In August 1964, The Beatles went on their second US tour. In San Francisco, he played to an audience of 18,000 at the famous Cow Palace, the largest show at the time. George Harrison called the experience “exciting” but also “traumatic”. Here’s why, and on The Beatles’ second tour of America.
The Most Painful Show The Beatles Ever Played
Harrison wrote in his column for the Daily Express (with the help of Daily Express writer Derek Taylor) that playing at Cow Palace was like “playing in the Mersey Tunnel”. Its huge, arched roof seemed to extend to the sky. The people sitting in the back seats looked like little ants.
“It was by far the biggest audience we’ve ever seen and it was one of the most exciting experiences of our lives,” he wrote, as recorded in the book. George Harrison on George Harrison. “And one of the most painful.”
Why was this such a painful show? Beatles fans began throwing candy, especially jelly beans, at the band during live shows, when Harrison and John Lennon told a magazine that they liked Jelly Babies.
“I lost count of the number of tough little jellybeans that were showered on us from all around the vast area,” Harrison wrote. “I hurt the back of the neck, the face, the nose, and both hands and my guitar.”
Police had to keep order at The Beatles’ San Francisco show
With a show of that scale, police officers “ringed the bell on stage at San Francisco’s sprawling Cow Palace.” But Harrison notes that they too “went wild.” Nevertheless, he protected the band and kept the peace amidst the rowdy crowd.
“We are delighted that Sheriff Whitmore’s men managed to hold back the growing, screaming crowd,” Harrison wrote. “Many of them were caged behind a nine-foot trellis fence only a few inches from Ringo’s expensive head.”
How The Beatles Feel About Their Fans, Screaming Through Their Shows: ‘We Couldn’t Hear Us’
And, believe it or not, according to Harrison, the police around the stage didn’t even harden the atmosphere.
“Although there were several uniformed sheriff’s men to control the crowd and the house lights went out, the excitement was great,” he wrote.
Next stop: Las Vegas
After the Beatles played the biggest show of their career (up to that point), they made their way to Las Vegas, Nevada, which Harrison described as “another world”.
“We took off for Las Vegas early today on our 70-seater charter plane,” he wrote. “This city is just another world. We’re staying on the Strip at the Sahara Hotel in the heart of the desert. I’m writing this on the balcony on a sunny hot, dry morning. There’s two Vegas concerts and a night on the town ahead .
It was the last in Harrison’s column for the Daily Express—a brief window into the chaotic, magical experience of being a Beetle.
“There are worse lives,” he wrote.