A look back at The Beatles' final concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Saturday, August 27, 2016
A look back at The Beatles' final concert at Candlestick Park
As the 50th anniversary of what would turn out to be The Beatles' final live concert approaches, here's a look at the experience through the eyes of journalists who were there to cover the historic rock show in 1966.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This Monday marks the 50th anniversary of what would turn out to be The Beatles' final live concert, and it took place right here in the Bay Area. It was a far different experience from today's rock concerts.

PHOTOS: The Beatles at Candlestick Park in 1966

Paul McCartney, followed by Ringo Starr and John Lennon of the Beatles, arrive by plane at San Francisco International Airport on Aug. 29, 1966.

When Sir Paul McCartney played the last rock concert at Candlestick Park, it looked almost nothing like the first in August 1966. At that time, there were no spotlights and no dancers, just a stage at second base.

"The sound company still does business in San Francisco," said rock and roll author Joel Selvin. "So I'm not gonna mention them by name. But your high school auditorium had a better sound system."

Selvin showed us video taken from home movies of the concert. And explained the bad sound hardly mattered if you were screaming your head off.

VIDEO: Fan remembers Beatles' last show at Candlestick

Candlestick Park's last show is more than just a concert. It's a final exclamation mark on its history, and also a bridge to its past.

"The Beatles were the original boy band," he said. "They had cute little haircuts and cute little uniforms and they were John, Paul, George, and Ringo."

And for the Beatles, that was the problem.

"Masses of screaming teenagers," said Selvin. "They couldn't hear themselves onstage; they couldn't hear the music they were playing."

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As the Beatles broke new ground in the recording studio, playing the same old hits at teenage rock shows was holding them back.

"And George Harrison knew that," said Selvin. "He recounts flying out of San Francisco and thinking -- well, that's it for that. And he was glad. He was relieved."

But of all the people who caught a glimpse of the Beatles that night, the best view was the one reserved for the photojournalists. Their job is to document history. But they had no idea how historic it was.

VIDEO: Former ABC7 cameraman remembers Beatles concert

Few memories from Thursday night's concert at Candlestick can compare to the experience 50 years ago of a former ABC7 News cameraman.

"Looking back, I wish I'd taken a lot more photographs," said former ABC7 photojournalist Fred Pardini. He shot for The Examiner back then. "And as soon as they come walking out of the dugout, we were right there with them walking backwards photographing until they got to the stage."

A stage surrounded by a wire fence, after what happened at the band's last show.

"They literally leaped up and jumped up on the stage," said Pardini.

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The show lasted just 35 minutes. Then their ride showed up.

Pardini says, "They jumped into the armored truck and away they went, and that was the last we saw of The Beatles."