So young, but already fed up with fame: Never-before-seen pictures capture The Beatles on their last ever tourThey are the lost photographs that show four young men at the height of their dizzying fame: behind-the-scenes snapshots of The Beatles on their last American tour in 1966.
Taken by Bob Bonis, the band’s U.S. tour manager, these pictures are part of a collection that remained unseen for four decades until his son Alex opened his late father’s archive of memorabilia. Now they are published in a new book for the first time.
Ticket to ride: Paul McCartney takes a thoughtful swig as the interminable touring drags on
The fresh-faced four from Liverpool appear relaxed as they tour the States. But they also seem lost in thought — for behind the unique photographs is a story of disappointment as fame began to take its toll.
Tomorrow never knows: Resting after their LA concert by the poolside at the home of artist David Wynne, Ringo Starr plays cowboy with a toy gun reported to be a gift from Elvis Presley
From the very beginning, America was seen as the end of the rainbow for The Beatles. That was where the real glory and the pot of gold would lie, they’d told themselves when, as unknown hopefuls, they’d played night after night in Hamburg and Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
But when they finally got to the U.S. in 1964 they felt as though they were prisoners — locked in by their own impossible fame.
From the moment they stepped off the BOAC plane in New York and were surprised to find a frenzied, screaming mob, to their last ever concert, in San Francisco in 1966, they would be besieged by uncontrollable hysteria.
At first, of course, touring America was exciting. With their singles claiming the top five positions on the U.S. charts and their film A Hard Day’s Night a box office smash, their manager Brian Epstein agreed to a 24-city tour of the U.S. and Canada over 32 days.That meant travelling an average of 600 miles a day in their own private plane and playing 32 concerts of about 30 minutes each.
And looking at the photographs of that first tour in the book, there’s almost a sense of schoolboy euphoria as The Beatles, like any four lads on holiday, goof around the hotel swimming pool in Los Angeles.
Very quickly, however, the excitement began to pall. Unable to go out to a restaurant, into a bar or simply to walk unnoticed down a street, they only saw the real America from a distance, through hotel windows and from the insides of limousines.
Other, later, photographs reveal their isolation. Taken in hotel rooms, backstage or in rehearsal, The Beatles are either alone or together as a group, the four of them driven ever closer by the demands of a voracious, grasping adoration.
Looks like it's been a hard day's night for John Lennon in August 1966, while the mystery tours had stopped being magical for George Harrison
Wherever they went there would be fans, while frequently so many people would congregate in their hotel suites to luxuriate in simply being in The Beatles’ presence that all four would escape into a bathroom to smoke or play poker.
For Lennon and McCartney the boredom could be broken by working on new songs, but the more temperamental George Harrison would very quickly begin to complain about the ‘madness’ of it all. Fame never really suited him.
Perhaps the placid Ringo Starr, who’d only been recruited by The Beatles when they were on the cusp of fame two years earlier, enjoyed it most. ‘I’ve always had crazes. I could be happy with a camera shop,’ he once told me, so it’s no surprise to see him in other pictures with a brand new camera photographing his colleagues.
A second tour of the U.S. took place in 1965. It was shorter and The Beatles by now were more cynical. Later, John Lennon would describe The Beatles on tour as being like four Caesars, surrounded by drugs, groupies and, sometimes, prostitutes.
The long and winding road: A young Ringo Starr puts his feet up on the way to St Louis, Missouri
By now, playing the same few songs almost every night to fans who couldn’t hear them because of the screaming seemed pointless.
‘How often do you think The Beatles enjoyed a show?’ John Lennon would later say to me. ‘One show in 30 would give us any real satisfaction, and you’d go through all kinds of hell to get that. So, what was I? A performing flea.’
By the time of the last U.S. tour in 1966 The Beatles knew they couldn’t carry on. There was no fun in playing live any more and the sounds created for their Revolver album couldn’t be reproduced when piped through the primitive sound systems of the stadiums in which they performed.
When they returned to Britain, it was to the recording studios, the only place they would ever play together again as a band.
Though they struggled on for another three years, the end was inevitable. What these pictures capture is The Beatles’ calm at the centre of a hurricane of their own creation,
Summer 1960, and Britain was finally seeing the green shoots of affluence after years of austerity. Fashion and pop music were in, teenagers were desperate for heroes - the time was right for four likely lads from Liverpool to seize their moment, reveals Tony Rennell.
Ready to rock: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison during rehearsals for the Royal Variety Show at the Prince of Wales theatre, London, in November1963
The birth almost went unnoticed. But as the summer of 1960 bloomed, an earth-shattering phenomenon known as the Beatles came into being. With their £15 guitars and chipboard amplifiers, teenagers John, Paul and George (no Ringo - he came later) had been around the Liverpool music scene for a couple of years as a group of sorts.
In leather jackets (collars turned up) and drainpipe jeans, hair slicked up in teddy boy quiffs, they played dance halls and youth clubs - the back of a coal lorry, even - under various names and with a changing assortment of members.
They were the Quarrymen - after John's school, Quarry Bank Grammar - playing skiffle with a tea-chest bass and a washboard, then Johnny and the Moondogs, for reasons no one can remember. They became the Silver Beatles next, as a nod to the Crickets, American rocker Buddy Holly's backing group.
'The guitar's all very well John, but you'll never make a living out of it'
But over the course of the summer of 1960, they played a series of shows at the Grosvenor Ballroom in Wallasey as, simply, The Beatles. It was the habitually word-playing John who had switched 'beetle' to 'beatle', as in beat music.
The Britain the Fab Four grew up in was not fabulous at all and almost unrecognisable to us now, a country still rooted in the past. The war had been over for 15 years but the damage it had wreaked was still visible, in city centre bomb sites where post-war planning had done little to make up for the devastation Hitler caused.
The country was slowly emerging from postwar poverty, and prime minister Harold Macmillan rejoiced that his fellow countrymen had 'never had it so good'. He told them, 'Go around the country, go to the industrial towns, go to the farms and you will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime - nor indeed in the history of this country.'
As the 1950s closed and the 1960s opened, Britain was still a land of promises rather than promise. But there was affluence in the air, even if, at £500, the iconically styled Minis rolling off the assembly lines were out of the reach of most people. The number of cars on the road passed five million for the first time, jamming up the A-roads because the only motorway was 60-odd miles of the M1 from London towards Birmingham.
But there were no self-service petrol stations - a pump attendant filled up your tank - and supermarkets were a rarity, so there was a grocer's shop on almost every corner. Just about the most hi-tech gadget you could get was a ballpoint pen with a tungsten carbide tip.
There were no desktop computers, and telephones were clumping great Bakelite contraptions with slow dials.
The contraceptive pill hadn't been invented, but even when it was, a year later, it didn't stop art school student John getting his girlfriend, Cynthia, pregnant. But, rebel though he yearned to be, he married her. It was the done thing - only one child in 20 had parents who were unwed.
The school leaving age was 15, homosexuality was a crime, murderers could be hanged and the country was shocked that the Queen's sister was marrying a commoner (albeit a double-barrelled one schooled at Eton).
Feminism hadn't yet got off the ground, so it wasn't surprising when the QC for the prosecution at the obscenity trial of the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover asked the jury, 'Is it a book you would wish your wife or your servants to read?'
That year, boxer Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, won a gold medal at the Rome Olympics; the Real Madrid football team lifted the European Cup for the fifth time in a row, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the final in Glasgow, and 26-year-old Judi Dench was a stunning newcomer as Juliet at the Old Vic.
Raw talent: It was at frantic lunchtime sessions in that cellar room of the Cavern, packed with gyrating and adoring office girls in beehive hair and stilettos, that the Beatles really came to life
But these splashes apart, this was a world lacking in colour, as monochrome as the blackand-white TVs showing just two channels on 14in screens and sending viewers off to bed with a Horlicks by 11. Coronation Street, Britain's first soap, was a babe in arms and American imports such as Wagon Train and Rawhide
Into this mish-mash of traditional values crashed three louts from Liverpool, for louts and teddy boys were what their respectable families feared they would become if they persisted in this music lark. John's guardian, Aunt Mimi, standing in for his absentee parents, was concerned that he was so easy-going he would be lured into bad ways by those she dismissed loftily as 'real whackers' and 'low types'.
But then she did buy him his first guitar, after she discovered he was hanging around Hessy's music shop in central Liverpool and enviously eying the rows of instruments, along with every other likely lad in town. That was in 1956. He was 15 and a slave to Elvis, the scowling sensation from the US.
As John practised playing his guitar, strumming and picking until his fingertips split, Mimi hoped he was getting the demon out of his system. It was all a waste of time, she told him. 'The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it.'
It was the grammar schools they went to after passing the 11-plus that were the making of John, Paul and George. Not because they were academically minded, but because they picked up on the unique spirit of those post-war incubators of opportunity and ambition. The essential grammar school lesson was aspirational, opening doors, minds and horizons for the students. If you had ability, anything was possible.
Humble beginnings: The Quarrymen, named after after John's school, Quarry Bank Grammar, play from the back of a lorry in 1957
At Quarry Bank, John was the class smart aleck. He rubbed up against authority - and got his backside tanned in the process - but never really defied it. School was the stage for showing off, getting a laugh. He was bored, mostly - until he got that guitar. It was his headmaster who spotted his potential and then encouraged the skiffle group John founded by allowing them a slot at the sixth-form dance. If never teacher's pet, John was not a hopeless case either. Diehard, disaffected rebels don't, as a rule, name their band after their school.
By contrast, Paul, a pupil at the Liverpool Institute, the city's number one grammar school, cruised through classwork. Smooth talking and cooperative, he was popular with staff and students alike. Head boy material, he seemed destined to be a teacher or even a doctor, until music got hold of him.
His father Jim, a cotton salesman earning £6 a week, was a musician who had led Jim Mac's Jazz Band in the 1920s, and a piano stood in the living room of their council house. He bought Paul his first guitar and would sit at the upright and play chords for his son to learn. From then on, the guitar overruled all else in Paul's life.
He played it in the bath and even sitting on the lavatory. It was on the bus to school that he met a younger lad named George Harrison, hollow-cheeked and unsmiling, except when they got to chatting about guitars. George's mum shelled out £30 for a guitar for him but, unlike the cosseted John and Paul, he had to pay the money back, so took a job as a butcher's delivery boy.
'What was different about the Beatles was their canny ability to catch the tide of change in British society - an entrepreneurial spirit built on growing affluence and growing confidence'
George, a bus driver's son, was, in his quiet way, much more of a rebel than the other two. He was clever enough to get into the Institute but, once there, took no interest in school work.
He wasn't disruptive or loud, but he went his own way, swapping his school uniform in favour of a canary yellow waistcoat, tapered trousers and winkle-picker shoes, his regulation cap balanced on top of hair piled teddy boy high. He wasn't destined for art college like John, or teacher training college, like Paul.
He left school as soon as he could and was apprenticed to an electrician, but all he really wanted to do was play the guitar.
The three came together in the casual way that mates do, introduced by friends, discovering shared interests. John and Paul were the 'personalities', vying to outdo each other in talent even then. George tagged along, letting his guitar skills do the talking for him.
Ambition and self-belief drove them, and the circumstances were right for them to at least have a crack at doing something different. With unemployment at an historic low, there were plenty of job opportunities for bright lads, so you didn't have to rush into one. There was time to kick over the traces and have fun because you never knew where it might lead.
They were hardly unique in this. Merseyside was awash with groups chasing the dream - Ian and the Zodiacs, Lee Curtis and the All-Stars, the Remo Four, the Four Jays. The list of wannabees was endless, all vying to be Liverpool versions of American rhythm and blues masters Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
Top dogs in town - beating the Beatles into fourth place in a popularity poll - was blonde and beautiful Rory Storm and his pink-suited Hurricanes, now largely forgotten except for their drummer, Ringo Starr, who was nicked by the Beatles when they cut their first record in 1962.
But why them? Why were they the ones who gate-crashed the music industry and became superstars? The Beatles were certainly talented musicians, but were they more so than anyone else? They were good-looking and full of energy - but who on the scene wasn't?
What was different about the Beatles was their canny ability to catch the tide of change in British society - an entrepreneurial spirit built on growing affluence and growing confidence; and the beginnings of new youth culture, fed by youngsters with money in their pockets. And there was one man who showed them the way.
Brian Epstein, a wealthy classical music lover with a family electrical goods business in Liverpool, spotted this trend and began selling records in his store. Kids came to hang out - and spend their money.
He listened when they talked about local talent and steered him to a place called the Cavern Club, under the arches of a warehouse between the city centre and the docks where, by youthful public demand, cool jazz was giving way to hectic, home-grown, rough-trade rock 'n' roll.
It was at frantic lunchtime sessions in that cellar room, packed with gyrating and adoring office girls in beehive hair and stilettos, that the Beatles really came to life.
The air was dank with sweat and cheap perfume, there were rats under the stage and the then drummer Pete Best's kit blocked the only ventilation grille. The excitement was palpable. This, as a local journalist put it, 'was the stuff that screams were made of'.
And Epstein, seeing a business opportunity playing on the stage, seized it. The fact that he was a closet gay and fancied John, was probably also a factor. As the band's manager, he cleaned them up, swapping jeans and leather jackets for suits and ties. He took them south to introduce them to London record producers. It wasn't an easy ride. Doors opened and rapidly closed - apparently no one wanted groups any more. But Epstein persisted, until one of the smaller labels, Parlophone, the last on his list, saw some potential. And the rest, they say, is history.
Before The Beatles came onto the scene, much of British popular culture was a derivative of glamorous, affluent America, and music was heavily transatlantic. Apart from Cliff Richard, who seemed a pale imitation of Elvis, the only home-grown talent making it in the Top Ten charts were the likes of Anthony Newley and Lonnie Donegan, singing ballads or silly numbers such as My Old Man's A Dustman. But that all changed with the Beatles.
In 1963, they reigned supreme for 18 out of 52 weeks, with songs they wrote themselves - by Brits, for Brits, distinctive and new - and were followed by the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five and other British groups. Having had 14 British number one hits, Elvis was the sole chart-topper from the US, and that was for just one week.
Before 1964, very few Brits had had hits on the US record charts, then the boys did the unthinkable - they conquered America - starting with I Want To Hold Your Hand, which was number one for seven weeks. From the back of a coal lorry to Carnegie Hall in less than four years was some achievement. Happy birthday, Beatles.
I remember the day I was at Harrods, ordering white carpet for John and Yoko. It was to be specially made from natural unbleached wool on extra large looms in China. Another day, on a trip to town, I found white marble Empire mantelpieces.
One of my favorite finds was a Queen Anne Chinoiserie desk for John. In their bathroom, they wanted a gigantic circular tub. We considered willow-pattern antique toilets, but settled on modern.
John wanted a bed like a turntable for Tittenhurst, their Berkshire mansion, so we ordered a circular one. An army of people was established to accomplish all these and 1,000 other tasks.
Ever present: Yoko looks on as Dan takes Lennon's portrait in 1969. He started out as Yoko's assistant and ended up as John's butler
And then there was me – Yoko Ono’s ‘American friend’ who came along for the ride: her personal assistant, confidant – and dope buddy.
As I once told an old friend: ‘In the end, I was just John’s butler.’
I lived with Yoko and Lennon for four years; an insider witnessing their love affair and the break-up of The Beatles. I can still see the vivid cast that surrounded them: the stars, charlatans, groupies, politicians, sycophants, lawyers and hippies.
It was a time of absolute freedom, a time when everything changed. The world was turning on, tuning in and dropping out, and all to the beat of rock ’n’ roll.
‘It’s Allen Ginsberg and he’s f****** naked.’ I didn’t know John Lennon then, but the Liverpool accent was unmistakable. The date was June 3, 1965 and we were celebrating the 39th birthday of our friend Allen, the Beat poet.
He was standing in a corner, stark naked with a drink in his hand, surrounded by people trying to get a peep. He loved to take his clothes off, especially in a crowd. I turned to see John and the other Beatles staring at Allen with amused looks on their faces. The Beat scene was spreading into the mainstream.
My wife Jill and I made a lot of new friends. Among them were John Dunbar, who ran the Indica Gallery in Mayfair, and the girl who was soon to become his wife: the young singer Marianne Faithfull. She was beautiful, with an aura of vulnerability and innocence.
Inner circle: Dan Richter describes his close links with the Lennons
Just a few years out of convent school, she had begun her career playing guitar and singing folk ballads. The Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham was impressed, and encouraged Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to write As Tears Go By for her. The recording was released in 1964 and she was catapulted into stardom.
Marianne and John got married, and invited us to their Chelsea flat for dinner after their son Nicholas was born. Just as we were finishing the meal, there was a knock at the door.
There stood John’s friend Paul McCartney, carrying a very big hobbyhorse.
‘Hi, look what I found for Nicholas,’ he said.
‘It’ll be a while before Nicholas can use it,’ said John, and we all laughed.
Paul then pulled an envelope of marijuana out of his pocket and explained that Bob Dylan had given it to him. He also said Bob had introduced The Beatles to pot for the first time the previous August in New York.
I found it hard to believe they were so new to turning on. John Dunbar was around The Beatles a lot. Once, when he had lit up a pipe of dope, John Lennon had been shocked. ‘Are they really that square?’ I thought.
‘I don’t know how to roll it,’ Paul said at the dinner party, and we all laughed: that was not a problem for us. We all ended up sitting on a rug in John and Marianne’s living room, singing to the accompaniment of pots and pans from the kitchen.
Later, Jill and I were nervously expecting Lennon and Yoko. I had become friendly with Yoko when we were in Tokyo in 1964. Now she and John – one of the most famous human beings in the world – were stopping by to chat.
‘What do you serve a Beatle?’ I asked Jill as I went to answer the knock on the door. ‘Do I just roll a joint?’
‘Don’t be daft, he’s British. We can’t go wrong offering him a cup of tea,’ she replied. ‘I’ll just make a nice pot of Earl Grey.’
'The media might be ranting that Yoko was breaking up The Beatles, but the fact was they had fallen in love'
I opened the door and John and Yoko were standing there. They seemed to fit together as if there was a physical connection.
John looked skinny and nervous in jeans, denim jacket and T-shirt. Yoko said something like, ‘Dan and Jill, this is John.’ She had a funny way of sucking in her breath after she spoke.
I knew John had started out at art school and always wanted to be an artist and I realised Yoko was introducing her new boyfriend to the hip art world. Yoko was his guide, his entree to that world.
The media might be ranting that Yoko was breaking up The Beatles, but the fact was they had fallen in love. John hung on Yoko’s every word. He wanted to be a conceptual artist and Yoko wanted to be a rock star. This, of course, presented a lot of problems.
The Beatles juggernaut was in trouble: John and Paul were drifting apart and most Beatles insiders saw Yoko as a gold digger who was exacerbating their own problems. As a result, she was openly insulted in front of John.
I had an ongoing problem with heroin, needing it daily, but now I had to find it for John and Yoko too. I took the train into London every day to look for work and buy heroin for myself and for them.
Meanwhile, they were moving into Tittenhurst Park, their new 85-acre estate in Ascot with its mansion framed by lawns, stately trees and great walls of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas.
There was plenty of room there, so Yoko and John invited us to join them. Yoko and Jill were very close and I was getting us dope. It was a good solution for all of us.
One Friday in August 1969, I clunked into the house in my wellingtons to see The Beatles sitting round like morose pop demigods.
John and Yoko at Tittenhurst Park, their 85-acre estate in Ascot with its mansion framed by lawns, stately trees and great walls of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas
They had come to Ascot for a photoshoot to promote their Abbey Road album. It was one of their last meetings together and the atmosphere was tense. Paul and John were arguing over everything. Apple, their company, was haemorrhaging money.
Paul had begun telling the others what to do, particularly during recordings and John was angry and disillusioned. The Beatle dream was just about over.
John had discovered that Yoko was willing to be his foil: his lover, attendant, teacher, and prime minister. Imagine how effective it was for his purpose of breaking up The Beatles to always have her present at recordings and meetings. This, of course, increased the howls of derision directed at her.
Meanwhile, she was trying to transform herself into a rock star, but her singing was not going well. She had a way of wailing when she sang that belongs in a Japanese temple, not on a rock stage. The word ‘yowl’ was used to describe it. John would not hear a word of criticism, but the more she sang, the more the people at Apple couldn’t stand her. To them, she was not only an interloper but a terrible singer to boot.
I was walking in the estate grounds with John and Yoko when they had their first meeting with head gardener Frank.
‘We only want white and black flowers,’ Yoko told Frank, who was the classic English gardener: tweed jacket, wellington boots and a tie, quite proper and completely confused.
‘Pardon, ma’am, did you say only white and black flowers?’
‘Yes, we don’t want any colour at all, just pure white and black.’ Yoko was quite firm.
I was amused as I watched Frank struggle.
‘Uh . . . I’m sure we can find some lovely white flowers, but black might be difficult.’
‘There are some very dark tulips that look black. I’m sure you can find some other kinds, too,’ said Yoko. I was trying not to laugh. Life at Tittenhurst was going to be fun.
Despite owning a sprawling mansion, John and Yoko spent most of their time in bed by late 1969
By late 1969, John and Yoko spent most of their time in bed. They slept, ate, had sex, worked the phones, read the post, planned their next outing, and whatever else that made up their day. I would drop by to discuss what was going on or whatever needed their attention.
John was invariably sitting cross-legged on the bed strumming his acoustic guitar while Yoko took the lead in discussions. You always felt that Yoko and John had discussed things before you arrived and decided on what Yoko would say, while John appeared to be lost in his guitar.
All around them was this great unfinished mansion. Some rooms were temporarily set up for use, others were filled with workmen on scaffolds scraping and painting.
Everywhere, walls were being demolished or built. Empty rooms were filled with the flotsam and jetsam of The Beatles phenomenon. Boxes were stacked everywhere, filled with colourful clothes and costumes, shoes and boots, books, acetates, records, hundreds of tapes, guitars, and gifts.
On August 1, 1971, George Harrison held a major charity event at Madison Square Garden. The Concert For Bangladesh – a country hit by the double disaster of war and cholera – was the first of its kind and George, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ravi Shankar were to appear.
As soon as we arrived in New York everyone assumed John would join George and Ringo on stage. But he didn’t want to, for fear of being tricked into a Beatles reunion, even though Yoko was keen to take part. They bickered all day.
Paul had begun telling the others what to do, particularly during recordings and John was angry and disillusioned. The Beatle dream was just about over
My phone rang in the middle of the night. ‘Get over here right away.’
It was John and I could tell that something was wrong. I hurriedly dressed and went down the hall to their suite in a hotel on Central Park. I could see that the room was a mess. Furniture was overturned and things were thrown about. John was very angry and Yoko was huddling in the background. He said he was leaving.
‘She wants to go onstage at George’s Bangladesh thing. I’m not gonna do it,’ he said. ‘If she wants to go on without me, let her. I’ll be in Paris.’
We rode out to the airport in a terrible rainstorm, John staring grimly ahead. I got him on a flight and returned to the Park Lane and Yoko. Hurt and upset she told me she was determined to go onstage without him, even though it would make George and Ringo uncomfortable and destroy ‘John and Yoko’ in the public eye. Only the following day did she relent and return to Ascot.
Less than two weeks later John and Yoko were back in New York, and although they couldn’t have known it at the time, they would never return to Tittenhurst.
The Ascot days were a transition for all of us. I broke my dependence on heroin and started on the road to recovery. Yoko had established herself as more than just the woman who had ‘broken up The Beatles’. And John had changed from a Beatle to the John Lennon that we understand today.
When John and Yoko had moved into Tittenhurst in August 1969 he was still a Beatle and a tentative neophyte in Yoko’s conceptualist art world. When he left for New York almost exactly two years later with the master tape for Imagine, his fully realised solo work, he had completed his transformation.
He had discovered his new voice and he had a confidence that would stay with him for the rest of his life. He was ready to leave. New York was where the energy was and he was ready to take it on.
Forty two years ago yesterday, at 11.35am, The Beatles walked across a zebra crossing in an innocuous North London street.
The photoshoot for their new Abbey Road album happened just yards from the eponymous recording studios and took ten minutes - only six frames were taken by the photographer, Iain Macmillan, who was perched on a stepladder.
It has since become one of the most iconic covers in history for two reasons - no album cover has inspired more imitations, and none has spawned such a mass of conspiracy theories.
The Beatles' world-famous Abbey Road album cover that sparked a million conspiracy theories
For Beatles obsessives with fevered imaginations, it was ultimate proof of the bizarre theory of the time - that Paul McCartney was, in fact, dead.
According to the legend, Paul had died in a car accident and been replaced by an impostor. The band, it was said, subsequently felt guilty about the deception, and so placed hidden clues on the album cover for their fans.
Thus, even today, despite the apparent rude health of McCartney, they insist that if you look closely at the images on the front and back of the album it is packed with deathly symbolism.
Beatlemania: A tribute band joined hundreds of fans in Abbey Road yesterday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famous photoshoot
Surrounded: A bus comes to a standstill as fans mob the Abbey Road site
What is certain is that the album denoted one death of sorts. Unbeknown to the public at the time, The Beatles were in the final throes of a bitter break-up and would never record another album.
Relations had deteriorated to such an extent that the group abandoned their original title of Everest, together with a shoot in the Himalayas, and were photographed instead walking away from the studios and everything they had once shared.
For other devotees, however, far more could be read into the image...
1. THE FUNERAL
The procession of The Beatles across the zebra crossing, say the conspiracy theorists, represents Paul's funeral.
John Lennon leads in a white suit and symbolises the preacher; Ringo Starr is the mourner, dressed in black; George Harrison, in scruffy shirt and trousers, denotes the grave-digger; Paul is wearing an old suit and is the only one who is barefoot.
He later explained that he began the shoot wearing sandals but, because it was a hot day, he kicked them off.
The theorists believed that if this was the case, the hot tarmac would be too uncomfortable. This, they argued, was a sign that Paul was the corpse.
2. THE CIGARETTE
Paul McCartney is left-handed, but here holds his cigarette in his right hand. At the time, cigarettes were commonly referred to as 'coffin nails'. This, therefore, could be seen as a message that Paul's 'coffin lid' had been nailed down and that the man in the picture was a lookalike.
Paul is also out of step with the other band members. Each of the others has his left leg forward, but Paul has his right leg forward - again marking him out as different.
3. THE REGISTRATION PLATE
The white VW Beetle in the background has the registration LMW 28IF - 28 being the age conspiracy theorists say Paul would have been IF he hadn't 'died'.
In fact, Paul was 27 when Abbey Road was released - but fortunately for the theorists, Indian mystics count a person's age from conception, not birth, in which case Paul would have indeed been 28 at the time.
Besides, the band were famously followers of the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It has also been suggested that the LMW stands for 'Linda McCartney Weeps' - referring to his new wife whom he had married earlier that year.
4. THE SPECTATORS
In the background, a small group of people dressed in white stand on one side of the road, while a lone person stands on the other.
Is this meant to be Paul, alone and different from the others?
5. THE POLICE VAN
On the right-hand side of the road is a black police van, believed to be a reference to the police who kept quiet about Paul's 'death'.
According to legend, the band's manager, Brian Epstein, bought their silence, and the presence of the Maria is meant as another subtle thank you.
6. THE LINE OF CARS
A line can be traced from the VW Beetle to the three cars in front of it. If it is drawn connecting their right wheels it runs straight through Paul's head, with theorists suggesting that means Paul sustained a head injury because of a car crash.
7. THE BLOODSTAIN
On the Australian version of the album, the cover showed what could be a bloodstain splattered on the road just behind Ringo and John, supposedly backing claims of a road accident.
8. THE CRACKED S
On the back cover there is a picture of the Abbey Road sign and above it the name Beatles has been written. There is an obvious crack running through the S - thought to suggest problems within the group.
9. THE DOTS
To the left of the name 'BEATLES' there are a series of eight dots. When joined together they form the number three.
Did this mean there were only three Beatles left?
10. IMAGE OF DEATH
If the back cover is turned 45 degrees anticlockwise a crude image of the Grim Reaper appears, from his skull to his black gown. Theorists believed it was a sign that someone in the group had died.
11. THE GIRL
Nobody knows the identity of the girl dressed in blue on the back cover. On the night of the theorists' 'car crash' it was raining heavily and Paul is said to have given a lift to a fan called Rita. It could be that this girl is her, either fleeing the scene or running to get help.
12. PAUL'S FINAL RESTING PLACE
If the writing on the wall is split into sections, it conveys the cryptic message, 'Be at Les Abbey'. In numerology the following two letters, R and O, are the 18th and 15th letters in the alphabet. By adding this together (33) and multiplying by the number of letters (2), we get 66, the year Paul is supposed to have died.
Three also represents the letter C so 33 could also stand for CC. Cece is short for Cecilia, with theorists claiming Paul was 'laid to rest' at St Cecilia's Abbey, a monastery in Ryde, Isle of Wight.
In the biggest online survey of personal memories ever conducted, more than 3,000 people recounted their most vivid memories relating to the 1960s pop band.
Participants ranged in age from 17 to 87 spanning 69 different nationalities in the six months study.
She Loves You from 1963 was the hit that generated the most memories
The aim was to see how Beatles associations shed light on the psychological effect of autobiographical memory.
'Autobiographical memory is essential for our sense of self,' said researcher Dr Catriona Morrison, from the University of Leeds.
Most respondents were 'silver surfers' between the ages of 55 and 65 who would have been in their teens during the Beatles hey day in the 1960s.
The memories showed an expected 'reminiscence bump' - a time in life which is remembered especially vividly and often coincides with the teenage years.
In the case of Beatles memories, the bump occurred somewhat earlier than usual, the scientists found.
'What's interesting is that the majority of memories cluster in the early teenage years,' said Dr Morrison, who will outline the research at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Liverpool.
'The early teenage years are the years during which you are making your musical decisions. By the age of about 14 most people have made up their mind, and that's the age when music makes the most powerful impression on us.'
Music from The Beatles had the most profound effect on people who were in their teens in the sixties
The Beatles song that generated the most memory associations was 'She Loves You', the biggest selling single of the 1960s.
Although 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' sparked off the most memories for Americans.
However the researchers were struck by the similarity of moods, feelings, scenes and situations relayed by Beatles memories around the world.
'We were so impressed with how vividly people could recall memories, sometimes from more than 40 years ago, especially when many eloquent and vivid memories appeared to have been little recalled in decades,' said Dr Morrison.
'This shows the power of music in shaping and reliving sometimes long-neglected memories.'
With the exception of John Lennon's murder, memories were on the whole overwhelmingly positive.
Dr Morrison added: 'We argue that music is more than auditory cheesecake. It's a means by which people can account for themselves both as an individual and as part of society.'
As the world celebrates 50 years of the biggest band of them all, why are we still in love with the Beatles?August 7, 1957, was just another day at The Cavern Club, Liverpool, but owner Alan Sytner was in a grey mood.The Quarry Men Skiffle Group, a local band of youngsters playing for the first time at the newly opened club, were doing covers of Elvis Presley and it was not his kind of music.
'Cut out the rock,' he ordered band leader John Lennon.
Five years on, Lennon was still playing at the club, which Sytner had opened with the dream of making it the greatest jazz venue in the UK outside London, but the band he'd cobbled together was defining the music that rocked a generation - and, half a century later, still gets people on to their feet.
The Beatles, who formally became the Fab Four on August 19, 1962, after Ringo Starr replaced original band member Pete Best on the drums, performed 292 times at The Cavern Club, lending it the pilgrim spot immortality its founder couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams.
The Beatles gives their first media interview for a broadcast on close-circuit radio for patients of the local Cleaver and Chatterbridge hospital on October 27, 1962
His plan was to replicate the Paris jazz club, Le Caveau de la Huchette but the Fab Four turned the club plan on its head.
It was there that Brian Samuel Epstein, music manager with the Midas touch, discovered The Beatles. It was also where the band made Liverpool synonymous with music.
'The legacy of The Beatles stretches beyond the timeless appeal of their music, for as well as being a pop legend they were a social and cultural phenomenon,' says The Cavern Club's director, Dave Jones.
'The story of their rise to fame is one of the great chronicles of our time and it began here in Liverpool in 1962.'
In the iconic Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, the band poses with photos of people who had inspired them. George Harrison insisted on four Indian savants - Mahavtar Babaji, his Kriya Yoga student Lahiri Mahasaya, his disciple Yuktananda Giri and his famous follower, Yogananda Paramahansa
IT ALL BEGAN HEREJan 16,1957: The Cavern Club opened in a warehouse cellar at 10, Mathew Street, Liverpool. Owner Alan Sytner named it after a Paris jazz club, Le Caveau De La Huchette, and dreamt of it becoming the top jazz venue outside London.
Aug 7,1957: John Lennon debuted at the club as part of The Quarry Men Skiffle Group. It played skiffle, the folk style music with a rock ’n’ roll influence.
Feb 9, 1961: The Beatles debuted at the club for their first lunchtime gig with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe with Pete Best on drums. The club became the place where the band’s musical identity was forged and its fans still say it was at its best during those gigs, when, ironically, many thought it was a German band!
Nov 9, 1961: Liverpool businessman Brian Epstein, whose family owned a nearby record store, visited the club and saw The Beatles performing. Epstein offered to become the band’s manager and by June 1962, he had secured a recording contract for them from Parlophone Records.
Aug 19,1962: Richard Starkey (aka Ringo Starr) debuted at the club as The Beatles drummer. Pete Best had played his last gig with The Beatles on August 15.
Aug 3, 1963: The day saw the last of the 292 performances by The Beatles at the club. By 1964, the Beatles had taken America by storm and their phenomenal success turned The Cavern Club into an iconic institution.
Today: The Cavern Club, which has seen many changes of ownership, is now a tourist spot, live music hub and warm-up venue for famous bands.
Fifty years after The Beatles rewrote the history of pop music, the Liverpool City Council has lined up a slew of programmes, collectively titled Fab 50, to celebrate those early days of the band when it was just another act playing in just another club.
'This is a hugely significant year in the history of The Beatles, one that Liverpool couldn't let pass by without a huge celebration,' says city council chief Joe Anderson.
'We should never underestimate the power of The Beatles to attract visitors to the city.'
The city council has planned events centred around The Cavern Club; Mendips at 251 Menlove Avenue, where John Lennon grew up with his aunt Mimi and her husband George Smith; and 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood home of Paul McCartney.
Excitement is also building up at The Beatles Story, the museum dedicated to the Fab Four, which was in the news last week because of the visit of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles.
Says The Beatles Story MD Jerry Goldman: 'I am confident that the stunning calendar of events the city has put together will showcase Liverpool to the world. We look forward to welcoming thousands of new visitors to our city and promise them all a unique cultural experience.'
On the city's agenda are 'Beatle Birthdays', to be celebrated throughout the year; The International Beatles Week in August, followed by the Port Sunlight Summer Festival.
If Port Sunlight in Wirral doesn't ring a bell, Hulme Hall should, for it was here on August 19, 1962, that Ringo Starr made his first appearance as official drummer of The Beatles.
The three band members (John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney) had a two-hour rehearsal with the 'new lad' before taking to the stage as the headline act of the local horticultural society's annual dance.
It was on that night that the world first saw the four young musicians turning into the Fab Four together. The rest is history.
The Fab Four in their prime, from left, George, Paul, John and Ringo
Indian soul curry for Fab FourBy ANAND VARGHESE
A glance, even a cursory one, at the patterns and shapes that have defined popular music, is testimony to the fact that music trends are cyclical.
Characterised by a well-defined series of peaks and troughs, the one unwritten rule of thumb is what goes up must inevitably come down.
The Beatles are an exception. They have completed five decades of being completely immune to the debilitating effects of falling out of favour with the mainstream since they signed their first major record deal with EMI Parlophone and sang their first hit single, 'Love Me Do'.
Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon and their wives at Rishikesh with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in March 1968
India's affair with the Fab Four has paralleled the zenith of Beatlemania around the world - and it's been longer lasting than the band's flirtation with our gurus.
Evidence of our enduring romance with the Liverpool lads is everywhere. The Beatles Festival in Rishikesh, where the Fab Four spent time at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in 1968, was an attempt lauded by Beatles fans all over, even though it was neither particularly well-organised, nor sustainable as a long-term music property.
The online marketplace, www. jabong.com/beatles, has been financially more viable, and more attractive to Beatles fans, who get to choose from a quirky variety of tees inspired by their idols.
Another initiative, www.beatlesinindia.blogspot.in, demonstrates how deep is our almost umbilical connection with the band. Not just the established rockers, even the younger bands worship The Beatles.
Former Beatle George Harrison (centre) is greeted by Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar's brother Uday Shankar (right), himself a famous Indian classical dancer, and an unidentified member of the Shankar family, during a visit to their home in Calcutta in 1972
'We keep playing tribute gigs dedicated to the Fab Four,' informs Akshay Chowdhury of Delhi-based rock band Barefaced Liar.
For some rockers, their romance with The Beatles extends beyond gigs. Hitesh Madan of Eka has the complete eightvolume Beatles anthology and keeps shelling out cash for any Beatles memorabilia he doesn't already own.
'There is something about the compositions, the harmonies and the way The Beatles presented their songs that is infinitely inspiring,' say Hitesh's bandmates Lokesh Madan and Benny Pinto.
Paul McCartney played with colours on Holi during one of his soul-searching visits
Graphic designer Pushkar Thakur points to another factor responsible for the evergreen mystique of the band. The vibrancy of the colours and depth of the symbolism of the Fab Four album jacket.
The designs have tickled the fancy and the imagination of successive generations. It's not nostalgia, for sentimental value alone cannot make any music timeless.
The Beatles have transcended time because, as Chowdhury puts it, 'the melodies were outstanding and the songwriting was unsurpassable'.
The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. on February 18, 1964. (AP Photo) #
The British rock and roll group The Beatles are seen during their first U.S. tour in this 1964 file photo. The band members, from left to right, are George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. (AP Photo) #
John Lennon, member of Britain's pop group The Beatles, shakes hands with contestants in the Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant, Hong Kong, June 8, 1964. (AP Photo) #
With some of their fans in the background, The Beatles board a plane for England at New York Airport, NY, Sept. 21, 1964. From bottom of ladder, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison. (AP Photo) #
Beatle John Lennon is shown in this 1965 photo at an unknown location. (AP Photo) #
Beatles John Lennon continues to play the guitar as he evades a young fan who wants Lennon's yachting-style cap as a souvenir during the Beatles concert in Rome, Italy, June 28, 1965. (AP Photo) #
John Lennon, one of the members of the Beatles is shown as a state trooper aids him through a crowd of newsmen at Logan International Airport in Boston, Aug. 11, 1966 as he and other members transferred planes after a flight from London. The Beatles were en route to Chicago where they would start their third tour of American cities. It was Lennon who was quoted as saying the group is more popular than Jesus, setting off a ban by numerous U.S. radio stations on playing their records. (AP Photo) #
Rock and roll singers for the group The Beatles John Lennon, right, and Paul McCartney, holding the hand of Julian Lennon, walk with actress Jane Ashre across the tarmac following their arrival in Athens, Greece on July 22, 1967. The woman in the background is unidentified. (AP Photo) #
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, considered as the "spiritual father" of the Beatles sits amidst George Harrison, left and John Lennon, during the UNICEF gala at the Palais du Chaillot in Paris, December 15, 1967. (AP Photo) #
Beatles members John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing their harmonizing vocal lines in the Abbey Road Studios in London, England, February 11, 1968, during a recording session. (AP Photo) #
Beatles John Lennon, center, and Paul McCartney, arrive at the London Pavillion cinema on July 17, 1968 for the premiere of their new animation film "Yellow Submarine." At left is Japanese film producer Yoko Ono. (AP Photo) #
Linda McCartney's photo of John Lennon, left, and Paul McCartney taken during the photo session for the cover of the Abbey Road album in 1969. The photo was part of the Linda McCartney photography exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum which ran through Aug. 8, 1999 in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Linda McCartney) #
Beatle John Lennon, right, and Yoko Ono are shown circa 1969 at an unknown location. (AP Photo) #
Beatle John Lennon waves his marriage certificate as his bride, Japanese artist Yoko Ono, stands at his side after their wedding at the Rock of Gibraltar on March 20, 1969. They are about to board a chartered jet to Paris where they will honeymoon. (AP Photo) #
Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, right, hold a bed-in for peace in room 902, the presidential suite at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam on March 25, 1969. The newlyweds, holding solitary tulips, begin a seven-day Love-In to protest against war. (AP Photo) #
John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono share an Eskimo kiss (rubbing noses) during an interview in London, Feb. 9, 1970. Both had their hair shorn in Denmark to be auctioned off in London. The proceeds went go to the Black Power organization in Britain. (AP Photo/Bob Dear) #
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
THE LAST DAYS OF THE BEATLES
THE BEATLES AND THE ROLLING STONES
Posted by ASC at 8:53 AM