Live at Atlanta Stadium, Georgia. August 18, 1965

01. 00:00 “Introduction”

02. 03:02 “Twist and Shout”

03. 04:21 “She’s a Woman”

04. 07:36 “I Feel Fine”

05. 10:11 “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (incomplete)

06. 12:00 “Ticket to Ride”

07. 14:31 “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby”

08. 17:19 “Can’t Buy Me Love”

09. 19:52 “Baby’s In Black”

10. 22:37 “I Wanna Be Your Man”

11. 25:34 “Help!”

12. 28:39 “I’m Down”

Live: Atlanta Stadium

9.37pm, Wednesday 18 August 1965

The Beatles’ only visit to Atlanta lasted around 10 hours, but was remarkable for one key reason: monitor speakers on the stage allowed them to hear themselves play – a rarity during the whirlwind of Beatlemania.

The group landed in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 2pm, having flown in on a chartered aeroplane from Canada. Although crowds of fans were at the airport to greet them, the plane taxied to a remote area where they discreetly boarded, along with their entourage, three limousines.

The Beatles were taken to the baseball stadium, where a locker room had been designated as their dressing room and headquarters. Some tables and chairs had been assembled in the area, and temporary beds, known locally as ‘cots’, were also provided. Ringo Starr, amused at the word, climbed into one and sucked his thumb loudly.

The hired caterers offered to make The Beatles hamburgers, but they requested corn on the cob instead. Their meals also included top sirloin, leg of lamb and pork loin, along with the corn, pole beans, fruit and apple pie. The group was so impressed with the quality of the food that they signed the china plates for the caterers.

18 August was a hot day, and as there was no air conditioning in the stadium Paul McCartney requested a large fan for the backstage area, although it made little difference. A number of local VIPs were present, and The Beatles posed for photographs and signed numerous autographs.

Atlanta Stadium – later renamed the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium – had only been recently opened. Tickets for the show had gone on sale two months earlier, with field level seats costing $5.50 and upper level ones $4.50. Fans had begun arriving at the stadium from 4.30am on the morning of the show.

A press conference was held at the stadium from 5pm, and was attended by around 150 reporters.

After the press conference The Beatles were presented with the key to Atlanta by the mayor, Ivan Allen, who proclaimed them honorary citizens.

The stadium doors opened at 6.21pm, and the 34,000 ticket holders began to arrive. Three barrier lines had been erected by police between the stands and the field, and 150 policemen were on hand to keep the fans from charging the stage.

An Atlanta company, Baker Audio, had been hired to supply the sound system for the concert. They brought all their available speakers, which they clustered on the field at first and third base.

John Lennon and George Harrison surveyed the venue from the third base dug-out, un-noticed by fans. They were joined by Neil Aspinall, who told them how to get to the stage for showtime, and where their car would be positioned at the end. Lennon and Harrison then returned backstage where The Beatles changed into matching white shirts and blue suits.

The concert’s comperes were Tony Taylor and Paul Drew of WQXI AM. The first act was Brenda Holloway with the King Curtis band, followed by go-go dance troupe The Discotheque Dancers, Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.

The Beatles took to the stage at 9.37pm, running from the dug out as the crowd erupted in screams. They played 12 songs: Twist And Shout, 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! and I’m Down.

By 1965 The Beatles had become used to being unable to hear themselves play. FB ‘Duke’ Mewborn, the boss of Atlanta hi-fi store Baker Audio, decided to give the group something that had never been done before: monitor speakers on the stage, pointing towards the group, to allow them to hear their voices and instruments.

It wasn’t just on stage that the sound was different. The state-of-the-art setup on the field included four Altec 1570 amplifiers, each giving 175 watts of sound, which in turn powered two stacks of Altec A7 speakers. Although unremarkable today, in 1965 it was an unheard of amount of power for a pop concert.

The difference was noted from the stage, with Paul McCartney exclaiming after She’s A Woman: “It’s loud, isn’t it? Great!”

Being able to hear themselves enabled The Beatles to play tighter than usual, and they were delighted with the results. Afterwards Brian Epstein suggested that Mewborn deal with the sound for their other shows, but the offer was turned down.

After the concert ended The Beatles sprinted to their waiting limousine. Accompanied by a police escort, they were taken to the airport. The group’s aeroplane took off just before midnight, bound for Houston.

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice to see The Duke getting another brief acknowledgement for his major but unsung contribution to rock'n'roll concerts!

  2. Charlie Messing says:

    Absolutely! I salute the Duke – reading up on monitors, you'll find how rare this was! Wasn't till mid-1970s that they were widely adopted.

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