THE BEATLES' AC100s in 1965

The first half of 1965 - old amps in new boxes

In December 1964, three AC80/100s issued to the Beatles by JMI were reboxed: Paul's first amp (serial number 150B), which had been delivered in December 1963; and the black-fronted amps consigned to John and George a little later on - in the autumn of 1964. One of these was serial number 180.

Paul's first AC80/100

Reboxed in one of the black-fronted boxes from autumn 1964

A detail of Paul's amp on stage, Versailles, 14th January 1964. The AC80/100 had been issued to him in late December 1963.

Rehearsals for the Christmas Show, Finsbury Park Astoria, December 1964. Picture courtesy The Beatles Book Photo Archive.

A general detail from the picture above, Paul's first AC80/100 being used by George.

A detail, inverted and slightly enlarged, from the high resolution file - 150 B on the plate.

Paul's amp was the first AC80/100 made. No other amp has come to light with a fuseholder on the back panel, a sideways Cannon mains socket, or with white jack plug sockets. For more, .

Note that the serial number plate is of the early type, and that the designation "B" - BASS - is also found on the plates of early single channel, two input AC50s that were paired with Foundation Bass cabs. See on the AC50 website.

Serial number 150B, at right, photographed from rear of stage at Milan, 24th June, 1965. This picture is sometimes, wrongly, said to be Genoa.

150B photographed from front of stage, Milan, 1965. Compare the alignment of the diamonds on the grille cloth with the amp below. The left side is slightly in shadow.

George Harrison's Vox AC100 SDL, New Orleans, 16 September, 1964

From a picture by Ted Rozumalski. The black-fronted amp used by George, New Orleans, 16 Sept. 1964. Paul's old chassis was slipped into this box.

John and George's amps from autumn 1964

Reboxed in new thick-edged boxes with no corner protectors

A detail of the serial number plate of the amp used by Paul at the rehearsal for the Christmas concerts. Serial number 180 - this was one of the two amps issued to John and George in August '64, but reboxed:

Click as ever to enlarge. The serial number plate has 9 lines of text and long panels for the details.

Note that the amp's box is a new-style thick-edged one with no corner protectors - a format that had come into being by November 1964. Number 180 should by rights, however, be an amp in a thin-edged box. See . The old plate was clearly transferred, along with the chassis to which it originally belonged, to the new box.

The mains switch is a small ball-end Arrow. Other pictures show that the amp has a link voltage selector.

Lennon photographed from stage rear in front of serial no. 180, 24th June 1965 at Milan.

The plate of serial no. 180 on stage for the Christmas Show rehearsals, December 1964, used by Paul.

The front of serial no. 180, used by John at Milan: thick edges to the box, no corner protectors.

Note that between the end of the run of the Christmas Shows and the June European tour, the amps had gone back to JMI ofr further work / checks - two new screws can be seen on the top edge of the backboard of all three amps. During this refurb it is possible that new grey panels were provided to replace the existing copper ones.

STUDIO

Recording session for "Help!"at EMI Studios, February 1965. Serial no. 150B at right.

CONCERTS

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.

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 serial number 150B, Paul's first AC80/100 (from December 1963), reboxed. See the top of this page for further details.

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.

Grey panels (?)

The picture below is from Genoa, 26th June, 1965, taken from the gantry above the stage. Note the tonality of the panels:

  • Genoa, 25th June 1965
  • Genoa, 25th June 1965

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

Las Vegas, 24th August, 1964

Above, for orientation, a shot of the Beatles on stage in Las Vegas in August 1964.

SELECT CONCERTS, EUROPEAN TOUR, SUMMER 1965

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

Above, view from backstage at the Palais des Sports, Paris, 20th June 1965. Note the position of the mains and speaker connectorsand the chalk numbers on the back of John and George's "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 were added by the shippers. At any rate, there they are.

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.

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

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

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

  • Blackpool Night Out Show, ABC Television, 1st 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, serial number 150B.

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

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

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

  • Shea Stadium, 15th August 1965
  • 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' 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 has 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.

  • Houston, 19th August 1965
  • Houston, 19th 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.

  • Bloomington, Minneapolis, Metropolitan Stadium, 21st 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. At City Hall in Sheffield (Dec. 8th), all three guitarists had new thick-edged AC100s. By this date the suspicion must be that at least one them was a new Mark 2.

SHEFFIELD, 8th December

  • Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • Sheffield, City Hall, 8th December 1965
  • 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."

Back to the top