Ringo Starr has revealed that The Beatles never intended to quit touring for good after the band called it quits on playing live at their momentous show at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966, the height of Beatlemania.
In an interview surrounding Ron Howard’s new documentary Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years, Starr told Mojo: “The Beatles were never gone. And they could have come back.”
They didn’t, however, playing only one more show on the rooftop of the Apple headquarters on Savile Row in 1969.
Paul McCartney explained the moment the band decided enough was enough: “By then we were totally fed up and getting actually put in the back of a stainless steel box,” referring to the armoured car they used to leave the Candlestick Park gig, which can be seen in the documentary.
“Now this is like some weird sci-fi thing form 2001 or something. It was a very weird place. What it reminded me of was… you know these rough rides that police do where they put you in the back of a van but you’re not strapped down? And they were accused of killing that guy. Well, that’s what it was like. We’re suddenly sliding around in the back of the van and it was like, Oh, fuck this! And finally. The guys, John [Lennon] and George [Harrison], had been a little ‘Oh murmur-murmur’ about touring and, finally, all of us, were like ‘Fuck this!’ So that was the moment.”
Candlestick Park was at the peak of Beatlemania that had been building since 1963, propelled by a steady string of live dates around the world. In the interview, the documentary’s director Ron Howard (who has previously directed Apollo 13 and Rush) discusses the “growing intensity” of Beatlemania, which almost caused the Beatles to split up.
“We got a bit conflicted, we got a bit fed up towards the end of it,” McCartney explained.
Fans’ screaming got so loud at live performances that drummer Ringo Starr had to look at the other members’ shoulders moving in order to follow the song, unable to hear any of the music. “We used a house PA, with those huge amps and I had to watch the back of the boys because I couldn’t hear nothing so if they went [wiggles shoulders] I’d know “Oh, we’re there! That’s where we are now. Also, and this is really my opinion, we really weren’t playing great.”
“At first, the screaming was exciting. It’s like doing autographs, having your photo taken, doing all that,” McCartney added. “Then, after a while, it got more and more boring.”
Paul went on to say: “The screaming, as Ringo said, got so as you were inaudible. And so you really were going through the motions and that’s why it was good to go ‘Whoo-oooh!’ because something was going on, because otherwise it was just little matchstick men doing this stuff that you couldn’t hear.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the two surviving Beatles members rejected the suggestion that the wreath on the Sgt Pepper album cover hinted at the death of the Beatles, explaining it was more of a shift in the band’s creative direction.
Following Candlestick Park in 1966, the band released ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967, and went on to release a further five albums including ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’.
Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years directed by Ron Howard is scheduled for UK release on September 15.