PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM- as well as my reports featuring Johnny Holliday who MC’d the final show at Candlestick Park.

August 29, 1966 was originally just another show date for the Beatles at a stadium with bad acoustics amidst death threats.  The final stop on yet another tour for a band that had seemingly been on the road forever.  They played ten songs before calling it a night with “Long Tall Sally”.  John, Paul, George and Ringo then took an armored car to the airport and flew home.  Nobody outside their circle knew then that they’d be leaving their touring days behind.

That night at Candlestick Park in San Francisco now stands as a line of demarcation in the simplified history of the Beatles.  Everything before was mop-tops and matching suits; everything after was facial hair and glasses.  When Capitol released a pair of double albums in 1973, the “Red” album stopped in 1966 and the “Blue” album started with the 1967 release of “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

But perhaps they had already moved beyond their 1964 image as fish-and-chip-eating, happy-go-lucky lads from Liverpool.  In their final show they played just one song from that year-“Paperback Writer”-and performed no songs from their newly released album Revolver.  It wasn’t by choice:  they just couldn’t reproduce studio-embellished songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Yellow Submarine” in a live setting to their liking.  If you listen to their output from 1966, songs like “Taxman” and “For No One” could easily have appeared on “the White Album” or Abbey Road.

What sort of world were the Beatles leaving?  The Asian leg of their tour turned into disaster when they didn’t attend a party held by Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos.  The Fab Four was spit on as they left the country.  Their final tour of the US was in the aftermath of John Lennon’s “Beatles are bigger than Jesus” quote that prompted bonfires of Beatles albums and threats from the KKK.  They couldn’t hear themselves playing over the screams of their fans and were reduced to performing stadium gigs where the acoustics got worse by the city.

Fans would have to settle for the vinyl version of the Beatles from here on out.  Sergeant  Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would turn the world on its ear ten months later.  And while their final few albums would start to resemble four solo acts more than one group of four working together, the band’s non-touring years provided more than a few gems.  The Beatles may not have been bigger than Jesus, but they were definitely bigger than the road.

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