Thursday 1 September 2022


“Top of the Mountain” by Laurie Jacobson goes behind the scenes of iconic British rock group’s concert in New York

Santa Rosa author Laurie Jacobson was 13 years old when she saw the Beatles perform live in 1966 in St. Louis, where she grew up.

“I was a big Beatles fan,” said Jacobson, now 69. “I remember racing to the record store each time a new album came out, listening to it 10 times in a row and talking to my friends about it.”

For her sixth book, “Top of the Mountain,” published Aug. 1 by Backbeat Books, Jacobson focused on a Beatles concert she didn’t get to see: the record-breaking Shea Stadium show, which drew 56,000 fans to New York City on Aug. 15, 1965. 


The book is available HERE:




The idea for this newest book came from a contact Jacobson made in her earlier career as a writer for television.

“My first book was ‘Hollywood Heartbreak,’ a collection of scandals and show business mysteries, in 1984,” she said. “That launched me into writing documentaries, TV specials and magazine-style shows, working with Jack Hailey Jr., the son of the Tin Man from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

One of the people she met during that time was Elliot Gordon, a producer, talent agent, promoter and close friend of Sidney Bernstein, the man who conceived and produced the Shea Stadium Beatles concert.

Gordon knew Bernstein had taken a huge personal and financial risk to promote a stadium rock concert, which had never been done before.

“Sidney Bernstein was the genius behind the concert. That was the kickoff for me,” she said. “It was such an interesting story. The Beatles played for 27 minutes and got paid $160,000. Bernstein got $3,000.”

Soon, Jacobson discovered there were teens in the crowd who later won fame in their own right.

“I started seeking out people who were there. Then, when I found out who was there, I was off and running. There were two future Beatles wives there that night.”

One was Barbara Bach, who became an actress and later married Ringo Starr. The other was Linda Eastman, who ultimately married Paul McCartney.

“Barbara Bach wasn’t really into the Beatles. She was there with her little sister,” Jacobson said.

As it turned out, Bach’s little sister later married star guitarist Joe Walsh, who joined the Eagles.

“What are the odds?” Jacobsen said.

Many stars and future stars were backstage or in the audience that night at Shea Stadium, including singer Bobby Vinton, John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Felix Cavileriere of the Rascals and Mary Wilson of the Supremes. Jacobson talked to all four.

“The Supremes were a No. 1 act and had traveled the world. They met the Beatles after the concert at the hotel, and it wasn’t what they expected. The haze of marijuana smoke was thick, so the Supremes left,” Jacobson said. “Later, Mary Wilson and George Harrison did become close friends.”

Two of the thousands of teenage fans in the crowd that night were Mary Louise Streep, better known now as Meryl Streep, and Caryn Johnson, now known as Whoopi Goldberg. Jacobson interviewed both for the book.

“Meryl was adorable,” Jacobson said. “She lived in New Jersey, and going to New York City as a teenager on a date was a big deal for her.”

Goldberg’s mother surprised her with tickets to the Beatles concert. Escorted by her mom, she didn’t realize where they were going until they got there.

In the book, Goldeberg recalls, “I say, ‘Where are we?’ And she says, ‘We’re at Shea Stadium.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And she held up two tickets, and all I remember is my head going — poof!”

Not all the fans Jacobson tracked down, some through Facebook, were famous. But they all had one thing in common.

“There was such enthusiasm from all of the fans I interviewed,” Jacobson said. “I got so many stories from the fans. Some won tickets from radio stations, and some sneaked in.”

Two of the most remarkable stories in the book are about photographers: veteran George Orsino, who barely knew who the Beatles were, and young Marc Weinstein, who managed to get backstage and beyond, without official credentials.

“There was all this security and all of these planning meetings, and these two people just walked right in. Marc Weinstein laminated a business card from a radio station and added his photo. He wore his too-small bar mitzvah suit and had an old Nikon camera,” Jacobson said.

“George Orsino walked into a room full of policemen and said he was with the Beatles’ group and got separated, so one of the policemen gave him an escort,” she said.

The book, assembled in scrapbook fashion with numerous breakout quotes and hundreds of photos, includes shots by both Weinstein and Orsino.

Jacobson did not interview the surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, for her book. But she did pull quotes from them, as well as from the late George Harrison and John Lennon, from previously published articles and books.

“I did not talk to Paul and Ringo,” Jacobson said. “They’ve been asked about that concert so many times, there was a wealth of information available, so I didn’t reach out to them.”

Nonetheless, her research yielded revelations that were new to her.

“I was really shocked to discover the inevitability of the Beatles’ breakup, even in 1965. They were only getting started in the United States. They were on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964,” the author said.

“John loved making music but strongly disliked being a Beatle,” she surmised. “He would much rather have been recordingin the studio. Ringo discovered he loved acting after the movie ‘Help.’ Paul wanted to tour.”

George discovered sitar music and Eastern philosophy. They all were headed in different directions, Jacobson said. But they stayed together until officially disbanding in 1970.

Everything the author discovered through her research only renewed her fascination with the Beatles phenomenon, from the screaming fans of their early days to their bold musical experimentation later on.

“I worked on the book for close to seven years,” she said. “My gift from doing this book was getting my own Beatlemania back again.” 

Top of the Mountain: The Beatles at Shea Stadium 1965 Is Available HERE:



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