The Beatles Slay Their First American Gig at the Cow Palace in San Francisco - 8/19/1964

US History |

The Beatles are to this day one of the most influential Rock and Roll bands of all time. Their incredible music, history and legacy are a testament to modern genius in music. Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, George Harrison and John Lennon came together as four young men from Liverpool and grew to be the biggest band on the planet. They brought British rock to America and started their first American tour on this day in history, August 19th of 1964. 

Their first stop was in San Francisco, a hub for the later 60’s hippie movement and th4e counter-culture of the beat generation and several other shifting communities of artists, musicians and writers. Their famous first visit was watched by millions of people of all ages on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of the same year. This momentum occasion made an American tour imminent and the band set out right away to satisfy droves of screaming fans. The great rush of Beatlemania made people sell out the tour dates soon after they were announced. Fans lined the blocks of box offices and made sure to get their hands on tickets.

On August 19th of 1945, six months after their East Coast appearances, the Fab Four flew to California to kill it on stage at the Cow Palace in San Francisco for opening night of the first ever American concert tour in the band’s history.

The Beatles’ manager famously chose the 17,000 seat Cow Palace because he was unsure of the band’s power to fill seats. Needless to say, filling the seats wasn’t a problem at all.

Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants, was also an option for the promotor but he believed the little known band from England wasn’t popular enough to fill the whole thing. Larger sports stadiums were packed with screaming fans later in the tour and the band played a legendary gig at one of the biggest stadiums in the US, Shea Stadium later in the tour. The Beatles filled the Cow Palace with over 17,130 fans and played around 9:00P.M. On this day in 1964. They launched into a rollicking and almost punk rock energized version of Twist and Shout and the screaming was so loud that people couldn’t even hear the band play.

This phenomenon was well documented later into the Beatles’ career. The band only played 12 songs as the headliner that night: ”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”, and finished off with “Long Tall Sally.”

According to people who witnessed the tour their sets ran at around 33 minutes but was a little bit longer during the first night because of a large amount of pandemonium that had to be thwarted by police. People were really just pumped to watch the Beatles, and who wouldn’t be!

The Cow Palace brought a lot of fans together to worship at the alter of the Beatles and the band famously left in an Ambulance to avoid being swarmed. Their limousine was blocked in by fans hoping to get a glimpse of the most adorable and talented band on earth.

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Amanda Miller

Contributor & Chief Coffee Maker

Being from San Diego I have always gone to the Ocean and wrote my thoughts onto paper. Since a young girl writing has been my passion and now I love being creative with what I love. In school I started early writing for my middle school paper and have learned so much since then. I now have an opportunity to do what I love and work from home every day you can't beat it. I look forward to writing some great content for you all and to see the feedback I get in the process. My favorite topic is positive stories showing people helping others.