Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles!

Press conference at Maple Leaf Center, Toronto, Canada, September 7, 1964. © The Bob Bonis Archive,

May 10 – November 12, 2019

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Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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In 1964, The Beatles came to America for the first of the group's three North American visits. Their journey in America began on Friday, February 7 of that year, when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr arrived from the UK at the newly named John F. Kennedy International Airport. With cameras flashing and reporters jostling, they were whisked into Manhattan amid the screams, shouts, and tears of New York-area teens, braving the cold for a mere glimpse of the band. Then, that Sunday, the veritable king of the television variety show, Ed Sullivan, introduced them to a captivated American audience of more than 73 million viewers—at the time a television record. And, just like that, Beatlemania was upon us.

Curated by the GRAMMY Museum and Fab Four Exhibits, Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! brings us back to the early ‘60s when rock & roll was re-energized—some say saved—by four lads from Liverpool. This exhibit covers the period from early 1964 through mid-1966—the years Beatlemania ran rampant in America. During this time, the band affected nearly every aspect of pop culture, including fashion, art, advertising, media, and, of course, music. Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles! provides fresh new insight into how and why The Beatles impacted America in the 1960s—and beyond.

Over 100 objects, ephemera, and interactive elements fill the gallery, some on exhibit for the first time. One of the most prominent cases features Paul McCartney's jacket from The Beatles’ historic 1965 Shea Stadium concert, and, for the first time on exhibit, one of McCartney’s bass guitars. McCartney also wore this iconic jacket when The Beatles performed in Portland, Oregon, at the Memorial Coliseum on August 22, 1965.

The Oregon Historical Society’s version of the exhibit also features a case of ephemera from The Beatles’ Portland performances, and includes the original performance contract and rider between NEMS and Northwest Releasing to bring The Beatles to Portland, as well as an original press pass.

Other exhibition highlights include:

  • Ringo Starr's black-on-black striped suit worn in The Beatles' debut film A Hard Day's Night and Ringo's Abbey Road crosswalk jacket
  • Paul McCartney's original handwritten lyric sheet for the song, "What You're Doing" (August 1964)
  • Handwritten set lists from The Beatles' concerts, including the earliest known set list (Grosvenor Ballroom, June 1960) and the one used onstage at the group's first-ever American concert (Washington D.C., February 11, 1964)
  • Gold records of I Want To Hold Your Hand and Rubber Soul
  • Venue contracts from the band's American tours
  • An eye-popping display of mass-produced merchandising items
  • Kid-friendly interactive elements including a virtual drumming lesson from Ringo and a playable home-made skiffle bass
The Beatles perform in Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964 © The Bob Bonis Archive,

The Beatles perform in Kansas City, Missouri, September 17, 1964

© The Bob Bonis Archive

Paul and Ringo on a plane en route to the Cow Palace near San Francisco, California, August 30, 1965 © The Bob Bonis Archive,

Paul and Ringo on a plane en route to the Cow Palace near San Francisco, California, August 30, 1965 

© The Bob Bonis Archive

Paul and John before the show, Detroit, Michigan, August 13, 1966 © The Bob Bonis Archive,

Paul and John before the show, Detroit, Michigan, August 13, 1966 

© The Bob Bonis Archive

Reginald Owen Residence, Bel Air, California, August 23-25, 1964 © The Bob Bonis Archive,

Reginald Owen Residence, Bel Air, California, August 23-25, 1964 

© The Bob Bonis Archive

WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

Image courtesy WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

Image courtesy WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

Image courtesy WireImage/Rebecca Sapp

About the GRAMMY Museum®

Established in 2008 as a partnership between the Recording Academy™ and AEG, the GRAMMY Museum® is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a greater understanding of the history and significance of music. Paying tribute to our collective musical heritage, the Museum explores and celebrates all aspects of the art form—from the technology of the recording process to the legends who've made lasting marks on our cultural identity. In 2017, the Museum integrated with its sister organization, the GRAMMY Foundation®, to broaden the reach of its music education and preservation initiatives. As a unified organization, today, the GRAMMY Museum fulfills its mission of making music a valued and indelible part of our society through exhibits, education, grants, and public programming.

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About Fab Four Exhibits

By combining historically significant artifacts and mass-produced memorabilia with informative text displays and photographs, Fab Four Exhibits (FFE) tells the incredible story of the Beatles and their music. Their extensive collection, valued in the millions of dollars, includes some of the most important historic treasures ever amassed by private collectors. Adding to this is one of the largest collections of Beatles toy memorabilia on the planet.

Fab Four Exhibits have worked with the country's top rock and roll museums, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and The GRAMMY Museum in L.A.

While the four FFE partners are avid fans and collectors, they are also Beatles scholars with an extensive knowledge of the group's history. They don't just display memorabilia; they exhibit these treasures in their proper historic context in a way that both entertains and educates the patron, bringing alive the band's incredible history.

News Coverage

The Beatles come to Portland, again

By:  Kohr Harlan, KOIN 6 News, May 10, 2019

Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles to America on February 9, 1964. The rest, as they say, is history. That history is now on display at the Oregon Historical Society. For the next 6 months, a collection of Beatles memorabilia -- pictures, videos, historical documents, even stage clothes -- can be seen up close. Among the original documents on display is a carbon copy of performance contracts that set out terms of The Beatles performance at Memorial Coliseum in Portland on August 22, 1965. Tickets in the lower level cost $6. The contract was one page and a rider with a list of conditions was just 3 pages. "The reason this (exhibit) is put together is it generally sits in glass cases in your basement or your music room and the only people who get to see it are your family or close friends, and this is a way for people to see it," said Chuck Gunderson, the exhibit curator.

On the Go with Joe at Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles

By Joe Vithayathil, Fox12 Oregon, May 9, 2019

An homage to one of the most celebrated bands ever is ready to welcome history buffs in the Rose City. Beatlemania has come to the Oregon Historical Society with its newest exhibit: Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles. The exhibit opens Friday and covers The Beatles from early 1964 to mid-1966, when the band gained huge fame in America, including the single time they came to Portland to perform in 1965. On display are more than 100 pieces of Beatles history such as clothing and handwritten lyrics and set lists. The exhibit will be open through Nov. 12.

Derided as communists while in Portland 54 years ago, the Beatles return to the city as conquering capitalists

By Douglas Perry, The Oregonian/OregonLive, May 9, 2019

A police officer walked his beat with a bullet stuck in each ear. All around him “little girls cried hysterically” and screamed. The cop ignored them. So it went at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Aug. 22, 1965, when the Beatles performed two shows at the venue. The Oregonian’s overnight recap of the experience started as follows: “eeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEE!...” The legendary British pop group broke up almost 50 years ago, and two of its four members are no longer with us. Yet Beatlemania lives on. Undeniable evidence of this will be on display in Portland on Friday, when “Ladies and Gentlemen ... The Beatles!” lands at the Oregon Historical Society.

Cue the screamers and the teenyboppers: The Beatles set for (kind of) a Portland performance

By Andy Giegerich, Portland Business Journal, May 6, 2019

The Beatles played Portland's Veterans Memorial Coliseum in August 1965. They also did plenty of other live U.S. performances between February 1964, when they first hit the States, and mid-1966. An exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society that begins Friday commemorates the Fab Four's live chops, as well as the fan frenzy the performers engendered. The exhibit will feature such apparel as outfits worn by Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, McCartney's original handwritten lyric sheet for the song, "What You're Doing" and handwritten set lists from the group. The exhibit runs through Nov. 12.

The Beatles are invading the Oregon Historical Society

By Destiny Johnson and Christine Pitawanich, KGW8, May 6, 2019

A new exhibit, set in the early '60s, will transport visitors back to the time when Beatlemania was all the rage. "Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!" will debut at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland on Friday, May 10. “It doesn’t take a hard day’s night of thinking to understand the impact that The Beatles had on the history of music and popular culture,” said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “The Oregon Historical Society is excited to bring to Portland this fun, interactive exhibition celebrating the band that forever changed rock and roll.”