“John stood astride in the familiar Lennon style, shoved on a pair of brown sunglasses with familiar Lennon panache, and belted straight into the vocal of ‘I Feel Fine’. The screaming seemed to reach the kind of level that only dogs and A&R men could hear.” – NME’s Alan Smith reporting on the Beatles performance at the Empire Pool Wembley.
The occasion was New Musical Express Annual Poll-Winners’ All-Star Concert – guess who won?!
The 10,000 crowd filled the Empire Pool on that day. It was built for 1934 British Empire Games at Wembley and originally housed a swimming pool – hence the name, which could be converted into a skating rink. It was used for the swimming competitions for the 1948 Olympics, but then converted into a sports and concert venue. In the 1960s it hosted the annual NME Poll Winners Concerts and it was here that the Beatles came for their 4th appearance at this annual event on 1 May 1966.
Sharing the bill with the Beatles were the Rolling Stones, The Who, Dusty Springfield, the Yardbirds, the Walker Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Spencer Davis Group with Stevie Winwood, Cliff Richard, Sounds Incorporated, the Shadows, Herman’s Hermits and the Small Faces, – a star line up, hardly matched before or since in the importance of the history of the 1960s rock music! It was even more important for the history of the Beatles – it was their last ever scheduled live performance in the UK, as well as the largest ever attended in this country.
For all the excitement and importance of the occasion, it is a great loss that only the lucky audience of the day saw the Beatles play.
The show was filmed and televised, but the cameras were turned off for the Beatles set.