New York City • Sunday, August 15, 1965

ConcertBy The Beatles • Part of the 1965 US tour
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New York City
Shea Stadium

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Another great Beatles one. It was the first time that anyone had played any of those stadiums; it became kind of normal for people like the Floyd. We were playing through the baseball speakers and you couldn’t hear a thing with the crowds screaming — those 56,000 ‘seagulls’. That was cool; running out into the baseball stadium, all of that; John doing the keyboard in ‘I’m Down’ with his elbow. I think we just went a bit hysterical that night; we couldn’t believe where we were and what was going on, we couldn’t hear a bloody thing and we thought This isn’t very good, but it’s going down great.’ The hysteria started to kick in. That was a great one.

Paul McCartney, in the 2003 Back To The World tour book – talking about his favourite gigs

From Rolling Stone, August 14, 2015:

Leaving festivals like Woodstock and Monterey aside, there is no more famous gig in rock & roll history than when the Beatles played Shea Stadium, an orange and blue ass pit of a venue in front of 56,000 mostly teenyboppers on August 15th, 1965. It is a gig one might even term infamous, for all of the misunderstanding it has generated over the years, with one old saw after another getting parroted in the various histories of rock.

If you’ve seen the footage, you know that the Beatles were positioned on a rickety stage on an infield diamond, with the screams raining down from all directions. The band laughs maniacally, exchanges “shit, can you believe this is happening?” looks and takes the piss with song introductions repeatedly. […]

This is, let’s say, the third and final defining moment of Beatlemania after Ed Sullivan and A Hard Day’s Night (album and film, both), and just as they had been doing, they did at Shea that special thing endemic to the Beatles: taking up digs in the future as they appear to be fully in possession of the present.

Help!, which one could, indeed, argue is the band’s LP nadir, is also one of their most important discs, the album that first mixed soul, folk, rock, and mild psychedelia, albeit in sometimes clumsy ways, freeing the band up for the mid-career run of Rubber SoulRevolver and Sgt. Pepper.

At Shea they even dressed a sort of proto-Pepper part, with the military regalia. The line version of “Help!” has special resonance, for here is a man in Lennon staring into his latest abyss in life and singing about that abyss while being all but worshipped by the largest crowd in rock history to date. […]

Once you know you’ve filled a place that size, it’s magic; just walls of people. Half the fun was being involved in this gigantic event ourselves.

Paul McCartney

Linda was also there – but as she was a real music fan she was quite pissed off with everyone screaming. I think she enjoyed the experience but she genuinely wanted to hear the show. That wasn’t the deal, though. Not then.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

From The Beatles Bible:

The concert at Shea Stadium set a world record for attendance figures, and also for gross revenue. The Beatles pocketed $160,000 of the $304,000 box office takings. The event was promoted by Sid Bernstein, and 2,000 security personnel were enlisted to handle crowd control.

The Beatles had hoped to land on the field by helicopter, but the idea was blocked by the New York City authorities. They travelled by limousine from the Warwick Hotel to a heliport, from where they were flown in a New York Airways Boeing Vertol 107-II helicopter, over New York City, to the roof of the World’s Fair building in Queens. From there they boarded a Wells Fargo armoured van, where they were each given a Wells Fargo agent badge, and were driven to the stadium.

The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium, New York on 15th August 1965 - Crédits : Michael Ochs Archives
The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium, New York on 15th August 1965 – Crédits : Michael Ochs Archives

Paul McCartney, the Beatles Anthology:

Now it’s quite commonplace for people to play Shea Stadium or Giants Stadium and all those big places, but this was the first time. It seemed like millions of people, but we were ready for it. They obviously felt we were popular enough to fill it.

Once you go on stage and you know you’ve filled a place that size, it’s magic; just walls of people. Half the fun was being involved in this gigantic event ourselves. I don’t think we were heard much by the audience. The normal baseball-stadium PA was intended for: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the next player is…’ But that was handy in that if we were a bit out of tune or didn’t play the right note, nobody noticed. It was just the spirit of the moment. We just did our thing, cheap and cheerful, ran to a waiting limo and sped off.

Paul McCartney

This 1965 concert at Shea Stadium had been recorded, and a documentary made and aired in 1966. From Wikipedia:

The Beatles at Shea Stadium is a fifty-minute-long documentary of the Beatles’ 15 August 1965, concert at Shea Stadium in New York City, the highlight of the group’s 1965 tour. The documentary was directed and produced by Bob Precht (under his Sullivan Productions banner), NEMS Enterprises (which owns the 1965 copyright), and the Beatles company Subafilms. The project, placed under the direction of manager of production operations M. Clay Adams, was filmed by a large crew led by cinematographer Andrew Laszlo. Fourteen cameras were used to capture the euphoria and mass hysteria that was Beatlemania in America in 1965. The documentary first aired on BBC1 on 1 March 1966. In West Germany, it aired on 2 August that year. It aired in the United States on ABC on 10 January 1967. […]

The Beatles played Shea again in 1966 ; and in 2008, Paul McCartney played the last concert at Shea Stadium with Billy Joel before the stadium was closed.

What are your memories of the Shea Stadium concert? Were they nervous before the show?

Very amazing memories I have. We left the Warwick Hotel in New York and we got on a helicopter. Then, we went somewhere outside Shea Stadium and we went into a Wells Fargo security van — it had no windows. We got to Shea Stadium and many of the fans knew we were in that van and they banged on the outside of the truck. Then, we were inside the stadium, and they got changed and went to play.

There were 56,000 people screaming. I’ve never seen anything like it, nowhere in the world. Fantastic. Best event I think I ever saw them do. Tokyo was also very good. They were not nervous before the show, not at all. For them one concert was like any other. I remember that when they finished Paul said, “I wish we could have made more music for all these people.” He was very keen, you know. This was a big event for them. So they were very happy about that.

Robert Whitaker – Photographer – From Beatlefan #108, Sept-Oct 1997

Last updated on August 10, 2023

Shea Stadium

This was the 1st concert played at Shea Stadium.

A total of 3 concerts have been played there • 1965Aug 15th1966Aug 23rd2008Jul 18th


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