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Paul McCartney, Al Gore, Tommy Roe recall Beatles' first U.S. concert in D.C.

Paul McCartney was honored in 2010 for his contributions to pop music by the United States Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center.

Hundt: I think still have the ticket somewhere. It was not very expensive -- $2.50 or something like that. And it wasn't like tickets were hard to get.

Larry Sealfon former record-store clerk: I was working at Super Music in Silver Spring, and we were allocated a block of tickets to sell. But there wasn't a frenzy or anything like that. It was pretty orderly. After the concert, people came in -- mostly mothers -- complaining about their seats. They complained that all they got to see was the back of the Beatles.

Albert: The stage was in the middle of the arena and the band had to rotate around the stage. So they were only facing you a quarter of the time. The rest of the time you were either looking at their backs or their sides. That wasn't ideal.

McCartney: That was the first time we'd ever played in the round. We said: "Do we have to do it?" "Yeah. We've sold tickets everywhere. You'll have to turn around." How the hell are we doing to do that? "Well, just do a few numbers east then shuffle around north. Then do a few numbers north and shuffle around west." We said: "What's Ringo doing to do?" He had to shuffle the kit around himself.

The idea that we had our backs and sides to three-fourths of the audience at any point of the show was awkward. We were used to getting them and holding them -- paying attention to them and having them pay attention to us. There were a few things we did once with the Beatles, and playing in the round in Washington was one of them. I don't think I've done the in-the-round thing ever since.

Lynn: They wanted to fit as many people as possible in. If they had played with the stage at one end, they would've only been able to fit 6,000 or 6,500. With the stage in the middle, they could fit 8,000.

Hundt: It was mostly girls. Being from a boys school, we had never seen so many girls in one place before. I don't know that I knew for sure that there were that many girls in the world.

McCartney: It was terrific. We'd been used to it in smaller doses. But in our minds, it's only right that it should get bigger. And where better for it than America, where everything is bigger? It was very exciting, just having that many people -- predominantly girls, all screaming.

Albert: I never was a screamer. It was all about the music for me. The concert started with some warm-up groups, and I was relieved because I had heard about the screaming that went on in England. And I thought: Nobody's screaming. This is going to be nice; we're going to be able to hear them. (Laughs.) When they started playing, you couldn't hear a thing. It was unbelievably loud, like white noise. I remember the policeman near me stuck bullets in his ears.

Eppridge: That's probably where I lost most of my hearing. Either there or with the Marines in Vietnam, AR-15s cracking next to my ear. I remember my ears hurting from the high-pitched screaming for the Beatles. It was absolutely piercing. If you're around six railroad train engines and they're all traveling at 100 miles and hour and they slam on their brakes at the same time -- that's what it sounded like. But it was delightful.

Gore: The acoustics in the arena combined with the absolute frenzy of enthusiasm made it virtually impossible to understand a single word that they sang. You had listen carefully to get the general flow of the song, and of course everybody knew all the words prior to the concert. We all loved their music, but clearly there were a lot of people in that crowd who loved it even more than I did because they couldn't stop screaming. I'm thrilled that iTunes now has the film of that concert, because I'll get to hear the words clearly for the first time.

McCartney: Opening with "Roll Over Beethoven" wasn't a statement. Every time we did shows, we did the same as I do now: You just feel the climate; you put your finger in the air and whichever side goes cold is the way the wind's blowin'. We didn't plan those things. It was just: "Let's start with George doing "Roll Over Beethoven." It's rockin'. " In retrospect, I should be telling it was a calculated move to show the world of classical music that it was time they rolled over and made way for the delightful young sound that's going to take over.


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