News & Politics

The Beatles at Shea — 20 Minutes of ‘Teeny Screamers’


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

September 1, 1966, Vol. XI, No. 46

Requiescat in Pace — That’s Where It’s At

By Jules Siegel

Four beautiful Beatles did their number at Shea Stadium last Tuesday night as 45,000 assorted teeny screamers, ladies of high fashion, second rank hipsters, and a massive delegation from the office of Parks Commissioner Hoving, the bureacratic answer to Mod, giggled and yelled themselves senseless.

When it was all over, when $292,000 had been counted and American Airlines Flight 49 to San Francisco had whisked Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and darling Ringo to the other America in the Far Far West, somebody announced in a voice of implacable doom, “Yeah, like the Beatles are dead. It is all over. Dead. Finished. Embalmed.”

After having sold 200 million records in about four years, the Beatles are entitled to rest in peace; yet it seems a little too soon right now to predict their imminent death. Nonetheless, they too are about to pass, following in the footsteps of Elvis Presley, who was once all there was, and who is now so vanished and forgotten that there are actually people in the record business who speculate that Elvis is buried somewhere in Forest Lawn, only Colonel Tom Parker is keeping it all a secret in order to protect the surviving Presley enterprises from irreparable financial hurt. There may be no Elvis any more but as long as somebody out there still believes there is an Elvis, records will continue to sell. After all, who knows whether Mao is still alive, but does that keep Red China from going on, business as usual?

But is it business as usual in Red China, and are the Beatles really dying, and what the hell kind of terrible blasphemy is there in the entertainment business anyway, that people should be talking about the end of the whole thing? It is not blasphemy; in fact, it may turn out to be the gospel, because it really does look as if teen music has entered a vast depression which may turn out to be even worse than that horrible pre-Beatles mortuary when payola and Dick Clark ruled the airways and Fabian and Ricky Nelson were what was happening…

And then there were, at last, the Beatles, in pale suits with dark, fine stripes. The concert began and so did the usual shrieking. In 20 minutes it was all over. An armored car took the Beatles to safety and people began looking for their cars in the parking lot and complained about the traffic. In the stadium, one last kid ran out on the field and made it to the foot of the bandstand. With languid, bored, and slightly irritated movements of surprising speed, the cops seized him and carried him away…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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