Grieving friends and fans of Sid Bernstein have expressed tributes about him in many statements since his death was announced Aug. 21.
Early Beatles promoter Sam Leach posted on Facebook, “Sid was a great guy and – I’m proud to say he was a friend. Sleep well Sid !!”
He told the Liverpool Echo, “”He was like my equivalent in America. He brought the Beatles to America and he was very proud of the part he played in their amazing story. Sid has left a great legacy. We were good friends and he was a really great guy. He was the nicest guy in showbiz and he was not like the ruthless promoters you get nowadays. He loved what he did and he was very genuine. He was the best promoter in New York.”
Will Lee of the Fab Faux posted on Facebook, “I and the Fab Faux have lost a great friend Sid Bernstein. An icon of the music biz. Brought The Beatles to the US, put on the first stadium rock concert. R.I.P., dear friend.”
May Pang posted, “So sad to hear that my friend, Sid Bernstein, had passed away. He had just reached his 95th birthday. I am so glad I got to see him a couple of weeks ago. Known him since I was 15 years old. I even did some babysitting for his kids. My condolences to Gerry, his wife and his kids…Adam, Denise, Dylan, Beau, Casey and Ettienne.”
She later emailed us, “I had just seen him before I left for London. I’m very saddened by the loss of a very dear friend whom I’ve known since my teen years. John and I would run into him frequently at one of our local restaurants in the area. He was a kind man with a big passion for music. He will always be known as “the man who brought The Beatles to America.”
Musician Mark Hudson said on Facebook, “God bless Sid Bernstein! He was my friend, and a wonderful man.”
Charles Rosenay, who organized Beatles events where Bernstein appeared, told us in a statement, “I’m standing inside Abbey Road Studios 2 with 70 fellow fans & friends, and it should be one of my happiest days of the year. It’s certainly one of the most unforgettable days many of the travelers’ lives. Sadly, it’s one of the most heartbreaking days if my life. I found out about Sid before walking in to the session. He was a great guy, an amazing pioneer & promoter but mostly he was a ‘mensch.’ He only has nice things to say, always had a smile and would do anything for a friend (or for a White Castle burger). I’ve known Sid for about 30 years and he would always ask about my family before business. I was his ‘boychik’ (an endearing term – look it up!) and he was like family to me. The world lost one if its best today.”
Rosenay said the fans at Abbey Road Studios recorded “All You Need Is Love” and dedicated it to Sid.
Bruce Spizer also gave us a statement. “Sid Bernstein was a very remarkable person, a very likable person and clearly one of the good guys in the music business. And while I think over time people have given Sid credit for more than he actually did … that really misses the point. Sid put the Beatles in Carnegie Hall, which gave them instant credibility. And he put them in Shea Stadium, which was the first time that a musical act of that sort played in a venue that large. And he showed that it could be done. And for Carnegie Hall and Shea Stadium alone, Sid Bernstein has a very important place, not only in the history of the Beatles, but of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Fest for Beatles Fans promoter Mark Lapidos wrote on his blog, “Sid was a dear friend to us and was the very first guest for our first Fest in 1974. What a sweetheart he was. Always told his stories with patience and passion. … It was an honor to get to know him and have him join us at so many Fests over the years. He was a man of vision and will be greatly missed, especially by Beatles fans around the world.”
Musician Dave Humphries told us, “So sad about Sid…I just talked to him on his birthday a few days ago…bless him.”
Photographer Bob Gannon wrote on Facebook, “RIP Sid Bernstein, a Beatle treasure and one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. Always had time to speak to fans. He was a kind, gentle and generous! He will be missed by many!!”
Author Judith Furedi, author of “John Lennon: In Their Own Write” and “A Lennon Pastiche,” in a long letter to Sid, some of what she wrote said, “Thank you, Sid. I will never forget your kindness and generosity. … From the first time that we met at the Imagine Circle and danced to and sang Beatle songs with friends, while we listened to Beatlestock. To the time you came up to me at the Baggot Inn, downtown, while one of your tribute bands was playing and you mentioned to one of your friends ‘now, she’s what I call a real Beatle.’ I wasn’t sure what you meant, but it was a great compliment coming from you. We were kindred spirits.
“Thank you for all the beautiful memories, the endless phone calls, and waking me at 5:30 AM, to say ‘this is Sid Bernstein calling (just like the title of one of your books)!–to tell me that you loved my book, and exaggerated to make me feel good, telling me ‘you created a masterpiece.’ … I felt like I stepped out of reality and into a movie. You did that for me. You made me feel like I had arrived. But, most of all, I thank you for being bigger than life — and always full of hope — for giving me the courage to dream big, again. I am indebted to you. I love you so. “
And “World’s Greatest Beatles Artist” Shannon MacDonald put this as the caption for a picture of herself and Sid: “Love you, Sid! Thank you.”
According to publicist Merle Frimark, Bernstein was born on Aug. 12th, 1918, in New York City, the sole son Russian immigrants Israel and Ida Bernstein. He was raised in a supportive and loving home in The Bronx and, although his given name was Sid, his parents and grandmother often referred to him in Yiddish as Simcha. The name stood for happiness and was a euphemism for partying and celebration. Considering how he ended up spending most of his life in music and entertainment, the family name was most apropos and prophetic.
“Bernstein was an industrious youth often working in his father’s tailor shop making deliveries and the like. Early on he also developed an interest in the arts. At thirteen he would go downtown to Manhattan avidly taking in movies, stage and vaudeville shows at the various theaters there,” Frimark said. “It was also at this time that young Sid began to exhibit the talents of salesmanship and promotion that would serve him so well later in life. While in high school, he heard an uncommonly beautiful voice singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at an assembly in the school auditorium. He quickly sought out the fellow student and, after much deliberation, convinced young Sol Strausser, the singer, to allow Sid the opportunity to try and get him a spot on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, a popular radio program at that time. Sid was definitely bitten by the music biz bug, at this point, and with some success getting his young friend and classmate a shot on the program, he went on promoting local dances and other related events in his neighborhood.”
Bernstein was quoted as saying he brought the Beatles to the U.S. on a hunch.
“I’m a hunch player, you see,” he said. “I was just glad to get this group I had been reading about for months. It took eight months after I booked them for there to be any airplay of their records on the radio. I had to convince Carnegie Hall and my financial backers to take a chance on this then-unknown group.”
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