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The Beatles’ one and only concert in Minnesota

Beatlemania was in full throat that night at Metropolitan Stadium, where the screaming fans drowned out the group’s half-hour set.

The Beatles performing at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 21, 1965.
The Beatles performing at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 21, 1965.
Photograph by the St. Paul Dispatch–Pioneer Press/Minnesota Historical Society

On August 21, 1965, the Beatles arrived in Minnesota—finally. It had been a year and a half since the Liverpool group’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, marking their American debut. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had toured the country in 1964 but had got no closer than Milwaukee.

When the Beatles’ airplane touched down at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport at 4:15 p.m., fans screamed, clawed the chain-link barrier separating them from their idols, and held up handmade signs declaring love for their favorite Fab. And this was only the beginning of the pandemonium that pursued the Beatles in Bloomington and Minneapolis, from airport to concert venue to hotel to their departure at the airport the next day.

The Beatles held a press conference in the Minnesota Room of Metropolitan Stadium before the evening concert. Reporters peppered the musicians with predictable and occasionally silly questions like, “How do you sleep at night with that long hair?” The Beatles, who had to go through this at every stop on the tour, took the banter in stride. But they perked up when Ron Butwin and Randy Resnick, employees of B-Sharp Music, a Minneapolis music instrument store, presented lead guitarist George Harrison with a brand-new twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar.

“It’s great … You got one for me?” quipped John Lennon, the group’s leader and rhythm guitarist, who had to do without his own free guitar.

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Days before, on Aug. 15, the Beatles had kicked off their US tour at New York’s Shea Stadium, where they played before a record-setting 55,600 fans. They had become so popular that they had outgrown normal concert venues. With this tour, they became the first music group to play sports stadiums.

Raymond “Big Reggie” Colihan, a local concert promoter, took on the daunting task of bringing the biggest act in music to Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins and the Vikings. Yet concerns over the chaos, which seemed to go hand-in-hand with the Beatles, led the promoter to undersell the concert. So the group ran through their thirty-minute set to a less-than-full stadium, using a PA system that hadn’t been designed for concerts.

Out front, fans crowded round the limousines. They waited to pounce on the lads when they emerged. But the limos were merely decoys used to deflect attention away from the laundry trucks, which secretly conveyed the Beatles to their night’s lodging.

That night, the Beatles took over the fifth floor of Minneapolis’s Leamington Motor Inn. Word had leaked, because girls were already crowding entrances and contriving schemes to bypass security. Four teenagers squeezed into garbage cans near the hotel’s kitchen door with hopes of being carried inside.

One of the limo drivers found himself enlisted for crowd control duty. He was given a shortened broomstick. Before the more successful intruders could step off the elevators onto the fifth floor, he barred them with the broomstick.

Susan Stocking, a young reporter for the Minneapolis Star, had no designs on the Beatles other than getting a story. Her guise as a hotel waitress, complete with uniform and food cart, got her past the guards and into a room with John Lennon, Ringo Star, and George Harrison.

Lennon, rather than being annoyed, seemed to welcome this diversion from the boredom of his hotel room. He answered her questions and posed for a photograph with Stocking as waitress pouring him a cup of coffee. After the interview, he saw her out with the words, “Cheerio now, and let me shake your hand like an Englishmun.”

Paul McCartney was having a less tranquil evening. Minneapolis police, alerted that the bass player and vocalist might be holed up with a fan, pounded on his door, threatened to arrest him, and made the girl leave, saying they were enforcing the midnight curfew. The Beatles management responded with the threat that the group would never play Minneapolis again.

And they never did. The next year, the Beatles, tired of the frenzy, gave up touring to focus on studio recording.

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The Rickenbacker presented to George Harrison in Minneapolis turned up on the Beatles’ 1965 album Rubber Soul. Harrison played it on his composition “If I Needed Someone.” The guitar was stolen in 1966, and its whereabouts remain unknown.

For more information on this topic, check out the original entry on MNopedia.