FH Tennis Stadium Has Long History Of Music

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

Long before current artists like Zac Brown Band and Modest Mouse played the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the facility was a must-stop for many classic artists.

Many are familiar with the stadium for being the host of the U.S. Open until 1977, but it went back to its roots when the concerts returned to the stadium last year, and are continuing this summer with four shows.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, several prominent artists came to Forest Hills and entertained the masses in Queens.

collectionArtists like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan all graced the stage at the historic stadium.

The Beatles were touring for their third album, “A Hard Day’s Night,” when they came overseas for two shows on Aug. 28 and 29 in 1964, six months after they played their first show on U.S. soil on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The two concerts served as the swan song for the Forest Hills Music Festival, a summer-long concert series that featured different artists playing the facility throughout July and August of that year.

That festival also featured a young Barbra Streisand, who played the first date on July 12.

According to concert footage posted on YouTube, the band’s set on the second night included opening with a cover of the classic song “Twist and Shout.”

A listing on the set list wiki site, setlist.fm, shows the band played 12 songs that night, including early Beatles classics such as “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “ I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

The set list for the first show is unavailable.

The Rolling Stones also played a concert at the tennis stadium on July 2, 1966, which featured classic songs such as “Paint It Black” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The concerts then stopped in the late 1980s after lack of funding for the shows combined with community opposition.

The stadium itself later fell into disrepair after it went mostly unused.

Beginning last year, concerts returned to the tennis stadium with the folk group Mumford and Sons performing at the stadium for the first time in nearly two decades.

The shows returned this summer with Zac Brown Band performing last month.

There are three more shows scheduled at the facility including Modest Mouse and Brand New playing a co-headlining show on Aug. 9 and Hip Hop Superstars Drake and Lil’ Wayne performing on Aug. 19.

Concert promoters announced renovations at the tennis stadium, including installing a permanent stage inside the facility, instead of the temporary platform used last year.

Residents had mixed opinions about the concerts at the meeting, with some elated that music is back at the stadium while others expressed concern about the noise and garbage the shows bring to the nearby residential neighborhood.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718)357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.