Fifty years ago today, The Beatles played two shows at Comiskey Park on Chicago’s south side. The Fab Four were on their second concert tour of the United States (They played one show in Canada). The boys were playing a mixture of outdoor stadiums—such as the Chicago ballpark—and indoor arenas. It was on this tour that the Beatles played their historic concerts at The Hollywood Bowl in California and Shea Stadium in New York (Even Don Draper made it to that one, with Sally in tow.)
WGN’s Dean Richards reports on this “Throwback Thursday” event, catching up with Val Camilleti—a former Capitol Records Chicago employee—who now owns Val’s halla Records in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Val, an admitted Beatlemaniac, refused to do the airport pickup, not wanting to subject herself to “55,000 screaming eleven-year olds, screaming at my group. I didn’t understand screaming in the middle of your favorite group’s songs.” When asked about the screaming fans during the band’s 1964 stop in Chicago, Ringo responded, “We’ve proved that we can be heard and screamed at all at once.”
“If the people do want to scream, it’s up to them.” Paul added, “They’ve paid to get in, who are we to say what they should do when they get in.”
In 1965, Beatlemania was at a fever pitch, and the typical set list for the tour included an opening cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Twist And Shout” as well as “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Ticket To Ride,” and “Help!” (There were also more than a few old rock and roll covers in addition to the Beatles originals.) The audience in the footage available on YouTube does appear to be predominantly the aforementioned screaming females of all ages, but there are more than a few guys and girls there who probably went on to purchase Rickenbackers and Hofners in order to form their very own power-pop band. The sound quality of the performance is by no means perfect, but it gives a good idea of what a powerhouse live act the band was, particularly when performing on that tiny stage in the middle of a baseball field, without the assistance of a gigantic video screen of the kind audiences see at today’s stadium shows. After the shows, John, Paul, George, and Ringo visited Margie’s Candies on Armitage and Western before retiring to the Sahara Hotel in neighboring Schiller Park.
The August 20th, 1965 Comiskey Park double-header attracted 50,000 fans; tickets were going for $5.50 cents. Comiskey Park, home to the Chicago White Sox, would later be the site of local DJ Steve Dahl’s “Disco Demolition” night that erupted into a riot on July 12th, 1979. “Old” Comiskey was torn down in 1991 and replaced with U.S. Cellular Field. The Beatles had played the International Amphitheatre in Chicago the previous year, and would return in 1966 to play their final Chicago show at the same venue. After the 1965 tour, The Beatles would take a six-week break before recording their sixth album, Rubber Soul.