Paul McCartney Wants To Play A Farewell Concert For Candlestick Park

  • Rick Chandler

As you may know, this is the final season for the 49ers at Candlestick Park: once they move to their new home in Santa Clara for the 2014-15 season, Candlestick will have no remaining tenants, and that includes the seagulls. Why stick around if there are no Polish dogs or nachos? (Incidentally, this is my personal motto as well).

SF mayor Ed Lee has said that the city is going to demolish it next summer.

Paul McCartney also got the word. And he wants to send it off with a musical serenade. In nine days it will be the 47th anniversary of the Beatles’ final live paid concert, performed at Candlestick on Aug. 29, 1966, before 25,000 screeching fans. Yep, despite the fact that everyone your parents’ or grandparents’ age swears they were there, they only filled half the stadium. The final song: “Long Tall Sally” … performed on the infield, near second base.

Then, two weeks ago:

No one was more stunned than Mayor Ed Lee when McCartney floated the idea as he was about to take the stage at his recent Outside Lands festival appearance.

“And it was him who made the suggestion,” Lee said. “Believe me, it wasn’t something I, or anyone else, was expecting.”

McCartney also did this in 2009, playing a concert at Shea Stadium prior to that stadium being demolished. The Beatles also performed there as part of their last tour in ’66.

So many iconic sports moments at Candlestick, of course: it’s where Willie Mays played the majority of his career, and where the World Series was interrupted by the Loma Prieta Earthquake on Oct. 17, 1989. The 49ers fashioned four Super Bowl-winning seasons there. But it was also a concert venue, and when KYA radio personalities Big Daddy Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell made the Beatles’ gig a reality, no one but the band knew it would be their final live paid performance.

Even though this was the height of Beatlemania, tickets went for between $3.80 and $7. Outside the stadium, protesters marched in opposition to John Lennon’s recent remark that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.”

Inside, some Beatles’ fans unfurled a banner which read “Lennon Saves”.

KYA’s Gene Nelson MC’d the event:

“As any Giants fans will know, Candlestick Park in August, at night, was cold, foggy and windy,” said Nelson in “The Beatles Off The Record”, by Keith Badman. “The funniest thing this night was one of the warm-up acts, Bobby Hebb. He stood up on the stage at Candlestick Park, with the fog, and the wind blowing, and he was singing ‘Sunny’! It was tough anyway to work a ballpark as an MC, especially as The Beatles were taking their time to get out. I was trying to entertain a crowd that was shouting, ‘Beatles, Beatles, Beatles.’

“The dressing room was chaos. There were loads of people there. The press tried to get passes for their kids and the singer Joan Baez was in there. Any local celebrity, who was in town, was in the dressing room. They were having a party in there. They were having a perfectly wonderful time, while I was freezing my buns off on second base!”

Knowing it was their final gig, the band had one of their crew record the concert from near the stage. But the last half of the final song was cut off when the crew member forgot to flip over the cassette tape.

McCartney will rectify that mistake soon.