Local Current Blog

It was 50 years ago today that the Beatles played in Minnesota

Paul McCartney at Bloomington's Metropolitan Stadium on August 21, 1965 (photo by Bob Bonis)

It’s hard to believe that five decades have passed since the Beatles played their one and only show in Minnesota. The show was held at the Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, a former home to the Minnesota Twins that sat on the plot of land where the Mall of America is now, and provided nearly 30,000 young fans with an outlet for their Beatlemania.

The Fab Four flew into the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on the afternoon of August 21, 1965, scurried into a limo, and suffered through a drawn-out press conference with local media where they were subjected to compelling questions like, “Are those wigs?” and “How do sleep with that hair?”

After taking in a quick sauna backstage and sitting down to a home-cooked meal of roast beef and mashed potatoes, the quartet of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr strode out onto the Met Stadium stage to play for the screeching crowd.

“The screams were deafening! The Beatles came running out and I think they had their guitars in their hands when they climbed on stage,” attendee DeEtta Miller remembered in the book The Beatles! A One-Night Stand in the Heartland. “We could slightly hear them over the screams, but it was a strain. I’ll never, ever forget that magic night.”

Minneapolis rock scene vet Johnny Rey (of ’80s band Johnny Rey and the Reaction, who are reuniting this weekend at the Amsterdam), was also in attendance that fateful night. “It was a beautiful late summer Saturday evening. It was five days before my 12th birthday. I couldn’t believe I was seeing the Beatles and, of course, it was over in a flash. I bought a program which was the size of an LP with a bunch of great photos of the band, which I promptly cut out and put it on my wall. Later my Grandmother was visiting and, after seeing my room, pulled my mother aside and said: ‘Don’t you think he’s a little young to be thinking about girls?’ Ha!”

To get into the Beatles mood, check out a playlist of some of the best Beatles covers compiled by our very own Mac Wilson. Here are some more factoids, quotes, photos, and memories from that explosive night exactly 50 years ago:

The trivia

  • 28,500 fans paid $3.50-$5.50 to attend the concert at Met Stadium.
  • It was the only stop on the Beatles’ 1965 tour that didn’t sell out.
  • A Minneapolis Tribune intern went undercover as a waitress to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the band hanging out in their hotel room after the show.
  • Minnesota Twins equipment manager Ray Crump also spent some quality time with the band, keeping them comfortable before the show. “They had never taken a sauna in their lives; they’d never seen a sauna. I said ‘You want to go in the sauna?’ They said, ‘Yes we want to go in the sauna,'” Crump told KARE-11 this week.
  • Roughly 150 ushers and security guards were on hand—and armed with smelling salts in case any overexcited fans passed out.
  • The Fab Four earned a cool $50,000 for their 35-minute, 11-song set.
  • During their visit, a Rickenbaker 12-string guitar was given to George Harrison by an employee of B-Sharp Music Store. Less than two months later, on October 16 George utilized that guitar prominently on The Beatles “If I Needed Someone.”

The newspaper ad

FullSizeRender (2)

The ticket

The set list

“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 reviews

“For 35 minutes the Beatles played and for 35 minutes the whole stadium full of teenage girls were on one wild emotional jag… The stadium’s PA system was turned up to the last wall, and occasionally a snatch of Beatle-made music filtered past the first row of fans.”
—Ralph Engerson, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 22, 1965

“A crowd of about 30,000 people—mostly squirming, writhing, clapping teen-agers—screamed and screeched their approval of the Beatles Saturday Night at Metropolitan Stadium… While there were large portions of the songs that you could hear over the frenzied roar, it was impossible to tell what they were singing unless you were sitting by a teen-ager who could tell you the names of the songs.”
—Allan Holbert, Minneapolis Tribune, August 22, 1965

“They wore long hair and wide grins. They were the Beatles—alleged musicians.”
—Donald Del Fiacco, St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 22, 1965

“Those people are the worst I have ever seen visit the city. Most of them seem to have no idea of proper behavior.”
—Minneapolis Police Inspector Donald R. Dwyer to the Minneapolis Star

The documentary

The press conference

The photos

From the St. Paul Dispatch, courtesy MNHS:

From Beatles tour manager Bob Bolis, who has a new book The Beatles in Minnesota out now: