Beatles play at the Seattle Center Coliseum on August 21, 1964.

  • By Greg Lange and Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 3/17/2003
  • Essay 5435
On August 21, 1964, the Beatles give their first concert in Washington state. They played at the Seattle Center Coliseum to 14,300 screaming fans. The stage is raised 12 feet for the Beatles' protection. Scalpers sell the $5 tickets for $30. Just after 8 p.m. the show starts with the following opening acts: Bill Black Combo, Exciters, Righteous Brothers ("You've Lost That Lovin'  Feeling"), and Jackie de Shannon ("What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love").

Can't Buy Me Love

"Beatlemania" swept Seattle days before the Fab Four's arrival. Woolworth's Department Store sold Beatle wigs, Beatle Bobbin' Head dolls, trading cards, and record albums, proclaiming "It's a mad fad, dad" in their advertisements.

Security was stepped up at the Edgewater Inn Hotel, where the Beatles would be staying. A 350-foot-long plywood fence covered in barbed wire was erected, and arrangements were made for the harbor patrol to prevent waterbound Beatle fans from approaching the building by boat.

Things We Said Today

On the day of their performance, the lads from Liverpool held a press conference at the hotel, and answered questions with their usual aplomb:

    Q: "Well, it was said in Las Vegas and in Frisco that your performance couldn't be heard because of the noise. Now, how do you feel about this? Do you consider it might hurt your future concerts?"

    PAUL: "It's been going on for a couple of years, you know."

    Q: "How many more years do you think it will go on?"

    PAUL: "Don't know. We're not..."

    JOHN: "We're not taking bets."

    Q: "Have you got any idea? Will it be three? Four? What do you think?"

    GEORGE: "Till death do us part."


Later, Paul McCartney was asked what he might do after he was through with singing:
    PAUL: "Don't know. Probably John and I will carry on songwriting."

    JOHN: (jokingly) "I'm not doing it with you."

    PAUL: "Oh, no!"


I Wanna Hold Your Hand

That evening, the opening acts took to the stage beginning at 8:00 p.m. At 9:25 disc jockey Pat O'Day from radio station KJR, Seattle's leading Rock and Roll station, introduced the Beatles. The crowd went wild.

Screaming fans made the noise in the Coliseum deafening and few if any could hear the songs. The Beatles played: "All My Lovin,' "Twist and Shout," "You Can't Do That," "She Loves You," "Can't Buy Me Love," "If I Fell In Love With You," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "Boys" (sung solo by Ringo Starr), and "Roll Over Beethoven." They ended the concert with "Long Tall Sally."

During the concert, hundreds of teenage girls rushed the stage in the hopes of catching the eyes of their idols. Police and firefighters did their best to prevent injuries, but 35 people required first aid treatment, ranging from bumps and bruises to all-out hysteria. One girl was restrained on a stretcher, all the while screaming "Paul! I love you!"

The Beatles waited an hour before leaving the Coliseum in the rear of an ambulance that returned them to the heavily guarded Edgewater Inn on the waterfront. They earned $34,569 for their performance. The next day they left for Vancouver, British Columbia. MacDougall's Department Store purchased the carpet from the room they stayed in, cut it up, and sold the pieces for souvenirs.

Sources: Patrick F. Diviney and Michael Allen, "A Hard Day's Night: The Beatles' 1964 Seattle Concert," Columbia Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer 1996), 6-11; Audio recording of the press conference, August 21, 1964.

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