The Beatles’ First Concert in the U.S. Was at Washington Coliseum

This is seriously awesome. The Internet is just amazing.

The Beatles in 1964
The Beatles in 1964

This is a video from February 11th, 1964. It is the first live concert the Beatles played in the U.S. and it was right here in our city. They had only just arrived in New York City on the 7th and played for a live audience of about 700 people on the Ed Sullivan Show — over 70 million people were watching live on television. On the 11th, they played their first sold out show at the Washington Coliseum to 20,000 screaming fans. The video documents the concert. (UPDATE: the original video is no longer available, so we’ve updated it with this documentary clip)

An article in the Post the next day had the headline “Beatles Arrive, Teen-Agers Shriek, Police Do Their Duty, And That’s That.” Here is an excerpt from that piece by Jerry Doolittle:

And so, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr stepped from the train … For hours, teenagers had been streaming into Union Station–many of them from National Airport, where the Beatles, before the show, had been scheduled to arrive. … At the Coliseum, the Beatles handled a press conference, during which they conducted themselves with an aplomb that bordered on total relaxation. Two of the Beatles sparred with each other before the questioning started. A third snapped his fingers. … What did the Beatles think of President Johnson? “What do you think of the President?”, Ringo Starr asked a man adjusting the microphone. “He’s a great guy,” the man said. “He’s a great guy,” Ringo Starr said.

Remember, these guys were in their early 20s and they were on top of the world, having a great time, making jokes. Would have been great to witness that (turns out, my father-in-law’s sister was in attendance). Well, what happened to the venue that held the first American Beatles concert? It’s kind of sad, but it’s now completely run down and serves as a parking garage. It’s pretty nasty, but at least it still stands. Maybe one day it will be fixed up to hold thousands of screaming fans again. The Washington City Paper has a great little piece about it that you should check out. There are talks of renovation plans, but they seem to be stalled. Below are some recent photos of the old coliseum and a ticket from that concert.

Ticket from Beatles 1964 concert in D.C.

Ticket from Beatles 1964 concert in D.C.

UPDATE – July 12th, 2018

We dug up some great new photos of the concert below. Check them out!

 

The Beatles at Washington Coliseum - Feb. 11th, 1964
The Beatles at Washington Coliseum – Feb. 11th, 1964
The Beatles at Washington Coliseum - Feb. 11th, 1964
The Beatles at Washington Coliseum – Feb. 11th, 1964
Paul McCartney at Washington Coliseum - Feb. 11th, 1964
Paul McCartney at Washington Coliseum – Feb. 11th, 1964
John Lennon at Washington Coliseum - Feb. 11th, 1964
John Lennon at Washington Coliseum – Feb. 11th, 1964
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