On this day in 1964 The Beatles were playing a show at The Cleveland Public Hall in Ohio. Things were going swimmingly, The band was playing well and no one could hear a thing because of the young girls screaming. Just a normal performance really, when the show was stopped for health and safety reasons.
Those were the days when several acts played on the same bill. Playing before The Beatles were The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, and Jackie DeShannon. Beatle Mania being what it was in those days it was usual for the fans, mainly girls to go wild, screaming and rushing the stage. The spectacle of young people enjoying their own music, rather than music made for them by grownups was very disturbing for the forces of the establishment.
It is hard to appreciate the effect of rock and roll on teenage culture. In fact, rock ushered in a new phenomena, that of a widespread teen culture. It can be argued that the emergence of teen culture was the result of teenagers having more disposable cash than ever before and capitalism realizing that there was a whole new market. That is a debate for another day.
Back to 15th September 1964. The build up to the show was eventful with a police cordon around the hotel to protect the hotel from the fans. Apparently an 11 year old girl tried to get into the hotel with a stolen key, a boy hid in a packing case that was to be delivered to the hotel (shades of Waldo Jeffers in the VU song “The Gift”). Other kids tried to blag their way into the hotel bars, pretended to faint to be taken inside etc. A normal day.
The show was going well with some 100 policemen (numbers vary according to the source) forming a cordon to stop the kids getting to the stage. As The Beatles played the police were pushed back towards the stage and several young people made it onto the stage.
Fearing for their safety the police (not sure if they were fearing for their safety or the fans, or that of The Beatles) decided that the show should be stopped so that order could be restored. Inspector Michael Blackwell and Deputy Inspector Carl Bare decided to stop the concert. Bare walked onto the stage and took a microphone, telling the crowd that the show was over and to sit down.
The Beatles did not want to stop playing, they were part way through “All My Loving” at the time. Eventually they went off for 10 minutes while relative calm was restored. They then completed the show.
Afterwards The Beatles and Brian Epstein were livid with John Lennon saying that the police were a bunch of amateurs. Epstein was diplomatic saying “The police were absolutely right. This has never happened before, but it was clear to me from the start that there was something very wrong. The enthusiasm of the crowd was building much too early.”
After the show, The Beatles made their customary high speed escape to the local airport.
Police inspector Blackwell was condescending to all concerned “I don’t blame the children. They’re young and they can’t be expected to behave like adults. And I don’t blame The Beatles – there is nothing wrong with their act. But if we hadn’t stopped it there would have been serious injury. One little girl was knocked down in the charge and there were 300 other youngsters about to trample her.”