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‘The policeman stuck bullets in his ears’: An oral history of the Beatles’ first U.S. concert

Friday, February 10, 2017

On Feb. 11, 1964, Beatlemania blasted Washington — all shrieks and Arthur haircuts and songs people couldn’t quite make out.

Two nights after their hysteria-inducing welcome-to-America appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the Beatles played their first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum. With “I Want to Hold Your Hand” sitting atop the American Billboard chart, 8,092 people crowded into the arena near Union Station and witnessed the band perform a dozen songs that changed everything.

“It was one of the most exciting live performances the Beatles ever gave,” says Beatles historian Bruce Spizer, who has studied footage of the concert at the long-defunct Coliseum. “And it gave them great confidence that they indeed could conquer America.”

Here’s the tale of the historic 1964 visit, as told to The Washington Post by some of the people who lived it.

John B. Lynn, son of Harry Lynn, who owned the Coliseum: My father got the call asking if he’d be interested in having the Beatles. He, of course, had never heard of them. But he said yes. He brought home a box of Beatles albums and singles to give out, and my brother and I became the most popular people in school.

Paul McCartney: We’d seen a lot of British stars come back from America with their tails between their legs. We made a promise to ourselves to not go until we had a No. 1. We were so excited to be madly popular in America, which was to us the Holy Grail because every shred of music we ever loved came from there. It was euphoric, and now we were heading to Washington on the train, which was very glamorous. And to cap it off, there was that beautiful snow.

By: J Freedom du Lac

Source: The Washington Post

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