The Beatles' 1966 US tour
|The Beatles' 1966 USA Tour|
|Tour by The Beatles|
|Start date||12 August 1966|
|End date||29 August 1966|
|The Beatles tour chronology|
The Beatles staged their third concert tour of America in August 1966, and it was the last commercial tour they ever underwent. Lasting a total of fourteen shows, with thirteen shows in American venues and one in Toronto, it was plagued with backlash regarding the controversy of John Lennon's remarks about Christianity, death threats, and the band's own dissatisfaction with the noise levels and their ability to perform live. Although it was a commercial success, ticket sales had noticeably declined in number. After the tour, they became a studio band and focused exclusively on record production.
The "More popular than Jesus" controversy 
In March 1966, Maureen Cleave interviewed John Lennon and the rest of the Beatles as part of a London Evening Standard cover story on the subject of "How Does A Beatle Live?". During the Lennon interview at Kenwood, Cleave noted Lennon's interest in Christianity and religions, to which he replied:
"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."
Fearful of the possibility that protesters or radicals would try to kill them for their supposed "anti-Christ" stance, the group's manager Brian Epstein contemplated canceling the tour altogether. However, during the tour's stop in Chicago, he arranged for a press conference to address the controversy and for Lennon to explain himself. Lennon stated that he was only commenting on the decline among churchgoers, that he made a mistake in using the Beatles' following in comparison with that of organized religion, and that he "never meant it as a lousy anti-religious thing".
The Memphis incident 
Despite numerous explanations by Beatles' press agents and Lennon's televised apology, the Memphis city council voted to cancel the 19 August afternoon and evening concerts rather than have "municipal facilities be used as a forum to ridicule anyone's religion." The Ku Klux Klan nailed a Beatles album to a wooden cross, vowing "vengeance", and conservative groups staged further public burnings of Beatles records. Despite the fact that it had originally been canceled, Epstein agreed to proceed with the concert in Memphis. Although no problems took place during the afternoon show, an audience member threw a lit firecracker onstage that did not hit any of the members, but the band believed that somebody had tried to shoot them.
When the firecracker went off, the Beatles' press agent Tony Barrow recalled that "everybody, all of us at the side of the stage, including the three Beatles on stage, all looked immediately at John Lennon. We would not at that moment have been surprised to see that guy go down. John had half-heartedly joked about the Memphis concert in an earlier press conference, and when we got there everything seemed to be controlled and calm, but underneath somehow, there was this nasty atmosphere. It was a very tense and pressured kind of day."
Set list 
Lasting between 30 to 40 minutes per show, the typical set list was as follows (with lead singers appropriately noted):
- "Rock and Roll Music" (John Lennon)
- "She's a Woman" (Paul McCartney)
- "If I Needed Someone" (George Harrison) - the first (and only) Harrison composition the group performed live
- "Day Tripper" (Lennon and McCartney)
- "Baby's in Black" (Lennon and McCartney)
- "I Feel Fine" (Lennon)
- "Yesterday" (McCartney) - performed with all four Beatles, rather than the one guitar-string quartet arrangement by which the song was recorded, and in G major, not in F major
- "I Wanna Be Your Man" (Ringo Starr)
- "Nowhere Man" (Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison)
- "Paperback Writer" (McCartney) - the newest song ever performed by The Beatles in their touring
- "Long Tall Sally" (McCartney)
To the disappointment of some people, they performed no songs from the new LP Revolver. This is probably because the songs from this album were much more technically challenging to play live since The Beatles were becoming much more studio orientated with exploring new musical directions.
Tour dates 
|12 August 1966, two shows||Chicago||United States||International Amphitheatre|
|13 August 1966, two shows||Detroit||Olympia Stadium|
|14 August 1966||Cleveland||Municipal Stadium|
|15 August 1966||Washington, D.C.||D.C. Stadium|
|16 August 1966||Philadelphia||John F. Kennedy Stadium|
|17 August 1966, two shows||Toronto||Canada||Maple Leaf Gardens|
|18 August 1966||Boston||United States||Suffolk Downs Racetrack|
|19 August 1966, two shows||Memphis||Mid-South Coliseum (evening performance originally canceled, but went ahead)|
|21 August 1966||Cincinnati||Crosley Field (originally scheduled 20 August and support acts performed but Beatles' performance postponed due to rain. Support acts also performed on Sunday. "Rain" on Saturday night was downpour that lasted several hours and prevented anyone from performing on stage located on second base.)|
|21 August 1966||St. Louis||Busch Stadium|
|23 August 1966||New York City||Shea Stadium|
|25 August 1966, two shows||Seattle||Seattle Coliseum|
|28 August 1966||Los Angeles||Dodger Stadium|
|29 August 1966||San Francisco||Candlestick Park|
In other media 
Concert footage of the Candlestick Park concert is included in The Beatles Anthology.
The controversy prior to and during the Memphis concert/firecracker incident is depicted in the 1985 television film John and Yoko: A Love Story. In an anachronism of the time period, The Beatles are depicted as wearing the custom grey "Beatle suits" that they stopped wearing in 1965, and as playing "Help!", which they never played on this tour.
- Cleave 2007.
- Cleave, Maureen (5 October 2005). "The John Lennon I Knew". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Rawlings, Terry (2002-10-03). Then, Now and Rare British Beat 1960-1969. Omnibus Press. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
- "The Beatles Are Bigger than WHO?". I Remember JFK. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
- Chittenden, Maurice (23 November 2008). "John Lennon forgiven for Jesus claim". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
- Gould (2008), pp. 346–7.
- Gould (2008), pp. 340–41.
- Bielen, Kenneth (11 May 2000). The Lyrics of Civility. Garland Publishing. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- Beatles Interview: Memphis, Tennessee 8/19/1966 - Beatles Interviews Database
- Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. Piatkus Books. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6.