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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 16, 1969

Ringo Starr boards the “Queen Elizabeth II” to sail to the US for the filming of “The Magic Christian.” He travels with his wife, Maureen and their two children, Peter Sellers, and George and Pattie Harrison. John Lennon and Yoko Ono are scheduled to join Ringo and the others on the trip, but had to cancel at the last moment, because John does not get his visa.

John Lennon is refused a visa by the US Embassy in London; they cite his 1968 drug conviction as the reason. John's plans for a Bed-In in New York will have to be scrapped. Instead, Lennon and Ono were left on the dock at Southampton. The experience echoed their failed attempt to marry on a ferry to France in March 1969, which found its way into the opening lines of The Ballad Of John And Yoko.

The trip was laid on by Commonwealth United, the company which funded the film The Magic Christian, which Starr had a lead role in. With principal photography recently completed, the holiday was by way of thanks to the cast and crew for finishing on time and on budget.

The luxury cruise ship arrived in New York on 22 May 1969, and from there the party flew to the Bahamas for a two-week holiday.

Starr gave an interview to the Associated Press agency before the ship set sail. In it he discussed a previous job as a waiter on board a steam ship that sailed between Liverpool and north Wales while he was a teenager.

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