THE BEATLES' AC100s IN 1965

The first half of 1965

One of the first views we get of the Beatles on stage in 1965, is at the NME Pollwinner's Concert on 11th April. For some reason, the AC100 amps are not present - large-box AC50s take their place - but John and George still have their old-style Mk1 trolleys and 4 x 12" cabs - trolleys with a so-called basket top.

New Musical Express, Pollwinner's Concert, 11th April 1965
  • New Musical Express, Pollwinner's Concert, 11th April 1965
  • New Musical Express, Pollwinner's Concert, 11th April 1965

For details of the Beatles' itinerary in 1965, see Dmitry Murashev's excellent site - . For anyone interested in surviving concert recordings and filmed footage, "Way Beyond Compare", by John C. Winn, 2nd ed. (New York, 2008), is invaluable.

One thin-edged AC80/100 does appear, however, along with a brown-fronted AC50 in the "studio" scene in the film Help!, probably filmed in May 1965. The one behind John is likely to have been one of the pair that John and George received in July 1964 - and we see it on stage all the way through to the Shea Stadium concert in August 1965, and possibly beyond. This in fact, is Paul's first AC80/100 (from December 1963), reboxed. .

Scene from Help April 1965
Scene from "Help!", filmed at Twickenham Studios in April 1965

Still from Help!, filmed in May 1965. In the background, the thin-edged AC80/100.

As is well known, during the Summer tours of '65, John, Paul and George all used the thin-edged AC80/100 at one time or other. See further below for pictures and commentary.

What of the other two amps? Well, it looks as though John and George's first AC80/100s were simply put in new thick-edged boxes in 1965 and, in company with Paul's amp, given new grey control panels. In other words, the chassis and their original back boards were slipped out of their old cases and put in new ones.

The pictures below are from Genoa in June 1965:

The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
Genoa, 25th June 1965
The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965

One can see in the first two pictures above that the mains switch are small, made of metal, and have ball ends. These are the switches used on early AC80/100s, as in the first amp below. . That the control panels are grey is also evident.

  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965

On the left, a copper-panelled amp; on the right, grey panel.

The Beatles, Las Vegas, August 1964 with AC100s
Las Vegas, 24th August, 1964

Above, for orientation, a shot of the Beatles on stage in Las Vegas in August 1964 - note the position of the speaker and mains connectors on the back panel.

  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965

Above, view from backstage at the Palais des Sports, Paris, 20th June 1965. Note the position of the mains and speaker connectors.

Another thing to observe about the two Paris backstage shots, is that John and George's cabs have chalk numbers on the back "2" and "4". Perhaps Paul's was notionally no "1", and there was a spare 4 x 12 and trolley - no. 3?. It could simply be of course that these chalk designations hwere added by the shippers. At any rate, there they are.

SELECT CONCERTS, EUROPEAN TOUR, SUMMER 1965

PARIS: 20th June: George has the thin-edged amp

  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Paris 1965, with AC100s
    Paris, Palais des Sports, 20th June 1965

Note the position of the sockets of George's amp in relation to Paul's in the colour shot from Milan below. Mains socket high, output low. George's amp at Paris is certainly thin-edged (not thick as noted before) - see picture 3, a grab from the film of the performance. The amps' logo has separate letters V O X. Picture 5 comes from the .

MILAN: 24th June: Paul has the thin-edged amp.

  • The Beatles, Milan, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Milan, 24th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Milan, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Milan, 24th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Milan, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Milan, 24th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Milan, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Milan, 24th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Milan, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Milan, 24th June 1965

GENOA: 25th June: Paul thin-edged again.

  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • The Beatles, Genoa, June 1965, with Vox AC100s
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Beatles thin-edged AC80/100, 1965
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Beatles thin-edged AC80/100, 1965
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Beatles thin-edged AC80/100, 1965
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Beatles thin-edged AC80/100, 1965
    Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Genoa, 25th June 1965

AUTUMN 1965

In the last third of 1965, further new (or at least hitherto unseen amps) make appearances. On the 1st August, we see three thick-edged AC100s on show for the Beatles' televised concert at Blackpool - "Blackpool Night Out".

BLACKPOOL NIGHT OUT

  • Beatles, Blackpool, August 1965
    Blackpool Night Out Show, ABC Television, 1st August 1965
  • Beatles, Blackpool, August 1965
    Blackpool Night Out Show, ABC Television, 1st August 1965

Rehearsals

By the time the band was back on tour in North America, the old thin-edged amp was back (the same one that Paul used in Milan?):

ED SULLIVAN SHOW, 14th August (below), George has the thin-edged amp:

  • Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show, August 1965
    Ed Sullivan Show, 14th August 1965
  • Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show, August 1965
    Ed Sullivan Show, 14th August 1965
  • Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show, August 1965
    Ed Sullivan Show, 14th August 1965
Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show, August 1965
Ed Sullivan Show, 14th August 1965

And for the famous concert at Shea Stadium, the day after, John has it:

  • Beatles at Shea Stadium with Vox AC100 amplifiers
    Shea Stadium, 15th August 1965
  • Beatles at Shea Stadium with Vox AC100 amplifiers
    Shea Stadium, 15th August 1965

Stills from the film. On the left, John and his amp. On the left, a fleeting view of the backs of George's and Paul's amps as the camera pans round. George's amp is a new cathode-biased amp - a single fixing point on the top edge of the backboard, and mains and speaker connectors arranged as amps with .

Beatles at Shea Stadium with Vox AC100 amplifiers
Beatles' equipment on one of the bases of Shea Stadium prior to being set up on stage

Also visible in the Shea film, fleetingly, is the equipment prior to being set up on stage (above). In shot: the old brown-fronted AC50, and four AC80/100s. The one with its back turned to the camera is similar to - serial plate centre, two XLRs low down at left, warning plaque above, and mains connector low down on the right. Burndept-produced amps do not have back panels arranged in that way.

The amp with its back turned to camera is likely to have been used by George at Minneapolis.

HOUSTON, 19th August

A back-stage shot, taken at Houston on 19th August, shows that the thin-edged AC80/100 used by George at Paris in June, had been put to one side. All three amps have mains inputs low down on their back panels.

  • Beatles at Houston, August 1965
    Houston, 19th August 1965
  • Beatles at Houston, August 1965
    Houston, 19th August 1965
  • Beatles at Houston, August 1965
    Houston, 19th August 1965

On the left, Houston concert from back of stage. In the centre, the evening show (?) - not the same as the first, at any rate - note the position of the cabs. All three amps are thick edged. On the right, Lennon on stage, the thin-edged amp behind him.

MINNEAPOLIS (Metropolitan Stadium), 21st August

On the 21st August, at Minneapolis, however, it is just possible that the amp used by George is the thin-edged one again. And there are at least three spares at the back right-hand side of the stage, one of which has no warning plaque on its back panel - presumably one of the amps used at Paris.

  • Beatles, Bloomington, August 1965
    Bloomington, Minneapolis, Metropolitan Stadium, 21st August 1965
  • Beatles, Bloomington, August 1965
    Bloomington, Minneapolis, Metropolitan Stadium, 21st August 1965

On the left, main view of the stage. On the right, a detail of the right hand side - possibly as many as four AC100s, two on top of another two. The amp with its back facing out has input sockets low down and no white warning plate, so it is not the thin-edged amp that George used in June in Paris. Pictures from Bill Carson, The Beatles. A one-night stand in the Heartland (Nashville, 2007).

LATE 1965

If any of the Beatles used the old thin-edged amp on stage after this point, then it is exceedingly difficult to spot. However, it certainly survived, as it appears in studio for the Rubber Soul sessions in October '65:

  • Rubber Soul session, October 1965

Rubber Soul sessions, October 1965. The AC80/100 with individual letters spelling V O X is just in picture on the right. The trolley is a new style model, with parallel bars on the top.

But the amp was not to appear in public again. At City Hall in Sheffield (Dec. 8th), all three guitarists certainly had thick-edged AC100s. By this date the suspicion must be that at least one them was a new Mark 2.

SHEFFIELD, 8th December

  • Beatles, Sheffield, December 1965, with new Vox AC100s
    Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • Beatles, Sheffield, December 1965, with new Vox AC100s
    Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • Beatles, Sheffield, December 1965, with new Vox AC100s
    Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • Beatles, Sheffield, December 1965, with new Vox AC100s
    Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965

What became of the old thin-edged amp is unknown. Possibly it was, in company with its companions, returned to Vox for scrapping, or perhaps (an outside chance) it came to be repaired and resold. But the remarkable thing in all this is that the amp made it into 1965 at all - pretty amazing going, given the vagaries of the road and the volatility of the running conditions.

The Sheffield AC100s given to the Bee Gees

It has been known for some time that an AC100 belonging to, or at least used by, The Beatles survives in Florida - one of the ones used in the UK winter tour, 1965. The owner: likely still to be Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

Above, a grab from the page of Billboard Magazine in which the details are disclosed. Click as ever for a larger image. The page can be viewed on Google Books

The piece, by Chuck Taylor, is entitled "The Bee Gees. Four Decades of Success" in Billboard Magazine, issue for March 24th, 2001.

THE BEE GEES, 35 YEARS OF MUSIC

[QUESTION] "You also got something else from the Beatles that is used on the title track and first single from your new album, "This is Where I Came In".

MAURICE: (Smiling, nodding) "That's right. The guitar I play on the track - but not on the video - of "This is Where I Came In" is an acoustic Gibson Monarch. Years ago, what I got for my 21st birthday was a movie camera from Ringo [Starr] and a guitar from George [Harrison] and a Monarch guitar from John [Lennon]".

"The one from George is the 12-string Rickenbacker, the [1965] Shea Stadium [concert] one, which he also used on recordings."

"What also happened was, when the Beatles stopped touring in the 1960s, we ended up with their equipment: the Vox amps and the microphones and stuff like that they used when they toured round Britain!"

"Barry ended up with John's Vox amps, and Vince Melouney ended up with George's amps. I had the bass speaker with the bass amp on top that was Paul's. So we had all this stuff, and it all went away gradually. But we still have the Vox amp that Barry had that was John's."

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