The Beatles' Chicago debut must have been a blur for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr; on their first major North American tour, the quartet would travel 22,000 miles in 29 grueling days. But for their fans in that first summer of Beatlemania in America, it was a thrill they would never forget.
A few hours after their 4:30 p.m. landing on this date at Midway Airport--where a crowd of 5,000 greeted them-- the Beatles performed a concert at the International Amphitheatre typical of their whirlwind visit.
For $30,000, they played 34 minutes to a screaming audience that made the effortless melodies and lovelorn lyrics of the 11 songs--from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to "Can't Buy Me Love"--virtually an afterthought. The 13,000 mostly teenage, mostly female concertgoers showered their heroes with jelly beans, in response to an innocent remark by Harrison earlier in the year about his favorite snack food.
Critics around town reacted bemusedly, with a condescending pat on the head to the youngsters for not starting a riot.
"No, we wouldn't have missed it," declared Tribune columnist David Condon, who covered the concert in a departure from his normal sports duties. "Not because the Beatle noise beats anything that can't be stirred up around the piano bar at the Singapore, but because the Saturday show gave us a chance to be proud of the juveniles, who are pretty much maligned in this turbulent age."
Another Tribune account quoted a pair of mothers after the show.
"I feel sorry for them," one said.
"Who do you mean," the second responded, "the Beatles or the girls?"
"The Beatles," replied the first. "What will happen to them when all this adulation has passed them by?"
More than 30 years later, there was still no answer to that question. Rock took off in many directions after that first concert tour by the lads from Liverpool, changed forever by them and the other groups of the British Invasion, such as the Rolling Stones and the Who.
But some of the simple joy of that time lived on. When McCartney returned to Soldier Field in 1990 to perform many of his old band's hits, the screams were just as loud, as though Chicago still had not gotten over its first bout of Beatlemania.