Of all the great rock n roll bands since pop music began, there has been none that quite reached the heights of adoration that the Beatles did. From concerts drowned out by the sound of screaming, to the “Apple Scruffs” who hung around outside the studios day and night, just hoping to glimpse their icons, the Beatles were revered and loved. If you’re one of those people who used to scream at the sight of a moptop or just someone who’s grown up with the Beatles’ music, you may want to visit a few of the places that were significant in the lives and careers of the Fab Four. Join our Magical Mystery Sightseeing Tour, with our Top 10 Beatles Sights.
10. Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Let’s start at the end – of their live career at least. Things had been difficult for a while – live sets were inaudible above the screaming and moving the Beatles around without them being crushed or abducted was a feat of military precision. So it was no surprise that their 11-song set at Candlestick Park on August 29th 1966 would prove to be their last official concert.
The stadium is still in use today, as home to the San Francisco 49ers, so you can catch a game while there. But if you can, just close your eyes and imagine 4 tiny figures with guitars on a stage erected around 2nd base…
9. “Mendips”, Liverpool
It’s not surprising that a lot of the Beatles sites are to be found in Liverpool. This unremarkable-looking house is where John Lennon grew up, and is now owned by the National Trust, who organize tours of it regularly. It may look ordinary but, in the words of John’s widow Yoko, it “resonates with a special atmosphere.”
It’s a 1930s, semi-detached house and John lived there with his Aunt Mimi, who took care of him when his mother Julia was unable to (she later died in a road accident). He lived there between the ages of 4 and 23, only moving out after the Beatles became famous. It’s been restored with decor from the 1950s and 60s, so you can really picture how it would have looked when John and Mimi lived there. For the sake of politeness, it’s not advised to steal bits of the carpet of soft furnishings, however devoted a fan you are…
8. Prince of Wales Theatre, London
Squashed between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, this London theatre was the venue for the 1963 Royal Variety Performance, where the Beatles performed in front of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Before the performance, John Lennon had threatened to tell the people in the posh seats that, if they wouldn’t clap they could “rattle their £^<!ing jewelry”. Luckily, this comment mutated into the much friendlier “For our last number I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry” With a cheeky wink and nod, Lennon not only got away with it but even got a wave of approval from the Queen Mother.
Recently, the theatre hosted a Beatles’ tribute show called “Let it Be”, but sadly that is no longer running. Still, John Lennon would probably appreciate the dark humor of the Book of Mormon!
7. Penny Lane, Liverpool
Back to Liverpool for this iconic street where Paul and John used to meet up to catch the bus into the city center. It was immortalized in the song of the same name, although tourists to the area may be disappointed in the lack of friendly firemen with hourglasses. There may even be a lack of street sign, given that this particular road is prone to sign-theft.
For a while, the council took to painting the street name onto houses instead, but have recently come up with an apparently “theft-proof” sign so that fans could still stand and gaze on the spot when Lennon and McCartney once stood, but not actually remove the sign to incorporate it into their home decor. There’s been no word on just how effective the theft-proofing is…
6. Shea Stadium, New York
While Candlestick Park was the Beatles’ final gig, it wasn’t their definitive one. That honor falls to another American concert, a year earlier. In August 1965, the Beatles played the biggest gig of their lives so far, at Shea Stadium, New York, in front of 55,600 fans. It was recorded and released as a documentary, albeit with some songs re-recorded (it’s hard to capture good audio over the screaming!). John Lennon later described the Shea Stadium gig as “the top of the mountain” and it paved the way for the stadium rock bands of the 70s and 80s.
Shea Stadium was demolished in 2008, with its replacement stadium Citi Field opening next door the following year. Paul McCartney played the closing gig, alongside Billy Joel and the stadium site is now Citi Field’s car park. But if you look closely, the home plate is still in place amid the parked cars, and there is a small tribute to the old stadium.