The Beatles, Live in Philly
Thanks to reporting over the years, we know much about what led to the Beatles epic September 2, 1964 concert at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.
DJ Hy Lit (legally Hyman Aaron Lit) was the top DJ at WIBG-AM, known as Wibbage.
Lit had been introduced to the Beatles shortly before their famous February 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Lit knew immediately that the Beatles would be huge, so he called their booking agency, William Morris, and $25,000 later the Beatles were booked for the Convention Center. A week later, the shaggy-haired Brits went on Sullivan and the rest is history.
Tickets sold out within two hours. Booking the Beatles turned out to be easy compared to getting them into the arena. Though that could be said about virtually every stop during this famous 1964 tour.
The Beatles were playing Atlantic City’s Convention Hall, located on the Boardwalk, on August 30, just days after the Democratic National Convention had left town following their nomination of President Lyndon B. Johnson for a full term.
While in Atlantic City, the band enjoyed local delicacies like White House Subs and also screened their movie Hard Day’s Night with future Phialadelphia area broadcast reporter Larry Kane. The band departed Atlantic City in a fish truck owned by Hackney’s, an act of subterfuge arranged by concert promoter George A. Hamid Jr.
Hamid would later tell the Princeton Alumni Weekly, “After they left, I took two tranquilizers, shifted to martinis and said a prayer of thanks that the frenzy had moved to another town.”
Hy Lit also claimed that he and Frank Rizzo were involved in the plot –Rizzo had called Lit claiming that “his boss and children wanted to meet the Beatles”, so Lit asked for some help in securing the safe arrival of the fish truck. And that he did.
The fish truck was flanked on the New Jersey White Horse Pike with a bus caravan and an escort from the Philadelphia Highway Patrol and straight into a totally cleared out Philadelphia Convention Center parking lot. The Beatles would only be in the city for 5 hours as their manager Brian Epstein had cancelled the group’s reservations at the Warwick Hotel in favor of heading straight to their next stop in Indianapolis.
Daily News reporter Rose DeWolf recalled for the history, Read The Beatles:
If those guys were singing songs, I didn’t know it. The screaming was endless, but the kids were cute and so were the Beatles. I was in the front row with other reports, and minutes after the concert got underway, started pulling jellybeans and marshmallows from my hair. The marshmallows had messages written on them to the Beatles. Believe me, the real show wasn’t just the Beatles. The show was the kids in the audience!
After the concert, the Beatles had a long post-concert bus ride to the Northeast Philadelphia Airport and left for Indianapolis to continue their tour.
Twist And Shout • You Can’t Do That • All My Loving • She Loves You • Things We Said Today • Roll Over Beethoven • Can’t Buy Me Love • If I Fell • I Want To Hold Your Hand • Boys • A Hard Day’s Night • Long Tall Sally
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This is an adaptation of a tour for Philadelphia Rail Park Tours, an affiliated company of Popular History. The tour begins just north of Callowhill & Broad.
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