The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965: Eyewitnesses

Share This:
LA Times poster & ad

Poster/ad in Los Angeles Times/courtesy Bob Eubanks

What was your first concert? Was it so seminal that well over 50 years later rock writers seek you out to pick through your memories? Personally, I know that will never happen to me: mine was Grand Funk Railroad with opening act Suzi Quatro at Madison Square Garden in 1974. But for a very lucky batch of teenage girls – and a smattering of boys, parents and celebrities – it was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1965.

Following up on their groundbreaking 1964 sold-out concert at the Bowl, The Beatles returned for two performances the following year, August 29th and 30th. Tickets were $3, $4, $5, $6 and $7. Naturally, both shows sold out and with a capacity of just over 17,600, the band grossed $156,000 (almost $1.2 million in today’s dollars).

Back then, kids learned about and bought tickets through what today we call “traditional media.” AM radio station KRLA presented the concerts and promoters placed full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times, with a coupon that fans had to mail in on a specific date to order tickets.

And mail in they did. Fan and Beatles at the Bowl concertgoer Sharon Weisz remembers, “My parents didn’t subscribe to the Times so I had to go out and buy a copy, get my mother to write a check and take it to the mailbox. It couldn’t be mailed before a certain date so I had to wait for that. I asked for $7 tickets but got $5 and they sent back a refund check to cover the difference.”

Teri Brown, who worked with the shows’ promoter Bob Eubanks during this time, describes the ticketing situation. “There were no ‘real’ ticket outlets, and we were not set up for credit cards…. At the office we were being besieged with VIP ticket requests. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Mayor of Los Angeles wanted to be there!”

Finally, August 29th arrived. Teen girls showed up by the thousands in the fashions of the time, such as plaid dresses with white collars and cuffs, mod shifts, button-down shirts with skirts and mohair sweaters. Many wore hats and party shoes.

Steve Resnik, a music industry collector/historian and president of Radio and Music Pros (RAMP), explains that in 1964, KRLA had the Beatles to themselves.

Watch a performance from their August 23, 1964 concert

But in 1965, KHJ, an upstart competing station launched in April, was doing whatever it could to glom onto the hottest concerts of the year. Resnik relates, “KHJ promotion man Clancy Imislund sent every KHJ employee out to buy copies of the Times and mail in for tickets. They mailed in 1,500 coupons and were able to purchase 1,100 tickets. They were giving away more tickets than KRLA.”

KHJ didn’t stop there. Just as promoter Bob Eubanks was about to introduce the band on August 29th, Resnik says, “KHJ sent out a plane with a banner that said ‘Boss Radio KHJ Brings You the Beatles.’ Eubanks ad libbed, ‘Can you believe that’s coming from a radio station that can’t even afford a fourth call letter?’”

[Apple Corps Ltd. and Universal Music Group released The Beatles: Live at the Hollywood Bowl on September 9, 2016, the 17-track set serving as a companion piece to The Beatles: Eight Days A Week—The Touring Years, director Ron Howard’s feature documentary. The package is culled from The Beatles’ 1964 and ’65 shows at the Bowl. (Order it here).]

Related: Review of the 2016 album release

“Hullabalooer” Dave Hull, a DJ with sponsoring station KRLA, remembers, “KRLA was a conservative radio station. I know it’s hard to believe, but we did not promote any parties involving the Beatles. We tried to stay hands off because we didn’t want involvement with anything related to girls trying to get to them.”

Pity the poor opening acts: The footnotes-to-history King Curtis Band (led by the R&B saxophonist who played on a number of classic Atlantic Records tracks), Sounds Incorporated (who provided the brass accompaniment to the Sgt. Pepper’s track “Good Morning Good Morning”) and the Discotheque Dancers, Brenda Holloway and Cannibal & the Headhunters. Most of those who attended the shows have no memory of them, most likely because they spent their entire performances yelling, “We want the Beatles! We want the Beatles!”

The band appeared at 9:22 PM and, according to Los Angeles Times Entertainment Editor Charles Champlin, “Exactly at 9:55 the Beatles dashed off stage and a flying wedge of 10 policemen with nightsticks drawn escorted them to their armored car and cleared a path through screaming fans as it pulled away.”

The set list was the same 12 songs both nights, a 33-minute combination of original material and covers:

Twist and Shout
She’s a Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Ticket To Ride
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
Can’t Buy Me Love
Baby’s In Black
I Wanna Be Your Man
A Hard Day’s Night
I’m Down

Listen to the opening song, “Twist and Shout”

But those fortunate enough to be there didn’t hear much musical nuance. The sound was so drowned out by screaming that it took until 1977 for some of the material to make it out on the LP The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. The release was delayed by primitive recording technology – three-track, half-inch tape recording, the inability of the band to hear its own performance and multiple recording glitches – plus of course all that screaming.

In the album’s liner notes, George Martin, describes “the eternal shriek of 17,000 healthy young lungs [that] made even a jet plane inaudible.” (Los Angeles Times reviewer Champlin called it “an absolute avalanche of shrill sound [that] penetrated everybody’s deepest molecules.”) Martin and an engineer were finally able to transfer the three-tracks to 16-track tape and get to work. It turned out that the August 29, 1965 show was virtually unusable, so the live album consists of performances from 1964 and August 30, 1965.

Related: Review of Howard’s Beatles’ Eight Days a Week documentary

The Beatles perform at Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California on 29 August 1965. © The Music Center Archives/ Otto Rothschild Collection (via Apple Records Ltd./Universal Music)

The Beatles perform at Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California on 29 August 1965. (Photo:
© The Music Center Archives/ Otto Rothschild Collection, via Apple Records Ltd./Universal Music)

Sharon Weisz, whose first concert was the Beatles 1964 Hollywood Bowl show, held during the week of her 14th birthday, also attended the August 29, 1965 show. In 1964 she had attended the concert with a friend’s father and his two children. In 1965, “We went with the same friends, except that my sister Robin, who was 13, replaced Michael’s father. By then, our parents had gotten used to taking us to rock concerts and dropping us off.”

That’s right: Between the two Beatles shows, Sharon and her sister had seen numerous other concerts, including two starring The Rolling Stones. “So we were seasoned concertgoers by 1965.” She adds, “In those days, it was rare for parents to be involved in their kids’ lives the way they are today.”

Weisz, like many 1965 Beatles at the Bowl concertgoers, doesn’t have detailed memories about the show itself, and absolutely none of any opening acts. “The tradition was to scream, so I don’t even remember any song differentiation or anything that was said.” She did, however keep a song list.

Because of the Beatles, Weisz began paying more attention to other bands and wanting to go see them. Besides the concerts, she went to tapings of Shindig and 9th Street West, a short-lived local music show on KHJ-TV. “They’d have bands from England and we’d try to get on the show to see them in person.”

The Beatles were also her introduction to the music business, which she has worked in for most of her life. Her W3 Public Relations has been in business for almost 40 years; in addition she currently manages musician Bobby Long.

For another attendee, then-13-year-old Theresa Dulcich, the 1965 Bowl show was a first-time concert experience. “I was a huge Beatles fan,” she says. “They inspired me to learn to play the guitar.  I told my parents I wanted an acoustic guitar. I really wanted an electric guitar but I knew they would never go for it.  Come to think of it, I would still like an electric guitar.”

Beatles on stage

Photo: Courtesy Music Center Archives/Otto Rothschild Collection

Dulcich clearly remembers “seeing the Beatles climb up a ramp or stairs to get to the stage entrance, characters in beige Nehru jackets moving stealthily towards the stage. Most of the girls in the audience were screaming and I wondered if I was going to scream like that when the Beatles came on stage.  I recall very clearly the moment I realized I was not going to be driven to that same state of hysteria.  At some point during the concert, I tried to force a scream but it just wasn’t in me.”

Famed clothing designer and author Tere Tereba was a teenager who got a last-minute ticket and went by herself to the Bowl. She remembers, “I was all dressed up, going to my cheap seat, and I saw some people I knew who were in the expensive seats. They passed me one of their tickets and I sat in an empty box. Then these people came who were in their late 20s or 30s, of course they seemed ancient to me. They were probably lawyers in the music business, with their wives and dates. I was in their box and they came really late.” They were kind enough to let her stay in the box with them, where she remained for the duration of the show.

Did she scream? “Of course not!” she says. “It’s not dignified. Plus I was not motivated by the moptops at that time. I preferred The Rolling Stones.”

She adds, “For me it was a fun experience because of my seating. It was cute but it wasn’t incredible because they weren’t yet the Beatles that they grew to be, as their music became more complex. I was more entranced by people looking at me alone in my box. It just went on and on and nobody came. It was a crazy lucky thing that happened to me, the very beginning of many things like that.”

Weisz set list & ticker stub

Sharon Weisz’s handwritten set list & ticket stub

At the end of the show, Harry Tessel and Howard Adelstein wrote in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, “[Many in] the sell-out audience… refused to leave after the brief performance, in disbelief of the announcement: ‘The Beatles have left. Please go home.’”

Michael Keir was in college in 1965 and working at Disneyland that summer, but had a second job ushering at the Bowl. He worked the August 29th show and remembers, “They brought in a lot of extra people for that event,” primarily for crowd control. “Our main objective was to keep people from migrating within the Bowl. Usually when the program starts the ushers fade away because their job is done. Not that night: We couldn’t leave our posts,” although he notes that the crowd was well-behaved. “On other nights, ushers could go backstage but not that night. The whole production was just a different level.”

He describes the scene: “I’m sure there was an opening act, but nobody was paying much attention. I do remember that the Beatles were late coming on. It had we ushers up in the Bowl a bit anxious as the crowd got more and more restless and vocal, demanding to see the Fab Four. It was pretty much pandemonium the entire time. Everyone was screaming and on their feet. You could hear the music a little, but it was not a listening experience, it was a happening. It was kind of the same from start to end. There was a little chatter but it was mostly playing and this constant roar. People didn’t sit down at all. Then they went off and came back several times and then that was it.”

Watch some fan footage from the concert

He adds, “My most vivid memory of working the Beatles concert was the contrast to an experience I had less than three weeks before of another night working the Bowl, when the Watts riots broke out in LA. What a contrast: one night of sketchy reports coming in about fires breaking out over the city, people rioting in the streets, shots being fired from freeway overpasses, wondering about the chances of being shot driving home [to Orange County]; and the joyous, raucous celebration of a night with the Beatles a few short weeks later.”

Venegas scraobook page

A page from Sherry Lutz Venegas’ scrapbook

Beatles fan and 1965 Bowl show attendee Sherry Lutz Venegas kept a scrapbook (view here), a fantastic time capsule with meticulous descriptions of the day’s event, from her trips to and from the venue to the show itself. In it she noted, “Our first disappointment come when we did not get $7 seats like we sent in for, but $6 seats… Our seats were really far away, but after they came on we forgot about that; it really was worth the $6.”

She adds, “On the way home we heard ‘Yesterday,’ the new Beatles song. Paul sings and there’s no guitars or drums but a string quartet. It’s one of the most beautiful songs they have ever done. I do not think we will ever forget this night for as long as we live.”

Beatles fansDuring their brief time in Los Angeles the Beatles stayed in a private home in tony/rustic Benedict Canyon, attended parties and met with Elvis Presley. They held a press conference at the Capitol Records tower (read transcript here), where they were awarded a gold record for their then most-recent album, Help!, which had sold more than a million units in less than two weeks.

The 1965 Bowl shows were just two out of the hundreds of performances from the band’s grueling tour schedule. They toured relentlessly from 1961 through ‘66, finally giving up due in part to frustration – all that screaming! – and in part to get more serious about recording. (That sure worked: their next album was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.) By the time they quit the road, they’d performed approximately 365 concerts in 20 countries. That’s an average of more than one show a week, every week for more than five years, although more typically it was day after day of shows for months, with a day off here and there, and then a longer break before it all started up again. Take their 1963 tour with Roy Orbison, for example: for 23 days, they performed every day except two. Their 1964 U.S./Canada tour had 26 days on, seven off. In August 1965, they played 16 dates in 17 days, including five double-headers.

For those whose lives were touched by even one of those dates, the experience was unforgettable.

Related: More on the role of promoter Bob Eubanks, the future host of an iconic TV game show

Laura Huntt Foti

10 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. jimschuck
    #1 jimschuck 29 August, 2015, 11:22

    What an awesome day today is (August 29, 2015) – the 50th anniversary of my FIRST concert – The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Thank you for your amazing article and your recollections/photos of that very magical night – brought me right back to the evening! Thanks! Jim

    Reply this comment
  2. SherryV
    #2 SherryV 1 September, 2015, 12:44

    Thank you Laura for including my memories about the Beatles. There was never another word put to paper of any other experience in my whole baby boomer life. The concert was very exciting and that story I wrote the next day attests to that fact.

    Reply this comment
  3. Judy, From Lucky B Stables Hollydale CA
    #3 Judy, From Lucky B Stables Hollydale CA 14 September, 2019, 10:49

    I was invited to go to the Concert with my friend from Lucky B Stables, Christine Creason. Her father was a ticket broker in LA so we had middle front row seats. I went with Christine and Elaine Gardea. I believe we are pictured on the inside of the Beatles Album at the bottom. Elaine can be seen facing the camera on the inside of the Beatles album. AWESOME. Thanks Chris for the thrill of my life! Elaine where are you???

    Reply this comment
  4. Yvette
    #4 Yvette 30 August, 2020, 02:30

    I had Tickets for the Beatles @ Both CONCERTS in 1966. I saw them 1st in Seattle @ Seattle Memorial Coliseum on Aug.25, 1966 and then Flew Home to see 2nd Concert @ Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The Seattle Concert being Indoors had Better Sound Quality. In San Francisco with the Wind Factor Outdoors the Sound Not as Crisp… Yet, Loved being Present at each CONCERT. The Beatles 1st Concert in America in 1964 I gave my Ticket Away. I am Glad that I had the Opportunity to finally see Them in 1966… Happy Memories …

    Reply this comment
  5. Yvette
    #5 Yvette 30 August, 2020, 13:51

    I Love Ringo in Who He Is as a Person and Drummer for the Beatles. Ringo has a Happy Upbeat Personality. However, I did have the Opportunity to See the Original Drummer for the Beatles, PETE BEST, @ The British-Themed KINGS HEAD PUB in Campbell, CA on July 23, 2003 and Even did a Photo-Op Afterwards…
    PETE Definitely brought the English Sound of the Beatles with Everyone Rockin’ Out at the PUB that Nite. It was…GREAT…

    Reply this comment
  6. Cisley
    #6 Cisley 31 August, 2021, 10:50

    My first concert was The Beach Boys at Springlake Amusement Park, 8/29/64 but I was also at the last Beatles concert at Candlestick Park on 8/29/66. My friend and I were in Johnny Hyde’s Gear Ones. Johnny Hyde a popular DJ in Sacramento, CA, organized the trip. We went in rented buses. We had a blast. It would have been a lot better if we had binoculars but the young man sitting next to us lent us his for a brief moment. I feel so lucky to have seen them in person.

    Reply this comment
  7. v2787
    #7 v2787 29 August, 2022, 15:32

    My wife and her best friend saw the Beatles live in Minneapolis at Metropolitan Stadium. Sadly, my wife isn’t even really a Beatles fan, and she has little memory of the concert (except that there was a lot of screaming). As for me, I’m a huge Beatle fan and will always be jealous that my wife got to see them live and I never will. Such is life, I guess…

    Reply this comment
  8. BeatleStone
    #8 BeatleStone 29 August, 2022, 18:18

    I had the live album when it was released back in 1977 & it captures Beatlemania at its height. The video of these performances are excellent as well. George Martin mentioning the BCR’s on the back was silly then & silly now.

    Reply this comment
  9. Starrett
    #9 Starrett 30 August, 2022, 00:46

    I was there that night. Friends of my parents had box seats. We arrived early so it was still daylight. All the girls looked like 60’s Cher wearing hiphugger bell bottoms with polka dots. Any ghost sighting set off a wave of screams. There were several opening acts but I mostly remember Brenda Holloway and Cannibal and the Headhunters (Land of a 1000 Dances). We saw Debbie Reynolds and Edward G Robinson with their children. The sound of the screams was deafening but you could hear the music bleed through. I was focused on George and his black Gretch guitar. So exciting. I had just turned 11 years old.

    Reply this comment
  10. GRANNY6
    #10 GRANNY6 30 August, 2023, 01:21

    My First Concert was the Beatles in San Diego 1965. I was 12 years old going into 7th grade. I loved the Beatles and still do. Their music got me through lots of times good and bad. Sgt. Peppers was and is the Best Album Ever. I was a sickly kid and when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery my Mom bought me the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.