Philadelphia • Tuesday, August 16, 1966

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the Summer 1966 US tour
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John F. Kennedy Stadium

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After their concert in Washington DC on August 15, 1966, The Beatles and their entourage immediately boarded a bus and began the journey to Philadelphia, where they performed on this day.

Rather than a full press conference, representatives of six local media outlets were granted formal interviews.

The Beatles played at 8 pm in front of 20,000 people, at the John F Kennedy Stadium, which had 60,000 seats available. The show took place during the beginning of an electrical storm with near-constant lightning, but the rain held off until shortly after The Beatles left the stage.

The support acts for the entire tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes.

After the show, The Beatles and their entourage immediately boarded their Greyhound tour bus and were taken to Philadelphia International Airport, from where they flew to Toronto, Canada, to perform two concerts on August 17, 1966.

Woke at 8 A.M. and took all our clothes to a dry cleaner in the D.C. ghetto.

We left the hotel about 2:15 P.M. enroute to Philadelphia by bus. Today will be a long day. Awoke in D.C. Tonight we’ll sleep in Toronto, and do a show in Philadelphia in-between.

Arrived in Philly (JFK Stadium), and did a really good show. When The Beatles were on stage, the thunder and lightning seemed to augment the dramatic effect on their music. With all the flashbulbs going off, the flickering light made The Beatles look like they were stars in an old silence movie. The rain came barely seconds after the performance ended.

After the show, John Kurland met us backstage. He said he doesn’t want us to talk to The Beatles – we should be above that – not on the level of the fans. But I’m too much of a fan to resist talking to them.

Barry Tashian – Leader of the Remains, one of the opening acts of the Beatles for the 1966 US Tour – From “Ticket To ride – The Extraordinary Diary of The Beatles’ Last Tour” by Barry Tashian

The getaway from the hotel the following day was a marvel of logistical planning. We all climbed aboard a waiting bus (we actually left through the front entrance, mind you) and took off, supposedly leaving The Beatles for a limousine or whatever. Instead, the bus circled around a few blocks and returned to another rear entrance, right up to some French doors. There were only two or three people watching, so the escape was effected without any problem. With our four Beatles firmly stashed in the back of the bus, we headed for Philadelphia. […]

As we approached Philly, our bus pulled over to the side of the highway and the four Beatles disappeared into a small panel truck —a florist’s truck, no less. We learned that it was more for convenience than security—the bus couldn’t fit inside the stadium.

The boys’ dressing room in Philly was one of the few we saw from inside because a taping session was held there. John, Ringo, and George were seated on cots, Paul on a chair, and several fortunate young girls were dispensing sandwiches and soft drinks. […]

The Philadelphia concert was one of several threatened by rain, which broke loose immediately after the show. It was a damp ride to the airport for everyone—bus and flower truck together, but it was warm and secure once we got inside the plane.

At least the plane was secure while it was still on the ground. For most of us, the plane flights were times for mingling, relaxing, taking stock and comparing notes. For George Harrison, the flights were an ordeal. “I just don’t dig heights,” he explained. It didn’t help his height plight that our charter plane did not ride as smoothly as a jet. We hit some really rough weather more than once, which annoyed Paul (whose stomach is very easily upset anyway), and didn’t exactly overjoy George.

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

I was 16 at the time and as excited as could be, for I had gotten a ticket for the temporary seating on the field! This was the closest seating available, and I assumed I would be within Instamatic range of the stage. I arranged to meet a friend on the train that would take us to the center of the city, where we would then take the subway to the stadium. This was to be an outdoor concert, and the sky looked like rain. At the stadium, I bought a concert program and settled into my seat. Two of the opening acts, Bobby Hebb and the Cyrkle, were very impressive. During one section of the Cyrkle’s performance, they did a perfect copy version of some of the big records of the day. I was amazed how much they sounded like the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. Once the Beatles came on, all hell broke loose. The entire audience stood for the whole set. I remember sitting down for a moment to tie my show and the soundproofing caused by the standing crowd completely shut out the sound of the Beatles. After the Beatles performed “Rain,” our worst fears came true. It started to drizzle, and the concert was brought to a close. Although it seemed at the time that the show was cut short, based on what I have learned since, the show most likely was no shorter than any other. The postscript to the story is the craziest part of all. I kept the concert program in my room for several years. In 1972, when I was moving out of my parents’ house, I came across the program and decided I didn’t need it anymore and promptly threw it out. After I became a collector and found that the 1966 program was the hardest to come by, I repeatedly kicked myself. Finally, in 1985, I secured a good copy at a reasonable price. How I wish I had foresight!

Carl – From Meet the Beatles for Real: Philly fan recall the show

We arrived early in the evening and, after snapping up a few souvenirs — a copy of the latest edition of the Beatles (U.S.A.) Ltd. fanzine; a portfolio of photos of the group taken a year or two earlier — and pocketing our precious stubs, excitedly stepped inside. I was surprised, and frankly a little ticked, that all the seating was at one end of JFK, at best maybe a third of capacity. In the stadium, we anxiously hunkered down for the long wait. Pop concerts in those days were like revues, with numerous acts preceding the headliners. In ’66, the opening acts were the Ronettes girl group, garage-rockers the Remains, the Cyrkle (also managed, like the Beatles, by Brian Epstein) of “Red Rubber Ball” fame, and R&B singer Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”). And then there they were. In a blast of light like a pop-art explosion they appeared, waving and hoisting their instruments, just as I’d seen in clips and movies scores of times. I clearly remember George Harrison’s ’60s fashion faux pas, white socks, as well as Paul McCartney’s signature Hofner violin bass and of course the most famous bass drum skin in history. They opened with some Chuck Berry (“Rock and Roll Music”) and closed with a Little Richard rocker (“Long Tall Sally”), repaying their debt to America’s rock ‘n’ roll forefathers, but the music in between showed how far they had taken rock since those early days. For example, “Yesterday.” I’d never have thought that would be on the set list. I was also surprised to hear the recent hit “Paperback Writer” live, given the record’s advanced production techniques. John and Paul handled most lead vocals, as always, with George stepping to the mic for “If I Needed Someone” and Ringo Starr doing “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Despite the screaming, the sound was clear enough, which was the positive correlative to the low turnout, and though they were farther away than I’d have liked, I understood the security concerns. And then they were gone.

Tony – From Meet the Beatles for Real: Philly fan recall the show

From Performance in Philadelphia – The Beatles History (
From Performance in Philadelphia – The Beatles History (
From Paul McCartney and John Lennon On Stage, JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, August 16, 1966 #1 | Bob Bonis Archive – Paul McCartney and John Lennon share a microphone in this stunning photograph taken at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia on August 16, 1966. This rare and elegant image was captured during the first concert ever held at the recently renamed venue, previously known as Philadelphia Municipal Stadium.
From Paul McCartney, JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, August 16, 1966 #1 | Bob Bonis Archive – Paul McCartney rocks out on his Hofner bass at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, PA, August 10, 1966 in this delightful photograph by The Beatles’ U.S. Tour Manager, Bob Bonis. The Beatles’ concert was the first concert ever at the recently renamed JFK Stadium (formerly Philadelphia Municipal Stadium). The show was sponsored by George A Hamid, the owner and promoter of the world famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Storms threatened throughout the night but held off until ten minutes after the Beatles left the stage.

Tickets Go For Beatles

PHILADELPHIA – (UPI) – More than 1,000 persons, most of them teenagers, greeted six ticket-sellers with screams and $5 bills when the sale of tickets for the Beatles Aug. 16 show here started.

The show will be at John F. Kennedy Stadium which holds 102,000 persons for football games. A spokesman said, however, that only 52,000 tickets will be sold and the stage will be placed on a goal line at one end of the stadium “because we think the kids deserve to see the Beatles reasonably close-up.”

From The Miami Herald – May 24, 1966
From The Miami Herald – May 24, 1966

Phila. Is Prepared For Appearance By Beatles

PHILADELPHIA (AP)- Officials at John F. Kennedy Stadium have taken up their defensive positions against a possible assault on the stage where The Beatles perform tonight.

Any Beatlemaniac thinking he or she can storm the stage must get through, in this order: a steel barricade, two rows of snow fencing, two rows of wooden barricades, 300 Pinkerton men, 70 Fairmount Park guards, 100 policemen and a couple of turn-on-electric guitars.

Said stadium superintendent James A. Callahan, “We thought of adding a moat filled with alligators,” he said. “But we decided it was too much trouble.”

The announced advance sale for the performance is 20,000 tickets.

From The Daily News – August 16, 1966
From The Daily News – August 16, 1966


PHILADELPHIA. Beatle John Lennon’s remarks about Christianity and his subsequent apology apparently haven’t dampened the enthusiasm of the quartet’s fans, their cheers indicated Tuesday night.

A sampling of fans, most of whom said they weren’t offended by his first remarks, stood up for his right to speak his mind about the popularity of Christianity and rock ‘n’ roll music.

“THE CHURCH isn’t doing its job that’s what he meant when he said it,” said Denise Savelli, 14, a Philadelphia high school girl. “If the church was doing its job, rock ‘n’ roll wouldn’t be more popular than religion.”

She was one of 20,844 persons at John F. Kennedy Stadium to see the long haired foursome.

Lennon’s remarks recently reprinted in the United States, said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I will prove right. We’re more popular than Jesus now.”

IN CHICAGO Friday night, Lennon said he was sorry he said it and added, “I never meant it as a lousy, antireligious thing.” By popularity of the Beatles, he said, “I wasn’t saying the Beatles are better than God or Jesus. I used ‘Beatles’ because it’s easy for me to talk about Beatles. I could have said. TV or the cinema or anything popular.”

About his first remarks, Janet Young, 13, of Abington, Pa., said, “he didn’t offend me, although his remarks were offensive to Christianity. He has the right to say what he wants to say, but he shouldn’t have said it.” Asked if she was still a Beatles fan, she replied: “You bet.”

“If he would have said it before I bought the tickets, I wouldn’t have come,” said Margaret Schwakoff, 13, of Clifton Heights. Why didn’t she stay home anyway?

“WELL,” she said “when you get back to school you want to tell your schoolmates you did something this summer.”

Peter Manon, 17, of Springfield, who will attend college this fall, said he was glad Lennon made the remarks.

“He was speaking of the lack of Christianity,” Manon said. “He was right that rock ‘n’ roll is taking the place of Christianity in some people’s minds.”

AS RINGO Starr, Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney began their act, it was obvious this was not a normal Beatle crowd – it  was orderly.

The fans screamed only when the Beatles broke into one of their tunes, and then. Settled down to the point where the twang of the electric guitars could clearly be heard.

When the concert was over, the fans calmly left the stadium without attempting to storm the steel barricades between the stands and temporary stage, about 125 feet away.

A CHECK with the first-aid room showed just how unusual a Beatle crowd this was. “Only two girls fainted,” said a nurse.

From Orlando Evening Star – August 17, 1966
From Orlando Evening Star – August 17, 1966

Beatle-Bitten Girl Tries to Explain. She Took It Calm, Cried Only a Little Bit When Paul Sang

A CAMDEN Beatles’-lover plans to leave tomorrow for the quartet’s concert in Shea Stadium, New York City, carrying a cake with four napkins. She is Diane Osinski, 18 of 819 Tulip Street, who recently wrote a story for the Courier-Post about the Beatles Philadelphia concert.

She described the cake, which she hopes somehow to smuggle backstage, as “square with white icing, decorated with a British flag and a yellow submarine with portraits of the Beatles in the port holes.”

The girl clutched a small store of treasures obtained at the Beatles’ recent concert in Philadelphia. There was a cellophane bag filled with grass the Beatles had stepped on, a tattered piece of faded brown curtain torn from around Ringo’s drum set, and a collection of photographs.

THE PHOTOS are dark and the figures of the performers pin-sized, but Diane can readily distinguish between a photo of George and one of John.

“You can just tell, that’s all,” she explained.

Diane said she spent $75 on the Beatles concert here. “First of all, $30 for clothes. I bought a dress, shoes and pocketbook. Then $30 for the camera, $5 for the ticket, and $10 for miscellaneous.”

Miscellaneous, she explained, included “$5.07 plus tax for film, and some other things.”

ADULTS HAVE been puzzled over the strange disease called Beatlemania which has afflicted millions of teenage girls ever since the mop-topped four first soared to fame more than three years ago.

Even Diane, who has been a fan for almost that long, has difficulty expressing reasons for her adulation.

“I can’t explain it, really. It’s kind of like, well, reality and unreality. When you see them, you know they’re up there, but you just can’t believe it. Nothing compares to it. You haven’t been anywhere until you’ve seen a Beatles concert.”

DIANE WROTE HER impressions of the Beatle concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium in a story to the Courier-Post entitled “B-Day.” Following are excerpts from the story, interspersed with comments by Diane.

“We arrived at about 6:30 p.m. Mary, Sarah and I took our seats, all the while staring at Ringo’s drum kit on the stage platform.”

(They stared, she explained, because “you don’t get to see something like that every day of your life.”)

DURING the first acts Mary and I took notice of the growing crowd of Beatlepeople. There was a flurry of thigh-high mini-skirts, polka dot shirts, fishnet stockings, Beatle boots, John Lennon hats and many flowered little-boy suits.

“Then at last… ‘The Fab-four’ or as they are better known… THE BEATLES!!!

“The noise was tremendous, as the Liverpudlian Lads bounced onto the stage garbed in dark green suits, with their collars, lapels and double-breasted buttons in dark green velvet.

“THEIR HIGH collar shirts were light yellow with lime green ties. Their drainpipe trousers had a slight bell-bottomed effect. They were absolutely handsome as usual.

“It is hard to express the feeling one gets at a Beatles concert. Even as they are per-forming live, in front of your eyes, it is hard to believe.

“In between songs they laugh and joke and talk to the audience as if they’ve known and performed in front of it for years. And surprisingly enough, when they talk, everything quiets down to a slight murmur.”

THEN FOLLOWED A list of the songs performed, and the story continued.

“It was a great show with the Beatles putting forth everything they had into the show. But alas, all good things come to an end, and the show did just that.”

(“Actually,” she interspersed, “I took it very calmly. I only cried a little bit when Paul sang ‘Yesterday.’”)

AFTER THE Fabfour disappeared into a waiting florist delivery truck, Diane and her friends went down to the field to get some grass.

“Then I recognized someone on the stage. It was Malcolm Evans, the Beatles’ assistant road manager, I said, ‘Mr. Evans, are you from Liverpool?’ He answered, “That’s right, luv.’ ”

“He was really nice, and so big,” she said, “he must. be six-foot-five. It was wonderful talking to someone so close to them. And his accent-I could listen to him talk all day. It’s a shame we all got stuck with regular voices.”

“I ASKED HIM if we could see the dressing room and could we possibly go in. He took us across the field and through the entrance in which the Beatles had emerged just a short while ago. We got to the door and he tried it, but it was locked. He tried again and knocked, but no one answered.

“We were a bit disappointed, but recovered when Mr. Evans patted my arm and said, ‘Sawry luv, maybe next year. I thanked him and wished him a nice trip home.

(“IF THE dressing room had been open, we could have gotten pillow cases and stuff like that. Lots of girls take cigarette butts or cardboard coffee cups. I know they’re not important to a lot of people, but they’re things we would always treasure,” she said.

“Even though we didn’t get in, Mr. Evans was so nice that I’m taking him a bottle of English Leather when I go to New York.”)

Diane, who saw A Hard Day’s Night 17 1⁄2 times and has all but memorized John Lennon’s books, is sure that she is destined to meet the Beatles someday.

“In fact, I’m going to London in three years,” she said confidently, tenderly replacing her grass, her curtain fragment, and her snapshots in a portfolio. 

“I have it all planned.”

From Courier-Post – August 22, 1966
From Courier-Post – August 22, 1966
From Courier-Post – August 22, 1966

Last updated on September 24, 2023

John F. Kennedy Stadium

This was the 1st and only concert played at John F. Kennedy 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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