DID THEY DELIVER VALUE FOR MONEY?

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - THE BEATLES -

SOUTH AUS­TRALIA em­braced "Beatle­ma­nia’’ like nowhere else in the world in 1964.

De­mand for tick­ets in Ade­laide out­stripped all other Aus­tralian cities, with queues out­side the two sales of­fices at John Martin’s city store on North Ter­race and Al­lans Mu­sic in Gawler Place stretch­ing for hun­dreds of me­tres and tak­ing 48 hours to clear.

When the an­nounce­ment of four con­certs was first made, more than 50,000 ap­pli­ca­tions were re­ceived for tick­ets to see the Bea­tles in Ade­laide’s Cen­ten­nial Hall, which had a ca­pac­ity of just 3000 seats.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the four con­certs — staged at 6pm and 8.45pm on Fri­day, June 12, and Satur­day, June 13 — were sell-outs. What is in­vari­ably over­looked is that there were an­other 15,000 fans con­gre­gated out­side the venue on both evenings just hop­ing, by some mir­a­cle, they could get in­side.

So, what did it cost to see the great­est band on earth? All Bea­tles con­cert tick­ets cost 36 shillings, (1 pound 16 shillings) or the equiv­a­lent of $3.60 to­day. In 1964, aver­age weekly earn­ings in SA were the equiv­a­lent of $47.60. To­day, they are $1282.60, which is a 27-fold in­crease on the fig­ure from 1964.

Mak­ing the com­par­i­son, the Bea­tles tick­ets sold in 1964 for the equiv­a­lent of $98 to­day. To com­pare, tick­ets for teeny bop­per sen­sa­tions One Di­rec­tion in Ade­laide last year — which in the rapid dig­i­tal world sold out in three min­utes — be­gan at $79 for B Re­serve and stretched to $399 for the Sound Check Party Pack­age for well-heeled, diehard fans.

Through­out the ’60s the Bea­tles’ great­est ri­vals were the Rolling Stones, who are still play­ing gigs 45 years af­ter their con­tem­po­raries played their last im­promptu gig — and first live ap­pear­ance for three years — on the roof of the Ap­ple Stu­dio in Sav­ile Row, Lon­don, in Jan­uary 1969.

Tick­ets to the Rolling Stones con­cert at the newly de­vel­oped Ade­laide Oval in Oc­to­ber be­gin at $79 for gen­eral ad­mis­sion and stretch to $510 for pre­mium re­serve.

That might sound a lot, but in one of the first cases of ‘scalp­ing’ — the act of re­selling tick­ets for ad­mis­sion to ma­jor events at a greatly in­flated rate — Bea­tles tick­ets were be­ing sold for as much as £7.10s— the equiv­a­lent of $450 to­day — the day be­fore the 1964 Ade­laide con­certs.

So, what else you could you buy for your money in 1964? If you wanted to buy a Bea­tles al­bum you paid just $5.75 for mono and $5.95 for stereo. A sin­gle of I Want To

Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love or Hard Day’s Night, all num­ber one hits in Aus­tralia for the Bea­tles that year, would have cost you be­tween 90c and $1.20.

A schooner of beer cost just 20c and smokes were 75c for a pack of 20. A two pound (900g) loaf of bread was 35c and a pound of but­ter (450g) a hefty $1.10, while large eggs were also ex­pen­sive at $1.40 a dozen. Meat ranged from 68c for a pound of mut­ton to $1.40 for the same amount of pork.

Petrol was the equiv­a­lent of 13c a litre while the price for a car ranged from $1600 to more than $16,000 for a Rolls Royce Sil­ver Ghost fresh off the fac­tory floor. An EH Holden stan­dard sedan was $2102. A new pre­fab­ri­cated house could be bought for $5000, but aver­age house prices were about $9000.

So, for those lucky enough to see the Fab Four in the flesh, did the Liver­pool Likely Lads pro­vide good value? Well, there were sev­eral sup­port acts on the bill in­clud­ing Sounds In­cor­po­rated, Johnny Devlin and Johnny Ch­ester and The Phan­toms.

None of those are fa­mous names to­day, but all of them are a cut above some of the sup­port acts of­fered up to­day.

At the time Sounds In­cor­po­rated, later known as Sounds Inc, was a Bri­tish in­stru­men­tal pop group that had recorded ex­ten­sively and later be­came the back­ing band for Cilla Black.

Johnny Devlin was a big star in Aus­tralia and his na­tive New Zealand where he was known as the Kiwi ver­sion of Elvis Pres­ley.

Johnny Ch­ester was a hard-work­ing and es­tab­lished mu­si­cian who fronted sev­eral bands and helped deliver Aus­tralian coun­try mu­sic re­spectabil­ity with a pop au­di­ence.

Each con­cert only lasted about 30 min­utes com­pared with the two hours plus that is reg­u­larly de­liv­ered by head­line acts to­day. Some were grate­ful the con­certs didn’t last any longer, claim­ing that was the be­gin­ning of their is­sues with hear­ing loss. The band wasn’t ex­actly pump­ing out the vol­ume at the level of AC/DC — but the crowd was.

The scream­ing and squeal­ing reached a crescendo dur­ing Can’t Buy Me Love but there was a slight and ap­pre­ci­ated lull from the wall of sound dur­ing This Boy, be­fore a rous­ing ren­di­tion of Long Tall Sally — Paul mccart­ney didn’t so as much sing as yell — to con­clude pro­ceed­ings.

So, if you were lucky enough to snare a ticket to see the Bea­tles in Ade­laide in June 1964, you didn’t pay a for­tune to get in — but it wasn’t ex­actly record qual­ity ei­ther.

Not that many would have minded as they knew they were a large part of the big­gest event in the his­tory of South Aus­tralia. Money can’t buy you love, but at the right place and time, it can buy you mem­o­ries to last a life­time.

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