It is hard to conceive, but at one time Indiana was the center of the pop culture universe. When you look at the state now, you can’t imagine the attention that was given to the Indiana State Fair on September 3, 1964. The Beatles had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show the previous February 9, and with two more appearances on the show, took the United States by a storm. Once their American tour was announced, the whole country went more than a little crazy to get tickets. David Humphrey, of Indiana, has written a book that compiles the memories of the event. Here is our interview with him:
He also brought some items from his personal collection of Beatles artifacts concerning their show at the fair. On the far right is a copy of David's book, All Those Years Ago.
David's collection also included record albums, ticket stubs and posters.
David has many interviews with people who saw the performance, interacted with the band, and watched from afar during the grandstand show. There are documents and photos currently housed in the Indiana State Archives included in the book.
There were only 32 concerts scheduled in 26 cities for the first American tour. Originally there was only one show scheduled for the Indiana State Fair. Fans wrote their Congressman, threatened suicide, and there were no boundaries to the quest for tickets. After it was discovered that the Governor’s Office had made a large ticket request that was filled, public outcry resulted in an additional show being scheduled. Due to the Coliseum already being scheduled for that evening with another show, the second show was held outside, in front of the main grandstand for the dirt track.Here is a video of the Beatles early morning arrival 1:00 AM, at Weir Cook Airport and their introduction for the Coliseum performance.
The voice you hear is emcee Jerry Baker, more recently familiar to Hoosiers from his work with the Indiana State Basketball Tournaments, but in 1964 he was known as local radio Station WIFE's Jerry Saturday. Thirty minutes and 12 songs later, the Beatles left the Coliseum. The screaming continued and the fans relished knowing they had actually seen their idols. If you were there, you remember that the screaming seemed to overpower the music.
The Indiana State Fair set up "Selfie Stations" all around the fairgrounds in celebration of the recent $53 million Coliseum renovation. The six Coliseum “Selfie Stations” allowed visitors to snap a picture with some of the famous celebrities and athletes that have been inside the Coliseum over the past 75 years.
Another way to help keep the memories of the Coliseum concert strong, Brit Beat, a Beatles tribute band performed at the fair in 2014. The next video has their introduction, along with the first song:
Here are a few photos from the Brit Beat Concert
While the Beatles only performed together for ten years, their look and music evolved from innocent you men, as they were when they performed at the State Fair on September 3rd, 1964.
To their alter ego band, Sargent Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, which allowed the Beatles to break away from the wholesome mop top lads and experience with their music.
To the end, where they were content to be themselves.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has an entire “Symphony on the Prairie” series at their outdoor venue located at Conner Prairie. Thousands of Beatles fans gathered on the hillside to see “Classical Mystery Tour: The Music of the Beatles.
The first set was scheduled to be the 12 songs, in order, like there were played in 1964. Well as the weather is always changing here in the Hoosier state, unfortunately a Severe Storm Warning was issued right as they uncovered the speakers, and the crowd was ordered to quickly dispersed back to their cars. At least we had a nice picnic as we watched the sun begin to set. Here are a couple photos from last year’s Beatles tribute concert.
One of the highlights, for Ringo and George, at least was staying at the Speedway Motel, right next to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Track historian Donald Davidson tells us about their visit, and a little bit of skullduggery along the way:
So there you have it. For one brief shining moment on September 3, 1964, the world was watching the news reports about the Beatles thrilling thirty thousand fans at the Indiana State Fair. Our thanks to the Indiana State Fair, David Humphrey, Donald Davidson, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for all of their help with this project.