Live: Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston

The seventh date of The Beatles' final tour took place at the Suffolk Downs Racetrack in Boston, Massachusetts, where they gave one concert before 25,000 people.

The concert began at 8pm. The Beatles had previously played in Boston on 12 September 1964 at the Boston Garden. This time they were in the middle of a horse racing course.

The Beatles at Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston, USA, 18 August 1966

The support acts during The Beatles' final tour were The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The group's set consisted of 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.

After the show The Beatles and their entourage stayed at a Boston hotel. They left the city at 11.30am the following morning and flew to Memphis, Tennessee.

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16 responses on “Live: Suffolk Downs Racetrack, Boston

  1. Gary Goudie

    I was in the Navy and my ship was in the yards in Chelsey Mass. Myself and 2 of my buddies went into Chelsey to Stanleys Bar to celebrate one my friends birthday. Old Stanley would serve anyone in uniform. He mentioned he thought we would be out at the track watching the Beatles. We new nothing of them being in town. Went rode the train out to the track but found no tickets were available and we could not get in to the show. We were leaving feeling down because we could not get in. A policeman saw us and asked what the problem was? We told him we couldn’t get tickets to get in. He saw we were in uniform and he said he would get us in. He took us down toward the front and asked people to slide down the bench style seats and make room for us. They did and we got to watch the show. When the Beatles entered they came down the track in 4 Limo’s and one Beatle got out of each Limo to go to the small stage. Numerous people tried to cross the track to touch the band or whatever and police on horseback would run them down and collar them and lead them off the track. It was very hard to hear them over the screams ofthe girls in the audience. My wife and I just returned from the Paul McCartney “Band on the Run” tour at Wrigly field 10/1/2011. and it was great to see Paul again 45 years later. What a change in the soundstage and performance 45 years later. Great Show thanks Paul.

  2. Andrew Kemp

    The Beatles played Long Tall Sally at this concert, according to the tape I’ve heard.

    I doubt they ever played I’m Down on the ’66 North American tour. They certainly played it in Germany and Japan (and presumably The Phillipines) but there’s no indication it was played on any of the North American dates and the setlist famously taped to Paul’s ’63 Hofner has “Long Tall” as the final song.

    It makes sense – they struggled with I’m Down in Germany. It’s nice to think they played Long Tall Sally instead of I’m Down at the final show but I suspect that’s just a myth.

  3. Ken Bass

    I was there with 4 friends and had front row tickets. The girls were screaming so loud ti was hard to hear the music. A few girls hyperventilated and passed out behind us. A couple of people jumped the fence between the track and the seats and got to the stage but not quite to them. At 14 years old it was quite something. I had no idea why it was so crazy bit I loved the Beatles and knew all their songs and words back then,

  4. mary jane pagano

    I was there too. It was hard to hear them, but I think the sound system was not appropriate, inasmuch as I don’t believe a concert was ever played there. Plus, all the screaming did not help at all. I was 15 and could not believe I was even in the same arena as the Beatles. I lived 2 streets up from the race track. I didn’t have a ticket but knew how and where to jump the fence. So, I can say, I saw them when.

    1. Don Crisafulli

      The Beatles as a live performing band was before my time by at least half a dozen years but I do know this. For a larger outdoor rock ‘n’ roll show in 1966, it’s doubtful that an appropriate PA or “sound” system even existed as such systems of the day were so very primitive when compared to what’s available today and has been for the last few decades or so. And even if a system with enough wattage to cover an area the size of Suffolk Downs did exist back in the day, the amplifiers would most likely have been overdriven to the point of distortion (at that time, such high-wattage amplification was rare and didn’t approach the power ratings of today’s gear, so in this scenario, the PA most probably would have been pushed to the max) while everything happening onstage would have “bled” into other onstage elements. As such, the actual sounds coming out of the main speakers, which also weren’t as advanced as they are now, would have been little more than a cacophony of distorted yet barely, if at all, discernible white noise.

  5. Kent Spottswood

    “I’m Down” is the song I remember best from the show. I was pretty close, something like 22nd row, but that didn’t matter much with everybody standing on their benches and screaming. It was my first rock concert. It was great, though at the time I thought they should sound just like their records. A friend who came with us got kicked out for handing out flyers supporting John, who had just made his famous Jesus quote.

  6. Dana

    They most decidedly did not play “I’m Down”. I was there with my girlfriend Beth, 3 of her girlfriends, and 2 of my guy friends. We had seats on an aluminum bench, though we actually never sat on them. We were all 15 or 16 years old.
    I remember 6 things distinctly:
    1. It was very hot and very humid, made worse by the crowd surging all around us, mostly surging towards different limos on the infield that folks thought the Beatles were in.
    2. I remember Barry and the Remains, Bobby Hebb, and Cyrcle did “Red Rubber Ball” very well. Unlike comments above, I could gave swore Them with a young Van Morrison played that night.
    3. I remember decoy limos, not 4 limos, until the Beatles all jumped out if the same car.
    4. The sound was very poor due to clipping of overdriven amps, small speakers, and lack of on-stage monitors. Technology simply had not caught up to the new paradigm of large venues and increased attendance.
    5. Girls were hyperventilating and passing out, and the crowds were passing the girls to the rails where the cops would lay them down on the track, giving them some fresh air. Some enterprising young ladies feigned illness, hit the track, and headed for the stage.
    6. The most poignant moment: during the Beatles performance, a fan made it to the stage and was trying to just touch one of the four, I believe it was Paul. I was on the rail at that time because one of our girls was laying on the track from the heat, so I was pretty close to the stage. I remember how petrified they all looked. When John Lennon was killed, that’s one of the images I recalled.
    Great memory, my first concert

  7. Jimmie

    I was in the army stationed at Ft Devens at the time and a buddy and I went to this concert which was my first ever concert. As other posters have mentioned, the PA was completely inadequate in light of the non-stop screaming of the girls. We really only heard the first few notes of each song.

    The stage was set up on the infield with the track as a buffer. As Dana mentioned above, one fan did actually make it to the stage and, the way I remember it, he touched the three Beatles in front and was going for Ringo when he was grabbed and tossed headfirst off the stage. I also recall one girls being run down on the track by a cop on a motorcycle which I thought was uncalled for.

    After the concert we went back to Boston and were walking around somewhere near Fenway Park when we came to a hotel surrounded by hundreds of young people, mostly girls, trying to get into the hotel because the Beatles were staying there. We wandered around the back of the hotel and discovered about ten guys trying to pull the steel security screens off windows so they could get inside. We weren’t that interested in getting inside so we left and went to our own hotel.

  8. Ted

    I, too, attended this concert. It was something I’ll never forget. The way I remember it, all the opening acts came out of limos from the front. When it was time for the Beatles to play, four limos pulled up in front of the stage and the crowd went crazy and some fans touched the limos. The Beatles were not really in the limos. The cars were decoys. While everyone was focused on the cars and the melee, the Beatles were all of a sudden on the stage. I always suspected the helicopter that had landed on the field behind the stage. The girls were crazy loud but I heard all the songs. Great show!

  9. Mike Adams

    Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Suffolk Downs concert, so I thought I would leave a memory here. I also attended this concert. I was 19 at the time, and a struggling drummer in some college bands around Wash DC. I was on summer vacation from school. My sister saw the ad for the concert in a local newspaper. She was 12 at the time, obviously a frantic Beatles fan. She asked if I would take her to the show. Believe it or not, at first, I said no. The reason is related to a little remembered fact about the Beatles in 1966. The truth is, most teenage boys, by that time, including me, did not “like” the Beatles, who were at the time considered a lollipop band only suitable for young girls. It occurred to me that if I took Joyce to the show, I would probably have to admit to my band mates back at college that I had attended, and it would have led to a few snickers. At the time, for teenage boys, the cool bands were the Stones, the Animals, the Byrds, etc. And of course Bob Dylan. But NOT the Beatles. Of course this was before Sgt Peppers, The White Album, Abbey Road, Let it be, and the singles Hey Jude, Yesterday and Yellow Submarine, etc. etc. etc. Little did we suspect all that legendary music was heading toward us like a tsunami. I relented and took Joyce to the concert. She spent the whole time on my shoulders, and of course, we could not hear a single note of music because of the insane screaming. Joyce took a photo of the bandstand as she sat on my shoulders. We still have the photo. It shows only the back of some guy’s head, illuminated by the flash from her camera. Nothing beyond three feet in front of us is visible. Mike Adams

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