The Shea Stadium Concerts:
I wish I could have been there! Here are some things I found:
One of the most significant concerts in music history occurred at Shea Stadium on Sunday, August 15, 1965, when The Beatles opened their 1965 North American tour there to a record audience of 55,600. The Beatles played only 12 songs that night. "Beatlemania" was at one of its highest marks at the Shea Concert. Film footage taken at the concert shows many teenagers and women crying, screaming, and even fainting. The crowd noise was such that security guards can be seen covering their ears as The Beatles enter the field. The sound of the crowd was so deafening that none of The Beatles (or anyone else) could hear what they were playing. Nevertheless, it was the first concert to be held at a major stadium and set records for attendance and revenue generation, demonstrating that outdoor concerts on a large scale could be successful and profitable, and led the Beatles to return again to Shea for a very successful encore on 23 August 1966. The attendance record stood until 1971 when it was broken by Grand Funk Railroad.
The Beatles fist played Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965. It was sold out!
The setlist for their concert was:
"Twist And Shout,"
"She's A Woman"
"I Feel Fine"
"Dizzy Miss Lizzy"
"Ticket To Ride"
"Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby"
"Can't Buy Me Love,"
"Baby's In Black"
"A Hard Day's Night"
They returned the following year and played on August 23, 1966. Selling 11,000 less seats.
The 1966 set list:
"Rock And Roll Music"
"She's A Woman"
"If I Needed Someone"
"Baby's In Black"
"I Feel Fine"
"I Wanna Be Your Man"
"Long Tall Sally"
The Beatles and other rock-n-roll shows at Shea…
In what has been called one of the most important rock concerts in the history of the music industry, The Beatles played Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr took a helicopter from Manhattan to the Worlds Fair site and then hopped in an armored car that brought them into the stadium. The quartet dressed in the umpires room before Ed Sullivan introduced the group.
The Beatles entered from the visitor's dugout at 9:17 p.m., ran onto the stage set up near second base, and sent the Shea crowd into a frenzy by opening with "Twist and Shout." Nearly 50 amplifiers were scattered along the baselines. It was the first major outdoor stadium concert in America and it was an overwhelming success. Over 60,000 screaming teenage Beatles fans jammed Shea to listen to the 30-minute performance.
"The Beatles had played at Carnegie Hall previously and we had turned away thousands of fans," recalled legendary promoter Sid Bernstein. "So we started talking about bringing the band to Madison Square Garden. But then I had an idea. Lets forget about MSG and I suggested Shea Stadium in Queens to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. He asked 'Do you think we could sell it out?' and I told him 'I'll give you $10 for every unsold seat.' He called me back a day or so later and said we had a deal."
The Beatles rock out at Shea Stadium
They say history can't repeat itself, but the following August, The Beatles returned to Shea for another engagement. On August 23, 1966, Paul, John, George and Ringo played Shea for a second and final time.
"Years later I was at a Jimmy Cliff concert with John Lennon and during the intermission he leaned over and said 'I saw the top of the mountain when we were at Shea.' I nodded and said 'So was I,'' recalled Bernstein.
08/15/1965 - (8:00pm) The Beatles perform what may be the most famous live performance of their career, their first concert at this baseball stadium. The audience of 55,600 fans is the largest ever to attend a pop music concert up to that time. The Beatles are paid $160,000 for this one performance. After New York City authorities veto The Beatles' planned arrival inside the stadium by helicopter, a Wells Fargo armored truck transports them into the stadium and they run out onto the stage, located at second base. The Beatles play Twist And Shout, She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Ticket To Ride, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, Baby's In Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Day's Night, Help!, and I'm Down. In addition to the support acts that were accompanying The Beatles on their North American tour (Brenda Holloway, The King Curtis Band, Cannibal And The Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.) an additional group was added for this concert - The Young Rascals.
08/23/1966 - (7:30pm) The Beatles perform a single concert here again. Unlike the previous year's performance, which had sold out, there are 11,000 empty seats in the 55,600 seat stadium. Nonetheless, The Beatles earn more than the previous year, receiving $189,000 for their performance. The supporting acts are The Remains, Bobby Hebb, The Cyrkle, and The Ronettes (without Ronnie Spector). The song list is Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, and I'm Down.
THE FIRST BEATLES SHEA STADIUM CONCERT WAS ON AUGUST 15, 1965. ANY BEATLES FAN WORTH HIS SALT KNOWS THIS ONE AS "THE SHEA STADIUM CONCERT". HARD AS IT IS FOR US TO BELEIVE IN THIS ERA, WHERE EVEN THE MOST HALF-BAKED, SECOND-RATE ACTS CAN SELL-OUT STADIUMS, THE SHEA STADIUM CONCERT WAS A FIRST.
ALTHOUGH THE BEATLES HAD SOLD OUT COUNTLESS THEATERS, LOCAL AUDITORIUMS AND DANCE HALLS, NO ROCK GROUP HAD EVER PLAYED A CONCERT AT AN ACTUAL SPORTS STADIUM BEFORE. THE CROWD WAS CAPACITY, AN EYE-POPPING 55,600 FANS (MOSTLY SCREAMING, CRYING, AND EVEN FAINTING, WOMEN AND TEENAGE GIRLS).
INTERESTINGLY, AMONG THE SCREAMING, FAINTING, WORSHIPPING FANS WERE TWO FUTURE BEATLE WIVES. BOTH LINDA EASTMAN AND BARBARA BACH (THE FUTURE WIVES AND GREATEST LOVES IN THE LIVES OF PAUL AND RINGO) WERE SITTING GOOGLE-EYED AMONGST THE OTHER ADORING FANS. (ONE HAS TO WONDER WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH THESE GIRL'S MINDS AT THE TIME).
THE BOYS WERE DRAMATICALLY ESCORTED TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD'S FAIR IN A WHIRLING HELICOPTER. ACCORDING TO GEORGE, ON THE ROUTE TO THE ROOFTOP, THE PILOT WAS ZIPPING AND WHIZZING THEM WILDLY OVER THE BIG APPLE, POINTING OUT THE VARIOUS SIGHTS, AS THE BEATLES SAT IN SLIGHT TERROR AT HIS AERIAL ACROBATICS.
THE BOYS WERE THEN DRIVEN TO THE CONCERT IN A WELLS-FARGO BANK VAN. AFTER THEY WERE DEPOSITED AT THE THE STADIUM, EACH WAS GIVEN HIS OWN LITTLE WELLS-FARGO BADGE (ONE CAN SEE THE FILM OF THE CONCERT AND NOTICE EACH BEATLE PROUDLY WEARING HIS WELLS-FARGO BADGE PINNED TO HIS JACKET).
THE PREVIOUS ACTS FINISHED THEIR OBLIGATORY, THANKLESS PERFORMANCES AND LIKE FOUR DIETIES, THE BEATLES WALKED OUT ONTO THE FIELD. THE NOISE WAS DEAFENING (ONE CAN CLEARLY SEE THE SOME OF THE SECURITY PEOPLE PUTTING THEIR HANDS OVER THEIR EARS OR STICKING IN THEIR FINGERS TO BLOCK OUT THE WHIRLWIND OF NOISE).
A SEA OF THOUSANDS OF BRIGHT CAMERA FLASHBULBS GREETED THE BEATLES AS THEY ENTERED AND MADE THE FIELD LOOK LIKE A WILD ELECTRONICS LABORATORY OR A GIANT BATTLEFIELD WITH SPACEMEN SHOOTING OFF RAY GUNS.
THE BOYS NERVOUSLY PICKED UP THEIR GUITARS AND RINGO CLIMBED ABOARD HIS DRUM KIT. THEY STOOD (AND SAT) IN THE MIDDLE OF SHEA STADIUM, SMALL AND DISTANT FIGURES, BUT THIS PROBABLY ADDED TO THE ADORATION AND SURREALISM OF THE MOMENT.
IT WAS A TYPICALLY BRIEF BEATLES CONCERT, JUST 12 SONGS- PLAYED IN AROUND 30 MINUTES. THE BEATLES USED THEIR "NEW" 100-VOLT AMPS, (RATHER LIKE USING A PORTABLE HAND MIKE TO GET AN INTERVIEW WITH KING KONG), AND THROUGHOUT THE DEAFENING ROAR, THEY COULDN'T HEAR A NOTE ANY OF THEM PLAYED (OR SANG). JOHN OPENED WITH HIS VERSION OF "TWIST AND SHOUT", A USUAL ROUTINE, BUT PAUL, GEORGE AND RINGO ALL NOTICED SOMETHING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT ABOUT JOHN THAT NIGHT.
ACCORDING TO GEORGE, JOHN LENNON LITERALLY "CRACKED UP" THAT NIGHT. THE SURREALISM OF THE EVENT CAUGHT LENNON'S FANCY, AND, ALWAYS THE CRAZIEST OF THE FAB FOUR, JOHN JUST "LOST IT".
ONE CAN SEE JOHN CACKLING AND BREAKING UP WITH MAD GLEE SEVERAL TIMES, AS THE BOYS LOOK OVER THE CROWD, AND EACH OTHER, WITH SLIGHT DISBELIEF. AT ONE POINT, JOHN HOLDS HIS ARMS OUT-STRETCHED, AND STARTS CHANTING IN A PETER SELLERS-LIKE VOICE, UP AT SOME IMAGINARY HEAVENLY PRESENCE ABOVE HIM. AT ANOTHER POINT, AS PAUL TALKS TO THE CROWD, JOHN DOES HIS USUAL SPASTIC-CLAWED HANDS IMPRESSION AND STOMPS HIS FEET.
DURING THE CLOSING NUMBER, AS PAUL SINGS "I'M DOWN", JOHN GOES OVER TO PLAY THE ELECTRIC ORGAN. LENNON STARTS PLAYING THE ORGAN WITH HIS ELBOW AND LAUGHING DEVILISHLY. THE NORMALLY STAID, CONVENTIONAL, PAUL IS SEEN DOING A FULL 360-DEGREE SPIN OF HIS BODY, IN PURE EXHILARATION, IT WOULD SEEM.
EVEN THE USUALLY STONE-FACED GEORGE IS SEEN LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT JOHN'S ANTICS. IN BETWEEN THE "TWIST AND SHOUT" AND "I'M DOWN" BOOKENDS, GEORGE AND RINGO EACH PERFORMED THEIR OBLIGATORY SOLO TURNS.
JOHN AND PAUL ROTATED AND SANG LEAD IN THE OTHER TEN SONGS. BECAUSE OF THE EXCESSIVE NOISE, AND HAVING TO SOMEHOW KEEP SOME KIND OF A BEAT, RINGO LATER WOULD CONFESS TO WATCHING THE SWINGING REAR ENDS OF HIS THREE BANDMATES TO GIVE HIM SOME SLIGHT SEMBLANCE OF RHYTHM.
THUS, THE BAND PLAYED ON.
AND THEN, THIS MOST AMAZING 30-MINUTES OF CONDENSED "MUSIC" ENDED IN A FLASH AND THE FAB FOUR TROMPED OFF THE FIELD, EXHAUSTED, RATHER LIKE SATIATED EMPERORS LEAVING A ROMAN ORGY. THE CONCERT PULLED IN A THEN-RECORD GROSS OF $304,000.00, OF WHICH THE BEATLES WOULD RECEIVE HALF.
IT WAS NOTED, AT THE TIME, AS THE BIGGEST GROSSING EVENT "IN THE HISTORY OF SHOW BUSINESS". (TICKETS SOLD FOR THE RIDICULOUS PRICES OF $4.50, $5.00 AND $5.75)
MANY YEARS LATER, JOHN LENNON RAN INTO SID BERNSTEIN, THE PRODUCER OF THE SHEA STADIUM CONCERT. AS THEY HAPPILY REMINISCED ABOUT THE SHEA CONCERT, JOHN LOOKED AT SID WITH A TWINKLE IN HIS EYE AND SAID,
WE REACHED THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, SID.
The day was Sunday August 15th, 1965, when the Beatles played their legendary concert at Shea Stadium. The show opened up their 1965 summer tour, and it was by far the largest concert that had ever been put on at that time. It set records for attendance and profits and also paved the way for future stadium rock concerts. According to all accounts on the " Beatles Anthology" everyone has a different opinion on how many people actually attended the concert. It is estimated at 56,000 with fans only allowed in the seating area of the stadium. The only people on the field were the 2000 people working security, and anyone working for the concert. The stage was set up on second base a long way off from the fans. The Beatles were the hottest thing on the planet at the time, Shea Stadium was a new state of the art Sports complex, Flushing Meadows was still hosting the NY World's Fair, and the Beatles were the hottest ticket in town. The band was paid a record $160,000 at the time and ticket prices for fans averaged about $6.
The Beatles flew into New York on August 13th, and stayed at the Warwick Hotel on West 54th St. in Manhattan. They video taped a five song performance for The Ed Sullivan Show the next day to be broadcast in September 1965. The City officials waere afraid the tunnels would be overwhelmed with Beatles fans causing massive delays as the Beatles made their way to Queens, so it was decided to fly them over to Shea by helicopter.
They left the East River Heliport and were flown by helicopter to the roof of the World's Fair building in Flushing Meadows Park. Next, the boys jumped in a Wells Fargo armored van and were driven into the stadium. The van driver gave each of the Beatles a Wells Fargo "agent badge," which they all wore at the evening's concert.
Murray the K introduced opening acts the King Curtis Band, Canibal & the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway & Sounds Inc. Ed Sullivan himself introduced the Beatles to a deafening ovation of screams & yells. "Now, ladies and gentlemen, honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen, loved here in America, here are The Beatles!" The Beatles ran out of the third base dugouts waving to the crowds totally over whelmed by the whole scene.
On stage they went through their typical 1965 Tour set list which only lasted 30 minutes. The Beatles really couldn't hear themselves playing, so they just followed each others motions. The Vox company mad special 100 watt amps that were played through Shea Stadiums P.A. system. It certainly wasn't powerful enough to be heard over all the screaming & yelling in the large Stadium. Again these were all firsts for that time and much of it was experimental.
The NYPD had to keep chasing girls (and some guys) who kept charging the field trying to get close to the Beatles through all the barricades on the field. This was the height of Beatlemania and many people lost their minds when the Beatles were in the vicinity. Besides all that madness, it was a hot humid summer night and many of the young girls were fainting not only from the sight of the Beatles but also from the heat. This kept the medical staff very busy and the whole scene was very chaotic.
There were some memorable performances that night. It is very rare when we see John & Paul singing together on the same mic as they do here on film during" Baby's in Black". John's piano perormance on "I'm Down" was hysterical as he is laughing, joking and jumping all around. Playing the piano with his elbows swiping along the keys. John admitted later it was the first time he had not played guitar on stage and felt very strange. He didn't know what to without his guitar around him so he went wild on the piano. You see George & Paul also laughing at John's antics and it is safe to say they were all having a good time and soaking in the historical event by the shows end. John also toys with the crowd speaking jiberish just to get a reaction, they go wild as he speaks nonsense into the mic and raises his arms up to the sky and blows them a kiss.Classic Lennon. After they left the stage it was back to the armored van and they disappeared through the centerfield gates.
The concert was filmed and aired on televison in 1966. Some footage was restored with musical overdubs and is included in the "Beatles Anthology" but besides bootleg versions, it has never been released on DVD. In the long line of Beatles merchandiing mysteries us fans eagerly await a box set. There is plenty of footage of the press concert, pre concert with the Beatles in the locker rooms awaiting the show, and the helicopter ride over NY waiting to be seen. But besides years worth of rumors for some reason the Beatles Company, Apple has not officially released a quality version of the show.
The Beatles Shea Stadium Set List:
Twist & Shout
She's A Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzie
Ticket To Ride
Everybody's Tring To Be My Baby
Cant Buy Me Love
Baby's In Black
A Hard Days Night
The Beatles at Shea Stadium is a fifty minute-long documentary of the Beatles' 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in New York, the highlight of the group's 1965 tour. The documentary was produced by Ed Sullivan (under his Sullivan Productions, Inc. banner), NEMS Enterprises Ltd. (which owns the 1965 copyright), and the Beatles company Subafilms Ltd. The project utilized twelve cameras to capture the mayhem and mass hysteria that was Beatlemania in America in 1965. The documentary first aired on the BBC on May 1, 1966. It aired in the United States on ABC on January 10, 1967.
Exclusive: Filmmaker Clay Adams reveals details about working with The Beatles on Shea Stadium film soundtrack:
M. Clay Adams, the former owner of Clayco Films, produced many film segments for the Ed Sullivan Show during the 1960s. When Ed Sullivan’s production company collaborated with The Beatles to produce a documentary of their legendary 1965 performance at Shea Stadium, Clay Adams was the manager of production operations for the film.
At the time, Adams, who died last year at the age of 99, had been in the film business for over 25 years. He had a young teenage son, Michael, who was a huge Beatles fan. In February 1964, Michael was one of the lucky ones who attended the live February 9, 1964 Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan Show as well as The Beatles dress rehearsal (the segment filmed for their third Ed Sullivan appearance which aired on February 23, 1964). He actually got to meet The Beatles after the dress rehearsal. He also attended both Beatles concerts at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966.
So after his dad, Clay, flew to London to work with George Martin and The Beatles on the over-dubs to the Shea Stadium film soundtrack, Michael was extremely anxious to hear about the trip. In the lost art of letter writing, Clay typed up a letter dated January 10, 1966 to his son, who was busy in school, and told him intimate details of working with George Martin and The Beatles in the recording studio. He also revealed his personal observations on each of the Fab Four.
For example, Clay Adams, describes his first impressions of Paul McCartney:
Paul was the first one to get there, right on the dot of 9:30. He came in with a short black fur coat and needing a shave. But he was full of fun and ready to get down to work right away. Actually what the boys and George Martin really felt was wrong with the Shea soundtrack was only that it was lacking in the “low end” and drums in some places. The bass guitar was not as loud as on their records. So while we were waiting for the other boys to arrive, we over-dubbed “I’m Down”, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and “Baby’s in Black” with Paul only.
Readers can get a sense of what the Beatles daily lives were like from this historic letter. This excerpt almost seems like a scene out of A Hard Day’s Night as Adams writes:
Meanwhile nobody seemed to know where the rest of the boys were. Every time I’d ask what has happened to John, George and Ringo – George Martin would say he hadn’t the slightest idea except that Paul was living in the city nearby while the other boys had to come from out of town. Finally at about 10:30 in bounced the other three, all laughing and quite unaware that they had been keeping us in suspense.
What’s most fascinating about Adams’ letter is how he truly was a “fly on the wall” during a Beatles’ recording session.
All four of the boys were really great. They worked hard, did anything we asked them to and cooperated in every way. Also, they are such great “pros” and know their own arrangements so well that the recording session went much easier and faster than I ever anticipated. John was quite anxious to do “Ticket to Ride” better so we did that completely over and our track of “Help!” had a big drop-out in it which we had tried to fix up in New York – so we did that one all over. The rest were merely fixed here and there to fortify the Shea track. Paul loved my word “fortify” and whenever there was a lull he would say to me, “How are we doing Clay – did we fortify that one okay?”
Adams’ observations about the individual Beatles are quite insightful as well:
It was fun between recording sessions. Almost invariably Paul and John would immediately start tinkering around with some new musical ideas for new songs on their guitars. As soon as one would play a few notes, the other would pick up an accompaniment no matter how complex the arrangement. Meanwhile, George Harrison – who I called a frustrated drummer – would be trying to teach Ringo some new trick beat that he had thought up. They are all constantly fooling around with the other’s instruments. Ringo fooling with a guitar or the piano. George on the drums, etc. I thought Paul was the most musical though. When we had finished the over-dubbing I sat with him at the piano while he improvised. He has a great sense of harmony and phrasing. You should have heard his improvised chords fooling around with that song that’s my favorite from “Oliver” – I can’t think of the title.
The Beatles at Shea Stadium 50-minute documentary concert film was first aired on the BBC on May 1, 1966. The film was aired in the United States on ABC on January 10, 1967. However, since then, the film has never been commercially released to the public.
Michael Adams commented on the status of the film:
The film was a joint Sullivan Productions and NEMS venture. My Dad provided the film and sound crew and everything that came afterward until it was a finished product. When both parties had signed off on the completed film, two masters were made. Copies were then made and were presented to Sullivan Productions and NEMS for their prospective broadcasts. My Dad hung on to the masters and waited for the companies involved to follow up and ask for them.
In 1987, Paul McCartney phoned my Dad and requested a master for Apple. At the time, Paul said that they were interested in releasing it. They subsequently released a few songs on the Beatles Anthology. They [Apple] still have that master and who knows, maybe one day they will release it. In the meantime it keeps getting bootlegged. There’s boot copies of the US and the UK telecasts floating around out there (as well as that 2nd master).
Hope you Enjoyed this! :-)
The Shea concerts is one of my favorite highlights of the Beatles career! I'd certainly take my time machine and set it to those days!
Thanks for sharing this and all those fab photos! :-)
LOL! I messed up formatting this. Hope you Enjoy anyway! ;-)
It's one of my Favorite highlights of the Beatles career too! I sure wish I could have gone there!
You're Welome!! Glad you Enjoyed them! :-)
Thanks for Posting this BeatleGirl!! :-)
I prefer the "1965" Shea Concert because it was the Beatles First BIG outdoor open air performance, was the most publicized, had a larger audience and more Color photos and footage than the 1966 Shea concert on the internet! ;-)
The 1965 Shea concert was held shortly after the HELP Album was released, and it was a only a year and a half after The Beatles hit America with their first performance on the Ed Sullivan show! So, Beatlemania was in it's hey-day at the time and growing! It was no wonder why the audience were Super Excited to see them Live in Concert!! :-)
I Wish I could have been there!!
They were indeed the first act to perform in a stadium! I still can't believe that 2 future wives were in the audience that day too…& Meryl Streep. CRAZY!
Anthony: Yes, stadium concerts are commonplace now in the music business. The Beatles became the first rock band to perform at an American sports stadium with their show at Shea Stadium. BeatleNut9 confirms that too. I Really don't think even Elvis could fill a stadium at that time like The Beatles did! I Surely Agree! :-)
BeatleNut9: I searched on the internet and you're right that they were the first act to perform in a stadium. Yeah, I can't believe that 2 future wives were in the audience that day!! That's So Cool. And Meryl Streep was there too. Who knows what other future celebs may have been in the audience that day too? :-)
I don't know, but being in the audience of Paul & Ringo concerts hasn't gotten me quite that lucky…YET!
BeatleNut9: YET! LOL! ;-)
Anthony: So Cool! I Agree! :-)
Annalina, Thanks for featuring my past discussion about The Shea Stadium Concerts!! :-)