The Beatles’ penultimate live concert took place at the Dodger Stadium at Elysian Park Avenue in Los Angeles, California. It took place the day before their final show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
A number of the concerts on The Beatles’ final tour had failed to sell out, in a marked contrast with their previous visits to America. In an attempt to counter press criticism of the group’s commercial clout, the group’s manager Brian Epstein released a statement.
This tour compares phenomenally well with last year’s. It’s much better all round this year, from the point of view of increased interest and we are actually playing to bigger audiences. Here in Los Angeles, for example, 36,000 people saw The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Today’s concert at Dodger Stadium is attracting 10,000 more. People have been saying things about diminishing popularity, but all one can go by is attendances, which are absolutely huge. By the time we leave, 400,000 people will have seen this series of shows, and Sid Bernstein has already delivered his formal invitation to The Beatles to return to Shea Stadium for him in the summer of 1967.
A press conference was held before the concert, in which John Lennon’s controversial comments that The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” once again dominated proceedings. He repeated the remark once again but, unlike at prior press conferences on the tour, chose not to apologise.
The Beatles performed before 45,000 people in Los Angeles. Tickets were priced at $3, $4.50, $5.50 and $6. The cheapest were reserved for members of the US Army.
The support acts for the concert were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The Beatles performed a set consisted of 11 songs: ‘Rock And Roll Music’, ‘She’s A Woman’, ‘If I Needed Someone’, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Baby’s In Black’, ‘I Feel Fine’, ‘Yesterday’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘Paperback Writer’, and ‘Long Tall Sally’.
In 1966 the road was getting pretty boring and it was also coming to the end for me. Nobody was listening at the shows. That was OK at the beginning, but it got that we were playing really bad, and the reason I joined The Beatles was because they were the best band in Liverpool. I always wanted to play with good players. That was what it was all about. First and foremost, we were musicians: singers, writers, performers. Where we ended up on a huge crazy pedestal was not really in my plan. My plan was to keep playing great music. But it was obvious to us that the touring had to end soon, because it wasn’t working any more.
On the last tour of America the most exciting thing was meeting people who came to the shows, not the shows themselves. We’d played the stadiums, we’d played to the big crowds, and still we were only doing our thirty-minute show!
The concert promoter had arranged only 102 security staff for the Dodger Stadium, and dozens were hurt and 25 arrested when fans clashed with police during a rush for the main gates as the concert ended. The Beatles’ limousine was forced to turn back after fans climbed over it, and they retreated to the offices beneath the grandstand.
Police used clubs to keep people at bay, and the gates were charged by fans wielding wooden barricades. Bottles and sticks were thrown at police before control could be restored. Crowds remained in the stadium for some time after The Beatles left the stage.
We were driven to the stadium in an armoured car that was parked immediately behind the stage. At this late point in the tour I suspect that the fans’ grapevine had circulated full detail of the boys’ act, giving everyone prior warning of the songs that would end the set. Even before the group started Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’, hundreds of fans invaded the field and surrounded our getaway car. By the time The Beatles left the stage and we were ready to pull away, many hundreds if not thousands more had positioned themselves across our path. Our driver yelled: ‘Hold very tight, folks!’ Then he slammed his gears into reverse and we sped backwards across the field at breakneck speed. Panic-stricken fans flung themselves out of our way. I was amazed that we didn’t smash into anyone. The trick failed to clear a path for our escape and the driver gave up. At high speed he headed for a dugout at the far side of the field and we hurriedly raced underground out of sight of the noisy hordes of fans. For two hours we were imprisoned in a team dressing room for our own safety while extra cops came in to start clearing the hysterically boisterous crowd. The getaway car we hoped to use was severely damaged and put out of action. Two girls even ran off with the ignition key as a souvenir! All four boys were on the point of despair and we were discussing the possibility that our party might have to stay cooped up at the stadium overnight. Ringo broke the ensuing silence by saying in a small voice: ‘Can I please go home to my mummy now, please can I?’ Two further unsuccessful attempts were made to get us out using decoy limousines and the third try was equally disastrous. We were put into an ambulance that managed to crash into a heap of broken fencing, after which it couldn’t be driven any further. Extra squads of police from the sheriff’s department eventually escorted us away to safety in an armoured car. Silently to ourselves we repeated Ringo’s heartfelt plea. We wanted to go home now. Please, could we?
John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me
The group eventually left in an armoured van from the opposite side of the venue. They returned to their rented home at 7665 Carson Road, Beverly Hills, before flying to San Francisco at 4pm on 29 August 1966.