On this day in 1966, The Beatles performed their last concert before a paying audience.
On August 12th, 1966, The Beatles embarked upon their final tour, which would see them perform 19 shows across North America. Taking place in the wake of John Lennon’s controversial “bigger than Jesus” comment, the tour was plagued by low sales, concerns over their live sound, and of course, death threats towards the band for their supposed ‘anti-Christian’ stance.
By the end of August, the band were ready to wrap up their tour, and live performances in general. Citing a decision to want to focus solely on studio work (along with plain exhaustion from being on the road), the group took to the stage at Candlestick Park in San Francisco to perform their last paying concert.
Appearing before 25,000 people (with 7,000 tickets unsold), the band performed an eleven-song set which featured two covers, and no tracks from Revolver, which has been released earlier in the month.
While the band did not announce publicly that they were pulling the pin on live shows, they took measures to ensure they captured their final moments, including bringing cameras on stage, and recording the show.
While press agent Tony Barrow recorded the performance (he missed part of ‘Long Tall Sally’ due to having to flip the cassette tape over), the recording has never been officially released, though fans have bootlegged the concert frequently over the years.
George Harrison later discussed The Beatles’ decision to stop touring, explaining, “We’d been through every race riot, and every city we went to there was some kind of a jam going on, and police control, and people threatening to do this and that … and [us] being confined to a little room or a plane or a car.”
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“We all had each other to dilute the stress, and the sense of humour was very important,” he continued. “But there was a point where enough was enough.”
Despite their decision to quit touring, this performance was not the group’s last public appearance, with their impromptu concert atop the rooftop of Apple Corp taking place in January of 1969.
Check out The Beatles’ final concert before a paying audience:
The Beatles @ Candlestick Park, San Francisco, USA 29/08/1966 Setlist
‘Rock And Roll Music’ (Chuck Berry cover)
‘She’s A Woman’
‘If I Needed Someone’
‘Baby’s In Black’
‘I Feel Fine’
‘I Wanna Be Your Man’
‘Long Tall Sally’ (Little Richard cover)