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Author Topic: Seeking Help with Beatles Live Sound  (Read 1406 times)

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Seeking Help with Beatles Live Sound
« on: September 24, 2012, 06:56:25 PM »


I am brand new to this forum and, to be honest, am posting for entirely selfish reasons. Nevertheless, I hope that the live sound pros and Beatles historians out there can help me find some information that I am seeking.

I am working on a PhD in Philosophy of Music Theory and my dissertation focuses, in part, on certain aspects of the Beatles’ move from live band to strictly studio performers.

I am trying to find as much information as possible about the evening of August 15, 1965 - the famous Shea Stadium concert. Specifically, I am hoping to figure out exactly what sound equipment was in use that evening. (Amps, speakers, microphones, what the PA system at Shea was like and how it was employed that evening, etc…)

Let me tell you what sources I am privy to so far (some of it gleaned from cruising this website):

Andy Babiuk’s book, Beatles Gear, is a very cool resource, but only mentions live sound in a few places and in not very much detail. I did hear about Bill Hanley from this book and I understand that he ran sound at the 1966 Shea concert, but not at the 1965 dare. I have an email out to Bill Hanley and I’m hoping he would be willing to discuss what he knows with me. From various online forums, I learned that there is a great book about the Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead Gear - that will help me to get a handle on the technology of live sound during this era, if not about the Beatles specifically. I also have Lewisohn’s book on the Beatles’ recording sessions and a wonderful book called Recording the Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew. Some of these sources go into great depth on Beatles gear but, again, not so much for live events.

From these sources - and others - I have a general grasp of how the live sound worked in those days but I am lacking in a lot of specifics.

Can you help me? Do you - or someone you know - have specific knowledge about the sound system at the Shea concert? About the Beatles‘ American tours in general? Or do you know of online or print resources (forums? trade journals?) that cover this topic? Any hints you can provide me would be tremendously appreciated.

Thank you!


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Re: Seeking Help with Beatles Live Sound
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 08:30:55 PM »

By the way....  I read with great interest the old strain "Who Was the Beatles Live Sound Engineer?"  This strain had some GREAT posts.  It seems that "REDD51" and "Casbah" especially had some really fascinating things to say...  I'm hoping one or both will respond to this new conversation.  Or, of course, anyone else you can help with this topic!


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Re: Seeking Help with Beatles Live Sound
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 08:55:07 PM »

Sure. As we mentioned in the last thread, this becomes quite a mystery to unravel because there were so many players, many of them who are obviously much older or have passed beyond the great mixing board in the sky :)

The Beatles contracted out their live sound to local sound reinforcement companies, or just relied on the venue's own P.A. system to provide sound, none of which was very adequate.

I'd like to think that it was the Beatles that made sound engineers, companies, promoters, etc start thinking about how to make beefier systems to better provide sound.

You bring up the Grateful Dead and incidentally, it was the guy that was making all the acid for the bay area, Bear Owsley (Stanley Owsley) who actually took his profits, which were in the millions) and started buying amps and designing the Grateful Deads touring system. The Dead had the best sound system of any working band at the time, but it was prone to breakdowns and other issues and eventually replaced.

Interestingly enough, bands stopped touring with their own sound and now contract out the sound locally once again. So things have somewhat come full circle.

But what I wouldnt give to hear Hard Days Night played through Gretsches and Rickenbackers being blasted out by JBL's throughout an arena :)

"Someone told me a few minutes ago they saw John walking on the street once wearing a button saying "I Love Paul." And this girl said she asked him, "Why are you wearing a button that says ' I Love Paul'? He said "Because I love Paul."

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