The Beatles in Pittsburgh
September 14, 1964 - at the Civic Arena

The Beatles perform at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

In it's fifty years as Pittsburgh's Rock n' Roll capital, the Civic Arena was the scene of thousands of special attractions and mind-bending happenings. September 14, 1964, was one of the high points in it's history as a concert venue. This was the day that legendary promoter Pat DiCesare brought Beatlemania to Pittsburgh.

The Beatles first came to the United States in February, 1964, for three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then, in August, they returned for their first North American tour. The group played twenty-six concerts between August 19 and September 20. The 21st show of the tour was held at the Pittsburgh's Civic Arena. For the city of Pittsburgh and thousands of local Beatlemaniacs, it was a day that would live in infamy.

The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan show on
February 9, 1964. Beatlemania had come to the U.S.
The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964.
Beatlemania had come to the United States.

Tickets went on sale in the spring at a cost of $5.90, and were available by mail-order only. This was almost double the going rate at the time, but the concert still sold out in a day and a half. The total take was $75,000, of which the Beatles were guaranteed $25,000 and a share of the gate. This was the first time that an act demanded and received a percentage of the gate as well as a guarantee. In the end, the Beatles were paid $37,000 for the show.

One problem encountered by the promoters was finding a place for the band to stay. Because of the fear of Beatlemania, no Pittsburgh hotels would take the band for the night, so they were forced to commute to Pittsburgh out of Cleveland.

KDKA and KQV radio competed all day long
for the ears of the Beatles audience.

By the morning of September 14, local radio stations KQV and KDKA had Beatle fans primed and ready for the happening. They spent the entire day of the show playing Beatle songs, along with updates on the band's anticipated arrival.

The plane carrying John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr touched down at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport at 4:36pm. They were met by a crowd of some 4000 fans, many of whom had been waiting since morning. There were 120 police officers providing security at the airport, including fifteen on horseback.

Beatle fans at the Civic Arena
of the day of the big show.
Beatles fans at the Civic Arena the day of the show.

The Beatles were escorted from the plane into a waiting limousine. Accompanied by six police cars and two motorcycles, they drove off towards Pittsburgh. Over 5000 teenage fans lined the Parkway West to see the motorcade.

Another 5000 screaming fans were waiting outside the Civic Arena when the motorcade arrived at Gate 5. After settling in, the four Beatles attended a press conference, then enjoyed a meal before the concert. The Beatles used the Penguins locker room, which was finely decorated with items donated by Kaufmanns. The band members later commented that it was the nicest dressing room they encountered on their U.S. tour.

The Beatles arrive at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.    The Beatles during their Pittsburgh press conference.
The Beatles touch down at Greater Pittsburgh Airport on September 14, 1964.
They held a press conference in Pittsburgh shortly after arriving.

A paid crowd of 12,603 fans packed the arena for the show. The opening acts included The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence 'Frogman' Henry, and Jackie DeShannon.

When the preliminary acts were over, the crowd was in a feverish frenzy, chanting "We want the Beatles." After a short break, KQV's Chuck Brinkman stepped up to the mike and proudly said, "KQV presents the Beatles." It was history in the making.

12,603 fans came to see The Beatles.    The Beatles perform at the Civic Arena
A crowd of 12,603 fans packed the sold out Civic Arena to see The Beatles perform.

The crowd noise pretty much drowned out the music, but it didn't matter. They Beatles played their set to the delight of everyone in attendance. The show lasted a little over an hour. When it was over, the Fab Four were quickly packed into their limousine and rushed back to the airport for the flight to Cleveland.

This was the only time that the Beatles played in Pittsburgh. Forty-six years later, on August 18, 2010, Beatle Sir Paul McCartney returned to play the Opening Night at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center.

Paul McCartney at Pittsburgh's Consol
Energy Center on August 18, 2010.
Paul McCartney at the Consol Energy Center on August 18, 2010.

Tickets from the Beatles Pittsburgh Show in 1964

The Beatles

The Beatles

The Text of the Beatles Pittsburgh Press Conference
at the Civic Arena - September 14, 1964


Q: "How about the wear and tear on the clothes, boys? How many different sets of what did you have to bring?"

PAUL: "A couple of suits, you know. A few shirts. A couple of ties. A few pair of shoes."

JOHN: "We always bring them with us anyway. The only things that we lose are things that are stolen."

Q: "You have a lot of things stolen?"

JOHN: "A few odd things."

Q: "Do you ever wish your association with the crowd could be a little different so you could meet more of your fans?"

PAUL: "Yes, but we don't get much of a chance, really. Sometimes we do."

JOHN: "We meet more fans than people imagine."

Q: "What do you like for women's fashions?"

PAUL: "I like long hair, you know. And modern-type clothes. You know what I mean... European modern-type."

Q: "Gentlemen, I would like your reaction to the Civic Arena in which we're located. Did you see the outside?"

BEATLES: "Yeah!"

GEORGE: "Is this the place that can be changed into an open-air?"

Q: "The roof opens up."

JOHN: "Very good. Good idea, that. I hope they don't lift the roof while we're playing."

PAUL: "So do I."

Q: "How do you compare British and American audiences?"

PAUL: "They're all just as good as each other, you know."

Q: "How do you prefer for your fans to act at your concerts?"

PAUL: "However they feel like, you know."

JOHN: "They can stand in their seats or keep them. We always do the same no matter what happens. We still carry on."

Q: "Ringo, there's a rumor that you're running for president. Do you have any comment on that?"

RINGO: "No, I'm not running."

Q: (to Ringo) "When will you be getting your tonsils out? Will it be before the end of the current tour?"

RINGO: "Umm, there's nothing wrong with them now. The doctor just wants them out in case they start causing any trouble. It'll be before the end of the year, most probably. It won't be in America. It'll be in England."

Q: "After the success you had with your first film, would you ever consider making a film in America?"

GEORGE: "Anywhere."

PAUL: "The thing is, the natural place for American people to make films is Hollywood, and it's unnatural for us to come all the way over here when we've got the same facilities in England. It's more a prestige thing to make a film in Hollywood... not any real need to do it. And it's much cheaper and easier to do it in England for us."

Q: "Is it because you think the British filmmakers do a better job?"

GEORGE: "Well, Dick Lester (director of A Hard Day's Night) is American, and the producer (Walter Shensen) is American too."

Q: "How do you fellas go about writing your songs?"

JOHN: "We sit down in a room and just pick up a guitar or any convenient thing."

PAUL: "Then I go-- (comical singing) 'Mmmm-hmm-hmm-hmm.'"

JOHN: "Sometimes Ringo and I go- (comic melodic whistling)

Q: "Would you repeat that?"

PAUL: "Yes. 'Mmmm-hmm-hmm-hmm.'"

Q: "What is the secret to your success and acceptance all over the world?"

JOHN: "No secret - that makes us just ordinary, you know."

RINGO: "We don't know."

PAUL: "Really, it's very hard to work out."

Q: "Now that you're actors, who is your favorite actor?"

JOHN: "I haven't got a favorite."

PAUL: "Paul Newman. Marlon Brando."

GEORGE: "Peter Sellers."

PAUL: "Sophie Tucker."

JOHN: "She's got a good act."

Q: "Paul, who writes the lyrics and who writes the melodies?"

PAUL: "We like to write them both. I mean uhh, as I say, sometimes I go Mmmm-hmm-hmm."

JOHN: "Sometimes..."

PAUL: "There's no formula at all. For instance, John can write a complete song."

JOHN: "Thanks."

PAUL: "He's clever like that. Or I can write one, you know... or else we just write a line of words AND music each. It's mad. In fact, we've never written a song like that where one of us has done the words and one of us done the music. All these mad ways of doing it, you know."

Q: "I understand there is a so-called pirate radio ship off the shores in Britain playing more of a wider music variety than is otherwise available."

PAUL: "It's a bit more like American radio than they have in Britain."

JOHN: "And it's going well, you know."

PAUL: "...and it's got commercials, too."

Q: "Is Ringo going to sing lead on more records?"

RINGO: "Well no, you know. It's just... one an album is me."

Q: "Do the Beatles feel any serious competition from the other groups?

JOHN: "No. If you're talking about Dave Clark, where's the competition?"

PAUL: "There's more competition really in Elvis Presley, as far as his record sales go."

Q: "How is it do you think that all the incorrect rumors get started, like Paul's marriage and so forth?"

JOHN: "It's magazines that don't really get interviews ever, and just make things up completely."

GEORGE: "And so they make something up about Paul and with a good headline on the front of the paper to sell more copies."

JOHN: "I mean, my activities get written up as, 'Ringo Asks John To Share Wife.' That was the lead-in to the story."

PAUL: "And there are one or two sort of journalists that used to have big columns... they're not read so much now. Not naming anyone."

Q: "When do you anticipate you'll be back in the states for another tour?"

JOHN: "It might be next year, we don't know."

Q: "What do you think was the turning point that brought about your success?"

PAUL: "The turning point was probably stepping up to Brian Epstein as our manager."

Q: "Was there any particular happening that signaled you were on your way?"

PAUL: "I think the Royal Variety Performance in England when we played for the Queen."

Q: "How long were you together before that?"

JOHN: "Years."

PAUL: "Quite a long time. We've known each other from school days. As a group we'd only been together a couple years, but John and George and I have been together..."

Q: "Why did you write the song (Bad To Me) for Billy J. Kramer?"

JOHN: "We just did it because we'd known him."

PAUL: "And he wanted a song to record and we had one. We... like with Peter and Gordon."

JOHN: "And the Rolling Stones, we wrote one for them."

PAUL: "It's just whoever wants a song, if we've got one handy."

Q: "John, is it true that some lines in the film (A Hard Day's Night) were changed?"

JOHN: "Only the ones, you know, where we felt embarassed saying... There were some bits in it that we just couldn't say - we'd curl up saying it. We all put a few things in, you know."

PAUL: "And we also talked with the author (screenwriter Alun Owen), you know, months before it - he came 'round to get the feel of it."

GEORGE: "In the beginning he wrote in a lot of things that we told him about, like the fella in the train compartment."

JOHN: "That was real. That happened, you know."

Q: "What about souvenirs on this tour?"

PAUL: "You mean that we've got?"

JOHN: "We've got a couple of good presents from fans."

PAUL: "Yes."

JOHN: "Leather wallet and a leather cigarette case. We all got them from a couple of fans! ...which we've kept. Very good."

PAUL: "We've got plaques and things. And we got an album of our concert at the Hollywood Bowl which Capitol (records) made for us as a souvenir."

JOHN: "It's lousy, but it's a souvenir, you know."

The Beatles
The Beatles perform in Detroit on September 6, 1964, only a week before coming to Pittsburgh.

A Beatles disc documenting the Pittsburgh
leg of their 1964 USA tour.
The Beatles Pittsburgh experience is captured on this 1964 USA Tour disc collection.

Read a Post-Gazette article on the Beatles 1964 Pittsburgh show:

"How The Beatles played Pittsburgh"

Concert promoter Pat DiCesare recalls the intrigue
behind the infamous concert 45 years ago

The Beatles 4Ever

View a Post-Gazette compilation on the Beatles Pittsburgh visit:

"The Beatles in the 'Burgh, 1964"

Steve Mellon describes what it was like
when the Fab Four came to town.

More Photos Of The Beatles In Pittsburgh
(from the Steve Mellon article above)

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The Beatles Revolution

Did those who went to the Beatles concert on September 14, 1964, have any idea that they were witnessing the beginning of a revolution in Rock 'n Roll that would reverberate for the next fifty years and beyond? As a band, the Beatles continued for another five years, but the legend of innovation and pure brilliance of their music would live on forever.

The Beatles
The Beatles in 1965. The group continued to release ground-breaking records, improving
on both their musicianship and song-writing abilities.

The Beatles

The Beatles
Beginning with the hit single "Strawberry Fields," the Sgt. Pepper sessions ushered in the psychedelic Summer of 1967.
The album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was, arguably, their best visual and musical work of art.

The Beatles
The Beatles hit parade continued into 1968, with their ever-evolving, innovative musical compilations.

The Beatles
The band released "Abbey Road" in 1969. It was their final session work as a group.
The recording has been hailed as one of the greatest albums in music history.

The Beatles
In 1970, the four band members split and embarked upon their successful post-Beatle solo careers.
The legacy of Beatlemania, which had swept the globe since 1963, would live on forever.

The Beatles

The Beatles
The three surviving Beatles united in 1995 to make the Anthology series.
The three-part series was an excellent historical compilation that
included several rare out takes and alternate song versions.

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