact.”

From The Washington Post – August 16, 1966 – From When Did the Beatles Play in D.C.? – Ghosts of DC


A crowd of more than 32,000 gave the Beatles an enthusiastic welcome in Washington last night. The group was giving a concert in the Washington Senators’ baseball ground.

Miss Susan Dobbs, 18, of Virginia, who had solicited support through the personal column of The Daily Telegraph for a petition of welcome for the Beatles, was unable to hand it to them. She failed to penetrate the police cordon.

The Ku Klux Klan, taking a different view of the Beatles’ appearance following John Lennon’s remarks about Jesus, picketed the stadium. The small party of robed Klansmen were hardly detectable among the Beatles’ thousands of followers.

From The Daily Telegraph – August 17, 1966
From The Daily Telegraph – August 17, 1966

32,000 in Capital Hear the Beatles

WASHINGTON. (UPI) The Beatles, trailing admirers and apologies behind them, thundered through a one night stand last night before 32,000 fans.

The enthusiasm of the crowd at District Stadium belied the need for apologies from the millionaire singers’ outspoken member, John Lennon, who has said the quartet was “more popular than Jesus.”

For the most part the crowd was quiet enough to hear the lyrics of the Beatle favorites that were a part of the program. Only with Paul McCartney’s singing of “Yesterday” did the fans erupt in an ovation that drowned out the singer.

During the performance four girls and a boy broke through heavy police cordons surrounding the musical group in an effort to reach a stage placed behind second base in the Washington Senators baseball infield.

Only the boy was able to reach the stage where, as he raised his clasped hands in a victory sign, he was grabbed by police and hustled away.

Five members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded outside the stadium in protest over Lennon’s remarks on the dwindling popularity of Christianity. At a news conference before they sang, they had no comment on the pickets.

But Lennon did reiterate the apology he has given ever since the Beatles began their current U.S. tour, and said in response to a question that “… there aren’t as many people upset as I was led to believe.”

From The Memphis Press-Scimitar – August 16, 1966
From The Memphis Press-Scimitar – August 16, 1966


FROM facts supplied by NME correspondents in America, we have compiled a Beatles diary. Below is our impression of how the Beatles themselves might write down their day-to-day events…

THURSDAY, August 11 : Thanks for the wonderful send-off from London Airport. Sorry you got so wet. Hope you haven’t got colds. We were questioned, of course. Replies: JOHN: I’m sorry I said it. I’m worried because I caused the bother. I will do anything to put things right. I’ll apologise, without reservations. PAUL: I expect it will be the usual rave-up. GEORGE: I’m worried. We’ve never left for America with this sort of feeling. Girl fans shouted: “Don’t go. You’ll be killed.” Hope not.

Flew Pan-Am (our original TWA flight direct London-Chicago was strike cancelled). Touched down at Boston. Sorry for the 500 youngsters who weren’t allowed near us. RINGO (as we stretch legs in silence): At least the weather is warm. Some fans reported to have shouted “John, not Jesus” but we never heard them.

Chicago… we’re smuggled through hangar a mile from passenger terminal. At hotel car mobbed. How those girls pounded roof of new limousine. Rooms on 24th floor.

We had a Press reception at which JOHN apologised in front of TV cameras and mikes for his remark about “Beatles more popular than Christ” and said he’d be more guarded in what he said in future. He explained he used “Beatles” as he might use “TV” or “cinema,” or anything else that was popular. (Reported fans outside annoyed, and one alleged to say: “John has sold out to adults”). But Alabama disc jockey called off anti-Beatles demonstration.

FRIDAY, August 12: Our first two shows on the fourth tour, at the 13,000-capacity Chicago Amphitheatre, were both sell-outs. We enjoyed them. Great audience response… wilder, louder, more joyful if anything. Like PAUL forecast: the usual rave-up! And more American dollars for Britain from the gross of about $140,000. Helping to Mend Britain’s Emergency !

SATURDAY. August 13: Flew to Detroit. Two more successful shows.

SUNDAY, August 14: Came on by bus to Cleveland. Played in the Stadium to 24,000. Police precautions inadequate. Seems Mayor refused permission for police to protect us or audience, so concert sponsors hired 90 cops at $10 each, which wasn’t enough. Result was teenagers got over barrier and rushed stage during “ Day Tripper.” About 2,000 got on to baseball pitch. We were rushed off stage to a caravan. Police took 30 minutes to calm crowd and get them off field before we started again. Like PAUL said: “A rave-up !” And no one hurt, we’re glad to say. But we need more police.

WASHINGTON, Monday, August 15: Concert went well at the local stadium. Plenty of police to keep order and only a few kids got out of hand. We were apprehensive about picketing by Ku Klux^Klan, but green-robed contingent, forecast as 25 but actually five, got jeers from fans. We read Grand Dragon Bill Sickles hammered out: “Look at all (hat trash going in there — niggers and whites together… we don’t appreciate bringing the anti-Christ over here from England. We have enough of our own.” Sounds like it !

PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday, August 16: Swinging open air show here. Now on to Toronto, Boston racetrack (hope we’ll be winners !) and Memphis ?!?

New York ready to greet boys

The Beatles are here and their four shaggy heads will roar into New York’s Shea Stadium next Tuesday. As I write the date is not a complete sell-out — but 56,000 seats is one very tall order!

NBC, CBS and ABC television got their say on the Beatle matter at about 8 o’clock last Thursday night (11th) in a special telecast, preceding the Chicago Press conference an hour later. Some bonfires have burned, but Beatle excitement still pervades everywhere!

For the first time in the history of their American success, the Beatle will hold a High School and Teen Fan Club Press conference in New York, which both Brian Epstein and Tony Barrow are enthusing over.

This has been set for Monday afternoon (22nd), and will be held for a total of 150 under-eighteens. some selected by WMCA and WABC radio, and the others from the fan club list, at Warwick Hotel (where the Beatles will be staying). The regular Press conference is two hours later.

Both Bernice Young (head of the national fan club and an executive of Nemporer), and Tony Barrow, are looking forward to the conference with mixed emotions.

Tony is just a little scared the fans might get out of hand, but Bernice told me they’ve provided a dozen extra guards in addition to the hotel security and police travelling with the Beatles.

From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966
From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966

Kenny Everett Reports The Beatles U.S. Tour

Washington D.C. Tuesday

The group on stage before the Beatles was the Cyrkle — Brian Epstein’s American group that had the big hit with “Red Rubber Ball”. Somebody must have given all the kids rubber balls as a publicity stunt — but they saved them all for the Beatles.

When the boys came on stage they were showered with all these small red rubber balls — the sort that are supposed to bounce as high as a house — as well as jelly babies.

John Lennon’s much-publicised remarks haven’t caused any incidents so far. When we got to Chicago there was a press conference with everybody from the radio stations and newspapers there. John is very sad about the whole thing and he explained what he meant and everybody seemed satisfied. He is certainly not anti-religious or anything like that.

One effect of it all is that we have seen posters and placards saying: “We Love John Lennon And God!” Another unexpected thing — people outside the shows selling badges with “I Love Paul”, “I Love Ringo”, “I Love George” and “I Love John”, say that the “I Love John” ones are outselling the others ten to one.

Another surprising incident happened after the Detroit shows. As soon as we got away from the Stadium we pulled up at a little cafe. The Beatles just stood about on the side of the road eating hamburgers while everybody walked past without recognising them. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if they had suddenly realised the Beatles were just standing right there.

I feel sorry for the Beatles in some ways. They are trapped in their hotels and can’t go out. We get into the hotel usually around 3 a.m. and from then until the concert at 5 p.m. the next afternoon they have to stay indoors. Every hotel has been completely surrounded by fans, with radio sets, banners, and all that jazz. They just scream all day. Even if the Beatles wanted to they would not be allowed out by the security men. They have just have to sit around inside all the time.

“Tell Lyndon we’ll be late for tea.” That was John Lenon’s laconic comment made as the whole Beatles party were kept hanging around waiting for a plane to Washington at Cleveland airport yesterday. There was little to do but sit and wait.

On the planes from date to date everything is informal. The Beatles don’t like flying but they have to, so they do it with good grace. The flight from Cleveland to Washington was spent relaxing and eating. I was having lunch when Paul wandered by I waved a greeting with a knife and he sat down beside me.

The Washington concert took place in another huge stadium before about 30,000 fans and it seemed almost as many policemen. The Beatles were separated from the crescent of fans by a large expanse of field patrolled by vigilant police. So the expected riots never happened.

Only one male fan made it through the police cordon. He was dressed in a suit and had long hair and the cops mistook him for a member of a supporting group.

As far as we can see the much publicised “ban the Beatles movement” has fizzled out. There have been no incidents close to the Beatles although the Ku Klux Klan apparently held a demonstration in another state. It seems that the kids are saying: “So John Lennon said it, so what?” As far as I can see the Beatles still have as many American fans as before — if not more.

Radio stations ignore ban on Beatle records

WASHINGTON, Tuesday: The Beatles’ entourage arrived at the luxurious Shoreham Hotel late on Monday following an uproarious riot-torn night in Cleveland which some observers compared to the recent racial riots in the city’s East side. Performing for an audience of 25,000 in the giant 80,000-seat stadium on the shores of Lake Erie, the group barely got into its third number when fans rushed the stage.

More than 1,000 fans pushed and shoved their way toward the five-foot-high stage and the concert was halted with the Beatles racing to a nearby trailer for protection. Following a 33-minute delay, the concert was continued with the closing number drowned out in the bedlam of another rush on the stage. In the ensuing excitement the chauffeur of one of the Cadillac limousines awaiting the group smashed the side of the car against a wall. It was a frantic scene highlighted by general confusion and security forces that were woefully inadequate.

Finally, the group managed to get out of the stadium area and back to their hotel, where they spent much of the rest of the night playing Bob Dylan’s brand new two LP album, “Blonde On Blonde.”

Earlier in Chicago the group played to two sellout houses at the giant international amphitheatre indoor stadium. The Windy City visit produced the first of an abbreviated series of press conferences during which John Lennon apologised for the connotation put on his recent remarks about religion. But he stuck to his basic opinion on the alleged decline of Christianity in Britain today.

The Saturday night concert at the Olympia Stadium Detroit was described as “almost a full house”, with “inadequate security measures”, although no serious incidents occurred there.

It’s understood that some members of the party — not including the Beatles themselves — visited Berry Gordy, president of Tamla Motown Records, while in Detroit.

Airport security has been generally good to date, and crowds awaiting the Beatles’ plane arrivals have been smaller than on previous tours.

Saleswise however, there seems no decline at all in the Beatles’ power. Their newest Capitol single appears to be another two-sided smash. “Yellow Submarine”, is already in the Top Twenty in its first week of release while the flip “Eleanor Rigby” is close behind. Stations are now reported to be flipping to the “Rigby” side which may be the bigger hit of the two. About 97 per cent of the nation’s pop music stations are playing the current disc, putting the lie to the stories of a mass anti-Beatle movement.

The radio station that started the campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, is said to be one of the weakest outlets in its market.

Meanwhile, within the group itself George Harrison has become a more intense fan of Indian music than ever. Admittedly a fan of Ravi Shankar and his sitar, Harrison is pursuing his study of the music and is carrying with him a tiny transistorised tape recorder which he’s using to tape as much off-beat material as he can find. One member of the party from the GAC Agency has already arranged to get Harrison a collection of Indian music albums including one LP featuring violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

Concert dates this week include Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, Memphis, and St Louis. The group arrives in New York next Monday and appears at Shea Stadium on Tuesday night. After this, they fly to the West Coast.

From Melody Maker – August 20, 1966
From Melody Maker – August 20, 1966

Last updated on September 20, 2023

D.C. Stadium

This was the 1st and only concert played at D.C. Stadium.

Going further

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible



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