Beatles 50th Blog

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."



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