Remembering Mets History & Shea Stadium: (1965) The Beatles Play Shea

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 were 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 performance 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 gibberish 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 center field gates.
The concert was filmed and aired on television 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 merchandising 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
Act Naturally
A Hard Days Night
I'm Down

The Promoter: The show was promoted by Sid Bernstein. Sid had originally contacted Brian Epstein about playing Carnegie Hall in 1963 before the Beatles were known in America. He did it and promoted their first U.S. Tour in 1964 as well. 

The demand for tickets was so overwhelming a Stadium Tour was set for 1965. Sid also promoted shows in the US for the Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks & the Moody Blues. He also was involved with Frank Sinatra & Tony Bennett. I met Sid at the 2001 Beatlefest & he was a real good guy. Sid passed away in August of 2013 at the age of 95.



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