The Beatles at Met Stadium: 50 years ago today
It was 50 years ago today Raymond Crump taught the band to bake.
Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to pot, but it was the Minnesota Twins' original clubhouse manager who showed John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr how to sauna.
It was Aug. 21, 1965, before the Fab Four's Met Stadium concert and only Twin Cities appearance.
"They had never seen a sauna in their lives," Crump recalled this week. "I said, 'If you want to take a sauna, take a sauna.' I was the only one in there with them."
Then 29, Crump became concierge to rock 'n' roll royalty.
Heading into his senior year in college, 21-year-old Clyde Doepner and his buddies considered themselves rockers. They wanted to hear how well the Beatles performed the melodies that resonated on vinyl.
Doepner dropped $5.50 for an upper-deck grandstand ticket, fifth row behind first base. By contrast, tickets for the best seats at Paul McCartney's 2014 show at Target Field were $250.
"We lasted for three songs because you couldn't hear a thing," recounted Doepner, a retired teacher and the Twins' longtime curator. "The gals were going nuts."
Five decades later, Crump and Doepner's recollections offer a portal into a bygone America that had fallen hard for four English mop tops who revolutionized music and headlined the soundtrack to cultural convulsions of the late '60s.
The septuagenarians shared an enchanted three months being treated to baseball's all-stars, the Beatles, a seven-game World Series against the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax's mastery of the Twins at the rickety ballpark where the Mall of America now stands.
Before their Met Stadium show, Crump spent several hours with the Beatles and their entourage, kibitzing about baseball and lounging with the entertainers amid the jerseys and jock straps the traveling ballclub left behind.
Talk about a day in the life.
Crump showed the Beatles Harmon Killebrew's locker stall and what he wore each game, explained how pitchers use a rosin bag to absorb sweat from their throwing hand and why batters add a weighted doughnut to loosen up.
"They were like little kids learning all that stuff," he said.
Crump set up cots for the lads to rest on before the show, served a roast beef dinner, escorted them to a farcical news conference and had the shirt sleeve clutched by a running Starr torn off by a hysterical female fan.
At one point, Crump handed Beatles manager Brian Epstein an Instamatic camera. Posing with the band provided a trove of coveted color photographs and one of the greatest conversation starters ever.
There is Crump, crouching next to Harrison tuning his new 12-string Rickenbacker guitar.
Look at Ringo, clutching a box holding a baseball signed by the eventual American League champion Twins.
Isn't that Ray between a bat rack and dapper-dressed McCartney?
And popping a squat next to a reclining Lennon?
The snapshots also reveal a wearied foursome as Beatlemania raged midway through their second North American tour -- a two-week, 20-concert blitz through New York, Toronto, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
The band landed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport at 4:15 p.m. that Saturday from Chicago following a Friday night concert at Comiskey Park. They were whisked off the tarmac in a black Cadillac to Met Stadium for the 9:30 p.m. show.
Meantime, the first-place Twins were on the road playing the California Angels at the end of a 14-game trip.
"They were going to put them in the visiting clubhouse," Crump recounted, shaking his head.
If the Twins' linoleum-tiled facility was austere, the visitors' locker room was a glorified lean-to.
"I told Brian Epstein, 'I tell you what, I'll make a deal with you. We can put them in the home clubhouse (if) I go with you, and I don't leave that locker room until you leave town," Crump said.
Epstein agreed, if Crump could find workers trustworthy enough to sell 5,000 programs before the show and not toss them into a lake. Crump enlisted his bat and ball boys to hawk the $1 souvenirs.
They sold them all in the parking lot and grandstand within an hour. The cash was divvied up in the clubhouse. A roadie broke out a roulette table. The Beatles and their troupe gambled the band's share.
"Paul won most of the money," Crump said.
By summer 1965, the Beatles were a pop-culture juggernaut. They had produced four No. 1 albums and a pair of blockbuster movies since 73 million viewers tuned in 18 months earlier to watch their U.S. debut on the "Ed Sullivan Show."
The day they arrived, "Help!" -- a follow-up film to their 1964 smash "A Hard Day's Night" -- was playing at the Orpheum theaters in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The propulsive title song and successive single, "Ticket To Ride," shot the film soundtrack to the top of the pop charts in Great Britain and the United States.
Global fame, adoring fans and dangerous mobs forced a bunker mentality that already was hardening their public personas.
Their Met Stadium news conference, broadcast live by top-40 station KDWB, became a stage for the Beatles to vamp to a crowd of 150 reporters and hangers-on who crowded an adjacent lounge.
A four-minute audio clip reveals nary a question about their songwriting, musical aspirations or influences but a host of hackneyed inquiries such as:
Q: "I'd like to ask you all a personal question about your hair. How can you sleep at night with it that long?"
Harrison: "How do you sleep with your arms and your legs still attached?"
Q: "Do you pay taxes?"
Starr: "We pay a lot of taxes."
Q: "You're in a high income bracket."
Starr: "Yeah, that's why we pay a lot of taxes."
Q: "How do you propose to use your vast influence on young people?"
McCartney: "We don't."
Crump was struck by the Beatles' professionalism and politeness while they smoked cigarettes and hung out in the Twins clubhouse -- and how quickly they transformed in front of the cameras.
"They came in carrying their own (garment) bags over their shoulders and a briefcase -- 100 percent businesslike," he said. "But it was like a play once they left that dressing room. They reminded me of wrestlers, waving their arms around and screaming. They knew how to promote themselves. In the locker room, they were much more conservative."
There was one moment of authenticity at the news conference.
Two musicians from Minneapolis' B-Sharp Music store presented Harrison with a "Fireglo" Rickenbacker 360-12 electric guitar.
"That's fab," Lennon said. "Where's mine?"
Harrison used the 12-string instrument during the "Rubber Soul" recording sessions later that year, leading with the guitar on his song, "If I Needed Someone," according to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.
Crump said the Beatles insisted he eat with them. One imagines fine china and a chef in a white hat manning a carving station.
The roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans served on cafeteria trays would have looked familiar to sportswriters covering the Twins during the team's fifth season in Minnesota.
In the grandstand that night, Doepner and his friends settled into their seats and listened to local opening acts the Underbeats, the Accents and Gregory Dee and the Avantis.
Only 28,000 tickets sold for the 40,000-seat stadium show. It was the only concert on the tour that did not sell out.
The 12,000 empty seats were seen. Little of the music was heard.
When the Beatles were introduced coming out of the third-base dugout, thousands of flashbulbs popped, the girls shrieked, and Doepner was crestfallen.
"Our expectations were smashed because of the noise," he said. "We'd been to a couple concerts but nothing like that. When they talk about Beatlemania, that was Beatlemania."
The stage was set up at second base, which meant premium lower-level seats were 150 to 200 feet away. The Beatles' primitive amplifiers were no match for the jet-engine hysterics pulsating around them.
This was six days after the band's pioneering performance at New York's Shea Stadium. A then-record crowd of 55,000 drowned out the music that night in Queens as the Beatles essentially invented modern outdoor festivals and arena rock.
Acoustics were piped through Met Stadium's public-address system. A bootleg recording of the show by an anonymous fan captured the futility of the effort.
Picture yourself pulling up to a red light at Snelling and University avenues, rolling down the window and straining to hear a show at the State Fair Grandstand.
Welcome to Beatles Live.
"I remember 'Ticket to Ride' was on," Doepner said. "So we listened to three songs and left when they were doing 'Ticket to Ride.'
"You didn't have any idea about the screaming, of it just being that bad," he added. "We listened to it. We laughed. We figured we're not going to hear a thing. We just walked across the lot to the Thunderbird (hotel), had a few beers, played a couple songs on the jukebox, said they sound pretty good, and we called it even."
The Beatles ripped through an 11-song set that included their standard radio hits. It was over in 35 minutes. They dashed off stage, raced to the parking lot and tried to escape another mob.
Subterfuge and decoys were all part of the Beatles' security detail during the mania. This night, Crump was a field agent.
"They had a limousine parked in front of the clubhouse door, but the crowd surrounded it and the police were having a hard time containing them," he said. "I had helped arrange for a Falconer's dry-cleaning truck to be there. We set up four folding chairs and had the Beatles sneak into it."
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT
The band was driven to the Leamington Motor Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, near what is now the convention center. Fans and groupies swarmed the sidewalk. The scene escalated into something dicey for McCartney, according to news accounts.
Minneapolis police declared a curfew and ordered everyone 18 and younger to disperse. Some girls told officers they were waiting for one of their friends.
Believing the missing girl was underage, cops raided the fifth floor, banging on doors where the Beatles were staying, announcing the curfew and ordering their guests out of the hotel.
"We did remove several girls from the hotel," former Minneapolis Police Inspector Donald Dwyer told a radio reporter two days later. "We removed a couple of them from a room that had been reserved for a dining room and they were in bed in this room."
The missing girl was in McCartney's room. Officers told Epstein to get her out or they would bust down the door.
"Some of the members of the troupe became very indignant," Dwyer said in the interview. "They told us that Minneapolis was a very narrow-minded town, as were its police officials, and that other cities had been very tolerant to the parties that they had held in their rooms.
"We felt very frankly that this is a typical traveling troupe, much like you have with the circus, and that they are here today and gone tomorrow. We are accountable, of course, to all the citizens of Minneapolis, and we feel for the welfare and safety of their kids, even though they may be a little hysterical and they may go a little overboard for this type of thing. We know where our responsibility lies."
Turned out, the woman was identified as a 21-year-old Clevelander.
Dwyer was asked if he was a Beatles fan.
"No, sir," he said. "I hear the music around my house, but I'm not a Beatles fan. As far as Beatles music, I could care about it not one bit myself personally.
"One of their group with a British accent told me that they would never come back to Minneapolis, and I remarked to him that if they did not come, it would be too soon for me."
Dwyer got his wish.
The Beatles flew on to Portland, Ore., for an Aug. 22 show, their last before renting a house in Los Angeles during a weeklong break.
According to Anthology, the Beatles' 1995 autobiography, they met and jammed with Elvis, dropped acid with actor Peter Fonda and played the Hollywood Bowl in a show that eventually became a live album.
A year later, they returned to the United States for another manic tour before retreating for good to the Abbey Road studio in London. They experimented more with drugs and produced an opus in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," transforming from pop stars to avant garde recording artists before breaking up in 1970.
QUITE A SUMMER
Crump, 79, worked for the Twins until 1984. Two years later, he and son Ray Jr. opened Dome Souvenirs Plus across from the Metrodome.
With the Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium set to open next year, the Crumps are packing up and preparing to open a new store next month in St. Louis Park.
The summer of '65 was seminal for Crump.
He met Mickey Mantle at the All-Star Game and married his wife, Caroline, in Washington the day before the Twins clinched the pennant against the Senators at District of Columbia Stadium.
And there was the evening he spent with four famous Brits who found solace in an Upper Midwest baseball clubhouse.
Of all the saunas in all the towns in all the world, the Beatles walked into Crump's.
"I saw them on 'Ed Sullivan.' I knew the girls liked them, especially," he said. "But to me, I think I got $100 for working that thing, I didn't know anything about them. I was 29. The people that liked them were 14-, 15-year-old kids.
"I could have gotten 10 signed baseballs the amount of time I was with them and how friendly they were."
He settled for the story of a lifetime. And an $800 windfall.
Shortly after the concert, an advertising executive for Dayton's department store called and agreed to buy the cot sheets on which the Beatles lounged to cut up and sell to fans willing to pay for anything the Beatles touched.
Crump had each sheet and the band member who lay on them notarized before delivering them to Dayton's.
"This was 1965, so a very good day for me," he said.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Follow Brian Murphy at twitter.com/murphPPress.