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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 5, 1966

August 5, 1966: The Beatles Get Psychedelic With 'Revolver'

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.”

The sixties were about to get an injection of psychedelia with The Beatles’ Revolver. These lyrics from “Tomorrow Never Knows” are the perfect primer for an album that changed the course of Beatles history, and rock and roll, forever.

The acid-influenced masterpiece spawned hits such as “Yellow Submarine,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Got to Get You Into My Life,” all of which cracked the top-20 of the Billboard Charts.

Coming off the heels of Rubber Soul, a turning point for The Beatles had been reached. Soul started to introduce some folk rock themes while keeping a pop rock tune. Then Revolver took those changes and ran with them.

“Their ideas now were beginning to become much more potent in the studio,” said producer George Martin in a documentary, “and they would start telling me what they wanted, and they would start pressing me for more ideas and more ways for translating those ideas into reality.”

Experimentation fueled the Fab Four’s creativity. Many Beatleologists call this album their “acid album” while Rubber Soul was their “weed” album. They even started experimenting with backwards guitar solos and Indian-flavored tunes and instruments.

“That’s the first record with backwards music on it,” said Lennon in the same documentary. “Before Hendrix, before The Who, before any f*ckers.”

Revolver was certified 5x platinum by RIAA and spent six weeks atop the Billboard charts.Rolling Stone ranked it as the No. 3 album of all-time in their “500 Greatest Albums” list, and it was their second-best selling album at the time behind its predecessor Rubber Soul.

Through the years, Revolver has stood the test of time as one of the most innovative albums in history. It seemed impossible for The Beatles to be able to replicate the success and creativity of that album...until they replicated the success and creativity of that album less than a year later with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 4, 1966

Getting ready for the US Tour.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 3, 1966

Getting ready for the tour

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!