South East Wales

It was 50 years ago today... Beatlemania hits Cardiff

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Media captionFootage of Beatles fans at Cardiff's Capitol Theatre on 7 November 1964

It was 50 years ago today that Beatlemania exploded on to the streets of Cardiff.

On Saturday, 7 November 1964 The Beatles arrived in the Welsh capital to play the Capitol Theatre at the very zenith of their powers.

A total of 5,000 fans saw the Fab Four in two performances held that day, but many thousands more missed out on tickets.

The concert was the second of three visits to Cardiff and came just months after the band had conquered America.

Beatles paid £850

The gig - for which the band were paid £850 - predictably sold out immediately and was the biggest demand for tickets The Capitol Theatre had ever experienced.

In those pre-internet days, fans wanting tickets sent off their money to the venue in the hope they would be lucky.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The songs of Paul McCartney and John Lennon had conquered America in 1964
Image caption The film A Hard Day's Night was released in July 1964

Thousands were not and had their cash sent back to them.

Entry into the gig cost between 8/6d (approx £5.40 today) and 15 shillings (£9.60), but today a ticket stub from the show sells for £100-plus on Beatles memorabilia websites.

One lucky fan who managed to get a golden ticket was the then 14-year-old Hefin Elis, of Port Talbot, who went with his friend Geraint Griffiths.

'You couldn't hear'

Recalling the concert, Mr Elis, 64, a former TV and record producer, said: "It was very exciting. We heard they were going on tour and we managed to get tickets.

"You couldn't hear much because the screaming was so loud.

"It was a fantastic experience.

"We were in the stalls, half way back. We had a good view and everyone was on their feet jumping up and down and screaming.

"I remember them playing Twist and Shout. We were big fans and we were both musicians and tried to emulate them.

"It's a real honour to think I was there. Every time I go past the Capitol even now - 50 years later - I think about that night."

'Wild excitement'

Another fan remembers the "wild excitement" of being in the crowd.

Helen Stradling, 70, a retired teacher from Penarth, said: "I can't remember one song they played, I just remember the wild excitement of it all.

"My mother and father, sister, my boyfriend and me were at the front of the upper dress circle and I just remember them bouncing onto the stage.

"It was just so exciting to see them in the flesh, just something so special. I think we still have the ticket somewhere."

Jelly babies

The Beatles were pelted with a shower of jelly babies for the duration of their two sets in Cardiff that night.

It was because George Harrison had made an off-the-cuff remark in an interview that they were his favourite sweets.

Before that November night, Welsh Beatles fans had waited more than a year to see their heroes following the band's brief residency in Llandudno in 1963.

John, Paul, George and Ringo were on a four-week tour of Britain after seeing the release of their critically acclaimed debut film, A Hard Day's Night, in July.

The gig was the 24th of the tour and joining them on the bill that night in Queen Street were The Rustiks, Michael Haslam, Sounds Incorporated, Mary Wells, The Remo Four and Tommy Quickly with compere duties being handled by Bob Bain.

Image caption The Beatles set list from the gig in Cardiff

Black Maria

Because of their stellar fame, getting past the hysterical fans and to the stage of the Capitol Theatre was no mean feat.

They first travelled to St Mellons in manager Brian Epstein's chauffeur-driven limousine before getting into a Black Maria police van to get through the crowds to the venue.

The Beatles performed the same 10 songs at both "houses" at 6.30pm and 8.30pm, but they were barely audible above the hysterical fans' screams.

As soon as the gig was over The Beatles were driven back to Liverpool for a homecoming the following day that attracted a crowd of 150,000.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


1964 HEADLINES: I heard the news today, oh boy

1 January: Top of the Pops first airs on BBC

20 January: Eleven men go on trial in Aylesbury charged in connection with the Great Train Robbery

15 March: Richard Burton marries Elizabeth Taylor (for the first time) in Montreal

6 July: A Hard Day's Night is released. Victor Spinetti appears and Alun Owen's screenplay is nominated for an Academy Award

22 August: The first Match of the Day airs on BBC Two

17 October: The Welsh Office is established, under the leadership of a Secretary of State for Wales Jim Griffiths

9 November: House of Commons votes to abolish the death penalty for murder in Britain


Image caption The concerts played in Wales by the Fab Four

Top Ten, November 7, 1964

1: (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me - Sandie Shaw

2: Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison

3: The Wedding (La Novia) - Julie Rogers

4: Walk Away - Matt Monro

5: Sha La La - Manfred Mann

6: When You Walk In The Room - Searchers

7: Baby Love - Supremes

8: The Twelfth Of Never - Cliff Richard

9: Where Did Our Love Go - Supremes

10: We're Through - Hollies


Image copyright PA
Image caption Ticket to ride... The Beatles arrive at New York's JFK airport in February 1964

A Year In The Life - 1964: The Beatles conquer America

The year The Beatles thrilled the crowds at Cardiff's Capitol Theatre was a crucial one in their unprecedented mind-blowing career.

After rising to fame in England from 1962 onwards it took until 1964 before the longed-for breakthrough came in America.

But when it did come, it came quick.

They went from being virtual unknowns in the USA to mega-star status in just six weeks.

On Christmas Day, 1963, practically no-one in the US had ever heard of them.

By Sunday, 9 February, 1964 they had caused such a stir Stateside that a world record audience of 73 million viewers tuned in to see the group's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Such was the significance of the achievement it was captured on Pathe News footage.

Our pictures below show some of the highlights of that groundbreaking tour.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Babies in black... The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February, 1964
Image copyright PA
Image caption Long, tall Ali... The Beatles were floored by meeting Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in February 1964
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Do you want to know a secret? The band at a news conference in Washington, USA, on February 11, 1964
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Twist and shout... The Fab Four were given an equally hysterical welcome in Canada when visiting Toronto in 1964
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Beatles at Carnegie Hall in New York on 12 February, 1964
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Get back - The Beatles return to the UK following the US tour on 22 February, 1964

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