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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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
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 the Consol Energy
Center on August 18, 2010.
Tickets from the Beatles
Pittsburgh Show in 1964
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
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?"
GEORGE: "Is this the place that can be changed into an
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
Q: "After the success you had with your first film, would you ever
consider making a film in America?"
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
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
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
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."
PAUL: "There's no formula at all. For instance, John can write a
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
PAUL: "It's a bit more like American radio than they have in
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
JOHN: "No. If you're talking about Dave Clark, where's the
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
Q: "When do you anticipate you'll be back in the states for
JOHN: "It might be next year, we don't know."
Q: "What do you think was the turning point that brought about
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
PAUL: "I think the Royal Variety Performance in England when we
played for the Queen."
Q: "How long were you together before that?"
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
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."
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 perform in Detroit on
September 6, 1964, only a week before coming to Pittsburgh.
The Beatles Pittsburgh experience
is captured on this 1964 USA Tour disc collection.
Post-Gazette article on the Beatles 1964 Pittsburgh show:
"How The Beatles played Pittsburgh"
Concert promoter Pat DiCesare recalls
behind the infamous concert 45 years ago
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
(from the Steve Mellon article above)
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 in 1965. The group
continued to release ground-breaking records, improving
on both their musicianship and song-writing abilities.
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 hit parade continued into
1968, with their ever-evolving, innovative musical compilations.
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.
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
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.