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Remembering the Beatles at Shea

The Beatles at Shea Stadium

It was 47 years ago today, when the Beatles went to Shea to play — on Aug. 15, 1965, the Beatles launched the era of stadium concerts with a sold-out performance at Shea Stadium.

The Beatles actually played New York’s Shea Stadium twice — the second, a year later, didn’t generate nearly the amount of headlines or revenue — and it was the first concert that launched an era of rock and roll played before tens of thousands of fans at a place built for baseball and football. The concert grossed over $300,000 — the Beatles took half, promoter Sid Bernstein the rest — as the Fab Four put in 30 minutes of musical work. From Mental Floss:

The boys nervously picked up their guitars and Ringo climbed aboard his drum kit. They stood in the middle of Shea Stadium, small and distant figures, which probably added to the adoration and surrealism of the moment.

It was a typically brief Beatles concert, just 12 songs played in about 30 minutes. The Beatles used their “new” 100-volt amps, rather like using a portable hand mic to get an interview with King Kong, and throughout the deafening roar, they couldn’t hear a note any of them played (or sang)….

Because of the excessive noise and the need to somehow keep some kind of a beat, Ringo later confessed to watching the swinging rear ends of his three bandmates to give him some semblance of rhythm.


This may have been the Golden Era of Shea Stadium: delayed until 1964, the opening of the ballpark heralded baseball as a player in the Future, with the visions from the neighboring World’s Fair — one of the most famous ever — wafting over to the ballpark. Alas, Shea Stadium didn’t last, and these days big tours are more likely to play in a large arena than in a ballpark. Yankee Stadium, Candlestick Park, the Met…all hosted large-scale extravaganzas in the day.


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