|Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination|
The FBI’s War on Rock Stars
By Salvador Astucia
PART III: PRIMAL SOUNDS
Chapter 6: The Second Insurgency
|(L-R: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison)||The Beatles, as they looked when playing clubs in the Reeperbahn, a redlight section of Hamburg, Germany. (Original drummer Pete Best is shown on far right.)|
Lennon and the Beatles lead the British InvasionThe 1960s brought in a second wave of musical creativity that rejuvenated rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950s. Elvis had joined the army, was stationed in Germany, returned to the states and tried to pick up where he left off, but the momentum was gone. President John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States. Inaugurated at the age of 43, he was the youngest president in American history. He and his beautiful wife Jackie and their two young children—Caroline and John, Jr. (John-John)—brought a sense of hope and optimism to America. Tragically President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. About two months later, on February 7, 1964, a rock ‘n’ roll quartet from Liverpool, England came to New York City and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Their music and their image took the world by storm. The Beatles’ leader, John Lennon, assumed the de facto role of king of rock ‘n’ roll, replacing Elvis. The Beatles were influenced by their rock ‘n’ roll predecessors of the Fifties—especially Elvis, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard—plus Scottish skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan. Skiffle was a form of bluegrass and folk music—jug band music—that gained popularity in England during the Fifties. Although rock ‘n’ roll had been stopped cold in America, vinyl recordings of the genre flourished in Europe, particularly in port cities like Liverpool, Manchester, and Hamburg, where limited supplies of rock ‘n’ roll and R & B records were quickly bought and hoarded by young British disciples of Elvis. By combining rock ‘n’ roll with skiffle, a new sound developed in Liverpool called the Mersey Beat. The success of the Beatles spawned the success of other British bands such as the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, the Zombies, the Kinks, Chad & Jeremy, the Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Them, the Spencer Davis Group, the Who, the Moody Blues, Peter & Gordon, and countless others. The phenomenon became known as The British Invasion.
The Beatles were the first rock ‘n’ roll "group" where there was no solo artist who fronted the band, the so-called rock star. They were a four-piece band that played their own instruments, and sang and wrote their own music. The concept of the group—as opposed to the solo artist—became the dominant trend of Sixties rock. This was one aspect of the British Invasion that was quite different from Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll of the Fifties.
While Memphis, Tennessee—home of Elvis and location of Sun Records—is considered the Mecca of Fifties rock ‘n’ roll, a comparable location for British rock of the Sixties was a red-light section of Hamburg, West Germany called the Reeperbahn, where prostitution was legalized and drugs and violence were commonplace. Bruno Koschmider, owner of the Kaiserkeller (night club), hired English guitarist Tony Sheridan who became the Reeperbahn's first rock star, but was soon lured away by a rival club, the Top Ten. To meet the market demand for rock ‘n’ roll, Koschmider used of the direct ship route to Liverpool to transport inexpensive rock ‘n’ roll acts from that city, including Billy J. Kramer, the Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Swinging Blue Jeans and, most famously, the Beatles. Musicians were housed in slum apartments, fed amphetamines to keep them going, and made to play exhausting schedules. Because of the drugs and violence in the Reeperbahn clubs, waiters often carried tear-gas pistols and blackjacks, which were sometimes issued to bands as well. Although the working standards were extremely grueling, the endless sets transformed the amateurish bands from Liverpool groups into professional musical acts.1
|The Dave Clark Five|
|The Rolling Stones|
|Them (featuring Van Morrison)|
|The Moody Blues|
|Chad & Jeremy||Peter & Gordon||The Spencer Davis Group|
Liverpool club owner and promoter Allan Williams claims the importance of Hamburg to the Beatles’ development cannot be underestimated. "I think it is recognized now," he explained, "that without Hamburg we’d never have had the Beatles. Hamburg was the training ground for the band."2 Years later, George Harrison reflected on the Beatles’ experience playing at the Hamburg’s Reeperbahn in the early Sixties.
Stuart Sutcliffe’s* widow, Astrid Kirchherr, described the Reeperbahn and the first time she saw the Beatles:
Allan Williams was the first Liverpool promoter to book local bands in Hamburg, mainly because there was a huge demand for rock ‘n’ roll in the German city, plus Liverpool was saturated with bands at that time. Williams had a club in downtown Liverpool called the Jacaranda, where bands played in the basement. This was where he first met the Beatles.5 Williams eventually booked the Beatles in Hamburg, as he described below in an interview years later:
Bigger than Elvis
On December 10, 1961, the Beatles met Brian Epstein and Alistair Taylor at the Casbah Club in the basement of Pete Best’s home.* The Beatles quickly decided to sign a management contract with Brian representing the band. Brian began telling people the Beatles would be bigger than Elvis. Brian’s brother, Clive Epstein, liked the Beatles, but had trouble believing Brian’s prophesy. The following are Clive Epstein’s comments from an interview years later:
Brian quickly changed their image, having them appear in stylish suits instead of the black leather jackets and jeans they wore at the Reeperbahn clubs in Hamburg. Brian knew that conquering America was much different from playing the Reeperbahn. America was more conservative, more naïve in many ways. Becoming popular in the United States would require a complete make-over. The following is Brian’s description of the Beatles’ image change:
Although it has been widely reported that John Lennon objected to Epstein’s shift in the band’s image, particularly wearing suits and ties, he obviously enjoyed certain aspects of the image change. Not only did they change the look of the clothes they wore, they also changed the image of the instruments they played. John apparently liked the black Gretsch guitars George Harrison was using in 1962, so he decided to spray paint his blond colored Rickenbacker 325 black as well. The spray paint job was done by Charles Bantam, a man who normally painted coaches. The job was arranged by Chris Whorton, a small-time dance promoter in Birkenhead, a suburb of Liverpool across the Mersey River. The following is Whorton’s description—from an interview years later—of the how Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325 was painted black in 1962:
|The Beatles, Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964|
Capitol Records and the Ed Sullivan Show
An often overlooked aspect of the Beatles’ success is they had recorded continually with Parlophone Records—EMI’s British record label—since September 4, 1962 when they recorded "Love Me Do." This was a year an a half before they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time on February 9, 1964. By the time "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was released in America on December 26, 1963, and quickly went to Number One, the Beatles had already recorded scores of songs that sold well in England. Even with the Beatles’ success in the UK, EMI’s American subsidiary, Capitol Records, refused to release or promote Beatle records in the United States. But with the stellar success of "I Want To Hold Your Hand," the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and continual haranguing by Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, executives at Capitol Records were forced to release Beatle records in America. As a follow-up to "I Want To Hold Your Hand," Capitol Records released a grand total of fifty-five recordings of the Beatles—packaged in five albums—over the course of 1964.* That was a monumental achievement. No one follows up a hit with fifty-five songs. It was unprecedented, and still is. With that one event, the floodgates were opened and the Beatles had made musical history.
Before the Beatles came along, Capitol Records wasn’t interested in bona fide rock ‘n’ roll or rhythm and blues artists. The closest they had were The Beach Boys, The Four Preps, Dick Dale, and The Lettermen. In addition, they offered Tennessee Ernie Ford, Guy Lombardo, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Al Martino, Buck Owen, Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, and so on. Capitol Records A&R man Dave Dexter claims he tried to get Capitol executives to promote the Beatles, but his efforts were futile.† The following is an excerpt from an interview with Dexter where he explains how the Beatles achieved their own success in spite of Capitol Records, not because of them:
While Brian Epstein was pushing to get Capitol to release and promote Beatle records in America, Ed Sullivan and his wife witnessed throngs of teenagers awaiting the Beatles’ arrival at Heathrow Airport in London. The following is Ed Sullivan’s recollection of how he first discovered the Beatles:
On February 7, 1964, the Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in New York City, landing at about 1:30 PM. More than 10,000 screaming teenagers12 were waiting at the airport for their arrival. Even the Beatles were surprised at the reception. George Harrison described his feelings, years later, as the Beatles landed at JFK Airport on that historic day:
Ed Sullivan was genuinely surprised at the hysteria over the Beatles’ arrival in America. The following are his recollections about the Beatles’ first performance on his show:
The Beatles manager, the late Brian Epstein, described how he always had confidence that the Beatles would make it in America, and felt "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was exactly right for the American market in late 1963, early 1964. The following is Epstein’s description of how that particular song was released on the eve of the Beatles first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, two events which ensured the group’s success in America. The following are Epstein’s comments:
The Beatles’ tremendous success in America opened the door for numerous British bands. Over the next two years, from 1964 through 1966, British artists dominated the American charts. The following is a listing of some of the songs and the artists who recorded them:
In the summer of 1964, the Beatles released their first film, A Hard Day's Night, which was praised by movie critics and analyzed and copied by young American musicians. Consequently, in 1965 American bands began to emerge with a similar sound and image as the Beatles. Such bands included the Byrds, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Young Rascals, The Beau Brummels, the Outsiders, Jay and the Americans, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and others. Folk singer Bob Dylan went electric and began touring with a backup band that would later perform as The Band, featuring Robbie Robertson. In addition, the Beach Boys intensified their creative endeavors in order to compete with the Beatles. With the exception of Dylan, most of the rock music being created in 1964 and 1965 was very positive, dealing mostly with teenage love and good times in general.
|The Supremes||Otis Redding||James Brown||Marvin Gaye|
The Segregated Sixties
The Beatles were influenced by black rhythm and blues artists such as Barret Strong (Money), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (You Really Got a Hold on Me), The Marvelettes (Please Mr. Postman), The Donays (Devil In His/Her Heart), The Isley Brothers (Twist and Shout), Arthur Alexander (Anna). It’s ironic that pop music became so segregated in the Sixties; moreso than the Fifties. As previously stated, musical segregation was quite pronounced in the Sixties, despite the social integration which occurred during that period, and despite the obvious black roots present in the Beatles’ early recordings. Although Capitol Records were forced to release Beatle albums, they and other record companies ensured that musical integration would not occur. Consequently, there was music for blacks, generally called Soul music, and music for whites, generally called rock. Musical segregation did not exist in Fifties rock ‘n’ roll, at least not the extent it did in the Sixties. This is why black artists like Chuck Berry could get away with playing semi-country songs like "Maybellene."
In the Sixties, only a few acts managed to successfully cross over, but most
maintained separate fan bases. A large amount of the Sixties’ soul music was
produced by Berry Gordy of Motown Records, based in Detroit, Michigan. One
has to wonder what motivated Gordy to segregate his music so dramatically.
The Fifties phenomenon of rock ‘n’ roll demonstrated that people like all
kinds of music, regardless of race. Apparently special interests pushed for
segregation in the Sixties, and people like Berry Gordy complied. Motown
produced some great sounds, but it is interesting how the music industry
took a tremendous step backwards in the Sixties by forcing black artists to
perform only black sounding music.
Popular Motown bands and artists of the Sixties were Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Four Tops, The Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, and Mary Wells, to name a few. Volt, Stax, and Atlantic offered additional artists. They included Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave, Booker T and the M.G.s, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnny Taylor, Carla and Rufus Thomas, and the renowned Otis Redding. And of course the "Godfather of soul", James Brown, recorded for P.Funk Records.
|The Beatles, Shea Stadium, August 15, 1965|
The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium, 1965
On August 15, 1965, the Beatles began their North American tour at Shea Stadium. That particular performance is considered one of their most famous live shows and a landmark event in rock history. They played before an audience of 55,600 hysterical fans which marked the beginning of "stadium rock." As a result, an entire industry soon emerged to promote live rock bands performing before huge crowds, often playing in sports arenas and stadiums because those venues could hold the largest number of people. The Shea Stadium event was organized by music promoter Sid Bernstein. The Beatles’ old friend Ed Sullivan introduced them.16 On the surface, Shea Stadium was a joyous event, but trouble was brewing behind the walls of power within the United States government.
President Kennedy had been assassinated less than two years prior, shot dead while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. President Lyndon Johnson was aggressively escalating US troops in Vietnam. On August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, and, after President Johnson asserted that there had been a second attack on August 4 (a claim later shown to be false), the U.S. Congress almost unanimously endorsed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing the president to take "all necessary measures to repel attacks...and prevent further aggression." The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in effect gave the president carte blanche to wage war in Southeast Asia without Congressional approval. This marked the beginning of full-scale American involvement in the Vietnam War.
As the war progressed, the United States government began to persecute anyone who stood in its way, or appeared to have too much power. On December 11, 1964, rhythm and blues singer Sam Cooke was shot and killed in Los Angeles by a motel manager. The circumstances were highly suspicious and the case still unresolved in the minds of many. A month later, on January 20, 1965, Alan Freed—the disc jock/promoter who coined the name "rock ‘n’ roll—died purportedly from complications with alcoholism. A month after that, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot to death at a rally of his followers at a Harlem ballroom. Three Black Muslims were convicted of the murder. Cooke was reportedly friends with Muhammad Ali (real name, Cassius Clay) and Malcolm X.17
The Beatles’ growing popularity, as demonstrated by their Shea Stadium performance in 1965, was likely viewed by the FBI as a worsening problem. The Bureau had crushed rock ‘n’ roll in the Fifties and was now biding its time to see if the Sixties flavor of the old genre was merely a fad or something more substantial. Shea Stadium revealed that rock ‘n’ roll was completely rejuvenated and would not go away without a strong push. Consequently, the second insurgency of rock ‘n’ roll (also known as the British Invasion) was about to feel the wrath of Big Brother.
Compelling evidence suggests that, in 1966, Paul McCartney and Capitol Records began to sabotage John Lennon’s music. Four major events occurred from June through August of 1966. Apparently the FBI thought the Beatles were getting too creative and influential. The stated events seemed to center around the release of their next album, Revolver, on August 5, 1966. Although Revolver is considered one of the Beatles’ better albums, and a turning point in their music, I was disappointed with it because—simply stated—the version I heard contained too much McCartney and not enough Lennon.
|Revolver (album cover)|
But being an American, I heard the version released by Capitol Records in the United States. Consequently, the version I heard contained three less Lennon songs than the original version (the British version). Revolver was a ground breaking album, signaling a substantial shift in the Beatles’ sound and image. The album cover is avant-garde, designed by German artist Klaus Voorman.† The layout is a surreal collage with various photographed images of the Beatles floating on top of hand-drawn images of their heads and faces. Harrison’s hand-drawn face has real eyes and real lips superimposed. In an interview, years later, Voorman described how he was invited to design the cover of Revolver. The following is an excerpt:
The album marked the beginning of the Beatles’ psychedelic period which was introduced by Lennon’s "Tomorrow Never Knows" and Voorman’s cover design. Although none of the songs on Revolver are anti-war, Lennon’s lyrics expanded the boundaries of rock music, which were usually confined to romantic topics. In "She Said, She Said," Lennon stated lyrically that he knows what it’s like to be dead. He later admitted that he simply borrowed a line which was repeated to him by Peter Fonda while Fonda was on an acid trip. Toping off the album’s avant-garde style was George Harrison’s use of the sitar on the song, "Love to You."*
Surprisingly, three of John Lennon’s five original songs did not appear on the version of the album released by Capitol Records in America. Instead, Paul McCartney was presented as the primary creative force. None of McCartney’s songs were omitted from original version of Revolver. Table 2 shows the songs that appeared on the British version of Revolver versus those that appeared on the American version.
Table 2: Revolver - British Version vs. American Version
On the British version of Revolver, there were 14 songs total; on the American version there are only 11. Again, the three missing songs are Lennon’s. On the British version, Lennon sang lead vocal (and was the primary writer) on five songs: "I’m Only Sleeping," "She Said She Said," "And Your Bird Can Sing," "Dr. Robert," and "Tomorrow Never Knows." On the American version, "I’m Only Sleeping," "And Your Bird Can Sing," and "Dr. Robert" were omitted, leaving only two Lennon songs on the album. Of those two, McCartney refused to play on one. In contrast, five McCartney songs were featured, along with three Harrison tunes. None of McCartney’s or Harrison’s songs were cut from the British version. But Lennon’s three songs were top-notch, far better than some of Harrison’s and McCartney’s songs which were not cut. For example, Harrison’s "I want to Tell You" is a poorly written, poorly arranged song. At best, it’s a mediocre pop tune. McCartney has some nice songs, but "For No One" is a mundane tune which could easily be dropped. Why were those tunes kept and three of Lennon’s were dropped? Again, only Lennon’s tunes were dropped, no others. If Lennon’s three songs were not on Revolver, where did they go?
Capitol’s fraudulent ‘Yesterday and Today’ album
On June 15, 1966, Capitol Records released a Beatles’ album without the Beatles’ consent entitled Yesterday and Today. Capitol used a gruesome picture on the cover, known as the "butcher block photo." It showed the Beatles with dead babies (dolls) and hunks of red meat. The butcher block photo was taken during a bizarre photo session with photographer Bob Whitaker. The gory photo was quickly replaced with a more conventional picture of the Beatles.
Some obvious questions arise: Did the Beatles intend to release the "butcher block photo?" If not, how could such a thing occur? My research indicates that the answer to the first question is No, the Beatles did not intend to use the butcher block photo. The answer to the second question is fairly obvious: the FBI was using Capitol Records to harass the Beatles. To understand what happened requires some background information regarding how the Beatles’ recordings were marketed in the UK versus the United States.
From 1964 through 1966, two versions of every Capitol/EMI Beatle album were released: one version was released in Britain on the Parlophone/EMI label; and one version was released in America on the Capitol Records label. Generally, the two versions were similar, but the British versions usually contained about two or three extra songs. In addition, some of the songs were switched between albums.
|Yesterday & Today - Butcher Block Photo|
|Yesterday & Today - Conventional photo|
The British albums, however, were the original versions produced by the Beatles and were intended to be released without alteration in both America and Britain. In an interview years later, John Lennon expressed frustration over Capitol’s practice of changing songs around on Beatle albums sold in America:
Some people will argue that the Beatles intended to use the "butcher block photo," but George Harrison stated emphatically, years later, that the Beatles had nothing to do with Yesterday and Today. The following is Harrison’s explanation:
Yesterday and Today was a collection of songs from three British albums, plus two singles. Table 1 shows the songs on Yesterday and Today cross-referenced with the British albums and singles where they also appear. Notice how most of songs are from the British versions of Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver, and the A and B sides of a single ("We Can Work it Out" and "Day Tripper"). Also notice that Yesterday and Today was released on June 15, 1966, nearly two months before Revolver was released on August 5, 1966. Yet Yesterday and Today contains three unreleased Lennon songs intended for Revolver. This is extremely odd, and highly significant.
I believe the fraudulent release of Yesterday and Today by Capitol Records served three purposes. First, it made extra money for Capitol by releasing an additional album that the Beatles had never intended to be released. Second, the butcher block photo was intended to weaken the Beatles’ popularity, and frighten the Beatles as well. Third, by pulling three top-notch Lennon songs from the unreleased Revolver, and including the tunes on Yesterday and Today, this would strengthen Paul McCartney’s reputation as a songwriter when Revolver was released. In other words, McCartney looked stronger on the American version of Revolver because Lennon’s contributions were fewer in number. This leads to another troubling conclusion: Paul McCartney was apparently an active participant in a conspiracy with Capitol Records to discredit John Lennon and the Beatles in exchange for strengthening his own reputation as a songwriter and performer.
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ introduces psychedelic rock
Regardless of efforts made to suppress Lennon’s music on the Revolver album, his two songs which appeared on the American version of the LP had a profound impact on rock music, particularly "Tomorrow Never Knows." In 1966 rock music began to shift to a darker mood, reflecting the sentiment of America’s youth toward President Johnson’s escalation of military involvement in South Vietnam. John Lennon sparked quite a bit of creativity with "Tomorrow Never Knows", a song is laced with lyrical reverences to Timothy Leary’s Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book viewed by many as the Bible for LSD users.
Table 1: Origins of songs that appeared on Yesterday and Today
To my knowledge, Tomorrow Never Knows was the first psychedelic song ever written; the term "psychedelic" meaning a song that was inspired by LSD. The lyrics to Tomorrow Never Knows are as follows:
Typically, other bands began to follow the Beatles’ creative instincts. In 1967, a San Francisco-based band, Jefferson Airplane, had a hit single, "Somebody to Love," which made dark lyrical references to lies, death, blood and tears. The same year, Jimi Hendrix released another psychedelic song, "Purple Haze," which described an LSD experience. After Hendrix came along, psychedelic rock really went into orbit, but it was Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows that served as the launching pad.
Paul revealed a stunning bit of trivia in the 1997 book, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, by Barry Miles. Paul stated that he did not play on Lennon’s song, "She Said She Said" on the Revolver album. The following is an excerpt of McCartney’s comments:
Not only was McCartney absent on bass guitar on "She Said She Said," studio records further reveal that he did not sing on the recording either. In 1988, Mark Lewisohn wrote a book—The Beatles Recording Sessions—which documented, in detail, the recording sessions for virtually every Beatle song ever recorded. For "She Said She Said," Lewisohn indicates that George Harrison, not Paul, sang tenor backup harmony with John Lennon singing lead vocal. The following is an excerpt from The Beatles Recording Sessions, by Mark Lewisohn:
McCartney’s absence on "She Said She Said" is significant, especially since the version of Revolver released in America only contained two Lennon songs, whereas the original British/Parlophone version contained five. Of the two remaining Lennon songs, McCartney only recorded on one. This suggests he was part of a conspiracy to weaken Lennon’s popularity in America.
Manila & Lennon’s Jesus remarks
On July 5, 1966, the Beatles were booed and jeered in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The tumult was caused after the Beatles were erroneously accused of snubbing the president’s wife, Amelda Marcos, by not attending a party she had hosted. Most sources agree that the Beatles never received an invitation, but a false story was leaked that they had been rude to Marcos. As a result, their security was dropped as they tried to leave the country; they were jeered by several people and shoved at the airport by about thirty thugs, many armed.22
On July 29, 1966, Datebook—an American magazine—published John Lennon’s interview with Maureen Cleave which had been published in London’s Evening Standard four months earlier, on March 4, 1966. During the interview, John was apparently feeling quite relaxed with Cleave, and they proceeded to have an intellectual discussion, as opposed to discussing the rock music business non-stop. In the middle of the interview, John made the following remarks about Christianity:
The British public did not react to John’s remarks about Christianity and Jesus because no spin was added, plus, religion was not the point of the interview. John simply made a few remarks in passing about Christianity. Datebook’s publication of the same article was clearly designed to hurt Lennon. On the front page it said "Lennon was claiming the Beatles were bigger than Jesus." The following is America’s reaction to John’s comments as described by Ray Coleman in his book, Lennon: The Definitive Biography:
Maureen Cleave—the British journalist to whom John made the initial remarks about Christianity—made the following remarks in defense of John’s comments:
Brian Epstein met with John in Chicago and urged him to publicly apologize, otherwise the Beatles should cancel their next tour to ensure their safety. Biographer Ray Coleman wrote that "Brian feared the Beatles might be assassinated."26 Upon learning of the possibility of assassination, John broke down and began to cry. "I’ll do anything," he told Brian. "Anything, whatever you say I should do, I’ll have to say. How on earth I going to face the others if this whole tour is called off? Just because of me, just because of something I said, I didn’t mean to cause all of this."27 Coleman made the following remarks which described John’s emotional reaction to the threat of assassination:
On August 12, 1966, just as the Beatles’ third American tour was about to begin in Chicago, John held a press conference where he explained his comments about Christianity and apologized. The American journalists were unnecessarily crass. In response, John moved on to other topics and began criticizing America’s warlike conduct in Vietnam. This was the beginning of John’s political activism.29 Things settled down a bit after John’s apology but problems continued to plague the 1966 tour. The Beatles’ public relations manager, Tony Barrow, explained—in an interview years later—how the 1966 tour was a complete disaster. The following are excerpts:
The end of touring
On August 29, 1966, the Beatles played their final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. They had tired of touring anyway, but it was the fiascoes on their last tour combined with the American news media’s yellow journalism—a practice which forced John Lennon to live under the threat of assassination—that caused the Beatles to stop touring completely. George Harrison played a big role; he had wanted to stop touring anyway and encouraged John to do the same. Paul McCartney was opposed to the decision to stop touring, but Lennon and Harrison won out. Harrison’s most compelling argument was they would have more time to devote to recording if they stopped touring.31 The following are comments made by each of the Beatles, in subsequent years, regarding their decision to stop touring:
After the Beatles stopped touring, they began to explore new avenues of artistic expression. John tried acting, and they continued recording as a group. In 1966 and 1967, a new world emerged as a direct result of their influence. They had become the catalyst for musical, social and political change throughout America and the entire Western world. They had become much bigger than Elvis, something they had never imagined in their wildest dreams a few years earlier. Brian Epstein was the only person to fully realize their potential to outshine the King of rock ‘n’ roll. By 1966, his vision had come true several times over.
|1||Encyclopedia Britannica: Reeperbahn, The|
|2||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, p 42|
|3||ibid, p 51|
|4||ibid, pp. 47-48|
|5||ibid, pp. 28-29|
|6||ibid, p 35|
|7||ibid, p 186|
|8||ibid, pp. 186-187|
|9||Andy Babiuk, Beatles Gear, pp. 73-74|
|10||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, p 155|
|11||ibid, p 140|
|12||Hunter Davies, The Beatles (1996 Edition), p 195. (Davies claims 10,000 teenagers were waiting for the Beatles at JFK Airport, Feb. 7, 1964.)|
|13||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, p 157|
|14||ibid, p 151|
|15||ibid, pp. 158-159|
|16||ibid, pp. 197-198|
|17||SOURCES: (1) Encyclopedia Britannica: Malcolm X; (2) Sam Cooke: bio, http://www.history-of-rock.com/cooke.htm; (3) Cooke’s death, http://members.tripod.com/clarkkauffman/id32.htm; (4) Sam Cooke, bio, http://www.samcooke.com/body_biography.html|
|18||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, pp. 212-213|
|19||ibid, pp. 206-207|
|20||Barry Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, p 288|
|21||Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions, p 84|
|22||Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography, p 409|
|23||ibid, p 404|
|24||ibid, pp 404-405|
|25||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, p 218|
|26||ibid, p 406.|
|27||SOURCES: (1) Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography: The precise date of Datebook’s publication of Maureen Cleeve’s interview with Lennon (July 29, 1966) is shown on p 700. (2) A detailed account of America’s reaction to the article, and John’s apology, are described in pp 403-409. (3) Fear of an assassination attempt on the Beatles is described in a book: John Lennon: Unseen Archives, by Marie Clayton & Gareth Thomas, p 167.|
|28||Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography, p 407|
|29||Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography: Date of John’s press conference (Aug. 12, 1966) is shown on p 701.|
|30||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, p 224|
|31||Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography: Date of last performance (Aug. 29, 1966) is shown on p 701. The decision to stop touring is described on pp 410-411.|
|32||David Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, The Beatles: An Oral History, pp. 226-229|