Events to mark anniversary of Beatles 1964 concert in Pittsburgh
Pat DiCesare's late father, Dominick, had no idea who the Beatles were when he put a lien on his Trafford house to borrow $5,000 from his credit union at Westinghouse.
He just knew that he believed in his son, who needed the money as a down payment to try to bring this band with the funny sounding name to Pittsburgh.
Though money was tight, the elder DiCesare slid the check across the kitchen table to his son, asking him, “Do you believe in this Beatles?”
“More than anything,” his son replied.
“Then take the money and go do your Beatles,” his dad said.
Pat DiCesare, who went on to become one of Pittsburgh's pioneering concert promoters, did exactly that, booking the band for what became its historic sole Pittsburgh appearance, Sept. 14, 1964, at the Civic Arena.
DiCesare will host “Beatles Week,” a week-plus of activities, Sept. 5 to 13, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the concert.
The week includes the traveling Beatles Rock Art Show, Sept. 5-7; a screening of the Fab Four's films; and a symposium on the impact of the group and its music 1-4 p.m. Sept. 6 at Point Park University.
It will culminate at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Benedum with Beatlemania Now, a live multimedia concert starring Scot Arch (as John Lennon), Chris Colon (George Harrison), Eric Smith (Ringo Starr) and Davey Justice (Paul McCartney). The performance takes the audience through the Beatles' career, visually and musically. It includes “Imagine,” a special tribute to Lennon's later solo work.
The evening has tribute performers presenting the music of artists that influenced the Beatles, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Elvis Presley.
Former KQV radio disc jockey Chuck Brinkman, who introduced the Beatles at the Pittsburgh concert, will emcee the Sept. 13 concert.
The free Beatles Rock Art Show features more than 150 framed drawings and paintings, album art and other offerings from rock artists, including McCartney and Starr. Ron Campbell, an artist and animator of the motion picture “Yellow Submarine” and the Beatles' cartoon series, will attend.
A one-hour television documentary, “Betting the House: The Day The Beatles Played Pittsburgh,” is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 on KDKA-TV.
DiCesare's book, “Hard Days, Hard Nights: From the Beatles to the Doors to the Stones, Insider Stories from a Legendary Concert Promoter,” is scheduled for publication this summer and is available for pre-orders at Amazon.com.
“It is unbelievable. I never thought 50 years ago that booking that one date would have such an impact on my life for all of these years,” DiCesare says.
“I was convinced there was something totally different about their music that made me feel they were going to be big. I have never felt this way about another group since then,” he says. “I've probably promoted thousands of concerts and, to this day, never had the reaction from people that I get when they mention the Beatles.”
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.