Beatlemania in Baltimore
(Written for the H. Furlong Baldwin Library’s “underbelly” blog in 2014.)
As Baltimore celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner and the successful defense of Fort McHenry from invading British forces, there’s another British invasion worth remembering. It occurred fifty years ago and was of an entirely different sort. On September 13, 1964, The Beatles invaded Baltimore for a one-day stop during their first American tour. John, Paul, George, and Ringo played two concerts at the Civic Center (today know as the Baltimore Arena) and then quickly moved on to the remaining stops on their 32-performance tour schedule from August 19 to September 20.
Baltimore photographer Morton Tadder was there to document the performances. Born in 1929, Tadder began working as a photographer’s assistant while still in high school and over the next six decades established himself as one of Maryland’s premiere commercial photographers. His clients included McCormick, Baltimore magazine, U.S. Steel Corporation, and Playboy. He was also the official photographer for both the Orioles and the Colts.(1) Tadder was hired by the London Express to photograph the Fab Four for what would be their only Baltimore appearance. The newspaper asked him to only shoot only one roll of film, but Tadder ended up filling up more than ten rolls, capturing the Beatles in concert (only the afternoon performance), the between show press conference, and the masses of teenage girls.
The Beatles visit to Baltimore was typical of any of the group’s appearances at the height of Beatlemania: screaming girls, press conferences, high security, car chases, and hiding in hotels. The music itself was almost incidental. Crowds gathered all day outside the Civic Center and the Holiday Inn across the street, where the Beatles were staying, in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the group. Two girls unsuccessfully tried to deliver themselves to the concert in a box marked “Beatles Fan Mail.” Another girl, intent on fulfilling her plan to marry Ringo, persuaded a Civic Center employee to show her the Beatles dressing room. She left a note with her telephone number and “I love you Ringo” affixed to some coat hangers.
An estimated 26,000 screaming fans packed into the Civic Center for the two concerts. Seventy-one police officers were lined up three deep in the orchestra pit in front of the stage. After sitting in patient anticipation through the opening acts—Bill Black’s Combo, The Exciters, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, and Jackie DeShannon—the crowd exploded in shrieks and applause when the Beatles hit the stage. Although little could be heard of their performance above the din of the audience, the group ran through a set list of 12 songs: “Twist and Shout,” “You Can’t Do That,” “All My Loving,” “She Loves You,” “Things we Said Today,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “If I Fell, I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Boys,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “Long Tall Sally.”
After an all night private party held at La Ronde, the revolving restaurant perched atop the Holiday Inn, the Beatles left the hotel by limousine destined for more of the same hysteria in Pittsburgh, the next stop on the tour. Despite the party, the frenzied pace of touring, and general condition of being a Beatle, The Sun reported that the group departed Baltimore looking “fresh and restive.” George and Paul “were neatly dressed in suits and blue shirts, Ringo was tie-less, and John, in sunglasses, long-hair and white shirt with bold black spots, looked like a blind Dalmatian.”(2) (Damon Talbot)
Underbelly would like to thank Morton Tadder for granting permission to use his photographs. Captions for the photographs below were taken from various contemporary articles from the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
Beginning on September 14, an exhibit of Tadder’s Beatles photographs will be on display at the Unicorn Gallery, 626 South Broadway. Info: 410-675-5412.
Sources and further reading:
(1) Mr. Tadder donated tens of thousands of Maryland-related photographs he took over his long career to the Maryland Historical Society in 2004. The collection does not include, however, Tadder’s Beatles photography. To celebrate the donation, Tadder allowed the MdHS to display a limited-time exhibition of his Beatles photography. “The Beatles ’64: The Photographs of Morton Tadder,” exhibition ran from September 12, 2004 through February 15, 2005 at the MdHS.
(2)Levine, Richard H., “Beatles quit Baltimore: Leave city after Private, All-Night Hotel Party,” The Baltimore Sun, September 15, 1964.
Gardner, R.H., “Marcia’s bid to meet Ringo is failure,” The Baltimore Sun, September 14, 1964.
Levine, Richard H., “Thousands see Beatles shake Civic Center,” The Baltimore Sun, September 14, 1964.
Memories of the Beatles 1964 Concert in Baltimore, Examiner.com, September 13, 2011.
Millard, Andre, Beatlemania: Technology, Business, and Teen culture in Cold War America, (Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 2012).
Schoettler, Carl, “Beatles photos: a magical history tour,” The Baltimore Sun, September 13, 2004.
The Beatles American Tours
The Beatles ’64: The photographs of Morton Tadder, exhibit brochure, The Maryland Historical Society, September 12, 2–4 – February 15, 2005.
Woodfield, John, “Beatles Gone, but not Forgotten in Baltimore,” The Washington Post, September 15, 1964.