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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.

 

 

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