Monday, September 16, 2013

Shea Stadium History Part Four--------------------- The First Play At Shea [The Beatles]

In 1963 The Beatles, as anyone who walked the earth then or now knows, came on like a storm. A storm of what was called "bubble gum" music back then. The 60's were a great time for rock n roll as it branched out into all different directions throughout the decade. It all started with Elvis in the 50's, and now in the early 60's it was reaching it's zenith. The Beatles would come to America and play on one of the most watched Ed Sullivan Shows ever. And it wasn't just the crazy way fans became (Beatlemania) that made them so big. It was that they continued to excel and expand musically every step along their way.
In the U.S. (we had different albums than were pressed in the U.K.) I had heard Meet The Beatles, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, The Early Beatles, Beatles IV and Beatles 65. My older brother Bill had all these albums. I had seen and heard A Hard Days Night(at a drive-in with Von Ryans Express) and Help!. Another Girl was being played out on my record player until it popped and skipped.
(This was a little before "turntables" became main stream. Or maybe it was just because I was 8 yrs old at the time that I had a record player that looked something like this. I doubt it had a tone knob though.)

The Beatles had just released one of the best pop ballads in the history of music, Yesterday. The group's third US tour opened with a sold out performance before a world record crowd of 55,600 at New York's Shea Stadium on the 15th of August 1965.

This was a milestone in musical history. It was the first major stadium concert. As far as I'm concerned this was the most famous of all Beatles' live shows, right up there with the rooftop apple jam.
Towards the end of this tour the Beatles were granted an audience with Elvis Presley, who was still very much in one of his primes. He was in transition from the King Of Rock n Roll to the King of Hollywood Bubble-Gum Pop. The torch had been passed.

John Lennon in 1970: "At Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain."

In 1965 the Beatles were, for all intents and purposes, bigger than Jesus Christ. A naive John Lennon would state this observation and the band would suffer the consequences in the not too distant future. This was long before any talk of drugs or the psychedelic times of the later nineteen sixties.
For now, it's The Beatles, on the very toppermost of the world, performing live to packed stadiums and convention halls all around the globe. Setting new concert attendance records everywhere. In America it started here, at Shea Stadium in the summer of '65, when the Beatles could do no wrong.

_______Traditional red/cyan glasses are required for 3-D effect.

Ringo:"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."
There must have been a few hundred Beatle fans outside Shea as well. This guy on the roof of the car couldn't get tickets for the concert, but he found a way to get Beatle boots. I wonder what my parents thought of me when I said at, eight years old, I had to have Beatle boots for school.
Fun Fact: From WIKIpedia-The first major music event to play Shea Stadium after the Beatles was the Summer Festival for Peace on August 6, 1970. It was a day-long fundraiser, which featured many of the era's biggest selling and seminal rock, folk, blues and jazz performers including: Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, The James Gang, Miles Davis, Tom Paxton, John Sebastian and others.
The next concert venue at Shea Stadium was the historic 1971 concert by Grand Funk Railroad (Humble Pie opened) in 1971, where they broke the Beatles then record for fastest ticket sales. Structural Engineers at the stadium were concerned that the physical excitement of the crowd that night might have caused damage to the stadium.

New found footage of Grand Funk Railroad live at Shea, 1971. At the very end you can see why the structural engineers were worried. They really rocked the house.

Another fun fact: During this tour, at a show in Atlanta, the Beatles gave one of the first live performances ever to make use of a foldback system of on-stage monitor speakers. Those were the small stage monitors that are placed in front of the singers so they could better hear their own voice and stay in key. This was done out of necessity, not convenience, because the crowds at Beatle concerts were so loud with the girls screaming that the band could not hear themselves sing!
Funner Fact: This 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 to Shea for a successful encore on 23 August 1966. The attendance record stood until 1973 when it was broken by Led Zeppelin at Tampa Stadium.
A ticket from the Beatles 1966 show at Shea^

Photos from the Beatles 1966 show at Shea^
CGI rendition from Look what they did to our scoreboard!

Paul McCartney would appear in the very last concert ever at Shea in 2008. More on that in Shea Stadium History Part:396- THE LAST PLAY AT SHEA

Thanx go to Chef Bill & Lpeters of Baseball Fever for the 3-D image. And Corbis Images.

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