Thursday, August 12th, marks the anniversary of several landmark events in Beatles history. . .
ON AUGUST 12th, 1966: It was 56 years ago tonight that the Beatles opened the first show of their final U.S. tour at the Chicago Amphitheatre. The group, who had previously performed dates in Germany, Japan and the Philippines, began the U.S. tour amid controversy. John Lennon was forced to apologize the day before (August 11th) for statements he had made earlier in the year about the state of Christianity. The quote, “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus,” was taken out of context and published in a teen magazine called Datebook, which lead to numerous “Beatle boycotts” and bonfires of the group's albums throughout many southern states.
Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson caught the Beatles' third-to-last show on the tour on August 25th, 1966 at the Seattle Coliseum. Nancy Wilson set the scene for what went down at the concert: “Yeah, we got to (laughs) see them. We could actually hear them slightly above the screaming, and it was kinda cool — the parts we could hear. We were in a band at the time with uniforms that matched the Beatles' uniforms (laughs) that we wore to the Beatle show! We were slightly neurotic. And we weren't screaming; we were absorbing.”
The 13-city tour wrapped up on August 29th at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.
ON AUGUST 12th, 1964: The Beatles' first movie, A Hard Day's Night, opened in 500 U.S. theaters. The movie cost just under $220,000 to make and became the surprise hit of the summer, grossing more than $13 million worldwide.
In addition to the title song, the soundtrack included such Beatles classics as “Can't Buy Me Love,” “And I Love Her,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “If I Fell.” A Hard Day's Night was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Story And Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen and Best Score, but lost in both categories.
Phil Collins — who was featured as an extra in A Hard Day's Night during the Scala Theatre concert scene — admitted to us that he listens to “The Fab Four” with the same sense of excitement even today: “I mean I've been playing drums since I was five, way before the Beatles. But the Beatles were the first things, that when I first heard the albums — it was melody. It was harmony. That's where you're trying to aspire to. So that sticks with me. I still listen to With The Beatles as if it was made last year. For me, it still sounds fresh.”
ON AUGUST 12th, 1960: Drummer Pete Best auditioned for the Beatles in his mother's Liverpool nightclub called the Casbah. Best was asked to join the group, which then included original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, to begin a two-month residency in Hamburg, Germany. Two years later, on August 16th, 1962, Best was fired from the group and replaced by Ringo Starr.
Pete Best was asked if following the audition, he knew immediately that he had the job as the Beatles' drummer: “No. Not at that stage, because at the end of the day, yeah, I'd agreed to go to Hamburg, but the audition was there. I've always queried the fact of the audition. Because in those days people jumped ship from band-to-band so the audition factor was very much a case of like, 'You're making me audition?' But the type of material they were playing, I was playing with my own band as well. So when they turned around and said, 'Do you know this one?' — it's like, okay, bash that one off, 'Do you know this one?' — bash that one off.”