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Beatlemania swept across North America when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. The decade of the 1960’s seemed to change overnight from black and white to color as a generation fell under the influence of the group’s music, style and personalities.

Hot on the success of their film A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles 1964 summer tour filled auditoriums with screams of delight and excitement – and in some cases, full-blown fan hysteria. This was the case on September 15th in Cleveland, Ohio when police stopped the show in mid-performance and ordered the Beatles off the stage. The next year, they were banned from appearing in the city.

In August 1966, the group launched their final tour, but the innocence portrayed in A Hard Day’s Night only two years earlier was missing. Controversy raging over Lennon’s remarks about Christianity and the group being more popular than Jesus made their safety more of a concern than ever before.

A scheduling change brought the Beatles back to Cleveland on August 14th for the tour’s first outdoor show at Municipal Stadium. The results were the same, but on a much larger scale. It was obvious they could no longer be protected in front of audiences and the first murmurings were overheard that it would be the last tour. This is an account of both these special moments in time: two of the wildest, out-of-control concerts in Beatles - and rock – history.

Dave Schwensen did the impossible. Through his writing he took my mind from the California coastline to Cleveland and made me enjoy it. He totally drew me into the whole experience and gave me new insight into something I thought I knew something about. It was like looking into a microscope at a single object and when the proper focus was brought about I was amazed at how many things there were to see. It was the minutiae of it all that were so fascinating. I particularly like the simplicity of his reporting in that it allows the reader to live the complicated depth of the experience. Good show, mate!” – Ken Mansfield, former U.S. Manager of the Beatles’ Apple Records.

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