The Beatles Invade!

The Beatles invasion of Vancouver was more than an orgiastic experience for the 20,621 fans who assembled in Empire Stadium on the sultry Saturday night of August 22, 1964. For law enforcement authorities, it was also a deadly serious exercise in in crowd control, civil defense and the protection of several hundred youngsters who literally risked their lives trying to get close to their idols.

By dawn of B-Day, the usual complement of teenage girls were asleep on waiting room benches at Vancouver International Airport, where the chartered Beatle airliner was scheduled to arrive later that day. About three thousand youngsters, most of them between ten and fourteen years, began an all-day vigil around the hotel. Many used lipstick to scrawl their names and Beatle slogans on the plywood barricades: some pre-pubescent girls threw themselves against the barrier and kissed it.

Red Robinson, arbiter of the CFUN-tastic Fifty Top Tunes and doyen of Vancouver disk jockeys, poured gasoline on troubled waters by hiring a boy who looked like Ringo Starr, outfitting him in a Beatle wig, and then broadcasting rumours that the drumming Beatle had been seen around town. When Ringo’s ringer drove up to the Georgia Hotel, the youngsters mobbed his car. In the resultant confusion a girl was knocked down, one wheel of the car rolled over a policeman’s foot and some teenage boys managed to swipe two revolvers from a policeman’s holster.

Later that day, Robinson partially redeemed himself: at the insistence of police, he interrupted The Beatles‘ performance to broadcast an appeal for order from the stage microphone. (Maclean’s magazine, September 19, 1964)