This Month In History
August 2016


This Month in NYS History – The Beatles Smash Attendance Records with Iconic Summer Show at Shea Stadium – August 15, 1965

The Beatles chose Shea Stadium in Queens, New York for the opening site of their 1965 North American tour.
The Beatles chose Shea Stadium in Queens, New York for the opening site of their 1965 North American tour.
After being introduced to America on The Ed Sullivan Show, Beatlemania had fully swept over the masses, and the “British Invasion” was in full force. The Beatles, consisting of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, had already swept over the European continent and now were seeking ways to branch out to the American audiences seeking to see them in larger venues. For their second American tour, The Beatles chose Shea Stadium in Queens, New York for the opening site of their 1965 North American tour. This show was one of the most notable that The Beatles would play in their 10 years together, and helped usher in an era of what would be known as “Stadium Rock.”

Hysteria for the band reached such enormous heights that the band had to be brought to the stadium first via helicopter to the World’s Fair, then via armored truck to the stadium. Upon arrival, the crowd noise became so furious that even the 2,000 security personnel tasked to protect the band and keep order were seen covering their ears.

Beginning with their 1961 song Twist and Shout, The Beatles put a stamp on the transformative music era of the 60’s during their Shea Stadium show. Footage from the event shows women and teenagers crying, screaming, and even fainting. The set list included some of their most famous works up to that point, including Help!, Can’t Buy Me Love, and A Hard Day’s Night.

At the time, the show shattered attendance records of any venue-based musical act for a single band. The sold-out crowd of 55,600 would stand as the largest crowd for any concert, until it was broken in 1973 by fellow British band Led Zeppelin. For Shea Stadium, the Beatles concert still remains one of the most notable events to ever take place at the stadium.

Though Shea Stadium was closed after the 2008 New York Mets season and replaced with Citi Field, the Beatles concert represents a landmark moment in the American pop culture scene, and a remarkable moment in music history due to the largess of the show. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving members of the band, still speak of the show with fondness and amazement to this day. In 2009, Citi Field’s first year of operation, Paul McCartney returned to the site to give a raucous three-night show.

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