LAS VEGAS - The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) today celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles only performance in the "Entertainment Capital of the World" by unveiling a permanent plaque on the site of the two sold-out 1964 concerts in the Las Vegas Convention Center. The LVCVA also debuted "The Beatles: Las Vegas 1964," a multi-media exhibit from the Las Vegas News Bureau, featuring the Fab Four's visit from the fans' perspectives.
Several hundred people, many of whom were at one or both shows on August 20, 1964, attended the day's celebration which included a surprise appearance by cast members from The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil at The Mirage. Clark County Commissioner and LVCVA Board Chairman Tom Collins presented a proclamation declaring August 20, 2014, "The Beatles Day in Southern Nevada."
"I remember it well...it was a Thursday, and I was a teenager, just coming back from a summer trip to Texas," said Commissioner Collins. "My stepdad was driving me home down Paradise Road and when we got to the Convention Center, there was a traffic jam and thousands of screaming teenagers standing outside the Convention Center in the middle of the day. It was a scene like no other. We later found out it was The Beatles. It was a big day for Las Vegas and remains one of the most talked about occasions in the Las Vegas Convention Center's 55-year history."
The plaque, located in the grand lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center near the N1 Hall entrance, marks the approximate spot of the where the stage was set for the 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows. It features a photo of The Beatles arriving at what was then known as McCarran Field and a replica of LVCVA President/CEO Rossi Ralenkotter's ticket to the second show.
"August 20, 1964, was an incredible day in Las Vegas, and one I'll never forget," said Rossi Ralenkotter, who attended both Las Vegas concerts. "Beatlemania was beginning to sweep across the country, and there was an excitement in Las Vegas that had rarely been seen at that time. The response was so great, the promoters - Herb McDonald, Stan Irwin and John Romero of the Sahara Hotel & Casino - decided to add a show and move the concerts from the Sahara Hotel's Congo Room to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The minute John, Paul, George and Ringo walked onto the stage in the Convention Center, Las Vegas' title as ‘Entertainment Capital of the World' was cemented in history."
Chuck Gunderson, author of Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966, attended today's unveiling and provided perspective on the tour.
"It was record-shattering, precedent-setting, groundbreaking, earth-shaking, and moneymaking," said Gunderson. "The Beatles' 1964 tour of North America would turn the entertainment business on its ears and forever change the landscape of the concert touring industry, even in Las Vegas. The soon-to-be entertainment mecca was by far the smallest populated city the group performed in during the 1964 tour, but the Fab Four all wanted to see the city firsthand."
More than 16,800 people attended the two concerts. It was the only time in history all four members of The Beatles played in Las Vegas together. Violet Hawkes, a longtime Las Vegan, attended both concerts with three friends and talked about her experience at today's celebration.
"We had no idea how crazy it was going to be, and we get to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the afternoon show, and it was packed with screaming fans," recalled Hawkes. "We all said to each other that we were not going to scream. When The Beatles came out, I jumped out of my seat and took pictures even with the security person making me get back to my seat. We all screamed along with everyone else.
"That evening, we went to the second show and sat in the upper seats, and we screamed during that show too," Hawkes continued. "We talked about those shows for days. We did not realize back then that The Beatles would change the music scene forever. I feel very lucky to have been able to experience that day and to be here fifty years later to experience this dedication."
Additional stories similar to Hawkes' are the centerpiece of the free exhibit, "The Beatles: Las Vegas 1964." From screaming teens and security guards to publicity agents and news reporters, the exhibit includes video testimonials and photographs from the people who experienced the commotion on Aug. 20, 1964. The multi-media exhibition is open to the public and will be on display in the grand lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center through Oct. 27.
Journalists and news organizations can access hi-resolution images of the celebration later today as well as photos and HD video of Las Vegas events on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's media center at www.thenewsmarket.com/LVCVA. For additional photos and b-roll, contact the LVCVA News Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-735-3611.