Live: Municipal Stadium, Kansas City

The Beatles weren't originally scheduled to perform at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Their day off was cancelled, however, after local promoter Charles O Finley persuaded the group's manager Brian Epstein to let them play.

Our days off were sacred. If you look at our 1964 timetable you can see why. I didn't realise until recently that we used to have a whole year of work, and then get something like 23rd November off - and then have to judge a beauty competition that day. So, by the time we got to Kansas City, we probably needed a day off. I can't actually remember falling out with Brian about him wanting us to work on a day off, we'd talk to each other rather than fall out.
Paul McCartney

Charles Finley was the controversial owner of the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team, who at the time were based in Kansas City. He initially offered Epstein $50,000 but was turned down. He increased his bid to $100,000 but was again rejected. Finley then raised his offer to $150,000 - at the time the highest sum ever paid for a single performance - which Epstein accepted.

I remember the Kansas offer - for them to play an additional, unscheduled gig - kept coming up. It started out at $60,000 and they were saying 'no' because they had so few days off. Already that year they'd been to Paris, the States, appeared on the Ed Sullivan shows, come home and made the A Hard Day's Night record and movie. Then flown straight off on a world tour, and back to England for more concerts, TV and radio shows. And a visit to Sweden and straight after that an American tour.

They weren't getting any rest. A day off was precious; so if Brian wanted to fill one of their days off with an extra gig, they'd have to stop and think. To play thirty-five American cities was a big tour in those days. They'd play a gig on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, in different cities all over the States - flying in, hotel, press conference, gig, back to the hotel, flying out.

Brian had booked a 35-gig tour and they knew what they were doing and were committed to that. But to shove one more show in the middle was another story. So, The Beatles kept saying 'no', and the money kept going up. They agreed to do it in the end. The offer started at $60,000 and finally went to $150,000.

Neil Aspinall

The Beatles arrived at Municipal Airport at 2am, with around 100 fans waiting in the pouring rain to greet them. The group were taken by limousine to the Muehlebach Tower hotel where they stayed in the 18th floor penthouse. The hotel later sold their bed linen to a Chicago businessman, who resold it in small pieces as souvenirs.

20,280 fans attended the unscheduled concert, with tickets costing between $2 and $8.50. The Beatles added their version of the Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! medley to the setlist, which included 12 other songs: 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.

The show lasted just 32 minutes, for each of which The Beatles made $4,687. The opening act was a local group, Jack Nead and the Jumping Jacks, followed by, in order of appearance, The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence 'Frogman' Henry, and Jackie DeShannon.

The Beatles attracted sell-out crowds throughout their inaugural US tour, except in Kansas City. The group attracted a crowd of 20,207, well below the Municipal Stadium's capacity of 35,000. The concert was billed with the slogan "Today's Beatles Fans Are Tomorrow's Baseball Fans."

The low attendance was due to local animosity toward Finley, who guaranteed the payment of $150,000 out of his own pocket regardless of ticket sales. It is believed that he lost between $50,000 and $100,000. Ticket sales may also have been low because of high price for the best seats, which at $8.50 were the most expensive for any of The Beatles' US tours.

On 4 November 2008 a two-minute film containing silent footage of The Beatles performing at the concert was sold at auction for £4,100 ($6,600).

Also on this day...

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17 responses on “Live: Municipal Stadium, Kansas City

  1. Penny Smith

    I was a Senior at Paseo High School and a friend going to college at KCJC got us tickets…we sat waaaaay back but it was electrifying!!! The next day I was hoarse and couldn’t speak from all the screaming and my upper legs were black n blue from slapping them to make noise when my hands gave out.
    Today when you tell folks you saw the Beatles in KC in ’64, they act as if you’re looney and it never happened. I’m 63 and I’ll never forget it!

    1. Gary

      I was there, too… on the first base side in what would be great baseball seats… not so much for the Beatles concert as they were set up in centerfield. I was 7 years old at the time (8 on Oct 12th) so I was pretty little. As soon as the Beatles took stage EVERYBODY stood up and I couldn’t see anything, let alone hear anything as every girl there were screaming their lungs out, as loud as they could…sigh… Oh the “memories”…lol… But I was there!

      Oh… and then at the end, they got into a black cadillac out there in the outfield and one of the Beatles, we thought it was John, took off his white shirt and was waving it out the window as they drove away…with all of Finley’s loot, after just 12 songs… 😉

  2. Donna

    I was there in my $8.50 seat and heard them being introduced and nothing else. I wish I had heard them and I don’t remember the concert being stopped. Sadly all I remember is screaming but I was close enough to see them:)

  3. Skip Switzer

    Your list of opening acts is incorrect. The first group to perform was a local KC band called “Jack Nead and the Jumping Jacks”. I was playing drums for the group at the time and after we played the stadium we left and went to our regular gig. Never heard any thing as loud as the crowd before and never saw the Beatles

  4. Chris Gray

    I have an old Dave Clark 5 tour book I acquired through a friend
    with Jack Nead and the Jumping Jacks autographs on it. I just now found out more about them reading this article. Skip, were you part of that show too?

  5. Don Loughnane

    I sat in the front row with my date andmy stepmother. My Dad was the Manager of WHB who supplied the MC I remember a girl behind us who kept screaming “Let’s go Ringo…Let’s go Ringo” untill my stepmom turned to her and indignantly asked her”Just where would you like hm to go?” I think that was the end of her cries but it didn’t really matter the noise was so loud no one in the good seats could hear the band anyway! Was a great first date though

  6. Roy Inman

    And of course Brian Epstein committed the usual error of non-locals by assuming that Kansas City, Missouri is Kansas City, Kansas. They are two separate entities, but Kansas City, Missouri was the only one of the two that had a stadium large enough to contain the expected crowd.

    1. leah b

      That’s funny….I saw Paul McCartney at the Sprint Center in Kansas City a couple of years ago, and he also thought he was in Kansas!! lol! I was at the ’64 concert, as well, but don’t remember anything Brian Epstein said. I was too excited to care!

  7. jackie lassley

    I remember this concert was the most exciting thing to happen in my young life. A local radio station in my hometown Springfield Missouri put together a bus trip to this concert, so my bought 2 passes for her and me. The seats were in the nosebleed section and the screaming was deafening, but we all knew the songs by heart, so no one cared. What was great was that my mother screamed just as loud as all the girls. Loved it!

  8. Jonas Svensson, Göteborg

    Can anybody actually confirm the long-standing rumour whether they really opened with the Kansas City medley or not? Perhaps somebody who actually was there and remember correctly. And if they did, did they follow with the regular set after that, or did it just replace Twist and shout? I have read one or two contemporary reviews of the show -none of which mention the song which I suppose they would have done.

  9. Karen Daniels, Lemponen

    I was there, too, third row back. The TV station took a bus full of fans from Wichita to Kansas City and back for the $8.50 price of the ticket! A dream come true for me that has lasted my lifetime, I am still, of course, a huge Beatles fan!

  10. SDFlatlander

    Never saw a Beatle until as October, 2014 in Omaha NE. Saw Ringo and his All Starr band. I was 64, and yes my wife still feeds and claims to still need me. I was 14 again when he walked out on the stag. The best I could get was a carpeted floor in front of the TV, the fan mags and my first purchase of a guitar. Still a huge, huge fan. They influenced and still influence my life. Comfort food for the mind. I enjoyed reading all the comments. Thanks to all for taking the time.

  11. Jonas Svensson, Sweden

    More about “Kansas City” as opening song. I took the liberty of extracting these words from Ron Schaumberg´s 1976 book “Growing up with The Beatles. He grew up in Kansas City but was just too young to go to the show, but his sister did. From his book:
    “There is debate over which number the Beatles played first during their Kansas City concert on September 17, 1964 . One report says it was “Twist and shout” (me: probably one of the local newspaper front pages that is included in the book, unfortunately most of the news report is obscured by some unnecessary overlapping) their standard concert opener; another says it was too noisy to distinguish; while Susie (that is his sister) remembers it was “Kansas City.” Schaumburg follows with:
    “The confusion the Beatles cause is evident in this statement from Bess Coleman, one of the group´s press officers:
    “When the Beatles played at Kansas City I remember that the Bill Black combo had come on and done their bit, and Jackie de Shannon had done her bit. After the interval the Beatles came on, and their first song was “Kansas City.” After that the place went completely wild.”
    So, two more witnesses for the case as “Kansas City” as Kansas City opener.

  12. Jonas Svensson, Sweden

    The colour footage from this show, synced-up with sound, clearly establishes Twist and shout as the opener, no question about it at all, even if it´s just a 40-second clip -not the two minutes mentioned. So if the Kansas City song was performed it would have been as a replacement for Long tall Sally. Or could it be the only time in Beatles history they actually did an encore? Perhaps simply because they were so well paid for this one-off gig? The investigation continues…

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