Live: Candlestick Park, San Francisco: The Beatles’ final concert

8.00pm, Monday 29 August 1966 (47 years ago)

The final show saw perhaps a slightly more energetic performance than usual from The Beatles, and was longer than their usual 20-25 minute duration. They barely paused between songs, although their on-stage patter was notably looser and less scripted than normal.

Poster for The Beatles at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 29 August 1966Although I didn’t fancy my chances of making a brilliant recording of the concert, one thing in my favour was the great distance between the stage and the stands at this particular venue. Because of this, I guessed I might be able to capture sound from the stage without picking up too much of the non-stop screams and shouts of the fans coming from the stands. The fact that it was an open-air gig also helped. In an enclosed auditorium it would have been impossible to pick up the sound of the music without picking up too much crowd noise.

When the last of the supporting acts came off stage I went out on the field ahead of the boys. When John, Paul, George and Ringo ran out across the grass a roar of approval went up from the stands and, as they did a quickie tune-up on stage, each chord they played caused a further roar.

One of the US deejays in our travelling party, who I had prevented from recording an earlier concert on the tour, saw me holding my mike up in the air and mimicked my words of warning back to me: ‘On Brian Epstein‘s orders there must be no recording of the performances. Please turn off.’ With a finger to my lips, I indicated to him to shut up, I didn’t want extraneous voices on my ‘official’ concert recording.

Up on stage one of the boys yelled ‘Hello’ to test his voice mike and in another moment the group tore into Chuck Berry’s Rock And Roll Music.

Tony Barrow
John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me

Particularly revealing are McCartney’s comments before Paperback Writer, during which he questions the group’s future; and Long Tall Sally, which may have carried a veiled reference to the withdrawn ‘butcher’ artwork for Yesterday… And Today.

Thank you! Thank you very much everybody, and hello, good evening. We’d like to carry on with a song, not surprisingly, by, er, written by George. And this song was on our Rubber Soul LP. And the song is called If I Needed, er, Someone!
Paul McCartney
Thank you everybody, thank you. We’d like to carry on now, er, carry on together, at will – one together and all for one – with another number that used to be a single record back in, er… long time ago. And this one’s about the naughty lady called Day Tripper!
Thank you! Thank you. We’d like to carry on with something that’s very old indeed. And this one was recorded in about 1959, and it’s called I Feel Fine.
George Harrison
Like to carry on with a song from Yesterday… And Today. And this was a single as well. And it features Paul singing a very nice song called Yesterday.
George Harrison
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. And it’s, er, it’s a bit chilly. We’d like to do the next number now which is a special request, for all the wonderful backroom boys on this tour. And the song is I Wanna Be Your Man, and to sing it, Ringo!
Paul McCartney
Thank you Ringo. Lovely working with you, Ringo. We’d like to do another song now from our BBC [sic] album. And this ones called “He’s a real Nowhere Man, sitting in his nowhere land”. Oh yeah!
John Lennon
We’d like to carry on, I think. We’re not really sure yet. I’d like to carry on, certainly. Definitely. Well, shall we just watch this for a bit? Just watch it. The next song is called Paperback Writer.
Paul McCartney
Thank you very much everybody. Everybody, wonderful. Frisco, butchered. We’d like to say that, erm, it’s been wonderful being here, in this wonderful sea air. Sorry about the weather. And we’d like to ask you to join in and, er, clap, sing, talk, do anything. Anyway, the song is… good night.
Paul McCartney, introducing Long Tall Sally

Just before leaving the stage, John Lennon teasingly played the opening bars of In My Life, before running off to join the rest of the group backstage.

The Beatles were quickly taken to the airport in an armoured car. They flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles, arriving at 12.50am. During the flight George Harrison was heard to exclaim: “That’s it, then. I’m not a Beatle anymore.”

29 Responses to “Live: Candlestick Park, San Francisco: The Beatles’ final concert”

  1. brian

    These days alot of old bands like to proclaim their “Farewell Tour” to the public in hopes of garnishing much higher ticket sales. Often it’s been very effective but the fans caught on when many times the bands ended up playing two, three, or even more so called “final tours”.

    That said, can you imagine how packed the arenas and stadiums would have been in 1966 if The Beatles had made an announcement that it was their final tour? Ticket scalpers would have had a field day!

    Reply
  2. sil727

    I was 9 years old and in love with their music. My Dad took me to this concert.I could barely hear them above the screaming ninnies. Still it was an exciting evening I’ll never forget.

    Reply
  3. Cameron McIntosh

    There is a comment by George above saying they took pictures. Has anyone seen any picture from this concert? I have only one.Thank you to Happy Nat for providing that Day Tripper clip.

    Reply
    • Christopher

      They did bring their own cameras to document the end of 4 years of gruelling world tours and everything else. You can see published pics of them taking the stage snapping away. HOWEVER!!!!! If there is ONE picture I want to see, they had their roadie Mal Evans take THE final picture and I can’t find it anywhere. I HAS to be a personal shot that they kept for themselves…… They all 4 went to the front of the stage and turned their backs to the audience and “pop”. I’d LOVE to see that. It’s also cool that before the final song, Paul did his “it’s time to go to bed” speech then suddenly got nastalgic about it all. Instead of jumping into I’m Down”, which was their closer the last 2 years, he hit a G note on the ol’ Hofner and slammed into Long Tall Sally, their big show stopper from their Hamburg days…….”One more time for just us there, lads?!!”

      Reply
      • eric plant

        I am looking for the very same pic… I want one BAD. I’ve seen it in documentaries but can’t find one publicly. If you find one lemme know!!!

        Reply
  4. Super Harlow

    A small correction: Emperor Gene Nelson, who emceed the concert, was morning disc jockey at 1260 KYA. There was no such station as KSFQ-FM.

    Super Harlow
    1260 KYA Radio
    San Francisco, Calif.

    Reply
  5. Joyce Martinez

    So sad such poor attendence… if they only knew …three years later came the impromptu concert on top of the Apple office in London it was the last time the Beatles played in public. Soooooo sad (sigh). I dream of what could have been. Would it have changed the outcome for John. I was too young to ever see them and for this I’m jealous and sad…the rebel Rolling Stones almost broke too thank god their still going strong drawing huge crowds of all ages to their concert imagine nearly fifty years. That could have been the Beatles too such a shame…

    Reply
  6. june knapp

    Hi do you no if there are any copies of THE BEATLES LIVE AT CANDLESTICK PARK 1966, ive been told there are some and would love to get one for my husband also what sort of price would it be.
    many thanks June

    Reply
    • Joe

      It’s never been released officially, but it’s widely available on bootleg. Try torrent sites. Don’t pay for it.

      Reply
  7. Andrew Kemp

    I’ve listened closely to Paul’s introduction to Long Tall Sally and I think there’s an important part you’ve left out (although you and others may not hear what I hear):

    “…And we’d like to ask you to join in and, er, clap, sing, talk, in fact, go home, no, do anything. Anyway, the song is… good night.”

    Yep – I think they’re so fed up he even says, a little off mic, “in fact, go home”. The remarks from the stage in this show really show where they were at at this time. Just sick of the screaming and pointlessness of live performing when no one even listened.

    Reply
  8. ken murphy

    I took my wife of 43 years to this concert on our first date. I remember they wore kelly green suits and white socks, which was not cool in those days. You really couldn’t hear them through all the screaming. It also seemed to me that they ended early, maybe fed up with everything. I didn’t realize till the late 90′s that it was their last performance.

    Reply
  9. eric plant

    WHERE WHERE WHERE can I find a pic of the beatles with their backs to the crowd they took onstage???? I’ve seen them in documentaries but can find a single pic online! HELP!!

    Reply
    • Mark

      I’ve got a good one for you…My brother and his best friend, an ammature photographer, took pictures from the field.He was the bat boy for the giants and his dad was employed by them. My brother just gave one to my best friend who went to that show for his birthday. I didn’t go as I knew there would be all that screaming…Ooops! All 4 are in this one. As far as I know these are the only photos ever taken from the field. Photographers and the press were not allowed down there. I wonder if they have any value? I’d post it but I promised I wouldn’t without his OK. Sorry.

      Reply
      • Joe

        It depends how good the photos are, but yes, they’ll be worth money. The best thing to do is take them to an auction house that does regular rock and pop memorabilia sales, and get one of their experts to provide a valuation. Sotheby’s, Bonhams or one of the other big names will be interested (assuming your brother’s friend wants to sell, of course).

        And how lucky he was! I’d love to see the pics.

        Reply
      • monodrack@hotmail.com

        Hi Mark, whay could they say about them?. Did they really seems to be ready for stop touring?

        Could you send me a copy of your Photo? Please tell me the name of your brother, so I can say this Picture is from ” “. Blessings.

        Reply
  10. Vern Sahnow

    I have a 24″x36″, blue background poster of the event. Ringo and drums top left, George top right, both 10″x10″. Below, Paul on left, John on right, 15″x21″ inset…all photos black and white. At bottom, in large yellow print, “THE BEATLES”. Under that, in slightly smaller pink letters, “Last Concert August 29, 1966 San Francisco.” At bottom right corner, “BTL054″ and “Litho in USA”. Anyone else ever seen this poster…any idea of worth?

    Reply
  11. Melbie Toast

    I was there at Candlestick for the last concert, having of course no idea it would be the last one; I had previously seen the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (twice) in 1965. The Candlestick Park concert by by far not on par with the previous ones I had attended. The Beatles were so far away, behind a wire fence, so I could barely see them from the grandstand, and couldn’t hear them either because of all the screaming! And it was cold as ice out there, the wind blowing. Alas I’m glad I was there!

    Reply
    • Kenny

      Do you remember Lennon playing the opening chords for “In My Life”… Man I wished that was on tape, the never played that song live. I’m always hoping sometime during abbey road recordings they played that song one time

      Reply
  12. Tomaji

    It’s weird that Ringo (supposedly) said that about John, when it was GEORGE who said he’d had enough. He hated flying and they almost got killed when an engine caught fire on one flight during that tour. He said, “After this gig, I’m no longer a Beatle”…and that at least got the all thinking about it for sure.

    Reply
  13. Brian

    On the one hand, one can be surprised that the final Beatle concert did not sell-out…on the other hand, consider lousy weather, crummy sound system, and the Fab Four performing an 11 song set, I’d say those not attending did not miss much, outside of the historic significance.

    Reply
  14. Steven

    Seems hard to believe that a Beatles concert couldn’t come close to a sell-out, no matter how bad the venue is. Was the promoter (Tempo Productions) a minor company? Or was the concert not promoted well enough in advance to allow for more tickets to be sold? Imagine if Bill Graham had promoted The Beatles. A concert like that would’ve sold out very quickly!

    Reply
  15. Aaron Aveiro

    I was 9 years old and my father took me and my little brother to see them…this was their last live show until Abby Road on the roof…I remember two things…girls screaming and jelly beans everywhere…i believe I even saw girls underwear flying around…I asked my father why he was taking us…there wasn’t much money so I knew this was something special..
    He told ,me and .brother….This will be the only chance we’ll have to see them together. Things are getting crazy I don’t think they will tour anymore.
    Vietnam was starting to get big and civil right protests were abound…pretty perceptive the old guy was…

    I knew we were seeing something really special just didn’t know how special it was…even though we could barely hear over the girls screaming….
    John and George Thank you and RIP you left us way too soon…
    Paul and Ringo Keep on rockin’ in the free world!!!!
    Thank you for sharing your lives with us a providing so many happy memories and times!!!

    Reply
  16. clayton heinz

    I was at that concert. Didn’t realize how important it was. I was in the Navy stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station. Through special services we got our tickets FREE. Does anyone else remember that when they left the stage they went into an armored car? I can still picture them on stage. What a fabulous memory.

    Reply

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