An Ed Sullivan lookalike will introduce a Beatles band soundalike when WYES kicks off a concert at Tad Gormley Stadium Tuesday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s performance here on Sept. 16, 1964. So what has changed in the past half-century? Here’s a brief look.
Then: A ticket to the Beatles concert cost $5.
Then: It was called City Park Stadium and it was packed to capacity for the concert with 12,000 fans.
Now: It’s called Tad Gormley Stadium and it can seat 26,500 fans.
Then: As in other cities, the Beatles’ bed linens were cut up and distributed as souvenirs. Unlike other cities, in New Orleans, they also sliced up the microphone cords and microphones and packaged them.
Now: A framed set of snippets of linen slept on by each of the Fab Four is offered online for $1,050. No hint of where the microphone cords ended up.
Then: The Beatles were supposed to stay at the Roosevelt Hotel, which cancelled on them for fear of damage by fans. They wound up at the Congress Inn on Chef Menteur Highway.
Now: The Roosevelt became the Fairmont which became … the Roosevelt. And the Congress Inn became an assisted living home for seniors, which didn’t survive Hurricane Katrina.
Then: Opening acts were, in order, The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence “Frogman'”Henry (who had replaced the Righteous Brothers two weeks earlier and who was paid $750 per week on the tour), and Jackie DeShannon.
Now: Clarence “Frogman” Henry turned 77 in March and still performs at Jazzfest. We don’t know what he earns these days.
Then: The Beatles wanted to meet Fats Domino, and did, and were impressed by his star-shaped diamond watch. Fats said of the Beatles, “Man, them cats talk funny!’”
Now: Fats Domino is 86, and was honorary grand marshal of this year’s Orpheus parade.
Then: Crowds rushing the barricades and words from Paul:
Now: The Fab Four tribute band, who will perform at 7 p.m Tuesday at City Park:
Bonus read: NolaVie president Sharon Litwin has an almost-connection to the Beatles through her almost-famous Aunt Jessie. Catch the hilarious details here.