Egyptian Theatre screens rare Beatles film

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Boyd Production Group

An image from the film "The Beatles' First American Concert."

Forty-seven years ago this month, The Beatles performed their first concert in the United States at the Washington, DC Coliseum. Video of that show was screened across the country the following month, but few people have seen it since. Now, Southern Californians will have that chance.

The film "The Beatles' Complete First American Concert" will play Friday night at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The concert happened just two days after The Beatles' historic appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show," but rock historian Domenic Priore tells KPCC's Alex Cohen that the two appearances were very different.

Priore says on the "Ed Sullivan Show," The Beatles were trying to be "clean, safe and friendly." That wasn't the case with Washington, DC performance, which Priore says was raw and more similar to The Beatles' early 1960s performances in Hamburg, Germany nightclubs.

The Beatles' first US concert.

"When The Beatles stepped on stage at the Washington DC Coliseum, they just tore into their whole Hamburg energy," says Priore. "Everything was really up, alive and rocking."

The concert was filmed by a company that normally broadcast closed-circuit boxing matches. An employee of that company kept the tape in his basement for years, until it was handed over to archivist Ron Furmanek in the mid-1990s.

The historic film also features performances by The Beach Boys and Lesley Gore, which were taped at a Burbank television studio.

There are two screenings of the concert Friday: at 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Priore will also host a panel discussion with archivist Ron Furmanek and documentarian Alan Boyd.

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