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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 2, 1966

The station manager of WAQY-AM radio in Birmingham, Alabama became the first to urge listeners to boycott record stores and bookstores that sold music and memorabilia of The Beatles, starting an American backlash against the British rock group that was preparing to make a tour of the United States. Manager Tommy Charles told reporters, "We just felt it was so absurd and sacreligious  that something ought to be done to show that they cannot get away with this sort of thing." On March 4th, John Lennon had been quoted by a British interviewer as saying "We're more popular than Jesus now", and the statement had largely gone unnoticed until it was reprinted in the July issue of the American teen magazine Datebook. On July 28, Charles and disc jockey Doug Layton stopped playing the group's records and announced plans for a bonfire of records on July 30. Other radio stations joined in the boycott, including in South Africa and Spain before Lennon made an apology when the group arrived in Chicago on August 11.

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 1, 1966

Studio B15, Broadcasting House, London

Just as Paul had once agreed to a solo appearance on a David Frost TV Show. (A Degree of Frost), so he now agreed to participate with him, and without the other Beatles, in a BBC Light Program radio show, David Frost at the Phonograph, a series in which Frost interviewed "a personality" and commented on everyday matters in between playing records new and old. The entire program, including Paul's "Live" personal appearance, was recorded from 8:30 this evening in a basement studio at Broadcasting House, it was transmitted from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm on Saturday, August 6th.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 31, 1966

The Beatles started a five week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'Yesterday...And Today', the group's 8th No.1 album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 30, 1966

On July 30, 1966 The Beatles were at No.1 for 5 weeks straight. They accomplished this admirable task with their album Yesterday…And Today, which had been the groups 8th No.1 album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 29, 1966

Datebook republishes John Lennon’s ‘Jesus’ comments.

Setting off a chain of events that would culminate in public bonfires of The Beatles' records and a public backlash that at times made the group fearful for their lives, the US teen magazine Datebook on this day republished John Lennon's remarks that "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus".

Lennon's remarks had first appeared in England in March 1966 by journalist Maureen Cleave.

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.

Although the remarks were barely noticed in the UK, they were featured in Datebook in a cover story titled "The Ten Adults You Dig/Hate The Most." The article contained a section on Lennon, which republished the Jesus quote out of its original context.

The magazine, hitherto a minor player in the teen market, unexpectedly sold around a million copies. American Christian fundamentalists were outraged, and angry hordes, concentrated in the southern states, organized bonfires of Beatles records and memorabilia.

The group's music was banned by a number of radio stations in the south, and The Beatles were forced to attempt to limit the damage. Their manager Brian Epstein attempted to explain that Lennon had merely expressed surprise at his level of fame.

With The Beatles' US tour looming, and with death threats being made against the group and their families, Lennon was eventually pressed into apologizing at a Chicago press conference on August 11th.

Lennon's comments did much to quell the animosity against the group, and a planned wave of Beatles bonfires were called off. However, The Beatles remained nervous throughout their final tour.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 28, 1966

The Beatles relaxing in between tours.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 27, 1966

Getting ready for the tour!

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 26, 1966

The Beatles planning their next tour in the U.S.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 25, 1966

The Beatles thinking about the tour ahead......

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 24, 1966

July 24, 1966 - "Brian Epstein" was supposed to fly back to "England" from "America" this day, a trip to prepare the next ßeatles' North American Tour.