It was the end of an era: The Beatles, who changed the live-music industry by playing at ballparks and stadiums, performed live for the last time, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
The August 29, 1966 event wasn’t billed as a final concert — though the Beatles had decided it was days before — and it wasn’t the biggest success, with the Beatles attracting only 25,000 paying customers to Candlestick Park, which held 42,500 (before the outfield seating was built in). The team’s last song played live: “Long Tall Sally.”
We tend to think of the Beatles as a mainstay of ballpark concerts, but the reality is that the band played American ballparks and stadiums for only a year over two tours: the first Shea Stadium concert was on August 15, 1965, and was the beginning of a 10-stop tour that also saw the band play at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium and Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. (Yes, the four ballparks the Beatles played in 1965 are all gone.) The 1966 tour saw the band play at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Washington, D.C.’s D.C. Stadium (now known at JFK Stadium), St. Louis’s Busch Stadium, Shea Stadium, Dodger Stadium and the aforementioned Candlestick Park. A few other stadiums were in the mix, but they weren’t related to baseball, like a concert at San Diego’s Balboa Stadium. A concert at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field was scrapped because of rain.
Since the Beatles, ballpark concerts have become an important part of the music industry. What is commonplace today was considered daring at the time. Still, ballpark concerts are still major events: it was big when Paul McCartney helped close down Shea Stadium and opened Citi Field, and it’s big when a major artist like Kenny Chesney brings over 44,000 fans to Target Field.
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