The first wave of the British Invasion hit the shores of the Pacific Northwest with the arrival of The Beatles on August 21, 1964.
It was one of the most exciting moments in 20th century pop culture history. The Beatles' arrival in New York and their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 is an indelible moment for millions of baby boomers.
Not as well remembered is how Beatlemania played out in other cities around the US. The Beatles came back to America that summer a half century ago for what many regard as their biggest and best tour ever — 34 shows in 32 days. It began with a concert in San Francisco. After two shows in Las Vegas, The Beatles headed for Seattle on August 21, 1964.
Miami radio reporter Larry Kane was along for the ride. He describes the scene from the air as the Mop Tops' plane descended toward Sea–Tac.
"This has been a most pleasant trip," said Kane. "We are now looking at some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. Snow–capped mountains. All of that snow's gonna melt when The Beatles arrive at Seattle airport."
The plane landed, but police kept 2,000 boisterous fans watching from a distance as the four famous passengers emerged. John, Paul, George and Ringo were swept away to the Edgewater Inn Hotel on Elliott Bay where they took refuge from a screaming mob of fans outside. "We want The Beatles! We want The Beatles!" they shouted.
The band spent several hours basically trapped inside the Edgewater, where they famously fished from the window of their suite. Though they didn't catch anything, the notion of The Beatles casting lines into Elliott Bay from the Edgewater is one of the city's most enduring legends. But the fishing expedition came to an end, and the band headed to Seattle Center for a pre–concert press conference.
During the conference one reporter asked Paul McCartney what he wanted to do after the Beatles.
"I don't know. Probably John and I will carry on songwriting," said McCartney. "I'm not doing it with you," joked John Lennon. "Are The Beatles breaking up?" asked McCartney, getting a laugh from reporters.
After the press conference The Beatles headed over to the Coliseum. When they took the stage they were greeted by 14,000 fans cheering fans. The band opened with "Twist and Shout," but the audience was so loud the music could barely be heard. Nobody seemed to mind.
The Fab Four played for half an hour.
After the concert, it was time for The Beatles to try and get back to the Edgewater. But ardent fans were waiting outside the Coliseum, and a mob even crushed the roof of an empty limousine that had been sent out as a decoy.
Fortunately, The Beatles had a trick up the sleeves of their matching coats that had worked the day before in Las Vegas. The four mop top lads eventually made it back to the Edgewater unmolested — unnoticed, even — in the back of an ambulance.
This story was originally broadcast August 21, 2011