That wonderful photo of now-Sir Paul McCartney, all of 23 years old and performing on the debris-covered stage of the Sam Houston Coliseum, is the only image from the Beatles' lone Houston appearance a half-century ago to be included in a collection of ultra-candid pictures that was made available on eBay Monday.
Each photo is listed at the starting price of $175 for an 11'X14' print and originates from the archives of the late Bob Bonis, who held the enviable position of tour-managing both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones during the height of the British Invasion.
Both bands are featured in the portfolio, which includes a variety of settings besides the stage -- Paul and Ringo sharing a laugh on a plane; John beside the Vox Continental organ he would use to close each set on the tour with "I'm Down"; a shirtless Mick Jagger scrutinizing a copy of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home; the entire Beatles relaxing poolside at the Bel Air Mansion rented from British actor Reginald Owen; a silhouetted Ringo behind the drums in Kansas City. Other sizes offered are 16'X20' ($385) and 20'X24' ($625); quantities are limited. eBay's rather lengthy caption to the above McCartney/Houston photo (direct link here) reads as follows:
A serene crooning Paul McCartney is juxtaposed with a beyond-littered stage in this photo taken during an August 19, 1965, show at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. The Beatles played two sold-out shows in Houston, advertised as the "Sixth Annual Back-to-School Show," to capacity crowds of 9,200 screaming fans with general admission seating. Predominantly teenage girls suffering from Beatlemania (thanks to the recent release of the film HELP!), began tossing jellybeans onstage because George Harrison had mentioned he loved the softer (and totally unavailable) British version, jelly babies, in an interview.
Along with a barrage of hard candy, fans threw paper, cups and even a few dangerous objects. Entertainment reporter Jeff Millar noted, "Nobody missed a note as cups caromed off their faces. George Harrison adroitly dodged the largest object hurled, apparently someone's right tennis shoe." But it was John Lennon who pithily summed up their second U.S. tour so far: "We've only been to Dallas and here. And we almost got killed both places."
Bonis passed away in 1992, and control of the pictures is now in the hands of Kurt Benjamin, a hedge-fund investor who is the managing partner of the Bonis photo archive. His releasing them to eBay opens up the bidding to a potential audience of some 155 million active buyers, according to an eBay spokeswoman.
"Kurt wanted to open the field for people to have the opportunity to own rare, limited-edition art," she says. "He wanted to create an environment that made it cost-effective."
This is hardly the last you'll hear about the 50th anniversary of the day Houston caught Beatlemania in a bad way. Although the show has been widely bootlegged over the years, first-hand accounts still don't come around that often -- so if you were in the audience that historic, sizzling afternoon, we would absolutely love for you to tell us all about it. Just listen to this:
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