Interview With Sid Bernstein
5 years ago I had the privilege to spend four hours interviewing Sid Bernstein.
Sid Bernstein was the man responsible for bringing the Beatles to America, which could possibly be enough for several past and present lives. Add to that the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Manfred Mann, and the Dave Clark 5 — pretty much your entire British Invasion. He was additionally the primary man to ebook a rock and roll act into Carnegie Corridor and Madison Square Backyard the place he broke the color line bringing in James Brown. Oh, and he was also the primary to book a rock and roll band right into a stadium (The Beatles in Shea Stadium). I feel his biggest accomplishment was that he was as nice a person as he was profitable. To rephrase Will Rogers, “I have not met a man that would not like Sid Bernstein.”
JOHN: As a tailor’s son, how did you become involved in promotions
SID: I went to James Monroe Highschool, an enormous college within the East Bronx. My first promotion was the primary alumni reunion dance. I bought all the names and addresses out of the yearbook. It came off very nicely. So I got the yearbook from the 12 months before that and did that class. And the one the year earlier than that was even greater. So my first promotion was in the gym at James Monroe. However my next promotion was on the Hunts Level Palace, which was a much bigger room, and i raised the price just a little bit. Then I started to guide Latin dances and concert events.
JOHN: Why Latin
SID: As a result of I lived on Tremont Avenue. It did not develop into Jewish and Italian. It grew to become very Spanish. My father wanted to open up a dry cleaning store for me. My head wasn’t into dry cleaning. I mentioned this is fairly good. I am making extra money than my father did. It was a challenge and it was original.
JOHN: You have been dwelling by your wits.
SID: Yeah, whatever it was. Yeah, I like that. You can say that. It’s even stronger than that. (laughing)
JOHN: Wits and knowledge.
SID: (joking) In tune with unimaginable instincts.
JOHN: You’re a World War II veteran.
SID: I noticed a lot of motion in Europe. I did manage to come home in one piece though.
JOHN: How does a man brought up on American Swing music return from World Warfare II, where he spent some time in England, and two decades later convey an unknown rock and roll band from Liverpool and e-book them into Carnegie Hall and then Shea Stadium
SID: I cherished England’s gentility and its civility. I’m from the Bronx, with a Bronx accent. I really like the beauty of its language, the ways it is spoken. I like the inexperienced grass of England and the flowers. I like the island. It is an island. The individuals had been nice. I loved their form of government, their two houses. Once i got here back house, I continued to read English newspapers. I used to go to the out-of-town newspaper stand on 42nd Avenue. The British newspapers weren’t as prevalent as they are now. I would choose up one or two papers. I examine four kids creating havoc within the city of Liverpool. I’d by no means heard of Liverpool before. 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 every week the stories kept getting greater. I assumed, “This seems like something I ought to look into.”
JOHN: The place did you go from there, your subsequent 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 cellphone.
JOHN: The Beatles’ supervisor’s mom answered the phone
SID: Brian was nonetheless dwelling at dwelling, upstairs. His mother calls him to the phone. I can still hear the footsteps coming down the steps prefer it was yesterday. That is a telephone call I will always remember.
JOHN: I’d always remember that, but I’d probably have misplaced the number… I may lose a tattoo.
SID: (Laughs) So Brian says, “You’re the primary American to name me.” I tell him I wish to convey The Beatles to America. He says, “You need to bring my boys to America Why do you need to take them to America We’re not getting any airplay.”
JOHN: How did you reply him
SID: I get this idea. It wasn’t a stroke of genius. Perhaps God did come down, who is aware of I consider in God. So I say to him, “The language is the same, Mr. EpSTEEN.” I am calling him “EpSTEEN” and he is calling me “Mr. BernSTINE”. This is the first name. So he corrects me. He says, “My name is EpSTINE, Mr.BernSTINE.” So I say, “My title is BernSTEEN, Mr. EpSTINE.” That was the primary name.
JOHN: That is hysterical.
SID: Being the fact that he didn’t chortle, I believed he had no sense of humor.
JOHN: What did you inform him subsequent
SID: I mentioned, “I might like to current them in New York.” I would like to give it to you accurately, as I stated it in my guide.
JOHN: What is the title of your ebook
SID: “Not Simply the Beatles.”
JOHN: Nice title.
SID: It was a tender cowl e-book. The entrance cowl was of Abbey Road, which we paid a handsome price for.
JOHN: Why did you deliver them here, to New York
SID: I had to think about something. I said, “I believe they’d make it right here, as a result of effectively, we speak the identical language and all the crazy stuff occurring there might occur right here.”
JOHN: So you made that up on the spot.
SID; Yeah, I advert-libbed that. So he asked, “When do you want to current them ” From my expertise with dance and with Latin concert events, it takes six or eight weeks to promote. So I say, “Six to eight weeks from now.” He said, “Oh that is too quickly.” He was getting spoiled by all the eye he was getting. “I wouldn’t need my boys going so quickly.” He by no means mentioned “The Beatles”, he all the time mentioned, “my boys”. It was February or March of sixty-three, so we settled on a yr ahead. That year forward turned out to be February twelfth, Lincoln’s birthday, 1964. I picked Lincoln’s birthday because I knew the kids can be out of faculty.
JOHN: Discuss considering ahead. Wow! To me, staying within the moment is thinking too far forward. That was good.
SID: At that time I left a $500 deposit for the date. They sent you downstairs to the field office. Within the mailroom was the man thought of “The Dean of Field Office People”, Ned Pasnick. He stated, “I never heard about them. Are they good ” I mentioned, “They have been nice.” I hadn’t heard them but. I requested, “What we should always charge ” He says, “If they’re great we can cost prime greenback.” Prime dollar then was $three.50, $4.50 or $5.50. I stated, “Great.” I really did not precisely know what I was doing. But I knew, after studying about them in the information, I had to get them. I used to be in love with England. Possibly I dreamed of real green grass.
JOHN: This was manner before they have 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 but. 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 prepared. They sat there and collected mud for almost a yr.
JOHN: A yr
SID: A 12 months. Nobody cared about them but. Immediately, in October of ’63, their information begin to play and play and play.
JOHN: While you heard them, what was your reaction
SID: I liked it. I appreciated their act. I felt like I might performed something. But all I would achieved was dial the correct number. That is all I actually did.
JOHN: Should you did not have the love of England, you would not have had the curiosity.
SID: No matter you want to attribute it to. My religious buddies say God did it.
JOHN: Branch Rickey, the outdated Dodgers’ GM, said, “Luck is the residue of design.” I imagine in it a bit of in a different way. I believe that luck is the residue of grand design. That there’s one thing more highly effective serving to us pull the strings.
SID: Might very properly be. The booker from Carnegie Hall hadn’t heard the Beatles but, either. But possibly as a result of I despatched her flowers to thank her, I get a call from her saying, “I obtained a date that is open, Mr. Bernstein.” The Beatles were coming on Feb twelfth. The Feb fifteenth date was open. I take it. I come up and give her a field of sweet. A few days later I get another call. There’s one other date that opened up. So it is within that very same ten-day time area. My first advert reads, “Sid Bernstein Presents The Beatles on Feb. 12, Shirley Bassey on Feb 15.” Three days later it was, “Rely stone island zip up Basie and Tony Bennett.” Bernstein presents the Beatles, Bassey, Basie and Bennett.
JOHN: Wow, great bookings and also you cannot be much more poetic than that.
SID: I became a manager of Count Basie and Tony Bennett for a while. When The Beatles got here I lived on the John Adams, a giant building on twelfth Road. Youngsters used to form strains waiting to see me. “Might they get a entrance row seat for the Beatles ” I knew nothing in regards to the field workplace. It was all so new. I didn’t even put seats apart for the press. Folks were promoting their seats–a $one hundred fifty for balcony to $200 for the middle part.
JOHN: How did booking them in Shea Stadium occur The place did the concept come from
SID: When i came again the subsequent day. This remains to be before the show or Sullivan. Ned, “The Dean of the Box Office,” stated, “I would by no means seen something like that. Children slept in a single day to get tickets.” This is winter now. Individuals came with mattresses and blankets for his or her youngsters. They all needed to be first on line. I started that taking place. There were nonetheless tickets for Bassy and Bennett and Basie. The Beatles have been sold out immediately. I advised Brian we could have bought out fifty days. We may have made thousands. We could have made fifty occasions the money. Carnegie Corridor still has the same 2,030 seats. Brian and that i hadn’t met but. We lastly meet for the primary time previous to the Sullivan present and previous to my thing (Carnegie Hall). He loved the way I dealt with it. We agreed before he left New York, that we might e-book them in Madison Sq. Backyard. Madison Sq. Backyard was the old Aladdin. It had 17,000 seats. However I modified my mind. I called Brian and instructed him, “There are a number of children calling me. Their fathers are calling me. Their mothers are calling me. The Backyard didn’t satisfy our wants. I would like to alter it from Madison Sq. Garden to Shea Stadium.” He asked, “How many seats is that, sir I said, “Fifty-five thousand.” “Do you think you may fill it ” I said, “Brain, I will offer you ten dollars for every seat that’s empty.” He stated, “Do you mean that, each empty seat ” I said, “No, not every seat that was empty, each seat that is not sold!”
JOHN: I suppose you did not must pay him something.
SID: The first time, Brian stayed at the Plaza. The boys stayed within the suite next to him. I saw the boys trying out the window. They could not believe what was happening out there. That is greater than what occurred in England. Youngsters all over the place on 59th Road, around the Plaza. The Beatles are trying out waving at the youngsters. It was fairly a scene.
JOHN: Did you ever think about being the guy behind such an occasion
SID: I occurred to guess right at the right second–interval.
JOHN: However you then brought the Stones here. How did you find out about them
SID: I’m studying the newspapers and that i see that the next group developing is the Stones–proper on the heels of the Beatles. I called their first manager and he mentioned, “I hoped you would name me.”
JOHN: It is smart that they’d 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 these flowers and stuff I sent her. The Beatles had been no bother… plenty of girls. The Stones had been black-jacketed guys, a tough crowd. A whole different scene between the Stones’ black leather jackets and the Beatles’ pretty-dressed girls with the ribbons in their hair, teenagers standing on the seats screaming, nothing broken. With the Stones, the images on the partitions were shaking. She says to me, “Don’t ever, ever, ever come again in again.” So I brought the next one in…the Dave Clark Five.
JOHN: I didn’t notice that. Who else
SID: I introduced in the subsequent twelve guys. The Dave Clark 5, the Kinks, Manfred Man… one thing like that. It was the British Invasion. They took over from Sinatra, Perry Como, all people. The airwaves had been full of the Beatles. It changed all the things. The Beatles had been in all places.
JOHN: You not only introduced us the Stones however some of the 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 preferred them, however the Beatles had melody. I used to be not a fan of the Stones’ music. I made a lot of money with them. I brought them over five instances.
JOHN: I heard they had been wilder, too.
SID: Oh… Yeah…That is for an additional time.
JOHN: How did George Martin come into the picture
SID: George Martin was doing comedy data.
JOHN: Comedy records
SID: Yeah, that is how he started. Peter Sellers…British comedians. Brian introduced him as a result of he labored for the report firm. He said he heard something. He took the shot. Brian later informed 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 Ok. Brian was the sixth and I used to be the twenty-fourth.
JOHN: I feel you’re the Number one American Beatle. While all this was happening with the Beatles, what was your favorite expertise
SID: I love folks. It gave me contact with individuals, younger and old. And the precise and privilege to satisfy new individuals everyday. That is my way of life. That’s why I had a variety of children of my own.
JOHN: You might have six kids.
SID: My spouse cheated me–I needed eight. I made some money. I got a bigger house with each kid at the John Adams till we outgrew that.
JOHN: You also brought the American group, the Rascals, to Shea Stadium.
SID: No. I obtained them into Madison Sq. Backyard. They were the second large pop act to play there. Up till then, the Garden did not take that sort of act. Pop acts. I introduced James Brown in first. After i booked him, I got him off the so-known as, chitlin’ circuit. My wife and that i and perhaps two other white couples had been there to see a black act. There were no incidents. It’s best to see what James Brown mentioned about me.
JOHN: What did he say
SID: James Brown likens me to a white Martin Luther King of the music enterprise. Stated I broke the shade barrier on the Garden and uh… I forget where else.
JOHN: You don’t see colour.
SID: I grew up in Harlem.
JOHN: You see artists.
SID: Yes. I seemed for talent first…at all times expertise. The only thing I don’t speak about much, and do not ask me, is the Bay Metropolis Rollers. I introduced them here. People thought I used to be bringing over another Beatles. I never stated the Beatles. I just mentioned Shea Stadium and so they thought they had been the Beatles. It is best to see the cash I received. I became their New York supervisor.
JOHN: Just a few years ago when the Beatles album got here out with all of the primary hits, it bought off the charts and far of the gross sales had been from faculty kids. Why do you think
SID: The music remains to be relevant and so they got an ideal head begin. Look who they are. It is like saying, “The Yankees.” Not long ago I got a name to talk in a faculty in Nashville — The Nashville College of Entertainment and Music. Half the school turned out to hear me. It wasn’t me–it was the Beatles. Nine out of ten questions were about the Beatles. On account of that speak, the dean calls his friend in Cleveland who’s from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and that i acquired to talk at the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Nice turn out.
JOHN: I believe the Beatles have been the band that broke down all the world limitations. In a method, they brought the world collectively.
SID: They brought people collectively–everybody singing, strangers standing round holding one another singing. It is superb what the Beatles have carried out.
JOHN: Particularly as I get older, their music turns into more related. I love John’s tune, “In My Life.”
SID: My favourite track in the entire world is “Imagine” by my favorite songwriter, John Lennon. My other favorite is Jacques Brel. The show is unbelievable and the music is so great.
JOHN: Is there any music at the moment that you want or knocks you out
SID: No. doesn’t knock me out. But then once more, I do not pay attention much. I do not understand how to place a cassette on, or learn how to play a report, or a CD. I get my sons and daughters to come over. I haven’t got a car. I do not know loads that’s happening.
JOHN: You continue to exit and see music
SID: Yeah, however I don’t go out as a lot. Since I damage my leg, my children put me underneath house arrest. In case you go see anybody interesting, give me a name. I’ll go.
JOHN: Is there any expertise that should have made it or you must have handled
SID: I made my errors. 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 pricey buddy.
JOHN: Did you hold out socially with the musicians and celebrities
SID: My kids, no celebrities. For a while I used to be shut and pleasant with Tony Bennett. He was my favorite singer.
JOHN: I heard that John Lennon used to call you about Italian restaurants.
SID: Effectively, I took him to Paolucci’s on Mulberry Avenue. John gave them the most important tip they ever had. He got here there with six or seven different rock stars, Harry Nilsson, and a few others. I used to be told they have been probably the most effectively-behaved, polite clients.
JOHN: What do you think drew everybody to Lennon
SID: How do you describe charisma He is a type of figures that comes along as soon as in a technology. The individuals would turn out for Paul, prove for George, however mobs would prove for Lennon.
JOHN: What’s subsequent
SID: Paul referred to as me. We talked about getting collectively. I want to do Paul once more, for a cause. My massive thing is for cancer research and to finish world starvation.
JOHN: Everybody that I have spoken to about you has nothing but form things to say.
SID: Effectively, I defy whoever it was. I think it was Lincoln who stated, “You may idiot among the people among the time, but you cannot idiot all of the people all of the time.” Properly, I’ve fooled all of the people the entire time.
JOHN: I don’t think so.
SID: I got to tell you this, though…it has been an attention-grabbing life. No regrets. I made my mistakes however I enjoy my life increasingly.