In 1964, The Beatles came to America for the first of the group’s three North American visits. Their journey in America began on Friday, February 7 of that year, when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr arrived from the UK at the newly named John F. Kennedy International Airport. With cameras flashing and reporters jostling, they were whisked into Manhattan amid the screams, shouts, and tears of New York-area teens, braving the cold for a mere glimpse of the band. Then, that Sunday, the veritable king of the television variety show, Ed Sullivan, introduced them to a captivated American audience of more than 73 million viewers — at the time a television record. And, just like that, Beatlemania was upon us.
Curated by the GRAMMY Museum and Fab Four Exhibits, Ladies, and Gentlemen…The Beatles! brings us back to the early ‘60s when rock and roll were re-energized — some say saved — by four lads from Liverpool. Opening at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland on Friday, May 10, this exhibit covers the period from early 1964 through mid-1966 — the years Beatlemania ran rampant in America. During this time, the band affected nearly every aspect of pop culture, including fashion, art, advertising, media, and, of course, music.
“It doesn’t take a hard day’s night of thinking to understand the impact that The Beatles had on the history of music and popular culture,” said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “The Oregon Historical Society is excited to bring to Portland this fun, interactive exhibition celebrating the band that forever changed rock and roll.”
Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! provides fresh new insight into how and why The Beatles impacted America in the 1960s and beyond. Over 100 objects, ephemera, and interactive elements fill the gallery, some on exhibit for the first time. One of the most prominent cases features Paul McCartney’s jacket from The Beatles’ historic 1965 Shea Stadium concert, and, for the first time on exhibit, one of McCartney’s bass guitars. McCartney also wore this iconic jacket when The Beatles performed in Portland, Oregon, at the Memorial Coliseum on August 22, 1965.
The Oregon Historical Society’s version of the exhibit also features a case of ephemera from The Beatles’ Portland performances and includes the original performance contract and rider between NEMS and Northwest Releasing to bring The Beatles to Portland, as well as an original press pass.
Other exhibition highlights include:
- Ringo Starr’s black-on-black striped suit worn in The Beatles’ debut film A Hard Day’s Night and Ringo’s Abbey Road crosswalk jacket
- Paul McCartney’s original handwritten lyric sheet for the song, “What You’re Doing” (August 1964)
- Handwritten setlists from The Beatles’ concerts, including the earliest known setlist (Grosvenor Ballroom, June 1960) and the one used onstage at the group’s first-ever American concert (Washington D.C., February 11, 1964)
- Gold records of I Want To Hold Your Hand and Rubber Soul
- Venue contracts from the band’s American tours
- An eye-popping display of mass-produced merchandising items
- Kid-friendly interactive elements including a virtual drumming lesson from Ringo and a playable home-made skiffle bass
“Fab Four Exhibits is looking forward to sharing these rare and valuable artifacts – many of which are one-of-a-kind – to the Portland area as we celebrate the genius and creativity of the Fab Four,” said Chuck Gunderson, managing partner of the exhibiting group.
Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles! will be on exhibit May 10 through November 12, 2019. The Oregon Historical Society’s museum is open seven days a week, Monday – Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 12 pm – 5 pm. Admission is $10, and discounts are available for students, seniors, teachers, and youth. Admission is free every day for OHS members and Multnomah County residents.
Saturday, May 11 & Sunday, May 12, 2019
Tours begin at 2pm and are included in regular museum admission
Join us for exclusive behind-the-scenes tours on the opening weekend led by Fab Four Exhibits partner Chuck Gunderson. He is the country’s leading expert on The Beatles’ three North American concert tours and is the author of Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964 to 1966. The Fab Four Exhibits partners are avid fans and collectors as well as Beatles scholars with extensive knowledge of the group’s history.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Activities from 12pm – 4pm
Enjoy performances by local youth rock bands Bach to Rock, School of Rock, and RiverCity Rock Star Academy, and make a ‘60s inspired souvenir from one of our activity stations!
About the Oregon Historical Society
For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all.We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon’s cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.