Albums covering this tour
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The Beatles staged their second concert tour of the United States (with one date in Canada) in the late summer of 1965. 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. Typically of the era, the tour was a “package” presentation, with several artists on the bill. The Beatles played for just 30 minutes at each show, following sets by support acts such as Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & the Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated.
After the tour’s conclusion, the Beatles took a six-week break before reconvening in mid-October to record the album Rubber Soul.
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 25 July, 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.
Typically for the 1960s, the concerts were arranged in a package-tour format, with multiple acts on the bill. The support acts throughout the tour were Brenda Holloway and the King Curtis Band, Cannibal & the Headhunters, and Sounds Incorporated. 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.
Shea Stadium concert
The opening show, at Shea Stadium in the New York borough of Queens, on 15 August was record-breaking and one of the most famous concert events of its era. It set records for attendance and revenue generation. Promoter Sid Bernstein said, “Over 55,000 people saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium. We took $304,000, the greatest gross ever in the history of show business.” It remained the highest concert attendance in the United States until 1973, when Led Zeppelin played to an audience of 56,000 in Tampa, Florida. This demonstrated that outdoor concerts on a large scale could be successful and profitable. The Beatles received $160,000 for their performance, which equated to $100 for each second they were on stage. For this concert, the Young Rascals, a New York band championed by Bernstein, were added to the bill.
The Beatles were transported to the rooftop Port Authority Heliport at the World’s Fair by a New York Airways Boeing Vertol 107-II helicopter, then took a Wells Fargo armoured truck to Shea Stadium. Two thousand security personnel were at the venue to handle crowd control. The crowd was confined to the spectator areas of the stadium, with nobody other than the band members, their entourage, and security personnel allowed on the field. As a result of this, the audience was a long distance away from the band while they played on a small stage in the middle of the field.
“Beatlemania” was at one of its highest marks at the Shea Concert. Film footage taken at the concert shows many teenagers and women crying, screaming, and even fainting. The crowd noise was such that security guards can be seen covering their ears as the Beatles enter the field. Despite the heavy security presence individual fans broke onto the field a number of times during the concert and had to be chased down and restrained. Concert film footage also shows John Lennon light-heartedly pointing out one such incident as he attempted to talk to the audience in between songs.
The deafening level of crowd noise, coupled with the distance between the band and the audience, meant that nobody in the stadium could hear much of anything. Vox had specially designed 100-watt amplifiers for this tour; however, it was still not anywhere near loud enough, so the Beatles used the house amplification system. Lennon described the noise as “wild” and also twice as deafening when the Beatles performed. On-stage “fold-back” speakers were not in common use in 1965, rendering the Beatles’ playing inaudible to each other, forcing them to just play through a list of songs nervously, not knowing what kind of sound was being produced, or whether they were playing in unison. The Beatles section of the concert was extremely short by modern standards (just 30 minutes) but was the typical 1965 Beatles tour set list, with Starr opting to sing “Act Naturally” instead of “I Wanna Be Your Man“. Referring to the enormity of the 1965 concert, Lennon later told Bernstein: “You know, Sid, at Shea Stadium I saw the top of the mountain.” Barrow described it as “the ultimate pinnacle of Beatlemania” and “the group’s brightly-shining summer solstice”. The concert was attended by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. Afterwards, the Beatles spent the evening and part of the next day socialising with Bob Dylan in their suite in the Warwick Hotel.
Respite in Los Angeles
After the relentless schedule the Beatles had endured on their 1964 US tour, Epstein arranged for the band to have a six-day break in Los Angeles during the 1965 tour. For this purpose, Epstein rented them a secluded house at 2850 Benedict Canyon Drive, off Mulholland Drive, in Beverly Hills, California. The Beatles arrived there in the early hours of 23 August, following their second show at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon.
The large Spanish-style house was hidden within the side of a mountain. The band members typically woke up at 2 pm each day and spent much of their time relaxing by the swimming pool and enjoying a panoramic view of Benedict Canyon. Soon their address became widely known and the area was besieged by fans, who blocked roads and tried to scale the steep canyon while others rented helicopters to spy from overhead. The local police department had detailed twelve officers to protect the band during their stay, and this squad was supplemented by security personnel from the company Burns Agency.
The Beatles found it impossible to leave and instead invited guests, including actor Eleanor Bron (their co-star in Help!) and folk singer Joan Baez. On 24 August, they hosted Jim McGuinn and David Crosby of the Byrds and actor Peter Fonda. On 27 August, the Beatles met their musical hero Elvis Presley at his house on Perugia Way in Bel Air.
Hollywood Bowl shows
The Beatles played two concerts at Los Angeles’ high-profile Hollywood Bowl. The second of these, on 30 August, featured one of the group’s better performances and provided much of the material for their 1977 live album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.
Aftermath and legacy
The Beatles and their entourage arrived at London Airport (now Heathrow Airport) on 2 September, greeted by a crowd of fans. The band’s experiences in the United States inspired the songs they began writing for their new album, Rubber Soul. The album reflected, variously, the group’s exposure to the latest singles from artists signed to the Motown and Stax record labels, the mutually influential relationship the Beatles had forged with the Byrds, and the influence of Dylan, who had urged Lennon to strive for more meaning in his lyrics. One of the new songs, “Drive My Car“, evoked the starlets the Beatles had met at Hollywood parties, while Lennon initially based “Run for Your Life” on an early recording of Presley’s, “Baby Let’s Play House”. Soon after their return to London, Lennon talked extensively about the meeting with Presley in an interview he gave to the NME.
A documentary titled The Beatles at Shea Stadium was produced by Ed Sullivan (under his Sullivan Productions, Inc. banner), NEMS Enterprises Ltd (which owns the 1965 copyright), and the Beatles company Subafilms Ltd. The project used twelve cameras to capture the mayhem and mass hysteria. After the Beatles had carried out overdubs in a London studio, to cover audio problems throughout the concert recording, the documentary aired on British television in March 1966. It was broadcast in the United States in 1967 on the ABC television network and subsequently became widely available as a bootleg release.
In May 2007, a recording of the entire Shea Stadium show sourced from the actual in-line stadium public address system surfaced. The recording offers a minute-by-minute document of the concert, including all the opening sets. The recording is unaltered by overdubs and other editing. […]
Last updated on April 20, 2019
16 concerts • 2 countries
Aug 28, 1965
Aug 22, 1965
Aug 20, 1965