In 1965, the Minnesota Twins won the American League pennant. But the biggest hits at Metropolitan Stadium that summer were delivered by four guys from Liverpool, England.
On the night of Aug. 21, the Beatles gave their one and only performance in Minnesota before nearly 30,000 screaming fans at the same stadium where in October, the Twins would host the World Series.
“It looks as though they may win,” noted baseball expert and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said as he sat in Harmon Killebrew’s chair in the Twins’ locker room.
The Twin Cities show was part of the Beatles’ 1965 concert tour, which had opened a week earlier at Shea Stadium in New York. And the Minnesota concert came close to being the final appearance by the band when an engine on their chartered plane caught fire on the flight from Minnesota to the next day’s scheduled concerts in Portland, Ore.
For three consecutive summers — 1964, 1965 and 1966 — the Beatles, the most popular musicians at the time, toured North America. The logistics, including travel and security arrangements, were beyond anything previously attempted by recording artists. In effect, the Beatles created the modern concert tour.
Minnesota wasn’t part of the 1964 or 1966 tours, but made the list for the 1965 trip, which consisted of 16 concerts in 10 cities.
The Beatles flew into Minnesota from Chicago and stayed at the venerable Leamington Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, where they were besieged by fans.
“If there was ever a free-for-all on a Beatles tour, Minneapolis was the place,” recalled radio reporter Larry Kane, who traveled with the band, in his book, “Ticket to Ride.”
Fans and at least one newspaper reporter disguised themselves as housekeeping or room service staff to sneak into the rooms reserved for the Beatles’ entourage. Other fans, engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with security guards and police, tried desperately to find other inventive ways to infiltrate the hotel.
At a distance of nearly 56 years, such behavior might seem odd. But it is impossible to overstate how huge the Beatles were in the popular culture of the time. They inspired devotion on a massive scale.
Unfortunately, the artistic strides they were already making with their music in 1965 were overlooked by some fans, and certainly by the reporters posing inane questions at the press conferences held in every city — including in Minnesota.
“Is your hair real?” “What do you do with your money?” they asked.
The Beatles enjoyed parrying these questions, and as Frank Farrington, who covered the event for the Post Bulletin, reported, the press conference “revealed the Beatles to be rather quick-witted young millionaires.”
For the concert, the stage was set up in the middle of the field, leaving fans a long way from their idols. Despite that, Kane said, “The Minneapolis concert was typically magical.”
The Beatles performed 12 songs, including their then-current hit “Help!” When the concert ended, the Beatles made their escape in a laundry truck while fans followed a decoy motorcade of limos.
The next day, the Beatles’ plane, with one engine smoking, made a safe landing at the Portland airport. There were sighs of relief all around, Kane said. The biggest act in the world had dodged disaster.
“Let’s stay alive in ‘65,” Starr quipped.
Thomas Weber is a former Post Bulletin reporter who enjoys writing about local history.