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.
For details of the Beatles' itinerary in 1965, see Dmitry Murashev's excellent site - click here. For anyone interested in surviving concert recordings and filmed footage, Way Beyond Compare, by John C. Winn, 2nd ed. (New York, 2008), is invaluable - a remarkable achievement.
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. See this page for further details.
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:
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. See also the examples on this page. That the control panels are grey is also evident.
On the left, a copper-panelled amp; on the right, grey panel.
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.
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
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 4 comes from this excellent site; and the fifth picture from the Rick Resource.
MILAN: 24th June: Paul has the thin-edged amp.
GENOA: 25th June: Paul thin-edged again.
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
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:
And for the famous concert at Shea Stadium, the day after, John has it:
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 with serial numbers in the 300s.
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 no. 117 - 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.
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.
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).
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 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
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.