Monday, March 30, 2009
When (and why) The Beatles Stopped Touring
The Beatles didn't officially break up until 1970. However, they stopped touring and playing live shows much before this. Their last "real" concert was at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. It was never announced to anyone that this would be their last concert. But they were fed up with being attacked and ravaged by fans. Their crowds were so loud that they couldn't even hear themselves play. Up to this point they had played over 1,400 shows. Their constant travel and troubles on the road made it much harder for them to write and record music. And at this point they would rather become more secluded. And that they did.
Their last concert only lasted a bit over a half-hour. But The Beatles were certainly glad that they wouldn't have to deal with the hassle for awhile. They would go on to focusing on writing and recorded albums such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. These albums sold very well, and Sgt. Pepper's was rated the best album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. In their time not touring they also traveled to India and worked on their movies Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine.
Another reason that they abandoned touring was because of the new complexity of their music. While touring many of their songs were very performable, in that their were a normal number of instruments and simple recording techniques. When they recorded Revolver things changed. They started experimenting with effects. One such effect was backmasking. In some songs they recorded backwards guitar solos or drums solos - something that would be impossible to perform live. They also used obscure instruments and even orchestras. One such obscure instrument was the ondioline, a vacuum powered organ. This was used in "Baby You're A Rich Man". There are very few ondiolines in existence today.
Overall, I believe that their time off from touring greatly helped boost their creativity and their songwriting. They felt as if they had much more time to record and they had no limits. Although they would return to play a set on the rooftop of the Apple building, The Beatles touring ended long before their creativity.