British Columbia

The Beatles played Vancouver 50 years ago

During the summer of 1964 North America was in the middle of full-blown Beatlemania, and Vancouver was no exception when the Fab Four came to town

The Fab Four played their first Canadian show in Vancouver on August 22, 1964

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      During the summer of 1964 North America was in the middle of full-blown Beatlemania, and Vancouver was no exception when the Fab Four came to town.

      The west coast city was chosen as the location for the Beatles first Canadian concert, to be held at the PNE's open-air Empire Stadium on August 22, 1964.

      Local radio legend Red Robinson was Master of Ceremonies for the event. He was the program director for C-FUN 1410 at the time.

      "The show was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but it started at 9:23 p.m., because the pilot of the plane [carrying the Beatles] forgot to sign a certain document. They had to pile all the Beatles into a car, and drive them out to the airport again," Robinson recently told the CBC.

      Once the Fab Four finished with the paperwork, they headed to the stadium, where over 20,000 fans were getting a little crazy with anticipation, Robinson recalled.

      "I get up there, and I say: 'Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the PNE, and C-FUN presents: the Beatles!'"

      "The guys come rushing out on the stage, and go right into a song."

      A riotous show

      The band opened with Twist and Shout, and the crowd did, creating concerns that a riot would occur.

      Halfway through the show, Robinson was told to get back out on the stage and tell the rowdy concert-goers that they would have to calm down, or the Beatles would have to leave.

      "I walked out on the stage at the end of a number, and said: 'We've got to back some people up, there's been two kids crushed already, they'll have to cancel the show.'"

      "John Lennon said, 'Get the F... off our stage, nobody interrupts the Beatles!' And I said, 'John, Brian Epstein [the Beatles' manager at the time] sent me up here. And he looked down, and Brian's giving him the 'Hi' sign, meaning let him do it, and he goes 'Okay, carry on mate'."

      "It never leaves your brain, it's indelible. But to have done Buddy Holly, Elvis, Nat King Cole, The Beatles...all those shows I MC'd, that was one of the great highlights of my career. Unbelievable," said Robinson.

      Were you at the 1964 Beatles concert at Empire Stadium? Post your memories of the event below.


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