Sid Bernstein Still Has A Thing For Fab Four Jun 8, 2008 18:56:50 GMT -5
Post by yerblues1968 on Jun 8, 2008 18:56:50 GMT -5
Sid Bernstein, Beatles' Promoter in the U.S., will turn 90 on August 12, 2008.
PROMOTER SID BERNSTEIN, 90, STILL HAS A THING FOR FAB FOUR
By Steve Siegel
May 31, 2008
Sid Bernstein is the man who brought the Beatles to America. Before Ed Sullivan even knew they existed, he booked the Fab Four's 1964 American debut at Carnegie Hall, and followed that up with their Shea Stadium concerts, the first major rock stadium acts. For any concert promoter, this would have been enough of a legacy. But not for Sid Bernstein.
Bernstein, who will be 90 years old in August, is in fact responsible for most of the British Invasion of the '60s and '70s. He discovered the Rolling Stones -- and promoted their first five concerts. He followed the Beatles with the Dave Clark 5, Herman's Hermits, the Kinks, Manfred Mann, and many others. He promoted Tony Bennett's first Carnegie Hall appearance, briefly headed the Newport Jazz Festival, brought the Bay City Rollers to America and the Rascals to England.
Bernstein will speak about his musical adventures, and share memories and anecdotes, in a pre-concert discussion next Saturday, an hour before the Classical Mystery Tour' Beatles tribute concert with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall.
The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965.
Soft-spoken and courteous, Bernstein speaks about people who are virtually a who's who of popular 20th century music groups. The stories could fill a book, and indeed do -- his 2001 autobiography, 'It's Sid Bernstein Calling; the Promoter Who Brought the Beatles to America.
A: They weren't as rough as they were reported to be. They had been built up as bad guys, but they were really a nice group of guys, very gentle off-stage. But they did bring in a rougher crowd to Carnegie. The Beatles brought in mainly pretty girls-- I'd say maybe 80 percent of the audience. The Stones brought in these gum-chewing guys in black leather jackets. They stood on the tops of the chairs.
Q: You also managed the Rascals. Any stories about them?
A: Now here's something for you. When I managed them one of their earliest fans was this young girl always with a camera around her neck -- she was all of 15 or 16 when I met her. Her name was Linda Eastman. Five years later she went to interview Paul for a newspaper and became Mrs. Paul McCartney. What a coincidence! A lovely young lady -- we were friends until the end. That brought Paul even closer to me.
Q: What is it about the Beatles' music that makes them so endearing to all generations?
A: I think their music, their comedic TV interviews, were right for the time. It was what we needed. We just lost a young president, and along comes this British group that kind of chased some of the blues away. It changed the sad climate of the Kennedy assassination. It was a happy kind of music that helped fill our needs.
Q: Your intuition seems almost faultless when it comes to sensing talent. But have there been any misses?
A: Well, I managed Laura Branigan and thought she was going to be a superstar, but it just didn't work out. She got greedy and her husband ruined her -- he wanted to be her manager and brought her into oblivion. I also turned down Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. Yeah, I've made some mistakes, but was lucky with others. I don't pretend to be as bright as some people think I am.
Q: I've heard there might be a movie about your life in the near future?
A: Robin Williams will be playing me in a film that's supposed to be out the beginning of next year. When I heard that it was going to be him I went nuts -- I wanted Dustin Hoffman. But it really doesn't matter. It'll be a good story.
Q: Are there any future projects in sight?
A: I'm working on two projects that will make me a kid again. There's this guy who sings and plays guitar in Central Park every Saturday, near Strawberry Fields. His name is David Ipolito, and his songs are incredibly human, romantic. I tell you, he's going to be a superstar.
And there's something else. Sir Paul called me recently. I wasn't home, so my wife was taking messages. She asked him who it was, and he said Paul. She asked him, Paul who? He said, just tell him a friend called. Finally, he told her it was Paul McCartney. She let out a scream that the entire building must have heard.
But here's my proposal when he calls back. I want to say Paul, we started out together, let's do one more, one more big one. Let's do one for hunger -- a world concert. Forget about the money. That's my obsession, to do one for hunger. I think he'll go for it.
Steve Siegel is a freelance writer.
Assistant Entertainment Editor