Beatles 50th Blog posts of '2017' 'November'

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 28, 1967

The #1 song in the US on December 28, 1967
Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 27, 1967

Paul McCartney justifies Magical Mystery Tour

Generally perceived to be The Beatles' first artistic failure, the Magical Mystery Tour film was disliked by critics and viewers alike. In an effort to explain the group's creation, Paul McCartney gave an television interview to David Frost.

The interview took place on The Frost Programme, filmed before a studio audience at Associated-Rediffusion's Wembley Studios between 6pm and 7pm, and was broadcast later that evening from 10.30-11.15pm. Frost's conversation with McCartney took up the first half of the show.

David Frost: The Beatles' music brings unanimous enthusiasm and approval pretty well. Last night their television show did not bring unanimous enthusiasm and approval, and everyone seems to be discussing it today. Here is the man most responsible, Mr Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney: Good evening, Mr Frost.

David Frost: Good evening, Mr McCartney. Why don't you think that the critics liked this film?

Paul McCartney: I don't know, you know. They just didn't seem to like it. I quite liked it myself.

David Frost: Well, I liked it. I didn't see it last night because I was busy, but I saw it today, and I liked it... I mean, with reservations and so on. But why were people so puzzled by it?

Paul McCartney: I think they thought it was 'bitty,' which it was a bit. You know, but it was supposed to be like that. I think a lot of people were looking for a plot, and there wasn't one.

David Frost: I saw it in color. That sort of helped, too.

Paul McCartney: We thought we could just do a thing... See, we've been waiting for a couple of years now to make another feature film. And we've been asking people to write stories and write plots. But nobody's come up with one, you know. So we thought, 'We'll do something which isn't like that,' which isn't like a real film in as much as it's got a story and a beginning, and we'll just do a selection of, you know... We'd put together a lot of things that we like the look of, and see what happens. I liked it.

David Frost: Did you have a point in mind when you, I mean, some point to get across at all when you did this?

Paul McCartney: No. See, that's the trouble, seriously. You gotta do everything with a point or an aim, but we tried this one without anything, with no point and no aim. It's like, you know, we make a record album and all the songs don't necessarily have to fit in with each other, you know. They're just a selection of songs. But when you go to make a film, I don't know, you seem to have to have a thread to pull it all together. We thought that doing a mystery tour, you know - it's all happening on a bus to this group of people - would be enough of a thread. And then, calling it a magical mystery tour, which - like a firm advertises a magical mystery tour, and you go on it, and it really is magic - then anything might happen, and it wouldn't have a thread if it was magic.

David Frost: What's the difference between what you were trying to do here, and say, if you took an EP - which most people have of Magical Mystery Tour - and played that while looking at a kaleidoscope?

Paul McCartney: Yeah.

David Frost: What's the difference between that and what you did? I mean, was that what you were trying to do?

Paul McCartney: That's the thing, you know, that there's no real difference between that - except that we had people in the kaleidoscope, and we had things happening. But, I mean, it's not really all that disconnected. The trouble is, that, er, if you watch it a second time it does grow on you. And this is one thing we forgot, because when you make a record, a lot of people listen to our records and say, 'Well, I don't like that one,' you know. But the second time 'round they say, 'Not bad.' And after a few plays they say...

David Frost: Well, now the BBC are going to show it seventeen times. Just sign the thing today.

Paul McCartney: Yeah!

David Frost: Is the fact that it didn't get across to a lot of people, does that fact alter your opinion of it? Do you say, 'Right. It seems to have failed?' Or do you still think it's precisely as good as if people had said it was very good?

Paul McCartney: Yeah. I think it's as good as I always thought it was. But when we were making it, I think all of us thought, 'This has got a very thin plot. We hope this idea of doing a thing without a plot works, because the one thing we're gonna be able to say is, it hasn't got a plot.' But yeah. We thought, 'You don't need a plot. You don't always need one.' Because, like, the things you did today probably didn't have much of a plot.

David Frost: Oh, I was plotting all day. But no, I can see it. Would you call it a success or a failure today?

Paul McCartney: Er, it's both. You know, it's a success failure. You can't say it was a success, you know, 'cause the papers didn't like it. And that seems to be what people read to find out what's a success. But I think it's alright. I think the next one will be a lot better, and it will have a fat plot, as opposed to a thin plot.

David Frost: But, I mean, what is success then? How would you define that?

Paul McCartney: I don't know. I wouldn't try. I suppose, you know, I don't know how many people liked it who saw it.

David Frost: How many people here liked it?

Paul McCartney: There's a few, you know. It wasn't much of a success!

David Frost: They like you much more than they liked it, you see. But I mean, [to the audience] you better watch it again and again on BBC.

Paul McCartney: Seventeen times.

David Frost: Can it be a success when people don't like it?

Paul McCartney: It obviously matters. If this morning, we'd awoke to find fantastic reviews then we would have all said, 'It's a success.' And I wouldn't have been on tonight, David. But it doesn't matter all that much, 'cause people said about two of our records, like Strawberry Fields and I Am The Walrus to name but two. They said, 'Those are terrible,' you know, 'You can't talk about let your knickers down on telly. You can't do it.' But you can, you know. I've just done it! And it's alright, you know. Because, in about a year or two, these things that didn't look like successes will look a bit more like successes... you know, as people get into that kind of thing.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 26, 1967

Magical Mystery Tour is premièred on BBC 1

Having been edited to 55 minutes from nearly 10 hours of footage, The Beatles' television film Magical Mystery Tour had its world première on BBC 1 at 8.35.

It was shown on BBC1 on Boxing Day, which is traditionally music hall and Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck time. Now we had this very stoned show on, just when everyone's getting over Christmas. I think a few people were surprised. The critics certainly had a field day and said, 'Oh, disaster, disaster!'

Although filmed in colour, Magical Mystery Tour was shown in black and white. Viewers were left baffled by many of the sequences, and television critics savaged the production.

Being British, we thought we'd give it to the BBC, which in those days was the biggest channel, who showed it in black and white. We were stupid and they were stupid. It was hated. They all had their chance to say, 'They've gone too far. Who do they think they are? What does it mean?' It was like the rock-opera situation: 'They're not Beethoven.' They were still looking for things that made sense, and this was pretty abstract.

It was a crowd of people having a lot of fun with whatever came into mind. It was really slated but, of course, when people started seeing it in colour they realised that it was a lot of fun. In a weird way, I certainly feel it stood the test of time, but I can see that somebody watching it in black and white would lose so much of it – it would make no sense (especially the aerial ballet shot). We sent a guy out filming all over Iceland, and then it was shown in black and white – I mean, what is this? Painted silly clowns and magicians. What does it mean?

The press coverage the following day was almost wholly hostile.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And what a fall it was... The whole boring saga confirmed a long held suspicion of mine that The Beatles are four rather pleasant young men who have made so much money that they can apparently afford to be contemptuous of the public.
James Thomas
Daily Express
Whoever authorised the showing of the film on BBC 1 should be condemned to a year squatting at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
The Daily Sketch
The BBC switchboard was overwhelmed last night by people complaining about The Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour. Some people protested that the BBC 1 programme was incomprehensible.
The Sun

A proportion of the criticism was directed at the BBC itself, which paid £10,000 for the rights to show Magical Mystery Tour. The film attracted an estimated 20 million viewers, making it the most-watched programme during the Christmas period.

It's a long day's night since any TV show took the hammering that this Beatles fantasy received by telephone and in print. Take your pick from the words, 'Rubbish, piffle, chaotic, flop, tasteless, non-sense, emptiness and appalling!' I watched it. There was precious little magic and the only mystery was how the BBC came to buy it.
James Green
TV critic, Evening News
Protests from viewers about The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour flooded the switchboard at the BBC Television Centre last night. Mystified viewers also phoned the Daily Mail. The TV critic Peter Black gave his verdict as 'Appalling!' BBC TV chiefs will almost certainly hold an inquest on the show at their next programme review meeting next Wednesday. But, BBC executives emphasised last night as criticism poured in: 'The Beatles made the film – Not the BBC!' One caller to the Daily Mail said: 'It was terrible! It was worse than terrible. I watched it in a room together with twenty-five other people, and we were all stunned!'
Douglas Marlborough
Daily Mail
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 25, 1967

Paul McCartney and Jane Asher announce their engagement

After four years together, on 25 December 1967 Paul McCartney and Jane Asher announced their engagement to be married.

The engagement didn't last, however - it was called off when she returned from working in Bristol to find McCartney in bed with another woman. They attempted to continue the relationship, but on 20 July Asher announced to the BBC that the relationship was over.

McCartney had continued to sleep with other women throughout their relationship, considering it permissible as they weren't married. In addition to his infidelities, Asher had found McCartney changed since his experiences with LSD, and her commitment to her career meant they were often heading in different directions.

Since their split Asher has consistently refused to publicly discuss her relationship with McCartney.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 24, 1967

The Beatles taking a break on Christmas Eve.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 23, 1967

Top 20 Song Chart for December 23, 1967

1. I Heard it through the Grapevine - Gladys Knight & the Pips

2. Daydream Believer - The Monkees

3. Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles

4. I Second that Emotion - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

5. Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsmen

6. Judy in Disguise (With Glasses) - John Fred & His Playboy Band

7. Woman, Woman - The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett

8. You better Sit Down Now Kids - Cher

9. Incense & Peppermints - Strawberry Alarm Clock

10. Storybook Children - Billy Vera & Judy Clay

11. Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin

12. The Rain, the Park and Other Things - The Cowsills

13. Bend Me, Shape Me - The American Breed

14. Honey Chile - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

15. Next Plane to London - The Rose Garden

16. Skinny Legs and All - Joe Tex

17. Monterey - Eric Burdon and The Animals

18. It's Wonderful - The Young Rascals

19. Summer Rain - Johnny Rivers

20. If I Can Build My Whole World Around You - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 22, 1967

The Beatles are taking a break today.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 21, 1967

Dec 21, 1967 the Beatles had their annual holiday party. John suggested they hold a “Magical Mystery Tour” party instead. The invitation read “Magical Mystery Tour Fancy Dress Party”. Paul was “the pearly king”, his girlfriend Jane Asher “the pearly queen”. Ringo was a regency chap, his wife Maureen an Indian Maiden. John was a 50's rocker with greased-up hair and leather jacket. His wife Cynthia was a Victorian Lady. George was a dashing swashbuckler, his wife Pattie an an “Eastern Princess.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 20, 1967

In UK Hello Goodbye by The Beatles was in the top 5 hits.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: December 19, 1967

The Beatles are taking a break today.