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The Beatles at Shea Stadium

Updated: Apr 6, 2021



Fifty-five years ago today, August 15, 1965, The Beatles performed a concert at Shea Stadium in New York City, the highlight of the group's 1965 tour. The Beatles staged their second concert tour of the United States (with one date in Canada) in the late summer of 1965, produced by Ed Sulllivan's production company. At the peak of American Beatlemania, they played a mixture of outdoor stadiums and indoor arenas, with historic concerts at Shea Stadium in New York and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.


Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, scheduled the band's second full concert tour of America after a series of early-summer concerts in Europe. The group began rehearsing for the tour in London on July 25, four days before attending the royal premiere of their second feature film, Help! The rehearsals doubled as preparation for their live performance on ABC Television's "Blackpool Night Out" and took place at the Saville Theatre on 30 July, and then at the ABC Theatre in Blackpool.


The Beatles entourage comprised road managers Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, Epstein, press officer Tony Barrow, and Alf Bicknell, who usually worked as the band's chauffeur. In his autobiography, Barrow recalls that a major part of the advance publicity for the tour was ensuring that interviews the individual Beatles gave to British publications were widely syndicated in the US. He adds that this was easily achieved, given the band's huge international popularity.


The attendance of which was 55,600, the largest Beatles concert up to that time. A film and documentary were produced featuring the events leading up to the concert, that included the Beatles' helicopter ride from Manhattan to Flushing Meadows, their preparation in the dressing room (i.e. the visiting baseball team's locker) at Shea Stadium:



Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were also in attendance. Marvin Gaye was introduced but did not perform. Television host Ed Sullivan introduced the band when they took the stage: "Now, ladies and gentlemen, honored by their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles!



The crowd of 45 thousand manic, screaming girls were so loud (and the sound system was not as sophisticated as today's standards), that The Beatles couldn't hear themselves play their own instruments. The concert itself was a milestone in popular musical history as the first major stadium concert. Beatlemania had reached its peak in the U.S:



Ringo Starr described the concert in The Beatles Anthology: "What I remember most about the concert was that we were so far away from the audience. ... And screaming had become the thing to do. ... Everybody screamed. If you look at the footage, you can see how we reacted to the place. It was very big and very strange." In 1970, John Lennon recalled the show as a career highlight: "At Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain."


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