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Date: Oct 26, 2009
Sid Bernstein, Renowned Music Exec and Concert Promoter, Shares Anecdotes About Judy Garland, James Brown, The Beatles And The Rolling Stones With Students in Hofstra Music Merchandising Class
Entertainment Legend Credited with Starting the 1960s British Invasion in America's Music Scene
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY: Renowned music executive and concert promoter Sid Bernstein, who is credited with bringing The Beatles to America, orchestrating their legendary concert at Shea Stadium and inciting the “British Invasion” that swept through the nation’s music scene, was a guest speaker in Hofstra Professor Ken Lampl’s music merchandising class on October 23, 2009. He spent 90 minutes reminiscing about the many famous artists he has worked with throughout the years and offering career advice to the students.
Bernstein began his talk to the students describing his upbringing in Harlem and the Bronx where he attended PS 47. Even as a young man he was fascinated by music and entertainment. His first foray into music ended with being asked by a teacher to quit the glee club. He said to the students, many of whom have their hearts set on careers in music, “If you have the hunger and guts, stay with it, believe in yourself. Through the endless hours of rehearsal and putting notes on a song sheet, believe in yourself.”
Bernstein got his start in music booking talent for a local wedding palace turned popular nightclub. His career progressed to the point that soon he was working with artists like Paul Anka and Judy Garland. Years earlier, while Bernstein was stationed overseas during World War II, Bernstein became accustomed to reading British newspapers. After his return to America, he would frequent a newsstand on West 42nd Street that carried international papers. It was while reading one of these British newspapers that Bernstein came across a “one inch high, one inch wide article about four kids from Liverpool.” He said every week the articles would get bigger and bigger. It was after reading the headline “Beatlemania Sweeps Liverpool” that he got in touch with Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, about bringing the Fab Four to America.
After The Beatles’ debut sparked a sensation, Bernstein built on that success by bringing over The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Dave Clarke 5, The Kinks and The Moody Blues.
Hofstra students peppered Bernstein with insightful questions about his work with many African-American artists, including James Brown, at a time in history when the country was still segregated. They asked about working with The Beatles and how he was able to launch his career when he was a very young man with few connections.
Hofstra University’s B.S. in Music Merchandising helps students develop a background in music and musicianship that prepares them for a wide range of further educational and vocational activities that include music as a component. Students develop skills in and an understanding of both music and business, preparing them for professional careers in publishing, recording, sales, management, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and many other fields that make up the music business.