Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 29, 1966

The June 29, 1966 flight dodged a storm, JAL attendant recalls, but that was nothing compared to the tempest that awaited the Fab Four at the Budokan.

The Liverpool mop tops came to Tokyo for a historical and ill-fated visit that helped seal the fate of their live tours.

Feet planted on Japanese ground for the first time and bleary from lack of sleep, the Beatles faced the usual round of daft probes about their hair, which they handled with customary good humor. Asked about the “motives and incentives” for their hairstyle, Harrison said: “We couldn’t afford a barber at the time.” Ringo: “I think the next change will be when we go bald.”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 28, 1966

Travel: Alaska to Tokyo

Following The Beatles' unscheduled nine-hour stop in Anchorage, Alaska, their long journey to Tokyo continued.

Ringo Starr said "Anchorage, Alaska, was like a cowboy town to us; it was really like a backwater. My only great memory of Alaska is that at the airport they have a huge, magnificent white bear in a glass case."

Ringo Starr was the owner of one of the first portable cassette recorders, and spent much of the journey recording the conversations of those around him on the aeroplane.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 27, 1966

A brief history of the Beatles' (brief) time in Alaska

Following the Hamburg date on their three-stop German tour of 1966, The Beatles began their long journey to Japan.

They began by returning first to London Airport, before catching the inaugural flight by Japanese Airlines. This took The Beatles across the North Pole, but an adverse weather warning caused their flight to be grounded at Anchorage in Alaska.

The Beatles -- together or separately -- are known to have passed through Alaska twice.

The first time they came was at 1:45 p.m. on June 27, 1966. Most sources say the DC-8 jet carrying the Fab Four to Japan was obliged to set down at Anchorage International Airport because a typhoon named Kit blocked their way.

Gerry Henningsen of Anchorage, a ground service agent with Pacific Northern Airlines at the time, remembers it differently. The layover was planned, he said, a routine refilling stop. But after it landed, a mechanical issue was discovered that kept the plane on the ground longer than expected. "I think it was hydraulics," he said. Had the plane taken off after repairs were made, it would have been unable to land in Japan because of a curfew at the airports there.

Henningsen was sent on board the DC-8 to get the famous passengers' paperwork for customs while Beatles manager Brian Epstein, flying with the band, tried to figure out what to do.

"I babysat those guys for two and a half, three hours," said Henningsen, who was not a Beatlemaniac. "They were not my cup of tea, just four young men who had made a big dent in the entertainment world. We talked about a lot of things. They were asking, 'What's there to do in Anchorage?' They saw Earthquake Park on a map and were curious about that."

But they never got to see it.

After several hours of waiting, the four came down the ramp, George Harrison leading the way, and headed for a waiting bus. They were spotted by local teenagers, whom they gifted with a few souvenirs.

Word spread among the city's youths in a flash: The Beatles' plane was in Anchorage and someone had ordered a secret chartered bus to go to the airport.

Anchorage teens quickly put two and two together. Ted Spencer was one of them. He joined a carload of other boys racing to the airport.

"We saw the bus going the other way and realized that was them, so we turned around and chased it," Spencer said. The driver was so excited that he slid into a stop sign, but kept going. As the bus rolled along Spenard Road to downtown, an ever-growing caravan formed behind it, with fans shouting and honking.

Everyone knew there was only one place in Anchorage swanky enough for the Beatles to stay -- the Anchorage Westward Hotel, now the Hilton. And, sure enough, that's where the bus was heading.

The bus went into the alley behind the Westward and we were right behind them," Spencer said. "We just barely got a glimpse of the Beatles walking from the bus to the back door of the hotel."

The band and entourage went to room 1050. An Anchorage police detective and two uniformed officers stood guard in the hall to shoo off the curious and the fans, some of whom showed up with armloads of records. Food was delivered -- hamburgers and king crab.

Harrison called Seidenverg and Kay's, an upscale men's haberdashery on Fourth Avenue, and ordered a hat and a couple of shirts. The proprietor delivered the goods and said that Harrison, who met him, seemed alert and engaged, but the other three were sitting around looking bored and a little peeved.

That impression is backed up by photos taken of them in the room by British photographer Robert Whitaker. They show the band slumped over chairs and sofas like wet socks. Apparently the most interesting thing that happened was that George got hold of a Polaroid camera and took some candid shots of his mates.

For the most part, the party stayed hunkered in the suite. But Daily News photographer Robin Smith managed to snap Harrison taking a stroll through the Westward hallway in his stockings.

Meanwhile, more than 500 Anchorage teens had gathered in the alley behind the hotel, looking up at the 10th floor, sometimes exclaiming that they'd seen a famous face looking out at them, chanting, "We want the Beatles" and singing -- to the tune of "Bye-Bye Birdie" -- "We love you, Beatles."

There was a report of a broken window, but Anchorage police said that the kids behaved pretty politely. How politely? Well, when the 10 p.m. teen curfew arrived, the crowd obediently dispersed, leaving a few 18-and-overs.

At 1 a.m., the band reboarded the bus, returned to the airport and left for Japan.

They would never play a concert here, which didn't dampen the love felt by their Alaska fans. Judy Redmond, one of the lucky teens who spoke with them at the airport, assured a Daily News reporter, "Their popularity isn't going downhill. They're my favorite forever."

Some years later, Ringo recalled, "Anchorage, Alaska, was like a cowboy town to us; it was really like a backwater. My only great memory of Alaska is that at the airport they have a huge, magnificent white bear in a glass case."



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 26, 1966

Live: Ernst Merck Halle, Hamburg

The Beatle's train pulled into the central station in Hamburg a little after 6:00 am on June 26th. It was the first time any member of the group had set foot in the city since January 1963, when - as relative nobodies - they had completed their fortnight's Christmas stint at the Star Club.

On hand at the station, and backstage before their two shows at the Ernst Merck Halle, were many faces from the past, ranging from Astrid Kirchherr to Bert Kaempfert and even Bettina Derlien, the buxom, blond barmaid from the Star Club.

The Beatles played two shows at the city's Ernst Merck Halle on Jungtusstrasse, each of which was seen by 5,600 people. A press conference was held between the sets. Forty-four people were arrested for rioting during the shows, both inside and outside the venue.

The group played the same 11 songs that constituted their standard set throughout the tour: Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and I'm Down. The Ernst Merck Hall, on Hamburg's Jungiusstraße, was later demolished, but not before a number of major bands including Queen and Pink Floyd performed there.

After the shows John Lennon and Paul McCartney paid a nostalgic visit to the Reeperbahn where they visited a number of people and places from their past.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 25, 1966

Live: Grugahalle, Essen, Germany

In the morning The Beatles were driven in a fleet of Mercedes cars, flanked by police on motorcycles, to Munich railway station. From there a special train took The Beatles from Munich to Essen for two shows at the Grugahalle.

The train had been used in the previous year by Queen Elizabeth II during her royal visit to West Germany. The Beatles were each given a suite of rooms on board, as were their five-man entourage.

They played two concerts at the Grugahalle, during which they performed the same 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and I'm Down.

Between the two shows The Beatles held a press conference and enjoyed a meal in their dressing room. Following their second performance at the Grugahalle they boarded the train once more to travel to Hamburg, arriving at around 2am.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 24, 1966

Live: Circus-Krone-Bau, Munich, Germany

The Beatles' brief 1966 tour of West Germany, Japan and the Philippines began on this day, with two concerts at the Circus-Krone-Bau in Munich, Germany.

The shows took place at 5.15pm and 9pm. The second show was filmed by German television network Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), and followed a brief afternoon rehearsal set for the cameras. The footage was shown as Die Beatles on channel two on Tuesday 5 July, from 8-8.45pm.

Also appearing on the bill were Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers, The Rattles and Peter and Gordon. The German leg of the tour was known as the Bravo Blitztournee, and was sponsored by the entertainment magazine Bravo.

The Beatles' set throughout the tour consisted of 11 songs: Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Write and I'm Down.

For these first dates, the group's recent absence from live performance was apparent. George Harrison introduced Yesterday as being from Beatles For Sale, and I'm Down was briefly delayed by an on-stage conference between John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Harrison about lyrics in the opening verse. In spite of this, McCartney managed to get each verse wrong.

Source: Beatles Bible

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 23, 1966

On June 23rd 1966, the Beatles flew from London Airport to Munich for a three-city tour of West Germany. For promotional purposes, the German leg of their 1966 tour would be called 'Bravo-Beatles-Blitztournee.' The opening acts on this tour of Munich, Essen and Hamburg included The Rattles, Peter and Gordon, and Cliff And The Rebel Rousers.

The Beatles and their entourage arrived in Munich at noon on the 23rd, holding a press conference upon their arrival at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, and granting the following interview which was filmed for television.

As part of their arrival, each of the Beatles were given elaborately crafted lederhosen, the traditional leather German shorts which remain popular in the region and are culturally associated with masculinity.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 22, 1966

Studio Three (control room), EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Recording for the Revolver album had been completed the day before. During this final session, mono and stereo mixes of six songs were made to complete the album.

The session began at 7pm and finished at 1.30am the next morning. Two mono mixes of Eleanor Rigby were the first to be made, followed by one of She Said She Said and one of Good Day Sunshine. With those the mono album was ready to be banded and mastered, ahead of its  August 5th, 1966 release.

The second half of the session was devoted to stereo mixes. Eleanor RIgby, She Said She Said and Good Day Sunshine were each mixed in a single attempt, followed by two mixes of Yellow Submarine.

Tomorrow Never Knows proved more problematic, and took six attempts before a satisfactory stereo mix was achieved. The session ended with one mix of Got To Get You Into My Life.

With that, work on The Beatles' 1966 album Revolver, held by many to be their finest collection of songs, was complete.


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 21, 1966

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Having spent much of the day working on mono and stereo mixes for six Revolver songs, The Beatles began a night-time session in which they completed a new song from scratch.

 The session for She Said She Said began at 7pm and ended at 3.45am the following morning. It was the only Revolver song to be completed within a single session.

The Beatles spent much of the session rehearsing the song, with at least 25 attempts before the first proper recording attempt. They then taped the rhythm track in three takes. At one point Paul McCartney walked out of the studio following an argument, leading to speculation that George Harrison played bass guitar on the song.

I like the title She Said She Said, which I think was made up on the session. John brought it in pretty much finished, I think. I'm not sure but I think it was one of the only Beatle records I never played on. I think we'd had a barney or something and I said, 'Oh, fuck you!' and they said, 'Well, we'll do it.' I think George played bass.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The rhythm track had drums, guitar and bass. Onto this John Lennon added his lead vocals, and Lennon and Harrison overdubbed backing vocals. With the four-track tape full, a reduction mix was made, two which Harrison added lead guitar and Lennon added an organ part.

Three mono mixes were then made, although these were discarded in favour of a final mix made on the following day.
Source: Beatles Bible
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 20, 1966

Studio One, EMI Studios, London

A new mono mix of "Got To Get You Into My Life" doubling the brass sound of previous versions, prepared between 6:00 and 8:30 pm.