Judy at Carnegie Hall: 50 years later

Commemorating Judy Garland’s historic performance at Carnegie Hall

April 23 will mark the 50th anniversary of what was probably the greatest evening in show business history. Over 3,000 lucky people packed the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City to see Judy Garland. We are lucky enough that this evening was recorded live and complete and has been transforming fans for the last 50 years to front row seats to hear and experience Judy Garland, her charm, charisma, presence and her truly marvelous voice in full form.

New York Herald Tribune reported on that evening this way: “There was an extra bonus at Carnegie Hall last night, Judy Garland sang.” New York Post said: “Last night the magnetism was circulating from the moment she stepped on stage.”

All accounts of that night hailed the Carnegie Hall concert as a triumph.

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Variety, the periodical of record for the show business industry, reported: “New York’s Carnegie Hall was supercharged on both sides of the footlights Sunday evening … Pandemonium broke loose and a standing ovation stalled the song fest for several moments. After her twenty-fourth number of the evening, she halted the tumultuous applause demanding still another encore … Few singers around can get as much out of a song as Miss Garland … The tones are clear, the phrasing is meaningful and the vocal passion is catching. In fact, the audience couldn’t resist anything she did. The aisles were jammed during the encore … she followed with two additional numbers ‘After You’ve Gone’ and ‘Chicago’ which brought her song bag for the evening up to 26 numbers.”

“Two hours of pow,” was how Judy Garland described the event.

Clearly Judy’s performance at Carnegie Hall was a milestone in the life and career of a performer who had seen many successes in her lifetime. Judy had already experienced comebacks many times before. Today, 50 years later, people are still raving about this concert, no matter if they have heard it hundreds of times or for the first time. Even those who might not be Judy Garland fans (say it ain’t so) are hooked by this concert. It’s particularly wonderful given the fact that a year-and-a-half earlier Judy Garland had nearly died.

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“Judy At Carnegie Hall” remains her biggest selling recording. It originally stayed on the charts for 94 weeks — 13 at number one — and won her five Grammy Awards, including Best Female Vocal Performance and Album of the Year (the first time a woman to win this category). Today it is still in print and a very popular selling CD and music download.

To listen to it is to re-live what truly is the greatest night in show business history sung by the greatest entertainer in show business, Judy Garland. If you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and listen. If you have, listen again. You’ll smile, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You will love it. : :

— A self-described “Friend of Dorothy,” Jim Thompson is a qnotes reader and community member. He lives in Fort Mill, S.C.

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29 Replies to “Judy at Carnegie Hall: 50 years later”

  1. Very nice, clear and succinct article about “Judy at Carnegie Hall” that captures what the night meant and the enduring legacy without overdoing it.

    Thank you! We’ll all be listening on April 23rd – and beyond.

    Scott B.
    The Judy Room
    http://www.thejudyroom.com

  2. Great article. It’s nice to know there are still people out there who appreciate good singing. I’m ready to purchase the CD. Thanks for your enthusiasm Jim! Betty V.

  3. Very nice article. If I were someone not aware of that wonderful evening of Magic, I would want to find it and listen. Why Ms. Garland never became the Icon after her passing that Elvis or Marilyn did, I don’t understand. She was the greatest voice of her generation and she passes the test of time by still making new fans. She was a complete entertainer, she had a wonderful sense of humor, she could act, dance and of course, sing. How many concerts done today could stand the test of time and be as entertaining today as it was 50 years ago. Thanks for a reminder about this concert, think I’ll go find my copy, grab something to drink and just enjoy the concert all over again!

  4. Simply stated – SWEET!!!!!!!!!

  5. Thanks Jim for bring back such memoires as the first time I heard the record. Now many years later I often play the CD of this historic recording . Oh to have been there in person….but by listening you can put yourself in a seat and let her beautiful voice flood over you.

  6. Tremendous article about a magical event. I’ve owned the recording since it first came out. I was also lucky enough to have seen the pre Carnegie Hall concert on tour before that event, here in Charlotte. I was at Ft. Bragg at the time and drove all the way to Charlotte for that event and drove back afterward. It was fantastic and worth every mile!!

  7. Wonderful article about the beauty of music from the 60’s. We were so lucky to hear then, and now, the great voices of entertainment. Judy Garland was the most fabulous of all and we still revere her golden quality all these years later.

  8. Great article and a reminder of Judy Garland’s place in the Queer community.Jim

  9. This was a well written and thoughtful piece about someone who obviously loves this great lady. Giving a great personal feeling to the article and it was felt. Thanks to Jim for the article it was great.

  10. Very eloquent. After reading this article, I want to buy this CD and share it with all of my friends.(This article as well) Thank you Q Notes for sharing such a noteworthy article and introducing Judy Garland to a new generation!

  11. A very well written article by someone who understands the many dynamics of music. I enjoyed this very much! Keep things like this coming.

  12. It was so wonderful seeing this article noting the anniversary of the greatest night in show biz by the ever timeless and alway fabulous Judy Garland. This album stands the test of time for all these years. Thanks to the author and Q Notes for taking the time to commerate such a special event!

  13. A nice article documenting the joy that Judy brought to us. So much time has been spent on her early years and later issues. The article is a clear reminder that Judy was talented, dedicated and a true entertainer. Not only is the writer a Friend of Dorothy, he’s appears a good friend of Judy’s too!

  14. Thanks, Jim, for the article and the red shoes. I listen to the recording now and am carried back to that wonderful night which is at the top of my list
    of “I-was-theres”.

  15. “Happy days are here again!” Thanks, Jim, for sharing the fabuuuulousness of Judy with us once again!

  16. Wonderful article commemorating such a marvelous event in music history! Thanks to the author for keeping the fabulous Judy at the forefront of everybody’s mind! She truly was, and still is, absolutely fantastic.

  17. Thank you so much for reminding us how wonderful Judy WILL ALWAYS BE! I love the article and love her!

  18. Thank you Jim for such an insightful article! I didn’t realize Judy Garland had such a draw, and still does for that matter. I will definitely be checking out this best seller. Thank you Q Notes for allowing me to always further my musical education!

  19. The author did an excellent job commemorating the perfect combination of a truly iconic venue and a truly iconic star. Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall highlights the finest of what music, art, and American culture have brought forth as captured so clearly by this article. Well done!

  20. What a treat to see this article lauding Judy Garland’s Carnegie Hall concert. What a night, a triumph for Judy and a thrill for those who were there. We’re so lucky that it was recorded. I’ve listened to it since it first came out on vinyl. Judy Garland has EARNED her place as the world’s greatest entertainer and as an icon and inspiration to the LGBT community. You couldn’t keep her down, comeback after comeback.

    Thank you Q Notes and thanks to the author for taking the time to remember and pay hommage to a wonderful event and super lady.

  21. Judy Garland will never be forgotten…her legacy of talent and entertainment has endured and grown since her passing and will continue to do so.
    My partner and I have a tradition of listening to the Carnegie Hall album (CD) every April 23 and celebrating this truly historic and incredible piece of artistry.
    We will be listening and enjoying again this year on Saturday evening….Judy…never before and never again, truly a gift to the world.

  22. Hard to believe that it has been fifty years. I remember listening to this over and over in 1969 when Judy passed away. I have cherished this night and this performance for decades.

    Q Notes and the author have done a great service for all of us by bringing Judy’s night at Carnegie Hall to our attention. The advertisers should take note that this publication, writers, and readership are the tops!

    Thanks for this article. I am forwarding it to friends all around the country and in Europe.

  23. What a joy to see this article. Haven’t listened to this concert in a while…what a treasure to hear again. Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall is just so special. A great evening spent with the greatest of talents, Judy.

    Thank you Q Notes and Jim for reminding me about this fabulous recording and the always commanding Judy Garland.

  24. Jim, thank you for sharing your obvious admiration and enthusism for Judy, a truly one-of-a-kind entertainer. Nice to know the very best from this true Star is available to share with a new generation of fans!

  25. Just wonderful to see this piece on such an iconic event performed by such an icon in the gay community. Just heard an interview with a Charlotte resident who was there at Carnegie Hall that night on NPR’s Here and Now.

    So glad Q Notes and the author took the time to remind us of this wonderful experience. Articles like this is what makes Q Notes such a great publication. I plan to listen to it again as soon as I get home from work. Thanks again! The great talent that is Judy Garland continues on.

  26. Great article Jim! Thanks for the wonderful memories of Miss Judy! What a night that must have been! Wish I had been there! Keep writing…you leave us wanting more!

  27. Even though I was a teenager at the time, I remember seeing and hearing “Miss Judy” and thought, there is something really special about that lady.

    She was and remains a great talent, and a true entertainer.

    Thanks, Jim for such a well written article.

    DougC

  28. Thank you Jim, this is a great article…A truly great concert by a timeless entertainer!!

  29. David Sandler May 5, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Wonderful article about a wonderful singer/actress by a wonderful friend. Thanks, Jim.

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