THE BEATLES IN SAN DIEGO
By Bart Mendoza
Although the actual Fab Four only performed in San Diego once, the solo years would find them making periodic visits for solo shows and spiritual guidance- even just to visit friends. Numerous locals have had run in’s with them throughout the past few decades, so here we present a collection of stats and trivia concerning the Beatles in (and around) San Diego.
08/28/65 - Beatles at Balboa Stadium, now a parking lot for City College – this show took place the night after they met Elvis, and after the show, their bus broke down on the way back to LA. Distant film exists and has been screened on various news programs, but nothing has ever been bootlegged. There is however a grey market picture disc of a Jerry G. Bishop (who was credited in “Anthology”!) interview with the group from this era out there, as well as a more recent (2001) CD collection of those interviews issued by Bishop himself. The group's set lasted approximately 28 minutes and the songs were: Twist and Shout (short version), She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Ms. Lizzie, Ticket To Ride, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, Baby's in Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Days Night, Help, and I'm Down. Opening acts (for the whole tour) were Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & the Headhunters and Sounds Incorporated, quite an ethnically diverse bill. A ticket stub from that days concert is currently valued in the $30- 50 range- a full ticket would go for between $200 – 400 depending. Not bad considering the tickets were priced at $3.50 - $5.50 originally. Oh yeah, one of the young ladies who presented keys to the city to the Beatles at the pre show press conference , met Ringo that day- and STILL has a piece of the chicken he was eating….
06/18/76 - Paul McCartney & Wings at the Sports Arena. They flew in on a private jet, and one of the San Diego Union ads read “Spots” Arena. People literally wept when McCartney hit the stage, at his Wings prime. He played a hit filled show, lasting just over 2 hours, and included a few Beatles tunes (Ive Just Seen A Face, Lady Madonna etc) but stuck heavily to his solo tunes. The show’s highpoint? Easily a pyrotechnic laden "Live And Let Die". But the defining moment was likely those first two seconds as the crowd realized that yes, he was about to play "Yesterday". It was literal pandemonium. The whole show exists as an audience tape, but so far only 6 tracks from this show have found their way to bootleg. The best sources would be the vinyl editions of either “Oriental Nightfish” or “Wings”.
08/08/92 - This was the first time Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band made a stop in San Diego, performing at Camp Pendleton with his friends Dr. John, Levon Helm (the Band), Billy Preston, Nils Lofgren (E St. Band), Clarence Clemons (E St. Band), Rick Danko (the Band), Joe Walsh (Eagles, Drew Carey: -)
08/24/92 - George Harrison visits Ravi Shankar. There were numerous sightings in this time frame, particularly in the Hillcrest and Del Mar areas, as well as the U.C.S.D. Medical Center. Quoting from Ravi Shankar's tribute, "Remembering George Harrison": "He would fly and be with me whenever I was in the hospital or not well with my heart problems. His love and concern touched me deeply." Hospital employees were asked not to bother him when he was in the area, but at least one doctor was known to be showing off a signed dollar bill after one visit. Keith Badman's "After the Breakup” confirms all the rumours. ...
1994 George Harrison visits Ravi Shankar in Encinitas, this time to work on Shankar's box set, "In Celebration." Harrison did indeed stay at one of the cottages at the Self Realization Center, otherwise known as Swami's, several times during the early nineties, due to its proximity to Shankar's home in Encinitas. He also stayed at Shankar's home. Quoting again from the tribute "I'll never forget how much love, care and time he gave to another project he did for me while staying in our house here in Encinitas. He went through all the details, right from choosing all the artwork, to writing the notes, to producing the four-CD boxed set "In Celebration," selections from my 40 years of sitar performances and compositions."
08/16/95 - Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band at Humphrey’s. The scheduled second gig a week later was cancelled when Ringo’s daughter became ill. Mark Farner (Grand Funk), Felix Cavaliere (Rascals), Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive, Guess Who) Billy Preston, and John Entwistle (the Who) played their hits. Like a top 40 station circa 1974… Not Bootlegged.
Mid 90’s George Harrison stays aboard Eric Clapton’s yacht moored at San Diego Harbor and goes house shopping. According to Real Estate agent Jeff Paiste, quoted by Jay Allen Sanford in the San Diego Reader, “He was thinking about actually buying a house here. He said Swami’s was his favorite place to meditate outside his (U.K.) home and India. He wanted a house within a few miles of Swami’s, but there was nothing available. We looked at a few places in La Jolla, but he didn’t like anything.” Paiste says Harrison was his infamous moody self. “He didn’t say much, except to bitch about this or that, about traffic, about the houses, about the side of the road. He couldn’t believe all the trash people throw out of their cars. We were on the highway and saw a couch on the curb, then a chair, and then some busted up furniture. George looked really disgusted and said “You should drive the homeless around and pick this stuff up, furnish an apartment for them.”
05/04/97 - Ringo and his All Starr Band at Humphrey’s. This time out the band consists of Peter Frampton (The Herd), Jack Bruce (Cream), Simon Kirke (Free/Bad Company) Gary Brooker (Procul Harum). Not Bootlegged.
03/14-15/99 - Ringo and his All Starr Band at 4th & B. The first night has been bootlegged on a 2 CD set (with studio bonus cuts!) simply called “Live At 4th & B”. Same line up as the 97 show, except that Peter Frampton is replaced by Todd Rundgren.
06/25-26/00 -Ringo & His All Starr Band returns to Humphrey's. The line up shifts this time to add Eric Carmen (The Raspberries), and features the return of previous line up veterans including Dave Edmunds, Jack Bruce, Simon Kirke and Mark Rivera. Micheal McDonald and Gary Puckett both joined the band for a rendition of "With A Little Help From My Friends". Not bootlegged.
09/02/01 - Once more at Humphrey's. A completely revamped Ringo's All Starr lineup, with Greg Lake (King Crimson, ELP), Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), Howard Jones, Rodger Hodgson, and Shiela E., who by all accounts stole the show. This was the tour closer, so the Escovedo family was out in full force. Not bootlegged.
02/22/03 - Incredibly Paul McCartney played a surprise show at a Rancho Santa Fe restaurant called Delicias, and dubbed the Rancho Blues Club for the evening. He was paid an amazing $1,000,000 for the 90 minute set. The show was a birthday surprise for Wendy Whitworth's 50th Birthday and there were 150 guests, said to include Larry King, Katie Couric and Sarah Ferguson. Paul serenaded the birthday girl with a rendition of "Birthday" having her join him onstage for a dance - he gave her his guitar pick. The song was not then being played live by the McCartney band, being added to the tour after this party. Paul also gave Whitworth 50 roses. Paul had never played a show like this before, but in addition to being an extra rehearsal for the band and sound crew, his million dollar fee went to a good cause. Paul was quoted in a press release as saying: "Normally I don't do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed (delighted) to do it because it was a win-win show. Ralph gets to be the great husband for organising the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour and, most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets $1 million. It was a very human evening and we all had a fabulous time". The band arrived the afternoon before and rehearsed in the restaurant for several hours, with area residents reportedly out in the streets listening. The set was 19 songs in duration. The songs included: "Hello Goodbye, "Let It Be," "Yesterday," "Back In The USSR," "Lady Madonna," "We Can Work It Out," "Hey Jude," "She's Leaving Home" "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Maybe I'm Amazed."
09/07/03 - Clearly Ringo and his All-Star Band Like Humphrey's. Another year, another Ringo tour. This time out we get John Waite (Babys, Bad English), Sheila E., Colin Hay (Men at Work), Paul Carrack (Squeeze, Mike & The Mechanics)
This of course ignores all the appearances by Zak Starkey (he's the Who's drummer), Sean Lennon at the Velvet/Crow Bar, Julian Lennon having birthday cake in a San Diego radio station parking lot, Pete Best at Blue Meanie or Cane's, orTony Sheridan at the Princess Pub, et al….. I've gotta get a life…
Did You Know?
An onstage reunion between Pete Best and Tony Sheridan took place July 20, 2003 at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley, during the annual Beatlefair celebration. They jammed on the song "Johnny B. Good" to a rapturous reception. It was the first time onstage together since 1962.
Beatlefair 2000 was famed film producer's ("A Hard Days Night" and many many more) Walter Shenson's last public appearance.
Paul McCartney had San Diego penciled in for the 93 tour but the Padres held the date and couldn't/wouldn't budge…
Part of the proceeds from the single re-issue of "My Sweet Lord" following the death of George Harrison in 2001were earmarked for the Self Realization Center's (Swami’s), in Del Mar and Hillcrest.
Two San Diego related acts have had their songs covered by an ex Beatle - John recorded Rosie and the Originals "Angel Baby", while Ringo recorded- in 1987- a still unreleased version of the Kingston Trio's "Scotch And Soda"…
Chris Hillman began his long illustrious career with a local bluegrass outfit, The Scotsville Squirrel Barkers, and released one album (on Crown). A few years later as a member of the Byrds he not only achieved chart topping status, but also became part of the Beatles circle. As both bands had connections to Derek Taylor, it was only natural that the band meet The Beatles on the Byrds first tour of the UK in 1965. In August of that same year both bands hung out in LA, with Paul and George attending a Byrds studio session with Dylan on the 24th. And more of course. Lots of San Diego musicians had meetings with the group, as peers, over the years, as we'll see.
As heard in a 1984 European Interview, which was made into a picture disc. Frank Zappa (Mission Bay High) was surprised to find that his songs- which he and Lennon had jammed on in a live encore at a Zappa show recorded 6/5/71 at New York's Fillmore East- were released and credited to Lennon on "Sometime In New York City.” According to Zappa: " The day before the show, a journalist in New York City woke me up - knocked on the door and is standing there with a tape recorder and goes: "Frank, I'd like to introduce you to John Lennon," you know, waiting for me to gasp and fall on the floor and I said "Well, ok. Come on in." And we sat around and talked, and I think the first thing he said to me was "You're not as ugly as I thought you would be." So anyway, I thought he had a pretty good sense of humor so I invited him to come down and jam with us at the Fillmore East. We had already booked in a recording truck because we were making the "Live At The Fillmore" album at the time. After they had sat in with us, an arrangement was made that we would both have access to the tapes. He wanted to release it with his mix and I had the right to release it with my mix - so that's how that one section came about. The bad part is, there's a song that I wrote called "King Kong" which we played that night, and I don't know whether it was Yoko's idea or John's idea but they changed the name of the song to "Jam Rag", gave themselves writing and publishing credit on it, stuck it on an album and never paid me. It was obviously not a jam session song - its got a melody, its got a bass line, it's obviously an organized song - little bit disappointing. I've never released my version of the mixes of that night. It would be drastically different because there were things that were edited out of their version and certain words that were being sung that were removed because of the editorial slant that they wanted to apply to the material and I have a slightly different viewpoint on it." I'll bet!
… Longtime synth pop duo Red Flag were originally Liverpool natives before relocating here as youngsters in the mid seventies.
Both Gregory Page's mom and dad were bass players- and they both opened for the Beatles- Gregory's dad with his band the Martians, while both bands were in Hamburg Germany, and his mom, with her band the Beat Chic's on a tour of Spain in 1965. For his part, Gregory took in a Bullfight with the entourage and sat on McCartney's knee…
Famed local bass player Nathan East, plays regularly with Eric Clapton, and so ended up performing on George Harrison's 1992 tour of Japan - the last of only 2 in Harrison's career, which was also released as the aptly titled 2 CD set "Live In Japan" by Warner Brothers.
On 2/4/72 Senator Strom Thurmond sent a secret memo to US Attorney General John Mitchell advising that John Lennon should be deported. Perhap's it's best to quote: " He believed Lennon was planning a 12 city US Tour aimed at undermining President Nixon's bid for a second term, and set to culminate with a massive demonstration at the forthcoming Republican Convention in San Diego." Ponder.
Popular early 90's comic book series "The Beatles Story" was published by local comics company Revisionary Press.
In a Moby Grape interview (Goldmine #152"), guitarist Peter Lewis comments: "The Beatles liked us, so they hired out this club (in England), and (we played), they were there and all their friends, and then me and Bob (Mosely of San Diego, the bassist, natch) went back to John Lennon's house with him afterwards and stayed up all night writing these dirty songs. Of course, he (Lennon) was responsible for some of that, you know, but nothing ever happened to those songs…" -
Paul Williams is not only a fine Encinitan and founder of the first rock magazine, Crawdaddy. He also was one of the first to hire a young Linda Eastman (later McCartney) as a rock photographer. Perhaps most interesting in this context though is that not only did he attend John and Yoko's Montreal Bed In (along with Timothy Leary), he's the one just to the right bobbing his head in the "Give Peace A Chance Video".
Pearl Jam, featuring two local boys made good (that would be Matt Cameron, and Eddie Vedder) , issued a cover version of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" as their 2001 Christmas Fan Club single….
Local, by way of Durham England, Singer songwriter Dave Humphries had a band in the mid sixties. Today he is the proud owner of four rejection letters from Apple received in just over a year. Undertaking a trip to get their demo tape into the hands of the Beatles in 1968, aged just 16, it turned into an adventure. While they never met the Fabs, they did travel to McCartney's house, get to see the Apple Boutique when McCartney had the windows used to advertise "Hey Jude/Revolution" and were amongst the first to set foot in Apple's Saville Row offices. Throughout the year they tried various ways to get the Beatles attention, but instead got signed rejection letters from: Peter Asher, Chris Thomas, Dee Meehan, and Peter Brown. That's three names who loom large in music history and the wife of one of Cliff Richard's Shadow's.
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