Legendary Rock Shows at Forest Hills Stadium
May 1, 1964: Teenaged girls, after waiting through the night at the Forest Hills Music Festival for tickets to go on sale for The Beatles. —Associated Press
The Replacements took the stage at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, one year after the venue reopened for concerts. Built in 1923, the amphitheater-shaped stadium was part of the West Side Tennis Club and home of the U.S. Open.
The stadium was relaunched last summer after renovations, and modern icons are returning to the site to give sold-out performances. Since 2013, headliners have included Mumford and Sons, the Zac Brown Band, Modest Mouse, and Drake. This season wraps up with the Replacements tonight and Phil Lesh and Friends on Sunday.
“It’s still intimate because of the horseshoe,” added Luba. “It’s half the distance to the stage than at comparable stadiums.”
Here, we take a look back at some of the iconic concerts held at Forest Hills over the last half-century. (Fun tidbit: this is also where tennis prodigy Richie has a nervous breakdown in Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.”)
1964: Barbra Streisand
The star took a break from her turn in “Funny Girl” on Broadway to perform in front of a sold-out crowd in July. Streisand treated it like it was just another one of her nightclub performances, giving renditions of “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now,” “My Coloring Book,” “Cry Me a River,” and “When the Sun Comes Out.”
1964: The Beatles
The two back-to-back concerts on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 were part of the Beatles’ massive North American tour that year, during which they stopped in 24 cities for 32 shows in just over a month. About 16,000 fans turned up for each show, and the band arrived at the stadium in a helicopter.
Aug. 28, 1964 — Security guards attempt to separate an enthusiastic fan from Beatle George Harrison during a concert at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. —Bettmann/Corbis
1965: Frank Sinatra
Sinatra took the stage with the Count Basie Orchestra, led by conductor Quincy Jones, and performed, among others, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Get Me to the Church On Time,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Hello, Dolly!”
Pop singer Frank Sinatra performs onstage on July 9, 1965 in Forest Hills. —Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
1965: Bob Dylan
This was the night of a legendary performance by Dylan in front of a crowd of around 15,000. The first half was acoustic, featuring the new “Desolation Row,” and the second was an electric set. Unfamiliar with the new sound, the crowd was not particularly warm toward Dylan, but stopped booing when he closed with “Like a Rolling Stone.”
1966: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones played in July that year as part of their fifth North American tour; their setlist included “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Get Off of My Cloud,” and a cover of “Time is on My Side.” In a pop-culture nod, Don Draper and his team from “Mad Men” trekked to Queens to see this concert two seasons ago.
JULY 2, 1966: Rolling Stones in concert at Forest Hills stadium. —The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty
1967: Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix, still a year shy of superstardom, was the unlikely opener for the Monkees, a pop-rock band that was made for a TV show and fashioned itself after the Beatles. The thousands of fangirls didn’t appreciate Hendrix’s style, instead screaming for band member Davy Jones, and Hendrix was shortly booed off stage.
1968: Diana Ross
Ross played at the music festival in 1968, along with the Supremes and Stevie Wonder. She would return to the stadium several times in the following decades, including in 1980 and 1996.
1971: The Who
The Who’s 1971 tour kicked off with a rain-soaked concert at the Forest Hills stadium in July, performing “My Wife,” “I Can’t Explain,” and “Substitute,” as well as other new pieces. The show closed with some dramatic guitar-smashing by Pete Townshend.
1982: The Talking Heads
The Talking Heads brought huge energy to the packed house, amplifying some older songs with new instrumentation, and performing some of the band members’ solo works, like numbers from Jerry Harrison’s “The Red and the Black” and David Byrne’s “The Catherine Wheel.” The band debuted a song that would later become “Speaking in Tongues,” and would return to Forest Hills the next summer.
2013: Mumford & Sons
The folk rock band reopened the sold-out stadium after decades of silence. The renovations included reinstalled seats and wider aisles, as well as a permanent stage designed by Mark Fischer.