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The Cow Palace and Its Famous Entertainers

Updated on August 24, 2015

The Beginning of Beatlemania

Personally I would say that The Beatles were four guys who were born under a lucky star. There are lots of bands who can be here today and gone tomorrow. Once the world got to know The Beatles they realize their talent, fell in love with the songs written by the great team of McCartney and Lennon and the band became legend. They swooped down on the U.S. and made their historic TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. New fans were left panting after them when they left for Europe but at least there were there records to dance to. The returned once more on August 19 of the same year and this time conquered the West Coast appearing at The Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. They were faced with some 17,000 screaming fans when they came onstage at 9 PM and started off with “Twist and Shout”.

This was the start of their tour and they sang 12 songs all through the tour - Twist and Shout”. “You Can’t Do That”, “All My Loving”, ”She Loves You”, “Things We Said Today”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “If I Fell”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “Boys”, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Long Tall Sally”.

Their performance was to last for about 33 minutes but lasted 5 minutes longer because the police has problems controlling the craziness and ecstasy of the fans. It was something to consider because during their first song of the night a radio journalist traveling with The Beatles had gotten trampled and a young female fan had broken her leg. Then George Harrison mentioned that their favorite candy was jelly beans and the fans treated them to a shower of flying jelly beans. Once the concert was over the Fab Four Paul, John, George and Ringo got whisked away in an ambulance because their limousine was swarmed by crazed fans.

Getting to Know The Cow Palace

The place with the most unusual name The Cow Palace opened in 1941 in San Francisco, California. Since then it has seen 50 million visitors. Officially it is the 1-A District Agricultural Association, a State agency of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions. This idea came about at the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco when the livestock exposition became the most popular attraction and the organizers thought that there should be a permanent place for such exhibitions. For a long time nothing was done and finally when plans were started for the construction The Depression had arrived and money was either tight or scarce. It was then that a headline appeared in a newspaper inquiring why when people are starving all around should money be given in order to build a “palace for cows”? This headline also gave this place its famous name.

Finally Construction Begins

Twenty years had passed from the time the idea was first discussed but finally construction on The Cow Palace could begin. Construction was completed in 1941 and now there was a huge arena made of steel and concrete standing on almost six acres. The very first event was the Western Classic Holstein Show in April, 1941 and later that same year, the first Grand National Livestock Expo, Horse Show and Rodeo was held which also offered tribute to the late Will Rogers.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor was attacked two weeks after the first show closed and for the next five years The Cow Palace was full of troops that were heading for combat zones in the Pacific Theater. During WW II it was in the hands of the Ordinance Department and then turned into a huge repair garage. When the war was over The Cow Palace was once again the place for livestock shows and in 1948 it opened its doors to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was officially turned over for use by the general public in 1949 and became the host of all kinds of major events including the U.S. Heavyweight Boxing Championship.

Sold-Out Concerts

Finally The Cow Palace also became the place for sold-out concerts and through its doors came The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. Other memorable concerts held here were those by The Grateful Dead, The Who, The Doors, Rod Stewart, Santana, ZZ Top, Yes, Paul McCartney & Wings, Neil Diamond, Elton John, U2, and Prince.

The Cow Palace also has long-term inhabitants such as the circus and Disney on Ice. I just checked on the Internet and for all of you who live in or around the San Francisco area or who plan to visit at this time September begins with circus performances.


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    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Found it fascinating enough to write about Manatita.

      Thank you Venkatachari.

      Thank you Catharine.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Rasma- What fun to step back into the excitement of a Beatle's concert! Very interesting facts and history of the Cow Palace- I really enjoyed reading this:)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and entertaining.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Interesting place; interesting history, and yes, visited by great Souls indeed!!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Yes, it was interesting to find out about the Cow Palace so I knew an article was in there somewhere. Best video I could find on YouTube. There was also one on Elvis performing here but you couldn't see or understand anything.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I would loved to have been one of those screaming fans at the Beatles' concert. Unfortunately, I was a very young girl when the Beatles hit American stardom.

      I'm currently reading a book called Imagine This - Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon, written by his sister Julia Baird. It's fascinating to say the least. It goes into John's life as a little boy, through the start of the Beatles and beyond. Great book.

      The Cow Palace certainly has had some major headliners - all great bands.

      Thanx for this, Rasma. I really enjoyed hearing and watching the Beatles' early performance. Too bad the video's editing quality was so bad.