Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Best Welcome Ever

The Beatles were set to bypass Adelaide due to the lack of a suitable venue and the belief that those in the town were too conservative for a 60's pop band.

A DJ w the radio station 5AD named Bob Francis started a campaign to bring the Beatles to his city and ended up with 80,000 signatures on his petition.  This large number of signatures got the attention of Brian Epstein and the Beatles indeed came to Adelaide for what ended up being on the the biggest welcomes the Beatles would ever see.

John Lennon and Bob Francis

When the Beatles landed in Adelaide on June 12, 1964, there was one thing missing:  the fans.   Only one teenager was allowed on the tarmac and her name was Jan Cocks.

Airport manager Bill Thomas invited Jan to see The Beatle.  His secretary, Jill Stanton, who lived next door to Jan , had told him of the teenager’s tough start to life. Jan had contracted disease encephalitis at 10 months old. From that day she has been partly paralysed down one side, has a damaged lung and bone weakness requiring calipers. A chauffeured car picked up Jan at her door to take her to the airport for the big event. She had her photo taken in front of the Ford convertible The Beatles would soon use on their journey past 300,000 people to Adelaide Town Hall.She saw the plane land and could barely contain her excitement as The Beatles appeared at the top of the steps.
“I yelled out ‘ Paul’ and they were all a bit shocked to hear a teenager’s voice,” Jan said. “John and Paul swung around and John said ‘ You’re a bit young to be a photographer, aren’t you?’ ”The lads jumped in the car. Jan was yet to get an autograph and Jill urged her forward. “Paul reached out for my book,” Jan said. “At that moment he was about to take it, the car drove off and he looked back sadly, mouthing ‘ Sorry’.”

But the Beatles would soon see more teenagers than anyone could possibly  imagine.   The three Beatles and one stand-in got into a convertible and rode at a slow pace for 9 miles, waving to 300,000 people (something they would refuse to do in the United States because of President Kennedy's assassination).

Here are some memories of fans who were there:

"I went to a Convent right near Victoria Square and the nuns were very strict.  We used to start school earlier than anyone else.  The crowd was so heavy that we thought we'd never be able to see them.  We knew they were coming to Town Hall and appearing on the balcony.  If you had a letter signed by both our parents, we could do it.  My mother of course signed and she signed for my father--she forged his signature.  And I went!   I think there were 300,000 people.  It is in the Guinness Book of World Records.  And I was one of them.
--Kate Fitzpatrick

"People were fainting and people were screaming and yelling for them. I guess I should have been scared.   But there I was with my camera and I'm with my former husband, John.  I think he was trying to protect me because I was trying to film and he tried to keep people away.  I'm sure Paul waved to me and smiled at me.  I'm sure he saw me in that crowd.  I jsut had that feeling.  You can see in the film that I was being jostled.  People were pushing me.  It was so exciting. I was just awestruck."
--Margaret Van Tulder

Margaret in the crowd with her camera

one of the frames from the film she shot
Trevor Cowling was program manager at 5AD and recalls: “Eldon Crouch was our breakfast announcer at that time and we were planning to do live crosses from the motorcade. As we left the airport the 5DN car tried to run us off the road but we managed instead to force their broadcast vehicle into a ditch and found ourselves directly behind The Beatles all the way into town.  As we drove along Anzac Highway the people were 10 deep in some places. I’ve never seen anything like it. When we arrived in the city the crowd was so thick we had to literally push onlookers out of the way with the car. It was absolutely mind-boggling.”

Pam Bray says she still has a lot of anger that Adelaide Girls’ High School went into lockdown on the day: “Prefects were on the gates and no doctors’ appointments were allowed that day. To rub salt into the wounds, Adelaide Boys were allowed to line the street on West Tce to wave to them! I remember our science teacher came back and told us how great they were. Luckily, I later went to the concert at Centennial Hall and my parents took my best friend and me to see them on the balcony of The South Australian Hotel.”

“I remember after we got into the Town Hall for the reception, Bob Francis, Jim Slade and I rushed out to the edge of the balcony, waved and then stopped. “The crowd was yelling we want The Beatles and thought we were them. They then started throwing autograph books, koala bears and things up on to the balcony. Bob started scribbling in the autograph books “love Paul” or something similar and throwing them back. There are probably some women in their late fifties and even older who are treasuring their autograph from a “Beatle”. Although Bob was an honorary Beatle so far as Adelaide was concerned at the time, as he maintained the pressure on the tour organisers to get them here.”
--Peter Baker

Information for this story from
The Beatles Downunder  (book)  by Glenn A. Baker
"Adelaide, do you remember the Beatles 1964 visit" by Bob Bryne for the Advertiser (June 10, 2014)
"Long, Winding road to Realising a Dream" by Craig Cook for the Advertiser (June 8, 2014)
"When we were FABelaide" by Craig Cook for the Advertiser (June 12, 2014)
The Beatles Downunder (documentary) from 1994

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