On April 16th, 1965, the greatest gig to have ever taken place with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Dusty Springfield and many more bonafide legends of music all performed on the same bill at Wembley’s Empire Pool.
The show, which arrived in conjunction with New Musical Express’ Poll Winners’ Concert, arrived during one of the most iconic years in the history of music which saw Bob Dylan go electric, The Beatles released Rubber Soul and The Rolling Stones continued upon their stratospheric rise with the releases of ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’.
The Beatles were the kings of the award ceremony as they took home three awards as they won ‘Best Vocal Group’, ‘British Vocal Group’ and John Lennon being crowned as ‘Best Vocal Personality’. The Rolling Stones took home two awards which were for ‘British R&B Group’ as well as the coveted prize of ‘Best New Disc Of The Year’ for ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction‘.
The award winners were a real who’s who of the music world, with every single winner from the evening’s proceedings going on to have a career that has cemented the all as iconic figures with other winners including the likes of Donovan, Dusty Springfield, The Shadows, The Searchers and Elvis Presley.
The three-and-a-half-hour show was started in spectacular style by The Moody Blues opened proceedings to a raucous reception for renditions of ‘Bo Diddley’ and ‘Go Now’. The Rolling Stones’ short but nonetheless excellent set featured a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Around and Around’ as well as a thumping rendition of ‘The Last Time’.
The Searchers then tore through an exemplary show which was followed by Van Morrison fronted outfit Them and showed that the Irishman had the potential to become the artist that we all know and love. The Animals then arrived on to the stage to deliver glorious covers of the likes of The Isley Brothers, Nina Simone and Ray Charles. The Kinks also performed a dazzling two-song set featuring ‘You Really Got Me‘ and ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’.
After performances from award winners Dusty Springfield and Donovan, it was time for the act all 10,000 people in attendance were waiting for, The Beatles. The Fab Four only played five songs but that’s all they needed to do to steal the show and have the whole room screaming their lungs out for the entirety of their set.
They belted out hits like ‘I Feel Fine’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’ before finishing their set in electric fashion with their trademark cover of Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally‘. Watch the edited version of the show below which was broadcast on British television and try to imagine what it would have been like to have been in attendance for such a momentous occasion.