How the Beatles' Biggest Concert Day Was Overshadowed by Misfortune in Manila
Inarguably the most influential musical group in history, The Beatles are legendary. Exalted by fans and respected by the rest of the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t admire them in some way. But the people of Manila in 1966 were the exception to the rule. The Beatles’ nightmare stay in the Philippines has been recounted many times, and never in a good light.
John Lennon once famously said, “We got a few things to learn about the Philippines. First of all is how to get out of here.”
The disastrous turn of events in Manila overshadowed what was the lads’ largest concert day in history. While the tide turned against The Beatles the longer they stayed, Manila was actually the city where they performed in front of the largest live audience in a single day.
“[It was] a big cultural moment, but totally overshadowed, unfortunately, by the mishandling, bungling, or whatever happened with the invitation for them to come to lunch at the Palace and subsequent feelings of hurt and this sense of being spurned by this popular group,” said David Guerrero, award-winning chairman of BBDO Guerrero
Guerrero is currently writing a book on The Beatles' misadventures in Manila and shared his thoughts with Esquire Philippines in the latest episode of the Lonely Hearts podcast, which was incidentally named after The Beatles song and album, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The Beatles played two shows on July 4, 1966, at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, with the first show hosting 30,000 people and the second show hosting 50,000 people. In total, those 80,000 Filipinos made up the biggest Beatles concert crowd in a single day.
And yet, this little tidbit of history has gone largely unnoticed.
"It's one of those things where, the more you know, the more you know you don't know. I mean, the more you know about The Beatles, the more you stumble into these podcasts like this," shared Guerrero.
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