The 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America is this year. To mark the occasion, a huge two-volume chronicle of The Beatles’ official American tours by Chuck Gunderson will be published this month, called Some Fun Tonight: The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966. When you think back on those days, it's hard to believe that three short years of touring America left such a mark felt a half-century later. Collectors Weekly has excerpts from the book, in which each city has its own chapter. Kansas City was not on the original tour schedule.
But Charlie Finley, who owned the Kansas City Athletics baseball team, had promised his city a Beatles concert, so he started working on the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, from the moment the tour began in San Francisco. Finley was prepared to pay top dollar to bring The Beatles to Kansas City, which is saying a lot, since they were already the best-paid act in show business.
“At that time,” says Gunderson, “the big stars were Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, who were each getting between $10,000 and $15,000 a show. When The Beatles came around in 1964, Brian was getting them anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 per show. Finley offered $100,000, and Epstein essentially said, ‘No. They’re having a day off; the tour is booked. Go away.’”
Used to getting his way, Finley was not so easily brushed off. “His ego was huge,” says Gunderson, “and he had the money to spend. So he went to Brian again when The Beatles were in Los Angeles to play the Hollywood Bowl and wrote out a check for $150,000. Reportedly, Brian took it to this private mansion in L.A. where The Beatles were staying and said ‘What do you want me to do with this?’ And they basically said ‘We’ll do anything you want.’ And so The Beatles were booked to play Kansas City on the 17th of September, at just under $5,000 a minute.”
After all, the Beatles only played for about a half-hour during each concert. Read more such stories about the Fab Four on tour at Collectors Weekly.