The 24 hours The Beatles spent on their only visit as a band to Colorado is remembered today with the enormity that embraced it at the time.  For the Fab Four it was the beginning of a fairly exhausting tour and passed like a blur.  For Denver it introduced the era of Red Rocks as a premiere showcase for rock and roll, and the christening was well worth the $6.60 price tag.
 

A look back at The Beatles at Red Rocks.

Here’s some forgotten facts and astounding figures from Aug 26, 1964, the day the British Invasion reached the Rockies:
 
  • Landing time at Stapleton: 1:35 p.m. An estimated 10,000 fans waited.  Said the Rocky Mountain News, At daybreak, officers on 3-wheel motorcycles and solo motorbikes rolled through the heavy wheat stubble of the airport area, flushing Beatle fans like rabbits in the tall grass.
  • The plane: A Lockheed Electra leased by Brian Epstein for a hefty $37,000
  • The downtown traffic jam: A crowd of 5,000 greeted the Beatles at the Brown Palace, the biggest outpouring ever including presidential stays. In the commotion six crowd members and one police officer earned trips to the ER.
  • Beatles room service lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Biggest problem for the 27 rookie cops guarding the stage at Red Rocks: Jelly beans.  Reference Beatles>early>jelly babies.
  • Beatles fee for Red Rocks: $20,000, in a day where the biggest acts made about $5,000 for a performance.
  • Show before and after: Aug 23-Hollywood Bowl, Aug 27-Cincinnati Gardens (where the high that day reached 115).
  • Tour position, sellout scenario: 6th of 32 shows in 24 cities, and the first of two that weren’t sellouts. Reports are that 7,000 tickets were sold, whereas they had sold out the Hollywood Bowl to 18,700 three nights before. Lack of public transportation for the younger teen audience was blamed. In more recent years these accounts have been called into question because of the lack of ticket takers or gate security in 1964.  Eyewitness reports say they never saw Red Rocks more full than it was on this hot August night.
  • Miles of the tour: 22,441.  Beatles averaged 600 miles a day.
  • Time they took the stage: 9:30 p.m.
  • Celebrity encounters before: Aug 25, Beatles met Burt Lancaster and Jayne Mansfield in Los Angeles.
  • Celebrity encounters after: Aug 28, Beatles met Bob Dylan in New York, who introduced the boys to marijuana.
  • Live recordings: The Red Rocks show never made for an album release, although their Denver press conference was included on this spoken word album (hear the beatles tell all)
  • Honors bestowed in Denver: Beatles made honorary Jaycees, and given vests… 
  • Controversy in Denver: Rumors were the Beatles were changing their hotel reservations for an upcoming stop to play the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, because of the hotel’s segregation policy. PS, the Beatles changed their reservations.
  • Scary item: There was a concern in the Beatles organization about death threats.  George Martin wrote about sniper concerns years later.
  • Set list: One of the more confounding pieces of history to go missing. It’s pretty obvious they started with “Twist and Shout,” and it is known they played for just under a half hour.  The exact songs can only be imagined from the 12-song setlist they performed in the same order previously in Las Vegas, Seattle, Vancouver, and Hollywood: 
 
Twist and Shout
You Can't Do That
All My Loving
She Loves You
Things We Said Today
Roll Over Beethoven
Can't Buy Me Love
If I Fell
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Boys
A Hard Day's Night
Long Tall Sally
 
Also on the bill:
The Bill Black Combo (Memphis rock pioneer Black played on Elvis Presley’s That’s All Right Mama on Sun Records in 1954, then backed up the King through a succession of hits including Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and Jailhouse Rock.  He formed his band in 1959, here they are in 1961’s Teenage Millionaire. Bill’s on bass. No squares allowed, daddy…)
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The Exciters (Formed in Queens in 1961, early influence on Dusty Springfield. Their big 1963 hit was “Tell Him”).

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Jackie DeShannon (There’s a good chance her Red Rocks guitarist was Ry Cooder. She’d have her biggest hit with “What the World Needs Now” the following year, but here she is rocking out on a teen show…)

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The Righteous Brothers (They were also less than a year from their biggest smash You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling. Here they are on the pilot for Shindig, taped in July before Red Rocks). 

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