Ole Los Beatles Espana
By Juan Agueras and Richardo Gil
Sgt. Beatles Fanclub
(Found in September/October 1995 issue of Beatles Unlimited)
Blinded by the Spanish sun and escorted by acolytes and bodyguards (Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans among others,) they went off the plane chewing gum and dressed in a casual style. John was wearing a black and white squared cap matching his trousers, a white jacket and a black T-shirt. Paul, a dark suede jacket, a white shirt and black trousers. George, just like Paul but with a t-shirt on instead. Ringo was wearing a white jacket, and black trousers and a T-Shirt. “Saludos amigos!” (Hi friends!) said Paul in perfect Spanish one John had said the same by means of making faces and bizarre slices of hand. Then they got into two black Cadillacs. Authorities, in order to show their contempt for the band ordered them and all the staff to undergo the customary proceedings: they had to go through the “something to declare” counter, though all their 22 pieces of luggage and assorted musical equipment were ignored. Ringo had to suffer on the raw of the disdain: the drummer lagged behind as he was asked for an autograph by an Iberia airhost. When Ringo tried to return to his friends, a police officer took him for a fan and thereby was shoved aside regardless of his actual identity. Eventually, the Beatles stumbled their way to the cars. “They definitely know where country they were coming to,” Bermudez said.
|The Beatles at the customs window in Madrid|
The retinue, which included some foreign journalists, drove off towards the Fenix Hotel, placed in Paseo de la Castellana, Plaza de Colon, where the Beatles stayed in rooms 122, 123 and 124, the three of them linked by means of a common sitting room which was provided with two balconies over a garden and a street. Brian Epstein, who had not been seen since the days the group had been touring around Roma, arrived at Madrid in a different flight and later made a public appearance with, as Peter Brown recalls—a black eye and telling everybody he had stumbled on a wardrobe’s door! The management of the hotel did not send an invoice as part of a promotional campaign.
The building was besieged by fans, crowded with people from the media and escorted by twenty police officers. “The pressure exerted by the people wanted to gain access to the hotel and to see them and even to touch them – the inn-keeper Enrique Bartolome comments, “was so tremendous that the exterior windows were about to shatter.” Moreover, secret passwords were used by the employees so as not to reveal the whereabouts of the famous guests. The employees saw themselves in the situation of having to satisfy Paul’s whim: he wanted to meet a girl but served on a tray by a waiter. Just a joke!
Two hours were enough to have a rest and to recover. Then, a chaotic press conference began. The four lads were sitting on a striped divan and over a hundred press men piled up almost on top of the Beatles very heads. Though a loud speaker the people from the media were told to be quite and they were likewise reminded that they were just minutes to take photographs. Ringo and George stayed in the same pose all along the brief photo call, whereas John and Paul in the end appeared sitting on the divan’s back. The latter posed with a carnation in his mouth and it remained there through the press conference. Most of the questions were translated by a woman and were actually silly. The thematic repertoire showed that nobody there knew whom they were talking to: their long hair, their millions, whether they liked Spain and the like were central topics. Someone asked them if “Are you afraid of meeting Delilah?” A supposedly funny mention to the Biblical character who shaved Samson’s head. Foreigner media thought the Liverpudlians were being asked about Dali – the Spanish painter, or the singer Dalida. Spanish journalist payed more attention to the fact that no alcoholic drinks were served due to Francisco Bermudez’s prescription.
Afterwards, the musicians returned to their rooms and had a rest. They did not leave their place until the following day. Later that same day, after midnight, El Cordobes, with a photographer from the Pueblo newspaper, popped in the hotel so as to get an exclusive, but it had been told that the boys should not be awakened. Just like El Codobes, Francisco Bermudez could not get a snap for posterity, though he said he did not care as he had done it on purpose, “it was a misunderstood proof of humbleness.”