When it comes to Beatlemania, you can’t get much more local than this.
On Feb. 11, 1964, the Fab Four traveled by train through a snowstorm to Washington to play their first-ever full U.S. concert before 8,092 screaming fans. A few months later they played to a packed Baltimore Civic Center on Sept. 13, 1964 where a good seat went for $3.75 a ticket.
But that performance at D.C.’s Washington Coliseum had remained unseen by movie theater audiences — until now. Nearly half a century later, it’s resurfaced in a new 92-minute documentary charting the birth and impact of Beatlemania in America.
“This blows away every performance I’ve ever seen, including Elvis!” quips Aerosmith rock superstar and American Idol judge Steven Tyler.
“The Beatles: The Lost Concert” will premier May 6 at New York’s landmark Ziegfield Theater, then shown in movie theaters across the country on May 17 and 22. Maryland theaters participating include Baltimore’s Harbor East; Annapolis Harbour Center 9, Montgomery Mall Theatre in Bethesda and AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.
In the District, E Street Cinema will screen the documentary, and in northern Virginia, participating movie-houses include Fairfax Corner, Reston Town Center Multiplex Cinema and Worldgate 9 Theatres in Herndon.
Chris Hunt, CEO of Ace Arts, which produced the documentary in partnership with Screenvision and Iambic Media, calls “The Lost Concert” an amazing film.
“It shows the effect the Beatles had on a whole generation, and explains and underlines the excitement the world felt when the Fab Four burst on the scene,” he says.
Darryl Schaffer, executive vice-president of Exhibitor Relations, adds: “We’re sure this will be a once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event, which huge, cross-generational appeal and box-office impact.”
The concert itself took place only two days after the Beatles’ record-shattering appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” After brief performances by the Caravelles, the Chiffons and Tommy Roe, the Beatles took the stage for a 12-song set that lasted just over 30 minutes and included favorites like “She Loves You”, “Twist and Shout” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”
One month later, on March 14-15, 1964, the concert was broadcast via closed-circuit to movie theaters across the nation and seen by an estimated two million people — then promptly forgotten. More than 47 years later, the original master tapes were restored and re-mastered by Iambic Media.
(Latest on new Beatles movie.)
(Feature photo: © Rowland Scherman)
Larry Luxner is a freelance writer with The Washington Diplomat and former editor of CubaNews. Born and raised in Miami and now based in Israel, Larry has reported from every country in the Western Hemisphere. His specialty is Latin America and the Middle East, and he’s written more than 2,000 articles for publications ranging from National Journal to Saudi Aramco World. Larry also runs an Internet-based stock photo agency at www.luxner.com.