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

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

Although they made an unannounced live appearance in January 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple building, The Beatles’ final live concert took place on 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.

The Beatles at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 29 August 1966
There was a big talk at Candlestick Park that this had got to end. At that San Francisco gig it seemed that this could possibly be the last time, but I never felt 100% certain till we got back to London.

John wanted to give up more than the others. He said that he’d had enough.

Ringo Starr
Anthology

The Park’s capacity was 42,500, but only 25,000 tickets were sold, leaving large sections of unsold seats. Fans paid between $4.50 and $6.50 for tickets, and The Beatles’ fee was around $90,000. The show’s promoter was local company Tempo Productions.

The Beatles took 65% of the gross, the city of San Francisco took 15% of paid admissions and were given 50 free tickets. This arrangement, coupled with low ticket sales and other unexpected expenses resulted in a financial loss for Tempo Productions.

Candlestick Park was the home of the baseball team the San Francisco Giants. The stage was located just behind second base on the field, and was five feet high and surrounded by a six-foot high wire fence.

The compère was ‘Emperor’ Gene Nelson of KYA 1260 AM, and the support acts were, in order of appearance, The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The show began at 8pm.

I was the MC, and, as any Giants fans will know, Candlestick Park in August, at night, was cold, foggy and windy. The funniest thing this night was one of the warm-up acts, Bobby Hebb. He stood up on the stage at Candlestick Park, with the fog, and the wind blowing, and he was singing ‘Sunny’! It was tough anyway to work a ballpark as an MC, especially as The Beatles were taking their time to get out. I was trying to entertain a crowd that was shouting, ‘Beatles, Beatles, Beatles.’

The dressing room was chaos. There were loads of people there. The press tried to get passes for their kids and the singer Joan Baez was in there. Any local celebrity, who was in town, was in the dressing room. They were having a party in there. They were having a perfectly wonderful time, while I was freezing my buns off on second base!

‘Emperor’ Gene Nelson
The Beatles Off The Record, Keith Badman

Poster for The Beatles at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 29 August 1966The Beatles took to the stage at 9.27pm, and performed 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She’s A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby’s In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and Long Tall Sally.

The group knew it was to be their final concert. Recognising its significance, John Lennon and Paul McCartney took a camera onto the stage, with which they took pictures of the crowd, the rest of the group, and themselves at arm’s length.

Before one of the last numbers, we actually set up this camera, I think it had a fisheye, a wide-angle lens. We set it up on the amplifier and Ringo came off the drums, and we stood with our backs to the audience and posed for a photograph, because we knew that was the last show.
George Harrison
The Beatles Off The Record, Keith Badman
John Lennon at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 29 August 1966

As The Beatles made their way to Candlestick Park, Paul McCartney asked their press officer Tony Barrow to make a recording of the concert on audio cassette, using a hand-held recorder. The cassette lasted 30 minutes on each side, and, as Barrow didn’t flip it during the show, the recording cut off during final song Long Tall Sally.

There was a sort of end of term spirit thing going on, and there was also this kind of feeling amongst all of us around The Beatles, that this might just be the last concert that they will ever do. I remember Paul, casually, at the very last minute, saying, ‘Have you got your cassette recorder with you?’ and I said, ‘Yes, of course.’ Paul then said, ‘Tape it will you? Tape the show,’ which I did, literally just holding the microphone up in the middle of the field. As a personal souvenir of the occasion, it was a very nice thing to have and the only difference was that it wasn’t a spectacular occasion. It was nothing like Shea Stadium, there was nothing special about it at all, except that The Beatles did put in extra ad-libs and link material which they hadn’t put in before on any other occasion.
Tony Barrow
The Beatles Off The Record, Keith Badman

Barrow gave the original tape of the Candlestick Park concert to McCartney. He also made a single copy, which was kept in a locked drawer in Barrow’s office desk. The recording has since become widely circulated on bootlegs, although quite how is not known.

At San Francisco airport, as our plane prepared to take off, Paul’s head came over the top of my seat from the row behind: ‘Did you get anything on tape?’ I passed the cassette recorder back to him: ‘I got the lot, except that the tape ran out in the middle of Long Tall Sally.’ He asked if I had left the machine running between numbers to get all the announcements and the boys’ ad lib remarks. I said: ‘It’s all there from the guitar feedback before the first number.’ Paul was clearly chuffed to have such a unique souvenir of what would prove to be an historic evening – the farewell stage show from the Fab Four.

Back in London I kept the concert cassette under lock and key in a drawer of my office desk, making a single copy for my personal collection and passing the original to Paul for him to keep. Years later my Candlestick Park recording re-appeared in public as a bootleg album. If you hear a bootleg version of the final concert that finishes during Long Tall Sally it must have come either from Paul’s copy or mine, but we never did identify the music thief!

Tony Barrow
John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me

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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