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The Beatles played in Milwaukee one time, on Sept. 4, 1964.
The Beatles played in Milwaukee one time, on Sept. 4, 1964.

30 minutes that shook Milwaukee

As the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's only Milwaukee appearance nears, Milwaukee Public Television launches a 30-minute documentary about the Beatles' half-hour performance at the Milwaukee Arena, Sept. 4, 1964.

"The Beatles Invade Milwaukee" -- written, directed and produced by Raul Galvan -- tells the story of the Fab Four's one day in Milwaukee that would reverberate for a half a century.

Though there isn't a wealth of footage of the Beatles' appearance here, Galvan does a fine job of collecting film of John, Paul, George and Ringo at the airport, onstage at the Arena and, sans John -- who was suffering from laryngitis -- at a press conference held on the second floor of the Coach House hotel, where the band was staying.

He interweaves this footage with memorabilia, still photos and interviews with the well-known -- like former WOKY DJ Bob Barry, and chart historian Joel Whitburn -- to the fans, as well as cultural historian Dr. Diana Belscamper and two of the daughters of the late Nick Topping, who promoted the Milwaukee concert.

 Though their visit was brief, the Beatles arrived in Milwaukee at the height of Beatlemania, just months after the landmark appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

As Belscamper notes, "they were part of Milwaukee, if only for one day."

But it was a day that would live in the memories of fans for decades. One of the half-dozen or so fans interviewed says, "to this day it's a really big deal. One of the best days of my life."

You can get a peek at "The Beatles Invade Milwaukee" on Wednesday, Aug. 27. There will be two screenings, at 6 and 7 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so arrive early. After each screening, Barry, Galvan and others will take part in an audience Q&A.

The documentary will debut on channel 10 at 9 p.m., Monday, Sept. 1. It airs again at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4 on channel 10 and Saturday, Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. on channel 36. 

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