Remembering Sid Bernstein and the Beatles

by Dennis Elsas
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Dennis Elsas and Sid Bernstein

Rock ‘n’ Roll history is filled with a wide assortment of personalities, and Sid Bernstein was one of it’s most unlikely heroes. As a 45-year-old talent promoter working for the General Artist Corporation in New York City, he was intrigued by the reports he was reading in the British press about a young English group that was creating “hysteria.” Despite the fact that his own agency was not interested in pursuing them, he reached out on his own to the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, at home, and wound up booking the Beatles into Carnegie Hall long before America experienced Beatlemania.

The phone call took place early in 1963, the Beatles played Carnegie Hall in February 1964 and Sid brought them back to perform the first rock show in a major sporting arena at Shea Stadium in August 1965. Sid would go on to be involved with an assortment of rock and pop performers, most notably guiding the early career of The Young Rascals. He always held out hope and actively tried to reunite the Beatles for just one more show, but of course, it was never to be.

Bernstein, who passed away earlier this week (August 20th at the age of 95), was described by almost everyone as a really nice man ("a mensch") devoted to his musical passions. I experienced that myself when I got to interview him for my FUV documentary, It Was 40 Years Ago Today, chronicling the initial days of the Beatles conquering America. Sid recalls his first conversation with Brian Epstein, a very unlikely beginning to one of the greatest chapters in Rock ‘n’ Roll history. Listen for it today just after 4pm on my weekly Beatles Fab Foursome and anytime here.

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