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Beatles Kansas City footage sells for £4,100 ($6,600)

Recently-discovered rare film footage of The Beatles in Kansas City during their first US tour in 1964 fetched £4,100 ($6,600) at auction on Tuesday 4 November.

The silent, two-minute, 8mm colour film was found in a drawer by American fan Drew Dimmel who, as a young boy, smuggled a movie camera into the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, where The Beatles performed on 17 September 1964.

20,000 fans attended the unscheduled concert, which was hastily arranged after manager Brian Epstein accepted an increased offer of $150,000 – around $1m (£627,000) in today’s money.

Dimmel’s recording is the only known film footage of The Beatles’ only concert performance in Kansas City, during which they played for just 31 minutes.

We cleared out my parents’ estate two months ago and there we discovered it at the bottom of the drawer, still lying in its original photo-lab box with ‘Beatles 1964’ on the back of the box where I’d feverishly scrawled it in blue ballpoint pen.

It is the one and only motion picture in existence of the one and only concert the Beatles would ever perform in Kansas City.

Drew Dimmel

Dimmel explained that his father had agreed to lend him and his brother a brand new cinecamera. Dimmel had planned to stand at the front of the stage to record the show, but was told to go back to his seat.

I was going to stand in front of the stage and film the show, but when the lights dimmed a policeman told us to find our seats. A local reporter who was a friend of my dad was in the press barrier and he recognised us and said he would try and get some shots of The Beatles for us. I thanked him and obediently handed my dad’s brand new movie camera to a total stranger.

The next day I took the film to our local camera store, making no mention of its contents, and waited for them to develop it. I paid four dollars developing fee.

I went straight home, checked to see that images on the little reel were The Beatles, opened the drawer of our old desk and placed it in the bottom of the drawer. And there it’s been for the last half of a century until we cleared out my parents’ estate two months ago.

Drew Dimmel

The Beatles were booked to play the venue by Charles O Finley. Finley was the controversial owner of the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team, who at the time were based in Kansas City.

17 September was to have been a day off for The Beatles, but they agreed to perform when Finley offered Brian Epstein a then-record sum of $150,000. They opened the show with their version of the ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ medley.

Finley 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.

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, including seats installed on the field.

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. The concert was billed with the slogan “Today’s Beatles Fans Are Tomorrow’s Baseball Fans.”

The footage was estimated to fetch between £4,000-6,000. It was sold by Cameo Auctioneers in Berkshire, England. Other items sold on the same day included a rare vinyl edition of Please Please Me which sold for £2,000, nine unpublished Beatles photographs that fetched £950, and an original flyer for The Beatles’ 30 May 1963 appearance at the Manchester Odeon, which fetched £470.

Last updated: 15 September 2016
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