Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week. One of the highlights of rock music history was the very first major stadium concert. The act that has the honor of being at the top of the bill for this historic event is The Beatles. Of course, I’m referring to their legendary first Shea Stadium concert in New York City on August 15th, 1965 with 55,600 in attendance. The event is also considered by many Beatles fans as the peak performance of their concert years considering that by 1966 touring had gone sour for the band. The concert was filmed by either twelve or fourteen cameras (depending on what source you believe) for the purpose of producing a television documentary to be titled The Beatles At Shea Stadium.
Legend has it that The Beatles decided on their twelve-song set list backstage just before coming on. That set list went like this: “Twist And Shout,” “She’s A Woman,” “I Feel Fine,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Ticket To Ride,” “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Baby’s In Black,” “Act Naturally,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!” and “I’m Down.”
The film however did not end up as an accurate representation of the show. “She’s A Woman” and “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” was omitted due to time constraints and a coverage lapse to change camera reels. There were also audio problems with the recording that had to be dealt with in post production. “Twist And Shout” used audio from the August 30th, 1965 Hollywood Bowl concert. Ringo Starr’s performance of “Act Naturally” begins with a very off-key vocal and to make matters worse, Paul McCartney’s harmonies don’t come through, due apparently to a microphone problem. The solution to this for the purpose of the film was to dub in the actual studio recording and speed it up slightly to sync with the film. The film also obscures the audio of “A Hard Day’s Night” with Larry Kane’s interview footage of group manager Brian Epstein and The Beatles themselves. Other overdubs were used to add bass and improve the sound on the remaining tracks.
For this week’s BROW I am featuring the Shea Stadium performance of “Baby’s In Black” prior to any such sweetening. Paul added bass overdubs to this recording in the studio on January 5th, 1966 for the television documentary that aired a few months later. John Lennon shares the lead vocal with Paul but not before introducing the song and informing the audience that it’s a waltz, while comically admitting he doesn’t know what (American) album it’s on because “he hasn’t got it.” John can also be heard calling the audience’s attention to a female fan who has escaped the barriers and is rapidly making her way to the stage as the police chase her down.
The Beatles - Baby's In Black
- The Beatles At Shea Stadium was a NEMS-Ed Sullivan-Subafilms production that aired on the BBC in the U.K. on March 1st, 1966, West Germany on August 2nd, 1966 and on ABC in the U.S. on January 10th, 1967. The film has not been released on DVD or Blu-Ray however some snippets of it are seen in The Beatles Anthology documentary which had been released to DVD (see Amazon link below). It was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment in 1978 however they were sued by Northern Music and it came off the market.
- The concert was presented by the late promoter Sid Bernstein who died (aged 95) on August 21st, 2013. To hear my October 2010 telephone interview with Sid, who talks candidly about this event, click here.
- I mentioned above that “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” was omitted from the film, however the audio from it can be heard on The Beatles Anthology 2 CD set (see Amazon link below).
- “Baby’s In Black” was first released on the Parlophone LP Beatles For Sale in the U.K. on Dec. 4th, 1964 and the Capitol album Beatles ’65 in the U.S. on Dec. 15th, 1964.
Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:
1) Beatles For Sale (Remastered) – 2009 CD remaster of original 1964 stereo LP featuring finalized version of “Baby’s In Black.”
2) Anthology 2 2-CD (or 3-disc vinyl) compilation of Beatles out-takes and extras between 1965 and 1968. Contains performance of “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” from the 1965 Shea Stadium concert.
3) The Beatles Anthology – 2003 5-DVD box set covering entire expanded Beatles documentary as told by The Beatles themselves. Includes coverage of the Shea Stadium concert in 1965.
4) On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2 – New 2-CD (or 3-disc vinyl) compilation of Beatles BBC performances between 1963 and 1965. Companion set to the first Live At The BBC 2-CD released in 1994.