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

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during which he questions the group's future; and Long Tall Sally, which may have carried a veiled reference to the withdrawn 'butcher' artwork for Yesterday...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."

Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

45 responses on “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!

    1. Rosie Guerrero

      I am lucky to have seen The Beatles @ Candlestick Park on Aug. 29, 1966. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! I was also sitting way back behind 3rd base, way far from the stage. We had to use binoculars to see The Beatles faces. And I remember Gene Nelson from KYA in San Francisco. But Candlestick Park is not really in SF, it’s actually in Daly City. I had an aunt and uncle who lived right behind Candlestick Park. Not too far from downtown SF. I also remember that it was very noisy and we had a hard time hearing The Beatles play because of all the screaming fans and all the yelling. I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. And those young girls crying for their idols was so hilarious. I’ve never seen anything quite like that ever. The sound systems at time were not very good at all then, as they are way better today. Every sound seemed so distorted. They could play as loud as they wanted, but it was not that great. I am pretty sure that’s why they stopped touring, because what’s the point if your own fans can’t hear you? I couldn’t believe that I was there and I got to experience seeing and hearing The Beatles forever. I also remember that Bobby Head (Sunny) also performed, as did The Shirells, The Cyrcle (Red Rubber Ball), and I think The 13th Floor Elevator (Resurrection Shuffle). My how time flies. And eat your heart out. I am also going to the 50th Beatles Reunion @ The Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 23rd. How lucky am I? I also snagged 2 Beatles posters when they came out with The Beatles Guitar Hero in 2009. Since their breakup I did go and see Beatlemania a few times @ different locations over the years. It is something not to be missed if you really want to go back in time and relive those moments. Beatles forever, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! Oh, and a few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet George Harrison’s sister Geogegette. She was promoting The Beatles as well, very lovely lady.

  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.

  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.

    1. 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?!!”

  4. 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…

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

    1. 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.

      1. Joe Post author

        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.

      2. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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!

    1. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!!

  15. 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.

  16. Arthur Silva

    I was 10, My aunt and uncle was leaving for London, mom and dad said my brother and I where going to the airport to say good by, Did not want to go but this is my story, Arrived there to see all these girls screaming, we where following our parents to an area of the airport that was under construction, all first class passengers where there, My aunt and uncle and yes George, Paul, John and Ringo, I wonder if they remember me or even this requirement due to the crowded airport, yes I was the last to see this group together in this country. P.S. Uncle and aunt said they where 4 of the rudest bastards they ever met. (Remember they spent the flight time between states and London together, They where Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hickey) Should would like to shake Paul’s hand as the last to say good by in 1966. Back then the older people didn’t like long hair or load music, and 4 young men who had fame felt they could say and do anything of course, FAME and YOUTH, even today, can cause trouble along with lack of respect for others, as we have seen. P.S. Broke my first ankle wearing Beatle Boots…….Remember……..

  17. Susan

    I was at that concert too – 11 years old. My father took me and my friend (who got lost in the crowd!) I remember the roar of the crowd, the excitement, the anticipation, wondering when the Beatles were going to come out on the field, and the decoy car that drove around and around on the field–everyone thought the Beatles were going to jump out of the car, and of course they didn’t. The screaming was so loud we couldn’t hear a thing but it didn’t matter. I was madly in love with George at that time. Even seeing the band from a distance was thrilling. I’ll always love my dad for taking me to that concert.

  18. John

    I was there. Fifteen years old…on my first date with a girl named Cheri. My Parents drove us. I still have the ticket stub & the memories. I even stole a kiss off my date.

    Years later in 1969, I was in London & made my way to EMI Studios where The Beatles recorded….right on the blvd. Abbey Road. I ended up meeting Paul, George,Ringo & their producer George Martin. I was eighteen… and have to admit…quite a thrill. I remember where I was & the exact moment when I heard The Beatles from a little hand held transistor radio for the first time.

  19. Gus from Pacifica

    Read recently that the playlist for ’66 Tour didn’t include any songs from the 2 latest LPs (Revolver, Rubber Soul), being so studio- production oriented, versus the lame concert venue PA systems of the time. Not to mention audience expectations being 3-4 years behind the reality of the Beatle’s (& George Martin / Geoff Emerick’s) creative arc.

  20. Ron Nasty

    According to this article there was a reason only 25,000 of the 42,500 seats were filled. I’m not sure I’ve read this before but, according to Raechel Donahue (wife of the late KYA DJ Tom Donahue, who co-managed Tempo Productions), the City of San Francisco’s Parks and Recreation Department only licensed the show for 25,000 tickets, not allowing any tickets for the bleachers to be sold.

    Provided her memory is right, despite the thousands of empty seats, every ticket was sold.

    I wonder whether this explains some of the seemingly low attendances at some of 1966 US shows, that local authorities were limiting how many thousands of screaming girls they wanted to cope with?

  21. Imma Gee Zure

    I was there that foggy night. What a thrill !!! I’m 62 now so must have been 13 or 14 at the time, Frankie D. and I rode the bus from Sacramento and took a cab to the concert. You couldn’t hear anything but girls screaming….

  22. Janet

    I was lucky to have a good seat stage right with my two best friends (who are BTW still so) We could see thier facial expressions clearly. The most amazing memory I have is that when Paul sang Yesterday there were only two girls screaming in the intire stadium. We could actually HEAR the music!

  23. AT Press

    I saw them earlier on the same tour, at Shea Stadium (excuse me, at Che Stadium) in NYC. Yes, the screaming girls…and boys. The Ronettes (not the Shirelles) could have headlined in New York. The Cyrkle began with the intro of “Red Rubber Ball” but turned it into their followup song, “Turn Down Day.” Of course I had no idea that it was the Beatles’ final tour. I was impressed that they attempted to tune their guitars between songs. And that they did their current single, “Paperback Writer,” despite how complex the recorded harmonies were. It’s a night I will remember forever and ever. Thanks, my Fab friends. I still squee when “Please Please Me” comes on the radio!

  24. Fred Garten

    Hey I stumbled onto this site by chance. To see if their were any interest and value to an old Suite Case full of Teen Magazines, News Paper Clippings, Published Photo’s etc.etc. From a Teen Collector back in the Day. I am truly Blown Away about how to date So Many People are still impacted by this Event.
    I had a very close friend recently pass away that was at the Show. She took Very Detailed Notes and wrote a 40 page account off what took place thru her eyes. She had kept all items related to Event from Ticket Stub to the Hand Held AM Radio, Binoculars, etc. As a matter of fact I think she kept every News Article and Magazine ever produced about The Boys. My Friend went on to become a High School English Teacher for 28 years.(as well as other accomplishments ) I am wondering if their is an interest in all this paperwork or even possibly making into a short book for all to enjoy. She would have loved to be able to have shared her account and possibly impact a few people thru her eyes.
    Rest in Piece my Friend !

    Cheers,

  25. Marc

    I was 12 years old when my mom got tickets for me and my 14 year old brother to go see the Beatles at Candlestick. As soon as the Beatles came out everyone stood up which left me, and all other short people, at a disadvantage. There was a young lady in front of me, about 20 years old, who jumped and screamed for the whole show and she would occasionally turn and apologize to me. Finally a guy behind me grabbed me under the arm pits and hoisted me up so my feet were on the back of my seat. I could see the Beatles. It truly was a crazy day.

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