"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Beatles played Minnesota in 1965

(Image from Wikipedia)
I'm not sure the Beatles were bigger than Jesus yet, when they played Metropolitan Stadium in August of 1965.
The Mall of America sits where "the Met" once was. "The Met" is what made the Twin Cities and Minnesota big league.
We all remember the sports - the snowmobile suits for Vikings games etc. But it was a venue useful for music too. If only the crowd at the Met on that Saturday night could have really appreciated the music.
The Beatles were true music geniuses. They were anything but "the pre-fab four" as they were dubbed in a rather childish TV satire. (That satire also referred to Shea Stadium in New York City as "Che Stadium," named for the Communist revolutionary.)
The Monkees were the "pre-fab four."
The Beatles are as significant in music history as Mozart and Beethoven. This is sinking in as time goes on. In the mid-1960s our adult culture would have slapped the "empty pop culture" stereotype on the lads from Liverpool.
I own "A Hard Day's Night" on DVD but I have a hard time watching it. I have a hard time with it because of seeing John Lennon. He was gunned down by a nutcase when he was way too young. What fascinating speculation it is, to wonder in what direction his creative energies would have taken him.
It was August 21 of 1965 - yes, the summer the Twins won the pennant - when the fab four came here. "Beatlemania" reigned around the world. But this did not translate to a sellout crowd. Can you imagine the demand for tickets if the Beatles were alive today and touring?
The people who would clamor for tickets today were young boomers in the early 1960s. Hey, they have discretionary money now. As kids those resources were far more limited, perhaps negligible. We can forget.
And the parents of the boomers were by and large mystified by the Beatles and the flood of other such acts that sprouted. The parents could have hummed Glenn Miller's "Jersey Bounce." They felt unsettled by the Beatles and the kind of reaction they got from teenagers. It was alien. "The generation gap" was very real.
The Beatles performed at Met Stadium in front of a turnout of about 30,000. This was the Beatles' second American tour. By 1966 the group decided it wasn't practical to continue touring. The music seemed so secondary to the maniacal enthusiasm shown by the fans. The Beatles became sort of cloistered as a studio band, which went against the conventional thinking of the time, that you just had to tour.
But the Beatles regularly broke new ground. That's what they were all about.
Can you imagine today being able to buy a ticket as a walk-up customer to a Beatles reunion concert? But on that August night of '65, over 5,000 tickets were in fact sold that way. No "Ticketmaster" then, I'm sure. I remember once naively calling the Fargodome to ask about tickets to a George Strait concert. Silly rabbit, you don't call the venue for information like this anymore.
Rain threatened but never came on the day of the Beatles concert. The temperature was a most agreeable 68 degrees at concert time. A stage was erected over second base. John, Paul, George and Ringo emerged from the Twins dugout. It really was a significant chapter in Minnesota history.
These were the real Beatles, in their prime and including John in the flesh! Right here in Minnesota. And you could buy tickets as a walk-up customer amidst no special urgency or panic. Quaint? Yes.
Some minor acts did the warm-up music. The names of these don't ring a bell.
The Beatles were a textbook example of pure fame. They were in the right place at the right time and with the right gifts and right management. It's too bad the audience of 30,000 couldn't have been a little more passive and appreciated the import of it. It's too bad the kids couldn't have just soaked in the music. Because, the Beatles were extraordinary from an artistic standpoint.
We could have given them a pleasant surprise by being more restrained and appreciative. There was no chance of that happening, though. "Beatlemania" reigned.
This meant the kids, I assume mostly the females, would scream during the music. An anthropologist should have made note of it all. The Met Stadium crowd fully followed the norm of the time. So, they screamed in a way as to obliterate the music in this 35-minute set by the fab four.
You can't blame the parents for not wanting to be there. The crowd was probably limited in size because the parents had to shoulder the chauffeuring and fork out $4.50 or $5.50 for ducats.
There were no casinos to support such acts then. Casinos have been a gold mine for retro music acts, even the small-time ones. In the '60s, any kind of gambling had strong morality issues. We barely gave a pass to church basement bingo.
Many music acts had to seek gigs at county fairs. Heck, this continued up through the early 1980s when the likes of Ronnie Milsap came to our Stevens County Fair. So did the Statler Brothers and others. Casinos changed the whole landscape. Imagine if the four Beatles were still alive and together, visiting such places as Mystic Lake.
John was shot and George died of natural causes. Ringo has happily ridden the gravy train of that early fame. Paul has remained artistically very solid and committed, for the most part.
Gosh, what would John have done? You see a certain innocence in his face in the movie "A Hard Day's Night." There's a spontaneous wellspring of creativity there. Fame would challenge him. Disregard his excesses, like saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and what you have is a genius musical craftsman. This is easier to appreciate as time goes by.
Metropolitan Stadium had about 150 ushers ready to handle the concert crowd. They were prepared with smelling salts! About 150 police ensured security. No special problems developed.
Ray Colihan was the concert promoter. He never understood why the crowd was limited to 30,000. We weren't a "cold Omaha" anymore, were we? Colihan was mainly associated with Excelsior Amusement Park. There, in 1964, ol' Ray counted an audience size of 286 for an appearance by the Rolling Stones! Those were different times. There were kid-fans out there but they lacked independence.
Over time that changed, to where the Eagles drew a crowd of over 65,000 at the Met in 1978 (the year I graduated from college). Kids had become less dependent on their parents. And, "Jersey Bounce" had faded more into the background of history. But remember, there was a time when Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman music was actually edgy!
I'm not sure where these "promoters" like Colihan come from, how they become so essential. In Morris we had Rod Lindquist - remember? - from the old "Sound Idea" store. I smile writing this because he was the promoter type (no disrespect intended).
Colihan was surprised he had to work to promote the Beatles, right down to the last minute. Joe Soucheray quoted him saying "I had the hottest act in the business, and it was like people got more excited if the barn blew over in a storm."
Garrison Keillor would be amused.
I was in elementary school at the time of these Beatles tours. I wish I could go back in time and attend. And, to be there with a home movie camera!
The Beatles and the boomers were intertwined. Ironically, the Beatles were not boomers. They were too old. They got on a roller coaster of fame and got enveloped by the boomers who were a sea of precocious impulsivity. And eventually we got money. And now we go to the casinos.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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