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The Beatles in Las Vegas

A look into the performance that's been called "the Lost Beatles Show", by today's fans of the Fab Four

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Updated: 8/20 10:18 am

By 1964, the Beatles were an international sensation.  When they came to the United States, they mostly played stadiums.  A huge press corps would meet them in large cities. Back then, Las Vegas was not a big city, and was an odd fit for the tour.

"It was something mainly John wanted to do," explained Dennis Mitchell. "But they all were like, "Geez, yeah. Las Vegas. Let's go check that out.' It had an extremely high cool factor even in 1964."

Mitchell, the host of the nationally syndicated "Breakfast with the Beatles", is familiar with the story of how the band approached their manager.

"Brian Epstein was given the word 'Get us in to Vegas if you can', and he did."

"Oh, I just thought Paul McCartney was the cutest thing I'd ever seen and I wanted to be his girlfriend," said Kimberlee Rinaldo Carapel, who was eight years old during the Beatles' 1964 tour.

Kimberlee was eight-years old at the time, and remembers how she reacted to news that the Beatles were coming.

"Hoooooo...mom, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go. Please let me go."

As the Las Vegas Convention Center prepared for the show, Kimberlee's mom gave in.

"I was kind of a spoiled brat," ackowledged Kimberlee. "Yeah, she got tickets for me. She let me go."

In an effort to avoid a scene, the Beatles arrived in the wee hours: 1:00 AM on August 20.

"Despite the band's best efforts to keep everything secret, fans found out," says Dennis. "Fans showed up at the Sahara Hotel."

While people below strained for a view, the Beatles relaxed on their 18th floor balcony. Photos show them clowning with one-armed bandits.

"A couple of slot machines were brought up their room so that they wouldn't have to be down at the casino and get mobbed down there, and even a blackjack table."

Many years later, Dennis had a chance to interview Ringo on his show, and asked about their Sahara Hotel stay.

"You guys did a show in Las Vegas," Dennis said to Ringo. "Anything you'd like to share?"

"Well I have a lot of special memories, but I'm not going to talk about it on the radio," replied Ringo with a laugh.

When the band actually began to play, the behavior of the audience--with a large component of teen and pre-teen girls-- was similar to other Beatles concerts around the country. The template for how to act at a Beatles performance had been set on the Ed Sullivan Show earlier in the year.

"The Beatles," Sullivan had announced with a flourish. "Bring 'em on!"

And as the Beatles launched into "She Loves You", the sound of screaming girls was deafening, with a few even fainting from excitement. But young Kimberlee took a more sober approach.

"I was just, like, in awe," she said. "Just in awe of being there and seeing them. I though they were extremely talented."
 
Several photos remain from that concert, and a bit of grainy video. When the show finally ended, an ecstatic Kimberlee was in the back seat heading home when a limo pulled along side. She looked over, and there were the Beatles.

"And so I'm, like, this goofy looking kid just waving at them," said Kimberlee with a grin. "And they're waving back. And then we turned and we went our way."

Anyone who was there is potentially sitting on a valuable possession.

"The tickets cost anywhere from $2.20 to $5.50," said Mitchell. "And if you have a complete one that's not torn and is just a stub, it's worth thousands and thousands of dollars. And even the stubs are in high demand."

In the decades since that 1964 appearance, Paul and Ringo have each performed here several times leading their own bands. 

John and Yoko showed up here for a Jerry Lewis Telethon before John's death, and George never performed here again.

Kimberlee followed in her mother's footsteps as a showroom dancer on the strip.

Dennis Mitchell's "Breakfast with the Beatles" can be heard locally on KQLL 102.3 FM ("Kool 102") Saturday mornings at 7:00.

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