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50 years ago, they screamed for the Beatles

The Beatles (from left): Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrision, and John Lennon.AFP Photo

We asked those who went to the Beatles concert at Boston Garden 50 years ago — on Sept. 12, 1964 — to tell us what they remember about the experience of hearing the Fab Four in person:

Jeanne Boisseau, 61

Melrose

“When it was all over, nobody wanted to leave. Girls were crying; people were overwhelmed. I remember seeing a police officer trying to pull a girl out of her chair but she wouldn’t let go of the chair and kicked him!”

Debra Rattet, 63

Malden

“The atmosphere was electric with anticipation. Knowing what was about to happen, we got a chant going before the concert — “don’t scream, don’t scream” — but to no avail because as soon as the guys came onto the stage those crazy girls let loose with their maniacal screams. Well, we tried!”

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Donna Marquardo, 62

Peabody

“We were in the first balcony, first row to the left, and my mother was afraid we were going to be pushed over the balcony by one of the crazy fans. We just sat there yelling and crying while holding up homemade signs (I love Paul or John, I think). We couldn’t even hear them play; we just sat there like fools.”

Dorothy Owen, 63

Wakefield (Lynn in 1964)

“After the concert we went down to the stage. I rubbed my hand back and forth many times on the steps to the stage. When I got home I rubbed the dirt from my hand onto an index card and titled it ‘dirt the Beatles walked on.’ These things have remained (and still remain) in my Beatles scrapbook for 50 years!”

Charlie Koehler, 67

Melrose

“The thing I remember most is the noise. I’ve been to Vietnam, with bombs and everything . . . I’ve never heard anything like it.”

Irene Buckley, 64
(Charlie Koehler’s sister)

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Melrose

“My girlfriend was supposed to go, but her parents thought the rafters were going to come down with all the people going crazy, so she couldn’t go. My brother went instead.”

Debbie MacDonald, 62

Haverhill

“All we did was scream. I remember them playing for under a half hour, a far cry from today’s concerts.”

Elizabeth Grunko, 65

Rowley

“I remember there was all this talk about to scream or not to scream at concerts. Before the concert we thought we will scream, but once we were there and the Beatles actually ran on the stage I was very quiet. I couldn’t believe we were in the same room with the Beatles.”

Eleanor Baskam, 64

Burlington (Brookline in 1964)

“I ran down until I reached the first set of chairs on the same side next to the stage. I stood up on the seats and started screaming just like everyone else. [It was contagious, like a mob scene, but we were pretty well behaved.] At one point too many of us had climbed onto the same set of chairs and it fell backwards. Most of us who had been on the set of seats just stood the chairs back up, climbed on top of them, and went on screaming, just like nothing had happened.”

Judy Achorn Crater, 66

Beverly
(North Quincy in 1964)

“I can only remember the screaming, which was really disappointing since I wanted to hear them sing. My friend, Kathy, tried to force the girls in front of us to sit down but it wasn’t happening.”

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Cecilia Carroll, 62

Derry, N.H. (Medford in 1964)

“My older cousin got the tickets through the phone company, but it was my aunt who took me and my younger cousin. . . . I remember it being so loud that you could not hear them sing. I recall if I covered my ears it blocked out the screaming and I could detect some music. I was not a screaming fan.”

Sharon Kennedy, 65

Ipswich

“I used a press pass from the Ipswich Chronicle and attended the press conference and the concert with another 15-year-old girl from Ipswich.”

Mary E. Doyon, 65

Beverly

“Somehow we got four tickets. My mom said, ‘No, you are not going.’ I cried for days until she relented.”

Judy Sanford, 67

Katy, Texas
(Lexington in 1964)

“We had a private entrance and watched the concert in an area set aside for members only. I remember that there was a window overlooking an entrance and I believe we were able to see the Beatles arriving in a limo.”

Enid Watson, 64

Hampton, N.H.

“I was mortified that my mother screamed louder than Debbie and me, but at 14, everyone is eternally embarrassed about their parents. My heart pounded when they came on stage, in their prim matching suits and scandalously long hair. Debbie and I were the only students from Winnacunnet High School [I think!] to attend, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.”

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Joyce Bodenrader, 66

Lawrence

“I had no interest in joining the screamers because I had brought binoculars and actually wanted to hear the Beatles sing.”

Joanne Hofmann Sexeny, 64

Winchester (Waltham in 1964)

“We had really good seats, but it didn’t matter because everyone was standing on their seats.”

Janet DiGangi, 62

Stoneham

“I wanted a Beatles cap so bad. When they came on stage, everybody threw their hats in the air and I was able to get one.”

Ed Bernis, 66

Somerville
(East Cambridge in 1964)

(Wasn’t inside at the concert, just went to the Garden to experience the mob scene) “It was crazy — you couldn’t move or anything. Then fights started breaking out. I must have seen at least five fights.”

Jo Anne Simons, 61

Swampscott

“I remember the deafening noise of screaming girls, and police lined, ringed, shoulder-to-shoulder around the stage so they could be there to catch the girls as they went up to touch the stage and then fainted back in the arms of the welcoming police officers.”

Dianne Duprez, 64

Seaview, Wash.
(Waltham in 1964)

“I was just crazy screaming, I don’t know how much I actually heard. All they had to do was hit one or two chords so you knew what song was playing.”

Sandy DiGiacomo, 65

Medford

“We did everything to look like [their girlfriends] so that when Paul saw me, when John saw my cousin, when George saw my other cousin, we were going to be swept away. Well, guess what? It didn’t happen. We sat so far away. But that didn’t matter at all. We watched them, we screamed, we cried. It was love at first sight.”

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Pattie Bagarella, 64

Everett

“I can remember certain songs, like “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Barbara Costa, 66

Derry, N.H.
(East Boston in 1964)

“Everyone went crazy when they came on stage. [My friend] Maureen told me she was going to tell everyone that she fainted and Paul McCartney asked if she was OK and I had to go along with it.”

Ron Katz, 65

Portsmouth, N.H.
(Swampscott in 1964)

“The screaming was so shrill the music was barely audible. Also, I remember being amazed at the number of girls being carried out of the Garden because they had fainted.”

Jody Skaff, 60
(Ron Katz’s sister)

Hampton, N.H.
(Swampscott in 1964)

“My recollections are few but I do remember being more amazed by the constant screaming and emotional display of the teenage girls than the band itself. Not to be left out, I did try a weak little scream but felt odd doing it. . . . Not being an experienced concert-goer at the tender age of 10, the whole experience felt surreal.”

Compiled by

Nick Kapteyn