Boston • Thursday, August 18, 1966

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the Summer 1966 US tour
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Country:
USA
City:
Boston
Location:
Suffolk Downs Racetrack
Attendance:
25,000

Some songs from this concert appear on:


Related interviews


Radio interview in Boston

Aug 18, 1966 • From WCFL


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About

The previous day, The Beatles played two concerts in Toronto, the sole Canadian destination on their tour. After a night’s rest in Toronto, The Beatles flew to Boston on August 18, 1966, to give one concert at the Suffolk Downs Racetrack, a horse racing course. The stage was set in the middle of the raceway, a mere 100 yards from the 25,000 screaming fans in attendance, and the Fab Four were driven to the platform in a limo.

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

After the show, The Beatles and their entourage stayed at a Boston hotel. They left the city at 11:30 am the following morning and flew to Memphis, Tennessee.


The following day we boarded that familiar bus, ran through customs again, and took off for Boston. […]

We stayed at the Somerset in Boston for one night only. Boston is memorable because it had the only racetrack that served as a concert site, complete with pond and swans in the back of the stage. The Suffolk Downs crowd first appeared to be a rough one, but fortunately, everything remained orderly. As orderly as a Beatle concert can get, that is.

In Boston a second young man made it onto the stage; he first informed one of the English disc jockeys that he had managed to get past the barriers and guards to the stage area, and he further explained his intentions — to get on the stage and touch Paul. The disc jockey promptly interviewed him! After the interview, the boy went right ahead with his plans, causing great consternation among our beleaguered security men. Like the boy in D.C., this one also made a hasty and forced exit from the stage.

The press party had to leave early to avoid the rush and to be in a position to act as decoys at every concert. We were always afraid that we would miss something important (like a riot) by leaving early, but, in most cases, the getaways were quite successful. We all made it to the Somerset unscathed, and spent a quiet evening. There were very few evenings that weren’t quiet, come to think of it. None of us (Beatles included) ever seemed to get enough sleep, but this was our work schedule, not our play time. It was tiring; it was fun; but, a wild fling it wasn’t.

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

From masslive.com, August 11, 2014:

Ron Bushior may have seen the entirety of The Beatles final performance in Massachusetts in August 1966, but he only heard about 15 percent of it, he said.

“When you look on the Internet and read about people’s experiences, everyone had the same experience,” he said. “If you went to a Beatles show, you saw them but you didn’t hear them. But that was The Beatles experience.”

The inability to hear the band was the result of the teenaged girls fans’ incessant high-pitched screaming whenever The Beatles were playing or talking, he said.

“There were 25,000 people at the concert and I’d say at least 20,000 – if not more – were screaming girls,” Bushior, now 63, said with a laugh. “When I watch videos of the shows, that shrieking now hurts my ears. It probably hurt my ears then, too, but I didn’t care because I was watching The Beatles.” […]

[Ron Bushior]

won a ticket to the show through a contest from WHYN radio. The station had fans send in postcards to win tickets via a random drawing. Bushior sent in 10. The station transported the 25 winners by bus to Suffolk Downs.

The seats the winners received were fairly good, Bushior said.

“I was in the lower section and right behind me were the grandstands,” he said. “They were pretty good seats because the grandstands were a bit further away. So I felt fortunate to be that close, but we were probably still a couple hundred feet away from where they were playing.”

Bushior had been a Beatles fan since they first became known on the shores.

“I played in a local rock ‘n’ roll band and everyone wanted to be a Beatle, of course,” he said.

The concert also featured support acts The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. Bushior remembers being a bit impatient as Hebb did an overly long version of his hit, “Sunny.”

“He sang it for like six minutes. It just went on and on. Of course, it probably seemed longer because everyone was just waiting for The Beatles,” he said with a laugh

And although the wait was worth it to Bushior, he was a bit shocked that the Fab Four played such a short show. […]

“I think they played for like 25 minutes and that’s seems to be in line with other people’s remembrance of the show,” he said. “And I was like, ‘That’s it?’ So I was a little disappointed because I would’ve liked to have seen them for an hour. But the bigger disappointment is just not being able to hear them. I would’ve loved to have heard at least half of it.” […]


From 18 August 1966 – USA, Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com) – The Beatles leave Toronto
Leaving Toronto. From 18 August 1966 – USA, Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)
From Recalling The Beatles final Massachusetts concert – Suffolk Downs in Boston – masslive.com – Members of the Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are seen in the back seat of a car after their arrival in Boston on Aug. 18, 1966. The British group appeared at Suffolk Downs horse track on their final U.S. tour. John Lennon is hidden behind unidentified man in foreground. (AP photo)
From Performance in Boston – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru) – “The Last Rose of Summer”, photo by Leo Tierney. In the photo, Paul McCartney receives a rose from 15-year-old Donna Chapman of Newton near the service entrance of the Somerset Hotel, August 18, 1966.
From Performance in Boston – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)
From Throwback Thursday: Fans ‘Come Together’ to see Beatles at Suffolk – Boston Herald – Beatles Pack ‘Em In–The Beatles had the fans hanging from the rafters for their appearance at Suffolk Downs in Boston Thursday night. Fans line a cross-beam to watch the British imports (top center). 1966
From Performance in Boston – The Beatles History (beatles-chronology.ru)

Boston Braces For Beatles

BOSTON (UPI) – Boston braced for the bang-browed Beatles today.

The quartet was supposed to sneak into town in the late afternoon for a concert at Suffolk Downs Racetrack in East Boston. Twenty-five thousand tickets have already been sold. There are no more to be had, according to the sellers.

About 365 policemen were assigned to the track to quell any attempt of any member of the predominantly teen-aged audience to get too close to the Beatles.

If experience elsewhere on the 14-city tour is a guide, the foursome will use any method to get into and out of the area unnoticed. In Philadelphia Tuesday a florist’s truck with Maryland license plates smuggled them into the concert hall.

From Bennington Banner – August 18, 1966
From Bennington Banner – August 18, 1966

25,000 Teens Cheer Beatles at Suffolk

George was uptight, scared. John kept his cool. Paul cooed, and Ringo sat high in limbo. They played for just 30 minutes at Suffolk Downs Thursday night. But the germ of Beatlemania raged like an epidemic for more than five hours.

It transformed 25,000 fans into a wailing, shrieking wall of flesh that expanded and contracted, finally exploding in unhappy catharsis. The girls — who made up 90 percent of the crowd — were crying and biting their nails as early as 6 pm when the race track gates were opened.

From 8:30 to 10 pm, the collective nerves of the audience were pulled taut. They screamed, waved and jumped in the air each time they thought they spied a trace of the Beatles. When the stars finally trotted onto the makeshift wooden stage built up from the dirt track, the pot boiled over. At least three times, husky men bounded the guard rail and tackled the switched-on Strummers.

Waves of girls threw themselves down the aisles. Young children sitting in the first row had to be evacuated by policemen.

The Beatles played a round of old tunes, all of which were nearly inaudible because of the noise and tumult. They wore forest green pants and jackets trimmed with emerald satin button and lapels. Chartreuse pin-striped shirts with large floppy collars made the singers’ skin seem ghostly pale.

George, the lead guitarist, seemed edgy, watching the fence runners more than he watched the floodlit audience. John, who sparked a crisis for the group by pronouncing the Beatles “more popular than Jesus” smiled and played it casual on stage, eyes squinting ever so slightly, as if in communion with some spirit of amplified sound. Paul (of the cherub face) tilted his chin heavenward and rolled his eyes. He timed his winks and waves to keep the girls in a suspended swoon. Ringo, sitting up high with his drums, wagged his head. His inimitable holy fool’s grin brought gasps of “Ringo, Ringo,” from the far reaches of the stands.

When the four struck up their 11th and final number, a heavy-set young man in a green shirt suddenly leaped onto the stage, dug his hands into John Lennon’s shoulders, then bounded over to Paul McCartney to pummel him on the back.
John and Paul just kept playing, but George Harrison, seeing the man heading for him, turned sideways and edged back and forth. He was near the tip of the stage when two Beatle bodyguards rushed the attacker and drove him off the stage into the clutches of six Boston policemen.

This touched off a volley of attacks by young girls, who sprinted toward the stage from every direction. The Beatles, not even pausing to bow, rushed into a black limousine and sped toward their sixth-floor quarters at the Somerset Hotel, reportedly $60,000 richer for their hard day’s half-hour.

Boston was the sixth stop on a 14-city tour for the group. It is their second concert appearance in the Hub. The first was in September, 1964, when they filled Boston Garden with a capacity crowd of 13,000.

Thursday’s performance was sold out several weeks in advance. Tickets were listed at $4.75 and $5.75, but some girls reported paying as much as $10 for choice tickets.

Before the show began, Sharon Herrick, a 17-year-old from Portland, Me., sat weeping in the first row begging neighbors for aspirin. She sobbed out a story of paying $7 for tickets from an agent who guaranteed good seats.
“He put us in section one— miles down there. We couldn’t see the backs of their heads. We couldn’t even see the drums. So we moved here in the middle section and we don’t care what happens, we’re not moving.” As she shivered in a new spasm of tears. Screams hit the air and the crowd rose as if on chorus. A black limousine pulled up behind the stage.

Joseph Kennedy, 13-year-old son of Sen. Robert Kennedy, leaped onto his chair to look. “What’s everyone screamin’ for?” he said. Kennedy and 34 friends and relatives had driven up from Hyannis Port to see the Beatles. They occupied two blocks of seats in front sections. Joe, who wore a wild print tie which he said was “a joke.” declared his favorite Beatle was John Lennon, adding: “He looks suave and debonair, and I like his hair. I don’t think my parents would let me grow mine very long.”

A leaflet circulating around the track declared in bold letters: “Beatles plan retirement.” Young Kennedy frowned. “I don’t believe it.” A friend sitting next to him, 15-year-old Chuck McDermott. agreed: “It wouldn’t be a sound economic investment to retire now.”

Two blonde 19-year-olds from Somerville consulted their ouija board to verify the rumor. After shutting their eyes and moving the marker around the little board, Diane Turner said jubilantly: “They’re not retiring. But Paul’s getting married to that actress Jane Asher on Nov. 23.”

A dying wail erupted from the next row. “That’s not true. No no no. Don’t believe it. Paul isn’t going to get married,” said Donna Provanzano, 14, of East Boston.

Top Honors at Beatle Concert Go to Protective Fence

The best performer at Suffolk Downs Thursday night, for my money, was the four-toot-high chain link fence separating the Beatles fans from the heroes on stage. The entire 30-minute performance by the kings of rock ’n’ roll was a scream-piercing, jangling, ringing — from beginning to end.

Although the Beatles were hard-pressed for competition, they’re apparently used to such vocal display — they strummed and sang unperturbedly through 11 selections.

Upon spotting the thousands of youngsters milling about the grandstand terrace area earlier in the evening, a rare exercise of wisdom on my part: took over and I wheedled my way up front some four feet away from the stage.
I should mention that I was stationed face-to-face with a set of ominous-looking speakers.

I didn’t miss a note. In fact, I may hear again by New Year’s.

The sounds emanating from the speakers and zeroing on me cleaned my sinuses more efficiently than any antihistamine.

And that good old chain link fence. More of that later.

The Beatles were obviously sharp and prime for the outing at Suffolk, where usually the sports of kings grabs all the money. However, for this one-night parlay, only the $4.75 and the $5.75 windows were open to the customers and some 20.000 took the odds.

After WBZ disc jockey Bruce Bradley prefaced his introduction to the group with “The next race starts in five minutes.” the Beatles strolled on stage and went to work with a Chuck Berry perenial — “Rock n’ Roll Music.”

The screaming, the sobbing and the stamping of feet reached an ear-cracking level.

But the doughty B’s carried on with “My Gal Don’t Buy Me Presents” after which George Harrison culled “If I Needed Someone” from the Beatles’ golden mine on wax. The bluesy “Daytripper” saw the mighty little chain link withstand the crush of tons of youngsters as the alert police detail did some fancy broken-field running to land several determined strays.

Then there were “Baby’s in Black”, “I Feel Fine” — an ‘oldie’ — but Paul did a tender reprise of their highly polished “Yesterday” and even this rendition had the young thousands still entrapped in their state of sad-and-happy euphoria.
Ringo Starr didn’t even have to leave his drum chairs he vocalized on “I Want To Be Your Man” (here John Lennon interjected a request for “Twinkie”—obviously wallowed up in the excited crowd. It was “Nowhere Man”).

Paul here commented upon the extracurricular chase scene being staged on his left between an interloping fan and the fleet police. And the Beatles resumed with “Paperback Writer” their chart leader, about a chap seeking work in a publishing firm.

At this point, a young hysterically sobbing girl was being carted away by the police but not without her added counterpoint “Paul Paul’”

“Long Tall Sally”, a roaring, raunchy blues closed the Beatles concert and the decibel contest reached apex.

But as the four Liverpudlians, in a bit reminiscent of the Lone Ranger, took off in a cloud of dust in a pair of limousines, the human wall of sound subsided.

It was the kind of show’ that Beatles performances usually are. When you can hear the group, they sound as professional and appear as engaging as any in the business today.

I wonder what it would be like to hear them in concert — sans the sound effect. At any rate, it certainly beats mulching rose bushes, a chore that awaits me on my day off today. Even here I can’t escape the beetles.

From The Boston Globe – August 19, 1966
From The Boston Globe – August 19, 1966
From The Boston Globe – August 19, 1966

TAG WITH BEATLES

A shaggy-haired youth played tag with the Beatles while they performed for 25,000 screaming teenagers at Suffolk Downs race course near Boston. As the youth scurried from Beatle to Beatle, the group never missed a beat.

The youth, about 16 years old. scaled two fences and slipped through a row of policemen to reach the stage during the Beatles’ final number.

In all, about 50 frenzied fans tried to reach their idols during the 2 1/2-hour concert.

About 300 policemen, some mounted and others on motorcycles, maintained order in the packed grandstands and the no-man’s-land track that separated the fans from the Beatles.

From Birmingham Evening Mail and Despatch – August 19, 1966
From Birmingham Evening Mail and Despatch – August 19, 1966

Bodyguard Bops Beatle Bopper Bopping Beatles

Boston (UPI) — An elusive, shaggy-haired youth played tag with the Beatles last night while the British rock ’n’ rollers performed for 25,000 screaming teenagers at Suffolk Downs race track. The Beatles never missed a beat.

The green-shirted invader, about 16 years old, scaled two fences and slipped through a row of policemen to reach the stage during the Beatles’ final number.

He scurried from Beatle to Beatle, tagging each in turn. He managed to tap George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and was headed for Drummer Ringo Starr when a bodyguard grabbed him and hurled him off the platform into the arms of waiting policemen.

Moments later he escaped and melted into the crowd when his captors turned their attention to other fans trying to dash to the stage.

From The Indianapolis Star – August 19, 1966
From The Indianapolis Star – August 19, 1966

Beatles’ Boston Gross $125,000

BOSTON (AP) — The Beatles appeared at the Suffolk Downs race track Thursday night and in a 25-minute performance generated more excitement than a whole card of winning long shots.

Police estimated that more than 21,000 teenagers and a sprinkling of adults paid an estimated gross of $125,000 to hear the Beatles in the Boston stop of a 14-city U.S. tour.

From The Ottawa Journal – August 19, 1966
From The Ottawa Journal – August 19, 1966

Beatle Transport

Boston (AP) — Boston policemen bodily carry a screaming girl from the stage area at Suffolk Downs race track after she had climbed a fence in an attempt to get nearer the Beatles, appearing in Boston on their 14-city tour of the United States.

From The Pantagraph – August 19, 1966
From The Pantagraph – August 19, 1966
From 18 August 1966 – USA, Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (tapatalk.com)

Last updated on September 20, 2023

Suffolk Downs Racetrack

This was the 1st and only concert played at Suffolk Downs Racetrack.

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