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The Beatles live: Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio

The Beatles performed one show at the Public Auditorium, also known as the Public Hall, in Cleveland, Ohio. Also on the bill were, in order of appearance, The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, and Jackie DeShannon.

The night before The Beatles had stayed in the Sheraton-Cleveland hotel. A police cordon was erected around the building, but was breached when The Beatles appeared at a window to wave at fans in the streets below.

It was an eventful time: an 11-year-old girl arrived with a stolen key for a room; a young boy hid in a packing case being delivered; another tried to get into the Kon Tiki bar, pretending to have a reservation; and another pretended to faint outside, only to request she be given first aid inside the hotel.

The police asked that The Beatles stay on the same floor that the press conference was held on, rather than the presidential suite, to throw fans off the scent.

Poster for The Beatles in Cleveland, Ohio, 15 September 1964

During the day the police drove a riot bus several times between the Sheraton-Cleveland and the concert venue. Fans initially thought The Beatles were inside, but quickly realised it was a decoy. However, just before showtime The Beatles left the hotel inside, fooling the fans gathered outside.

At the Public Auditorium a police line of over 100 people attempted to keep the fans from the stage, but was slowly pushed back by the crowds. Eventually a handful broke through the cordon and climbed onto the stage. Concerned at The Beatles’ safety, Inspector Michael Blackwell and Deputy Inspector Carl Bare decided to stop the concert.

Bare walked onto the stage and took a microphone, telling the crowd that the show was over and to sit down. At the time The Beatles were performing ‘All My Loving’, and continued to play despite the police wishes. Blackwell also arrived onstage and gestured to The Beatles to stop performing. They reluctantly put down their instruments and temporarily left the stage, amid the sound of booing fans.

In their dressing room backstage, John Lennon told Art Schreiber from local radio station KYW: “This has never happened to us before. We have never had a show stopped. These policemen are a bunch of amateurs.” An angry Brian Epstein nonetheless put up a diplomatic front, saying “The police were absolutely right. This has never happened before, but it was clear to me from the start that there was something very wrong. The enthusiasm of the crowd was building much too early.”

After a 10-minute delay Blackwell told the crowd the concert would continue if they remained in their seats. The morning hosts from KYW, Specs Howard and Harry Martin, were brought onstage to tell the audience to remain sitting, and shortly afterwards the show continued.

I don’t blame the children. They’re young and they can’t be expected to behave like adults. And I don’t blame The Beatles – there is nothing wrong with their act. But if we hadn’t stopped it there would have been serious injury. One little girl was knocked down in the charge and there were 300 other youngsters about to trample her.
Inspector Michael Blackwell

The Beatles performed their standard 12-song set: ‘Twist And Shout’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Things We Said Today’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘Boys’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and ‘Long Tall Sally’.

When the concert eventually finished, The Beatles escaped through a rear door while the police once more drove the decoy riot bus at high speed from the venue. They were taken to Cleveland Hopkins Airport, from where they flew to New Orleans.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
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The Beatles live: City Park Stadium, New Orleans
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