PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first, and only, visit to Pittsburgh.
Before the show at the Civic Arena, screaming fans greeted the band at Greater Pitt Airport.
During the tumultuous welcome, KDKA reporter Al McDowell noted some flying vegetables.
“There’s Ringo,” he announced. “And we have started now to be pelted. You can see things being thrown. Tomatoes and all sorts of things. Apparently, there are some unfriendly Beatle fans in the area.”
That would not include a cheering eighth grader named Diane Pisano. Now married and living in Monroeville, Diane Bastian was 12-years-old when she and two friends played hooky from Epiphany Catholic School.
“When they finally arrived, it was just total mayhem,” she said. “Girls screaming, crying. And I was one of them.”
She says she took a note to school that day claiming a dental appointment.
“And the next day when I came back, my teacher was sitting at her desk, waving this Post-Gazette, and there was my picture right on the front page,” Bastian said.
The night before, she did see the Civic Arena show, where the screaming continued.
“We couldn’t hear any music. We heard a few ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs, a few ‘woos.’ But just seeing them, that was enough,” she said.
She has many mementos of her favorite band, and her three kids have become Beatles fans as well.
As for those flying tomatoes, she says, “I think they were all boys.”
The show was emceed by legendary DJ, Chuck Brinkman.
“Chuck was the biggest guy in town, and KQV was the best station,” says Pat DiCesare, who promoted the show. “These guys could make or break hits.”
DiCesare’s new book, “Hard Days, Hard Nights,” recalls the Beatles’ agent demanded $5,000 up front. The young promoter from Trafford didn’t have it, but DiCesare says his dad took out a loan and handed him the check.
“And he said, ‘Do you believe in the Beatles?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’” said DiCesare. “So he said then go do your Beatles.'”
It turned out to be a great investment.
Brinkman remembers the day well.
“They arrived at Greater Pitt in the afternoon, and they were immediately hustled to the Civic Arena where they had a press conference. And they always gave you goofy answers,” he said.
Brinkman says the moment he introduced the Beatles was the most exciting of his career.
But, Brinkman says, “Nobody could hear them past the fourth row; the sound system was horrible, I mean, it was 1964. It was very inadequate. But nobody cared. They just wanted to watch them, listen to them and scream at them.”
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