Concierto en Madrid

Booklet front

We’ve come across an advert for the recently reported upcoming release of the Beatles’ concert in Madrid. It is presented in two editions, either a limited edition 220 gram vinyl LP (which also includes a CD, price: 24,55 €), or just the CD (Price: 12,27 €) on its own. A 30 pages book with 65 unedited photos of the Beatles in concert and in their hotel, by the photographer Francisco Barahona is included, at least with the vinyl edition – as far as we understand. The website says that this will be released 23 June, but may be in error as the release date was said to be the same as the fiftieth anniversary of the concert, July 2. By then, it will also be made available for listening online, free of charge.


CD edition

LP edition

This is a recording of The Beatles’ only concert in Madrid, Spain from 2 July 1965 at Plaza de toros Las Ventas. The concert was officially recorded with Brian Epstein’s permission (a signed contract still exists) on a Grundig reel-to-reel on 2 channels with four AKG microphones, and mixed live. The concert consists of these songs:

  1. Twist and Shout (Medley-Russell)
  2. She’s a Woman (Lennon-McCartney)
  3. I’m a Loser (Lennon-McCartney)
  4. Can’t Buy Me Love (Lennon-McCartney)
  5. Baby’s in Black (Lennon-McCartney)
  6. I Wanna Be Your Man (Lennon-McCartney)
  7. A Hard Day’s Night (Lennon-McCartney)
  8. Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby (Perkins)
  9. Rock and Roll Music (Berry)
  10. I Feel Fine (Lennon-McCartney)
  11. Ticket to Ride (Lennon-McCartney)
  12. Long Tall Sally (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell)

The concert was recorded by José Luis Alvarez, and is described to be in great quality.

Alvarez was editor of the Spanish music magazine “Fonorama“, and had met up with Brian Epstein in April 1965 on one of Epstein’s frequent visit to Spain, a country he was very fond of. To Alvarez’ surprise, Epstein was aware of Fonorama, which had started publication in 1963. Alvarez wanted to know if The Beatles would perform concerts in Spain that year, to which Epstein replied “No.” Brian Epstein was a numbers man and had thought that since The Beatles sold so little records in Spain that they weren’t very popular there. The Beatles had sold only around 3 800 records in Spain, according to Epstein, whereas their records were selling in hundreds of thousands or millions in other countries. Alvarez then told him that under the current Franco regime, the number of gramophone players in the country was just around 2 000, but these players were put to good use. Putting up speakers in windows, owners of record players would put on records and street parties would form. Alvarez was able to convince Epstein that each copy sold in Spain would be enjoyed by a large audience due to these street parties. Long story short, Epstein relented and The Beatles added Spain to their European tour.

Fonorama, the magazine Alvarez edited. This is #6 from April, 1964.

When in Madrid, Alvarez hooked up with The Beatles, and they gave an interview which was published in Fonorama. Whereas the other newspaper men in Spain asked the Beatles about their hair, how they liked Spain and the national dish, “paella”, Alvarez and his journalist Roberto Sanchez-Miranda to The Beatles’ delight asked them more serious, music related questions.

After the interview, Alvarez told Epstein that he wanted to record the concert. He had yet to set up his independent Cocodrilo Records label, but thought that other companies might be interested in releasing the recording. Unusually, Epstein agreed to this, and the pair borrowed the hotel’s Olivetti typewriter and drew up a contract with only six lines. Since then, the taped performance has been gathering dust in Alvarez’ archives. After the death of John Lennon, Alvarez had talks with then president of EMI records in Spain, Manolo Diaz about releasing the recording, but the two lost touch after Diaz went to Miami and then went on to live in USA.

Interview album from Cicadelic Records.

In the early 1980s Alvarez offered the tape to Cicadelic Records for $10,000. The company had already released nine albums of Beatles interviews. However, Cicadelic thought the asking price was much too high, or may have concluded that the copyright belonged to the artist, which was true at the time.

Alvarez has also written a book about The Beatles’ visit to Spain.

In the 90s Alvarez planned writing a book about the Beatles in Spain and sought permission from Apple Records’ Neil Aspinall to include a CD of the concert with his book. He was denied such permission. The book was finally released in 2009. A second edition was released in late 2013.

Life then got in the way, but the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the concert sparked renewed interest and the project looks like it’s finally coming to fruition. And with the current copyright situation in Europe still untested (recordings unreleased after fifty years are entering the public domain), the independent release may prove difficult to stop (see our earlier article about Peacock Records).

Since the recording was semi-professionally made, in stereo, using four microphones and with a relatively small audience (who was described by the Madrid press at the time to have been “sober and serious”), this recording may prove to be an important historical document. Depending on the actual performance by the band, it may actually be an improvement over the 1965 “Hollywood Bowl” numbers that were officially released in 1977.


3 Responses

  1. Hugh Nique says:

    Very interesting story Roger and a joy to read. Can't wait for this release. I am very curious what they come up with.

  2. NP says:

    Total fantasy. Another faker trying to make money from the gullible.

  3. danielus says:

    Saludos, magnifico blog!!
    Segun lo que he visto posteado y varios sitios, incluyendo uno de ventas, el concierto es falso, un fake, en realidad se trataria de uno de los conciertos de paris con algunas ediciones y retoques y un comentatio en espanol de MacCartney que en realidad es de otro concierto en espana de los 80.
    Escuche un podcast analizando los temas y comparandolo con el de Paris etcy la verdad que ciertamente es falso.
    Muchisimaa gravias por su trabajo y wl material quw nos presenta.
    Cordiales saludos desde Argentina.
    Daniel Tissera.

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