Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 18, 1966

John Lennon travels to Carboneras, Spain

Following the initial filming period in Celle, West Germany, John Lennon traveled to southern Spain on this day to continue work on Richard Lester's How I Won The War.

I was always waiting for a reason to get out of The Beatles from the day I made How I Won the War in 1966. I just didn't have the guts to do it, you see. Because I didn't know where to go. I remember why I made the movie. I did it because The Beatles had stopped touring and I didn't know what to do. Instead of going home and being with the family, I immediately went to Spain with Dick Lester because I couldn't deal with not being continually onstage. That was the first time I though, 'My God, what do you do if this isn't going on? What is there? There's no life without it.' And that's when the seed was planted that I had to somehow get out of this, without being thrown out by the others. But I could never step out of the palace because it was too frightening.

I was really too scared to walk away. I was thinking, 'Well, this is the end, really. There's no more touring. That means there's going to be a blank space in the future.' At some time or other that's when I started considering life without The Beatles - what would it be? And I spent that six weeks thinking about that: 'What am I going to do? Am I going to be doing Vegas? But cabaret?' I mean, where do you go? So that's when I started thinking about it. But I could not think what it would be, or how I could do it. I didn't even consider forming my own group or anything, because it didn't enter my mind. Just what would I do when it stopped?

Lennon had the part of Private Gripweed in the film, which was released in 1967. He remained in Spain for seven weeks, initially staying at a small seafront apartment but later moving to a villa, Santa Isabel, near Almería.

Santa Isabel was owned by producer Sam Spiegal. Lennon stayed there with his wife Cynthia, and The Beatles' assistant Neil Aspinall. Also staying in the house was actor Michael Crawford, the star of How I Won The War, and his family.

Lennon also took his Rolls-Royce with blacked out windows to Spain. The car had a microphone and mounted loudspeaker, and Lennon took delight in surprising passers-by.

When John went to make How I Won The War in Spain, he took the same car, which he virtually lived in. It had blacked-out windows and you could never see who was in it, so it was perfect. John didn't come out of it - he just used to talk to the people outside through the microphone: 'Get away from the car! Get away!' - Paul McCartney
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 17, 1966

Top Ten this week

1. You can't hurry Love - The Supremes

2. Yellow Submarine - The Beatles

3. Sunshine Superman - Donovan

4. 96 Tears - ? and the Mysterians

5. Bus Stop - The Hollies

6. Cherish - The Association

7. Reach Out I'll be there - The Four Tops

8. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks

9. Turn-Down Day - The Cyrkle

10. Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 16, 1966

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein meet in Paris

The previous evening, John Lennon Neil Aspinall left Celle in West Germany, where Lennon was filming How I Won The War with Richard Lester, for a break in Paris, France.

On this day they were joined by Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein, who had traveled to Paris from London. The four men had a weekend break together in the city, and on Sunday 18 September Lennon and Aspinall went to Spain to continue filming.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 15, 1966

Paul McCartney watches experimental music in London

The Beatles each pursued individual projects and outside interests during the late summer of 1966. On this evening Paul McCartney attended a performance of experimental music at the Royal College of Art in London.

The performers were the group AMM, who at the time were joined by composer Cornelius Cardew. The audience, which numbered fewer than 20 people, was invited to participate, and McCartney made occasional sounds using a radiator and beer mug.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 14, 1966

George and Pattie Harrison travel to India

George Harrison and his wife Pattie flew from London to Bombay (Mumbai) in India on this day.

The purpose of the visit was for George to take sitar lessons with Ravi Shankar, and for the couple to study yoga. The Harrisons stayed at the Taj Mahal hotel in Bombay, under the names Mr and Mrs Sam Wells.

I went to India in September 1966. When I had first come across a record of Ravi Shankar's I had a feeling that, somewhere, I was going to meet him. It happened that I met him in London in June, at the house of Ayana Deva Angadi, founder of the Asian Music Circle. An Indian man had called me up and said that Ravi was going to be there. The press had been trying to put me and him together since I used the sitar on Norwegian Wood. They started thinking: 'A photo opportunity - a Beatle with an Indian.' So they kept trying to put us together, and I said 'no', because I knew I'd meet him under the proper circumstances, which I did. He also came round to my house, and I had a couple of lessons from him on how to sit and hold the sitar.

So in September, after touring and while John was making How I Won the War, I went to India for about six weeks. First I flew to Bombay and hung out there. Again, because of the mania, people soon found out I was there.

I stayed in a Victorian hotel, the Taj Mahal, and was starting to learn the sitar. Ravi would give me lessons, and he'd also have one of his students sit with me. My hips were killing me from sitting on the floor, and so Ravi brought a yoga teacher to start showing me the physical yoga exercises.

It was a fantastic time. I would go out and look at temples and go shopping. We travelled all over and eventually went up to Kashmir and stayed on a houseboat in the middle of the Himalayas. It was incredible. I'd wake up in the morning and a little Kashmiri fellow, Mr Butt, would bring us tea and biscuits and I could hear Ravi in the next room, practising...

It was the first feeling I'd ever had of being liberated from being a Beatle or a number. It comes back to The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan: 'I am not a number.' In our society we tend, in a subtle way, to number ourselves and each other, and the government does so, too. 'What's your Social Security number?' is one of the first things they ask you in America. To suddenly find yourself in a place where it feels like 5000 BC is wonderful.

I went to the city of Benares, where there was a religious festival going on, called the Ramila. It was out on a site of 300 to 500 acres, and there were thousands of holy men there for a month-long festival. During this festival the Maharajah feeds everybody and there are camps of different people, including the sadhus --renunciates. In England, in Europe or the West, these holy men would be called vagrants and be arrested, but in a place like India they roam around. They don't have a job, they don't have a Social Security number, they don't even have a name other than collectively - they're called sannyasis, and some of them look like Christ. They're really spiritual; and there are also a lot of loonies who look like Allen Ginsberg. That's where he got his whole trip from - with the frizzy hair, and smoking little pipes called chillums, and smoking hashish. The British tried for years to stop Indians smoking hashish, but they'd been smoking it for too long for it to be stopped.

I saw all kinds of groups of people, a lot of them chanting, and it was a mixture of unbelievable things, with the Maharajah coming through the crowd on the back of an elephant, with the dust rising. It gave me a great buzz.

George Harrison

The couple returned to England on October 22, 1966.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 13, 1966

Here’s a happy picture of Ringo and Paul, together with Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield, the winners, ‘with their awards at the Melody Maker Pop Poll luncheon in the GPO Tower restaurant.’ Maybe we can see London behind, through the windows of the Post Office Tower? 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 12, 1966

Beatles Car Crash announcement during Monkees premiere episode Sept 12 1966

There are now a few references on various Message Boards, including NIR, about an announcement during the Monkees premiere episode about a car crash involving one of the Beatles on Sept 12 1966. This announcement apparently took place in the NY/NJ/PA area only and then there was no follow up after the initial newsbreak.  Does anyone remember this?



The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 11, 1966

"Paul is dead" is an urban legend and conspiracy theory alleging that Paul McCartney of the English rock band the Beatles died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 10, 1966

On Revolver, the Beatles continued the musical evolution that would reach its apex on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Most consider Sgt. Pepper‘s to be the band’s masterpiece, but when asked about his favorite Beatles album, producer George Martin says, “Pepper’s is one of them, but not the favorite. I like Rubber Soul and I love Revolver.”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: September 9, 1966

The Beatles were taking a break.............