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Paul McCartney Candlestick farewell concert stark contrast to his last visit

by Katie Hickox

Paul McCartney's recent San Francisco Candlestick Farewell concert on last Thursday has received high accolades from both fans and music critics alike. In contrast to the last Beatles 1966 performance which used the San Francisco Giants baseball speakers as part of the sound system, was just half an hour long and only drew 25,000 fans, the recent Paul McCartney Candlestick concert sold out and featured state of the art sound and video screens.

Paul played for nearly 3 hours to a capacity crowd of 49,000 and the concert featured over 35 songs and 2 encores. Special additional special effects, pyrotechnics and fireworks during the song "Live and Let Die" and also at the end of the show made this concert unforgettable to the fans who were fortunate enough to get a ticket and endure the crazy traffic getting to Candlestick Park stadium, which is located just off Freeway 101, a 15 minute drive southwest of downtown San Francisco.

Fireworks at McCartney Candlestick concert

Towards the end of the concert, Paul confessed how unhappy his last visit had been to Candlestick when he and his fellow Beatles bandmates had played their last public concert on August 29, 1966. He said, "We got so pissed off, we never did it again. We hated it."

Going back nearly 48 years, George Harrison made the decision to stop touring after the Candlestick performance when he stopped outside their dressing room in the hallway and told them, "That's it. I'm not doing this anymore. I don't want to be a Beatle," according to Beatles' Road Manager Tony Bramwell, who was with the Beatles at the concert. The rest of the Beatles agreed with George and this concert changed the future of the Beatles forever, they had had enough with touring.

Pictured below is the exact spot where the Beatles decided to stop touring, which is still painted in the same colors as in 1966. This photo was taken during a tour of Candlestick Park which is closing soon, but tours are going on through the end of August.

Behind the scenes at Candlestick

Reaching Tony Bramwell at his home in Devon, England, Tony discussed that the Beatles were done with touring because of the hostile reception, the many threats, and anger they had received during their last American tour in the summer of 1966 as a backlash to John Lennon's infamous comment about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus. Tony says the Jesus comment "was taken out of context. Even though John apologized for something he didn't say, it wasn't enough."

Tony added that the last Beatles Candlestick Concert "was horrible, but the whole tour had been horrible. It wasn't safe for them, especially with all the death threats after John's Jesus comment. Frequently, the security people would turn their backs on the Beatles at concerts and just walk away from their posts towards the end of the concert, leaving the Beatles vulnerable. There had been some gun shots heard at one of the concerts."

All in all, Tony said, "it wasn't fun anymore and they felt they had overstayed their Beatles welcome in the US, and weren't welcome anymore."

Another reason the Beatles experience at Candlestick Park was so bad was that they didn't want to do the concert in the first place, but were legally forced to perform at Candlestick Park in 1966 because they had cancelled two concerts in 1965 to play at San Francisco's Cow Palace, according to Raechel Donahue, a DJ at BossBossRadio and the wife of late, well known KYA Disc Jockey Tom Donahue who co-managed Tempo Productions.

Everyone knows that Candlestick Park has a reputation for being not only chilly, but also for having strong winds that even professional baseball and football players have problems with. Interviewed from her home, Raechel said the sound was so bad she could barely hear the Beatles play, even though she was standing next to the stage on that fateful evening on August 29, 1966.

She explained that half of the seats were empty because they couldn't sell any tickets for the bleacher seats. This must have been a letdown to the Beatles who were expecting a bigger turnout, and ended up playing to a half-empty stadium that could seat 42,500 but only 25,000 attended. Worst of all, the Beatles couldn't play well because it was well known at that concert they couldn't hear themselves play with all the screaming by the audience. Raechel quipped, "they sang in the key of R, as in 'aarrgghh', because they couldn't hear themselves sing with all the screaming."

When asked if there was a problem with the sound system, she said, "it seemed the monitors weren't working," and she was in disbelief that there was so much screaming, because San Francisco prides itself on being cultured and civil. Raechel explained that the Beatles Candlestick Park looked half empty because "they couldn't sell any tickets for bleacher seats for some unknown reason (by the City of San Francisco's Park and Recreation), they couldn't sell more than 25,000 tickets, but they sold all the tickets they had."

Raechel took part in counting the tickets after the show and said that "they (Tempo) sold all the tickets they had, but they just broke even... (partially) because of all the extra security they were required to hire last minute."

To give some idea of how difficult it was to attract concert goers to hear British rock bands, apparently Tempo Productions had a hard time selling even just 5,000 tickets to the previous year's concert in May 1965, when the Rolling Stones, the Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders appeared at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, and Tempo suffered a big loss because of the poor attendance according to Raechel.

Another person who was at the historic 1966 Beatles Candlestick concert was Peter D., aka "Doc", who was a young teenager selling peanuts at the event, and remembers most vividly that he didn't make any money because no one was interested in buying any peanuts.

Peter D. said, "I had plenty of time to watch them cause nobody was buying anything! Non-stop screaming, standing on seats...KYA was the AM station promoting it, Gene Nelson was the MC, Bobbi Hebb, The Ronettes and The Cyrkle were the acts. Sound systems, especially in a bowl with 'occasional' wind was the best available."

Peter D. now gives tours of Candlestick Park through the end of August, and he shows where the Beatles played on a 5 foot high stage on 2nd base back in 1966, and also where their dressing room was and where they had walked. Peter remembers, "I made peanuts that night cause no one was interested in anything but screaming their lungs out for the boys around second base." When asked if he still liked the Beatles, Peter replied: "I enjoyed the Beatles, have everyone of their albums still."

There were quite a few video cameras filming the concert at Candlestick Park Thursday night, so looks like a DVD of this concert will be available for sale for those who couldn't get tickets, or got stuck in traffic or live somewhere far away.

As he closed the concert, Paul's last words to the fans were, "And we love ya! Goodbye Candlestick Park! Hey listen folks... I'll tell you what though, We'll see you next time!"

Related articles:

• Fans trying to buy McCartney tickets for Candlestick leave empty handed (5/6/14)

Published August 16, 2014

This article is Copyright © 2014, Katie Hickox, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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