Thursday, 20 August 2015

Beatles concert to air on the radio


Celebrating fifty years since The Beatles played their one and only Minnesota concert, at the (Old) Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, local radio station WDGY has produced an hour-long retrospective on the show, including the Beatles' entire 35-minute performance and audio of the press conference they held beforehand. The show will air at 5 p.m. Friday on 740 AM and 107.2 FM HD. The broadcast will also be available at wdgyradio.com.
Although The Beatles toured America three times between 1964 and 1966 they performed one time only in Minnesota, in the middle of their 1965 US tour and played to an estimated audience of 25,000 fans, on August 21, 1965. That was the only concert of the tour that was not sold out, the capacity of the stadium was 45,000.
Some of the empty seats at the stadium.
Arriving at the airport, The Beatles were attacked by 3-4,000 crazed fans when they got off their chartered plane at 4:15 pm. Ringo was the first off the plane and a fan pushed through the cyclone fence and yanked at him.  Paul may have been accosted as well. Plans for picture taking were abandoned and they barely got into their car before the mob escaped the 60 Bloomington policemen.

Before the concert, the Fab Four held a press conference in the Minnesota Room of the stadium. Facing them were 12 microphones, 5 TV cameras, 150 reporters, and a few teenage "observers" who had won a contest.  Most of the questions were silly but then so were most of the answers. Also at the press conference, a Rickenbacker 360-12 electric 12-string guitar in a Fireglo red sunburst finish was presented to George Harrison on behalf of the musicians of Minnesota.

George gets a new guitar.
At the concert, "Twist and Shout" was reportedly not performed because John had throat problems. They performed 11 songs in 35 minutes:

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
Help!
I'm Down

The Beatles on stage at the stadium.
During the concert, a helicopter hired by one of the competing radio stations came hovering over the stadium at one point, prompting Lennon to fire at it with his guitar mimicking a rifle.

An amateur recording of the concert started to appear around 2002, sourced from a cassette copy of another cassette which had been transferred from an original reel to reel tape in the seventies. The audio files had been processed in Cool Edit by the uploader to enhance them. The resulting 128/44 mono MP3's were available for download in the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.beatles newsgroup. These mp3-files were later used by one of the downloaders to make a bootleg compact disc. Here's the story of the original reel-to-reel tape recording, as recounted in 2004 by the person who taped it:

"I'm the person who originally taped the Beatle concert at Met Stadium. I had no clue that my recording might be the only existing copy of the Met Stadium concert. I haven't paid much attention to the bootleg concert market or any of that. In August of 65, I was a nerdy kid with a cheap Sears tape recorder. I went to the concert with a friend. As I recall, we sat about 8-10 rows from the field, just a bit beyond what would be first base at a ball game."

"I didn't tape any of the opening acts because I wanted to save my batteries. I waited until the Beatles were playing to start the recorder, but I did not miss any songs. The Beatles did not play 'Twist and Shout'. The first song, 'She's a Woman' does have a short missing part. The reason for this is, in my stupid excitement, I was pressing down on the lid of my Sears special and I had stopped the reels. I could see this through a little window in the recorder's tin lid. In the first part of the tape my friend and I were goofing around, making silly noises and watching the little VU meter bounce. It's embarrassing to think that there are all sorts of people listening to this nonsense (and cursing it for spoiling the Beatle noise). But please, cut us a break. We were just kids and had no clue."

"I'm sure others have written about the concert itself. I remember the radio DJ's of the day telling everyone that the Beatles wanted everyone to have a good time, but asked that people save the screaming for the times between songs. That seemed to have a great effect. In spite of the poor sound on the tape, my memory is that I heard the music very well. When the songs ended though, it was deafening. My parents were in the parking lot during the concert and they said the same thing. I wonder if I would have gotten a better recording if I had just left the tape machine with them."
"Another thing I remember about the concert is that &*@#! helicopter. Didn't people realize that they were witnessing history? :-)"

"So here we are, many years later. I recently acquired a working reel-to-reel and have gone through my old tapes. I've located an early copy of the recording, but I'm not sure if it's the original. Unfortunately, it's an old acetate tape in bad condition. The best copy of the recording I have is a cassette version that was made in the early seventies. The MP3's that are circulating are from that copy."

So, perhaps the original tape has been found, cleaned up and used to produce the concert portion of tomorrow's radio broadcast? Let's hope so!

The day will also be celebrated by an earlier two hour live radio broadcast from the Hard Rock Cafe, where invited guests will reminisc about the concert. A photo exhibition from the Bob Bonis collection will also take place at the Mall of America, which stands on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium, where The Beatles played.

More about the events of the day: TwinCities.com
More about The Beatles' visit to Bloomington: Instamatic Memories (PDF)

UPDATE: The wording on the radio station's web page sounds like they are not airing the concert at all, but recreating the set list by playing records. Here's what they are saying: "WDGY and Dennis Mitchell, the host of Breakfast with the Beatles produced a special one hour show with story’s (sic), insight and the original concert set list."

2 comments:

Michael Hockinson said...

Any chance we'll hear "Jerk With A Badge"?

In The Office said...

Just recycling of Hollywood Bowl and some news conference audio.