The Beatles – The Vegas Job

Not your average Beatles audience in Las Vegas

As far as rock’n’roll fans are concerned, a residency in Las Vegas is the ultimate betrayal. Rock is in it’s essence rebellion against the establishment, whereas Las Vegas is the establishment. Elvis Presley’s sell-out to the Vegas stage were certainly frowned upon by the many of the musicians he inspired. Recently, Paul McCartney has made Las Vegas appearances, and the Beatles & Cirque du Soleil show “Love” is currently running in it’s sixth year at sin city. And yes, The Beatles played Las Vegas in 1964.

From the Beatles Bible:

4.00 pm, Thursday 20 August 1964.

Following the previous day’s performance in San Francisco, The Beatles flew straight to Las Vegas, where they arrived at 1am.

Their chartered aeroplane landed at 1am at the Old McCarran Field at McCarran International Airport, from where they were driven to the Sahara Hotel. Two thousand fans defied the city curfew to see them arrive.

The group spent the morning in their 18th floor penthouse suite, before leaving at 2.30pm for a sound check.

“Before LA we went and played in Las Vegas, where Liberace visited us. I think the first four rows of that concert were filled up by Pat Boone and his daughters. He seemed to have hundreds of daughters.

There was all kinds of trouble in the States. There was everyone trying to sue us. There were girls trying to get into our rooms so they could sue us for totally made-up things. There was always this very peculiar suing consciousness. I’d never heard about suing people until we went to America.”

George Harrison – The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles performed two shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center, at 4 pm and 9 pm, each of which was seen by 8,000 people. Between the two shows the Los Angeles Police Department received a bomb warning, but decided that if they cancelled the second performance the risk of violence by disappointed fans was too great.

The set was the standard one throughout the tour, with the exception of the addition of Till There Was You to one of the shows. The Beatles earned $30,000 for their performances.

After the second concert The Beatles were advised to stay away from casinos, after police concerns that underage fans would be tempted to follow them.

From TheGilly

From Tony Bramwell’s site:

There was a wealth of media coverage for The Beatles in 1964. Everywhere they went, and practically everything they did was scrutinized and reported on the evening news and in every newspaper worldwide. To every rule there is an exception, here the exception is Las Vegas. It certainly is the lost and almost forgotten show by The Beatles. However, they did play Las Vegas Live with two shows at the Convention Center, Las Vegas on Thursday 20 August 1964. The first show was at 4:00 pm and the next later that evening at 9:00 pm.

The Beatles second visit to the U.S. opened with a rousing show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Immediately after that show they boarded their private airplane and flew directly to Las Vegas. The Beatles arrived in Sin City at 1:00 am at McCarran International Airport, from where they were driven directly to the Sahara Hotel. The Sahara was the last remaining vintage “Rat Pack” casino-hotel, and anchored the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The porte-cochere entrance, topped by an onion-dome minaret, is designed to set the resort’s warm Moroccan flavor and hospitality for arriving guests. That night over two thousand fans defied the city curfew to see them arrive.

The group spent the morning in their 18th floor penthouse suite, before leaving at 2.30pm for a sound check.

The Beatles performed two shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center before an audience of 8,000 people, some were even fans. Few people remember that between the two shows the Las Vegas Police Department received a bomb warning. but The Beatles decided to go on despite the threat. Their greater fear was that a potential riot would break out by the disappointed fans. After the second concert The Beatles were advised to stay away from Casinos, after police concerns that underage fans would be tempted to follow them. In true Las Vegas style, slot machines were brought up to the Beatles private suite for their enjoyment.

It wasn’t until recently that we realized that there was very little coverage for The Beatles visit to Las Vegas. We found this to be odd, considering the volumes of material for acts as The Rat Pack, Jerry Lewis, Liberace and Elvis, just to mention a few. Even stranger, The Beatles top every list as far as popularity goes. Channel 3 News reporter Tom Hawley who was hosting a weekly segment call Las Vegas’ Video Vault.” said that the television studio that would have covered The Beatles visit burned to the ground some thirty years ago.

The Las Vegas review-Journal had this story, back in 2004:

(In 1964), Pat Butcher had a hot date and a decision to make: Go out with her new beau or go see the Beatles at the rotunda in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

She chose the former and, to this day, regrets not doing the latter.

From a practical standpoint, it’s probably best that she skipped the show. It was nearly impossible to see or hear the band, thanks to an inferior sound system and thousands of shrieking fans who stood during the whole performance, say many who attended one of the two shows Aug. 20, 1964.

But the event is a point of pride and cherished memory for many valley residents who can say they were one of about 16,000 lucky people who saw the future legends perform live, only a year after they exploded onto the music scene. When the Review-Journal asked readers to share their memories of the concert, more than 50 people called or e-mailed.

“I wasn’t a fan, but I thought, `They’re famous, maybe I’ll go see them,’
” Butcher says of her reason for buying two tickets.

Shortly before the show, Butcher, 26 at the time, drove to the saucer-shaped rotunda, where a crowd waited for the British band to arrive.

“I just remember standing there with my arm above my head saying, `Anybody want tickets?’ “
she says.

“I didn’t even want any money. I just gave them away. When I started liking them about 20 years ago, I started thinking, `Why didn’t I go see them?’ “

Her hot date turned out to be a fun evening but not noteworthy 40 years later. Butcher says she remembers he took her out to eat at a fancy restaurant, then the couple went gambling. It was so unremarkable, she doesn’t remember his name.

The Beatles appealed immediately to many young Americans who saw them perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964. Guys such as Las Vegan Joe Nicholas copied their fashions and hairstyle and, for awhile, boys named John, Paul, George or Ringo, were pretty popular, especially with the girls, Nicholas remembers.

Even though Nicholas’ father groused about his 13-year-old son’s fascination with “them longhaired freaks,” he paid the $2.20 price for a balcony ticket, Nicholas says.

He and his best friend couldn’t wait to see their idols in person and planned the event down to the slightest detail. They wore jeans and Beatles’ boots in the mod style, Nicholas recalls. And they carried bags of jelly beans. The Beatles were rumored to like the candies, he says.

The show turned out to be a bit of a letdown. They couldn’t see anything but a sea of screaming girls. They didn’t hear a single song and they didn’t get to deliver their jelly beans.

“I had no idea the place would be packed like that,” Nicholas, now 53, says. “My buddy wanted to bring binoculars and I said, `Nah, that’s rake.’ We were too cool for that. It was a madhouse, people all over the place.” 

That sums up the way Ralph Delgatti, 67, remembers it. He was working as a pit boss at the Sahara, where the Beatles stayed for one night.

Delgatti didn’t go to the show because he wasn’t a fan. He did manage to snag an autographed photo for his niece.

“We had never seen anything like the chaos they created when they arrived at the hotel,” Delgatti says. “It was just a crowd of people. In Vegas, there was never a crowd like that for anything. They came out of the woodwork, it was thick with bodies.”

The Beatles played Las Vegas because they wanted to see it firsthand. Ironically, the crowd they attracted prevented them from seeing much of anything except a mob of humanity. Delgatti recalls a rumor that band members had slot machines brought to their rooms, as they didn’t dare step foot on the casino floor.

“The gaming rules were pretty loose at the time,” he says.

While there were plenty of people who didn’t care to see the Beatles perform, many others realized the significance of the concert.

Georgia Lunt, now in her 70s, says she knew it was a big deal that the Beatles were coming to Las Vegas. Her husband, involved in the convention business, had received six free tickets to the concert. Determined not to waste them, Lunt took her two nephews, sister and two neighborhood kids.

“When the Beatles came on you didn’t hear one note for all the shrieking,” Lunt says. “We turned around and told the kids to keep it down and they said they came all the way from California, there was no way they were going to quiet down.”

“I remember thinking, `This sucks,’ “ says Bob Testoloin, 55.

He was in the eighth grade at the time and, wanting to impress girlfriend Carlene Kraus, bought the tickets. She was in love with Paul McCartney, as many young girls were.

“Being a kid I wasn’t happy about that,” Testoloin says. “I was bored, as I recall. I didn’t hear one song, but the idea of being there was they were the Beatles. It was pretty crazy.”

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5 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    How could Bob Testoloin have been in the 8th grade in 1964 if he is 55 now? i was turning & years old 2 weeks after this Vegas show & i was in 2nd grade. One other person , 53 now, said he decided he was "too cool" to bring binoculars to the show. Considering he was 4-5 years old i find it hard to believe he was making these decisions by himself at that age in 1964. I guess people just remember things however they want to.

  2. wogew says:

    Like it says in the blog post, that segment was published in Las Vegas review-Journal in 2004, so you'll have to add 8 years to people's ages.

  3. Cara says:

    Nice post. The Sahara closed last year for badly-needed renovations… which is quite evident by the state of Suite 2344 in that video. Looks like they didn't update the decor since the Fabs left! 😉

  4. Judy Dixon Gabaldon says:

    Our high school class reunion was held in that suite – as our "hospitality suite" in 2009. It had definitely been remodeled by then, and there were two huge jacuzzi tubs – one for each bedroom. We were honored to be there – where the Beatles had stayed – and Elvis as well, the year before, when they were filming Viva Las Vegas.

  5. Chris Barnes says:

    I was at the 4 pm concert in Vegas…I was part of what George thought were Pat Boone's daughters I guess…I had won a contest along with 50 or so others in the "Beatle Buddies' Club". We even were at a party at the Sahara with Pat and a few of his nabobs…no Beatles however as promised.

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