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The Beatles reunited for their final live performance on this historic day, August 29, 1966.
The gig at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park was never announced as the band’s last dance, but there was a lot of speculation that the boys were looking to quit, according to The Beatles Bible.
Although the Fab Four made a surprise appearance on the roof of the Apple Building in London on January 30, 1969, Ringo Starr wrote in an anthology that it was clear the Candlestick Park performance would be the band’s official finale.
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“There was a big discussion in Candlestick Park about this having to end,” Starr wrote in the anthology.
“At that gig in San Francisco, it looked like it might be the last time, but I never felt 100% sure until we got back to London.”
Starr revealed that teammate John Lennon was eager to give up more than the rest.
“He said he had had enough,” he wrote.
Even though the Beatles were recognized around the world – including in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – as one of the most influential bands of all time, the group’s final performance was not particularly spectacular.
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While the park’s capacity was 42,500, only 25,000 tickets were sold, according to The Beatles Bible, which left big gaps in the seating sections.
The Beatles’ playing fee was around $90,000, while fans paid $4.50 to $6.50 per ticket.
The show turned out to be a financial loss for promoter Tempo Productions, due to poor ticket sales and the arrangement that 15% of sales would go to the city of San Francisco.
Candlestick Park was originally the home of the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball.
The stage was located in the field, just behind second base. He was five feet tall.
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The August 29 show began at 8 p.m., starting with backing bands The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and the Ronettes.
The show’s host, “Emperor” Gene Nelson of KYA 1260 AM radio, described the August night as “cold, foggy and windy” in Keith Badman’s book “The Beatles Off the Record.”
“The funniest thing that night was one of the warm-up acts, Bobby Hebb. He got up on stage at Candlestick Park, with the fog and the wind blowing, and he was singing ‘Sunny’! ” he said.
Nelson remarked that hosting the event was difficult, especially since the Beatles were “taking their time” backstage.
“The dressing room was chaos,” he said. “There were a lot of people there. The press tried to get passes for their children and singer Joan Baez was there. Every local celebrity, who was in town, was in the locker room.”
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“They were having a party there. They were having a perfectly wonderful time, while I was freezing my buns on second base!”
The band finally took the stage at 9:27 p.m. and played an 11-song setlist, according to The Beatles Bible.
This included the tracks “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”.
George Harrison said he set up the camera with a “wide-angle fisheye lens” above an amplifier.
As the band realized the performance would be their last, Lennon and McCartney brought a camera onto the stage to document the moment.
They took photos of the crowd and of themselves in a selfie style, way ahead of their time.
In “The Beatles Off The Record”, George Harrison recounted setting up the camera with a “wide-angle fisheye lens” above an amplifier.
“Ringo came out of the drums, and we stood with our backs to the audience and posed for a picture, because we knew it was the last show,” Harrison said.
McCartney was determined to fully commemorate the moment, asking Beatles publicist Tony Barrow to capture the concert on audio tape.
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“I remember Paul, casually, at the very last minute, saying, ‘Do you have your tape recorder with you?’ and I said, “Yeah, sure,” Barrow said on “The Beatles Off the Record.”
“Paul then said, ‘Save it, will you? Save the show, “what I did.”
Barrow went on to describe the performance as “nothing special” compared to other shows except for a few additional musical ad-libs.
Barrow recorded 30 minutes of the show on one side of the tape, which broke off during the final song, “Long Tall Sally”.
Only two copies were made – one for McCartney and one for Barrow – but bootleg recordings have since been widely circulated.
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“If you hear a bootleg version of the final concert that ends during ‘Long Tall Sally,’ it must be from either Paul’s copy or mine,” Barrow wrote in his book “John, Paul, George, Ringo and me”.
“But we never identified the music thief!”