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Beatlemania in Minnesota

Brother and sister fondly remember attending

Beatles concert at the Met

By Rosie Hartwig-Benson of Litchfield

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I remember peeking through a tiny opening of the fence bordering the parking lot of the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. I was eight years old. My father lifted me up to have the best view possible. I was mesmerized by the massive crowd of people. I continued peering through the opening until I observed four band members known as The Beatles. They were performing their hit song, “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The screaming of fans and the music floated, lingering in the warmth of the summer air.

Rosie Hartwig-Benson holds the keepsake souvenir booklet, and Al Hartwig holds a ticket from The Beatles’ concert at the Met in 1965. Contributed photo

It was Aug. 21, 1965, and ‘Beatlemania’ was a teenage rage. My older brother and one of his friends were fortunate to have gotten tickets to attend the outdoor concert. We lived about 70 miles from the stadium. Our father drove us to this extraordinary event.

We were a close-knit family and it wasn’t unusual for us to do everything together. I was content being able to hear musical scores and the crowd roaring while in the stadium parking lot with my parents. I discovered at a young age that time with my family was priceless.

I find it remarkable during that era that a mail order was fulfilled for this one-time, historic event in Minnesota. The money orders were filled as received and accepted only if mailed with stamped, self-addressed envelopes. Tickets ranged from $2.50 - $5.50 with no tickets sold in person or by phone.

The day the Beatles’ ticket arrived was an exciting moment at the Hartwig residence. My brother started drumming to Beatles’ songs with the audio up high. I can’t recall what was more intense -- the banging of the drums, the music, or the loud outcry of our mother pleading for the volume to be turned down. I do know the vibrations made the dishes rattle in the cupboard. I recently looked at tucked away keepsakes in a drawer. The original ticket and the Beatles’ souvenir photo booklet remain in mint condition.

On the afternoon of Aug. 21, we parked near the airport in Minneapolis to watch the Beatles descend from the airplane. We were on a slight hill several yards away where a large group of fans had gathered. We waited for their charter plane to land from Chicago. Before long, we noticed four men alighting the aircraft and standing on the airstairs. I was searching for my favorite Beatle, Paul McCartney. I became emotional exclaiming, “I can’t find Paul!” My brother being an avid fan, and 15-years-old at that time, didn’t hesitate in recognizing each member of the band and tried to point Paul out to me. We were a lengthy distance away; it was difficult for a youth to make out their distinguished features. The Beatles waved to the crowd before disappearing into a waiting limousine that took them to a press conference in the Minnesota Room at the Metropolitan Stadium.

The Beatles performed only once in Minnesota during their United States tours from 1964 to 1966. The concert at the Metropolitan Stadium lasted approximately 35 minutes. The set list featured 11 songs. An estimated 30,000 fans attended. My brother watched the Beatles run out of the dugout to second base where a makeshift stage was set up. They performed with the hope their vocals sounded in harmony. This was before vocal monitors were used by live bands. Imagine their voices radiating through the baseball field to the screaming audience with unfavorable acoustics. An announcer from WDGY reminded the fans if they screamed less, the Beatles would be able to perform more songs.

The year 1965 had a few “first” events at the stadium including the All-Star Game (July), The Beatles concert (August), and the World Series (Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Dodgers) in October. The Metropolitan Stadium sat empty for years before it was demolished in 1985. The Mall of America, is located on the site now.

I was gifted “The Lyrics,” a boxed set featuring two volumes of Paul McCartney lyrics. Included in this set is commentary, handwritten notes, and rare photographs. Paul states his song “Can’t Buy Me Love” stands firm on the same premise as 57-years-ago when I heard it performed live: “Money can’t buy you a happy family or friends you can trust.”

What ends up fulfilling us is the love and hope that we discover along our journey. May each new day bring simple delights for you to treasure while you perhaps are singing to your favorite Beatles’ song.

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