domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Rarely seen photos from Beatles' only Florida concert

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Rarely seen Beatles photos from the Fab Four’s only Florida concert
Staci Sturrock
September 8, 2015

The Beatles on the windswept stage at the Gator Bowl, September 11, 1964. Concert-goer Annette Ramsey recalled that the cardboard letters spelling out “Beatles” were eventually ripped away from the side of the stage by the wind. (State Archives of Florida)
The Beatles prepare to play at the Gator Bowl on Sept. 11, 1964. High winds eventually ripped the cardboard letters spelling out “Beatles” away from the stage, recalled a concertgoer. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)

On Sept. 11, 1964, the Beatles played in concert for the first and only time in Florida.

But their windy, whirlwind show at Jacksonville’s old Gator Bowl almost didn’t happen.

To set the stage: “A Hard Day’s Night” had premiered in the United States the previous month, and Americans were simply mad for the mop tops.

beatles press conference
Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr attend a press conference at George Washington Hotel in Jacksonville prior to their Gator Bowl show. The band mates had to eat their pre-concert dinner while they met the press. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)

In the middle of a month-long North American tour, the Beatles were scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville on Sept. 9 — two days before their show — but Hurricane Dora swept into town ahead of Hurricane Beatlemania.

George and John during the press conference. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)
George and John during the press conference. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)

The band’s plane was diverted to Key West, where the lads from Liverpool relaxed at the Key Wester Hotel (later demolished and replaced by the Hyatt Windward Pointe).

Like so many tourists before and after them, the Beatles spent much of their time in Key West drinking.

In 2004, Paul McCartney would tell “The Guardian:”

“We stayed there for a couple of days, not knowing what to do except, like, drink. I remember drinking way too much, and having one of those talking-to-the-toilet bowl evenings. It was during that night, when we’d all stayed up way too late, and we got so pissed that we ended up crying – about, you know, how wonderful we were, and how much we loved each other, even though we’d never said anything.”

George Harrison and Paul McCartney
Police escort George and Paul from the George Washington Hotel to the Gator Bowl. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)

Prior to show time in Jacksonville, tension emerged between the band and organizers, who had planned to racially segregate the audience. The Beatles refused to play until their promoter assured them that concertgoers would be mixed.

But because of lingering storm damage in JAX, almost 30 percent of fans were unable to reach the stadium. They were forced to forfeit their tickets, which cost $5 for seats in front of the stage and $4 for those farther away.

Opening for the Beatles were the (largely forgotten) Bill Black Combo, the Exciters, Clarence “Frogman” Henry and Jackie DeShannon.

beatles ringo on stage
Ringo’s drums were tied to the Gator Bowl stage to prevent them from toppling over in the high winds. (Vern Barchard/State Archives of Florida)

After 37 minutes of “Twist and Shout,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the Beatles departed for one-night stands in Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New Orleans, Kansas City and Dallas.

And in the end, their Jacksonville show would be the final time the band would perform on Florida soil.

Want more Beatles-in-Florida photos? Go to the States Archives of Florida.





www.floridamemory.com
BEATLES 1964 - Archives of Florida

The Beatles in front of their bungalow at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
The Beatles in front of their bungalow at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
They are shown at the Key Wester Hotel on South Roosevelt Boulevard. The band was on their way to a concert in Jacksonville but was diverted to Key West by hurricane "Dora".
Photographer/Personal Author
Knowles, Robert.

The Beatles at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
The Beatles at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
They are shown at the Key Wester Hotel on South Roosevelt Boulevard. The band was on their way to a concert in Jacksonville but was diverted to Key West by hurricane "Dora".
Photographer/Personal Author
Knowles, Robert.

The Beatles in front of their bungalow at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
The Beatles in front of their bungalow at the Key Wester Motel - Key West, Florida.
They are shown at the Key Wester Hotel on South Roosevelt Boulevard. The band was on their way to a concert in Jacksonville but was diverted to Key West by hurricane "Dora".
Photographer/Personal Author
Knowles, Robert.

Beatles giving a press conference at the George Washington Hotel in Jacksonville.
Beatles giving a press conference at the George Washington Hotel in Jacksonville.
The band did not book rooms at the George Washington Hotel in protest of the hotel's segregation policy. Furthermore, they had refused to perform at the Gator Bowl until they were assured that the audience would not be segregated by race at the concert. L-R: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr.
Photographer/Personal Author
Barchard, Vern.




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