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.
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.
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.
Fifty Years Adrift
Also on this day...
- 1982: Album release: Tug Of War by Paul McCartney
- 1969: Recording: Oh! Darling, Octopus’s Garden
- 1969: Mixing: John And Yoko
- 1967: Recording: Magical Mystery Tour
- 1966: Recording: And Your Bird Can Sing
- 1963: Live: Music Hall, Shrewsbury
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.