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Author Topic: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?  (Read 16410 times)

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Casbah

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2009, 12:15:02 AM »

So, apparently, from all this info we are finding out, its pretty clear that there was no "one" live sound engineer that travelled with the Beatles, but there is an interesting revelation: The Beatles at Shea was a historic event that  put into play the thought process on how to bring bigger sound at the stadium level.  So, here again, the Beatles actually helped create or at the very least, accelerate live sound as a separate entity even though they would never enjoy those benefits until their solo careers.

But imagine all the live sound stories that are still waiting to be uncovered? Every city probably has one to tell....Just gotta find em, now...
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REDD51

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2009, 02:33:20 AM »

I've come across some other information in the past couple of days which seems to indicate that Neil and Mal "directed" the sound and light crew in each of the venues.

Sadly, with Neil gone, Mal gone, two of the boys gone, Brian gone............you'd almost have to sit down with Paul and/or Ringo to get the true story. They're the only guys left who were at all the shows.

One can hope that contained within the legendary unreleased portions of the Apple Corps archives, there's detailed information on aspects of their live shows that we haven't seen yet..........and that someday we'll see it!
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An Apple Beatle

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #42 on: May 14, 2009, 11:28:27 AM »

I just bought another Reslo Ribbon microphone..This one has a lead so I could test it. What is very apparant, is that you need a lot of signal boost to get an audible sound out of these microphones. I'm not sure if ohms law comes into play with impedance but I have had to use a modern valve pre-amp and a second pre-amp to get what is now an excitable sound. These were supposed to be the standard Mics of the day.

Cheers Kasbah and Redd...more great info. :)
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Bobber

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2009, 09:09:13 AM »

As Sir Paul McCartney readies his young band for a trip to Piedmont Park Aug. 15, it might be a good time to consider sound.
Until the Beatles invented the stadium concert in August 1965, rock ’n’ roll bands had not performed for 34,000 people at a time.
Sound amplification across the musical spectrum was in its infancy. And the sound at the kickoff concert in New York’s Shea Stadium was lousy. Last month, playing at Citi Field, the stadium that replaced Shea, McCartney told the audience, “The first time we played here we couldn’t hear a thing because of all the girls screaming and the stadium sound system.”

In most stadiums the sound was equally bad. Except Atlanta.

Two songs into the 1965 Atlanta show, McCartney was shocked by the clarity: “It’s loud isn’t it?” he blurted out at the time. “Great!”

Beatles manager Brian Epstein later sent a note to the sound engineers declaring the Atlanta system “Excellent. Without question proved the most effective of all during our U.S. tour 1965.”

The show, the Beatles’ only appearance in Atlanta, went down in history as the only one in which the Fab Four could hear themselves over the shrieks of their frantic fans. How did Atlanta, a still-sleepy backwater in 1965, produce sound design beyond the ken of New York or Los Angeles?

Credit goes to a hi-fi store on Peachtree Street called Baker Audio, and its Georgia Tech-educated boss, F.B. “Duke” Mewborn. Mewborn handled sound for the show, and his set-up included something that every bar band uses today but was unheard of then: monitors.

Few musicians used monitors then because few played stadia, but also because of concerns about feedback. Aiming speakers back toward the musicians (and their microphones) would cause a feedback loop and sonic disaster, according to conventional wisdom. The Beatles had never seen them.

“There were no monitors anywhere else on earth at that time,” said Red Wheeler, a legendary Atlanta rock and roll sound man, now living in Vidalia.

Mewborn knew better. His cardioid mics had a restricted pattern that rejected ambient sound coming from the sides or below.

Of course there was still the problem of being heard over 34,000 sets of lungs.

In addition to selling records and hi-fi equipment, Baker Audio also installed public address systems in large public places, including the new home of the Braves, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. For special events at the stadium Baker had included four Altec 1570 field-level amplifiers, each cranking out about 175 watts of vaccuum tube-powered juice, or about 500 watts in all. These he used to power two stacks of Altec A7 speakers, each with 15-inch woofers. “It was state of the art,” said Cole Harrison, founder of Wizard Electronics, who was 14 years old when he attended that show.

“It was adequate,” said Mewborn, with typical understatement. He guesses the audience generated at least 100 decibels of scream, which is like putting your head next to a chainsaw. “We got over it, we were on top of it,” he says. “You could hear [the band] amidst the screaming.”

Today Mewborn, 75, retired from Baker Audio, has a 700-watt theater system in his East Cobb home, or slightly more wattage than he used to drive that stadium show. McCartney’s benefit concert at Piedmont Park this Saturday will probably use 300,000 watts of power, and several 18-wheelers to carry in the gear. (The 1965 gear arrived in a couple of pickup trucks.)

In any case The Lads and Epstein were happy, and proposed that Mewborn go on the road to handle sound for the rest of their shows. He turned them down. Said Keith Hicks, Baker’s current president, “[Mewborn] basically said he didn’t see much future in four guys with long hair.”
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peterbell1

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2009, 10:35:19 AM »

Thanks for that post with all the info about the Atlanta '65 sound set-up. Excellent stuff.
I've always loved the recording of that show - you can tell the Beatles are really enjoying playing because they can actually hear themselves above the crowd for what must have been the first time in years.
They must have been disappointed that Mr Mewborn turned down the offer to handle their live sound for the rest of that tour.
Maybe they even would have continued touring after '66 if he'd started to work with them and they could have heard themselves every time they played live. They played Shea stadium with 100 watt amps - most bands now use amps larger than that to play in a local bar!
Live sound equipment really caught up with the times in 66/67, with acts like The Who and Hendrix pushing people like Jim Marshall to manufacture louder and louder gear so that they could get a good live sound. And foldback speakers began to be used more widely in the late 60s as well.
If the Beatles had carried on touring beyond '66 they would have benefitted from all the technological advances that were being made to cope with the size of the venues bands were now playing.
Maybe we could have seen The Beatles at Woodstock or something. Perhaps carrying on touring might have kept them together after 1970. Who knows?
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Casbah

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #45 on: August 25, 2009, 04:47:30 PM »

So, then, we are to blame Mewborn for the demise of the Beatles. Get him!


Thanks for the informative post, Bobber. That was a good read.
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Bobber

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #46 on: August 25, 2009, 07:03:20 PM »

Thanks for the informative post, Bobber. That was a good read.

My thoughts exactly! ;D
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Xose

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #47 on: November 29, 2009, 09:51:36 AM »

This is a fantastic post... Thanx Bobber!!  ;)

BTW: does anybody know which type of microphones (=which brand and model) were used to be placed in front of their amps to amplify the signal??

Thanks in advance and best wishes!! ;)

Xosé
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VOXAC100B

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #48 on: June 23, 2010, 11:54:12 PM »

I spoke to Abe Jacobs a few years back and I can confirm the Beatles at Candlestick park used three ALTEC lansing 9844 studio monitors 40W (one either side of the stage and one facing them below on the field)

The overall wattage of the concert was around 1100W which wasn't bad with the wind blowing in the right direction! I think they used 8 x 80W amp and 6 x 60W amps for the PA.   All other info correct....the Sure mics were new at the time.  Four floor mics and two boom mics were used in the Candlestick concert....nailed to the stage!  Strangly the 120W super beatle were not mic'd up just the PA which was mixed from second base by Mort Felt of McCune Audio.

I read the company also provided a basic monitor system for Judy Garland when she performed in San Francisco way back in 1961.

I have good photos of the Beatles stage setup at the show. The Beatles were one of the first pop groups to use monitors (rarely though it depended on the sound company who hoseted the show) long before they became common in the late 60s.

Steven :)


Found out some interesting news today...I wrote to Michael Neal of McCune sound. They were the ones that provided the sound equipment for the Candlestick Park concert:


There's been a lot of interest in the Candlestick Park concert. Here's an email i received two years ago:************************************************Hello Mike I found this text on the web... as VP of technology this might be of  interest to you as it is to me!  


"When The Beatles played their last concert, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966, the mics were Shure SM56s, the speakers were modified Altec A-7s powered by Altec 1569 80-watt tube amplifiers, and McCune Sound's Mort Feld mixed the show on one or two Altec 1567 five-input rotary pot tube mixers. By modern standards, the sound system was a bare-bones setup-no monitors, no graphic EQs, no delay lines, no dynamics processors and no effects. More noteworthy, from a modern perspective, is the fact that the sound system did not include any equipment made by a UK-based manufacturer, unless you count the Vox guitar amps onstage"

Interesting it states no monitors - yet film and photographs from the concert may suggest otherwise. Hopefully when time permits you will be able to track down Abe - it would be nice to confirm the overall spec but in particular if some form of early monitoring system was used. With Kind Regards

More from Mike:

Unfortunately (to my knowledge) there's only one person still living who was involved in the audio for the show, and that's Abe Jacob. Abe is currently working in New York (for the NYC Opera, I believe), and I did have an email address for him but a hard drive crash seems to have lost it.
There are some photos floating around on the web showing the staging, and the band during the concert, but they're hard to find.
Anyway, sorry I can't be more helpful.
Mike


Mixer:


The email states one or two mixers, I assume if he had two it would have looked similar to this...

Power Amps:


Speakers:




Im assuming they went with the A7's with the horn inside for stacking purposes, but I haven't looked at Candlestick Park pictures recently, so it could be the other ones, with the horns mounted on top.

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VOXAC100B

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #49 on: June 24, 2010, 12:06:26 AM »

Neil and Mal did the sound and in the early show plotted the lights as well. Mal can be seen in the shea stage organising the mic setups.


I've come across some other information in the past couple of days which seems to indicate that Neil and Mal "directed" the sound and light crew in each of the venues.

Sadly, with Neil gone, Mal gone, two of the boys gone, Brian gone............you'd almost have to sit down with Paul and/or Ringo to get the true story. They're the only guys left who were at all the shows.

One can hope that contained within the legendary unreleased portions of the Apple Corps archives, there's detailed information on aspects of their live shows that we haven't seen yet..........and that someday we'll see it!
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VOXAC100B

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #50 on: June 24, 2010, 12:22:07 AM »

I have photos of the ATLANTA show but couldn't see any monitors on the stage? Unless they were out in the field?


As Sir Paul McCartney readies his young band for a trip to Piedmont Park Aug. 15, it might be a good time to consider sound.
Until the Beatles invented the stadium concert in August 1965, rock ’n’ roll bands had not performed for 34,000 people at a time.
Sound amplification across the musical spectrum was in its infancy. And the sound at the kickoff concert in New York’s Shea Stadium was lousy. Last month, playing at Citi Field, the stadium that replaced Shea, McCartney told the audience, “The first time we played here we couldn’t hear a thing because of all the girls screaming and the stadium sound system.”

In most stadiums the sound was equally bad. Except Atlanta.

Two songs into the 1965 Atlanta show, McCartney was shocked by the clarity: “It’s loud isn’t it?” he blurted out at the time. “Great!”

Beatles manager Brian Epstein later sent a note to the sound engineers declaring the Atlanta system “Excellent. Without question proved the most effective of all during our U.S. tour 1965.”

The show, the Beatles’ only appearance in Atlanta, went down in history as the only one in which the Fab Four could hear themselves over the shrieks of their frantic fans. How did Atlanta, a still-sleepy backwater in 1965, produce sound design beyond the ken of New York or Los Angeles?

Credit goes to a hi-fi store on Peachtree Street called Baker Audio, and its Georgia Tech-educated boss, F.B. “Duke” Mewborn. Mewborn handled sound for the show, and his set-up included something that every bar band uses today but was unheard of then: monitors.

Few musicians used monitors then because few played stadia, but also because of concerns about feedback. Aiming speakers back toward the musicians (and their microphones) would cause a feedback loop and sonic disaster, according to conventional wisdom. The Beatles had never seen them.

“There were no monitors anywhere else on earth at that time,” said Red Wheeler, a legendary Atlanta rock and roll sound man, now living in Vidalia.

Mewborn knew better. His cardioid mics had a restricted pattern that rejected ambient sound coming from the sides or below.

Of course there was still the problem of being heard over 34,000 sets of lungs.

In addition to selling records and hi-fi equipment, Baker Audio also installed public address systems in large public places, including the new home of the Braves, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. For special events at the stadium Baker had included four Altec 1570 field-level amplifiers, each cranking out about 175 watts of vaccuum tube-powered juice, or about 500 watts in all. These he used to power two stacks of Altec A7 speakers, each with 15-inch woofers. “It was state of the art,” said Cole Harrison, founder of Wizard Electronics, who was 14 years old when he attended that show.

“It was adequate,” said Mewborn, with typical understatement. He guesses the audience generated at least 100 decibels of scream, which is like putting your head next to a chainsaw. “We got over it, we were on top of it,” he says. “You could hear [the band] amidst the screaming.”

Today Mewborn, 75, retired from Baker Audio, has a 700-watt theater system in his East Cobb home, or slightly more wattage than he used to drive that stadium show. McCartney’s benefit concert at Piedmont Park this Saturday will probably use 300,000 watts of power, and several 18-wheelers to carry in the gear. (The 1965 gear arrived in a couple of pickup trucks.)

In any case The Lads and Epstein were happy, and proposed that Mewborn go on the road to handle sound for the rest of their shows. He turned them down. Said Keith Hicks, Baker’s current president, “[Mewborn] basically said he didn’t see much future in four guys with long hair.”
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VOXAC100B

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #51 on: June 25, 2010, 03:05:51 PM »

On the festival hall tour in Melbourne you can see the controls for the PA on the stage.


A few more observations over the weekend.

Using the Australia tour as a template, I've looked at many pictures of the Beatles on stage during that tour. One thing that becomes apparent is that they used different microphones in all of the pictures taken at different venues.

This may tend to imply that the Beatles were hiring PA locally for each stop of the tour.

In one picture, John is singing into a Sennheiser 421 (also marketed as a Telefunken 421). The 421 was such a sophisticated microphone (first released in 1960) that it's still in use in major recording studios, and live performances to this day!)
The use of the 421 tends to imply that the PA they were using was probably somewhat advanced in design, or at least the peripheral equipment they hired to augment the venue PA was possibly state-of-the-art for its day.

A question:
There's a well known picture of the Beatles performing live, taken from directly overhead (looking straight down on the tops of their heads).
Does anybody know exactly where and/or when this picture was taken?

The reason I ask is because in this photo, there is a clear indication of at least 8, (posssibly up to 10) microphones visible on stage.
From a lifetime of mixing music live, I'd be of the opinion that 10 microphones would have to be mixed continuously throughout the performance by a human being.......and would tend to introduce far too many variables to just "set and forget" the venue PA system.
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VOXAC100B

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #52 on: June 25, 2010, 03:09:37 PM »

The pic looks like Paris France 65 the amount of wires is amazing! ha2ha

I'm sure things changed somewhat as they got bigger, but I suspect they relied on in-house PA systems and fairly basic equipment, mixed by venue staff. During the earlier cinema/theatre shows there was probably even less sophistication, as this page suggests: http://www.beatlesbible.com/1964/01/16/residency-at-the-olympia-theatre-paris/

Here's that top-down pic. I'd also be interested in knowing where it was taken.




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peterbell1

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #53 on: June 25, 2010, 05:25:20 PM »

The pic looks like Paris France 65 the amount of wires is amazing! ha2ha


I love that photo!

It looks like there are microphones in front of the 3 amps being used by John, Paul and George (I assume the amp on the right of the picture was a spare or used by the support band since it has no mic).
Someone said in an earlier post that the amps were NOT put through the PA at the Candlestick Park gig a year later, but for some reason there are mics being used at this mid-1965 show.
It seems like the Beatles just used what equipment and staff were available at each venue. Seems incredible now, when you have bands touring with literally truck loads of equipment.
Presumably the Beatles just turned up with their guitars, drum kit, guitar amps and organ (on the later tours) and everything else was provided by the venue.
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peterbell1

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #54 on: June 28, 2010, 08:16:55 PM »

Earlier in this thread there was a quote from Glenn D White who did the sound for the Beatles (and others) at the Seattle Center.

I stumbled upon the full article, if anyone is interested ....

http://www.vagrantrecords.com/other/news/vgNews4.html


Going off at a tangent, it's interesting to read what he says about the band rehearsing in their dressing room.
I always wondered when they ever found time to rehearse during the Beatlemania years. Must have just been dressing rooms, hotel rooms, tour buses etc., probably unamplified and with no drums for poor old Ringo! Even still, they could write a song one day, have it recorded in a handful of takes, and it would be at number one in the charts all in a matter of weeks!!
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raxo

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #55 on: June 29, 2010, 11:28:23 AM »

I'm sure things changed somewhat as they got bigger, but I suspect they relied on in-house PA systems and fairly basic equipment, mixed by venue staff. During the earlier cinema/theatre shows there was probably even less sophistication, as this page suggests: http://www.beatlesbible.com/1964/01/16/residency-at-the-olympia-theatre-paris/

Here's that top-down pic. I'd also be interested in knowing where it was taken.




The pic looks like Paris France 65 the amount of wires is amazing! ha2ha


I love that photo!

It looks like there are microphones in front of the 3 amps being used by John, Paul and George (I assume the amp on the right of the picture was a spare or used by the support band since it has no mic).
Someone said in an earlier post that the amps were NOT put through the PA at the Candlestick Park gig a year later, but for some reason there are mics being used at this mid-1965 show.
It seems like the Beatles just used what equipment and staff were available at each venue. Seems incredible now, when you have bands touring with literally truck loads of equipment.
Presumably the Beatles just turned up with their guitars, drum kit, guitar amps and organ (on the later tours) and everything else was provided by the venue.



That pic reminds me of these ones:




I don't see a big change ... tho I know the rooftop is an almost impromptu show and is just about 3'5 years after ... but they were also recordering the concert ... what do you think?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 05:43:50 PM by raxo »
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Xose

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #56 on: June 29, 2010, 02:34:35 PM »

I have got some info about PA system used here in Spain at their gigs in Madrid & Barcelona in July 1965, as well as the company which provided the backline. I will let you know...

Best!! ;)

Xosé
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Casbah

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #57 on: August 18, 2010, 08:44:25 AM »

In that Paris picture, I dont think the amp by the piano was theirs. It's a Fender amp and the Beatles weren't using those at this stage in their career. I'm thinking the other mics were broadcast mics for French radio and/or TV, since both concerts were recorded for radio and the evening concert was recorded for TV as well.

This was the Palais des Sports, Paris shows.  6/20/65 ? Something like that.
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peterbell1

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #58 on: August 18, 2010, 11:15:59 AM »

In that Paris picture, I dont think the amp by the piano was theirs. It's a Fender amp and the Beatles weren't using those at this stage in their career. I'm thinking the other mics were broadcast mics for French radio and/or TV, since both concerts were recorded for radio and the evening concert was recorded for TV as well.

This was the Palais des Sports, Paris shows.  6/20/65 ? Something like that.

In the Paris photo, what is the box on the floor, to the left of John's acoustic guitar?

When you look at a stage photo of a band now you hardly see cables anywhere - everything is hidden away and/or taped down. I wonder if The Beatles ever tripped on any of those cables that were all over the stage?
I play in a band myself and even for small gigs we try to keep the stage area clear of wires by running them along the front or back of the stage as much as possible. In that Paris set-up there seems to have been no thought about hiding or even tidying up the wires.
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Casbah

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Re: Who was the Beatles live sound engineer?
« Reply #59 on: September 12, 2010, 04:09:05 PM »

Thats a good question, PeterBell.. I've been looking at the picture for 2 days when I've had time and can't figure it out. It looks like there is only one wire attached to it, but its at an odd angle  ???.



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