On August 15, 1965, the Beatles made history when they played for a record 55,000 screaming fans at the now-demolished Shea Stadium during a stop on their 1965 tour of America. The noise generated by the adoring crowd was so great that the security guards were seen covering their ears and the band—John, Paul, George and Ringo—struggled to hear themselves play. Film footage from the concert shows fans in hysterics, crying, fainting and running onto the field (only to be stopped well short of the stage by the diligent, if deafened, guards).
Ringo Starr's "Shea Stadium Drum Kit" at Bloomingdale's 59th Street (Photo: Business Wire)
Not only did the Beatles play for a record crowd, among them Ringo’s future wife Barbara Starkey, they also became the first band to prove that large-scale, outdoor performances were not only possible, they were profitable—the 30-minute Beatles performance generated more than $300,000 in profits. No other event in entertainment promotion history had come close to that number.
This performance was so important to American music history and to the Beatles’ careers that the kit is now referred to simply as the Shea Stadium Kit. In addition to the Shea Stadium Kit, the only two other kits played by Ringo that share this distinction of being known for where he played them are his Ed Sullivan Kit, played during the Beatles’ first American television performance which took place on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, and his Maple Hollywood Kit, played during the Beatles’ unannounced performance on the rooftop of Apple headquarters in 1969.
Previously these historic items would only be available for display in a museum (such as the current record-breaking exhibit, Ringo: Peace & Love, at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles, which includes both the Maple Hollywood Kit and the Ed Sullivan Kit and which has already had over 90,000 visitors).