The Beatles live: NME Poll-Winners’ All-Star Concert

The Beatles topped the bill at the New Musical Express 1963-64 Annual Poll-Winners’ All-Star Concert on 26 April 1964, playing before an audience of 10,000 at the Empire Pool in Wembley, London.

This was the group’s first live performance for 15 weeks. They performed five songs: ‘She Loves You’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, ‘Twist And Shout’, ‘Long Tall Sally’, and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.

The concert was filmed by ABC Television and was broadcast in two parts as Big Beat ’64. The Beatles’ performance was shown in part two, first shown on Sunday 10 May from 4.05-5.35pm. The broadcast also featured the group receiving their NME awards from actor Roger Moore.

The venue was known as the Empire Pool from its opening year of 1934 until 1978, when it was renamed Wembley Arena.

Ticket for The Beatles at the NME Poll-Winners’ All-Star Concert, 26 April 1964

At the end of my first week with NEMS, on the Sunday, I went with Brian to Wembley Pool for the New Musical Express Poll-Winners’ Award Concert, which comprised two shows. The afternoon show was the main event, with The Beatles topping a bill that included The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Manfred Mann, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, The Dave Clark Five, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Hollies, Freddie and the Dreamers, Joe Brown and his Bruvvers, Kathy Kirby, Jet Harris, Big Dee Irwin and the Joe Loss Orchestra. Stars of the evening show – which featured several Epstein acts including Tommy Quickly, The Fourmost, Sounds Incorporated and (again) Billy Kramer – were the Stones. Everyone used Vox amps and it was quite a day out for fans, I’d say.

Roger Moore presented awards and so, with a special one for Joe Brown, did Roy Orbison; and afterwards there was a short set from The Merseybeats. Disc jockeys present for the celebrations included David Jacobs, Jimmy Savile and, from WINS Radio New York City, the one and only Murray (‘You’re what’s happenin’, baby’) the K. During the afternoon show, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones visited the Beatle dressing-room. The Stones by now commanded a massive following; they were, as Charles Champlin of the LA Times once said, the Avis of rock. A huge smile illuminated Jagger’s young face and his merry eyes glittered with the delights of success. There was in that dressing-room a glow of liberated young people at large in a beckoning world, their pockets full of fivers, heads full of songs, bodies full of sexuality. Nothing could stop them now.

Derek Taylor
Fifty Years Adrift

Wings performed at the Empire Pool on 19, 20, and 21 October 1976, and at the renamed Wembley Arena on 7, 8, 9, and 10 December 1979. Paul McCartney performed solo concerts there on 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, and 26 January 1990.

Last updated: 24 January 2024
Rehearsal: Around The Beatles
US single release: Love Me Do
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