Press conference in Washington • Monday, August 15, 1966

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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. The Beatles held a press conference before the concert, and they addressed the controversy surrounding John Lennon’s remarks about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus.

A small portion of the Beatles’ 1966 Washington D.C. press conference has survived through the years in audio and video clips, the text of which is presented below. (Taken from Beatles Press Conference: Washington D.C. 8/15/1966 – Beatles Interviews Database)

All along the tour there were tough spots which were anticipated with a certain amount of dread on the part of the immediate Beatle group. One of those tough spots was Washington; supposedly the press would go after the boys and really dig in. The conference was held before the show in a hot stadium room, but the heat and humidity did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the aggressive Washington press. One of our tour party was heard to mumble, “It was like a bloody fan club meeting.’’

There were the usual dumb questions, as there were at every press conference, but it was generally a positive, pro-Beatle thing. And, those are nice.

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

(as the press conference opens, John is asked about reports that his ‘Jesus statement’ was purposely timed to stir up controversy and publicity just before their tour.)

JOHN: “Well, that is the… one of the most stupid versions of it. ‘Cuz that, I mean… That’s not a publicity stunt. We don’t need that publicity. Not like that.”

TONY BARROW: “Can I add to that, that article was originally published in England last March, so it was nothing to do with, you know, pre-tour.”

Q: “The story from the Vatican claimed that the official Vatican newspaper defended your statement. Have you seen this?”

JOHN: “I’ve seen… uhh… I’ve seen similar versions of what you’re talking about in the paper.”

Q: “Do you feel better about the whole thing?”

JOHN: “Well, if it makes other people feel better, it’ll make me feel better.”

Q: “Do you feel like the whole thing has been over nothing?”

JOHN: “It’s not over nothing now, because it IS something. But there weren’t as many people upset as I was led to believe, and not so seriously upset.”

Q: “Do you figure that this is one of the reasons you haven’t been drawing as well on this trip as you…”

JOHN: “Nothing to do with it.”

Q: “Pardon?”

JOHN: “I don’t think it’s anything to do with it. I don’t think that we’re drawing any less than we expected, whether THIS had started or not. Not really.”

PAUL: “The numbers of people ‘recepting,’ or whatever the word is, is bigger, so I hear.”

JOHN: “Who knows.”

PAUL: “Yeah.”

JOHN: “Who. Who.”

PAUL: “Well, Brian knows.”

GEORGE: “We’re playing for more people on this trip than we have on the last two.”

During the press conference, someone asked about the origin of an artwork that was behind the Beatles. The artist of this painting was Bob Casazza.

I became a big fan [of The Beatles] during my college years and still remain one today. As a Fine Arts major, The Beatles were a favourite subject of my artwork and school newspaper comic strip. I was lucky enough to see them play at their first Shea Stadium concert on August 15, 1965, and again at D.C. Stadium in Washington, D.C. on August 15, 1966.

My story is about the D.C. concert. I had just painted a moody portrait of The Beatles for my college art class. It was a pen and ink drawing with dark watercolour washes. It was titled “Beatles Ltd.”

Having bought 2 tickets to their upcoming August concert, I came up with my big idea… I will show my painting to the group… and they will like it.

The concert’s promoter was Irvin Feld… the founder of Feld Entertainment. The man credited with discovering Paul Anka was bringing The Beatles to town.

With no appointment, I showed up at his office with my painting. He was curious enough to hear my pitch. “Irvin, I liked to meet The Beatles and show them my work.” He replied “Yeah…you and every other kid in town.” Then he smiled saying “Let me see what I can do.” Irvin took the painting.

Little did I know it was hanging in the stadium locker room for the Beatles’ Press Conference that night. I wasn’t invited to that one… but enjoyed their concert. The next day, there were images of my painting with The Beatles everywhere. Television coverage on all the stations… Photos in the newspapers. That was pretty special.

When I went back to his office, Irvin said, “A lot of people in there liked your painting. I’m sorry you couldn’t attend. You know, as The Beatles were posing for photos, John took a good look at it… your name and said something nice.”

A Washington Post photographer gave me an original copy of this photo. I also found a series of prints shot by Walter Bennett for Time Magazine. Even today… this photo always pops up… when there’s some new story about The Beatles. Many postings on websites have asked about this painting… where it came from? Why was it there? Well now they know.

24 years later, my wife Lee and I did met Paul and Linda McCartney at that same D.C. stadium… it’s now called RFK. It was their July 4th 1990 World Tour. I produced and directed an interview with Linda. She had just published her new vegetarian cookbook. We were just down the hall from that same locker room. It was a very nice interview just before their concert. Paul and Linda were very gracious… like friends… and I finally got in on a Beatles’ Press Conference.

Bob Casazza – From John C Stoskopf (
From Performance in Washington – The Beatles History (

From The Beatles, who have been criticized over a remark about… Fotografía de noticias – Getty Images – (Original Caption) In the Locker Room. Washington: The Beatles, who have been criticized over a remark about Christianity by one of the British foursome, were welcomed by 25,000 screaming fans at D.C. Stadium tonight. Here, the group holds a press conference in the Washington Senators locker room. Left to right: Ringo Starr; Paul McCartney; John Lennon; and George Harrison. (Note names of players over dressing cubicles in background.)
From 15 August 1966 – USA, DC Stadium, Washington, DC – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum ( – The British rock group the Beatles is shown during their U.S. tour in Washington, D.C., Aug. 13, 1966. Standing, left to right are Ringo Starr and George Harrison, and seated are Paul McCartney and John Lennon. (AP Photo)
Press conference in Washington DC
From Paul McCartney of Beatles is asked “Is Joan Asher flying in here… Fotografía de noticias – Getty Images – (Original Caption) Paul McCartney of Beatles is asked “Is Joan Asher flying in here tonight to marry you?” McCartney says he knows of no such plan, though he and Joan are friends. The Beatles’ press officer denies the marriage rumor.
From Performance in Washington – The Beatles History (

Solemn Beatles Respond To Silly Press Questions

Washington, Aug. 15–There were Beatles in the lock room of the Washington Senators tonight.

Beatles in polka dots and velvet, long-haired and straight faced, were giving solemn answers to silly questions.

The Beatles press conference at the D.C. Stadium sounded like an attempt on the part of the mop-haired rock ‘n’ rollers to soften the American impact of remarks made by one of the quartet suggesting that their popularity exceeded that of Jesus Christ.

The offending Beatle, an apparently inoffensive man called John Lennon, was subdued tonight before a group of alleged reporters who behaved like a Beatles fan club. Lennon was even conservatively clad in a brown sports coat compared with the purple polka dots of Ringo and the canary yellow of Paul.

Sitting in the lock room, with the temperature of both their surroundings and the screaming faithful outside rising, the Beatles conducted themselves with more sobriety that the occasion demanded.

The first question involved reincarnation.

In what form would the Beatles like to return to this world? “A tree,” said velvet-coated Ringo.

Did they feel that Lennon’s comments about Christ versus the Beatles had affected crowd attendance which is said to have diminished on their present American tour?

“The crowds are big enough for me,” said Lennon, carefully adding that he was concerned because so many people were upset by his remarks. He has recently explained apologetically that he did not mean what people thought he meant.

What did they think of British Prime Minister Wilson’s stabilization policy which involved wageprice freezes?

“Not much,’’ said the Beatles unanimously.

They were asked about a magazine interpretation that one of their songs was sinister.

“The song moans exactly what it says,” said a Beatle patiently. “Nothing.”

What would happen to them when they stopped being Beatles?

“We will just be four people,’’ they said.

After 18 minutes the press conference was over and the Beatles went to face what was estimated to be 30,000 quivering fans, including 4 girls who had baked them a cake.

A man selling Beatles pennants and buttons was pessimistic about the future of the group with whom he has been traveling on their current visit. “We’re dying,” he said.

It was reported that around 400 police were assigned to maintain order at the Beatles’ performance. But one large policeman took time out to find a taxi cab into which he thrust a sullen teenager.

“Take my daughter home,’ he told the driver.

From The Baltimore Sun – August 16, 1966
From The Baltimore Sun – August 16, 1966

Last updated on September 20, 2023


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