Tag Archives: Rock music

This Day in History 8/15: The Beatles’ 1965 Concert at Shea Stadium

Who brought out Shea Stadium‘s biggest crowd in 1965, perhaps in its history?  Well, it certainly wasn’t the hapless Mets (with all due respect to Mets fans).

On August 15, 1965, Beatlemania reached on of its true zeniths, as the seminal British rock band The Beatles played in Shea Stadium, the Mets’ home field, for their second US tour.  The band would play once more there the next year, and would never play in public again after that tour.

Over 55,000 people packed into Flushing to see the Beatles play on a small stage below center field.  The noise was deafening, but not due to the music: the fans’ shouts and screams–as well as the distance of the band from the audience, meant nobody really heard much of anything.  It was only when Ed Sullivan released a documentary of the performance that anyone actually heard the setlist.

Furthermore, the Shea concert began a revolution in live music, for both good and ill.  Its massive profits proved to promoters that massive outdoor arena shows can indeed be good business.  The subsequent decade, particularly into the 1970s, saw the rise of “arena rock” as bands with giant speakers and screaming guitars blasted their way through stadiums and outdoor venues.

However, the “arena rock” phase would often be criticized as formulaic, sterile and commercial.  Ironically, it would prove to be the catalyst of a countermovement, punk, that re-captured the indoor rebellious spirit of rock.

Attached is Ed Sullivan’s introduction of the band, and their rendition of “Twist and Shout.”  Believe me, be lucky this documentary exists: you would’ve heard nothing but the white noise of screaming adolescents if you were there.

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Last Day of School!: “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

Here in the NYC, it is finally the last day of school.  To celebrate this day–a day long in coming–I present an old classic.  Alice Cooper performs “School’s Out” at the Montreux Festival, and his rocking energy speaks for thousands of teachers heading for a much needed rest.  Enjoy.

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This Day in History 2/3: “The Day the Music Died”

The Neighborhood raises their collective glasses to Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

To most of us, these names are vaguely familiar, but to earlier generations, their death signalled the end of an era.

On February 5, 1959, Valens, Holly and Richardson–all well-known rock-and-roll stars of the mid-late 1950s–boarded a Beechcraft Bonanza plane near Clear Lake, Iowa following an unscheduled stop on their tour.  Their plane lost contact with the control tower within minutes in a blinding snowstorm, and by 3:30 AM the wreckage of the plane was found.

The news devastated the music world, and signalled the close of the early rock era.  By the late 1950’s, the early rock edge had softened to more commercial acts, and the victims of the crash were considered the last vestiges of the initial energy and demeanor of rock music.  Thus ended the age of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and early Elvis–soon to be followed by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and later, fatter Elvis.

One young person who took the crash to heart was Don McLean.  In 1972, McLean released “American Pie”, his ode to the music and memories of his youth.  It is in this song that he referred to the crash as “The Day the Music Died”.  McLean himself never tried to decipher fully his own cryptic lyrics, but generations of music lovers since have tossed and turned over its meaning. 

Attached is a recording of McLean in 1972 singing his classic tune.  Enjoy.

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