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New film made on life of Sid Bernstein

30 Oct 2009

New film made on life of Sid Bernstein

Now 91, Sid Bernstein was in many ways the original concert promoter, bringing ‘British Invasion’ bands The Beatles and the Rolling Stones to America.

‘I called Brian Epstein at home,’ he recalls, ‘and tried to sell him on the idea of the Beatles coming over. He said, “America is not playing our records. I don’t want my boys to play to an empty house.” I won him over by saying “I’ll put your boys in Carnegie Hall.”’

Good to his word, Bernstein booked the concert at Carnegie Hall and, on learning of this, Ed Sullivan scheduled The Beatles’ on his television show three days ahead of the night. The results were spectacular and subsequently Bernstein booked The Beatles at Shea Stadium, the first outdoor stadium concert in America, 1965.

Bernstein also booked the Rolling Stones first five concerts in the USA and championed black musicians like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and James Brown in mainstream music venues.

A new documentary, 'Sid Bernstein Presents', pays tribute to his career. Contributors from the music community include recent Genesis authors, Arlo Guthrie and Michael Lang. Co-director Jason Ressler says, “This film explores the history of America through one man’s life.”

Top: Lennon described the 1964 tour of America as a "hurricane". Photograph by Curt Gunther.

Bottom: Ray Charles photographed by his good friend and manager, Joe Adams.

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