Entertainment & Arts

Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein dies at 95

Sid Bernstein Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sid Bernstein tried to persuade The Beatles to reform for charity concerts in the 1970s

Sid Bernstein, the concert promoter who staged early US shows by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, has died.

Bernstein booked The Beatles for their legendary show at Shea Stadium in New York in 1965, which was the first concert to be staged in a stadium.

Bernstein, who was 95, promoted the Fab Four's gigs at Carnegie Hall in New York on their first US tour in 1964.

He also arranged the Rolling Stones' first five US gigs and shows for Judy Garland, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett.

He died on Wednesday in New York, according to his longtime friend, publicist Merle Frimark.

Bernstein spent time in England during World War II and continued to follow British newspapers after his return to the US.

Reading about the growing Beatlemania, he persuaded the group's manager Brian Epstein to let him promote two shows at Carnegie Hall despite the fact, Bernstein said, that he had never actually heard their music.

A Carnegie Hall official told Bernstein the demand for tickets was so high that he could have sold out 50 dates. That remark led him to book the 55,000-capacity Shea Stadium for the following year.

He also booked a string of other UK bands. "The first dozen groups of the British Invasion were my imports," he later said. "But look, it was no stroke of genius. I was just doing my homework at the time."

In 1976 and '79, Bernstein tried to persuade The Beatles to reform for charity concerts. They declined.

He also arranged concerts for artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Jimi Hendrix.

In a documentary about Bernstein's life, late funk singer James Brown said the promoter was the only mainstream impresario booking black singers in the 1960s and so, according to Brown, "was in the forefront of race relations".

Bernstein made his own musical debut at the age of 93 with an album of cover versions of his favourite songs.

Bernstein is survived by Geraldine, his wife of 50 years, plus six children and six grandchildren.

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