Silver Laughter’s Jon Ludtke and Mick Orton Miss Seeing the Beatles… By That Much!

Beatlemaniacs In Chicago

Beatlemaniacs In Chicago

In case you’re not old enough, the “by that much” in the title of this article was a favorite saying of secret agent Maxwell Smart in the Mel Brooks 60’s comedy TV series, “Get Smart” when he would mess up.

As I have said, we were huge Beatles fans, and they had a big influence on our music. One summer in 1966 Jon and I had this idea to go see the Beatles when they were going to be in Chicago. They were scheduled to play at the Chicago Amphitheater on August 12, 1966. Jon and I were both 16 and had our driver’s licenses and cars, but the parents tried to talk us out of it.

The Quad Cities is a little over 170 miles from Chicago which was about a 2 1/2 hour drive at 70 mph (which was the speed limit back then). Looking back, we had no plan on what to do when we got there, how we would get in or that it might be mobbed (or sold out) with fans. We just wanted to go.

Unfortunately, my mother talked us out of it with the usual parental cautions of, “You guys are too young… You just got your driver’s licenses… Chicago is a big, dangerous city (watching too much “Untouchables” TV shows, mom?)… Why don’t you go next year?” Of course, it turned out that was the last year the Beatles toured. In fact, they ended their road trip here in San Francisco at Candlestick Park. Had we lived in the Bay Area it sounds like there were a lot of tickets left! I have been to baseball and football games at Candlestick Park, and it’s COLD… Years ago the Giants moved their baseball venue to AT&T Park. Next year even the 49ers are leaving for a warmer climate in Santa Clara! Here’s a little of what happened according to an article I found on Beatles Bible:

Beatles at Candlestick Park 1966

Beatles at Candlestick Park 1966

“The Park’s capacity was 42,500, but only 25,000 tickets were sold, leaving large sections of unsold seats. Fans paid between $4.50 and $6.50 for tickets, and The Beatles’ fee was around $90,000. The show’s promoter was local company Tempo Productions.

“The Beatles took 65% of the gross, the city of San Francisco took 15% of paid admissions and were given 50 free tickets. This arrangement, coupled with low ticket sales and other unexpected expenses resulted in a financial loss for Tempo Productions.

“Candlestick Park was the home of the baseball team the San Francisco Giants. The stage was located just behind second base on the field, and was five feet high and surrounded by a six-foot high wire fence.

“The compere was ‘Emperor’ Gene Nelson of KYA 1260 AM, and the support acts were, in order of appearance, The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle and The Ronettes. The show began at 8pm.

I was the MC, and, as any Giants fans will know, Candlestick Park in August, at night, was cold, foggy and windy. The funniest thing this night was one of the warm-up acts, Bobby Hebb. He stood up on the stage at Candlestick Park, with the fog, and the wind blowing, and he was singing ‘Sunny’! It was tough anyway to work a ballpark as an MC, especially as The Beatles were taking their time to get out. I was trying to entertain a crowd that was shouting, ‘Beatles, Beatles, Beatles.'”

Mick Orton

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1 reply

  1. By the way, I finally got to see Paul McCartney live at the HP Pavilion in San Jose several years ago. Though we were far from the action, there was a huge big screen monitor above the stage for everyone to get a close-up. He was excellent and performed many of the tunes he wrote with the Beatles.

    I was the expert for our group of 4 people. They would asked me which album a song was on or wanted other trivia about the Beatles.

    Mick Orton

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