The Beatles, Live at Shea Stadium

On August 15th, 1965, the Beatles arrived in New York City, to play a massive sold out show at Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets.  The concert was a big deal for many reasons.  First off, it was the largest rock concert to date, setting the stage for Woodstock, Altamont, and all the mega stadium rock tours that would follow.  At the time, it was the highest grossing live event in the history of show business, raking in 304,000 dollars from 55,000 plus crazed fans.  Lastly, it was the apex of the “Beatlemania” phenomenon.  The Beatles were live, in New York City, playing to the largest live audience then imaginable, a live audience frenzied beyond comprehension.  Girls were fainting, screaming, rushing the field, and peeing themselves.  Police Officers were deafened by the noise, and outside the screaming girls, everyone else was stunned into hysterics by the absurdity of the event.  The Beatles, loaded up with fresh 100 watt Vox amplifiers, couldn’t hear themselves or each other, and the concert itself was broadcast to the crowd over the tinny Shea Stadium PA system.  The Beatles did the best they could to just plug away and hope they were playing together.  They did somehow manage to pull off a coherent performance, considering the circumstances, bashing through their most raucous rockers in the middle of a sustained chaos.  The videos capturing the event have been highly edited and bootlegged over the years.  The Beatles manager Brian Epstein, in concert with Ed Sullivan’s production team, filmed a documentary of the event that has never seen an official release, outside of a TV broadcast in 1967. The documentary itself was overdubbed with vocal retakes on some songs, some more jarringly out of place then others.  The entire concert, in documentary form, does exist on youtube, but its incomplete and the quality isn’t great. What I have below is first a rare HD look at the part of the documentary showing the Beatles getting ready for the show, selected scenes from the Beatles Anthology, and documentary footage I found stitched together as concisely as possible. While edited and incomplete, they represent the best image and sound quality of the show available on youtube.  It’s still a lot of fun, and I’m waiting for the day to get my hands on the final HD remaster of the show in full.  Until then, enjoy one of the greatest events in the history of live musical performance…




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