Posts Tagged ‘Ed Sullivan’


August 23, 2013

Music promoter and producer Sid Bernstein, most famous for bringing the Beatles to Carnegie Hall (their first live concert in America) and Shea Stadium (their last) , has died. He was 95.

In early 1963, Sid Bernstein, 44 years old, was acting as an independent promoter/agent and earning about $200 a week working for the largest theatrical agency in America. He was also taking a night school course which required him to read English newspapers each week. By the time his course had finished in February 1963 he had noted the rise of an obscure rock group from Liverpool who had begun to dominate the British press. Sid had a hunch that The Beatles were unique, and not even having heard their music, found the Liverpool telephone number of the group’s manager Brian Epstein and suggested that he’d like to book the group for New York’s Carnegie Hall. America hadn’t heard of The Beatles yet and rock groups didn’t play prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall.

Brian said that Sid’s plan was premature but they had a deal if The Beatles scored a number one in America.

You can’t just book Carnegie Hall on a whim. The deposit was $500. Berstein looked at the calendar and found a date nearly a year away, February 12, Lincoln’s birthday. The Beatles ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ made No.1 in America in the last week of January. Their assault of America – including the famous Ed Sullivan Show – was able to be co-ordinated around Sid Berstein’s Carnegie Hall booking. There was so much demand there were two concerts that day, and to maximize audience numbers, some seating was created on stage.

Beyond the Beatles, Bernstein was a key force in the British invasion of America, bringing such artists as the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, the Moody Blues to the US. He managed the Young Rascals. Among the other artists that he promoted were Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and, later, Laura Branigan and Lenny Kravitz along with a just breaking ABBA.
Even though the Beatles had only disbanded a mere six years earlier, the public demand for them to ‘get back’ was peaking in 1976, leading to a mammoth $230 million reunion offer from Bernstein offering the unprecedented sum for a one-time-only charity concert. They turned down although Paul McCartney admits they considered it