Everything Fab Four: The Beatles Live at Carnegie Hall!

beatles carnegie hall

Editor’s Note: Sorry to interrupt, but — for the collector’s among you — we thought you’d like to know that we just got our hands on a few copies of several rare, out-of-print collector’s editions of three McCartney solo albums. They’re absolutely beautiful and, as collectors’s items, they are appreciating in value. Please have a look. When they’re gone, they’re gone forever. 

Organized by famed promoter Sid Bernstein, the Beatles performed a pair of concerts at New York City’s celebrated Carnegie Hall on February 12, 1964. Having just returned from their appearance at Washington, DC’s Coliseum, the Beatles sold out both shows, for which the Briarwoods served as the supporting act.

The Beatles’ appearance at Carnegie Hall marked the first occasion in which a rock act played at the esteemed concert hall. Beatles producer George Martin had planned to record the concerts for a future live album, although he was denied permission, despite Capitol Records’ efforts, by the American Federation of Musicians.

Related: “Long Live the Beatles Live”

The idea for recording a live album had materialized back on February 3rd, while Martin and the Beatles were still in England. Capitol fashioned a deal in which the Beatles’ producer would oversee the recordings with Voyle Gilmore, Capitol’s East Coast A&R (Artists & Repertoire) head. After securing permission from Carnegie to record on the premises with a pro-forma $600 fee, Capitol began making preparations to have a mobile unit on hand. But it was all for naught. Before Martin could so much as adjust a microphone, the American Federation of Musicians registered its objection to Martin’s participation, given that he would be acting as nonunion personnel on a recording session. While Capitol dutifully offered to cover the Englishman’s union dues, the union simply wasn’t willing to establish a precedent. As far as manager Brian Epstein and the band members were concerned, no Martin meant no Beatles. And with that the live album was kaput.

After the concerts, Bernstein attempted to book the Beatles for an appearance at Madison Square Garden during the following week for a $25,000 fee along with a $5,000 donation to the British Cancer Fund, although Epstein demurred with promises of a future engagement. As it turned out, the Beatles never played at the Garden, the famed venue where John Lennon would make his last performance before a paying audience with Elton John in November 1974 (Lennon’s final stage appearance occurred at a star-studded tribute to Sir Lew Grade in New York City in April 1975).

Related: “Quiz: The Beatles In 1963”

The Beatles’ performance at Carnegie Hall on February 12, 1964, also marked the last time that Bernstein booked a concert at the fabled venue. As Bernstein later recalled, “Carnegie Hall didn’t have to worry about its sacred property or paintings on the wall. They shook a little bit and they asked me never to come back again!”

As Lennon later recalled, the Beatles left the august hall with few, if any happy memories, in spite of the venue’s reputation. “Carnegie Hall was terrible!” he remembered. “The acoustics were terrible and they had all these people sitting on the stage with us and it was just like Rockefeller’s children backstage and it all got out of hand. It wasn’t a rock show; it was just a sort of circus where we were in cages. We were being pawed and talked at and met and touched, backstage and onstage. We were just like animals.”


“Roll Over Beethoven”

“From Me to You”

“I Saw Her Standing There”

“This Boy”

“All My Loving”

“I Wanna Be Your Man”

“Please Please Me”

“Till There Was You”

“She Loves You”

“I Want to Hold Your Hand”

“Twist and Shout”

“Long Tall Sally”

carmine street guitars

-Ken Womack

Photo Credit: The Beatles on stage at Carnegie Hall. (Photo by Arthur Buckley/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Ken Womack is an internationally renowned Beatles authority regarding the band’s enduring artistic influence. He is the author, most recently, of Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Early Years: 1926-1966) and Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Later Years, 1966-2016). His previous Beatles-related books include Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. You can learn more about Ken’s work at kennethwomack.com.

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5 comments on “Everything Fab Four: The Beatles Live at Carnegie Hall!

  1. Avatar

    Didn’t know all that stuff…thanks

  2. Avatar
    Wayne Pernu

    Actually, Sid Bernstein presented many shows at Carnegie Hall following the Beatles performance. It just took awhile for him to get into the good graces of Carnegie management again. One show he presented, Bob Marley & the Wailers, was attended by John Lennon, accompanied by a friend from Liverpool.

  3. Avatar
    Russ Gershon

    Note that the Madison Square Garden of 1964 was a different building than the one of 1974.

  4. Avatar

    I saw a photo taken at this Beatles Carnegie concert. It was shot around the same location but a bit more to the left. In that photo, it showed a woman holding and recording the concert on a home movie camera. Don’t know if was a sound recorder. She was one of the people sitting on a chair on stage next to the Beatles. Why this has never surfaced or talked about or the whereabouts of the woman has been a mystery to me for all these years. I’ve pointed it out to many people about this with no answers; just amazement since they have said that no such footage or recording exists. You’ll have proof of a recording of the Carnegie concert if investigated further. These Beatle gems have popped up over the 62 history of the group. I believe this could perhaps be the goldmine find of the Beatles career. Anyone out there know of this ??

  5. Avatar
    William Pattnosh

    I’ve heard this also. The price will go up and up!

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