50 Years Ago Today, Sgt. Pepper Taught the Band to Play
In a sport that has Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Ebbetts Field, for one night, Shea Stadium was the most famous stadium in the world. The Beatles were playing there.
It is still regarded as one of the greatest concerts of all time. For four more years, it most likely was the Mets’ fans favorite moment in the Big Shea. That would be until Davey Johnson’s fly ball fell harmlessly into Cleon Jones’ glove.
The Beatles were a phenomenon on their way to becoming the greatest Rock & Roll group ever. They rocked the house:
I was lucky enough to be able to attend Billy Joel’s Last Play at Shea over 40 years later. It was awesome. Aside from Billy Joel’s typical brilliance, he brought superstar guests onto the stage: Steven Tyler, Garth Brooks, and Roger Daltrey. Then, a miracle happened of the same ilk as a little dribbler up the first base line:
That’s right. McCartney would play in the two greatest concerts in Shea Stadium. We would later find out everyone moved heaven and hell to get him there. Much like the police escort the Beatles needed in 1965 just to get to the stage, McCartney needed one just to get to Shea on time.
Then Billy Joel did the classiest thing I’ve ever seen: he ceded his stage to Paul McCartney to close out his concert:
I remember my then girlfriend, now wife, and I calling our families so they could hear it. Like Billy Joel, we wanted to share this experience with everyone. This was a moment I’ll never forget.
As a native son, this was Billy Joel’s moment in his hometown. The Mets were letting him close down a stadium the Beatles opened. Instead, Billy Joel let the man who opened Shea close it down.
Fifty years later, Citi Field has a post game concert starring NeYo. He’s got some massive shoes to fill.