Seattle, WA

The Beatles Used a Public Address System

Tree Langdon

It was 40 yrs ago today, Sgt. Pepper’s Band began to play
The Beatles - a 45 recordNickFewings/Unsplash

Well, not exactly 40 years, it’s more like 60.

When the Fab Four were in Seattle, they played to a packed audience at the old Seattle Center Coliseum. It was Aug. 21, 1964, almost 60 years ago. 

You’ve probably seen old black and white footage of the event, but you can’t hear the band. They were surrounded by at least 14 thousand screaming fans, most of them teenage girls.

A Seattle DJ and promoter, Pat O’Day brought The Beatles to the venue and introduced them to the crowd. 

“The noise was deafening,” Pat O’Day, concert promoter

They had virtually no sound equipment

The concert industry at the time was almost non-existent.

The Coliseum had poor staging, inadequate sound systems, and lighting. As a result of the screaming, no one could hear the band. Even the musicians were giving up.

O’Day described how George Harrison reacted to the noise.

“George was playing and he looks down at me like ‘what difference does it make?’ So he reached down and unplugged his guitar, looked at me, and then plugged it back in and took his hands and spread them like it doesn’t matter,” he laughs.

There was one amplifier on stage, so Paul McCartney and John Lennon shared it. Ringo played his drums without a mic and the vocals were piped through a small public address system. 

It had a few little tiny speakers hanging up by the ceiling.

It’s almost unimaginable that such a famous band was so poorly set up that they couldn’t be heard. But that’s how it was back then. 

Pat O’Day was a legend in his own time as the highest-profile DJ and dance promoter in the 60s. 

He was inspired by the shitty setup at the Coliseum show and the powerful presence of the band. He could see the immense possibility of concerts in the music industry.

While The Beatles would change the face of music, O’Day would go on to pioneer sound systems. He helped develop Concerts West, which would become the largest concert company in the world. 

Some of the acts they worked with were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, The Beach Boys, Boy Dylan, Elton John, Three Dog Night, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley.

The Fab Four went fishing

When their plane landed in Seattle, the police kept a crowd of excited fans behind barricades. They whisked the passengers off to the Edgewater Inn Hotel on Elliot Bay.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo took refuge from the mob of fans screaming, “We want The Beatles! We want The Beatles!” from outside the hotel.

The Beatles famously fished from the window of their suite at the hotel.

  •  It was the height of Beatlemania, with crazy fans swarming them where ever they stayed and many hotels refused to allow them to visit.
  • Seattle was their third stop on their world tour in February 1964.
  • The Edgewater surrounded the property with cyclone fencing to keep the fans back and used an ambulance as a way to get them to and from the hotel.
  • When it was discovered that they were staying at the Edgewater, a few devoted fans tried to swim across the Bay to get to them.

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle

This location has deep roots in the history of rock and roll. They have hosted many legends in the music business.

They’re known for their discretion, so if you’re famous and want to be anonymous, this is the place for you.

Sources: Northbynorthwest, Seattle Times

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I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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