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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The Beatles were initially slated to perform in Cincinnati on August 20, 1966. However, due to heavy rain, the concert was postponed to noon on August 21. Immediately after this performance, the Beatles, accompanied by their supporting acts, flew to St. Louis. There, they played an evening concert at Busch Stadium, in front of 23,143 attendees, which was roughly half the stadium’s capacity.

The St. Louis concert was particularly challenging, as a relentless downpour plagued the event. A temporary shelter was erected over the stage, attempting to shield the musicians from the elements. Despite these efforts, rainwater found its way onto the amplifiers. This risky situation deeply concerned Paul McCartney, ultimately solidifying his belief that The Beatles should retire from touring.

Anticipating the rain might intensify, the organizers adjusted the concert lineup. The Beatles were moved up to the fourth slot. Preceding them were The Del-Rays, The Remains, and Bobby Hebb. The night wrapped up with performances from The Cyrkle and The Ronettes.

After the concert, The Beatles then embarked on a flight to New York, touching down at 3:50 a.m. the next day.

We did this one concert in America, when it was raining, with water coming in the amps, and we hated it – we did the show, but hated every minute of it. And then at the end of it, we were put inside this metal-lined van, and were sort of clattered about in there. And I think as we were sitting in there, John and George just said Sod this! But they had been saying ‘All this touring…’ We were just shattering ourselves, And I think that was when I said ‘Sod it. – I agree with you’. That made three of us, so we went into recording. We decided to just keep recording, and if anybody said ‘When are you going to tour next?’, we’d say ‘We’re not sure. We weren’t going to announce that we’d stopped touring; we just decided to quietly pull out of it, and get into recording more.

Paul McCartney – interview with Jamming!, March 1983

It rained quite heavily, and 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. 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.

After the gig I remember us getting in a big, empty steel-lined wagon, like a removal van. There was no furniture in there – nothing. We were sliding around trying to hold on to something, and at that moment everyone said, ‘Oh, this bloody touring lark – I’ve had it up to here, man.’

I finally agreed. I’d been trying to say, ‘Ah, touring’s good and it keeps us sharp. We need touring, and musicians need to play. Keep music live.’ I had held on that attitude when there were doubts, but finally I agreed with them.

George and John were the ones most against touring; they got particularly fed up. So we agreed to say nothing, but never to tour again. We thought we’d get into recording, and say nothing until some journalist asked, ‘Are you going out on tour?’ – ‘Not yet.’ We wouldn’t make The Big Announcement that we’d finished touring forever, but it would gradually dawn on people: ‘They don’t appear to be going on tour, do they? How long was that? Ten years? Maybe they’ve given it up.’

That was the main point: we’d always tried to keep some fun in it for ourselves. In anything you do you have to do that, and we’d been pretty good at it. But now even America was beginning to pall because of the conditions of touring and because we’d done it so many times.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

The show at Busch Stadium was wet. The stage was covered by a canopy, but everything was soggy. Our roadie, Ed Freeman, was stationed at the main AC connection to the stage to watch the performers and unplug the whole stage if anyone showed signs of an electrical shock. I mean, 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 it, eagle-eyeing the stage, ready to tank those cords apart before anyone was electrocuted. Fortunately, the need never came up.

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

Sunday was a tight one; we no sooner left one concert arena than we found ourselves in the next— St. Louis. Brand new Busch Stadium was beautiful. We went to get something to eat, and when we returned, it was drizzling rain and The Beatles were already on the stage. This was the only concert we didn’t actually watch from our next-to-the-stage vantage point. The show was almost over — at least The Beatles’ portion. Because of the rain, The Beatles went on in the middle, with The Cyrkle and The Ronettes finishing up the bill. We listened from the dressing room-limousine area, and didn’t have to strain to know what was going on. There were kids surrounding the limousine area and blocking the exit. It was pretty obvious that we weren’t going to get out very easily, let alone The Beatles.

It was confusion and waiting again. First, we waited around for a bus to show up backstage. Then, we waited in limousines. Then, we just waited. Finally, we were told that the bus was out in front of the stadium and we would have to brave the throngs to get to it. At this point, no one seemed to know exactly how The Beatles would get out through that crowd, but we followed orders and trudged through. The press didn’t have much of a problem (not too many of us resembled The Beatles), but the supporting acts, who were to board the same bus, had a struggle. We were told later that The Beatles had escaped in a police car, through a back exit, with little trouble.

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

I remember they brought the Beatles out in the middle of the show instead of at the end because of the threat of rain. After the Beatles played, my friends and I went outside the stadium on the first level. We could see a huge crowd of people on the street level and we could see the limos parked by the lower entrance. We were about 250-300 feet away, leaning on the railing, when all of a sudden Ringo, George and John came out of the doors directly below us and got into this beat up Chevy. The whole thing was a decoy to keep the people away. But it was only seconds before the crowd caught on and surrounded their car as they made their way down the street.

Bill – From Meet the Beatles for Real: St. Louis concert memories

I attended the aug.21,1966 concert and remembered seeing five limos drive into the stadium as the Beatles were finishing their show, I then walked around the stadium to the other side where I witnessed the Beatles run out a door by the ticket stand a jump into a waiting Lincoln continental. I jumped out in front of them trying to get a picture. The car almost hit me, swerved around me, and as it did, I plainly saw Paul McCartney riding in the front passenger seat and he waived at me.

Kevin – From Meet the Beatles for Real: St. Louis concert memories

I was there with along with a plane load of Beatles fans from Denver. What an experience for a 14 year old fan. Although we were wet and couldn’t hear the music for the screaming girls it was an once in a life time experience. I thought the highlight was Paul bringing up the fact that there was a plane load of kids from Denver. What a night

Unknown – From Meet the Beatles for Real: St. Louis concert memories

From “Burn The Beatles!”1966: Bigger Than Jesus? | The Pop History Dig:

The Beatles’ St Louis concert had been expected to sell out in the brand new, three-month old Busch Stadium. But ticket sales had slowed there when Lennon’s comments about Christianity first broke, although picked up again as the controversy cooled. Still, before the concert began, some 85 people from two Baptist churches distributed 20,000 pamphlets on the Lennon statement. The Rev. Bob Wright of the First Baptist Church in Ferguson said his membership tried to take a positive approach, as the pamphlets acknowledged there was an element of truth to what Lennon had said, but that popularity was fickle, and that those who once praised Christ were also those who later demanded his crucifixion. The Christian pamphleteers, however, were not always well received by many of the St. Louis concert goers.

From RiverFrontTimes, August 10, 2016:

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.” […]

From RiverFrontTimes, August 10, 2016

From Paul McCartney, En Route to St. Louis, Missouri, August 21, 1966 #1 | Bob Bonis Archive – In a rare moment of downtime, Paul McCartney listens intently to an unidentified friend while riding in an airplane. Earlier that day, the Beatles had played an afternoon concert at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, because their scheduled show on August 20 had been a complete washout.
From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (
From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (
From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (
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 Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (
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
From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (
From Выступления в Цинциннати и Сент-Луисе – The Beatles History (

The Beatles Sing in the Rain For Wet, Enthusiastic Audience
23,000 Pay to Hear Them — First Aid Stations Busy

The Beatles played and sang 11 tunes last night before 23,143 paid spectators at Busch Memorial Stadium in a light rainstorm. Thousands of fans screamed for the music, thousands got wet from the rain, hundreds were terribly upset by it all and a few dozen fainted.

The 11 tunes took about 30 minutes and the rain was substantial at times. The fans sat in the rain and yelled. The Beatles were protected by a plastic canopy but they also got damp. Their mop hairdos got damp and so did the mop hairdos of their followers.

The members of the quartet told their press officer, Tony Barrow, that they did not mind playing in the rain but were a bit apprehensive about the possibility of getting shocked by the wet electric amplifying equipment. But once on stage, they grabbed the electric guitars and microphones fearlessly and attacked the music.

The Beatles were pleasant and self-effacing as they chatted with reporters before the show. One interviewer told Ringo Starr, the drummer Beatle, that he was interested in the musical make-up of their songs. “Well, I really don’t quite know what to say,” Ringo replied. “Musically, they’re nothing extraordinary.”

One reporter asked Paul McCartney whether he preferred to write songs or to perform. He liked writing, Paul said, and he did not think that he and the other Beatles were very good as performers.

John Lennon, the literary Beatle, remarked that everybody had been “doubly kind” to them in the controversy about his statement that the Beatles were more popular now than Jesus Christ.

Before the show began, 85 young people from First Baptist Church of Ferguson and the Broadway Baptist Church handed out more than 20,000 pamphlets concerning the Lennon statement. But the Rev. Bob Wright, a minister at the Ferguson church, pointed out that the pamphlets were not really in opposition to the Beatles. “We have tried to take a positive approach,’’ the Rev. Mr. Wright said.

The pamphlets said there was a strong element of truth in what Lennon said. They called popularity fickle, and pointed out that the people who at one time praised Christ were the ones who demanded his crucifixion. Some Beatle fans did not accept the pamphlets gracefully or try to understand them, the Rev. Mr. Wright said. An older boy pushed Steve Crowder, 11 years old, in the face, the Rev. Mr. Wright said, and some other youths spit on a group of the pamphlet-passers. “It has been an experience for our youngsters tonight,” the Rev. Mr. Wright said.

Disputes Talk of Decline

Barrow, the Beatles press officer, said the alleged decline of the Beatles in popularity was mythical. “Beatle-knocking has become a new fad,” he said. Barrow said more American fans had gone to see The Beatles in the first half of their tour । this year than had attended in the first half of last year’s tour.

The fans at Busch stadium got plenty of volume for their money but the song lyrics were difficult to understand. The rain did not damp the echo qualities of the stadium. Jack Goggin, public address system operator, said the music was piped through more than 200 speakers in the structure. The system works well when performers speak distinctly, he said, but distinct enunciation is not a notable ingredient in rock ’n’ roll music.

Because it was thought that the rain might get worse the Beatle performance was moved forward in the program to the third position in five acts. The group that followed them, the Ronettes, was made up of girl singers. When the girl singers appeared on stage most of the girl spectators deserted their seats in the rain.

Some fans had come a long way for the show. A group of 85 had won an air trip from Denver in a radio station contest. Two girls from Memphis who were dressed in boutique clothes (one wore a tailored glen plaid short-skirt suit and hat, the other a dress of broad vertical stripes of green, orange and purple) said they had seen The Beatles in Memphis and were going to follow them to New York and try to get to talk to them. “Daddy’s rich,” one explained.

At the first aid station, two nurses treated 35 girls for minor injuries and ailments, the most common one being acute Beatle-mania.

“It’s mild hysteria,” said nurse Virginia Berger. ‘‘The symptoms are weeping, wailing an uncontrollable shaking. I tell them to sit down and cool off.”

After The Beatles appeared, the nurses had about half a dozen young girls at a time in the station cooling off in shifts in the next hour.

The Beatles arrived in a chartered jet plane and were taken to the stadium in limousines. One limousine driver forgot to lock the back doors of the car after the Beatles had got out and someone stole the rear floor mats.

After the show the Beatles left in two police cars. About 50 young fans tried to get past police to touch the British singers. Some girls tried to scramble onto the police cars.

A 17-year-old girl from Creve Coeur managed to get hold of Ringo for a moment. Afterwards she kept shouting, “I held him, I held him.’’ She grabbed a reporter around the waist and said, “I held him like this!”

She jumped up and down, flailed her arms, then turned limp. Two policemen assisted her, holding her up by the arms, but they soon lost enthusiasm and let her down on ] the sidewalk. “She’ll be all right,” one said dryly.

From Saint Louis Post-Dispatch – August 22, 1966

The Beatles

People like to hear that the Beatles are on the skids, just as they like to hear that short skirts won’t catch on or that a great spiritual reawakening is near. The Beatles were in St. Louis last week and everything was ripe for a fiasco — rainy Sunday evening, enormous stadium, Midwestern city, seats at $4.50 and up.

And yet this Beatle concert was pretty much like other Beatle concerts. There were 23,143 paying customers, and 200 guards and policemen to keep the customers from crushing the Beatles with affection. The familiar music was drowned out by the familiar teenage shrieks.

“It’s the newspaper chaps who have made up this thing about the decline of the Beatles,” said their press agent, Tony Barrow. “I appreciate their problem, finding something new to write about at the concerts. They’ve written up the screams, the fainting, the assault on the boys’ motor caravan – the same thing everywhere. They have to write something, so they write that the Beatles are washed up. But that’s not what the box office figures say.”

The question of the Beatles vs. Jesus Christ has given the newspaper chaps plenty to write about, and the Beatles are glad to have them move on to another subject, even their “slip in popularity.” Paul McCartney relaxed in the dressing room last Sunday and talked about the danger of relaxing and talking.

“John (Lennon), you see, was talking to someone months ago, as I am talking to you. Do you know what really was said, and the context in which it was said? John was speaking about the popularity of Christ, not his merits. Isn’t it clear enough, among intelligent persons, that a number of things are more popular than Christ today? And that you might say that it’s so without implying that you approve of the state of affairs?”

McCartney picked up a Teddy bear sent in by an admirer and revolved it with a distant smile. “Touching, isn’t it? And saddening. Do you know how it feels to go out there in all that adulation? One feels hurt, insulted, just as you or any decent man would feel.”

The Beatles sat down to steaks in the sub-stadium fortress. Twenty-three thousand people were getting impatient and their howls came right through the concrete. Once again it was lion time in the Colosseum, and the four young men went out to shoulder their burden of love.

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch – August 28, 1966
From The Manhattan Mercury – August 22, 1966

Last updated on September 20, 2023

Busch Stadium

This was the 1st concert played at Busch Stadium.

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

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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Kent Kriegshauser 1 year ago

I was there! It was my first concert. I was seven years old. My mom, dad, me, another couple and their daughter.

The PaulMcCartney Project 1 year ago

Hi Kent. Wow, seven years old ! What an experience it must have been for a first concert ! Thanks for sharing.

shivamaya 1 year ago

My first concert too! I was 8yrs old. My brother dropped me and my 2 sisters, 12 and 14 yrs old. They left me alone so they could hop the fence and meet John and Paul. I roamed the stadium for about an hour alone after the concert. Finally, my other brother, whom I hadn't seen in maybe a year because he was in the military found me. I was so happy and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We were so lucky that the crime rate was so low back then.

The PaulMcCartney Project 1 year ago

Wow, what a night ! Thanks Shivamaya for sharing !

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