At 8am on the morning of 15 June 1964, Jimmie Nicol left the Southern Cross Hotel on Bourke Street, Melbourne. Accompanied by Brian Epstein, he was driven to the airport where he was given a final agreed fee of £500, as well as a gold watch with the engraving: “To Jimmy, with appreciation and gratitude – Brian Epstein and The Beatles.”
Nicol didn’t say goodbye to The Beatles; they were sleeping off the previous night’s party, and he felt he shouldn’t disturb them. The group was celebrating their reunion with Ringo Starr, who had missed the early part of their world tour after being struck down by acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis.
In the afternoon EMI held a reception for The Beatles at the hotel. However, the event turned sour when John Lennon protested at label executives upon finding out they had released With The Beatles with different artwork.
Australian trade union rules meant that all album artwork had to be re-photographed and altered; it was felt that Robert Freeman’s iconic image would lose details, so a replacement was designed. Lennon, however, was unwilling to tolerate such a reason.
That night, and for the two subsequent nights, The Beatles performed two shows at the Festival Hall in Melbourne. The six concerts were watched by a total of 45,000 people.
After this first night’s shows, The Beatles attended a private party held in the city’s affluent suburb Toorak.