The Last Beatles Concert, 50 Years Later
It was 50 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught…wait, no, that’s not right. What was 50 years ago on Monday was the last time the Beatles took to a stage to perform a concert. It might be argued that the January 1969 London rooftop jam session was the Beatles’ last public performance, but their final concert proper was held August 29 at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, the end of a U.S. tour that had been as stressful and unpleasant as it had been brief. You can’t blame the band for wanting to get off the road. Touring had long been a well-known drag. After the Beatles had performed in Stockholm, for example, John Lennon was asked what he thought of the trip. Fine, he said. It was a room, a car, a concert and a sandwich. There’s the road in all its glamor. The Beatles had reason to feel the road wasn’t just a bore, but a dangerous bore. The backlash in the United States when Lennon floated the notion the Beatles were more popular than Jesus was nothing compared to the angry reaction when, in July 1966, the lads seemed to snub Imelda Marcos in the Philippines. Having had a bitter experience at the British embassy in Washington back in 1964, the Beatles made it a point not to go to embassy events or other official shindigs. But when they didn’t show for a Manila palace lunch with Ferdinand Marcos’s wife (and 200 children who were her guests), things got ugly, fast. The Beatles escaped their hotel down hallways lined with staff shouting abuse at them; their transportation disappeared and when they did get a car to pack into, soldiers along the route to the airport kept forcing them off the main highway; when they did finally make it to the airport it wasn’t clear whether they were going to be let on the plane or just done in by a mob right then and there.