The Beatles' Iconic Hollywood Bowl Concerts: Two Fans Look Back on Seeing (And Even Meeting) The Fab Four in the '60s
Some of the Beatles' most famous concerts took place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, where the group played on Aug. 23, 1964 and Aug. 29-30, 1965. The concerts were recorded with the thought of putting them out on LP, though part of one 1965 show was found to be unusable because of a mic problem. It took until 1977 for a compilation of tracks from the shows to first be issued on LP and cassette, and despite the Beatles' ongoing popularity, those shows never saw release on CD or digital platforms. Until now. On Sept. 8, all of the tracks previously issued, and four bonus tracks, are coming out on legitimate CD and digital platforms for the first time, giving the world a peek into the hysteria of Beatlemania.
Michele Marotta remembers the Hollywood Bowl mania from firsthand experience -- she actually attended the first Bowl show in 1964. At the time, her father, Randy Wood, was president of Vee Jay Records, which was responsible for several Beatles releases, among them the Introducing the Beatles album. “We were in maybe the second row of box seats,” she tells Billboard. It was a wild scene, she recalls. “You could barely hear them. I remember we did have an escort up to the Bowl because it was just nuts. We had an escort back to our limo, but my mom was freaking because girls were rushing the stage and diving into the pools to get to the Beatles.”
Though she and her family didn't visit with the Beatles at the Bowl, she did get to meet them after the show at a party at the Cinnamon Cinder, a place owned by Bob Eubanks, who was one of those responsible for the Beatles playing the Bowl. Her meeting with the band lasted “for maybe five minutes,” she says. "I thought they were old, because they were, like, 20,” she laughs. “There was just a lot of people there. And my parents got both my brother and I out of there quickly. It was like, 'OK, you're here. You've met them. We're going home.' We were there maybe 45 minutes tops.”
Barbara Chamberlain saw them the third time they played the venue on Aug. 30, 1965, a day before their 1965 tour ended. She had seen them in San Diego just two days earlier. “We got our tickets by clipping out a coupon from an ad in the Los Angeles Times,” she tells Billboard. “My friends and I had a slumber party the night before the newspaper ad was to appear. We got up at the crack of dawn to get the coupon and we all walked to the Post Office bright and early and mailed in the coupon with payment. We were so excited when our tickets came in the mail! We didn't know what it was like to see the Beatles up close, so we were happy as can be just to see them!”
A friend's dad drove them to the show, and when they arrived, there was commotion across the street. “We heard a siren and an ambulance arrived at the parking lot. We wondered what was going on. The next day we found out that a lady was having a baby there.” She said they then headed to the Bowl and bought Beatle programs and buttons. “I remember there were fans sitting on the hill above the Hollywood Bowl to watch the show. There was super excitement all around us, that magical happy feeling of Beatlemania.” She said fans during the show called out names of various Beatles. For her, it was “Paul!”
She said she was able to hear the show. “The screaming did interfere with how well, but yes, I could hear. My friend Linda says, 'No' to this question, but I do remember hearing them and singing along. I will always remember Paul introducing 'Can't Buy Me Love' by asking the audience to join in and 'Stamp your hands and clap your feet!,'” she says. “And I do remember clapping my hands and stamping my feet to that song. My friends and I really loved how they rocked on 'I'm Down' and that's still a special favorite for us today.”
She said a couple of her friends left their seats before the show ended, hoping to make contact with the Beatles as they were leaving, and they did. “They were in the crowd that surrounded the armored car. They were excited to report to us later that one of them touched the armored car!”
But Chamberlain said she and her friends had a Beatles encounter before the concert. “My friend Linda's dad, who drove us to the Hollywood Bowl, also was nice enough to drive us to the house where the Beatles were staying in Benedict Canyon the afternoon of Aug. 30. We stood by the gate at the driveway but couldn't see anything,” she said.
“He suggested that we should go up the street where it curves, and perhaps when the Beatles would leave the house, they would surely drive up the street, and the car would have to slow down at the curve. So, we did just that! And it really wasn't long at all when the Beatles shiny black limo [license ZZZ 007] came up the street and slowed where we were standing. The windows were dark, but Linda and I both still have permanently engraved in our minds the close-up view we had of John and his auburn sideburns. He looked so great and he was so close to us.”
Aside from the Hollywood Bowl releases on CD and digital, there's more coming next week. A Ron Howard-directed movie about Beatlemania, Eight Days A Week: The Beatles Touring Years, will premiere in theaters nationwide on Sept. 16. The movie, which covers some of the same ground as The Beatles Anthology, is highlighted by rare footage -- some in color for the first time -- and observations from the Fab Four on their years touring the world with some new comments from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. In addition to its theatrical release, U.S. fans can catch the film on Hulu, which will have exclusive streaming rights to Eight Days a Week beginning Sept. 17. A White Horse Pictures spokesman told Billboard that Japanese fans will see a special version cut specifically for that country that will expand on The Beatles' performance in Tokyo and will also highlight the work of photographer Shimpei Asai, who photographed them during their stay.