Tuesday, 28 October 2008
The Beatles in Kansas City
Previously unseen footage of The Beatles playing an unscheduled gig during their first tour of America has been found lying in a drawer after 44 years.
The colour, but silent, film was recorded covertly at the concert in Kansas in 1964 and is believed to be the only recording of the 31 minute gig.
Fan Drew Dimmel, who is now selling the roll of 8mm film reel at a British auction house, was 15 when he went to see the band in his home city.
Rare footage from a 8mm colour film reel from September 17th 1964, unscheduled gig on the Beatles first tour of the USA. Approx 2 min long. Silent.
When confirmation was announced on my local “rock” station, WHB,that tickets were going on sale to see The Beatles, live, at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City (Missouri)…I persuaded my Dad to drive me down to the ticket booth at the park and bought 2 field-level tickets, paying $6.50 apiece…one for my little brother and one for me. I was 15 and he was 12 and we already had a rock quartet. I played bass and he was my drummer.
On the evening of September 17, 1964, twenty thousand of us gathered at Municipal Stadium to hear the Beatles, who were paid the, then unheard of fee of $150,000 for the 31-minute concert. Mr. Finley, owner of the city’s baseball team and Municipal Stadiums major client, had initially offered Beatle manager Brian Epstein $50,000 but was turned down. He increased his bid to $100,000 and, again, Mr. Epstein declined. Finally, when Mr. Finley raised his offer to a record-breaking $150,000 – the highest sum of money ever paid a band for a single performance at that time – Brian Epstein accepted.
But what was truly UNHEARD OF: the turnout at the performance was nearly 15, 000 below the venue’s maximum capacity. Throughout their inaugural tour of the United States, the Beatles attracted “capacity crowds” at every concert…except for the Children’s Mercy Hospital benefit held in Kansas City (the one and only Beatles concert ever performed here). The crowd
of 20,207 was just over half of Municipal Stadium’s estimated capacity of 35,000 with seats installed on the field.
The low attendance wasn’t because Kansas City residents disliked the Beatles; rather, the Beatles were caught in the crossfire of local animosity toward “Charles O. Finley”. Finley, owner of The Kansas City Athletics Baseball Team since 1960, guaranteed the payment of $150,000 out of his own pocket, regardless of ticket sales. Finley rationalized the concert with the slogan, “Today’s Beatles Fans Are Tomorrow’s Baseball Fans.” Instead of building frenzy and hype for the popular rock band, the local media (especially The Kansas City Star) viewed boycotting the Beatles as a way to protest Finley’s With widespread resentment toward Finley fuelling the boycott, a shortage of Beatles ticket sales cost Finley $40,000…in addition to a $25,000 minimum donation that he pledged to local Children’s Mercy Hospital in the event that the concert did not earn a profit. But the boycott didn’t prevent true fans from attending the show. The fans themselves delighted in witnessing the live performance of 12 hits of the Beatles including Ticket to Ride, Can’t Buy Me Love, and A Hard Day’s Night.
My brother and I arrived an hour before the show, dressed in suits and ties, sporting trench-coats and polished shoes. My father agreed to lend me his brand new “colour” regular-8mm movie camera for the evening. I was going to stand in front of the stage and film the show but, when the lights dimmed a policemen told us to find our seats.
We then heard a voice said “Hey aren’t you Charlie’s boys?” From inside the press barrier (in the orchestra pit) a local reporter who knew my father recognized my brother and me. “See you got a camera there” he observed. “If you want to trust ME with it, I’ll see if I can get some shots of the show for you” he said. “No guarantees.” I thanked him and obediently handed my Dads brand new movie camera to a total stranger! We found our seats and music started!!
The Beatles were preceded in the show by opening acts Bill Black’s Combo, The Exciters, Clarence “Frogman” Henry and Jackie DeShannon. The others were all great…but the evening belonged to John, Paul, George and Ringo.
When the Beatles finally took the stage, they opened with their version of “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey”. Everyone loved it!
“Of course, no one got movies of the Fab Four last night…that was strictly prohibited “stated the radio jock. No one had mentioned the ban on motion picture cameras at the show. I filmed police, promoters. NO ONE SAID A WORD ABOUT MY MOVIE.
I took the film to our local camera store, making no mention of its contents, and waited for them to develop it. Paying the $4.00 developing fee, I went straight home, checked to see that images on the little reel were The Beatles, opened the drawer of our old desk, placed it in the bottom of the drawer…and there it’s been for the last half of a century. We cleared out my parent’s estate 2 months ago. And there I discovered it…at the bottom of the old drawer, still lying in it’s original photolab box with “Beatles 1964” on the back of the box where I’d feverishly scrawled it in blue ballpoint pen…the one and only motion picture, in existence, of the one and only concert the Beatles would ever perform in Kansas City.
When Paul McCartney returned to play in Kansas City in 1993, he did exactly like the first time, he played the song again for the only time on the 1993 tour! This performance was recorded and was included on the Paul Is Live album.
The sale will be held on November 4.
Link to auction site
There's a CD with the Beatles press conference and photos etc from Kansas City available over at Amazon: