On this day in music history: August 15, 1965 – The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium in New York City. During the band’s second tour of the US in the Summer of 1965, The Beatles play the single largest live concert of their career. Put on by promoter Sid Bernstein, the concert takes place at Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY, the home of the New York Mets. Performing before a sold out crowd of 55,600 fans, it sets a record at the time for the single largest rock concert in history. The opening acts include Brenda Holloway, King Curtis, Sounds Incorporated, and The Discothèque Dancers. When The Beatles take the stage, they are introduced by Ed Sullivan, with the band performing a twelve song thirty minute set before being whisked away. The historic event is documented in the film “The Beatles At Shea Stadium” airing in the UK and Europe in May of 1966, and on US television on ABC on January 10, 1967. Beautifully restored footage from the concert is seen in the documentary “The Beatles Anthology” in 1995. To date, the performance has not been officially released (with the exception of a 1978 VHS release which is quickly withdrawn for legal reasons) in its entirety on home video, though decent quality bootlegs have circulated among fans for many years. Footage from the Shea Stadium show also appears in the Grammy winning documentary “The Beatles: Touring Years” directed by Ron Howard.
On this day in music history: August 14, 1965 – The Beatles tape their fourth and final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Back in the US to begin their second American tour, The Beatles perform before a studio audience at CBS Studio 50 in New York City. The band perform six songs including “I Feel Fine”, “Yesterday”, “I’m Down”, “Act Naturally”, “Ticket To Ride” and “Help!”, the day before their history making concert at Shea Stadium in front of 55,600 fans. The Sullivan appearance is pre-taped for broadcast a month later on September 12, 1965, as the opening program of the landmark variety shows eighteenth season. It is also the final Ed Sullivan Show to be broadcast in black & white, with the program converting to color broadcasts the following week. After the initial broadcast, it is many years before The Beatles final Sullivan appearance is seen again by the public. It is released in its entirety in February of 2003 on the DVD set “The 4 Complete Historic Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring The Beatles”. The programs are repackaged in 2010 and reissued by Universal Music Group’s Hip-O Records imprint in cooperation with SOFA Entertainment, who own the rights to The Ed Sullivan Show.
On this day in music history: August 11, 1966 – John Lennon holds a press conference at the Astor Towers in Chicago to apologize for remarks he had made in an interview published five months earlier. The original interview with journalist Maureen Cleave is published in the British newspaper The Evening Standard on March 4, 1966. During the interview, Lennon comments on religion and what he feels is the decline of Christianity in modern times. The comments make little to no impact in Great Britain. On the eve of the bands fourth American Tour, US fan magazine Datebook reprints Lennon’s comments out of context causing a furor in the US bible belt, with radio stations banning the bands music, burning their records and The Beatles themselves receiving death threats. After Lennon’s public apology, the uproar eventually blow over. Though it mark the beginning of the end of The Beatles days as a touring band. They quietly and permanently withdraw from the road when they play their final live date at the end of the month at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA.
On this day in music history: August 8, 1969 – The Beatles take the cover photo for their eleventh studio album “Abbey Road”. While recording the album, the band are trying to decide what to title their latest work in progress, as well as what to put on the cover. Finally the decision is made to pose for the album cover photo in the zebra crossing right in front of the EMI recording studio on Abbey Road. Paul McCartney draws a rough sketches with ideas of how the photos should look. A photo shoot is quickly organized and photographer Iain McMillan is hired for the job. On the morning of the 8th, prior to beginning a recording session scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon (the band are recording overdubs for “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “The End” and “Oh! Darling” that day), McMillian stands on a step stool in the middle of the street, while a policeman holds up traffic as the photos are taken. The Beatles cross the road twice while McMillan takes six pictures, with the photo shoot lasting only ten minutes. McCartney looks over transparencies of the pictures taken and select the shot used for the cover. The final image features the one shot taken after Paul takes his sandals off (which is interpreted as a subliminal clue by Beatles fans in the whole “Paul Is Dead” death hoax that erupts after the albums’ release). The cover photo is misinterpreted by some as being a funeral procession, with John as the minister, Ringo as a pall bearer, Paul as the deceased and George as a grave digger. The album cover becomes a pop cultural icon, and one of the most imitated and parodied images of all time.
On this day in music history: August 6, 1965 – “Help!”, the fifth UK and tenth US album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on August 13, 1965). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from February – June 1965. Serving as the soundtrack to the bands second film, the first side of the album features all seven songs included in the film, while the second side features seven additional songs including the classics “Yesterday”, “It’s Only Love”, and “I’ve Just Seen A Face”. The US version of the album differs significantly from its British counterpart. Besides having different cover art, it contains only twelve tracks, which include the seven film songs, but with the remaining seven are replaced by five tracks of orchestral score by composer Ken Thorne. The other songs are parceled out as singles (“Yesterday” and “Act Naturally”), while the rest (“It’s Only Love”, “You Like Me Too Much”, “Tell Me What You See” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”) turn up on the US compilation “Beatles VI” and the US version of “Rubber Soul” (“I’ve Just Seen A Face”). The album spins off two singles including “Ticket To Ride” (#1 Pop) and the title track (#1 Pop). The UK version of the soundtrack is finally released in the US on CD in 1987, with Capitol deleting the US version. Producer George Martin prepares new stereo mixes for the CD release, when he feels that the original 1965 mixes sound muddy, and can be improved upon. However, some fans complain about Martin’s use of digital reverb on the analog recordings, making them not sound true to the original mixes. Though US release is remastered and reissued on CD in 2006 as part of “The Beatles – The Capitol Albums Vol. 2”, containing both the original mono and stereo mixes. The album is remastered and reissued yet again in 2009, using Martin’s stereo remixes. “The Beatles In Mono” box set uses the original UK mono mixes, with the original 1965 stereo mixes included as a bonus. The remixed stereo version “Help” is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2012, with the UK mono version being released in 2014. “Help!” spend nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 5, 1966 – “Revolver”, the seventh album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on August 8, 1966). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from April 6 – June 21, 1966. The album marks the beginning a new phase in the bands’ career musically and artistically, and is praised as one of their greatest works. Standing in stark contrast to their previous release, the largely acoustic based “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver” sees The Beatles exploring new musical and sonic territory, with most of the songs being electric guitar based. Though others touch on the use of orchestral instruments (“Eleanor Rigby”), Indian music (“Love You To”), brass (“Got To Get You Into My Life”) and psychedelia (“She Said, She Said”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”). It spins off the double A-sided single “Yellow Submarine” (#2 Pop) and “Eleanor Rigby” (#11 Pop). Paul McCartney receives a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Solo Vocal Performance for “Eleanor Rigby”, and artist Klaus Voorman receives a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for the albums innovative cover artwork in 1967. Some original UK mono pressings contain an alternate mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Doctor Robert” printed “Dr. Robert” on the side two label, which is withdrawn and corrected on subsequent re-pressings. First issued on CD in 1987, the album is remastered and reissued in 2009, with the stereo version being available both individually, and as part of the stereo box set. The original mono mixes (out of print since the late 60’s, with the except of a limited UK vinyl LP reissue in 1982) is released on CD for the first time as part of “The Beatles In Mono” box set. The eleven track US edition is released in January of 2014 both individually, and as part of the “The Beatles – The US Albums” box set. And the UK mono LP is reissued as part of the mono LP box set in September of 2014, and as an individual release. “Revolver” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, for its ongoing historic and cultural significance. “Revolver” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: August 1, 1964 – “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the fifth US chart topper for the legendary rock band from Liverpool, UK. More than a month into making their debut film, and despite having recorded nearly a dozen songs for the soundtrack, John Lennon and Paul McCartney still have not come up with a song suitable for the opening title sequence of the film. Inspiration comes from an unlikely source when drummer Ringo Starr, after a particularly exhausting day of filming, leans over a chair and states, “that was a hard day’s night, that was!”. John and Paul compose the song overnight, playing it for film producer Walter Shenson on the set the next day. Shenson and director Richard Lester like the song so much, that they re-title the film after it. The Beatles record the track on April 16, 1964 at Abbey Road Studios, coming up with the songs striking opening chord played by George Harrison (Fadd9) during the session. The US single is issued by Capitol Records on July 13, 1964, and is backed with the track “I Should Have Known Better” (UK and most international releases have “Things We Said Today” as the flip side) as the B-side, recorded on February 25 – 26, 1964. Entering the Hot 100 at #21 on July 18, 1964, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. The week “A Hard Day’s Night” hits number one on the US singles chart, The Beatles also hold down the top spots on the Billboard Top 200 album chart as well as the number one positions on the UK album and singles charts, making them the first recording act in history to achieve this feat. The single wins The Beatles a Grammy Award (one of two they receive that year including Best New Artist) for Best Performance By A Vocal Group in 1965. “A Hard Day’s Night” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 30, 1968 – The Beatles begin recording “Hey Jude” at Abbey Road Studios in London, in Studio Two. Written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon – McCartney), McCartney is inspired to write the song (originally titled “Hey Jules”) while driving over to visit band mate John Lennon’s five year old son, Julian and former wife Cynthia at their home in Weybridge, Surrey. Paul begins writing the song to console Julian after his parents have separated and are in the process of getting divorced. Though McCartney later states another inspiration for the song is his recent break up with long term girlfriend actress Jane Asher, John Lennon also feels that Paul is speaking (indirectly) to him in the song as he has begun his relationship with Yoko Ono at this time. The rehearsal sessions are filmed and are first seen on the NBC network program “Music! Experiment In Television”, providing a rare glimpse of the band working in the studio. The master take of the song is recorded at Trident Studios in Soho the next day. For the recording, McCartney plays Trident’s Bechstein grand piano, which over time appears on numerous landmark recordings including ones by Elton John, David Bowie and Queen. “Hey Jude” becomes The Beatles biggest single spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over four million copies in the US alone.