Both shows at the San Diego Arena on Eighth and Harbor Drive (aka Glacier Garden skating rink) for Presley's first full-length California concerts were sold out and police presence was heavy. "Some girls broke into the bathroom of Elvis's dressing room and stole the toilet seat," recalled KCBQ disc jockey Don Howard in a 1979 interview. "His Cadillac was covered with obscene messages, and two sailors were arrested for masturbating during the show from watching the antics.... After the concert, the police arrested 12 girls running nude through the halls of the El Cortez Hotel, looking for Elvis.
"Ticket sales for the two 1956 concerts (with his new backing band the Jordanaires) reportedly totaled $17,250, with 11,250 fans attending. The day after the second San Diego date -- April 6 -- Presley signed a seven-year movie deal with Paramount. Three weeks later, "Heartbreak Hotel" hit number one. When Presley was scheduled to return to the Arena June 6, Mayor Charles Dail brought a resolution before the city council attempting (but failing) to ban Presley from performing in the city. Police Chief Adam Elmer Jansen -- the city's longest-serving chief, at 14 years -- told the San Diego Union, "If he puts on the same kind of show that he did last April, I'll arrest him for disorderly conduct...I've had enough complaints from parents to assure me that twerp is not doing the kids any good."
Ritchie Valens: 9-58, Clairemont High School
Ritchie Valens had two hits on the charts -- "La Bamba" and "Donna" -- when longtime local DJ Harry "Happy Hare" Martin persuaded him to perform at the 1958 opening of Clairemont High School. "I was asked by the principal to put on a show to promote school spirit," Martin told Kicks magazine two decades later. "In my naïveté, I just asked him to come down from L.A. and sing in the schoolyard.
"It was a typical hot September day when he performed for an hour at noon, on hot clay, with absolutely no grass around." After the show, "I took him to the airport and thanked him, and within a few months Ritchie was dead." Valens perished in the same February 1959 plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.
Sonny and Cher: 7-21-65, Power House
When the duo performed the first of two nights at El Cajon's Power House (1550 North Magnolia Avenue), local radio was just beginning to play their single "I Got You, Babe," and they'd just made their first TV appearance on June 12 on American Bandstand. In a venue seating no more than 500 people, they performed the song, as well as several others from their upcoming debut album Look at Us (to be released that August). The majority of the set was made up of cover songs like "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (the Miracles), "Then He Kissed Me" (written by Phil Spector for the Crystals), and "Unchained Melody" (by North and Zaret, most famously recorded by the Righteous Brothers).
The Power House date may have been their first performance of the Dylan song "All I Really Want to Do," which they'd just seen the Byrds perform in L.A. the previous week. Even though they knew the Byrds wanted to record it, Sonny -- who'd noted the Byrds' success redoing Dylan tunes -- convinced Cher to record the song for a solo release, and this version would hit stores first.
A week after the San Diego concerts, they were on TV again in the half-hour musical-variety show Where the Action Is, just as "I Got You Babe" closed in on Billboard's number-one chart spot, where it remained for three consecutive weeks. After an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show later in the year, they were done with small venues. Their 1-21-66 appearance at San Diego's Convention Hall (202 C Street, downtown) reportedly sold out the same midsize room the Rolling Stones had barely filled the previous month (12-5-65, though that was an afternoon show).
The Beatles: 8-28-65, Balboa Stadium
For the Beatles' one and only local appearance, at Balboa Stadium, radio station KCBQ declared that Saturday "Beatle Day" and gave out pins saying so to attendees. Four local teenagers won a contest to present ceremonial keys to the city to the band at an afternoon press conference. Area DJ "Happy Hare" (aka Harry Martin) recalls that "Joan Baez was going to visit John Lennon [backstage], and she was caught up in the human riptide, because she was on the outside of the fence with all the kids. I literally lifted her up and pushed her over the fence. She eventually got backstage, but she came close to being crushed to death."
Local headlines the next day read "Beatles Quip at a Fast Clip" and "Ecstasy and Emotion: Beatles and Beatlemania Erupt." The band played around 40 minutes, with some of the show surreptitiously recorded by KGTV chief photographer Lee Louis, who smuggled in a 16mm film camera (a portion of his footage is posted on YouTube). Around 28,000 tickets were printed, priced at $3.50 and $5.50, though only about 18,000 were sold. The Beatles were reportedly paid $50,000, while promoters said their cut was around $6000.
The Doors: 7-8-67, Balboa Stadium
The Doors' debut album was still new when former Clairemont Longfellow Elementary School student Jim Morrison appeared with the band in his former hometown for the first time. His parents lived in Coronado, his father having just risen to the rank of rear admiral. "North County band the Lyrics, Marsha and the Esquires, and two other bands started promptly at 8:30 p.m., for over 4000 fans," reports "Crasher" columnist Josh Board. "Unfortunately, with only one album out, it was a short set, with only a handful of songs." Board points to Greg Shaw's book The Doors on the Road, which states, "...during 'Light My Fire,' two women leaped over the railing...and raced to the stage, briefly clutching Morrison's feet before being briskly escorted off by the police."