Who Knew

Who Knew The Beatles were really a London band?

The Beatles were of course born in Liverpool, met in Liverpool and cut their teeth as a live band there (and Hamburg). But from early in 1963, once they had a recording contract and national fame, they were based in London. As Ringo says in the Anthology programmes, “If you are in our business, you go to London…it’s just a natural move”.

Of course Abbey Road studios are well-known: EMI’s studios in St John’s Wood were renamed Abbey Road after the success of the eponymous album. Its fun to go and watch frustrated motorists being delayed by fans and tourists posing on the (now listed) crossing where the album cover was shot!

In 1963 The Beatles actually recorded more tracks in the BBC Paris Studios than at Abbey Road: restrictions on airplay of recorded music, imposed by the Musician’s Union, meant they had to make bespoke BBC recordings for their early BBC radio appearances (vital in building their core teen fan base in 1962). Most of these are cover versions, which gives a fascinating glimpse of what there pre-fame live act was like: check out the album “The Beatles at the BBC” if of interest (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_at_the_BBC_(Beatles_album))

Some of the most memorable sequence in A Hard Day’s Night were filmed in London, most memorably the opening sequence in and around Marylebone Station: and all four film premieres were held in the then-grand Pavilion cinema in Piccadilly Circus.

Two breakthrough TV appearances were also made from London venues: 13th October 1963 in Sunday Night at the London Palladium (hosted by Bruce Forsyth) and 4th November 1963 in Royal Command Performance from the Prince of Wales theatre in Coventry St (just off Leicester Square). The latter saw them sharing the bill with Pinky and Perky, Flanders and Swann and Marlene Dietrich, an eclectic mix! Famously John asked “those of you in the cheap seats clap your hands, if the rest of you would just rattle your jewellery”.

In a gallery in a quiet yard in St James’ one November evening in 1966 John Lennon met Yoko Ono, nicely commemorated by a very recent mural (don’t know if it will be allowed to stay!)

And if you have seen Peter Jackson’s recent “Get Back” film you will know that The Beatles’ last concert was on a roof in Saville Row on 30th January 1969 (their first since August 1966 at Candlestick Park, San Fransisco).

If you would like to learn more about these and other Beatle locations in London I would be delighted to take you on my Walking Tour “The Beatles: Abbey Road Plus”. https://whoknewtours.com/tours/the-beatles-abbey-road-plus/

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