The Beatles came back home to Liverpool to a civic welcome last night and it was a welcome fit for royalty. Thousands of men, women and children lined the eight-mile route from the airport to the town hall.
It was “yeah yeah yeah” all the way.
Teenage fans wearing multicoloured paper hats and waving flags and streamers jammed the city centre.
Traffic was halted as hundreds of police linked arms to hold back the screaming fans. Ringo, Paul, George and John, in a closed-in limousine, smiled and waved to the crowds with the typical gestures of a royal visitor.
Shop windows in the city centre were emptied of models and crowded with girls instead. Others leaned form office windows and shouted a welcome home from the rooftops. All police leave was cancelled and every available policeman was on duty. Said a police spokesman, “It is for all the world like a royal visit. The city has gone crazy.”
Twenty police outriders escorted the Beatles, driving at snail’s pace because of the crowds. They were followed by a procession of cars, motorcyclists and teenage boys and girls on cycles.
More than 1,500 people crowded the airport rooftop chanting a welcome home to the four Liverpool boys. As they stepped from the red and white Britannia aircraft at 5:25 the screams of the teenagers almost drowned the jet engines.
Each carried a bouquet of flowers given to them by hostesses on the British Eagles plane—a routine flight bringing 80 passengers from London. The Beatles were besieged and it took nearly 50 policemen to escort them to the airport reception room.
Paul’s father, Mr. James McCartney, talked to him about his new horse Drake’s Drum, and its chances at Chester today. Said Paul, “Don’t let the kids waste their money back that.”
Are the Beatles on the slide? Said Paul, “They have been saying that for nearly a year. But since then all our records have sold and we have made a film. We all love filming and will probably make another one.”
The Lord Mayor, Alderman Louis Caplan, and 500 guests were kept waiting at the town hall. Protocol was swept aside when the Beatles arrived. A cheer went up and aldermen and councilors, their wives and children had to fight to stay on their feet.
George’s mother, Mrs. Louise Harrison, stayed in the background sipping a drink, and said, “in my wildest dreams I did not think the reception would be anything like this. But the boys deserve it.”
Mrs. Bessie Braddock, M.P. was among the crowds and said, “They are a credit to the city. Juvenile delinquency would be almost non-existent if other boys took a leaf from the Beatles’ book.”
The Lord Mayor went on the balcony with the boys and said, “There is no doubt about how the city feels about these four great ambassadors of ours. I have had letters from all parts of the world about them. They are an inspiration to the youth of the city and throughout the world. “
Paul stepped forward first and said, “Thank you for the drinks and the magnificent reception. Aunty Millie and Uncle Joe are all here. This is our best ever welcome.”
Ringo shouted a “Hullo” to “fellow wackers”
John said the giant cake they had been given would go to a hospital because “we are slimming.”
And George simply said, ‘We are doing our best.”
The adulation carried on outside the Odeon Cinema, where the Beatles went for the Northern premiere of the film, A Hard Day’s Night. The Beatles were given a hysterical welcome inside the cinema with squeals even from the five-guinea seat elite.
Said Ringo, “People kept coming to us down in London saying we were finished in Liverpool. But we proved them wrong—didn’t we, kids?” There was uproar. Fortunately between the audience and the stage was the massed Liverpool City Police Band.
The premiere audience was held back after the show while attempts were made to sort out an argument in the foyer in which blows were struck. A gray-haired elderly man in an expensive lightweight suit, sleeves rolled up, was seen struggling on the staircase leading from the circle, held by four men. A smaller man in grey joined in the argument when it reached the foyer. When blows were exchanged he was cut on the side of the mouth.
Said a member of the cinema staff, “We had been trying to get both men to leave the staircase clear, but they refused to move and it developed into a scene.”
As the Beatles made their escape from the cinema, mounted police were called to help the attendants to deal with a crowd of more than 500 fans outside.
Paul shown a copy of a yellow leaflet which had been distributed in Liverpool all day, said “The matter is in the hands of my legal advisers. But I am surprised and distressed that this should happen on this, our most wonderful day.” The leaflet raid was discovered by Liverpool city police at 8 am yesterday. Copies of the printed anti-Beatle text directed against Paul McCartney were found on pavements in all parts of the city. Liverpool’s deputy chief constable Mr. Herbert Balmer said, “We are making inquiries.” Hundreds of members of the public telephoned the police about the leaflets, complaining of a disgraceful attack timed for the Beatles’ homecoming.
Police checked on the printer and publisher of the leaflet and found an address in Literland, near Liverpool, to be fictitious. Said Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, “The matter is in the hands of our lawyers.” Mr. Bob Houghton, a 39 year old waiter said last night, “I have admitted to the police that I am the author of the leaflet.” He said that 20,000 leaflets had been printed and handed out in all parts of the city.