August 15, 1965: The Beatles Shea Stadium Concert

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Beatles-Shea-stadium-posterThese days it’s no surprise when your favorite superstar rock band plays a ballpark or stadium. But for those of you too young to have lived through Beatlemania, step into our time machine with us.

Rock music was still far outside the mainstream. But in the mere 18 months since The Beatles had first arrived in America in February 1964 they’d had five #1 hits and the landscape was rapidly changing.

Their first concert in the New York metro area was the 2,800 or so seat Carnegie Hall in February ’64. They returned that summer for two performances at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, on Aug. 28-29, both of which seated around 16,000. One year later, promoter Sid Bernstein made the leap to 55,000 tickets for Shea Stadium. Not surprisingly, every one of them sold and the take was a bit over $300,000, split between the band and Bernstein. That may not sound like all that much until you translate it into the dollar value today: around $1.3 million for the Fab Four. Not a bad haul for a 12-song, 30-minute set. The show set records for both the size of the audience and its earnings.

One day before, they taped a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Watch them get introduced to the Shea Stadium crowd by Sullivan

Historic footage from the concert is included in the documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years from director Ron Howard, which was released in U.S. theaters in 2016.

Related: Our interviews with eyewitnesses for the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, two weeks later

The Beatles’ Shea Stadium Setlist

1. “Twist and Shout”
2. “She’s a Woman”
3. “I Feel Fine”
4. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”
5. “Ticket to Ride”
6. “Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby”
7. “Can’t Buy Me Love”
8. “Baby’s in Black”
9. “Act Naturally”
10. “A Hard Day’s Night”
11. “Help!”
12. “I’m Down”

Watch footage from their NYC visit including clips from their Shea performance

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3 Comments so far

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  1. Ed Sullivan
    #1 Ed Sullivan 16 August, 2018, 15:24

    You are correct, Chuck.

    Reply this comment
  2. Detroit lady
    #2 Detroit lady 16 August, 2020, 11:20

    And yet Grand Funk Railroad sold out Shea
    stadium quicker than the Beatles! They rocked
    it soo much they had to call in structural engineers because they thought it was going to collapse!

    Reply this comment
  3. Inaudible Convert
    #3 Inaudible Convert 16 August, 2020, 11:55

    I grew up in Flushing and was 15 when the Beatles played Shea. I remember that warm balmy night like it was yesterday. We walked down to the stadium in the afternoon and tried to sneak in over the bullpen fence which we always did when we wanted to go to a Mets game. No way, there were cops all over the place so we walked around the stadium looking for another way in. Layer in the evening,
    I was standing by a door (that opened from the inside only) when a cop popped his head out. I asked him how we could get into the show and he asked how many of us wanted in. I told him we were 4 and he told me to wait a few minutes. About 10 minutes later a limo pulls up and out pop The Beatles. Wow, we were literally 3 feet away from all 4 of them and really wanted in. We all went back to the “magic door” and I knocked on it. Another cop opened the door and asked what we wanted so I told him another cop told me he would let us in but to wait. He opened the door and we walked into a pitch black room. We couldn’t see a thing until someone opened a light and there were 3 cops sitting at a large table piled with coins and paper money. They told us to empty our pockets and drop all our money into the pile. I had 50 cents as did 2 other friends but the 4 friend had a $5 bill. We did as asked and then escorted over to another door which opened into the stadium. I asked the cop where we could sit and he told me, “Just go. That’s your problem.” We walked up to the first tier and sat just above home plate. The girls were screaming at the top of their lungs and the stadium was literally shaking. I never saw anything like this before. Girls screaming, crying, yelling and jumping in their seats. The Beatles came out around 8pm and ran to the stage that was on second base. They plugged in their instruments and began playing. Sound systems back then really sucked and we could barely hear a note especially over the screaming. It was pure female pandemonium and it was impossible to hear the band. Even tho we couldn’t hear them, it was a historic night to see them in our hometown.
    When I got home I told my parents (who liked The Beatles) that I just saw them in concert and they asked me how they sounded. I told them that I saw The Beatles but never heard a full song due to all the girls screaming. That was my first of many concerts I would attend going to The Fillmore East every weekend from 1967 to 1970. Today I am 70 years old and have 40% hearing in both ears but I got to see every famous band before they became famous. I also attended Woodstock which was another historic concert that happened 51 years ago today. Wow, how did I get this old so fast? Every minute was well worth it and was very lucky to grow up where I did.

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