Monday, June 30, 2014

The last concerts of the tour

The Beatles were overall happy with the success of their first World Tour.    They were tired and ready for a small break, but gave their last four concerts in Brisbane as much energy as they gave their first concert of the tour. 

Concert memories
I was there. At The Beatles very first concert in Brisbane, Monday, June 29, at 6pm. My boss gave me half a day off work. He should have given me the next day off too because I totally lost my voice from screaming.
“I arrived at 2pm. None of my friends or workmates seemed to be interested in seeing the Fab Four. But when I got to Festival Hall, I was soon part of a huge group of ‘friends’, all united in our love of The Beatles.
“We could hear a band rehearsing inside. And were convinced it was the Fab Four. Another girl and I dashed up the steps and were amazed to find the door open. We went inside and started to run up the aisle. A huge policeman ran after us. He stood on the back of my knee-length leather boots, causing me to stumble. He grabbed me, marched me outside and literally threw me back down the stairs.
“I picked myself up off the footpath, hoping no TV channels were there to capture my fast exit. Because if my parents saw it, I knew I would be grounded for life.’’

And then … “Suddenly, there they were. The place went into meltdown. We screamed and screamed through the whole half-hour The Beatles were on stage. The girl next to me fainted. We ignored her. If she couldn’t hack the pace, too bad. A girl sitting behind me slumped on me, sobbing, ‘George, George.’
“I decided to get up on my seat to dance, followed by a few other girls. Once more a large policeman spoiled my fun. He came to the end of the row, shouting ‘sit down’. We couldn’t hear him. But his hand gestures were plain enough. Our generation had been raised to obey the police. So we all sat down.

“It was over in a blink. Did I hear any of the songs? No. Did I enjoy it? You bet I did. Best night ever. The Beatles 4 ever. Yeah Yeah Yeah!’’  --Sylvia W.

“I loved George, however I was convinced Paul was singing to me and me alone. There was a lady and her daughter next to me and at the end of the show she thanked me for not screaming. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I screamed all the way through. I later received a prize for an essay at school and bought a book of John Lennon’s sketches and poetry. I still have the book.’’ --Rae M.

We couldn’t hear much for the screaming but I remember John pleading with the audience to keep quiet for at least one song and they did. Girls were fainting everywhere. When we were leaving I took a wrong door and we virtually walked into the boys as they were getting into a car to leave. They all smiled and said hello! Our turn to nearly faint. By the way, I still have my ticket.’’--Bev K.


The tale of the Egg Men

Ringo and John relaxing in Lennon's hotel before the egg throws came 
The 2nd day the Beatles were in Brisbane, someone named Peter Rossini called Derek Taylor and said that he was a local student and he represented the group of people who threw the eggs at the Beatles.  He told Derek that it was done as a protest against materialism.   So Derek invited them up to the Beatles hotel room and talk to them in person.   They sat down and were give Cokes to drink.  In an interview with Ian Townsend, one of those students named Susan gave an interview.

IAN TOWNSEND: The throwing of the eggs shocked The Beatles, who put an ad in the paper, and on the radio the next day, calling for the egg throwers to come forward. A Brisbane girl, Susan, and her two friends owned up, even though they weren’t the culprits.

SUSAN: We actually didn’t have any real interest in The Beatles, it was just that everyone was trying to get in to meet The Beatles and so we thought, well, we can do it. And we were ushered up to the room and in a short conversation, we said, well we’d better be going. And they said, oh no, don’t go – stay and talk to us because we’re bored. They just wanted people to talk to. Because they couldn’t go out because the hotel – Lennon’s hotel was just surrounded by screaming teenagers. But see while we were there, the real egg throwers arrived.

IAN TOWNSEND: The real culprits were a group of university students. Bob Katter, now a veteran stirrer and Independent MP for the Federal seat of Kennedy in North Queensland, has only now come forward with the full story.

So the first group that came forward were not the "egg men" after all, just curious students who wanted to meet the Beatles.  The true egg throwers came in the room and they did not have chairs to sit in nor were they given Cokes to drink.

Ten years ago, one of the culprits  came forward to tell his story:
 BOB KATTER: The manager said, well would you be game to throw the eggs now. And one of our blokes, a bloke called Peter McKew – he’s another prominent barrister these days – he shaped up and said, “you wanna blue? We’ll give you a blue alright”, and he started shaping up, I mean, this is incredible you know? And I was explaining that it was an intellectual reaction against Beatlemania you know, I thought this story up on the way up on the stairs of course. And we were having this intellectual argument – Tony Klin was another one – he’s the Deputy Chairman of the Bar Association for Australia, and President of the Bar Association in Queensland these days – when the manager said, would you be game to throw the eggs, and McKew’s sort of shaping up, saying, ‘you wanna blue? We’ll give you a blue alright”, and Garry Williams, the fifth one of the trio, he stepped in between McKew and Paul McCartney or whoever and he said, “settle down, settle down”, he said. He said, “obviously you can’t throw eggs here,” he said. “We’ll have to go find an oval somewhere.” It was all taken quite seriously.

And John Lennon just sat there saying, “everywhere we go now, we’re going to have eggs thrown at us. Everywhere we go.” And finally the sort of coup de grace of the whole thing, he kept you know, saying you know, “are you going to apologise” and I kept explaining someone’s got to do something against this Beatlemania, I mean the world’s going mad. We can’t have this sort of stupidity. And so we’re having this ridiculous argument. Of course, time’s slipping away, and they’ve got to have time for the concert, and Garry Williams, who’s a very funny character, but Garry said hey look – I’ve got a bit of a problem, because I’ve got tickets to your concert, you know, and I’ve got no chance of getting in for the start of the concert if there’s huge crowds, so would you mind if I get a lift in your car with you – with 17 police motorcades, and Paul McCartney was very embarrassed and he was trying to think of all sorts of reasons why Williams couldn’t go down in the top down limousine (laughs)

But anyway, our reputations were made from that point forward. We walked around like conquering heroes for the next two or three years, you know.

Paul McCartney was quoted as saying, "We had a bit of a chat with them--more or a debate really and we all ended up friends.  We asked them why they threw eggs and they said they were sick of hearing our songs on the radio  and sick of kids screaming at us.  So John asked them why they didn't throw the eggs into the crowd if it was Beatlemania they were against."

Derek Taylor said, "Paul told the leader, 'we'll give you a few years and you'll be wanting all the suits you can get your hands on.'"

Information found:
 The Beatles Down Under (book) by Glenn Baker
Transcript of the World Today broadcast from June 30, 2004  found at

Beatles Wild Life

When the Beatles were in Brisbane, they wanted to see some real Australian animals.  Photographer, John Howard set them up.   Here is what he says about it from his book The Beatles Unseen

 I flew to Brisbane with the Beatles and planned another party with the help of Patricia Nelki and David Fleay, who ran the David Flea Fauna Reserve.  the VIP guests were a kangaroo, a koala bear, and a dingo puppy called 'Ringo.'  Ringo himself had wanted to meet some real Australians, and it was kindly arranged by the Methodist Mission for three aboriginal sisters, Mona, Joan and Amy Smith, to attend.  They arrived smartly dressed in woolen twin-sets and accompanied by chaperones.  I think Ringo had expected them to turn up in tribal gear.  The party took place at the aptly named Lennon's Hotel, about which John commented, 'I knew my relatives were rich, but I didn't know they owned a bloomin' hotel.'

The first Beatles animal encounter I organized was with a docile blue kangaroo coincidentally named Cynthia who was loaned to me by Sir Edward Hallstrom.  She was supposed to meet the  boys on the plane but at the last minute, when fans broke though security cordons and started running towards the aircraft, police decided it was not safe for Cynthia to 'hop' aboard.  In Brisbane though the boys got their wish, when at my party at Lennon's hotel they met a five foot kangaroo named Lady Red with a ring-tailed possum named Pierce, who disappeared up Ringo's sleeve later to emerge hanging from one of his fingers.  There was also a koala bear named Claude and, of course, the dingo puppy towards which Ringo felt fatherly enough for David Fleay to ask him to christen him 'Ringo.'

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A chance meeting with the Beatles

Photo by John Howard

This story is from the March 20, 2014 issue of The Morning Bulletin"  and was written by Pam McKay.   I truly believe that these fans found their picture on "The Gilly's" blog because that is the only place I have ever seen this particular photo.    Way to go to her!   

FOR nearly 50 years, Amy Lester and her two younger sisters have been sharing stories about the day they met The Beatles in Brisbane.

The Rockhampton women have vivid memories of the monumental event but have never had photographic evidence - until now.

A chance discovery on the internet has unearthed a black and white image showing Amy with band members Ringo Starr and George Harrison. It is credited to photographer John Howard.
Also in the photo is a female ranger from Lone Pine Sanctuary, who was there to introduce the English band members to some of Australia's native wildlife.

Amy cannot believe the photo has finally come to light, bearing witness to the historic occasion when three indigenous sisters from the small Central Queensland town of Bluff got to mingle with rock royalty.

"It's just amazing. It's incredible seeing it after all this time," the 73-year-old said from her Rockhampton home.

"For 49 years and nine months we've talked about it but we've had no proof. Now here it is.

"The funny thing is that I wasn't really a Beatles' fan at the time. It was Joan and Mona who loved them."
Amy went to Br
isbane to act as chaperone for her younger sisters - Mona, then 18, and Joan, 14 - who had tickets for The Beatles' final Australian concert at Festival Hall on June 30, 1964.

Their parents did not want the teens to be in Brisbane by themselves and asked Amy, who was then 23 and living in Warwick, to join them for their three-night stay.

Amy said it was a chance encounter in Brisbane's CBD that led to the Smith sisters meeting three members of the band.

The trio was doing some sightseeing on the day before the concert.

They were window shopping in the Queen St mall when the two younger girls were approached by a man, who started talking to them about The Beatles.

Amy was slightly ahead of her sisters when she heard them shrieking with excitement.

She turned to see them engaged in an earnest conversation. When she hurried back to confront the man, he quickly reassured her that his intentions were genuine.

"He said he was travelling with The Beatles," Amy said. "He relayed to us that The Beatles were very disappointed because it was their last show in Australia and they hadn't yet met an Aboriginal person.
"I am sure they thought they would see kangaroos hopping up and down the street, koalas up every tree and Aborigines walking around with their spears."

The man also said that Joan bore a striking resemblance to the Aboriginal star of the influential indigenous movie, Jedda.

He said he would arrange for the sisters to meet the band at the penthouse of The Beatles' hotel (ironically, Lennon's Hotel) the following day.

They agreed.

Amy said she could not believe it when he called to confirm.

The girls could not be chauffeured because Brisbane's inner-city streets were blocked so they made the walk from their accommodation at the People's Palace to The Beatles' hotel.

Mona said that did not faze her at all: "Didn't matter me, I was going to see Ringo."

The sisters said it felt incredible to be ushered through the crowds into the hotel foyer.

"The number of screaming girls outside was unbelievable," Amy said, remembering the crush of the fans. "The noise outside Lennon's - I can still hear it today."

They were led upstairs to the penthouse where they were introduced to Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Paul McCartney. John Lennon was not there - he was having a shower in preparation for that night's concert.

Amy said the girls spoke with the band members for close to 20 minutes.

"They were friendly, very friendly. They just chatted away and told us they were really glad to meet us," Amy said.

Brisbane press conference

After getting some much needed sleep, the Beatles appeared at their morning press conference, ready to talk about what happened. 

The previous night Derek Taylor had given a challenge out to those who threw the rotten fruit and pieces of wood to "take us on, face to face..."

However, at the press conference, Paul (Mr. PR himself) backtracked a bit on what Taylor had said, "We're not that keen, really.  We're not disgusted or dismayed, just disappointed.  It was so pointless."  John said, "Every nit in the world will start throwing eggs for the next month or so, until some other nit thinks up a better trick."   They then were asked if they ever felt like caged animals and John said, "Oh no, we feed ourselves." 

The last big stop of the tour

In the early hours of June 29, 1964, the Beatles landed in Brisbane, Australia   They were beginning the last leg of their first world tour and most likely were tried and ready to get the Brisbane concerts over with so that they could head back home to England.

8,000 people were at the airport to see the Beatles, although not all of them were fans of the band.  When the plane touched down, the crowd went wild and the make-shift wooden barrier built for the event began to give way.  The DCA made an announcement that the plane would be moved to another airport if order wasn't in place.

The local fan club shows their 20 foot sign before the Beatles arrive

The Beatles were happily dancing for the crowd when they came off the plane in Brisbane, but the happiness didn't last very long.   The guys got into a flat-bed truck to stand and wave to everyone, just as they did in the other stops on the tour.   As they came close to the fence, the Beatles were pelted by eggs, tomatoes, pieces of wood, and rotten fruit.  George Harrison hid behind the cabin while the other three guys ducked. 

When they got to the hotel (The Lennons Hotel on George street), they were very angry.   The told Derek Taylor that they were not going to make any appearances in Brisbane outside of the concerts.  This is why the Beatles did NOT make any hotel balcony appearances in Brisbane.

Information from
The Beatles Downunder (book) by Glenn  Baker.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Christchurch concert thoughts

Unfortunately I could not find any photographs of the Beatles performing at Christchurch, New Zealand.   I would suspect that the concert venue was one that had a strict "no camera" policy, as many in England did in 1964, not even allowing press photos to be taken during the performance.  However, I did not want the fans memories of those performances to not be included.

Make sure to see older posts about Christchurch as well

I was 16 and my father took me to the concert as he thought the Beatles had the most superb harmony and he couldn't wait to hear them live. No such luck - he couldn't hear a thing because of all the screaming. - Bridget, Christchurch 

I went to the early show of the Beatles in Christchurch with a friend from work and his brother, all dressed in our Beatle Jackets, Beatle boots and new brushed forward hairstyles.
I remember the Police all filing in and lining the stage and walls just as the precious act (Sounds Incorporated?) were getting to the end of their time on stage.
The curtain went down, the screaming reached an entirely new level, and then, up it goes and they were there.  Even louder screaming, girls rushing the stage, even from upstairs, racing to the front .
We were seated in the middle of the front row upstairs, and from our position we could actually hear them above the noise, I am guessing we would have been among very few who could.
Later that night I met my new girlfriend who had been to the later show, and I remember she couldn't stop crying, with joy at actually seeing them live.
Next day we all joined the throng outside the Clarendon Hotel screaming for them to come out and were rewarded with a quick visit by them on to the balcony.
Then out to the Airport to see them go, the plane having to do a hurried departure as the security fence, being severely rocked by the crowd, threatened to come down and the plane being mobbed.
As I said at the beginning a wonderful time of life, 18 years old, and the whole world ahead.- Murray Butcher 

My parents bought tickets for myself & twin sister Marion, which was very expensive for them.
I was disappointed because I could not hear over the screaming and felt it was a waste of money.
Looking back I still feel so fortunate to have been able to go!
When I was 13 I decided I would go to UK because of the Beatles. It took me 5 years to save up to go by ship in 1970. I stayed for 3 years, met my future husband who followed me to New Zealand.- Regards, Helen D

Will you drive my car?

I think this is a sad story because I personally think that the Beatles were making jokes about the Christchurch girls.   I can almost hear them saying the words.    Little did they know that their driver had a teenager Beatle-fan daughter and he was a bit offended by what the Beatles were saying.

This story was written by Bruce Renwick and is in his book The Beatles in New Zealand.

Ramsay Gibson of Darfield had only had his new 1964 Chevrolet for a couple of months when he was contracted by Blackwell Motors in Christchurch.   They were the local agents for General Motors who had been contracted to transport the Beatles while in NZ.

Blackwell’s didn’t have a new car in stock so they asked Ramsay if he would drive the Beatles from the airport in his car.

Being keen to meet the Beatles Ramsay said yes and reported to the airport at the requested time.  He was positioned in the cavalcade consisting of two traffic officers on bikes, one police car and then Ramsay.

They waited on the tarmac for over an hour until the flight from Dunedine arrived.           Ramsay remembers the terrifying sight of 5,000 frantic fans trying to rip the fence down and he being between them and the plane was not a good place to be in the event of the fence collapsing.  The original exit point was to be the freight gate but the eager crowd prevented that being used to the back gate out onto Avonhead Road was decided on.

When the plane arrived the crowd went wild again.  One lad managed to scale the fence and head for the plane only to be taken in a flying tackle by a policeman and was unceremoniously returned back over the fence from where he had come.

The Beatles came over to the Chevrolet along with one of the support artists and got into the car.  The support artist slid into the driver’s seat and proclaimed that he would drive but a short sharp shove from Ramsay sent him across the seat to the passenger’s side.

Ramsay was told not to stop for anything, just to keep driving.  As they started off toward the rear exit the crowd realized what was happening and headed for the Russley Road corner.  All traffic was stopped by traffic officers on point duty at the corner while the cavalcade passed through.  They travelled 30 mph and three feet apart.

Conversations started with one saying, “We’ve heard that one in three Christchurch girls has V.D.”
Ramsay at this point put his daughter’s and her friend’s autograph books into the glove box where they stayed for the rest of the trip.

“Hey, that Judy looks alirght.”

“Yea, but she probably got V.D. though.”

And so the conversation continued.

The cavalcade went down Cambridge Terrace and into Oxford Terrace which was fenced off.  This didn’t stop one girl breaking through the cordon and grabbing hold of the door handle of the Beatles car only to be thrown onto the road as the car continued.  She picked herself up and chased after the car which incited the rest of the crowd.

The lads arrived at the hotel and went inside leaving Ramsay and his new car surrounded by screaming fans but with the help of the local police he was soon on his way home.  Listening to the radio on the way home Ramsay heard that the Beatles had had eggs and vegetables thrown at them when they were out on the balcony of the hotel, this amused Ramsay especially after the topic of conversation in his car.  He never saw the Beatles again after they entered the hotel.

When Ramsay got home his daughter came running out to meet him and to get her autograph book, but after explaining to her about the conversation in the car and asking her if she was aware of what V.D. was she assured her father that she did having been to a mother and daughter evening at school quite recently.

The daughter went into her bedroom and ripped down all her posters and burnt them.