Sid Bernstein, Beatles Concert Promoter, Dies
The man responsible for the Beatles‘ legendary Shea Stadium concert, Sid Bernstein, has died at the age of 95. No cause of death has been disclosed as of press time.
Bernstein rose from being the adopted son of Russian immigrants to one of the most famous concert promoters in the United States. In addition to the Beatles, he also brought the Rolling Stones and many other British Invasion bands to America.
After a stint in World War II, Bernstein became an agent and concert producer in New York, working with such names as Judy Garland, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett. Ever on the lookout for new sounds, in 1963 he began reading about the Beatles in British newspapers. He reached out to Brian Epstein, beginning his relationship with the group, which culminated in the concert considered to be the birth of stadium rock on Aug. 15, 1965.
“I’m a hunch player, you see,” he said on his website. “I was just glad to get this group I had been reading about for months. It took eight months after I booked them for there to be any airplay of their records on the radio. I had to convince Carnegie Hall and my financial backers to take a chance on this then-unknown group. I had been reading about their progress in the European papers and was fascinated with the hysteria that surrounded them. I was the first to promote the Beatles in the States, and Ed Sullivan called me first about them before he ever booked them on his television show.”
Bernstein tried to get the Beatles to reunite in 1976 to perform one show to raise money for Cambodian refugees, but the group declined.
In 2010, he was the subject of a documentary, ‘Sid Bernstein Presents …,’ which featured such diverse artists as Steven Van Zandt, James Brown and Tito Puente discussing his life and career. He also wrote two memoirs, ‘It’s Sid Bernstein Calling’ and ‘Not Just the Beatles …’
The BBC reports that Bernstein is survived by his wife Geraldine, to whom he was married for 50 years, and their six children and six grandchildren.