The Beatles at Shea Stadium
|The Beatles at Shea Stadium|
|Produced by||Ed Sullivan Productions
|Music by||The Beatles|
|Release dates||May 1, 1966 (BBC Television)|
|Running time||50 min.|
The Beatles at Shea Stadium is a fifty-minute-long documentary of The Beatles' August 15, 1965, concert at Shea Stadium in New York City, the highlight of the group's 1965 tour. The documentary 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, placed under the direction of manager of production operations M. Clay Adams, was filmed by a large crew led by cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, used fourteen cameras to capture the euphoria and mass hysteria that was Beatlemania in America in 1965. The documentary first aired on the BBC on May 1, 1966. However other sources place first transmission on the BBC as being March 1, 1966. In West Germany, it aired on August 2, 1966. It aired in the United States on ABC on January 10, 1967.
The film captures not only the concert, the attendance of which was 55,600, the largest Beatles concert up to that time, but also the events leading up to the concert, including the Beatles' helicopter ride from Manhattan to Flushing Meadows, their preparation in the dressing room (i.e., the visiting baseball team's locker) at Shea Stadium, and clips from the show's other acts, including Motown singer Brenda Holloway ("I Can't Help Myself"), King Curtis, Sounds Incorporated ("Fingertips"), and The Discothèque Dancers, managed by Jerry Weintraub. Murray the K, Mal Evans, Brian Epstein, and announcer Cousin Brucie Morrow are also featured. The concert had been presented by promoter Sid Bernstein. Television host Ed Sullivan introduced the band when they took the stage: "Now, ladies and gentlemen, honored by their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles!"
The film is not a completely accurate representation of the actual concert performance. The songs "She's a Woman" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" are omitted from the film due to time and likely camera reel change issues (audio of the latter song was released on The Beatles Anthology Volume 2 CD). The audio for the songs that remained went through a heavy post-production process as well. Some songs were treated with overdubs, or even re-recorded entirely, by The Beatles at London's CTS Studios in January 1966, to cover audio problems throughout the concert recording. In addition, the audio for "Twist and Shout" comes from a show at the Hollywood Bowl later on the same tour, and the audio for "Act Naturally" was simply replaced by the studio version of the song (released on the Help! LP in Britain and on the B-side of "Yesterday" in the US), sped up slightly and poorly edited to sync up to the film.
Although the film has not been officially available on DVD or VHS (except via a 1978 release by Media Home Entertainment that was successfully sued by Northern Music), it has been widely available on the bootleg circuit for decades, including in a "raw audio" form that restores the original Shea Stadium audio track.
- "Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley, Bert Russell)
- "She's a Woman" (not included in film)
- "I Feel Fine"
- "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams)
- "Ticket to Ride"
- "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (Carl Perkins) (not included in film)
- "Can't Buy Me Love"
- "Baby's in Black"
- "Act Naturally" (Voni Morrison, Johnny Russell)
- "A Hard Day's Night"
- "I'm Down"
The concert itself was a milestone in popular musical history as the first major stadium concert. The documentary was a highlight of the 1995 Beatles Anthology series, which featured extensive clips from the film.
Ringo Starr described the concert in The Beatles Anthology: "What I remember most about the concert was that we were so far away from the audience. ... And screaming had become the thing to do. ... Everybody screamed. If you look at the footage, you can see how we reacted to the place. It was very big and very strange."
John Lennon recalled the show in 1970 as a career highlight: "At Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain."
In 2008, Paul McCartney played the last concert at Shea Stadium with Billy Joel before the stadium was closed. The concert was documented in the film Last Play at Shea.
- Harry Castleman & Walter J. Podrazik, All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976), p. 317.
- Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Chronicles (New York: Harmony Books, 1992), pp. 199–200.
- Bob Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005).
- The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology (San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2000).
- Online version: The Beatles - Live at Shea Stadium 1965.
- The Beatles at Shea Stadium on Beatles.com.
- The Beatles Bible: Live: Shea Stadium, New York.