John Lennon and Paul McCartney had been making music together since 1957 and had been performing as the Beatles, since 1960. They first hit American shores in early 1964—but the second half of 1965 marked a series of milestones in way the band redefined popular music and pop culture in general. Here are some of the key 50th anniversary dates …
JULY 29, 1965—The Beatles’ movie Help! was released.
AUGUST 13, 1965—The album Help! was released in the U.S.
AUGUST 15, 1965—The Beatles performed for more than 55,000 fans at New York’s Shea Stadium.
SEPTEMBER 13, 1965—The song Yesterday was released in the U.S. as a single.
SEPTEMBER 25, 1965—The Beatles cartoon series debuted.
DECEMBER 3, 1965—The album Rubber Soul was released.
The Beatles were ready to try things they had never attempted—including a dose of LSD slipped to them by a mischievous dentist early in 1965, biographers say. More importantly, by late 1965: They stopped touring for a number of weeks and worked continuously on the album Rubber Soul, which was released before Christmas. Music historians describe the album as the first time in pop music that musicians worked on an album as a fully formed concept—not just a collection of songs. Pop music was moving from short singles and dance tunes to longer collections of music that fans could purchase to listen to at length.
Rubber Soul finally knocked The Sound of Music soundtrack off the No. 1 spot in pop music charts—and, more importantly, inspired the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson to create Pet Sounds. The two bands traded inspirations. For example, Wilson used “found sounds” in his album, including barking dogs. The Beatles then used found sounds in their masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The often-cited Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time has the Beatles’ White Album (1968) at No. 10, Revolver (1966) is No. 3, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (1966) is No. 2 and Sgt. Pepper (1967) is No. 1.
THE CARTOON SERIES
Unless you’ve seen occasional reruns, perhaps on MTV or the Disney Channel, you may not be aware that the Beatles appeared for several years in a cartoon series, another way they changed popular culture in 1965. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr didn’t like the series when it debuted. Their voices were dubbed by American voice-over experts. The series froze them in a comedic snapshot of Hard Days Night antics. Many years later, they apparently told interviewers that the cartoons were better than they recalled.
But, the series was a milestone: It was the first weekly television series to feature animated versions of real, living people.
THE SHEA STADIUM CONCERT
Network TV icon Ed Sullivan introduced them to the crowd that soon was screaming so loudly that some of the Beatles’ music was nearly drowned out. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame describes the concert this way: The first ever in a major U.S. stadium, and is known as perhaps the most famous Beatles’ concert.
NBC News recently reported: It was the largest concert crowd in history at the time and is often cited as the birth of “stadium rock.” The Beatles opened the concert with “Twist and Shout” but it quickly became difficult to hear the band over the screaming fans.
In 1965, The New York Daily News wrote: Our Mets have displayed their antic behavior before some good crowds at Shea Stadium but last night’s turn-away mob of shrieking teenagers tested the solidity of the ballpark as they flocked to see Britain’s mop-top quartet in concert. Scores were injured in the crush or overcome by the humid heat but luckily no one required hospitalization.
In this brief video, you’ll see the Beatles take the stage at Shea Stadium:
Then, once they got going, here’s A Hard Day’s Night from the Shea Stadium performance:
Care to read more?
Beatles expert, educator, musician and journalist Charles Honey writes a five-part OurValues series about the many ways Beatles songs have shaped our lives. Enjoy!