JOHN: If they want things like 'Sally' and 'Beethoven', we can do that standing on our ears. We might change the programme for the Olimpia tomorrow, and put it some of the early rock numbers we used to do in Hamburg and at the Cavern - like 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and things. Easy.
We have a lot to live up to, especially being top of the bill at the Olympia. If we opened the show and didn't do so well, then we wouldn't have too much to live down, particularly as there are other acts following us. But topping the bill - well, let's hope it all works out.64
GEORGE: In January 1964 we played several concerts in Paris. The French audience was dreadful.
WE HAD VISIONS OF ALL THESE FRENCH GIRLS, 'OOH LÀ LÀ,' AND ALL THAT, BUT THE AUDIENCE, AT LEAST ON THE OPENING NIGHT, WAS ALL TUXEDOED ELDERLY PEOPLE. AND A BUNCH OF SLIGHTLY GAY-LOOKING BOYS WERE HANGING ROUND THE STAGE DOOR SHOUTING, 'RINGO, RINGO!' AND CHASING OUR CAR. WE DIDN'T SEE ANY OF THE BRIGITTE BARDOTS THAT WE WERE EXPECTING.
RINGO: These boys chased us all over Paris. Before, we'd been more used to girls. The audience was a roar instead of a scream; it was a bit like when we played Stowe boys' school.
GEORGE: The sound went off in the hall all the equipment blew up because it had been fused by the radio people (who were broadcasting us live without telling us).
It was all very disappointing, although it was made up for by our having, for the first time in our lives, the most enormous hotel suites, all with grand marble bathrooms. I think we were given two adjoining suits, with rooms that went on for ever.
Bill Corbett, our chauffeur then and a very nice fellow, wanted to be with us in Paris, so he told us he could speak French. He said, 'Oh, yeah, I speak it fluently, Paul.' So we sent him over on the boat with the car, and we flew over and he met us there.
RINGO: He said, 'Yes boys, you don't want to go over there with those frogs, they'll con you into all sorts of things. Let me go over there and I'll drive you round and interpret.' And we, of course, being so naive, said 'OK'.
When we got to Paris he stopped a policeman, and the first words out of his mouth were, 'Oi! May I park ici?'
GEORGE: One of us asked him for some honey, because his throat was getting sore and he needed a soothing drink, and Bill went up to a waiter and said, 'Avez-vous... er, buzz-buzz?'
RINGO: We'd been done again. But Bill could get us anything - I remember once sending him for a selection of green socks. When George bought his house in Esher, with a swimming pool, he'd said to Bill, 'I'd like an eighty-foot diving stage.' And Bill had said, 'Sure, I'll have it round here in the morning, Mr Harrison. It will be right here. So anything we wanted, he was good at getting for us.
GEORGE MARTIN: When they were appearing at the Olympia Theatre I went over to Paris and arranged to record them in the EMI studio there. They were to record German versions of 'She Loves You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.
The German record company's head of A&R had told me that The Beatles would never sell records in Germany unless they actually sang in German. I was disinclined to believe this, but that's what he said and I told The Beatles. They laughed: 'That's absolute rubbish.' So I said,'Well, if we want to sell records in Germany, that's what we've got to do.' So they agreed to record in German. I mean, really it was rubbish, but the company sent over one Otto Demmlar to help coach them in German. He prepared the translation of the lyrics, and 'She Loves You' became 'Sie Liebt Dich' - not terribly subtle!
On the appointed day I was waiting with Otto at the studios and they didn't turn up. It was the first time in my experience with them that they had let me down, so I rang the George V Hotel where they were staying, and Neil Aspinall answered. He said, 'I'm sorry, they're not coming, they asked me to tell you.' I said, 'You mean to tell me they're telling you to tell me? They're not telling me themselves?' - 'That's right.' - 'I'm coming right over,' I said.
So I went to see them and I had Otto with me. I was really angry and stormed in to find they were all having tea in the centre of the room. (They were after all, very charming people.) It was rather like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party with Alice in Wonderland in the form of Jane Asher, with long hair, in the middle pouring tea.
As soon as I entered they exploded in all directions; they ran behind couches and chairs and one put a lampshade over his head. Then from behind the sofa and chairs came a chorus of: 'Sorry George, sorry George, sorry George...' I had to laugh. I said, 'You are bastards, aren't you? Are you going to apologise to Otto?' And they said, 'Sorry Otto, sorry Otto...'
They finally agreed to come down to the studio and work. They did record two songs in German. They were the only things they have ever done in a foreign language. And they didn't need to anyway. They were quite right. The records would have sold in English, and did.
NEIL ASPINALL: Whilst we were at the George V Hotel, a lot of exciting things were happening. As well as George Martin being there for the German recordings, Derek Taylor was around interviewing George for the Daily Express column he was doing for him. John was working on his second book, A Spaniard in the Works. At the same time they'd just got Dylan's first album and David Wynne was there, too; he did the sculptures of The Beatles' heads.
The Beatles played for three weeks at the Olympia, which apart from the Cavern and their stints in Hamburg, was the longest time they appeared at any single venue.
GEORGE: One of the most memorable things of the trip for me was that we had a copy of Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' album, which we played constantly.
JOHN: I think that was the first time I ever heard Dylan at all. I think Paul got the record from a French DJ. We were doing a radio thing there and the guy had the record in the studio. Paul said, 'Oh, I keep hearing about this guy,' or he'd heard it, I'm not sure - and we tool it back to the hotel.70 And for the rest of our three weeks in Paris we didn't stop playing it. We all went potty on Dylan.
The first time you hear Dylan you think you're the first to discover him. But quite a lot of people had discovered him before us.64
DEREK TAYLOR: I got to Paris in 1964 to do George's column. He said, 'To make this column interesting, let's go out. We'll go to a nightclub and we'll go up the Eifell Tower. We'll do French things.' They were new to travelling then. It was all new.
By Paris I was getting to be trusted, and one night John said to me, 'Are you pretending to be from Liverpool or something?' We were the last up and we'd had a few drinks and that's how the conversation took this difficult turn. I said, 'I don't know about pretending, but anyway, I am from Liverpool.' He said, 'Yeah, born in Manchester.' I said, 'Well, that's a narrow way of looking at it. At the moment I live in Manchester. A lot of people are not born where they happen to live later. I was born in Liverpool, lived in West Kirby; my wife's from Birkenhead.'
All this was local stuff, and it was surprisingly quick to get under that harsh exterior of John's to find a nice chap with whom (once you had proven you weren't from Manchester and therefore useless) you could have quite a pleasant conversation on a variety of subjects. None of which I remember, because we did get very drunk together. I enjoyed that night a lot, just him and me.
GEORGE: Besides the German versions of two songs, I remember recording 'Can't Buy Me Love'. We took the tapes from that back to England to do some work on them. I once read something that tries to analyse 'Can't Buy Me Love', talking about the double-track guitar - mine - and saying that it's not very good because you can hear the original one. What happened was that we recorded first in Paris and re-recorded in England. Obviously they'd tried to overdub it, but in those days they only had two tracks, so you can hear the version we put on in London, and in the background you can hear a quieter one.
GEORGE MARTIN: I thought that we really needed a tag for the song's ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro. So I took the first few lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said, 'Let's just have these lines, and by altering the end of the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly.' And they said, 'That's not a bad idea, we'll do it that way.'
PAUL: PERSONALLY, I THINK YOU CAN PUT ANY INTERPRETATION YOU WANT ON ANYTHING, BUT WHEN SOMEONE SUGGESTS THAT 'CAN'T BUY ME LOVE' IS ABOUT A PROSTITUTE, I DRAW THE LINE. THAT'S GOING TOO FAR.
One night we arrived back at the hotel from the Olympia when a telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, 'Hey, look. You are Number One in America!' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' had gone to Number One.
Well, I can't describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal's back to go round the hotel suite: 'Wey-hey!' And that was it, we didn't come down for a week.
RINGO: We couldn't believe it. We all just started acting like people from Texas, hollering and shouting, 'Ya-hoo!' I think that was the night we finished up sitting on a bench by the Seine; just the four of us and Neil. In those days we'd promise Neil Ј20,000 if he'd go for a swim. he'd go for a swim and we'd say, 'No, sorry.'
GEORGE: We knew we had a better chance of having a hit because we were finally with Capitol Records and they had to promote it. The smaller labels that had put out our earlier records didn't really promote them very much.
There had been cover stories on European Beatlemania in Life and Newsweek and other Magazines, so it wasn't too difficult a job for Capitol to follow through. And the song itself was very catchy, anyway.
JOHN: I like 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', it's a beautiful melody.70 I remember when we got the chord that made that song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar, playing on the piano at the same time, and we had, 'Oh, you-u-u... got that something...'
AND PAUL HITS THIS CHORD AND I TURN TO HIM AND SAY, 'THAT'S IT! DO THAT AGAIN!' IN THOSE DAYS, WE REALLY USED TO ABSOLUTELY WRITE LIKE THAT - BOTH PLAYING INTO EACH OTHER'S NOSES.80
GEORGE: It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to Number One. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was... well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And the waiter came round and tied garters on all the girls' legs. I've seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head.
It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a Number One. We'd already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a Number Two or Number Ten we'd have gone anyway; but it was nice to have a Number One.
We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, 'Oh, we will have them.' They put out 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' as our first single, but in fact it was our fourth.
PAUL: 'From Me To You' was released - a flop in America. 'She Loves You' - a big hit in England, big Number One in England - a flop in the USA. 'Please Please Me' released over there - flop. Nothing until 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.
JOHN: The things is, in America, it just seemed ridiculous - I mean, the iea of having a hit record over there. It was just something you could never do. That's what I thought, anyhow. But then I realised that kids everywhere all go for the same stuff; and seeing we'd done it in England, there's no reason why we couldn't do it in America, too. But the American disc jockeys didn't know about British records; they didn't play them, nobody promoted them, so you didn't have hits.
It wasn't until Time and Newsweek came over and wrote articles and created an interest in us that disc jockeys started playing our records. And Capitol said, 'Well, can we have their records?' They had been offered our records years ago, and they didn't want them - but when they heard we were big over here they said, 'Can we have them now?' We said, 'As long as you promote them.' So Capitol promoted, and with them and all these articles on us, the records just took off.
DEREK TAYLOR: I was now accepted by John. George and I had got along very well right from the start. He never did that 'you're from Manchester' stuff. He was anxious to please, and still is. If he is committed to something, he does it with enormous thoroughness. He has rather a 'Straight-ahead' way. So my 'in' through George was very comfortable. I didn't know Ringo at all then, and Paul stood back a bit - he was very nice though. We seemed to have a lot in common: Merseyside grammar school boys, different ages, but we sort of fitted.
It was obvious to me in Paris that they were going to be red hot. They'd reached Number One in the Cashbox chart with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', and the mania was spreading ahead of them. I did George's final before-America column, a 'tomorrow the world' kind of thing: 'Tonight we conquered Versailles, and by implication, all of France fell... How New York will view our visit, we can only guess!'
But the Daily Express didn't send me to America. They said, 'We've got David English there, he's the American correspondent.' I thought, 'He doesn't know them, he doesn't understand them, I'm the only one who understands them, I know these people.' However, I was asked to help Brian Epstein with his book and we went down to Torquay for four days and wrote a pot-boiler - A Cellarful of Noise. And he said on the third day, 'I've had a lovely, lovely idea Derek, I want you to join us.'
I thought this was incredible. I'd given up the idea of joining them for the time being, thinking, 'If it happens, it happens.' So after about fifteen years on newspapers I dropped out and joined The Beatles as Brian's personal assistant, and eventually became The Beatles' press officer.
BRIAN EPSTEIN: We knew that America would make us or break us as world stars. In fact, she made us.64
RINGO: Things used to fall fight for us as a band. We couldn't stop it. The gods were on our side. We were fabulous musicians, we had great writers; it wasn't like a piece of shit was being helped, and things just fell into place. We were doing countries: we'd conquered Sweden, we'd conquered France, we conquered Spain and Italy; but we were worried about America.
George was the only one of us who'd been before and he'd been into record shops there and asked, 'Have you got The Beatles' records?' We had three out, on Vee-Jay and Swan, but nobody had them, or had even heard of us. He came back and said, 'They don't know us, it's going to be hard.' We were used to being famous by then, so we were worried about that.
But the deal went down with Capitol. Then Ed Sullivan was getting off a plane at Heathrow at the same time that we were getting off one from Sweden, saw all the fans at the airport and booked us on the spot. He didn't know us and we didn't know him.
All these forces started working so that when we landed in the US the record was Number One. We were booked five months ahead and you can't plan that kind of thing. We got off the plane and it was just like being at home, millions of kids again.
JOHN: We didn't think we stood a chance. We didn't imagine it at all. Cliff went to America and died. He was fourteenth on the bill with Frankie Avalon.67 When we cmae over the first time, we were only coming over to buy LPs. I know our manager had plans for Ed Sullivan shows but we thought at least we could hear the sounds when we came over. It was just out of the dark. That's the truth; it was so out of the dark, we were knocked out.64
GEORGE: I'd been to America before, being the experienced Beatle that I was. I went to New York and St Louis in 1963, to look around, and to the countryside in Illinois, where my sister was living at the time. I went to record stores. I bought Booker T and the MGs' first album, Green Onions, and I bought some Bobby Bland, all kind of things.
Before we left for America for that first Beatle visit, Brian Epstein had said to Capitol, 'You can have The Beatles on condition that you spend thirty dollars advertising them.' And they did. It was actually something like $50,000, which sounded enormous. That was part of the deal.
PAUL: I think the money was mainly spent in LA getting people like Janet Leigh to wear Beatle wigs and be photographed in them, which started it all. Once a film star did that, it could get syndicated all across America: 'Look at this funny picture; Janet Leigh in this wacko wig - the "moptop" wig.' And so the whole 'moptop' thing started there. And it did get us noticed.
There were millions of kids at the airport, which nobody had expected. We heard about it in mid-air. There were journalists on the plane, and the pilot had rang ahead and said, 'Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them.' We thought, 'Wow! God, we have really made it.'
I remember, for instance, the great moment of getting into the limo and putting on the radio, and hearing a running commentary on us: 'They have just left the airport and are coming towards New York City...' It was like a dream. The greatest fantasy ever.
RINGO: IT WAS SO EXCITING. ON THE PLANE, FLYING IN TO THE AIRPORT, I FELT AS THOUGH THERE WAS A BIG OCTOPUS WITH TENTACLES THAT WERE GRABBING THE PLANE AND DRAGGING US DOWN INTO NEW YORK. AMERICA WAS THE BEST.
It was a dream, coming from Liverpool.
I loved it. The radio was hip and bopping, the TV was on, we were going to clubs. And they loved Ringo over there. That's why it was so great for me, because when we got to America it wasn't JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE and Ringo; half the time RINGO, PAUL, GEORGE and JOHN, or whatever. Suddenly it was equal.
NEIL ASPINALL: It has since been reported that their American record company had promised that every person who turned up at the airport would be given a dollar bill and a T-shirt. What really happened was that the receptionists at Capitol Records would answer the phone, 'Capitol Records - The Beatles are coming.' There was a lot of mention on the radio, too: 'The Beatles are coming!' It was the people handling the Beatles merchandise at the time who were offering the free T-shirt. I had no idea about that at the time, and it was nothing to do with the record company.
NEIL ASPINALL: George had tonsillitis and didn't go to rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show. I stood in for him so that they could mark where everyone would stand, and I had a guitar strapped round me. It wasn't plugged in (nobody was plying anything) and it was amazing to read in a major American magazine a few days later that I 'played a mean guitar'.
The Beatles recorded a set in the afternoon, which was to be broadcast after they left, and then played a live Ed Sullivan Show that night.
GEORGE: I had a bad throat and that's why I'm missing from the publicity shots in Central Park. There are pictures of just the three of them with the New York skyline behind. (The same with the rehearsal for Ed Sullivan: there are pictures of them rehearsing without me.) I could never figure out how, with swarms of people everywhere, with the mania going on, they actually did get out into the park for a photo session.
RINGO: The main thing I was aware of when we did the first Ed Sullivan Show was that we rehearsed all afternoon. TV had such bad sound equipment (it has still today, usually, but then it was really bad) that we would tape our rehearsals and then go up and mess with the dials in the control booth. We got it all set with the engineer there, and then we went off for a break.
The story has it that while we were out, the cleaner came in to clean the room and the console, thought, 'What are all these chalk marks?' and wiped them all off. So our plans just went out the window. We had a real hasty time trying to get the sound right.
GEORGE: We were aware that Ed Sullivan was the big one because we got a telegram from Elvis and the Colonel. And I've heard that while the show was on there were no reported crimes, or very few. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes.
PAUL: Seventy-three million people were reported to have watched the first show. it is still supposed to be one of the largest viewing audiences ever in the States.
It was very important. We came out of nowhere with funny hair, looking like marionettes or something. That was very influential. I think that was really one of the big things that broke us - the hairdo more than the music, originally. A lot of people's fathers had wanted to turn us off. They told their kids, 'Don't be fooled, they're wearing wigs.'
JOHN: If we do, they must be the only ones with real dandruff!
PAUL: A lot of fathers did turn it off, but a lot of mothers and children made them keep it on. All these kids are now grown-up, and telling us they remember it. It's like, 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?' I get people like Dan Aykroyd saying, 'Oh man, I remember that Sunday night; we didn't know what had hit us - just sitting there watching Ed Sullivan's show.' Up until then there were jugglers and comedians like Jerry Lewis, and then, suddenly, The Beatles!
JOHN: They're wild; they're all wild. They just all seem out of their minds. I've never seen anything like it in my life. We just walk through it like watching a film. You feel as though it's something that's happening to somebody else, especially when you spot George and you think, 'Oh, that's George with all those people climbing all over him.'
They've got so many programmes and we got on all the news. It was ridiculous. At first we had no idea, then when we got the first couple of hits we thought, 'Well, this is it, we'll probably flop now.' But we just seem to go on and on and on. Never in a million years did we think anything like this.
They expect you to be a big-time star, but I think most people prefer us being the way we are. They come in biased. Then we'll just be natural with them and they seem pleased. That's all we do: if we're tired, we look tired, if we're happy, we're happy; we don't kid on. If we're feeling a bit 'off' that day, we say to them, 'I'm feeling a bit "off", I'm sorry, I won't be quick-witted.'64
PAUL: A new York DJ, Murray the K, was the man most onto the Beatle case; he had seen it coming and grabbed hold of it. Actually he was just a cheeky journalist who asked a few cheeky questions at the front of the press conference, instead of standing back and being aloof. His way was: 'Hey, OK, you guys? What do you think of... ?'
We were very impressed and we used to ring his radio show when he was on the air. We would give him all the exclusives because we loved him. And he had package shows on the road so he could talk about people like Smokey Robinson, who he'd met. Smokey Robinson was like God in our eyes.
GEORGE: I've often wondered how Murray could barge into the room and hang out with us for the entire trip. It's funny, really, I never quite understood how he did that.
RINGO: Murray the K was as mad as a hatter, a fabulous guy, a great DJ, and he knew his music. We practically killed him off, because he would come on the tour with us and hang about all the time we were up and about. Then
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