St. Louis • Sunday, August 21, 1966

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the Summer 1966 US tour
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St. Louis
Busch Stadium

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After the gig I remember us getting in a big, empty steel-lined wagon. At that moment, everyone said, ‘Oh, this bloody touring lark — I’ve had it up to here, man.’ I finally agreed.

Paul McCartney, Beatles Anthology

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 10, 2016:

The Beatles played to more than 23,000 fans at Busch Stadium. Heavy rain drenched the crowd and led the Beatles to take the stage earlier in the bill than expected when the weather broke for a few minutes. They played 11 songs in about 30 minutes. The band would play only four more shows before they stopped touring.

The Fab Four — (from left) George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon — perform at Busch Stadium on Aug. 21, 1966. Post-Dispatch file photo

From RiverFrontTimes:

Picture yourself in a truck in a rainstorm.

That’s where Paul McCartney — who had just finished a Beatles show in Cincinnati, and was en route to the plane that would take the group to its only St. Louis concert — finally agreed with his bandmates that it was time to stop touring.

“After the gig I remember us getting in a big, empty steel-lined wagon,” McCartney recalls in The Beatles Anthology book. “At that moment, everyone said, ‘Oh, this bloody touring lark — I’ve had it up to here, man.’ I finally agreed.” Eight days and four shows later, the band would retire from touring permanently. […]

According to Sara Schmidt, an Alton-based writer/teacher who recently wrote a book, Happiness is Seeing The Beatles: Beatlemania in St. Louis, Regal Sports’ Everett and Claude Agnew did the deal. By 1966, the Agnews were veteran promoters, having brought jazz, soul and rock acts to St. Louis for three decades. With some help from KXOK DJ Nick Charles, who secured support from local retailer Stix, Baer & Fuller and then-local soda brand Seven-Up, they raised the $135,000 necessary to bring the Beatles to town. Tickets went on sale that May.

“The concert was not a sell-out,” says Schmidt, whose book recounts the concert preparations in great detail. “Only 23,000 tickets were sold. To sell out, they would have sold about 46,000 seats. They were on their way to that number before John’s Jesus statement.” According to her research, the show broke even. […]

For the opening acts on its tour, the Beatles had chosen the Cyrkle, whose “Red Rubber Ball” remains an oldies-radio staple; Bobby Hebb, who sang “Sunny;” the Ronettes (minus Ronnie Spector, who stayed back in L.A. with husband/producer Phil); and the Remains, a Boston four-piece just beginning to make a name for itself outside of New England. Led by Barry Tashian, the Remains combined garage-rock energy with Zombies-like subtlety and sophistication. […]

At 8 p.m., the Del-Rays opened the Busch Stadium show. Managed by Nick Charles, the Del-Rays hailed from Mascoutah, Illinois. They were frequent performers on the St. Louis and Metro East concert circuits. The Del-Rays recorded a seven-inch single for Stax, and had a young Michael McDonald sing lead on their second single, “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

The rain resumed as the Del-Rays finished. This meant that there would be a change in the lineup. The Beatles would now go on after the Remains and Hebb, but before the Cyrkle and Ronettes.

“We used the park PA system, the same one used for baseball games,” Tashian says of the Remains’ twenty-minute set. “It had a monstrous delay. We were singing on stage behind second base, and the sound was coming out in the stands 150 feet away two or three seconds later. There were no monitors onstage, and it was impossible to sing in time with the music. All I could do was close my ears and plow through the songs.”

As the rain continued, the Beatles kicked off an eleven-song set with Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music.” (Despite the local angle, this was the band’s standard opener.) From Yesterday and Today, they played “Nowhere Man,” “Yesterday,” “If I Needed Someone” and “Day Tripper.” From Beatles ’65, they played “She’s a Woman,” “I Feel Fine” and “Baby’s in Black.” They reached back to Meet the Beatles for “I Wanna Be Your Man.” They played “Paperback Writer,” their most recent single, but not “Rain,” despite the weather. They ended with “Long Tall Sally.” They played nothing from the American versions of Rubber Soul or Revolver.

Here’s what Tashian wrote about the St. Louis show in his own book, Ticket to Ride: The Extraordinary Diary of The Beatles’ Last Tour:

…The stage was covered by a canopy but everything was soggy. Our roadie, Ed Freeman, was stationed at the main connection to the stage to watch the performers and unplug the whole stage if anyone showed signs of electrocution. It was pouring down rain. Ed, who was pretty drenched himself, had some towels wrapped around the extension cord connection, and had a tight grip on them. He was ready to take the cords apart before anyone was electrocuted.

“They put bits of corrugated iron over the stage, so it felt like the worst little gig we’d ever played at even before we’d started as a band,” McCartney says in The Beatles Anthology. “We were having to worry about the rain getting in the amps and this took us right back to the Cavern days — it was worse than those early days. And I don’t even think the house was full.”

Schmidt takes a more positive view.

“A lot of fans were worried that the rain would cancel the concert. And after they realized that the show would go on, they were worried for the Beatles’ safety,” Schmidt says. “But overall, the biggest statement that I would hear over and over again was that it was a night that they would never forget. They knew at the time that they were experiencing something special. Many of them said that it changed their life.” […]

Beatlemania was in full flower on Aug. 21, 1966, when St. Louis fans went wild at a Busch Stadium concert. Photo by Jim Rackwitz of the Post-Dispatch

Last updated on April 20, 2019

Busch Stadium

This was the 1st concert played at Busch Stadium.

A total of 3 concerts have been played there • 1966Aug 21st1993Apr 29th2016Aug 13th


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