Interview With Sid Bernstein
5 years ago I had the privilege to spend four hours interviewing Sid Bernstein.
Sid Bernstein was the man accountable for bringing the Beatles to America, which could be sufficient for several previous and current lives. Add to that the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Manfred Mann, and the Dave Clark Five — just about the complete British Invasion. He was also the first man to e book a rock and roll act into Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden where he broke the coloration line bringing in James Brown. Oh, and he was also the first to e book a rock and roll band into a stadium (The Beatles in Shea Stadium). I think his greatest accomplishment was that he was as nice a person as he was successful. To rephrase Will Rogers, “I haven’t met a man that wouldn’t like Sid Bernstein.”
JOHN: As a tailor’s son, how did you become involved in promotions
SID: I went to James Monroe Highschool, a giant school in the East Bronx. My first promotion was the first alumni reunion dance. I acquired all the names and addresses out of the yearbook. It came off very nicely. So I obtained the yearbook from the yr earlier than that and did that class. And the one the yr earlier than that was even bigger. So my first promotion was in the gym at James Monroe. But my next promotion was at the Hunts Point Palace, which was a much bigger room, and i raised the value a little bit bit. Then I began to e-book Latin dances and live shows.
JOHN: Why Latin
SID: Because I lived on Tremont Avenue. It didn’t develop into Jewish and Italian. It became very Spanish. My father needed to open up a dry cleansing retailer for me. My head wasn’t into dry cleansing. I mentioned that is fairly good. I am making extra money than my father did. It was a challenge and it was original.
JOHN: You were dwelling by your wits.
SID: Yeah, whatever it was. Yeah, I like that. You may say that. It’s even stronger than that. (laughing)
JOHN: Wits and knowledge.
SID: (joking) In tune with unbelievable instincts.
JOHN: You’re a World Struggle II veteran.
SID: I saw a whole lot of action in Europe. I did manage to come home in one piece although.
JOHN: How does a guy introduced up on American Swing music return from World Conflict II, the place he spent some time in England, and two a long time later bring an unknown rock and roll band from Liverpool and e book them into Carnegie Hall and then Shea Stadium
SID: I loved England’s gentility and its civility. I am from the Bronx, with a Bronx accent. I like the fantastic thing about its language, the methods it is spoken. I love the green grass of England and the flowers. I like the island. It’s an island. The people had been nice. I loved their type of authorities, their two houses. After i got here again dwelling, I continued to read English newspapers. I used to go to the out-of-town newspaper stand on 42nd Street. The British newspapers were not as prevalent as they are actually. I’d choose up one or two papers. I read about four kids creating havoc in the town of Liverpool. I might never heard of Liverpool earlier than. I knew of London. I heard children had been falling for them in other cities. I read the second week, the third week, the fourth week. With each week the stories saved getting greater. Stone Island Cardigan I thought, “This appears like something I should look into.”
JOHN: Where did you go from there, your next step
SID: In some way I find Brian Epstein’s number. I called him up. He hadn’t yet moved his operation to England. His mother answered the phone.
JOHN: The Beatles’ manager’s mother answered the phone
SID: Brian was still living at home, upstairs. His mother calls him to the phone. I can still hear the footsteps coming down the stairs like it was yesterday. That’s a cellphone call I’ll never forget.
JOHN: I’d never forget that, but I’d probably have lost the number… I could lose a tattoo.
SID: (Laughs) So Brian says, “You’re the first American to call me.” I tell him I want to carry The Beatles to America. He says, “You want to bring my boys to America Why do you want to take them to America We’re not getting any airplay.”
JOHN: How did you answer him
SID: I get this idea. It wasn’t a stroke of genius. Perhaps God did come down, who is aware of I imagine in God. So I say to him, “The language is identical, Mr. EpSTEEN.” I am calling him “EpSTEEN” and he’s calling me “Mr. BernSTINE”. This is the first call. So he corrects me. He says, “My identify is EpSTINE, Mr.BernSTINE.” So I say, “My identify is BernSTEEN, Mr. EpSTINE.” That was the primary name.
JOHN: That is hysterical.
SID: Being the truth that he did not giggle, I believed he had no sense of humor.
JOHN: What did you tell him next
SID: I said, “I might like to present them in New York.” I want to offer it to you precisely, as I mentioned it in my e-book.
JOHN: What’s the title of your ebook
SID: “Not Simply the Beatles.”
JOHN: Great title.
SID: It was a gentle cover e book. The front cover was of Abbey Road, which we paid a handsome charge for.
JOHN: Why did you convey them right here, to New York
SID: I had to think about one thing. I stated, “I feel they’d make it here, because effectively, we speak the same language and all the crazy stuff going on there could happen right here.”
JOHN: So that you made that up on the spot.
SID; Yeah, I advert-libbed that. So he requested, “When do you need to present them ” From my experience with dance and with Latin concerts, it takes six or eight weeks to promote. So I say, “Six to eight weeks from now.” He mentioned, “Oh that’s too soon.” He was getting spoiled by all the attention he was getting. “I would not want my boys going so quickly.” He never mentioned “The Beatles”, he all the time mentioned, “my boys”. It was February or March of sixty-three, so we settled on a year ahead. That 12 months ahead turned out to be February 12th, Lincoln’s birthday, 1964. I picked Lincoln’s birthday because I knew the children can be out of college.
JOHN: Discuss considering ahead. Wow! To me, staying in the second is considering too far ahead. That was good.
SID: At that time I left a $500 deposit for the date. They sent you downstairs to the box office. In the mailroom was the man thought of “The Dean of Field Workplace Folks”, Ned Pasnick. He mentioned, “I never heard about them. Are they good ” I mentioned, “They had been great.” I hadn’t heard them yet. I asked, “What we must always charge ” He says, “If they’re great we can charge high dollar.” High dollar then was $3.50, $4.50 or $5.50. I mentioned, “Great.” I really did not precisely know what I was doing. But I knew, after reading about them in the news, I had to get them. I was in love with England. Maybe I dreamed of real green grass.
JOHN: This was manner earlier than they had been booked on Ed Sullivan.
SID: A 12 months earlier. I came upon later from Ed Sullivan that when he put them on he hadn’t heard them yet. Mr. Pasnick asked me what I wanted the tickets to say. I said, “Sid Bernstein Presents The Beatles”. He prints the tickets. Ten days later they’re ready. They sat there and collected dust for almost a 12 months.
JOHN: A 12 months
SID: A 12 months. No one cared about them yet. Immediately, in October of ’63, their records start to play and play and play.
JOHN: When you heard them, what was your reaction
SID: I appreciated it. I favored their act. I felt like I might carried out something. But all I’d achieved was dial the appropriate number. That’s all I really did.
JOHN: In case you didn’t have the love of England, you wouldn’t have had the curiosity.
SID: Whatever you need to attribute it to. My religious buddies say God did it.
JOHN: Department Rickey, the outdated Dodgers’ GM, mentioned, “Luck is the residue of design.” I believe in it a little in a different way. I believe that luck is the residue of grand design. That there is something extra highly effective helping us pull the strings.
SID: May very nicely be. The booker from Carnegie Corridor hadn’t heard the Beatles yet, either. But maybe because I sent her flowers to thank her, I get a call from her saying, “I acquired a date that’s open, Mr. Bernstein.” The Beatles had been coming on Feb 12th. The Feb fifteenth date was open. I take it. I come up and provides her a field of sweet. A few days later I get another call. There’s another date that opened up. So it’s within that same ten-day time area. My first ad reads, “Sid Bernstein Presents The Beatles on Feb. 12, Shirley Bassey on Feb 15.” Three days later it was, “Depend Basie and Tony Bennett.” Bernstein presents the Beatles, Bassey, Basie and Bennett.
JOHN: Wow, great bookings and also you can’t be far more poetic than that.
SID: I became a manager of Count Basie and Tony Bennett for a while. When The Beatles came I lived at the John Adams, a big building on 12th Street. Children used to kind lines waiting to see me. “Could they get a front row seat for the Beatles ” I knew nothing about the box office. It was all so new. I didn’t even put seats aside for the press. People were selling their seats–a $150 for balcony to $200 for the middle section.
JOHN: How did booking them in Shea Stadium happen Where did the idea come from
SID: When i came back the next day. This is still before the show or Sullivan. Ned, “The Dean of the Box Office,” mentioned, “I’d never seen anything like that. Kids slept overnight to get tickets.” This is winter now. Folks came with mattresses and blankets for their kids. They all wanted to be first on line. I started that happening. There were still tickets for Bassy and Bennett and Basie. The Beatles were bought out immediately. I advised Brian we may have sold out fifty days. We may have made thousands. We could have made fifty times the money. Carnegie Hall still has the same 2,030 seats. Brian and i hadn’t met yet. We finally meet for the first time prior to the Sullivan show and prior to my thing (Carnegie Hall). He loved the way I handled it. We agreed earlier than he left New York, that we’d guide them in Madison Sq. Backyard. Madison Square Garden was the old Aladdin. It had 17,000 seats. But I changed my mind. I called Brian and advised him, “There are a whole lot of youngsters calling me. Their fathers are calling me. Their mothers are calling me. The Garden didn’t satisfy our wants. I would like to change it from Madison Square Garden to Shea Stadium.” He asked, “How many seats is that, sir I said, “Fifty-five thousand.” “Do you think you’ll fill it ” I said, “Brain, I will provide you with ten dollars for each seat that is empty.” He said, “Do you mean that, every empty seat ” I mentioned, “No, not every seat that was empty, every seat that is not sold!”
JOHN: I assume you didn’t must pay him something.
SID: The primary time, Brian stayed at the Plaza. The boys stayed within the suite next to him. I saw the boys wanting out the window. They couldn’t believe what was happening out there. This is bigger than what happened in England. Kids everywhere on 59th Road, around the Plaza. The Beatles are wanting out waving at the kids. It was quite a scene.
JOHN: Did you ever imagine being the guy behind such an event
SID: I happened to guess right at the appropriate moment–period.
JOHN: But you then introduced the Stones right here. How did you find out about them
SID: I am reading the newspapers and i see that the next group coming up is the Stones–right on the heels of the Beatles. I called their first manager and he said, “I was hoping you would name me.”
JOHN: It is smart that they would have heard of you by then.
SID: So I make a deal additionally for Carnegie Hall. The box office lady let me in. It must have been all those flowers and stuff I sent her. The Beatles were no trouble… a lot of girls. The Stones were black-jacketed guys, a rough crowd. An entire totally different scene between the Stones’ black leather jackets and the Beatles’ pretty-dressed ladies with the ribbons in their hair, teenagers standing on the seats screaming, nothing broken. With the Stones, the images on the walls were shaking. She says to me, “Don’t ever, ever, ever come back in again.” So I brought the next one in…the Dave Clark Five.
JOHN: I did not notice that. Who else
SID: I brought in the following twelve guys. The Dave Clark 5, the Kinks, Manfred Man… something like that. It was the British Invasion. They took over from Sinatra, Perry Como, everybody. The airwaves were full of the Beatles. It changed all the things. The Beatles had been all over the place.
JOHN: You not solely introduced us the Stones however one of the vital underrated British bands, the Kinks.
SID: I was not a jerk.
JOHN: You picked some winners. What was it like working with the Stones
SID: I favored them, but the Beatles had melody. I used to be not a fan of the Stones’ music. I made some huge cash with them. I brought them over five instances.
JOHN: I heard they were wilder, too.
SID: Oh… Yeah…That’s for another time.
JOHN: How did George Martin come into the picture
SID: George Martin was doing comedy data.
JOHN: Comedy data
SID: Yeah, that’s how he started. Peter Sellers…British comedians. Brian brought him because he worked for the record company. He said he heard something. He took the shot. Brian later told me eight people passed on the Beatles. He (George Martin) didn’t. He’s very special, you see him, there’s an aura about him. He was the fifth Beatle, not Murray The K. Brian was the sixth and I was the twenty-fourth.
JOHN: I think you’re the Number one American Beatle. While all this was happening with the Beatles, what was your favorite experience
SID: I love people. It gave me contact with folks, young and outdated. And the best and privilege to meet new people everyday. That’s my approach of life. That’s why I had a whole lot of youngsters of my very own.
JOHN: You’ve gotten six kids.
SID: My wife cheated me–I wanted eight. I made some money. I bought a larger condo with each kid at the John Adams until we outgrew that.
JOHN: You also introduced the American group, the Rascals, to Shea Stadium.
SID: No. I got them into Madison Sq. Garden. They have been the second huge pop act to play there. Up until then, the Garden didn’t take that kind of act. Pop acts. I brought James Brown in first. When i booked him, I received him off the so-called, chitlin’ circuit. My spouse and that i and maybe two different white couples have been there to see a black act. There were no incidents. You should see what James Brown said about me.
JOHN: What did he say
SID: James Brown likens me to a white Martin Luther King of the music enterprise. Said I broke the color barrier on the Backyard and uh… I overlook where else.
JOHN: You do not see coloration.
SID: I grew up in Harlem.
JOHN: You see artists.
SID: Yes. I looked for talent first…always talent. The only factor I do not speak about a lot, and do not ask me, is the Bay City Rollers. I brought them right here. Individuals thought I was bringing over another Beatles. I never said the Beatles. I just mentioned Shea Stadium and they thought they were the Beatles. You need to see the money I received. I turned their New York manager.
JOHN: A few years in the past when the Beatles album got ebay stone island badge here out with all of the primary hits, it bought off the charts and far of the gross sales had been from faculty children. Why do you think
SID: The music continues to be relevant and so they bought a terrific head begin. Look who they’re. It is like saying, “The Yankees.” Not way back I bought a name to speak in a college in Nashville — The Nashville University of Entertainment and Music. Half the college turned out to hear me. It wasn’t me–it was the Beatles. Nine out of ten questions had been concerning the Beatles. Because of that discuss, the dean calls his good friend in Cleveland who’s from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and i acquired to speak at the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Nice turn out.
JOHN: I think the Beatles had been the band that broke down all of the world limitations. In a means, they introduced the world collectively.
SID: They introduced individuals together–everybody singing, strangers standing around holding each other singing. It’s amazing what the Beatles have achieved.
JOHN: Particularly as I get older, their music becomes extra relevant. I like John’s track, “In My Life.”
SID: My favorite song in the whole world is “Imagine” by my favorite songwriter, John Lennon. My other favorite is Jacques Brel. The show is unbelievable and the music is so nice.
JOHN: Is there any music immediately that you like or knocks you out
SID: No. does not knock me out. But then again, I don’t listen much. I don’t know the way to put a cassette on, or how you can play a document, or a CD. I get my sons and daughters to come back over. I haven’t got a automobile. I don’t know loads that’s going on.
JOHN: You still go out and see music
SID: Yeah, but I do not exit as a lot. Since I damage my leg, my children put me below house arrest. In the event you go see anyone attention-grabbing, give me a call. I am going to go.
JOHN: Is there any talent that should have made it or it is best to have dealt with
SID: I made my mistakes. I handed up on Barbara Streisand. I passed up on Neil Diamond. Streisand, what I hear about her, would have shortened my life. I am just kidding. She’s a dear buddy.
JOHN: Did you cling out socially with the musicians and celebrities
SID: My kids, no celebrities. For a while I was close and friendly with Tony Bennett. He was my favourite singer.
JOHN: I heard that John Lennon used to call you about Italian restaurants.
SID: Nicely, I took him to Paolucci’s on Mulberry Street. John gave them the biggest tip they ever had. He came there with six or seven other rock stars, Harry Nilsson, and a few others. I used to be advised they had been essentially the most effectively-behaved, polite clients.
JOHN: What do you think drew everyone to Lennon
SID: How do you describe charisma He’s one of those figures that comes along once in a generation. The folks would end up for Paul, end up for George, however mobs would end up for Lennon.
JOHN: What’s subsequent
SID: Paul known as me. We talked about getting together. I want to do Paul again, for a cause. My big thing is for cancer research and to end world hunger.
JOHN: Everyone that I have spoken to about you has nothing but form things to say.
SID: Effectively, I defy whoever it was. I believe it was Lincoln who said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” Effectively, I’ve fooled all of the people all the time.
JOHN: I don’t think so.
SID: I bought to tell you this, though…it’s been an interesting life. No regrets. I made my mistakes but I enjoy my life increasingly.
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