page is dedicated to a main event in the Beatles' history: the concert that they
performed at the Shea Stadium, in August 1965, which probably remains the
greatest and the craziest live moment of their career.
from the chronicles and diaries by Mark Lewisohn and Barry Miles).
months before, The Beatles had started an European Tour which had opened in
Paris on June 20th. Then, the Tour had taken the band to Lyon and Nice,
France, and to Italy and Spain. The third Beatles' US tour started on August
13rd when the band took off from Heathrow and landed at JFK. On that same
day, the US version of Help! was released by Capitol. The US Tour would last
until the end of the month and would lead the boys to New York, Atlanta,
Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles and San
Francisco. Heathrow airport, 13 August
65. Departure to NY.
next day, August 14th, The Beatles went to the CBS studios for some
rehearsals before recording a live tape for The Ed Sullivan Show in the
tour really opened on August 15th with a concert scheduled in New York at
the Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets baseball team. This was the
first time in the history of music that a stadium was used for a rock
concert ! Seen by 55,600 fans, it created a new world record for a pop
concert in terms of attendance and gross revenue. The Beatles' share of the
$304,000 box-office takings was also a record - $160,000. Some amazed Beatles...
(c) 2001 marc weinstein - allBeatles.net
concert had to be popularized through the media and no less than a dozen of
cameramen staffs were ready to follow the Beatles' travel from their hotel
to the stadium.A
planned spectacular entry into the stadium by helicopter, landing on the
baseball playing area, was first decided by the authorities of New York.
Instead, the group travelled both by car and by helicopter to reach the
stadium. The police feared that fans would jam the tunnels in and out of
Manhattan so the group was first escorted by limousine to the Manhattan East
River Heliport and from there they flew over New York City to the roof of
the World's Fair building in Queens. There they transferred from the
helicopter to a Wells Fargo armoured van where they were each given a Wells
Fargo agent badge.
usual for those days, there was a full bill, and the 55,600 fans sat through
the King Curtis Band, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, The
Young Rascals and Sounds Incorporated before Ed Sullivan finally walked on
stage to announce The Beatles:
ladies and gentlemen, honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen,
loved here in America, here are The Beatles!"
out from the Wells Fargo van which had driven them into the stadium, The
Beatles finally sprinted through a tunnel, out into a deafening wall of
screams and onto the stage positioned at second base.
band did their
standard 30-minute set of a dozen numbers and then, jumped straight back into
the Wells Fargo van to escape the stadium. The
Beatles finally sprinted out from the Wells Fargo van onto the stage... Enlarge >>
The usual set for this tour which
included twelve songs was:
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
I Wanna BeYour Man
A Hard Day's Night
show ! The intense excitement of this record-breaking concert, mixed with a
high degree of fan hysteria, resulted in a fantastic and unbelievable
The two thousand policemen, in charge of the security in the stadium, were
driven mad by the shouting and stirring crowd. Vox
had made some new and big special amplifiers devoted to the Beatles' tour.
The usual power for such amplifiers was 30 W; now they were able to deliver
a huge 100 W ! But that was still insufficient, the crowd screaming was
stronger... Enlarge >>
Fans were screaming all along the show and could hear almost nothing from
the Beatles' performance...
and it didn't matter, they wanted to see
The Beatles, nothing more...
But this was a problem for the Fabulous Four
who could neither hear what they played ! They had to look at each other to
check whether they were still synchronised, unable to rely on Ringo's beat
or on anyone else playing.
This was particularly hard for Ringo who stood
behind the three others and who couldn't neither see them, nor hear them.
Ringo: who can hear the
beat ? John
feeling the hysteria of the audience all around
Paul started to perform I'm Down, John suddenly decided to react againt the
He stopped playing seriously and went himself into a mad and
funny performance, playing on the harmonium using his elbows - a la Jerry
Lee Lewis. This funny sequence resulted in disturbing George who began to
laugh and was soon unable to go on playing correctly, but who cared ? For more
photographs about the Shea Stadium event, visit Marc Weinstein's site: www.allBeatles.net .
with the helicopter ride and backstage sequences, the show was filmed by
Sullivan Productions (Ed Sullivan's company) in association with NEMS
Entreprises (Brian Epstein's), and released as a documentary film called The Beatles At
Shea Stadium. Its world premiere occured on Tuesday 1 March 1966
all of the Beatles' Shea set is in the film - She's A Woman and
Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby are both omitted - and what is included was
subjected to audio sweetening back in London. Additionaly, throughout the
film, the Beatles are heard via voice-overs, recorded by the US broadcaster
Manager Brian Epstein takes
good care of his babies... Enlarge >>
Just as it would be
naive to believe that the sound on live-concert rock music albums is ever
truly live and undoctored, so the same is true for live-concert films. In
the case of the Beatles' momentous 15 August 1965 Shea Stadium concert, the
audio tapes specifically revealed not only musical flaws on the Beatles'
part but also technical imperfections caused by the sheer size of the venue,
the high-decibel screaming and the less than state-of-the-art mobile
recording equipment around in 1965. To have screened unaltered such a
high-profile film on peak-time television would have done the group a
So it was that,
amid some secrecy, the Beatles came to CTS Studios in central London on 5
January 1966, to "sweeten" the soundtrack, by whatever means
necessary, of their in-production television film The
Beatles At Shea Stadium.
The session began
with Paul only, overdubbing new bass tracks onto Dizzy
Miss Lizzy, Can't
Buy Me Love, Baby's
In Black and I'm
Down. Onto this
latter song John also overdubbed a new organ track. More
drastic repair work was then effected by the group as a whole, with entirely
new recordings completed for two songs:
I Feel Fine (done
at George Martin's specific request) and Help!
The Beatles strove to re-create a live-concert sound with these recordings
rather than their more typical EMI studio feel, and they also had to match
carefully their singing and playing with the on-screen images, hence the use
of CTS, the premier audio-to-film dubbing studio in London. (CTS is an
abbreviation for Cine Tele Sound.).
the Beatles did nothing: the film's post-production team merely replaced the
Shea recording with the Beatles' disc version (recorded 17 June 1965),
sync-ing it to the picture by means of audience cutaways and even, in
places, cuts in the music. (Intentionally or otherwise, one moment - where
Ringo's vocal is evident but his mouth is closed - was left in the film
suggests that John wished to record a new version of Ticket
To Ride, and
that it was done during this CTS session, but close study of the film
indicates that the original Shea version was used (although perhaps a little
instrumental overdubbing was effected). Additionally,
George Martin desired a new recording of Twist
And Shout, but
there wasn't time to do this. Instead, the post-production team used the
unreleased 30 August 1965 Hollywood Bowl concert recording to bolster the
sound, causing - in one place - John's live vocal to be double - tracked. In
fact, the Bowl recording was used extensively during the film's
post-production processes for recordings of the screaming audience,
especially on the two all-new London recordings.
doctoring appears to have been done to either She's
A Woman or Everybody's
Trying To Be Baby,
suggesting that, by this time, they had already been excluded from the film.
They were, however, included in an early print which Epstein received from
Sullivan Productions around 5 November 1965, which then ran to 54 minutes.
By January, as it would be for the transmission, the film's duration had
been cut to just under 48 minutes.