Harry G. Lynn; Owned Beatles Concert Venue
Sunday, March 5, 2006
Harry G. Lynn, 97, who was the owner of the cavernous Washington Coliseum when the Beatles preformed their first U.S. concert there Feb. 11, 1964, died of a heart attack Feb. 16 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Palm Beach County, Fla. He lived in West Palm Beach.
At first, Mr. Lynn was cautious when a disc jockey and programming executive from radio station WWDC approached him about allowing the four young British musicians to perform at the arena at Third and M Streets NE.
He wasn't sure about "the Beatles' drawing power, and he wanted to protect his investment," so he booked several other well-known acts, including the Caravelles, Tommy Roe and the Chiffrons, according to a firsthand account of the event published in The Washington Post in 1982.
"Lynn, who was a modest man with a buck, took a small ad in The Washington Post announcing the concert. The Coliseum sold out in less than a week," recalled Irv Lichtenstein, former programming executive for WWCD, in the 1982 article. "People streamed there near H Street NE as if it was the garden spot of America. They paid for their tickets a month in advance. Even Harry Lynn was impressed."
About 8,600 people paid $2, $3 and $4 and came out in a freezing snowstorm to see the Beatles perform that night.
Mr. Lynn was captured in photos and a movie about the celebrated first performance. In the movie, Mr. Lynn is shown walking in Union Station with the foursome after they arrived on the only train from New York that made it through a snowstorm that day. In a 40th anniversary photographic exhibit, Mr. Lynn is shown with Ringo Starr at Union Station, where a crowd of 3,000 had come to greet the group.
Mr. Lynn was born in Kansas City, Mo., and grew up in Omaha. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and served in France and elsewhere in Europe. He attained the rank of captain in the Quartermaster Corps.
After the war, he moved to the Washington area, where he lived from 1948 to 1973. He worked in the jewelry business for many years and was an executive with Kay Jewelers in Washington for 12 years.
In 1959, Mr. Lynn bought the Uline Arena and Uline Ice Co. in Northeast Washington. The arena, built in the early 1940s, was a popular place for sporting events, concerts and ice skating. The next year, he renamed the arena the Washington Coliseum and kept it and the ice company until 1970.
During that time, the coliseum was the venue for a variety of events, including the Ice Capades, Ringling Brothers Circus, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Lipizzaner horses of Vienna.
Mr. Lynn was a member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and the Woodmont Country Club and served on the boards of several Jewish charities.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Elinor L. Lynn of West Palm Beach; two sons, John B. Lynn of Arlington and Harry Laurence Lynn of Raleigh, N.C.; and one granddaughter.