Sid Bernstein, the man who was responsible for promoting the Beatles' iconic Shea Stadium concerts as well as their 1964 appearance at Carnegie Hall, died Aug. 21 at age 95, publicist Merle Frimark confirmed to Beatles Examiner.
"What do The Beatles, Tony Bennett, the Rolling Stones, Fats Domino, Tito Puente, Judy Garland and a host of other luminaries have in common? They all have been touched, in some way, by the inimitable promoter, agent and manager extraordinaire, Sid Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein passed away on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 in New York City, said his longtime friend, publicist Merle Frimark.
"One could call Sid a 'dream merchant,' for he has been solely, or partially, responsible for shaping the careers of some of the greatest and most popular celebrities of our time. After all, he was the man who had the vision to single-handedly bring The Beatles to America!"
According to Frimark, Bernstein was the first impresario to organize rock concerts at sports stadiums and was the first to stage a rock show at Madison Square Garden. But he was, of course, best known for bringing The Beatles to Carnegie Hall and, later, Shea Stadium.
"'I'm a hunch player, you see,' Bernstein said. 'I was just glad to get this group I had been reading about for months. It took eight months after I booked them for there to be any airplay of their records on the radio. I had to convince Carnegie Hall and my financial backers to take a chance on this then-unknown group. I had been reading about their progress in the European papers and was fascinated with the hysteria that surrounded them. I was the first to promote The Beatles in the States and Ed Sullivan called me first about them before he ever booked them on his television show."
According to an exclusive interview done with Beatles Examiner in 2009, Bernstein said Brian Epstein didn't think the Beatles could fill Shea Stadium.
"It’s just magic what happened between us. I ad libbed. 'Brian, I’ll give you $10 for every empty seat.' I'd won his confidence and friendship during the Carnegie Hall concert. He said, ‘That’s a deal.'"
Charles Rosenay, who organized Beatles events where Bernstein appeared, told us in a statement, "I'm standing inside Abbey Road Studios 2 with 70 fellow fans & friends, and it should be one of my happiest days of the year. It's certainly one of the most unforgettable days many of the travelers' lives. Sadly, it's one of the most heartbreaking days if my life. I found out about Sid before walking in to the session. He was a great guy, an amazing pioneer & promoter but mostly he was a "mensch." He only has nice things to say, always had a smile and would do anything for a friend (or for a White Castle burger). I've known Sid for about 30 years and he would always ask about my family before business. I was his 'boychik' (an endearing term - look it up!) and he was like family to me. The world lost one if its best today."
Former business manager Ira Marlowe, said, "For all the people who had a chance to meet Sid know how warm , friendly and inviting Sid was. His smile was infectious. For me, Sid was a dearly loved friend and I had the great fortune of being his business manager. I will miss Sid dearly."
Several of his friends posted their condolences on Facebook. May Pang posted a note on her Facebook page today. "So sad to hear that my friend, Sid Bernstein, had passed away. He had just reached his 95th birthday. I am so glad I got to see him a couple of weeks ago. Known him since I was 15 years old. I even did some babysitting for his kids."
Will Lee of the Fab Faux also posted this: "I and the Fab Faux have lost a great friend Sid Bernstein. An icon of the music biz. Brought The Beatles to the US, put on the first stadium rock concert. R.I.P., dear friend."
In addition to the Beatles, Bernstein also promoted concerts by Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and the Young Rascals. He told his story in his autobiography.
He never slowed down. He made appearances at Beatles conventions and released "Sid Bernstein Presents..." a collection of him singing some of his favorite songs, in 2012 as a digital download. He also was among those in attendance to see Paul McCartney's appearance at Citi Field in 2009.
Just two weeks ago, Bernstein released an exclusive statement to Beatles Examiner with his thoughts on the death of longtime Beatles associate Nat Weiss.
In addition to his wife of 50 years Geraldine, Sid is survived by six children – Adam, Beau, Dylan, Casey, Denise and Etienne, six grandchildren, lifelong friends and devoted fans.
Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
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