Search
Filters
Close
RSS

Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 26, 1967

The Beatles visit a Greek island they intended to purchase

In the summer of 1967 The Beatles, encouraged by John Lennon, agreed to buy a set of Greek islands where they intended to live and work alongside family and friends.

We were all going to live together now, in a huge estate. The four Beatles and Brian would have their network at the centre of the compound: a dome of glass and iron tracery (not unlike the old Crystal Palace) above the mutual creative/play area, from which arbours and avenues would lead off like spokes from a wheel to the four vast and incredibly beautiful separate living units. In the outer grounds, the houses of the inner clique: Neil, Mal, Terry [Doran] and Derek, complete with partners, families and friends. Norfolk, perhaps, there was a lot of empty land there. What an idea! No thought of wind or rain or flood, and as for cold... there would be no more cold when we were through with the world. We would set up a chain reaction so strong that nothing could stand in our way. And why the hell not? 'They've tried everything else,' said John realistically. 'Wars, nationalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, nastiness, religion - none of it works. So why not this?'
Derek Taylor
Anthology

The main island is often referred to as Leslo, although no island of that name appears to exist. It was apparently surrounded by four smaller islands upon which The Beatles were to have separate villas.

The group, minus Ringo Starr, who had left for England earlier in the day, were taken around the islands to the south of Athens aboard their hired yacht, the MV Arvi. The boat had 24 berths and a crew of eight, including the captain, a chef and two stewards.

We rented a boat and sailed it up and down the coast from Athens, looking at islands. Somebody had said we should invest some money, so we thought: 'Well, let's buy an island. We'll just go there and drop out.'

It was a great trip. John and I were on acid all the time, sitting on the front of the ship playing ukuleles. Greece was on the left; a big island on the right. The sun was shining and we sang 'Hare Krishna' for hours and hours. Eventually we landed on a little beach with a village, but as soon as we stepped off the boat it started pouring with rain. There were storms and lightning, and the only building on the island was a little fisherman's cottage - so we all piled in: ''Scuse us, squire. You don't mind if we come and shelter in your cottage, do you?'

The island was covered in big pebbles, but Alex (Alexis "Magic Alex" Mardas) said, 'It doesn't matter. We'll have the military come and lift them all off and carry them away.' But we got back on the boat and sailed away, and never thought about the island again.

The Beatles spent the early part of the day island-hopping, swimming, sunbathing and taking drugs. They then visited the island they intended to buy. NEMS employee Alistair Taylor was then sent back to London to arrange its purchase.

We went on the boat and sat around and took acid. It was good fun being with everyone, with nippier moments. For me the pace was a bit wearing. I probably could have done with some straight windows occasionally, I'd have enjoyed it a bit more. But nothing came of that, because we went out there and thought, We've done it now. That was it for a couple of weeks. Great, wasn't it? Now we don't need it. Having been out there, I don't think we needed to go back. Probably the best way to not buy a Greek island is to go out there for a bit.

It's a good job we didn't do it, because anyone who tried those ideas realised eventually there would always be arguments, there would always be who has to do the washing-up and whose turn it is to clean out the latrines. I don't think any of us were thinking of that. (Paul McCartney)

The Beatles were required to buy special export dollars before applying to the Greek government for permission to spend them. Alistair Taylor eventually got clearance for the purchase of the islands, but by that time the group had moved on. The £90,000-worth of dollars was sold back to the government, and the value had risen giving The Beatles £11,400 profit on the unrealised deal.
It was about the only time The Beatles ever made any money on a business venture. To make the purchase, we'd changed the money into international dollars or some currency. Then, when they changed the money back, the exchange rate had gone up and so we made about twenty shillings or so. (George Harrison)
 
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 25, 1967

John Lennon and Ringo Starr go sightseeing in Athens

The Beatles had arrived in Athens, Greece, some days earlier with a view to buying a set of Greek islands. However, their hired yacht was delayed due to a storm off the Cretan coast, leaving them stuck in Athens for several days.

The yacht finally arrived in Athens on this day. The MV Arvi had 24 berths and a crew of eight, including the captain, a chef and two stewards. The party set sail the following day to look at suitable islands.

While they were waiting, Paul McCartney and George Harrison chose to stay at the Athens family home of their Greek host Alexis "Magic Alex" Mardas, while John Lennon and Ringo Starr went shopping for musical instruments.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 24, 1967

The Beatles go sightseeing in Greece

This was The Beatles' second day of sightseeing in Greece. Their yacht was held up by a storm off Crete until 25 July 1967, leaving them stuck in Athens for a few days.

According to NEMS employee Peter Brown, their host, Alexis "Magic" Mardas, had struck a deal with the Greek authorities. If The Beatles were given diplomatic immunity - allowing them to carry bags containing drugs into the country - then they would pose for press photographs for the Ministry of Tourism. This was agreed to without the group's knowledge.

Unfortunately it meant that their destinations were often broadcast on Athens Radio, causing hordes of fans and journalists to follow them around. As NEMS employee Alistair Taylor - one of the people on the Greek excursion - noted: "Once on a trip to a hill village, we came round a corner of the peaceful road only to find hundreds of photographers clicking away at us."

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 23, 1967

The Beatles go sightseeing in Greece

Delayed from looking for a Greek island to live on, due to a storm off the Cretan coast, The Beatles went sightseeing in the countryside around Athens on this day.

The group, their partners, plus Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans, Pattie Harrison's sister Paula, and NEMS employee Alistar Taylor travelled in a convoy of a Mercedes car and two large American taxis. The taxi containing Paul McCartney, Jane Asher and Neil Aspinall caught fire from the heat and they were forced to walk back to a village where they had earlier eaten lunch.

The Beatles accepted an invitation from the Oxford University Dramatic Society to watch a performance of Agamemnon by Aeschylus at the theatre at Delphi. Unfortunately, their host, Alexis "Magic Alex" Mardas, had given the tourism authorities notice of their impending visit, and the news was broadcast on Athens Radio.

Upon their arrival in Delphi they were met by hundreds of fans, photographers and journalists. The group returned to their limousine and left for Athens without seeing the play.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 22, 1967

John Lennon and Paul McCartney travel to Greece

John Lennon, his wife Cynthia and son Julian, along with Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Pattie Harrison's 16-year-old sister Paula Boyd, Mal Evans and NEMS employee Alistair Taylor all began a journey to Greece on this day to look at a set of Greek islands The Beatles were considering buying to live on.

Alex invited John on a boat holiday in Greece, and we were all then invited. There was some story of buying a Greek island or something. It was all so sort of abstract but the first thing we had to do is go to Greece and see if we even liked it out there. The idea was get an island where you can just do what you want, a sort of hippie commune where nobody'd interfere with your lifestyle. I suppose the main motivation for that would probably be no one could stop you smoking. Drugs was probably the main reason for getting some island, and then all the other community things that were around then - 'Oh, we'll paint together. We'll do this. I'll chop wood.

I think that if you're going to write a great symphony or you're going to rehearse the greatest string quartet in the world, it's fair enough to cut yourself off. It's just a practical matter; give yourself lots of time and if you're going to do that, then why shouldn't it be in Greece? It was a drug-induced ambition, we'd just be sitting around: 'Wouldn't it be great? The lapping water, sunshine, we'd be playing. We'd get a studio there. Well, it's possible these days with mobiles and ...' We had lots of ideas like that. The whole Apple enterprise was the result of those ideas.

 

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

 

The Beatles had hired a luxury yacht, the MV Arvi, to take them to look at the islands, but it was delayed due to a storm off Crete until 25 July 1967. The group remained in Athens until its arrival, staying at the family home of Alexis "Magic Alex" Mardas.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 21, 1967

The Beatles enjoying a day off.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 20, 1967

The Chris Barber Band records Catcall

Chappell Recording Studios, London
Producers: Chris Barber, Giorgio Gomelsky, Reggie Kind

During the Quarry Men days Paul McCartney had written a jazz-style instrumental titled Catswalk, which was never properly recorded by The Beatles. A rehearsal from late 1962 at the Cavern Club had been recorded, however.

McCartney knew band leader Chris Barber, who played trombone with his trad jazz group, The Chris Barber Band, and decided to offer him the song. The band recorded a version at London's Marquee Club in July 1967, but McCartney felt it could be done better.

The session took place on this day at Chappell Recording Studios at 52 Maddox Street, London. The retitled track was recorded as Catcall. The tune was given an over-the-top arrangement complete with a chorus of catcalls: McCartney and Jane Asher were among the people taking part in what was evidently a fun session.

McCartney can also be heard calling "Please play it slower" before the half-speed coda, and singing the chorus of "For he's a jolly good fellow". He is likely to have also played organ on the recording.

Catcall was released as a single in the UK on 20 October 1967, with McCartney given a composer credit. Despite its impeccable pedigree, it failed to chart.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 19, 1967

The Beatles discuss purchasing a Greek island

All four members of The Beatles met in London on this day to discuss the Magical Mystery Tour film project, and their plans to purchase an island hideaway in Greece.

The Greek island idea was John Lennon's. He had decided that the group and their friends and family should live on the same island, in four separate villas with a recording studio and entertainment complex in the middle. There should, he said, also be housing for staff and visitors.

We're all going to live there, perhaps forever, just coming home for visits. Or it might just be six months a year. It'll be fantastic, all on our own on this island. There some little houses which we'll do up and knock together and live communally. (John Lennon - Anthology)

Alexix Mardis, a Greek friend of Lennon's known as Magic Alex, arranged for The Beatles to look for properties in the country. Mardas flew to Greece and found an island, often cited as Leslo, although such an island appears not to exist. The island is said to have had around 80 acres surrounded by four habitable islands, a small fishing village, beaches, 16 acres of olive groves, and was priced at £90,000.

We were all going to live together now, in a huge estate. The four Beatles and Brian would have their network at the centre of the compound: a dome of glass and iron tracery (not unlike the old Crystal Palace) above the mutual creative/play area, from which arbours and avenues would lead off like spokes from a wheel to the four vast and incredibly beautiful separate living units. In the outer grounds, the houses of the inner clique: Neil, Mal, Terry and Derek, complete with partners, families and friends. Norfolk, perhaps, there was a lot of empty land there. What an idea! No thought of wind or rain or flood, and as for cold... there would be no more cold when we were through with the world. We would set up a chain reaction so strong that nothing could stand in our way. And why the hell not? 'They've tried everything else,' said John realistically. 'Wars, nationalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, nastiness, religion - none of it works. So why not this?' (Derek Taylor, Anthology)


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 18, 1967

The Beatles enjoying a summer break

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 17, 1967

US single release: All You Need Is Love

The Beatles' All You Need Is Love was issued in the USA 10 days after it was released in the United Kingdom.

As with the UK version, the b-side was Baby You're A Rich Man, which had originally been intended for the Yellow Submarine film.

All You Need Is Love entered the charts on 29 July, spent a week at number one, and stayed in the charts for nine weeks. Its catalogue number was Capitol 5964.

The song also appeared on the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour, which was released in the USA on 27 November.