Sunday, June 15, 2014

Guarding Ringo

This story is one that The Gilly has found during her research about the Beatles in Australia.   I can't thank her enough for all of the research she has done on this topic.

Graham (pictured above with his hand on Ringo!), New South Wales

In 1964, I was working with the Metropolitan Night Patrol Service in Melbourne, and was successful with my quotation for the provision of security guards to be on duty at the Southern Cross Hotel, Exhibition Street Melbourne, to protect the hotel’s interests during ‘The Beatles’ visit in June 1964.

Being an ‘old’ 30 year old and married man with three children, I must confess that I knew little of ‘The Beatles’ and had to purchase a ‘Women’s Weekly’ to familiarize myself with their appearance.

Early conferences with senior police indicated that they expected a crowd of 20,000 teenagers to welcome ‘The Beatles’ to the Southern Cross Hotel, but on Sunday afternoon, 14th June, 250,000 people turned up to see George, John, Paul and temporary drummer Jimmy Nicol arrive by limousine! Additional foot and mounted police were rushed to the area and over 50 people were injured. Off duty uniformed servicemen assisted the police to get ‘The Beatles’ from the car to the hotel entrance and we thought the hotel’s plate glass windows would be smashed with the surge of the crowd. Ringo Starr arrived separately, having recovered from his illness and great difficulty was experienced in getting him into the hotel also. Melbourne had never a crowd like this before, with a lot of people in a frenzy of adulation, and possibly hysteria is the only word to describe the situation.

The police commander asked me if I could arrange for ‘The Beatles’ to come out onto the hotel balcony as this would then force the crowd away from the plate glass windows, where it was feared that fatal casualties could occur. ‘The Beatles’ came out onto the balcony, the crowd was happy and bedlam avoided. (In the video ‘The Melbourne Story’, the balcony scene and large crowd can be viewed).

It was amazing the number of media personnel, socialites, politicians etc who tried every means to convince our guards of the necessity that they speak to ‘The Beatles’ and teenage girls tried every avenue to bypass guards to get to ‘The Beatles’ suites.

When ‘The Beatles’ finally left the hotel, management approved the cutting up of the forty double sheets used by ‘The Beatles’ into one inch squares and these were sold to the public for ten shillings each ($1.00) per square, with the money going to charity. People could request a square that their favourite Beatle had slept on and as the security officer, I had to swear it was a genuine ‘Beatle’ sheet. Demand soon outstripped supply and I wonder if any seniors still have their tiny square of sheet today?

But silly me, I never bothered to get an autograph or a photograph with all ‘The Beatles’, even though I had plenty of opportunities. I continued working with the company) now known as Chubb Security Group) for 35 years, finally retiring in 1993.

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