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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 6, 1966

The Beatles arrived in India for the first time, following a brief refueling stop in Bangkok, early in the morning of 6 July 1966.

Although they had hoped to spend time in India resting and discovering the country's music, their stay was anything but relaxing.

George Harrison: Before the tour was planned, I had an arrangement made that on the return journey from the Philippines to London I would stop off in India, because I wanted to go and check it out and buy a good sitar. I had asked Neil if he would come with me, because I didn't want to be in India on my own. He agreed, and we had booked for the two of us to get off in Delhi.

Somewhere between leaving London and going through Germany and Japan to the Philippines, one by one the others had all sad, 'I think I'll come, too.' But we got to Delhi and, after the experience in the Philippines, the others didn't want to know. They didn't want another foreign country - they wanted to go home.

I was feeling a little bit like that myself; I could have gone home. But I was in Delhi, and as I had made the decision to get off there I thought, 'Well, it will be OK. At least in India they don'' know The Beatles. We'll slip in to this nice ancient country, and have a bit of peace and quiet.'

The others were saying, 'See you around , then - we're going straight home.' Then the stewardess came down the plane and said, 'Sorry, you've got to get off. We've sold your seats on to London,' and she made them all leave the plane.

So we got off. It was night-time, and we were standing there waiting for our baggage, and then the biggest disappointment I had was a realisation of the extent of the fame of The Beatles - because there were so many dark faces in the night behind a wire mesh fence, all shouting, 'Beatles! Beatles!' and following us.

We got in the car and drove off, and they were all on little scooters, with the Sikhs in turbans all going, ''hi, Beatles, Beatles!' I thought, 'Oh, no! Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but Beatles have nowhere to lay their heads.'

The Beatles managed to sneak out using the hotel's rear exit, and did some sightseeing and shopping.

George Harrison - Delhi was a really funny feeling. I'm sure a lot of people have had this experience when they go there. In the parts of New Delhi that were built by the British, it isn't the little streets you might expect: we were on big wide roads, dual carriageways with roundabouts.

The amazing thing was that there were so many people out there. All the roundabouts had hundreds and hundreds of people sitting in the dark, a lot of them squatting in groups, including old guys with pipes. There were crowds of people everywhere. I was thinking, 'God! What's happened?' It was as if the Superbowl was on, or there'd been a big disaster, with all the people milling around. Then you get to realise that's how it is - there are a lot of people there.

 
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 5, 1966

The Beatles finally left Manila International Airport at 4:45 pm on July 5th and headed for New Delhi, India. Anticipating a few days of peaceful rest and exploration of Indian music, the four harassed musicians found that 600 fans were on hand to greet them at the airport and besiege their hotel. Eventually, the group returned to England, touching down at London Airport at 6:00 am on July 8th. A brief press meeting followed, during which George and Ringo were interviewed by BBC staff reporter Tom Mangold, 2 minutes and 45 seconds of which was broadcast in the morning's Home Service news-magazine radio program Today (7:15 to 7:45, also repeated in the 8:15 to 8:40 edition).

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 4, 1966

The Beatles leave the Philippines

Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, Vito Cruz St., Manila, Luzon, The Phillippines

The calm before the storm, two performances before a total of 80,000 fans, 30,000 at the afternoon show and 50,000 in the evening.

The Beatles had never intended to snub the Philippines' First Lady, Imelda Marcos, however, on this day they awoke to chaotic scenes as a result of the misunderstanding.

The Manila Times newspaper carried a front-page story accusing The Beatles of "snubbing the First Lady and the three Marcos children," leading to serious ramifications for the group. Just after eight that morning a man in a shiny suit carrying a brown briefcase came to deliver an envelope for Brian Epstein: 'Here is your bill for the income tax due on The Beatles' fee.' Our contract with Cavalcade, as with most concert promoters outside the UK, was very precise on the matter of local taxes. The responsibility for payment belonged with the promoter. Ramon Ramos Jr was contractually liable for the settlement of any tax bills. But the taxman insisted that the full fee was taxed as earnings regardless of any other contracts.

His words were confirmed by the Manila Daily Mirror headline: BEATLES TOLD: PAY NOW, LEAVE LATER. The newspapers carried hostile headlines such as FURORE OVER BEATLES SNUB DAMPENS SHOW and IMELDA STOOD UP: FIRST FAMILY WAITS IN VAIN FOR MOPHEADS. According to a palace spokesperson, The Beatles had 'spit in the eye of the First Family.' It was also reported quite erroneously that The Beatles had requested an audience with Imelda Marcos in the first place, the one press story that brought forth hollow laughter from the boys.

 

From then on The Beatles' troubles escalated. Staff at the Hotel Manila refused to provide room service or to handle their baggage, although their driver remained loyal. The group's press officer Tony Barrow and NEMS employee Vic Lewis travelled ahead to the airport to check in.

 

Eventually the group's manager Brian Epstein filed a bond for Pesos 74,450 to settle the tax levy, leaving NEMS Enterprises with a financial loss for the Filipino leg of the tour. Contesting the matter would have been fruitless, and the priority for The Beatles' party was to leave the country at the earliest opportunity.

 

At Manila International Airport, management and staff had been instructed to give no assistance to The Beatles' party. Escalators stopped working as they approached them, forcing them to carry heavy amplifiers and instrument cases.

Once they made it on board the KLM aeroplane the turbulence continued. Tony Barrow and Mal Evans were ordered off once again. Stricken with anxiety, Evans turned to the others and said: "Tell Lil I love her," a reference to his wife.

Evans and Barrow were worried that they would miss the flight and be stuck in Manila at the mercy of the locals. To their relief, it turned out that The Beatles' party's immigration papers had not been properly processed upon their arrival. This left them technically as illegal immigrants, with potentially serious ramifications. Eventually the passports were stamped and they were free to leave.

The flight's departure time had elapsed, but Epstein and Lewis persuaded the pilot to wait for Barrow and Evans. The delay lasted 44 minutes.

Just minutes after the aeroplane left Filipino soil, a press statement was issued by President Marcos which absolved The Beatles of any wrongdoing.The Beatles' flight was bound for New Delhi, where they hoped to enjoy a relaxing break. They arrived the following day to unwelcome scenes of Beatlemania, strengthening their resolve to end touring.

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 3, 1966

The Beatles arrive in Manila, Philippines

In the morning of 3 July The Beatles flew from Japan to the Philippines, stopping briefly en route in Hong Kong.

Their aeroplane refuelled at Kaitak airport in Hong Kong, During the 70-minute delay The Beatles rested in the VIP lounge, before continuing the journey to Manila.

Ringo Starr - I hated the Philippines. We arrived there with thousands upon thousands of kids, with hundreds upon hundreds of policemen - and it was a little dodgy. Everyone had guns and it was really like that hot/Catholic/gun/Spanish Inquisition attitude.

Upon their arrival, The Beatles were greeted by 5,000 fans at Manila International Airport. At the time, the Philippines was a dictatorship ruled by Ferdinand Marcos, and the group's visit was a troubled one from the very beginning.

George Harrison - As soon as we got there it was bad news. There were tough gorillas - little men - who had short-sleeved shirts and acted very menacingly.

The normal proceedings in those days were that, because the mania was everywhere, we didn't pull up at an airport and get off the plane like normal people. The plane would land and it would go to the far end of the airfield where we would get off, usually with Neil Aspinall and our 'diplomatic bags' (we carried our shaving gear - and whatever - in little bags), get in a car, bypass passport control and go to the gig. Brian Epstein and the rest would go and do our passports and all that scene.

But when we got to Manila, a fellow was screaming at us, 'Leave those bags there! Get in this car!' We were being bullied for the first time. It wasn't respectful. Everywhere else - America, Sweden, Germany, wherever - even though there was a mania, there was always a lot of respect because we were famous showbiz personalities; but in Manila it was a very negative vibe from the moment we got off the plane, so we were a bit frightened.

George Harrison - We got in the car, and the guy drove off with us four, leaving Neil behind. Our bags were on the runway and I was thinking, 'This is it - we're going to get busted.'

The Beatles were driven in a cavalcade, escorted by six police motorcyclists, to the Philippine Navy Headquarters where a press conference was held. Afterwards they were taken to a private yacht owned by a wealthy Filipino named Don Manolo Elizalde, a friend of local concert promoter Ramon Ramos Jr.

George Harrison - They took us away and drove us down to Manila harbour, put us on a boat, took us out to a motor yacht that was anchored out in the harbour and they put us in this room.

It was really humid, it was Mosquito City, and we were all sweating and frightened. For the first time ever in our Beatle existence, we were cut off from Neil, Mal and Brian Epstein. There was not one of them around, and not only that, but we had a whole row of cops with guns lining the deck around this cabin that we were in on the boat. We were really gloomy, very brought down by the whole thing. We wished we hadn't come here. We should have missed it out.

The plan was for The Beatles to remain on the yacht until the following day. From there they ascertained that Aspinall was safe with their equipment, and that their drugs hadn't been discovered by the authorities.

They were enjoying the thought of being cut off from the world for 24 hours. They were sweating profusely in the heavy heat of the afternoon and were not entirely happy to see the gun-toting cops marching to and fro on the deck, but they felt that these were inconveniences rather than causes for complaint. Then we were told that we would be landing at a secluded point along the coast the next afternoon shortly before The Beatles' first show, which wiped the smiles off their faces. Our Filipino hosts may have been well-intentioned in their elaborate planning but they had no idea of the group's lengthy pre-show routine, including the preparation of stage suits and instruments.

On this, the day before The Beatles' two scheduled performances at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, the Manila Sunday Times ran a story which would lead to the most troublesome aspect of The Beatles' stay in the Philippines.
 
(The Manila Sunday Times) President Marcos, the First Lady, and the three young Beatles fans in the family, have been invited as guests of honour at the concerts. The Beatles plan to personally follow up the invitation during a courtesy call on Mrs Imelda Marcos at Malacañang Palace tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock.

Nobody in The Beatles' party saw the newspaper until later. The visit was not part of their itinerary, nor was it discussed. The promotor, Ramon Ramos, had been forced to promise the palace that the visit would occur, and was afraid to tell manager Brian Epstein in case it resulted in a refusal.

The 11 o'clock meeting was to have been followed by a luncheon at 3pm, one hour before the first of two concerts in Manila, which would have left them with little time to prepare. Ramos was caught between the prospect of either offending the palace or The Beatles, and so he left matters as they were.

Partly because of the pandemonium over the yacht, the tour itinerary prepared by Ramon Ramos Jr was never discussed properly that evening between Epstein and the rest of us. I doubt if he even read it thoroughly or even noticed the crucial bit suggesting that The Beatles might 'call in on' the First Lady, the president's wife, Imelda Marcos, at three o'clock on Monday afternoon 'before proceeding on from the Malacañang Palace directly to the stadium for the first concert.' The wording Ramos used made this sound like a casual proposal rather than a command from the President's office - not a fixed and formal appointment so much as something to be talked about as a possibility. According to Epstein's own jealously guarded rules, only he himself would have discussed such a matter with John, Paul, George and Ringo. If Ramos had raised the invitation with him directly, Epstein would have turned it down on the boys' behalf, knowing that with an afternoon show to do they would want to be safely installed in their dressing room at the stadium by three o'clock. In any case, The Beatles hated meeting dignitaries of all types from small-town mayors up to heads of state and would have been only too pleased to use their matinee commitment as a get-out.

On board Don Manolo Elizalde's yacht, The Beatles were guests of honour at a party attended by wealthy Filipinos. It wasn't until 4am that Brian Epstein allowed them to leave for their suite at the Hotel Manila. The group's exhaustion meant they were still asleep when government officials arrived later that morning to take them to the palace.

Source: The Beatles Bible

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 2, 1966

Live: Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo

The Beatles performed their last two shows at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on this day. They performed five times in total at the venue over three days. Each of the shows was seen by 1,000 fans. Death threats against The Beatles had been received, and the concerts took place in a subdued atmosphere.

George Martin said "It was upsetting. I remember when George was in Germany he got a letter saying, 'You won't live beyond the next month.' And when they went to Japan they had such heavy guards that they couldn't move anywhere. The Japanese took those death threats very seriously."

The Beatles performed an 11-song set, the same one used throughout their 1966 tour.

Neil Aspinall said "The show was a bit weird! There were the jujitsu people who used the Budokan, so they felt it was their temple. This was the first time they'd had a rock band in there, and they didn't like it. There were threats from them, and so there were a lot of police around. The Japanese were very disciplined. There were 3,000 police for 10,000 fans. The police were all over the place, keeping them under control."

There was heavy police presence, and the audiences were unusually quiet. For the first time in years this allowed The Beatles able to hear themselves play live for the first time in years, and had the unfortunate effect of exposing their weaknesses as a live act.

Neil Aspinall said "For the first time in a long while the audience could hear. There was no loud screaming, which came as a surprise: the band suddenly realised they were out of tune and they had to get their act together. The second show was pretty good - they had got it together by then - but the first one, in the afternoon, was a bit of a shock."

After the concert, while staying at the Tokyo Hilton, The Beatles completed their painting Images Of A Woman.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: July 1, 1966

Live: Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo

The Beatles performed two shows at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on this day.

The shows were each seen by 1,000 fans. As with the previous day's concert, the first performance from this day was filmed by Nippon Television. Footage from both was broadcast in the programme The Beatles Recital, From Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, on NTV Channel 4 on this evening from 9pm.

Ringo Starr said "The audience was very subdued. If you look at the footage from the shows you'll see a cop on every row. They'd all get excited in their seats as we were playing, but they couldn't express it."

In the footage, The Beatles' 1 July performance can be distinguished by their white suits; in the first concert they wore black. They performed the same set of 11 songs throughout their 1966 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 Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: June 30, 1966

Live: Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo

Five shows in the Nippon Budokan Hall, one on June 30, 1966 and two each on July 1st and 2nd - before 10,000 fans on each occasion.

The group and their entourage stayed at the Tokyo Hilton, where they occupied the Presidential Suite. Security at the hotel was so tight that they were unable to make unscheduled excursions around the city. They did, however, give a press conference from the hotel.

The evening's concert had support from Yuya Uchida and Isao Bitoh. The Beatles performed a set containing 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.

 

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."