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Police Hold Tide of Beatlemania

DATE OF EVENT: Thursday, Sept. 17, 1964

DATE PUBLISHED: Friday, Sept. 18, 1964, in The Kansas City Times

Editor’s note: When the Beatles played in Kansas City on their fall 1964 tour, they were greeted by thousands of screaming teenagers. the newspaper’s reception was cooler: the tone of the next day’s stories was amusement.

“Long-haired musicians call for a long-hair music review,” reviewer Richard L. Brown wrote the next day. “Aesthetically speaking, it was rather a success, even though the most lasting impression serious listeners were likely to bring away was one of overpowering intensity of upper-level dynamics, producing a sustained tonal aftereffect. (In other words, it was okay, but man was it loud. My ears are still ringing.)”

But even Brown was won over by the end of the 32-minute concert: “These are hard words for me to write, but write them I must. … What the Beatles are up to is something very much worth the doing,” he wrote. “Ever so cleverly, they are making good popular music where none has existed for quite some time. Beatles, I wanna shake your hands.”

When the announcer said, “The Beatles!” and the four British singers bounced onto the stage a concerted scream rose in Municipal Stadium and hundreds of flashbulbs lit the park like harsh fireflies.

The scream tore on and on. The performers, jolly and jaunty, sounded some practice guitar chords, said “Ha” and “Hi” into the microphones and abruptly ripped into a tune called “Twist and Shout.”

The scream, from an audience of 20,280, reached frightening intensity. A man smoking a cigar in the front row put his hands over his ears and puffed.

The Beatles played for 31 minutes, 12 songs perhaps, and only as they left did the screaming die, sinking into a mournful moan.

“They are gone, gone,” a girl said. “I’ll never see them again.”

And so the night of the Beatles, the biggest entertainment promotion in the area in the memory of many of the teen-agers who attended, came and passed. …

The crowd did not fill the 41,000 seats arranged for the event, but it was a sizable crowd in any estimate, one of the four or five biggest crowds to see the Beatles on their American tour.

The spectators were from several states, and their cars were directed and their property and limbs protected by about 350 police in the stadium area.

The spectators were admonished several times previous to the Beatles’ appearance to stay in their seats or the show would be stopped. By and large they did. Only at the end, when the Beatles were rushed from the field in a black limousine, did a section of several hundred teen-age girls rush to the line of policemen. They yelled goodbye and waved.

One of the quartet raised a hand in farewell in the back window of the car as it sped away. Then the girls began to cry. …

The event left some of the Beatle followers emotionally torn. As the crowds left the park, fully 10 minutes after all the shouting, there were groups of exhausted girls still seated in the playing field area and the stands. They were crying.

Why?

“Because they (the B’s) just left and didn’t say anything,” a girl explained, rubbing her eyes. “Now they are gone forever.”

“Ah, they’ll be back again,” a policeman said.

“What do you care?” the girl wept. “You were down in the front there and you didn’t care and I was way back here and I couldn’t even get close to them. …”

“Now wait a minute, honey,” he said. “It’s not my fault.”

Then he walked away. …

The Beatle music, the incessant beat and the hard blare of electric guitars pushed to volume limits, can be heard on jukeboxes in a hundred thousand joints and drugstores. The scream had no volume control.

Scarlett Peterson, 14, Topeka, sat on the front row with no shoes and wore a button that said, “I Love Paul.” (That’s Paul McCartney. The others are Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon.)

Why the button?

“Because Paul is left-handed like me and plays bass guitar and has brown eyes and black hair.”

With blue-tipped fingernails she pushed a lock of her blond hair. …

A girl with a legitimate front-row seat was Tina Mitchell, 15, of 7205 Flora avenue, president of the Leabets (Beatles spelled inside-out), the Kansas City fan club. She thought the show was grand and she had grand news.

A friend with her, Vicki Mucie, 14, of 3545 Warwick boulevard, had come into ownership of a cigarette butt that Paul reportedly had smoked at the afternoon press conference downtown.

What was she going to do with it?

“I’m going to frame it along with a jelly bean that John stepped on in Denver when I saw them there.”…

Yes, jelly beans were thrown at the Beatles in their Kansas City performance, too. Why? Because the Beatles love jelly beans, silly. …

The Beatles left the stadium at 9:15 o’clock. At 11:13 o’clock their airplane left the ground at Municipal Air Terminal on the way to Dallas.

Most of the time before they left they spent in the plane, passengers in the world of aviation, where, experts tell us, as in all of life, the noise level is increasing every year.

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