A scarce, vintage 1965 Beatles Shea Stadium concert poster used to sell tickets for the biggest show of the Fab Four’s career.
The funny thing about this window card is that rock’s biggest act ever ends up sharing most of the bill with many other musicians!
But a stand-alone Beatles Shea Stadium placard was not needed in 1965 – the Fabs could have sold this show out many times over with one single radio DJ announcement.
So New York promoter Sid Bernstein drew up a poster that advertised five upcoming events spread over early summer, with the mop-tops being the one far-away date.
So strictly as a collector’s item, this piece is referred to (by me) as a Beatles Shea Stadium tour poster. But the truth is, it also hawked tickets to upcoming shows by:
Herman’s Hermits, Saturday June 12 at the Academy of Music
The Dave Clark 5, Friday June 18 at the Academy of Music
The Kinks & the Moody Blues, –First American Concert-, Saturday June 19 at the Academy of Music
The First New York Film Festival, June 17 through June 20 at Carnegie Hall, featuring Phil Ochs, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash and Buffy St. Marie
So there’s eight other well-known musicians listed here, but I’m still calling this a Beatles Shea Stadium broadside because they’re the ones with all the staying power, of course.
Besides the four listed on the poster, many other stellar musicians played at the New York Folk Festival, such as Muddy Waters, Mose Allison and Son House. It’s a shame their names couldn’t have appeared here, too.
I haven’t mentioned the ticket prices given on this Beatles Shea Stadium fence poster yet… and it’s hilarious, because the Moptops’ ducat price is only 15 pennies more than that of the other concerts!
Of course, the B’s were playing to over 55,000 people, whereas the other acts were at the comparatively small, intimate Academy of Music, so it’s pretty much a wash… I guess.
One might look at this Beatles Shea Stadium window display and wonder why it wasn’t bigger or more colorful. But we have to remember that in the mid-60s, pop music was still considered very much a passing fad, and wasn’t taken seriously by adults.
The bootleggers, however, did make a larger, more colorful version of this, which I show you in my video. It’s in bright red & yellow, and much bigger. But alas, it’s just a wishful-thinking merchandising poster invented decades later.
And speaking of boots, after showing you this genuine Beatles Shea Stadium window poster for a few minutes, I display some pictures of the most common bootlegs out there – just to school you on what to look out for.
What the public desperately wants – but which was never made – is a single concert poster advertising only this concert and date, and nothing else. With a nice photo of the boys on there, of course. SO… the “pirates” were happy to oblige, with all and sundry bootlegs that cover those requirements – and sold at flea markets for $10.
It’s essential for us to understand that promoters didn’t print these things up for fun; they were considered necessary marketing tools to sell out a gig. Thus, no real Beatles Shea Stadium show placard (printed before the concert) was needed at all in ’65.
But promoter Bernstein didn’t know that when he had this poster designed back in May of that year; he didn’t know yet that the public response would be overwhelming. Nobody had ever attempted such a large-scale rock concert before.
So it’s just kinda funny that you have this small, nondescript Beatles Shea Stadium telephone-pole poster representing the world’s biggest & most famous (at the time) rock concert in history. Ironic!
But imagine the giant leap forward in coolness if Bernstein had had his designer include photos of all the main musicians. Holy cow… to see the mugs of John, Paul, George & Ringo, plus Ray & Dave Davies, Justin Hayward, Peter Noone, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, etc. Wow!
Speaking of those guys, so far my discourse here has all but ignored the other solid hit-makers found on this Beatles Shea Stadium street poster. The Fabs, after all, always grab the attention.
But heavens, the DC5 had already nailed eight hits in the U.S. Top 20 by this point. Herman’s Hermits was coming off four straight hits, the Kinks had had three and the Moodies had broken through with “Go Now” in the Top 10, with no less than future Wings member Denny Laine on guitar.
So you can talk all you want about this being a Beatles Shea Stadium concert advertisement only, but nay: It was packed with other British Invasion stars of the day.
And here we are, not even acknowledging the two members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame listed at the bottom: Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash. Wow, you wanna talk about added value!
One thing this Beatles Shea Stadium concert sign lacks is “bragging” by promoter Bernstein. For the Fabs’ 1966 concert here, the posters had “Sid Bernstein Presents” splashed across the top, above the Beatles’ name.
But for ’65, when everything was still unknown and unproven, and Sid was still establishing a foothold in pop music, his name is relegated to small print as part of a mail-order address, and nothing more.
This Beatles Shea Stadium pole poster is explained and discussed by long-time Beatles fan & collector Peter J. Howard. Yes that’s me, and I can be talked to at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 805-540-0020. And please know that I pay TOP DOLLAR IN THE HOBBY, period, for vintage Beatles concert memorabilia like this.
To see a few more original Beatles ticket posters from the United Kingdom, just move your cursor over to this page right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/beatles.htm. Thanks!