August 29, 1966, stands out for Rich Bandoni. Even among all the days since, that day of his life returns with ease. He was 9 years old that day, when he hopped a San Francisco Muni bus and headed to Candlestick Park to see The Beatles in concert.
“Everybody on the bus was so happy and singing Beatles songs,” Bandoni recalled, sitting in his trailer home in Pleasant Hill, surrounded by Beatles memorabilia. The stage was close to second base, Bandoni remembered. The band seemed a mile away – like small specks against the stadium seats.
But then the music kicked in. “The first song, I was in a state of shock because all I’d seen was The Beatles on TV,” Bandoni said. The experience of "seeing" the band made up for what Bandoni described as incredibly bad sound – with a pair of P.A. speakers fighting a losing battle against thousands of squealing fans.
“You noticed it didn’t sound anything like the record, and in a way you were disappointed,” he said. “But you’d say to yourself, ‘Who cares?’ It’s The Beatles live.” Bandoni was stunned when the band announced soon after they were retiring from concerts – making the Candlestick show the band’s last ticketed performance. “To know that I was able to hear their last show was like a gift from the gods,” Bandoni said.
Bandoni decided to buy a ticket to Paul McCartney’s Thursday night “Farewell to the Candlestick” show, saying it was a fitting sendoff to a stadium that still holds the perfect day of his entire childhood.
Fred Pardini was also at the 1966 concert – only at the time he was on the payroll of the San Francisco Examiner as a staff photographer on assignment. “It wasn’t an elaborate light show, with flashing fireworks and all the goodies that go with it,” said Pardini. “All they did was four guys come on stage, perform their songs and away they went.”
Pardini snapped a requisite number of photos, not knowing the show would be the band’s last proper concert. Had he known, he would have certainly shot loads more, he said. His images show emotional fans, and the band, playing in front of a scoreboard still bearing the most recent Giants-Dodgers score. Pardini also captured the famous scene of the band loading into an armored car after the concert for the drive back to the airport. “They jumped in the armored car and away it went,” Pardini said.
For Bandoni, it was a day he'll never forget. “Forever in my life going up and down Highway 101,” said Bandoni, his face trailing off toward a memory, “I’d look at Candlestick and think, ‘I saw The Beatles there.’”
Candlestick Park is set to be demolished in spring 2015 and a mixed-use housing and commercial development will be built on the site.