Suffolk Downs, Mohegan Sun, and the city of Revere received disappointing news yesterday when they learned that their proposal to build a resort casino at the racetrack lost to the Wynn casino that has been proposed for Everett. As a result, COO Chip Tuttle has announced that the track will end of a 79-year legacy of racing and will be forced to shut down.

The future may not great for the historic racetrack, but luckily, there is a rich past upon which to reflect. One of the cooler events to ever take place at Suffolk Downs was one of only two shows that the greatest rock band of all time played in Boston. That’s right, the second and last time that the Beatles ever played in Boston, on August 18. 1966, was at the racetrack. The show was the seventh date on the band’s final tour, and was supported by Boston’s very own Barry and The Remains (who rule, for the record, just in case Ma or Pa never told you about ’em).

The Beatles played 11 songs (set list below) in front of an audience of hysterical girls, who Boston Globe reporter Sara Davidson said “made up 90 percent of the crowd.” Among those in attendance was 13-year-old Joe Kennedy, son of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who, along with 34 friends and relatives, had driven up from Hyannis Port to see the fab four. In a quote from Davidson’s review of the show, young Kennedy tells that his favorite Beatle was John Lennon, saying, “He looks suave and debonair, and I like his hair. I don’t think my parents would let me grow mine very long.” The quote that follows it from one of Kennedy’s friends, 15-year old Chuck McDermott, regarding rumors of the Beatles’ breakup is even more classic. “It wouldn’t be a sound economic investment to retire now.”

This may have been the most legendary performance to take place in Suffolk Downs’ long history, but its music legacy carried on for decades afterwards. The track even began hosting music events again in the late ’90s, putting on shows for acts like Elvis Costello, Hootie and the Blowfish, even spilling into the 2000s, staging a legendary show for Radiohead. But as financial woes began to plague the racetrack, and stricter rules about entertainment hurt the production of large-scale and outdoor shows in the Boston area, the Downs’ musical tradition began to fade. Still, a classic performance from the Beatles is more than most venues in this state, in this entire country, have the pleasure of boasting.

The Beatles – Suffolk Downs – August 18, 1966

“Rock and Roll Music”
“She’s a Woman”
“If I Needed Someone”
“Day Tripper”
“Baby’s In Black”
“I Feel Fine”
“I Wanna Be Your Man”
“Nowhere Man”
“Paperback Writer”
“Long Tall Sally”

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