Beatles Promoter Sid Bernstein Dies at 95

Sid Bernstein Beattles Promoter Obit

Sid Bernstein, the promoter who brought the Beatles to Carnegie Hall in New York City just as their fame exploded in the U.S., has died. He was 95.

Bernstein’s daughter, Casey Deutsch, said her father died in his sleep Wednesday morning of natural causes.

Bernstein made the Beatles the first rock group to play at the classical Carnegie Hall and arranged their historic 1965 show at Shea Stadium, rock’s first major stadium concert, which set box office records.

He also booked such top acts as Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland and the Rolling Stones. He worked with Judy Garland, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles and promoted Dion, Bobby Darin and Chubby Checker.

Bernstein was an early backer of ABBA, setting up the Swedish group’s first U.S. appearances.

He also was behind one of the first rock benefit shows, the 1970 Winter Festival for Peace, and helped revive Tony Bennett’s career with a 1962 show at Carnegie Hall.

Bernstein had a studious side that led to his biggest break. He took a course on Western civilization that required students to read a British newspaper once a week. It was 1963, and the Beatles were just catching on in their native country.

“So here I am reading little stories about this group from Liverpool that is causing a lot of ‘hysteria.’ By the end of the course, I was so Beatle-ized by what I read, even though I did not hear a note, I said, ‘gotta get ’em.'” he explained in a 2001 interview with the music publication NY Rock Confidential.

As Bernstein recalled, he couldn’t get his agency interested in the group, so he handled the job himself.

The Beatles were still unknown in the U.S. and the price was cheap — $6,500 for two shows.

The timing was perfect. By February 1964, Beatlemania had crossed over to the U.S., and the band was set to play on The Ed Sullivan Show just three days before the Carnegie concerts.

In 1965, he landed the group at Shea Stadium. Some 55,000 fans lost their voices and their minds. The New York Times described the scene as meeting the “classic Greek meaning of the word pandemonium — the region of all demons.”

Like so many in the music business, Bernstein was the hustling son of Jewish immigrants. He sneaked into the Apollo Theater as a boy and, while studying journalism at Columbia University, ran a ballroom that featured such Latino stars as Morales, Tito Puente and Marcelino Guera.

Over the past 20 years, Bernstein’s best client became himself. He wrote two memoirs, It’s Sid Bernstein Calling and Not Just the Beatles, and even recorded an album of duets.

At age 90, he started a Twitter account.

“Twitterland!” he called out in one post. “Let’s all have a productive week. I have a few very interesting projects in the works and I’ll reveal them very soon.”

Bernstein and his wife, Geraldine, were married for more than 40 years. They had six children.

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    1. Oy You Swine says:

      “Like so many in the music business…the hustling son of Jewish immigrants…” Vaguely racist, isn’t it? You have a skimpy obit but take time to give a kick in the ass to Jews as “hustlers.” The term is most widely known through the magazine run by non-Jew Larry Flynt

    2. Nola Leone says:

      How can you print an obit on Sid and not mention THE YOUNG RASCALS, his most successful management client.

      • Valerie Pomerantz says:

        Are you kidding? They had a few good songs at best. I just saw them recently and I must say they were good but by no means can be compared to Mr. Bernstein’s other talented musicians. More like a good opening band. Horrible to use Mr. Bernstein’s obituary as a promoting tool.

    3. Gary Stein says:

      Oh Sid. The man who brought The Beatles to America. But to me, he’ll always be the man who brought something even MORE special…to MY life. I had met with Sid back in the early 80s. He was as nice a man as I’ve ever met in the God-forsaken sewer called the music biz. A couple of years later, I was at home watching the weekly cable TV variety show Sid was then hosting. He introduced a “fresh new talent”, a pretty and charming young lady who performed one of her original songs. I liked this girl! I called Sid up (not thinking he even remembered me) and boldly asked if he might be willing to give me the young lady’s unlisted phone number. “Of course I remember you, Gary”, he said, and proceeded to, for reasons I’ll never quite understand, give me her number. That was 27 years ago. Oh..and the girl? She happens to be my wife for what is now a quarter-century! Dana and I will never forget Sid. His kindness, his generosity, his humility. And oh yes, his matchmaking skills! R.I.P. Sid Bernstein. You are a legendary figure in music’s history and CERTAINLY in ours!

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